Young south-west trio face up to AFL draft scrutiny

THREE south-west footballers will today start a “four-day job interview” which could define their careers.

Koroit’s Martin Gleeson, South Warrnambool’s Louis Herbert and Colac’s Dean Towers will show their football abilities in front of club scouts at the AFL draft combine.

The trio are among almost 120 footballers — including 10 from overseas — hoping to have their names called out on either the national or rookie draft day.

Teenagers Gleeson and Herbert were part of the North Ballarat Rebels squad which finished as TAC Cup minor premier but lost a preliminary final.

Towers, 22, played for North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL  and also represented the league in a representative clash against Tasmania.

His performances won him the Fothergill-Round Medal for the most promising young player in the VFL.

AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan said the south-west footballers’ presence at the four-day combine meant clubs were keen to see what they could offer.

Sheehan said footballers would be at Docklands  stadium from 7.30am for breakfast until potentially 10pm this week. “It’s the longest job interview in the sporting world and it goes over four days,” he said.

“It is taxing but the players love … they love the experience.

“When you’re interviewed by seven, eight, nine, 10, 12 clubs, it mentally is taxing.

“There might be six in a room interviewing you, but the boys thoroughly enjoy it.”

The draft combine will put the players through a host of tests designed to ensure clubs have a complete knowledge of the young prospects’ abilities.

Participants will undergo medical screenings and have their height, weight, hand and arm spans and skin folds measured.

Fitness assessments will test their reaction times, jumping ability, burst speed and endurance.

The prospects will also complete the “Nathan Buckley kicking test”, “Matthew Lloyd clean hands test” and, for the first time, the “Brad Johnson goalkicking test”.

“It’s where the word combine comes from — we look for a combination of skills, athletic ability and mental toughness to make the grade,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan said the 2012 draft combine was historic because of the number of international footballers taking part.

The United States, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, China and Nauru will be represented at Docklands  stadium.

“It’s on the back of (Sydney ruckman) Mike Pyke’s form in the grand final. He was a Canadian that hadn’t picked up the ball four years ago,” Sheehan said.

“There are no boundaries with these things. 

We’ve already had (Irishman) Tadgh Kennelly win a premiership and he’s overseeing the group of boys.”

Camperdown forward Sam Gordon, who started the season with Geelong Falcons but finished it with the Magpies,  also gets to show his skills in front of club scouts this week.

Gordon, 19, will attend the one-day Victorian screening at Docklands stadium on Saturday.

Martin Gleeson.

Martin Gleeson.

Louis Herbert.

Louis Herbert.


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