Talented south-west trio take AFL dream to next level   

THREE south-west teenagers have taken their first steps towards VFL and WAFL careers.

Geelong Falcons midfielder Daniel Watson and North Ballarat Rebels defender Haydn Drew are training with Carlton’s VFL affiliate Northern Blues, while North Ballarat Rebels onballer Tom Smith will move to Perth on Monday and begin pre-season with WAFL club Subiaco.

The trio — away on schoolies this week — are still hopeful of making an AFL list via the rookie draft on December 11.

Watson and Drew joined Northern Blues’ training last week and will train three nights a week with the Princes Park-based club.

“Seventy-five to 80 try out for 45 spots so they delist a few before Christmas and then it’s like the Falcons with practice matches,” Watson said.

“The rookie draft is my first priority. This is planning ahead in case nothing happens. So it’s fingers crossed but there are a lot of midfielders out there.”

Watson was one of Geelong Falcons’ best in the TAC Cup this season, finishing third in their best and fairest.

Once the Falcons’ season finished, he returned to his home club Cobden and had an immediate impact, playing in its Hamdpen league grand final loss to Warrnambool.

Watson said he chose Northern Blues because of their proximity to RMIT University, where he hopes to study next year. “They were very welcoming and a few people told me it was a great club,” he said.

Drew, 18, played every game for the Rebels in the TAC Cup this season, earning praise for his consistency and shut down roles in defence.

The Koroit export is eager to impress Northern Blues’ officials. “I want to work hard in the pre-season and hope to get on their list,” he said.

Smith, a ferocious tackler who plied his trade at North Warrnambool Eagles, has opted to follow in his father Tom snr’s footsteps and play in the WAFL. “I am hoping to play for Subiaco. I have been in contact with them the past few months,” he said.

“I haven’t signed with them but it is the club I am hoping to sign with. I want to go over permanently so I will keep my options open.” Smith, whose dad played for East Perth, said Subiaco coach Jarrad Schofield, a Port Adelaide premiership player who ended his career with Fremantle, had contacted him.

“They showed a lot more interest than other clubs.” 

Smith said he was excited about his move interstate.

“It’s a big change but it should be good. Dad has a lot of mates over there so that will help.”

Tanner Smith, his room-mate at Ballarat’s St Patrick’s College, was drafted to Fremantle with pick 36 in the AFL national draft last week.

Smith said he wanted to make the AFL.

“I hope to get rookie-listed but I doubt I will,” he said.

“I am set on playing good WAFL footy and hopefully be picked up as a mature-age player down the track.”

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