By ZAC MILBANK
Will McCabe’s dream of wearing a Hawthorn guernsey has become reality after the Central District defender was selected as a father-son prospect in the 2023 AFL Draft.
Widely considered to be the first South Australian to have his name called, McCabe was among seven Croweaters to be drafted when he landed at Waverley at Pick No.19.
The son of dashing Hawks backman Luke McCabe, who played 138 AFL games from 1995 to 2004, Will McCabe grew up wearing brown and gold, together with the rest of his extended family.
Now, the 18-year-old will have his chance to shine as Hawthorn seeks to continue its rebuild with youth under coach Sam Mitchell.
Measuring in at 197cm, McCabe boasts an uncanny knack of being able to intercept mark at crucial stages while launching attack from defence.
”I’m lost for words – it’s been a long time coming but I am finally here,” McCabe told Fox Footy Channel.
”Hawthorn has looked after me a lot. I’m really excited to see where the club is going with all of its young talent so it’s very exciting times.”
Central District's Will McCabe on his selection to Hawthorn
''I'm really excited to see where the club is going with all of its young talent so it's very exciting times.''
South Adelaide ruck Taylor Goad was the second South Australian selected, with North Melbourne snapping up the 207cm giant with pick No.20.
The athletic Panther has enjoyed a whirlwind 12 months, putting aside his basketball career with Southern Tigers to focus on Australian Football having played locally for Willunga, as well as Westminster College.
”I’m really overwhelmed as I didn’t think I would be here at this time (pick No.20),” Goad said.
”It’s unbelievable to think that this would happen. If someone said this time last year I would get drafted, I wouldn’t have believed them at all.
”I had spoken to North Melbourne, Clarko (coach Alastair Clarkson) is an awesome bloke. I’m excited to move away from home as I am ready for the next step in my life. I can’t wait for this opportunity.”
Ambidextrous Glenelg forward Ashton Moir, touted as a top-five pick this time last year, landed at Carlton with the final pick of the night – No.29.
Measuring in at 188cm, Moir is expected to hit the ground running with the Blues given his exceptional ability to kick on either foot while modelling his game on Sydney’s Isaac Heeney.
North Adelaide midfielder Kane McAuliffe got things rolling for the South Australians on night two of the AFL Draft, snapped up by Richmond at Pick No.40.
McAuliffe, from Port Augusta, is among a host of Roosters to have been drafted to Punt Road including Ben Holland, Shane Edwards, Jack Graham, Oleg Markov, Jacob Bauer and Nathan Gordon.
The Tigers struck again at No.43 when they took another Croweater with their second pick of the night, calling upon Central District key forward Liam Fawcett.
Fawcett, who measures in at 198cm, is a strong-marking key forward with a neat set shot in front of goal.
Glenelg’s Bodie Ryan is headed for Hawthorn after hearing his name called at Pick No.46.
Ryan, the cousin of fellow Bays draftee Jakob Ryan who is currently at Collingwood, is a smart medium-sized defender who can take an intercept mark.
South Adelaide’s livewire forward Jack Delean was the final South Aussie to be chosen, by Fremantle at Pick No.60.
Delean, who made his Hostplus SANFL League debut this year, is a natural goal kicker who has a penchant for producing an unpredictable play.
SANFL Executive General Manager Football Matt Duldig congratulated the seven young South Australian players on being selected in the 2023 AFL Draft.
“I would also like to acknowledge the dedication and efforts of our SANFL Clubs, the SANFL Talent staff, volunteers and the families of these players in assisting with their development and helping them to realise their dream of playing football at a professional level,” Mr Duldig said.
“And importantly, for those talented young players who missed out on selection, they still have a great opportunity to play for their SANFL club and in the best State League competition, while continuing to develop and press for future AFL opportunities.”
Last month, Glenelg premiership defender Toby Pink earned a second AFL opportunity as a mature-age player when he was secured by North Melbourne as a Delisted Free Agent.
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