By Tyler Lewis
Four Dandenong Stingrays youngsters have fulfilled their childhood dreams of moving into the AFL, after hearing their names called over three nerve-wracking draft days this week.
Hayden Young was the first to hear his name called it at pick 7 to Fremantle.
He slid further down than many would have expected, but the left-footed backman clearly wouldn’t mind as he has already set up an early surf in Perth with two-time Brownlow Medallist, and his now captain, Nat Fyfe.
Dandenong Stingrays coach Nick Cox said it was little surprise to see Young snared in the top 10.
“He has always been touted as the best player in our region and there is a reason for it – he is a professional, he does everything right, not just with his footy but with his off-field stuff, he just a really solid sure bet,” he said.
“You always knew he was touted to get to this level, but he is just a true, hard competitor in everything he does and that is just the greatest trait he has, he competes hard and the execution isn’t bad either.”
It came as no surprise that the Western Bulldogs snatched Beaconsfield product Cody Weightman at pick 15. The small forward toured Whitten Oval last week and was evidently the only player the Dogs had their sights on.
Cox said that the Bulldogs fans can expect a player who’s bound to excite.
“He has bobbed up out of nowhere and is that small forward everyone loves at the moment,” he said.
“He kicks some amazing goals, and marks the ball well for his size. A loveable kid who we are really happy he has become what he has become.
“I could see the Western Bulldogs supporters really falling in love with him.”
At the tail-end of the first round, key defender Sam De Koning was called at Geelong’s pick 19. De Koning joins a strong club in Geelong, which no doubt has future plans of him joined at the hip of backline coach Matthew Scarlett.
De Koning has become the second sibling to join the AFL after brother Tom went at pick 30 to the Blues in 2017.
At pick 54 Richmond made a play for St Kilda NGA (Next Generation Academy) player Bigoa Nyuon. The Saints didn’t match the bid, which meant the Dandenong Stingray became a Tiger.
Nyuon will indisputably be a strong project for the Tigers with the backline set for the next couple of years. Expect him to be bouncing out of the back half of the MCG with elegance and a roar from the Tiger faithful at some stage next year for a taste of the big time.
At pick 56, Essendon brought in small forward Ned Cahill. Cahill was likened to Tom Papley by Stingrays coach Nick Cox and will join a strong brigade of small forwards at the Bombers after a strong year, kicking the most majors for the Rays.