SOUTH Warrnambool export Matt Sully’s rise has reached new heights with a place in the VFL team of the year.
Sully, a member of the Hampden league team of the year when his Roosters won the 2011 premiership, was named in a back pocket in the VFL’s best team of 2013 at a gala function on Monday night.
The 20-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season with Geelong, playing 16 matches and narrowly missing selection after making the training squad to represent the VFL against the Western Australian Football League.
Sully, who has been invited to attend an AFL draft screening camp, said his place in the team of the year was unexpected.
“When you get invited to go it was in the back of my mind, but I was pretty surprised,” he told The Standard yesterday.
“It was good. I’m pretty happy.”
Sully made the trip from Geelong to Melbourne for the J.J. Liston Trophy count with teammates Dom Gleeson, a former Koroit star, captain Troy Selwood, Ben Raidme and Jordan Schroder.
None walked away empty-handed. Gleeson received life membership of the league after playing his 175th match earlier in the season and Schroder was a joint winner of the league best and fairest award, while Raidme and Selwood were named in the team of the year. A fourth Cat, Mark Corrigan, was also named in the team of the year.
“All the Geelong boys were on the waters,” Sully said.
“We all came away with something. It was a good night.”
Sully said he had enjoyed his season with the Cats.
“I’ve had a bit more of a consistent year this year. The more games you get, the more confident you get.”
He said the close relationship between the VFL and AFL sides at Geelong had played a big part in his development.
“The alignment between the AFL and VFL teams is really strong and I think that shows in the way we’ve been playing and winning games,” he said.
“When the AFL boys come down and play VFL they are really good, nice blokes. You can’t help but try and emulate them and try and play at the same level.”
He said he had quit his plumbing apprenticeship to put more energy into his football, training more during the week and spending significant periods of time analysing opponents and his own performances.
Sully said his main focus was winning a premiership, having missed out on a place in Geelong’s successful side last year.
“It’s the only thing that has been on my mind all year, especially after having to watch last year,” he said.
He said an invitation to an AFL draft camp would not distract him, especially after the Cats qualified for the preliminary final with a win in the first week of the finals last Friday night.
“I will go to the state screening and do the best I can,” he said.
“I’m not expecting much. I’m more than happy to be at Geelong in the VFL next year. I’m not getting too excited.”
Sully said he would reflect on his team of the year inclusion later in his career.
“I’ve been playing a bit deeper this year,” he said.
“They have a couple of AFL backs in Mitch Brown and Josh Hunt who play a bit higher. Obviously a couple of years ago I was playing centre half-back, half-back flank, so it’s a fair bit different. It’s a bit more one-on-one and opponent-focused.”