Locals wait eagerly

Berwick and Dandenong's best hope Mac Andrew was labelled 'Magnificent Mac" throughout the year. Pictures: COURTESY OF AFL MEDIA

By Tyler Lewis

The NAB AFL Draft is upon us and with the nail-biting two nights comes a plethora of young prospects within the area that sit on the edge of their couches, hoping for their name to be called.

The Dandenong Stingrays’ best hope for a top ten pick is unequivocally Berwick junior, Mac Andrew.

The dynamic ruck moves like a midfielder at 202cm and has impressed with his ability to move like an additional on-baller after competing in the ruck.

Andrew is in the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, but he is unlikely to slip out of the top 12, let alone to the premiers’ first pick.

Andrew was the only Stingray to represent Australia in the AFL Academy in the annual match against a Victorian Football League (VFL) side.

While he is set to be called on the opening night of the Draft, Andrew is happy with wherever he plays, as he is just hoping to inspire Sudanese youngsters around the nation.

“I want to be the best player I can be, whether that be even at VFL or local level; but I more want to inspire other Sudanese kids to play footy as well,” Andrew said.

Another Stingray set to impress on draft night is Miller Bergman – a hard-running utility – also from Berwick.

Bergman was a self-admitted dream by Dandenong head-coach Nick Cox during the year when Bergman ran over 13 kilometres in the second round of the year against Greater Western Victoria Rebels.

Star News Group interviewed Bergman in May this year, where he spoke about his desire to make it to the AFL level, and how he’s used Covid as a way to improve not only his fitness, but his game.

“During games I just try and run as much as possible and be loud, then try and use it when I’ve got it,” he said.

“During the Covid lockdown (in 2020) I was running maybe three to four times a week.

“5km, 10km, then sometimes a short 1km run to just tick the legs over every now and then.

“Now that training is back, I run once or twice a week. I am preparing for the harder stages if I am able and lucky enough to get there.

“I have gone and watched North Melbourne train, I am a mad North Melbourne supporter, I have seen how hard they work at training, I have tried to get that into my own scenario.

“Keep fit and work hard, it is never going to get easier the higher you go.”

Doveton’s Connnor MacDonald and Berwick’s ‘Juddy’ Clarke are also in contention for a second round selection.

While they play very dissimilar roles in the Dandenong engine room, they complimented each other splendidly this year, with MacDonald dominating the inside and Clarke likewise on the outside.

Clarke – a left-footer – was ever-reliable in the Rays midfield this year, while MacDonald was a constant improver, working on both his strength – his inside game – and building his running capacity to add the string of outside ability to his bow.

While not from the local area, the Stingrays are also hopeful for Mornington Peninsula products Will Bravo, James Cahill, Josiah Kyle and Lachie Robinson.