HAMISH Sinnott is used to the stunned responses when he tells people which AFL team he supports.
Growing up in Camperdown, in Victoria's Western District, means Gold Coast Suns fans are few and fair between.
Sinnott, 17, has been a loyal Sun since they joined the competition in 2011.
"I used to go for Geelong when I was six or seven and then Gary Ablett went up there (to the Suns) and I really loved 'Gaz'," he told The Standard.
"My aunt lived up there and said she'd take us to see all the worlds (theme parks). I was little and Kenny Hinkley, from Camperdown, was assistant coach at the time.
"He took me in there and I got to meet all the players which was pretty cool.
"I have loved them ever since. I am not going to change and never will."
Sinnott would love to play for the Queensland-based club one day.
In fact, he'd just wants to play AFL. Anywhere.
"Clubs ask you that (if you would move interstate)," he said.
"Some people might not want to but personally I'd go anywhere to play footy.
"It's always been my goal since I was a little kid to make AFL so hopefully this year, in my draft year, I can get drafted."
The game was planned at short notice.
Vic Metro was to play the Allies in the opening game of the AFL under 19 championships on Thursday in Queensland before coronavirus border restrictions threw plans into chaos.
Vic Country's first match wasn't scheduled until August 14, also against the Allies.
Organisers knew it was important players, who missed the entire 2020 season due to COVID-19 restrictions, were given every opportunity to play in 2021.
Sinnott for one is grateful.
"We had a (Vic Country) camp last week which 21 of us made so that was good and we found there was a chance we could be playing this weekend," he said.
"But we didn't find out (officially) until Monday. It's been a bit like that all year (ever-changing) so I am used to it."
The camp was an eye-opener for Sinnott, who is part of NAB League premiership fancy Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
"It was a pretty good experience to go to that to be honest," he said.
"We did some cool stuff, AFL club interviews. Training was hard - it was the hardest I'd ever had to train.
"It was just the intensity. It was up a level."
Playing for Vic Country was one of Sinnott's main goals this season.
"Obviously I had to make the Rebels first and then play good footy there and then get selected in these teams," the Mercy Regional College student said.
"It's a big thing, having the scouts there. They are usually at most (NAB League) games now so that's really good.
"I hope I can do some good stuff and get my name out there. There's only about 50 kids in Victoria playing in it so it's going to be a good challenge."
Sinnott was cast as a defender this season after playing the bulk of his football in the midfield or across half-forward. It's been a learning curve but he believes his traits suit the role.
"I have always known I could play at this level but having the confidence this year after playing a few good games has helped me a lot," he said.
"I think the way I read the ball on the ground and in the air and being pretty clean has also helped my confidence as well. I have really learned the positioning - how to defend and where to stand.
"It was very hard at the start but my back line coach at the Rebels has been good with me and helped me a lot, just knowing what to do, when to attack and then defend."
Sinnott - tall and lean - is in a similar mould to Hampden league export Marty Gleeson.
Gleeson was drafted to Essendon after a standout season at with the Rebels.
"I'd be like Marty, pretty skinny like what he was," Sinnott said.
"When he was at the Rebels he played half-back and when he came back to the local (competition) he played seniors at 15 as well."
As for who he moulds himself on? Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury sits atop the list
. "I have looked up to him my whole life," Sinnott said.
"I obviously don't play in the midfield like him but some of his moves, like being composed with the ball, I have really learned from him.
"There's even players like (Patrick) Dangerfield and (Joel) Selwood (at Geelong) who I love watching, just how hard and competitive they are. They just don't want to lose."
The Vic Country versus Vic Metro match is at 12pm on Friday at Windy Hill.
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