TWO of the state’s top teenage talents have had a taste of AFL pre-season training this week when they joined Port Adelaide’s playing group at Alberton.
West Adelaide defender Will Patton, 17, and South Adelaide forward Jack Delean, 16, got a taste of life as an AFL footballer thanks to their involvement in the 2022 AFL Academy side.
Working under National Academy Manager Tarkyn Lockyer, the pair are among nine bottom agers in the 30-player squad.
Another bottom ager is Zane Duursma, the brother of current Port Adelaide player Xavier Duursma.
Part of the state under 17 squad in 2021, Patton says he felt welcomed at Alberton and had learned a lot.
“It’s been a great week to come out and train and see what the level is like with all the AFL boys,” the Sacred Heart College year 12 student told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“It’s been good to have Jack out here with me. He’s helped me a lot and we’ve just sort of helped each other through the week when we’ve needed each other.
“I’m definitely learning a lot. The intensity out here is much higher than I’ve ever done. It shows me the level I need to be at to come out and play AFL.
“The biggest things I’ve learned are probably to play to my strengths as a footballer and all the other backmen have really helped me with my craft, which has been great.”
Delean finished as South Adelaide’s leading goalkicker in the SANFL Under 18s last year with 35 goals in 13 games.
The Reynella East College student has enjoyed the chance this week to learn from professional footballers.
“The opportunity I’ve been given has been incredible,” Delean told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“All of the boys have been really nice, really good trainings out here and it’s just so good for my footy.
“A lot of the boys have helped me out by giving me some pointers on how to do some drills because I’m new to all of this stuff so they’ve been on my side, giving me little pointers and showing me where to go so it’s been really helpful for me.”
While he admits being a Crows supporter growing up, Delean said he had a soft spot for Port Adelaide and had appreciated the chance to spend time at Alberton.
“Just being around the boys and training at a really high level has been really good for me and I now know the standards I can go back to my club and train with,” he said.
“I’ve learnt so much this week from ex-players, AFL players, coaches and that so it’s been really awesome.”
Both Delean and Patton will be eligible to be drafted at the end of 2023.