OUR BOY JOSEPH HAS THE POWER
THE CAMPASPE region knows how to breed a footballer and has claimed yet another name at the sport’s highest level.
The Rochester community came under the AFL’s radar in 2010 when Shaun Atley was picked as number 17 in the national draft.
The North Melbourne footballer was born in our town and now his younger brother Joseph is set to continue on the family business, only this time at Port Adelaide.
The school year has only recently ended for Atley and his attention has now turned from end of year exams to the move to South Australia to begin his AFL career.
‘‘The past few days have been incredible it’s all a bit of a blur,’’ Atley said.
‘‘To get to the club this morning, have a look around, meet all the boys and get involved in a training session makes it all feel a bit more real.
‘‘For now the focus is just to work hard and learn as much as I can until the break over Christmas.’’
Atley, 18, became the 32nd AFL draftee for 2016 when the list was finalised on Friday night.
He was one of four draft picks recruited to Port Power and is expected to make an immediate impact on the field for 2017 as the club worked to bolster its inside midfield.
The club’s national recruiting manager Geoff Parker was impressed by what Joseph had to offer and looked forward to his development at Port Adelaide.
‘‘We’re absolutely rapt that Joe was still available at pick 32,’’ Parker said.
‘‘We love his aggression and his ability to use the ball well is a bonus.
‘‘He’s a strong body, works hard in the contest and he’s got a little bit of that Atley speed so he can do a bit of a sidestep and get out and run and carry the football.’’
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has his sights set on finals for 2017 and the newest recruits could play a role in getting the team there.
‘‘It’s early days obviously but Ken has a history of giving first-year players a go at the top level if they earn it so the opportunity is there for Joe and all of our draftees.’’
The onballer is a natural inside ball winning player and worked hard during his 2016 season with the Bendigo Pioneers to develop his outside game.
It’s been a breakout year for the former Rochester Tiger, captaining the Pioneers in the TAC Cup and making his VFL debut with Geelong in July where he came under the attention of AFL talent scouts.
Pioneers talent manager Steve Sharp has seen Atley develop as a player during his time at the club and said his use of leg speed went a long way in attracting the interest of the AFL club.
‘‘We always thought Joe would be one to get drafted, we just didn’t know where to,’’ Sharp said.
‘‘He’s worked hard on his run and carry which caught the attention of AFL scouts.
‘‘He’s been a role model in regards to his preparation and was a stand out choice for captain this year.’’
Sharp said in addition to his natural football ability, Atley had a sensational work ethic and set a good leadership example for the young hopefuls at the club.
And the lineage doesn’t end there, Jacob Atley has been named in the Pioneers training squad for pre-season ahead of 2017 with the prospects of following in the steps of his older brothers.
Rochester footballer Joseph Atley takes a look around his new surroundings at Alberton yesterday after being picked up in Friday night’s AFL draft by Port Adelaide.