Six of Tasmania’s top 16 and 17-year-old footballers have spent the week shadowing AFL stars Ben Brown and Jack Ziebell in Melbourne.
North Launceston forward Jackson Callow, Launceston midfielder Jared Dakin and Southern quartet Sam Collins, Mitch O’Neill, Oliver Davis and Will Peppin all took part in a week-long NAB AFL Academy Allies camp which saw them train alongside North Melbourne at its Arden Street training base.
North Hobart 17-year-old O’Neill took the opportunity with both hands.
“It’s pretty sick because not everyone gets the chance to train at an AFL club, I’m just trying to learn from everyone, take everything on board the players and coaches say,” he said.
“It’s sick to learn from Ben Brown - he’s probably one of Tassie’s greatest players to come out of there - he’s already taught me a couple of tricks of the craft so I’ll definitely be using them when I get back home.
“It’s a great insight of what life as an AFL player is like - not only on the track, but off the track with all the meetings they have and all the stuff they do outside of footy like volunteer working and helping out with schools.”
The Academy program has expanded from 60 players to 150 and features a series of camps which will take place throughout the year.
Allies head coach Luke Power said he expected the program would hugely benefit players in their draft year.
“We believe it’s going to be helpful for their development by coming in and getting access to elite facilities and coaching, and also being able to model AFL players and see what it takes to prepare yourself to play AFL football,” he said.