Ris­ing star boost to Rams

Southern Telegraph - - Sport - Stu­art Hor­ton

The Rock­ing­ham Rams Foot­ball Club has re­ceived $1000 and a range of equip­ment from NAB af­ter for­mer ju­nior player Aaron Naughton was nom­i­nated as an AFL Ris­ing Star this sea­son.

Naughton, who was drafted with the ninth pick by the Western Bull­dogs in the 2017 AFL Draft, was nom­i­nated for the Ris­ing Star in round 23 af­ter col­lect­ing 18 dis­pos­als, nine marks, 12 in­ter­cept pos­ses­sions and four re­bound 50s in a three-point loss to Rich­mond.

As a re­sult, the Rams re­ceived the NAB Club Recog­ni­tion Award, de­signed to ac­knowl­edge the con­tri­bu­tion a player’s ju­nior club made in their devel­op­ment.

Un­der the cur­rent AFL ar­range­ment, only the club from which a player is re­cruited re­ceives fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion. Naughton was drafted from Peel Thun­der.

Rock­ing­ham Rams pres­i­dent Michael Hol­land said the cash and equip­ment would be a “mas­sive bonus” for the club, but said he was more pleased to see Naughton make his way in the AFL.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’re very happy to re­ceive this award, but from our point of view we’re more so happy for Aaron get­ting drafted and get- ting him­self the NAB Ris­ing Star nom­i­na­tion,” he said.

“Aaron re­tains a strong link to the club. Af­ter his sea­son fin­ished with the Bull­dogs he re­turned home and was down watch­ing his older brother Travis play­ing in the Rams’ se­nior team.

“His fam­ily is very much a part of the club and its cul­ture, and that cul­ture al­lows our play­ers to de­velop and helps with player re­ten­tion, which makes us a good club.”

Mr Hol­land said the Rams were a “club on the rise”, with its play­ing ranks hav­ing grown by more than 200 over the past two sea­sons.

“We’ve got new girls teams, which has been key in help­ing player devel­op­ment, player re­ten­tion and build­ing the club cul­ture,” he said.

“We’re a club on the rise, we can point to pro­duc­ing a player like Aaron and mak­ing seven out of a pos­si­ble 10 grand fi­nals this year, which is get­ting us back to where we should be. It’s a great time for mem­bers, play­ers and spec­ta­tors, and for those who want to come back to the club.

“It’s good to get the recog­ni­tion for help­ing Aaron’s devel­op­ment as we didn’t get any­thing when he was drafted, Peel Thun­der got that. So to get some­thing from NAB is great.”

The club recog­ni­tion award in­cludes $1000 cash, eight Sher­rin train­ing foot­balls, train­ing bibs, dome mark­ers, sip­per bot­tles, Sher­rin mesh carry bags, mag­netic coaches boards and an air com­pres­sor.

Naughton is in Rock­ing­ham un­til the Bull­dogs start pre-sea­son train­ing on Novem­ber 5. He said he hoped to pick up where he left off in his rookie sea­son, which saw him fin­ish fourth in the club’s best and fairest.

“The sea­son prob­a­bly couldn’t have been bet­ter,” he said.

“Af­ter be­ing drafted you look to make your de­but and then work to hold your spot, so to play 18 games in my first sea­son is some­thing I’m very proud to have achieved.

“I hope to con­tinue where I left off, be­cause I fin­ished the sea­son well.

“Hope­fully, I can have a solid pre­sea­son, build some good form and take that into the sea­son.”

Rams pres­i­dent Michael Hol­land, Western Bull­dogs player Aaron Naughton, Rock­ing­ham NAB branch man­ager Mia Sibum, Rock­ing­ham Rams vice-pres­i­dent Ge­off Shaw and NAB re­tail cus­tomer ex­ec­u­tive James Tar­rant.

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