SAINTS TRUST IN MA­TU­RITY

Sunday Herald Sun - - Afl -

THE AFL has or­dered a match-day crack­down on per­son­nel in the in­ter­change area, in­sist­ing the 18 clubs stream­line their num­bers clut­ter­ing up the side­lines.

Hav­ing al­ready re­stricted the on-field use of run­ners and wa­ter car­ri­ers/train­ers from next year, it is un­der­stood AFL foot­ball op­er­a­tions man­ager Steve Hock­ing has in­formed clubs he will slash in­ter­change ac­cred­i­ta­tion for of­fi­cials from 16 per club to 12 in 2019.

There is even the prospect of fur­ther re­duc­tions in fu­ture sea­sons.

The ex­cess num­ber of of­fi­cials al­lowed ac­cess to the in­ter­change bench dur­ing a game has long been a bug­bear for Hock­ing.

Clubs have been told part of the rea­son for the cut­backs in­volves oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety, though he be­lieves staffers who don’t need to be there are also prov­ing an eye­sore for those watch­ing live or on tele­vi­sion.

Some of those who are granted ac­cess to the in­ter­change area in­clude club foot­ball op­er­a­tions man­agers, in­ter­change stew­ards, doc­tors, phys­io­ther­a­pists and other con­di­tion­ing staff.

The changes will be made (North Ade­laide, pick 67) 23, for­ward-mid­fielder 179cm 75kg Indige­nous worker at Play­ford In­ter­na­tional Col­lege by the JLT Com­mu­nity Se­ries.

They won’t af­fect the num­ber of wa­ter car­ri­ers and train­ers around the ground, though it has al­ready been an­nounced that they won’t be al­lowed on the ground dur­ing gen­eral play.

Run­ners have also been un­der fire and may now only en­ter the play­ing sur­face af­ter a goal has been kicked and must de­part be­fore play restarts.

ST KILDA has pinned its faith on four ma­ture-aged re­cruits who have downed their tools and em­barked on new ca­reers, con­fi­dent they can play a role in re­viv­ing the club’s for­tunes next year.

While most of the Saints’ draft at­ten­tion cen­tred on teenagers Max King (pick 4) and his good mate Jack By­tel (pick 41), the club’s list strat­egy was also to tar­get ready-made play­ers out of the state leagues ca­pa­ble of mak­ing an im­me­di­ate im­pact.

Three were taken in the na­tional draft — South Fre­man­tle’s Matthew Parker (pick 47), Essendon VFL’s Nick Hind (54) and North Ade­laide’s Rob­bie Young (67) — while the Saints also added another North Ade­laide player Cal­lum Wilkie with No.3 in the rookie draft.

Over­looked in the past, this quar­tet of play­ers has set­tled well into Moorab­bin, des­per­ate to make the most of their op­por­tu­ni­ties. Parker, who was work­ing dig­ging holes for an un­der­ground gas pipe while play­ing in the WAFL, was at home un­der the shower when his life changed last Fri­day week.

A close friend of Gee­long’s (South Fre­man­tle, pick 47) 22, for­ward-mid­fielder 187cm 79kg “Dig­ging ditches” for un­der­ground gas pipes Tim Kelly, the 22-year-old said the Cats’ star had played a role in mak­ing him be­lieve he was good enough to chase his dreams.

“He rings me up and tells me to keep striv­ing for great­ness,” Parker said. “He has paved the way for me.

“I was sit­ting at home one day (a few years ago) and thought to my­self, ‘Where am I go­ing to be in 10 years?’ I wanted to make a name for my­self and wanted other peo­ple to look up to me.”

His part­ner and baby son proved part of the in­spi­ra­tion to throw ev­ery­thing into his foot­ball, and the re­ward has come with his draft­ing, though he wants more. “Now I’m here, I know I have to work ex­tra hard,” he said.

Hind, a plumber, had his last day on site the day be­fore he was taken by the Saints.

He has had to hand back his com­pany car, but was happy to do so.

“It’s crazy that some­thing like this can hap­pen so quickly,” Hind, 24, said.

“Ob­vi­ously, learn­ing the (Essendon VFL, pick 54) 24, wing-mid­fielder 180cm 75kg Plumber game plan can be dif­fer­ent at clubs, but I give my­self a chance in the pre-sea­son.”

“I will keep work­ing on my fit­ness and my strength. I def­i­nitely won’t take it for granted … I think I can make an im­pact early sea­son.”

Young, 23, was at a cricket car­ni­val in his role as an indige­nous worker at Play­ford In­ter­na­tional Col­lege in Ade­laide when he learnt his child­hood dream of be­ing drafted had been re­alised. His stu­dents cel­e­brated with him.

“I al­ways kept my eyes on the prize,” Young said. “It shows that no mat­ter how old you are, you can al­ways achieve your dreams. I feel like any­thing’s pos­si­ble (with hard work) … my goal now is aim­ing for Round 1. It is all down to me now.”

De­fender Wilkie, 22, was work­ing on tax re­turns in his role as an ac­coun­tant when his name was called out in the rookie draft last Fri­day week. The next day he was clean­ing out his desk and pre­par­ing for a move to Melbourne.

“Most of us here have played se­nior footy, and some of us for a long time,” he said.

“Ob­vi­ously, there is a big step be­tween that and the AFL, but we have that se­nior ex­pe­ri­ence, and hope­fully it might not take us as long (to adapt).” (North Ade­laide, rookie draft pick 3) 22, de­fender 191cm 87kg Ac­coun­tant

St Kilda re­cruit Rob­bie Young is set­ting his sights on a Round 1 de­but. Pic­ture: SARAH REED

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