By Jonty Ralphsmith
Haileybury coach Matthew Lloyd has labelled one of his players a top-five player in the private school competition and another the “Steven May of Haileybury”.
Midfielder Olli Hotton and defender Jakob Anderson were each selected for Vic Metro in the Under 18 NAB AFL National Championships and have been selected for the first match against the Allies on Saturday.
Anderson and Hotton have both been in strong form at school level in 2022 after a collarbone and ankle injury respectively hindered their 2021 seasons.
Anderson’s best game came on the weekend where he played with confidence against a strong Caulfield Grammar side.
“He was like a brick wall for Caulfield to get past,” Lloyd, coach of Haileybury, said.
“He was enormous and so courageous in the air, his ability to beat an opponent but also intercept and save others.
“He was like the Steven May of Haileybury with the way he performed on Saturday and his decision making and skill has been good all year.”
Anderson was affected by a virus for the preceding three games he played for Haileybury, but Lloyd praised his leadership, a key focus for the 17-year-old.
“I feel like I get around to individuals really well, I pride myself on building connections especially with younger boys new to the program, I want to make them feel really comfortable,” Anderson said.
“I was new to the school in year 10 and I remember how daunting it was seeing the big boys.
“When they don’t come up to you and say ‘hi’ it can make it that little bit scarier so I want to make it as comfortable as I can for everyone so we can make mistakes, learn and grow.
“I like to be vocal in the backline looking ahead of the field, setting up the boys as well.”
Vic Metro coach Jason Davenport also highlighted his “maturity and demeanour” when playing in a trial match two weeks ago against Vic Country and said that composure was a reflection of his personality.
At all levels of footy this year, Anderson has generally played a lot of his footy in defence, but there have been discussions to showcase him on the wing and in attack where Lloyd thinks his marking and goalkicking technique will help him excel.
Hotton’s best performance for Haileybury was a 35-disposal game against Geelong College three weeks ago where three third-quarter goals swung the momentum of the game.
Hotton’s growth lay in his kicking ability as Lloyd recalled that a majority of his possessions in 2021 were handballs.
Lloyd has high hopes for the youngster.
“He got tagged on the weekend (against Caulfield) so they’re going after him a bit because of the player he has become but he works through it – he’s such a good mark and so strong, so he’s hard to tag,” Lloyd said.
“He’s become dynamic and explosive this year and he’s such a good stoppage player.
“I believe he could be in the best five midfielders in the (APS) comp and I told him that at the start of the year to motivate him to reach the heights he’s capable of.
“I think he’s one of the cleanest and best stoppage players I’ve seen at school level and I’ve worked with some pretty good talent.”
As well as playing for Haileybury together, the pair each play for the Sandringham Dragons in the NAB League and share a strong friendship.
“Every club we’re at we’re together and we share lifts together, we’re super tight so it’s great to see him in the side as well,” Anderson said.
“We did a little bit of work during the lockdowns together and were always in conversations over texts giving each other feedback.”
Anderson and Hotton’s success comes after alumni Hugo Hall-Kahan was selected in the midseason draft, and kicked five goals for Sydney’s VFL side on the weekend.