Mt Eliza's Sam Sturt is off to Fremantle to begin his AFL football journey.
The most exciting young talent from the AFL South East region will spread its wings around the nation in 2019 after a hugely successful AFL National Draft.
Six players with organic growth from the Mornington Peninsula are heading to four different states of Australia to realise their AFL dreams, with the Dandenong Stingrays’ first-ever premiership success attracting some huge interest from all corners of the country.
Sam Sturt (Fremantle) and Bailey Williams (West Coast) are heading to Western Australia, Will Hamill to Adelaide, while Langwarrin junior Zac Foot will kickstart his career with the Sydney Swans.
Toby Bedford is now a Melbourne player after being selected with pick 75, while Lachlan Young will also stay in Victoria after the Western Bulldogs snapped him up at pick six in the rookie draft.
Sturt - the first Stingray selected at pick 17 - and Young, both hail from Mt Eliza where they had a taste of senior football this year.
Club President Mick Dunne said the club was ecstatic to have two players set to begin their AFL football journeys.
“We’re absolutely rapt for both boys, they’re both exciting talents, and we wish them well as they begin their AFL careers,” Dunne said.
“They’re both great kids who both played senior footy at Mt Eliza this year and, as a club, we’re really proud of them.”
Dunne said the recruitment of the two young guns was a feather in the cap of Mt Eliza, who had policies in place to provide opportunities for young talent coming through. The recruitment of six players from the Stingrays also showed the depth of young talent in the AFL South East region.
“A couple of years back we put some real thought into how we could develop our kids, to provide pathways and opportunities to play in our development squad and seniors,“ Dunne said.
“They’re policies that we believe in, and I think football in the region will only get stronger and more exciting as all clubs continue to push the kids through.”
Hamill, the son of recently-appointed Crib Point senior coach Steve, has created history by becoming the first player from the Balnarring Junior Football Club to have his name called on draft night.
AFL South East would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all players selected and wish them the very best of luck for the future.
Pick 17 Sam Sturt Mt Eliza Fremantle
A left-footed medium forward who is courageous, strong overhead and presents well as a target up forward. A talented cricketer who only committed to an AFL career after finishing school football commitments at Peninsula Grammar. Starred in the APS v AGS representative game and has shown AFL potential in his handful of games with the Stingrays late in the season. Kicked 25 goals in five games for the Mt Eliza Under 19s in the early stages of the season.
Pick 30 Will Hamill Balnarring JFC-Dromana Adelaide
Hamill is a versatile player. He can play down back, through the midfield on the wing and even up forward. He breaks the lines with his speed and uses the ball well on his preferred left boot.
Pick 35 Bailey Williams Crib Point-Pines West Coast Eagles
Williams is a big boy but also has great athleticism. Vic Country representative in the 2018 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships for the last two years and a member of the NAB AFL Academy. At this stage, he’s still a bit of a project player.
Pick 51 Zac Foot Langwarrin Sydney Swans
A wingman with line-breaking speed on the outside. One of the younger players in the draft, so Foot has plenty of development ahead of him. Represented Vic Country in the under-18 championships.
Pick 75 Toby Bedford Rosebud Melbourne (NGA)
Speedy small forward who starred for Vic Country against Western Australia in under-18 championships. An indigenous player who is eligible to go to Melbourne under the Next Generation Academy rules.
Pick 6 Lachlan Young Mt Eliza Western Bulldogs
A rebounding defender who possesses a penetrating kick and strong intercept marking skills. He has the versatility to play through the midfield or on the wing and is known for his competitiveness. He played in Under 18 competition in 2018 as a 19-year old. He is a Stingrays premiership player and represented Frankston at league level in the VFL.