Time for AFL to recruit from our own backyard
One story from the Sydney Swans’ premiership side has stood out like no other football story. That was the journey of their ruckman Mike Pyke.
The former Canadian Rugby Union international joined an increasing list of players from outside the sport to come and enjoy success in their new found game.
He joins a fellow Swan in Tadgh Kennelly as a premiership player. Other international recruits on current AFL lists include Pearce Hanely for Brisbane and Marty Clarke at Collingwood.
Clubs recruiting players from outside of Australia and the sport of Australian Rules is a growing trend as clubs try to unearth gems no other club has found. Just a few months ago West Coast gave Australian Olympic basketballer Mark Worthington a try out.
The ironic thing about AFL clubs searching high and low for unfound talent is in the last few years we have some players who have grown up playing the game for years emerge and have success.
Pyke’s premiership team mate Shane Mumford was not long ago playing for the Bunyip Football Club in the Ellinbank and District football league. Mumford’s former Geelong team mate James Podsiadly played for years at VFL before getting his crack at AFL where he had an immediate impact; he too is now a premiership player.
The stories of players from lower leagues continue to flow. Names such as Barlow (Fremantle), Curnow (Carlton), Zorko (Brisbane), Dickson (Western Bulldogs) and Callinan (Adelaide) to name a few have all made the step up to AFL and have made an impact.
There can be no doubt the talent in the lower leagues is there to be found and unlike players from outside of the sport they don’t need to be taught the game from scratch.
Players like Pyke make for great stories but clubs that ignore the talent that is right under their nose are missing out.
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