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SIMON GOODWIN’S SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

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Melbourne’s selections during the 2017 AFL Trade Period and at the National Draft bear the imprimatur of Simon Goodwin and clearly demonstrate the direction in which the club’s head coach intends taking the club into the future. 

To be clear, the final decision as to which player was taken with any given selection was made on draft night by national recruiting manager Jason Taylor but the direction was laid out by the coach and his coaching panel. 

The emphasis is firstly on players with pace, good skills, especially in terms of disposal and decision-making and most importantly, on character and competitive instincts. 

And in the main, the club’s recruits are not the sort players who have been given an easy ride into the elite level of the sport or on a silver platter but rather, they’ve done it the hard way.

Jake Lever spent his draft year recovering from ACL surgery and was forced to watch from the sidelines as his Calder Cannons and Vic Metro teammates went through an entire season in the hope of catching the eye of an AFL selector. It’s well documented how hard he worked on his rehabilitation and that he used that time to learn as much as he could about the game from being around his club. 

Harley Balic came out of the same TAC system but a serious wrist injury that required surgery followed by bouts of homesickness and a hamstring tear which soured his time with Fremantle but it’s clear that commitment to improving his game never wavered.

Melbourne’s selections at Friday’s draft meeting in Sydney were -
 
Round Two:

29 Melbourne – Charlie Spargo (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)
31 Melbourne – Bailey Fritsch (Casey Demons/VFL)
37 Melbourne – Harrison Petty (Norwood/South Adelaide)

Round Three:

48 Melbourne – Oskar Baker (Aspley/Queensland)
 
Twelve months ago, the diminutive Spargo who hails from a strong footballing and professional athletics background going all the way back to great-grandfather Bob Snr. appeared headed towards the Giants via their Academy but the AFL changed the  GWS zone and he became available to all comers and would have been a top ten pick but for a shoulder injury that kept him from producing yet another consistent season in junior ranks. 

Fritsch was considered too slight of build to get into TAC Cup ranks but his perseverance with local club Coldstream finally earned him an invitation to play at Casey. After two injury-riddled seasons he had a standout 2017 to win the Fothergill-Round Medal - the VFL equivalent of the rising star award.

Harrison Petty wasn't really on the radar as far as many SA judges were concerned earlier this year but a superb national championships saw him win All Australian status and an MVP for his state. 

Oskar Baker was dropped off the list at the Brisbane Lions Academy so he walked into NEAFL club Apsley where he was given a rookie position at the start of 2017. He took his opportunities there, made the senior team and starred kicking the goal of the year and producing some breathtaking football.

The commmon thread among the four Demon recruits from this draft is hard work, competitiveness, pace and good disposal skills. It won't be easy for any of them to break into the AFL straight away but the fact that they have all come through the school of hard knocks should hold them in good stead.

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