No ifs and Butts: Jordon leaves nothing to chance

He may have been overlooked in the 2017 AFL Draft, but waiting an extra year gave new Crow Jordon Butts a senior premiership he’ll never forget.

Jordon grew up in Shepparton, in country Victoria – a town of 50,000 with four football clubs, four soccer clubs and a thriving basketball scene.

He had his options, but for Jordon, it was always going to be the Shepparton Bears that became his second home outside of his TAC Cup duties with the Murray Bushrangers.

After all, his father Gerard was part of the premiership side who secured the victory for the Bears in the dying seconds of their 1993 clash with Rochester.

So, it was a no-brainer for Jordon to follow in his father’s footsteps at the Bears, where he played most of his junior football.

But it wasn’t until after he missed out on the draft that he had his chance to make history of his own back home in Shepparton.

Twenty-five years after his dad celebrated a premiership with the Bears, so did Jordon.

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New deal for Darcy

Exciting young ruck prospect Sean Darcy has committed to Fremantle for the long-term, signing a two-year contract extension that will see him at Freo until at least the end of the 2022 season.

The extension is on top of a deal signed in 2017 that secured the ruckman through to the end of the 2020 season.

Darcy is now set to play at least the next four seasons at Fremantle, joining Michael Walters and Rory Lobb as Freo Dockers who have signed on until 2022.

Only captain Nat Fyfe has a longer agreement with Fremantle, contracted until the end of the 2023 season.

Darcy has averaged 33.7 hit outs per match in his opening 15 AFL games, more than the likes of Aaron Sandilands, Brodie Grundy, Nic Naitanui and Max Gawn at the same point in their careers.

Having trimmed down ahead of the 2019 pre-season, the 20-year-old is expected to use the 2019 season to challenge the veteran Sandilands for the no.1 ruck role.

Darcy said the decision to remain at Fremantle was an easy one and highlighted his relationship with Ross Lyon and his teammates as a significant factor towards re-signing.

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Twos company for a young Cat

LOCAL product Tom Atkins has declared a move from midfield bull to small forward will give him the best chance in 2019 to emulate a long line of Geelong VFL success stories.

After five years in Geelong’s VFL program, a second best and fairest award for Atkins this season proved too much for Cats recruiters to refuse, selecting him at pick 11 in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

And while he has forged his name as an inside tackling machine at state league level, the 23-year-old believes a star-studded Geelong midfield might force him to look elsewhere.

“If I had to guess, I would probably say a small forward role and maybe helping out in the midfield where needed,” Atkins, who stands 180cm, said.

“I played midfield most of this year but might have played as a small half forward a few times, but two or three years ago I pretty much played the whole year in that role.

“From that I have learnt a bit of the craft, but obviously it is a different thing doing it at AFL level.”

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Campbell gives ruck hand

North Melbourne has secured an AFL-ready ruckman with Tom Campbell crossing to Arden St.

The 27-year-old ruckman will provide support to Goldstein, who returned to near career-best form last season, and replaces Braydon Preuss.

Campbell joins the club under the new pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP), after he was delisted by the Western Bulldogs. He has played 42 games since his debut in Round 13, 2012.

“We obviously identified the need to bolster our ruck division and we are confident Tom can come straight in and will be a great addition to the team,” North GM football Cameron Joyce said.

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Q&A — PAT MCKENNA

After an injury-interrupted four years on AFL lists with the GWS Giants and Melbourne, Pat McKenna was delisted at the end of the 2018 season. As he transitions out of the AFL system, McKenna has signed on as an assistant coach with Melbourne’s AFLW team. We went one-on-one with the Demons backline coach about his move into the coaching box, his plans for the future and whether or not he plans to continue his AFL dream.

You had quite an injury-interrupted career across your time at the GWS Giants and Melbourne. At what point did you start thinking about a career post-football and was coaching something you had always been interested in?

It was probably largely when I missed the whole season with hamstring troubles that I started helping out, just sitting in the coaches’ box with our VFL team Casey. I didn’t do much or say much, just listened to the coaches and tried to help out where I could. That gave me an idea that it was something I could see myself doing when I got out of football and then I had a similar year with some injuries this year and unfortunately got delisted. Coaching was something that I have grown into and the Melbourne job was lucky that it popped up when it did but I wasn’t expecting anything that soon or that big. I knew I wanted to complete my courses and get qualified and then give myself the option to enter into coaching.

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Big ambitions for Walsh, Stocker

CARLTON’s pair of first-round draftees will set their pre-season sights on potential Round 1 debuts.

While knowing and acknowledging it’s a long road ahead, Sam Walsh and Liam Stocker are keen to don the navy blue at the earliest possible opportunity.

After being taken with picks Nos.1 and 19 respectively, the new Blues both want to experience the thrill of the season opener.

“I want to play Round 1, that’s the goal. I’ll train hard and hopefully I can try and achieve that,” Walsh said to media yesterday.

“It’s certainly my goal as well. I’ll work through it with Bolts and figure out what I need to do,” Stocker said.

“I might have a bit more to go compared to Sammy.”

Carlton’s draftees reported for their first training session of pre-season yesterday, signifying the start of an exciting time for both the individuals and the Club.

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Fatherly advice holds new Crow in good stead

Footy runs in the family for Adelaide draftee Lachlan Sholl.

Dad Brett played 35 games for Carlton between 1992 and 1994, including the losing 1993 Grand Final against Essendon.

His father’s cousins were also more than handy – Craig was a dual premiership player with North Melbourne during an outstanding 235-game career in 14 seasons from 1987-2000, while Brad spent the majority of his 171-game career with Geelong after starting with the Kangaroos.

“Dad played a few games with Carlton, so I’m able to draw on his experience,” Lachlan told reporters on Tuesday.

“He’s pretty much been my main coach or my main guidance in footy ever since I started.

“He’s definitely a big reason as to why I am the footballer I am.

“He is always giving me advice, but he also always wants me to play for the love of it and just enjoy it as well.

“Brad and Craig have also been really supportive of everything I’ve done.”

Lachlan is a skillful half-back flanker and winger who the Crows picked up with the 64th overall selection in last Friday’s NAB AFL Draft.

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Atkins’ Story of Persistence

As the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait.

Words couldn’t be truer in the case of Tom Atkins.

The Geelong VFL captain and two-time best and fairest winner finally found his way onto an AFL list on Friday, completing his five-year journey from VFL development squad member to the Cats’ senior list.

“It’s still a little bit hard to believe,” he says.

“It feels great. A big relief more than anything. There’s obviously still a lot of work to do but it’s just nice to be given the opportunity. I’m just very thankful that I’m in this position.”

The dogged midfielder received the news via a text message from Geelong’s talent ID manager Troy Selwood.

“I was actually in the car, driving from work. There was a bit of traffic in Geelong and I sort of knew it might happen around that 6 o’clock time but it started a bit earlier.

“I was just driving home I was in the car and I pulled up at home and checked my phone and Troy Selwood had messaged me and said it had officially been done. It was a big relief, it’s nice when it happens because you don’t really have to stress about it anymore.”

Twelve months earlier, Atkins had received a message of a different kind. Geelong GM of Football Simon Lloyd got in touch to offer some support as Atkins went undrafted for yet another year.

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Lyons the Lion says he’s back in the running

JARRYD Lyons says off-season ankle surgery has him ready to dispel question marks over his running and make an impact for Brisbane in 2019.

In a move that surprised many, Gold Coast delisted Lyons last month with one year remaining on his contract.

The 26-year-old was then snapped up by the Lions on a three-year deal.

After his first official session at his new club on Monday morning – he joined on a modified program last week – Lyons spoke to the media for the first time since his move north.

He said there was “no bad blood” with the Suns and he understood why coach Stuart Dew dropped him twice in 2018 despite being in the top-10 in the AFL for average clearances and contested possessions.

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Jarryd Lyons ready to be #Uncaged

The Brisbane Lions are thrilled to land the signature of delisted free agent Jarryd Lyons, who arrives at the Den from the Gold Coast Suns.

Lyons will significantly boost the Club’s midfield group, as he has proved himself to be excellent in clearance work.

The 26-year-old’s game style and age bracket compliments the Lions’ trade strategy of acquiring 23-26 year-old midfielders with exceptional hands.

The Lions worked with the Suns to start conversations with Lyons as they felt he could help grow their midfield and assist the young, emerging group, while also developing his own game.

Lyons comes to the Lions on the first day of AFL Delisted Player Free Agency Period after being delisted by the Suns yesterday.

In 2018 Lyons played 19 AFL games for the Suns and was top of his team for clearances and contested possessions, while averaging 25 disposals a game.

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McNiece to stay on

Essendon Football Club has today made a further change to its list ahead of the AFL’s list lodgement deadline.

Ben McNiece has been offered a one-year deal as a Category B rookie.

The defender was recruited by Essendon as a Category B rookie through the Next Generation Academy in November 2016, and has played 10 games in the red and black.

GM List and Recruiting Adrian Dodoro said McNiece has displayed promising signs since arriving at The Hangar.

“With injury hampering his progress in his first season, it has no doubt been frustrating for Ben,” Dodoro said.

“Despite the setback, Ben has shown great determination throughout his two years on the list.

“He is a quality young man and we are excited to see what he can achieve in 2019.”

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Darcy and Oscar commit to the Lions

Two of the Brisbane Lions brightest prospects have extended their contracts, with defender Darcy Gardiner and Oscar McInerney signing on until 2022 and 2021 respectively.

In 2018 Gardiner had his finest season to date for the Lions, earning a reputation as one of the best up and coming defenders in the league. The 23-year-old’s fierce competitiveness often saw him assigned the toughest matchups each game.

In his fifth AFL season Gardiner played every game up until Round 21, when he dislocated his shoulder, ruling him out for the remaining two games.

His brilliant performances on field and proud team ethic saw him rewarded with a fourth-place finish in the Merrett-Murray-Medal count and was recognised as the Club’s Trademark Player of the Year.

Gardiner said he did not think twice about putting pen to paper.

“I did not hesitate at all to extend my contract,” Gardiner said.

“With Fages on board, I’ve felt the last few years the team is heading in the right, positive direction and it is something I want to be part of.

“I think in the next few years we’ll be challenging teams and it’s a really exciting place to be.

“The team has improved so much and we only grow with confidence each week.”

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