Greater Western Victoria Rebel Lloyd Meek had has AFL dream become a reality as Fremantle read his name out with the 69th pick in Friday’s AFL National Draft.
Meek was not the only Rebel to be drafted on Friday, with former Demon Dom Barry receiving an AFL lifeline from Port Adelaide – selected with pick 61.
Meek, a 202cm ruckman, enjoyed a strong TAC Cup season on his way to earning a VFL debut, playing four matches for the North Ballarat Roosters. He tested well at the National Combine, showing his impressive skills for a big man by recording a score of 28 out of 30 in the kicking test – to be ranked in the top 10.
While the youngster’s rich character is one that shone through in his time at the Rebels.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels talent manager Phil Partington was elated to see Meek find his way to an AFL club, yet draft night was always a bittersweet one given there was always disappointment for those who missed out.
But Partington said the phone call to Meek, who watched the draft from the family farm in Mininera, was an emotional one.
Meek worked closely with Partington throughout the TAC Cup season as the Rebels trainee, adding an extra element to the pair’s relationship.
“It’s pretty special having Lloyd Meek go to the Fremantle Dockers and he’s worked extremely hard as all the boys have,” Partington said.
“To see him get that opportunity, he’s been the Rebels’ trainee all year, so you get a bit of a personal attachment...I’m really pleased.”
Meek will no doubt be a project player for the Dockers, but he will receive outstanding guidance under the tutelage of Aaron Sandilands, one of the decades’ best ruckman who is entering the latter stages of his career. While fellow ruckman Sean Darcy burst onto the scene in 2017 and will offer sound advice to the first-year Meek.
Undoubtedly Meek’s talent and competitiveness for the contest is something that appealed to Fremantle. But his character and willingness to learn would have been an added selling point – this being highlighted by Meek’s “feedback book” he kept last year, recording every bit of advice he received.
While moving away from home is something the 19-year-old is accustom to, having moved to Ballarat this year.
For Barry, he left the AFL system in 2014 after five games for Melbourne. He returned home to the APY Lands, near Alice Springs, but has since rediscovered the drive to forge an AFL career.
After being part of a premiership side in the NEAFL (North East Australian Football League) in 2015, he moved to Adelaide, playing for Glenelg in the South Australian National Football League.
The 23-year-old impressed in the SANFL and showed he was worthy of a second chance – which Port Adelaide granted.
“To see him get another opportunity is really pleasing, pleasing for his family, but more pleasing for Dom who’s gone back and tried his best.”
At the other end of the spectrum is the disappointment for those who sat through Friday night’s coverage watching others having their dreams realised only to see the night conclude without theirs.
Partington said they were always tough phone calls, but the ones he made first.
Monday’s Rookie Draft offers hope, but regardless of the outcome, the Rebels’ welfare program will ensure the boys receive any support they need.
“Any time when they’ve got their heart set on being an AFL player and they miss out on the draft, they’re going to be very disappointed.”
It’s pretty special having Lloyd Meek go to Fremantle.GWV Rebels talent manager Phil Partington