Portland teenager gets AFL combine invitation

Portland teenager and Ballarat Rebels player Tom Templeton (right) is on his way to the AFL’s state combine in October. 140330DW07 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Portland teenager and Ballarat Rebels player Tom Templeton (right) is on his way to the AFL’s state combine in October. 140330DW07 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

TOM Templeton’s football diary is chock-a-block.

The Portland teenager has pencilled in a visit to Melbourne in October after he was one of 91 hopefuls invited to the AFL’s state combine.

But before then the North Ballarat Rebels midfielder has TAC Cup and school football finals to worry about.

Templeton will play for Ballarat’s St Patrick’s College against Box Hill Secondary College in the Herald Sun Shield grand final at the MCG on Friday.

The match is a curtain-raiser to the Richmond-Essendon crunch clash.

Templeton said it was a challenge to juggle both sets of football commitments but that he relished the opportunity to play for two high-quality outfits.

“With school footy some weeks you aren’t feeling as good as you can,” he said.

“But you can’t make those excuses — everyone deals with those problems.”

Templeton said he was pleased to receive a call-up to the Victorian state combine.

He will be put through one day of physical testing — the amount spread over four days at national combine level — in front of AFL recruiters.

“Everyone dreads the beep test,” Templeton said.

“Obviously it is a great achievement for the hard work that’s gone in this year and the footy I am playing but I am not thinking that far ahead at the moment and am taking it week by week.”

Templeton’s enjoyed a strong season at TAC Cup level, named in the Rebels’ best in nine of his 15 matches.

He’s averaged 18.6 disposals — he notched a season-high 26 against Northern Knights in round seven — and has kicked 13 goals. But the 182-centimetre ball winner is a hard marker and believes he’s capable of more.

“I have had a few games I’d probably like to scratch out but what’s done is done,” Templeton said.

“I have to keep moving forward and working hard at training.”

Templeton has spent the bulk of the year in the midfield, playing alongside Portland teammate Rowan Marshall — the Rebels’ ruckman who received an invite to the four-day AFL combine.

But he is keen to highlight his versatility.

“In recent weeks I have moved to a half-back flank,” Templeton said.

“In the midfield congestion (I was) kicking scrappy to get it forward but moving to a back flank you have time and space to set up with plenty of run.”

The Rebels have the bye this weekend before finishing their home-and-away campaign against premiership fancies Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers.

Templeton is eager to be part of something special.

“I’m in my second year at the Rebels and it feels more like a home club than it did last year, being around the place a lot more, knowing new faces and making friendships with the coaches,” he said.

“We have had a terrific season I think.

“We have really come a long way from the first four weeks or so when we struggled to get continuity in the group.

“We probably missed an opportunity last week (against Tasmania) to cement a top-four finish but the last two games are our biggest of the year coming up against the top two sides.”

Geelong Falcons midfielder Harrison Kol, son of former South Warrnambool premiership star Michael, and Colac’s Dylan Hodge, brother of Hawthorn skipper Luke, were also invited to the state combine. 

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