FORMER Werribee Tigers midfielder Michael Barlow is set to be swiftly elevated from the Fremantle rookie list for the Dockers’ season opener against Adelaide after starring during the pre-season for the Dockers.
The Dockers have plenty of scope for rookie elevations following the retirement of former Bomber Dean Solomon, while Scott Thornton, Antoni Grover and Tim Ruffles have all been placed on the club’s long term injury list.
Dockers senior development manager Simon Lloyd likens the 22-year-old from Shepparton to Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell and Hawthorn captain Sam Mitchell in not taking anything for granted in their quest
for an AFL career.
Barlow didn’t play TAC Cup football and instead impressed for Shepparton United in the Goulburn Valley Football League where he won a league best and fairest.
He followed up with two solid seasons at Werribee in the VFL where he won the Fothergil-Round Medal for the competition’s most promising youngster; he finished runner up in the J.J Liston Trophy and took out Werribee’s best and fairest.
“There’s probably good examples in players that I’ve worked with in Nick Maxwell and Sam Mitchell, who have been in the same positions as rookies,” Lloyd said.
“They’ve actually done it hard. They don’t take anything for granted.”
“I think he’s got a real appreciation of where he’s come from and how he actually has got to this level,” he said.
Barlow,pick No.8 in last year’s AFL rookie draft, has been the most impressive of the Dockers’ debutants given he has averaged 26 disposals in the three pre-season matches.
Lloyd said Barlow felt that he would always play AFL despite the hard road to get there.
“He’s played with a lot of the Kangaroos players down at Werribee. Even though he was playing VFL football, he always felt and knew that he was going to end up on an AFL list,” he said.
“Most of the recruiters don’t miss a lot these days and I think everyone was well aware of Michael Barlow. He’s a prolific ball winner, he really knows where to get the football and he’s got great endurance as well,” he said.
Lloyd also said former Casey Scorpions defender Alex Silvagni would also be in line for elevation, possibly in place of Thornton.
He believes more teams will take a punt on state league players in the near future.
“I think that’s the way to go with Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney coming in, I think more VFL and WAFL players, and players who have just missed the boat, clubs are going to start looking at these players who are just more mature and are more durable that come into the system.”
By Brent Diamond