By Nick Creely
MYLES Poholke is the kind of footballer that all teams love to have and all opposition clubs despise playing against.
Players that can represent the values of a football club, play consistently and lead by example do not grow on trees.
But the 18-year old Sorrento product, in just two weeks, will be beginning his new life as an AFL footballer, and couldn’t be more excited, but at the same time nervous about where the road may lead.
“The nerves are starting to creep in- my brother, who is my boss, always jokes that in a couple of weeks I’ll be on the other side of Australia,” he said.
“Overall I’m really excited to see what happens and hopefully all the hard work I’ve put in over the journey pays off.
“I think about moving interstate a little bit, my mates constantly bring it up, and they say they want me to go to St Kilda because it’s the closest club, but I sort of look forward to the fresh start of moving away and getting to know some new people, and I think if I was to go interstate, I wouldn’t have any dramas.”
Poholke enjoyed a standout season, representing not just the Dandenong Stingrays, where he won the Best and Fairest award, but he also represented Vic Country and the AFL Academy.
While proud of his achievements in 2016, the young star is humble to have been recognised for his hard work, and also believes he was able to grow and become a true leader.
“Personally, my first half of the year wasn’t that great, the stats were there but the impact wasn’t, and I was really keen to get into the national champs and pick up my form, which I was able to do,” he said.
“I think anytime you get to pull on the big V it’s really humbling, obviously getting the opportunity last year was great – this year was really good to sort of be one of the more experienced players, and sort of take charge of the blokes who hadn’t been there before.
“The results weren’t great, but I enjoyed pulling on the jumper.
“It was a massive surprise to be honest – a few people actually joked about it early on, but I thought it was pretty farfetched to play all this rep footy, I mean there was players like Will Brodie and what-not, but I definitely saw it as a massive step up for me and an eye-opener into how high I could make it and how highly rated I actually was at that time.”
Poholke prides himself on loyalty; an attribute he believes was shaped back in his junior days, but also paid tribute to his brother Leigh, who has been a magnificent influence on his life.
“I played my entire junior footy down at Sorrento football club, which I’ve loved,” he said.
“My brother has been my main influence – I lost contact with my dad some years ago, and my brother sort of took on that father figure role, and I still remember him teaching me how to kick, he coached me at junior level and we won a flag together.
“He’s been a massive help in cementing myself in Sorrento and also with the Stingrays.
“I owe a lot to him.”
With football in hand, Poholke plays with intensity, and believes he can make an influence through the midfield at any AFL club.
“I see myself at AFL level as playing a midfield-forward role, but obviously in the first couple of years, if I’m lucky enough to get a game, I’ll play wherever I’m instructed too,” he said.
“But eventually I’d love to become more of a midfielder who floats forward.
“I sort of model my game a little bit on Luke Parker, and just how he goes inside and out, hits the scoreboard and has elite overhead marking – I like to think we have similar strengths.”
But a knock on his game has always been his fitness, something Poholke believes he has overcome, and in a way, turned into one of his greatest strengths.
“My first interview was actually up on the Gold Coast, and I got a bit of a clip on not working hard enough and that my fitness was poor,” he said.
“Mostly clubs pointed out my fitness, but I tested well at the combine, and I now feel I’ve got that out of their minds.
“The process of the interviews weren’t too bad though, I was just myself and most clubs appealed to my natural personality.”
With so much talk about the strength of this year’s draft pool, Poholke believes there is one clear standout, and would love to play alongside him if fate has its way.
“I see Hugh McCluggage as the standout of this year’s draft, he is truly unbelievable – it’s just his ability to tear games apart that sets him away from the rest – it’d be good to be on his side,” he said.
“But obviously the next 15 or so are all great players and will have a big impact in the AFL.
“It’s very unpredictable this year, it’s certainly different to last year; no one really knows how it’s going to pan out to be honest.
“I have people telling me that I could go in some many different spots, so it’s honestly unclear at this point.
“The draft bats deep, you’ll get some ripper players towards the end of the draft as well – hopefully years down the track we will be remembered as one of the best drafts.”
Player Comparison: Luke Parker/Richard Douglas
2016 Statistics (averages)
13 matches, 21 disposals, 5 marks, 1 goal
4 matches, 15 disposals, 2 marks, 0 goals
Prediction: With Essendon greats Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton set to wind down their careers at Tullamarine in the next two years, Poholke could be the player for the Bombers at pick 41. With the likely pick of McCluggage with the prized first selection, Poholke could be part of a revamped and exciting new look Essendon midfield. The Saints are also reportedly keen, and possess pick 36, but a host of clubs such as GWS (37, 39), Adelaide (43), Sydney (46) and Geelong (38) could be interested in bringing in the young gun.