THE south-west is celebrating a bumper draft haul with five Hampden league teenagers landing at AFL clubs on Friday night.
South Warrnambool midfielder Hugh McCluggage and Camperdown half-back Cedric Cox will join Brisbane after the Lions chose the North Ballarat Rebels-listed pair at picks three and 24 respectively.
Port Adelaide swooped on Koroit premiership star Willem Drew at 33 and Fremantle pounced on strong-bodied ruckman Sean Darcy at 38.
Melbourne pulled a surprise move, selecting North Warrnambool Eagles small forward Dion Johnstone at 66 to cap off a stunning night for the region.
McCluggage fell to the Lions at pick three after a pair of Sandringham Dragons – Andrew McGrath (Essendon) and Tim Taranto (Greater Western Sydney) were taken at picks one and two respectively.
The smooth-moving teenager, in Sydney for the draft, told SEN radio he was thrilled to join Brisbane.
“I am absolutely stoked to head up there and can’t wait to start off my AFL career,” McCluggage said.
New Brisbane Lions development coach Paul Henriksen – a Terang teacher who coached McCluggage at Vic Country level – said he was rapt he would continue working with the Allansford-raised teenager.
“Hugh is such a level-headed young man that I think the opportunity coming his way won’t faze him one little bit,” he said.
Henriksen expects the Castles family, which brought Cox to Camperdown this year from Western Australia, to spend plenty of time in Brisbane.
“(My wife) Leesa teaches at Mercy (Regional College) in Camperdown and teaches with James Castles, who had a big influence in getting him over, and she goes ‘ah, that second room in Brisbane’s not going to get much of a rest’,” he said.
Henrisken said Darcy, out of the Geelong Falcons’ program, was a handy pick up for the Dockers.
“To come under the tutelage of Aaron Sandilands, I think is a really important move by Fremantle,” he said.
“He’s aggressive and a left-handed ruckman, so I think they’re saying ‘we’re going to make you work, and make you earn it, but you’re going to be working under one of the best ruckmen around’.”