Buninyong rising star Joel Ottavi has secured a contract with Essendon’s Victorian Football League team.
The 20-year-old forward caught the eye of Bombers coaching staff during a pre-season trial process and was formally offered a position with the club for season 2017 last week.
Ottavi, who has played all of his football with Buninyong in the Central Highlands league, said he had put in a lot of hard work to secure his spot with Essendon.
It was a pleasant surprise, actually, getting picked up.Joel Ottavi
The latest news caps an exciting rise for Ottavi, who only really established his place in the Buninyong senior side last season.
In a breakout 2016 campaign, Ottavi proved one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition, kicking 46 goals from 20 appearances.
This included four majors in a losing grand final against Springbank, where he proved one of his team’s best players.
“It was a pleasant surprise, actually, getting picked up,” Ottavi told The Courier.
“Two years ago I was only playing half of the ones (season) at Buninyong, so I’m really rapt with where I’ve come since then.”
The former St Patrick’s College student said he has been working with the forwards at Essendon during his time there and hopes to win a spot in the VFL team during the season.
“I’ll train with them down there and if I train hard enough and well enough, I suppose I’ll try and push for a game,” he said.
“There’s some really good players down there. It’s a great group, a great bunch of blokes and I’m really enjoying it.”
Ottavi said he is unsure where he will play when not required at VFL level, remaining non-committal on his future with Buninyong.
Essendon kicks off its VFL season with a clash against Sandringham on April 15, while Buninyong is set to battle Springbank in a round one grand final rematch on April 1.