NORTH Ballarat Rebels footballer Haydn Drew knows his role and is executing it.
A model of consistency, Drew has found a home in defence this TAC Cup season.
The Koroit teenager has played all 18 games for the Rebels and will be assigned one of Oakleigh Chargers’ dangerous small forwards in tomorrow’s preliminary final at Princes Park.
“I am really keen and can’t wait to get out there and play my role,” he said.
“I started off a little slow and found my position down back and have been a solid defender.
“I have had some specific shutdown roles on opponents and sometimes I can run and carry.
“Coming into the year I wasn’t expecting to play defence.
“It has surprised me.
“I have come a long way with my defence throughout the year.”
In a bid to improve his all-round game, Drew has watched the AFL’s best.
“Courtenay Dempsey is a half-back who has plenty of run and takes a few bounces and Luke Hodge, when he goes down back, has the ability to break the lines,” he said.
Rebels coach David Loader said Drew had become a reliable choice in defence.
“He has the ability to crack in and win his own ball, is really hard at the footy and has the leg speed to hold him in good stead,” he said. Drew said the Rebels had taken a defence-first mentality into this season.
It saw the club rewarded with the minor premiership and it is now one win away from it first grand final since 1997.
“We always defend first and lock on and from there we like to think we’re a springboard for the team,” Drew said.
“Our midfield has worked hard all year and our forwards are good to hit up and make space for each other.”
The 181-centimetre Drew said making the TAC Cup decider and playing at Etihad Stadium would be the ideal way to finish his junior football career.
“We are a pretty big region and come from a long way and only get together once a week,” he said.
“It would be a really big achievement for the boys.”
Drew, who played 12 games for the Rebels as a bottom-age player in 2011, boards at Ballarat’s Clarendon College.
He captained the school’s football team this season and won its best and fairest.
He is unsure what direction his football future will take but is dreaming big.
“I will see how the rest of the season pans out,” he said.
“I’d love to get drafted and if not, then play at the highest level I am capable of.”