THE first time close friends Nick Bourke and Lewis Taylor play against one another could be in an AFL match.
Their football careers have followed similar upward trajectories.
But the only time the south-west pair can recall being in opposing teams was in a Geelong Falcons’ practice match, and that doesn’t really count.
They both made their senior debuts at 16 — Bourke for Warrnambool and District league club Kolora-Noorat and Taylor for Hampden league side Terang Mortlake.
They’ve shared the journey towards this month’s AFL national draft, playing alongside one another in various representative teams.
The former Mercy Regional College students started their draft paths playing Hampden schoolboys and then progressed to TAC Cup club Geelong Falcons.
They’ve also been AIS-AFL Academy and Vic Country under 18 teammates.
Their playing futures are now up in the air as they count down to November 21’s draft.
Bourke, 18, said it would be strange playing against Taylor — if they both made AFL lists.
“It would be pretty special for the community I reckon to have two kids from the same area playing against each other,” Bourke said.
“I suppose there would be a bit of trash talk and stuff like that but it would be pretty exciting if as we say we’re lucky to get there.”
The 190-centimetre athletic wingman said he wouldn’t let the opportunity for light banter pass.
“(I’d) send him a few of messages after the game and tell him how good I went,” Bourke joked.
Bourke, who carried a shoulder injury throughout the 2013 season, said Taylor — touted as a possible top-20 pick — was an ideal teammate.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with him for the last couple of years and he brings a bit of excitement to the game with his speed and agility and the way he takes the game on,” he said.
“If a club’s happy enough to take the chance with him I think they’d be pretty lucky.
“He is a probably a future leader I suppose as well. I’ve been lucky enough to have him captain me with a couple of different sides and he’s a good leader along with a good player.
“But I don’t want to pump him up too much.”
Taylor, a zippy midfielder who belies his 174-centimetre frame, said playing against Bourke would be exciting.
“Hopefully we can get somewhere first, that is the main thing, but if that was to happen it would be a special moment for me and Nick,” he said.
“There would probably be a bit of push and shove early on I think. It’d be good.”
Taylor said Bourke was a versatile and committed footballer.
“He’d probably bring a bit of leadership I think as well. “He works hard,” he said.
“He obviously got done with the injury this year and I was probably one of the big ones to see what he did rehab-wise and things like that so you can’t fault how hard he works and he’s definitely got the skill and talent there.”
Bourke and Taylor travelled to Europe with the AIS-AFL Academy in March — some six years after they first met.
“Lewy came to school at Mercy in year seven so we’ve known each other since then,” Bourke said.
“We didn’t really click until year nine. We got pretty close and we’ve both been doing school and footy for three or four years now. It is a bond that stuck.”
n The Standard will run draft features and videos on the south-west’s brightest prospects in the lead-up to the AFL national draft.