OUR BOY JOSEPH HAS THE POWER

Campaspe News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS GLEDHILL

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.

Photo: Courtesy Port Ade­laide Foot­ball Club

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.

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