Coach sees testing ground for AFL hopefuls
Guy Cannon. Photo: Supplied
Guy Cannon is adamant Canberra can be a breeding ground for mature-age hopefuls and wants to prove the capital can match it with the traditional AFL powerhouse zones.
The new NEAFL eastern representative coach and Eastlake great will take over the representative reins next year and lead the eastern side into a clash with Tasmania in June.
While Canberra representative teams of the past played in the country championships, the NEAFL team will play just one game.
It's a new level of competition for Canberra's best players, and Cannon is confident they can handle the step up.
There was uncertainty earlier this month about the future of the inter-conference clash between the best team in the northern and eastern NEAFL conference.
Teams playing in the northern conference in Queensland have dominated Canberra's top teams.
But rather than shy away from the challenge, Cannon urged the players to embrace the task.
''It's something we should be looking forward to, you can't ask for a bigger challenge,'' he said.
''Last season we played Queensland and down the track hopefully there's a chance for us to take on the top states.
''It's a real move forward, it gives our players a chance to showcase their talent and the brand of football we play.''
Cannon is a former Mulrooney Medal winner for the best player in the capital, a premiership-winning coach and an eight-time best-and-fairest winner with Eastlake.
He is still a senior assistant coach with Eastlake and will organise representative training sessions and camps at the start of next year.
The introduction of the GWS Giants into the AFL and their connection with Canberra has broken down the barriers for the capital's players to land a professional contract.
Eastlake's Liam Flaherty was one of Canberra's only hopefuls in the draft on Thursday night, but he failed to score a deal.
Cannon said the capital was an untapped resource for AFL clubs.
''The talent here is good, it's a good standard of football. The clubs really invest in talent to fast-track our kids to get them up to the level,'' Cannon said.
''We engage players from around Australia and if you perform well in this good brand in Canberra, it allows players who have missed an opportunity to get some maturity in their game and put their hand up again in front of the recruiters.
''They used to fly over Canberra and ignore it, but I don't think that's the case now.''