The AFL’s lightweight is a contender for a premiership season debut.
Jockey-sized Jake Neade, weighing just 67 kilograms, has bolted into the selection frame at Port Adelaide.
The 18-year-old, formerly a student at Ballarat’s St Patrick’s College, is the only player on an AFL list weighing less than 70kg, but he impressed for the Power in their pre-season cup openers on Sunday.
The lively forward, who comes from Elliot in the Northern Territory, midway between Alice Springs and Darwin, is only 170cm tall.
But Port coach Ken Hinkley says size doesn’t matter.
“Size is not one thing that will stop you if you have got effort and energy,” Hinkley said. “Jake showed he has got some real positives.”
Neade was a standout for the NT in last year’s under-18 national championships, winning All Australian selection.
He was also part of St Patrick’s College’s indigenous program and is one of two boys in the school’s history to have played in three Herald-Sun Shield premierships. He never played in a losing side for St Patrick’s College for premiership points in his three years at the college.
Neade also won the John James Medal for the best on ground in the Ballarat Associated Schools grand final.
Port swooped on the indigenous talent likened to Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli, who was among Greater Western Sydney’s pre-listed 17-year-olds.
The Power traded draft selection 28 to the Giants to secure Neade.
“We were pretty bullish on him,” Hinkley said.
“We knew what he was going to offer and it was an area of our side that he was going to strengthen – that small forward who can really put some pressure on and harass and then turn nothing into something.”
Neade’s former coach at St Patrick’s College Howard Clark said, although Neade is small, he is a very special player who is has an amazing work ethic and an innate ability to read the game.