Sport

Quartet give Canberra chance to end AFL draft drought

Seven-time AFL premiership winner Kevin Sheedy says the Greater Western Sydney academy is looking to uncover the next Alex Jesaulenko or James Hird in the next decade.

Whether that comes to fruition or not, Canberra faces its best chance of ending its AFL draft drought with Giants academy quartet Jack Steele, Austin Logan (both from Belconnen), Liam Griffiths and Tom Faul (both from Ainslie).

NSW-ACT Rams players Tom Faul, Liam Griffiths, Logan Austin and Jack Steele have been nominated by GWS to be potential ...
NSW-ACT Rams players Tom Faul, Liam Griffiths, Logan Austin and Jack Steele have been nominated by GWS to be potential academy selections. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The Belconnen boys have been selected for the national draft combine in Melbourne from September 30-October 3, while Griffiths and Faul could potentially be in the four spots yet to be filled.

GWS has nominated all four as potential academy selections, which means they can be recruited in a pre-draft bidding process on October 6.

Canberra hasn't had a player drafted since the Western Bulldogs took Jason Tutt in 2009.
Canberra hasn't had a player drafted since the Western Bulldogs took Jason Tutt in 2009. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Sheedy said the ACT and NSW were producing quality AFL players and pointed to Hawthorn's Luke Breust and Isaac Smith as examples of the talent coming out of the region in recent years.

"We're really in the hunt for the next Jesaulenko and Hird, and that's what this is all about. We've just got to get young players [from the region] up and believe they've got a career in the AFL," Sheedy said.

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"I can tell you now, in the next 10 years there's going to be some great NSW and Canberra boys running around in the AFL with this system.

"There'll be good players, some excellent players and there'll be two [AFL] legends."

But Canberra hasn't had a player drafted since the Western Bulldogs took Jason Tutt in the 2009 draft at pick 31, although Josh Bruce was recruited by the Giants as a zone selection in 2011.

It's hoped at least one of the four can end the drought this year.

They all know there's no certainties, but they see it as motivation they're at least being considered.

Steele, an onballer who kicks goals, has drawn AFL scouts to watch him play for Belconnen, with the Brisbane Lions  talking to him .during the year.

He'll play his last game this season for Belco on Sunday, before playing out the year with the finals-bound Giants reserves.

Steele said he has had to try and not think about the interest from AFL clubs.

"It's a bit exciting when an AFL club comes and watches you play, but you have to concentrate on the footy that you're used to playing and keep a cool head," he said.

Austin will play out the season with the Giants, while Griffiths will make his Ainslie senior debut this weekend before also joining the Giants.

It could be his first and last NEAFL game, depending on whether he gets drafted.

Faul has had an injury interrupted season, missing the under-18 nationals due to a calf problem and then a hamstring strain keeping him on the sidelines recently.

He has only been playing the game for four years after spending 12 years on Christmas Island, which has a footy oval, but no clubs.

NEAFL ROUND 19

Saturday: Queanbeyan v GWS Giants reserves at Dairy Famers Park, 10am

Sunday: Belconnen v Sydney Hills Eagles at Gungahlin Enclosed, 12pm

Ainslie v Eastlake at Alan Ray Oval, 2pm