Teenage Tiger joins Sturt in bid to reignite AFL draft hopes

PORTLAND forward Jaydon Stiles will play in the SANFL next season in a bid to reignite his AFL draft chances.

A promising Hampden league debut season prompted the strong-bodied Tiger to sign with Sturt for the 2014 season.

Stiles’ decision to join Sturt came less than a month after Portland landed Double Blues midfielder Luke Crane, a former Magarey medallist, as an assistant coach.

The Tigers have bolstered their midfield but will have a new-look forward line in 2014, with Stiles joining former coach Jarrod Holt and Jarrod Hayse as off-season departures.

Stiles, 19, said he wanted another chance to impress AFL scouts.

The forward-cum-midfielder felt it was important to test himself at a higher level after he kicked 30 goals from 18 appearances for the Tigers in 2013. Stiles slotted 27 goals from 17 games in his top-age TAC Cup season in 2012.

“I thought I was a chance (to be drafted),” he said.

“I had heaps of people say ‘you’ll go here or you might go there’.

“In the mock draft I was pick 50 to Gold Coast. You see that on the internet and it gets your hopes up.

“I was playing all right footy at the Rebels at the time and tested well.

“I didn’t get picked up and was shattered.  It will be good to go to Adelaide and play good footy.”

Stiles said he relished being part of Portland’s first Hampden league campaign but knew he would rue it if he didn’t push himself. 

“I definitely enjoyed it being with family and friends, but there was still that (thought) that I could have been somewhere,” he said.

Stiles said new Portland coach Jake Myles and Holt, now at Hamilton Kangaroos, encouraged him to join the Double Blues.

“I spoke to Sturt myself, too, and was keen to have a crack,” he said.

Stiles has spent two weeks training with his new club.

“They break it into groups — under 20s in their first pre-season, senior group and under 22s — and I have been going with the senior group, which has been good,” he said.

“They’ve said they’d like me to play a bit in the midfield and as a key forward as well and as a roving forward when needed.”

Fellow Portland teenager Ben Malcolm is training with VFL club Werribee.

The mobile ruckman played with Stiles at the Rebels in 2012.

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