TWO young footballers - with the same dream but on different timelines - talk about their goals while working together packing sawdust for livestocks ships.
They live four hours from Melbourne in Portland, where the port is a hive of activity and sport is a way of life for many.
Jamieson Ballantyne, the older of the two, is a chance in next week's AFL draft.
Darcy Campbell, who won the Hampden league's under 16 best and fairest this year, wants to follow in his mate's footsteps when he's eligible in a few years' time.
For Ballantyne, a skilful and speedy wingman, taking Campbell under his wing came with a sense of responsibility.
After all, Portland-turned-St Kilda ruckman Rowan Marshall, did the same for him.
"I worked with Darcy and we have a lot chats," Ballantyne told The Standard.
"I like to help him and try and guide him the best I can because I've always liked to lean on the guys who have gone through it.
"I am still trying to work my way through it but I have been in Darcy's position (in the NAB League under 16s) and it's exciting but you're not quite sure how the system works.
"He's a pretty level-headed kid."
Ballantyne, 18, caught up with Marshall - one of the Saints' most influential players - for a coffee on Tuesday.
It helped reassure him the dream was not over if he was overlooked in the draft.
"I was very grateful. We had a coffee and talked a bit about the system and how he adjusted to being an AFL player and leading into the draft what his mindset was," Ballantyne said.
"He didn't get picked up in his draft year and it's a credit to him that he stuck at it and found a different pathway.
"In the position I am in, it's good to hear those kind of stories because if it doesn't all go to plan this year there's definitely other opportunities and pathways to make it into the system."
Ballantyne is among a handful of south-west footballers in the draft frame.
Penshurst forward-ruckman Josh Rentsch is considered a strong contender, given his versatility and leadership credentials.
Sharing the Morrish Medal - as the NAB League's best and fairest - was a nod to his consistency.
Then there's Camperdown's Hamish Sinnott, a lean, raw prospect who was redeployed at half-back in 2021.
He's yet to turn 18 and hopes his upside piques clubs' interest.
Marcus Herbert slotted into Geelong's VFL midfield earlier in the year and fit in seamlessly.
The ball winner would love to add to South Warrnambool's envious AFL wall of fame.
Jay Rantall, another from Friendly Societies' Park, made his AFL debut for Collingwood on Anzac Day in front of 85,000 fans earlier this year.
The Magpies delisted the midfielder after two COVID-19 interrupted seasons.
Ballantyne hopes the sacrifices he's made off the field and the commitment he's shown driving to training in Ballarat - a six-hour round trip - will encourage a club to take a punt on him.
"I went through Auskick when I was six or seven and trained with a junior club (North Portland) when I was eight and played my first game when I was nine back in under 12s when they weren't scoring," he said.
"I never thought I wanted to pursue it as a career until I was under 15s and I got a taste of a higher level and thought 'I really enjoyed that'.
"It became a part of my day-to-day life.
"I just wanted to play the highest level of footy I could and everything I was doing each day was contributing to footy in some way.
"It (the AFL) is a cut-throat environment and can be brutal at times and I think that is something that drives me, the harsh environment.
"A lot of people may see it that AFL footballers live a good life but behind closed doors it is very brutal. It is something I thrive off - do the work and you're all in it together to strive to win a premiership."
For Ballantyne, the blood, sweat and tears are worth it when he has the Sherrin and is gliding down the field.
"There's no better feeling than when you've got the ball in your hand and you're thinking 'what can I do with this to help our team score?'," he said.
"For me I just try and stay composed and think my way, as quick as I can, through a situation and try and make the right decision."
Sinnott, like Ballantyne, enjoyed a breakout season for Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
He embraced a move to defence, having played the bulk of his football midfield and forward.
It culminated in joining Ballantyne and Rentsch in the Vic Country under 19 team which played a one-off game against Vic Metro in place of the coronavirus-impacted national carnival.
Running a 5.58 two-kilometre time trial - one of the best performances at the combine - boosted his credentials too.
"I trained pretty hard for it so I was hoping I got that result," Sinnott told The Standard.
"Hopefully it got my name out there a bit more for clubs to see my endurance.
"I am still 17 so I think most clubs see I still have a bit of development in me because I am definitely very skinny compared to other people in this year's draft.
"I know I have a lot more development and can get better than what I am at the moment."
Sinnott's focus on development extends off the field.
The Camperdown-based teenager was often asked about his future this year, such is the interest in a small country town.
"Outside of footy I improved on being a better person and being a good public speaker," Sinnott, who plans to study teaching, said.
"It is something I have definitely improved on, when people come up to you, talk well."
The Sinnott name is synonymous with Camperdown Magpies.
Dad Matt is the equal games record-holder and uncle Aaron and grandad Pat also donned the black and white.
Older brother Zach is part of the current senior team.
"Everyone loves footy in our family and I am pretty happy I have been able to get our name out there and make them pretty proud," Sinnott, who made his senior debut for the club at 15, said.
"I love playing for Camperdown.
"It is like a second home up there at Leura Oval. I am up there most nights so it's good.
"To play for them is awesome and I love putting the jumper on and running out with them."
Herbert is working alongside Rantall and fellow South Warrnambool export Fraser Marris, who also played NAB League and earned a VFL chance with Sydney in 2021, as he prepares for a pre-season with Geelong's VFL side.
He focuses on their weights program, Rantall looks after their running schedule and Marris plans the skills sessions.
"We are all pushing each other and we genuinely just do want to get better and it's a bonus having Jay home at the moment," Herbert said.
The ball-winning midfielder concedes hearing his name read out in next week's draft would be a bonus.
His long-term goal is to impress for the Cats in 2022 and stake his case for an AFL spot in 12 months' time.
Herbert, who plans to relocate to Geelong if he's not drafted and has picked Leopold as his feeder club, has identified areas of improvement.
Consistency is atop the list.
"I do pride myself on the one-on-ones and I feel like I've built a lot of my game around that so I'm trying to expand and find an outside role as well," he said.
The draft's first round will be televised on Wednesday night.
Most draft hopefuls will turn their attention to the remainder of the picks, to be read out on Thursday night.
Friday's rookie draft provides another opportunity to join a list.
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