SIX St Patrick’s College students this month. Perhaps six AFL footballers next month.
The Ballarat boys’ school has created history this year with six of its students attending the AFL’s national draft combine.
One, Dom Barry, is already on Melbourne’s AFL list.
The remaining five – Tanner Smith, Martin Gleeson, Jake Neade, Nick Rippon and Micahel Close – have a nervous wait until November 22, but stand a good chance of being drafted into the AFL as well.
In addition, Matt Crouch also went to the national draft combine but, as a 17-year-old, won’t be eligible to be drafted until next year.
St Patrick’s College first XVIII coach Howard Clark said he was unaware of any other school that has had as many of its students attend the AFL’s elite national training camp.
“Four or more AFL clubs must nominate a player in order to get an invite to the national combine, and each club nominates 50, so there is a high chance of getting drafted if you attend the national draft combine,” Clark said yesterday.
“I think each of them is ready to be drafted.
“Maybe they are not ready right now to play AFL footy but they have AFL qualities.
“That doesn’t always mean they are going to get drafted but hopefully, on November 22, their names will be read out.”
There are 19 St Patrick’s alumni on AFL playing lists, including Barry, although that will reduce by four after delistings.
With that number of graduates from the St Patrick’s football factory, Clark said he had some insight into what AFL clubs were looking for.
“At the start of the year I was asked by four AFL clubs about boys that should attract their interest.
“These were the six, with the addition of (first XVIII captain) David Morris, who I wrote a review on,” Clark said.
“These boys have really embraced the St Pat’s culture, which is so strong on character and values, that they have become outstanding citizens.
“There are half a dozen of our guys in the AFL who are in the leadership groups at their clubs. I am confident that, if these boys get into the system, they will be very good role models.”
A further three St Pat’s boys – Tom Smith, Tyler Blake and Morris – attended state screening for players who attract expressions from one to three AFL clubs. They have also nominated for the AFL draft.
St Patrick’s this year won its third consecute MCC Shield for elite school football.