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Rozee returns to his roots

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 22: Connor Rozee of the Power poses during the 2018 NAB AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 22: Connor Rozee of the Power poses during the 2018 NAB AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

IT has been more than six years since Connor Rozee left Stirling North Primary as the recipient of the school’s Year 7 Outstanding Achievement Award but his former teachers still use him as an example of success for current students.

In fact, the students have a permanent reminder of his award – the school’s highest honour - on a wooden honour board in the school’s front office.

Described as agile, talented and very skilful , Rozee’s drafting by Port Adelaide at the 2018 AFL National Draft didn’t come as a surprise to his teachers.

But seeing his name on the honour board caught the number five draft pick off guard.

“I didn’t know they had that thing up until I walked in there but I guess it is a bit of an honour to be up there,” Rozee said during a visit to the school on Tuesday.

“It was an achievement I was pretty proud of at the time so to have my name up there in this school, which I really enjoyed going to is something pretty special.”

The school visit was part of Port Adelaide’s Community Camp which saw players interact with more than 10,000 people at schools, hospitals, kindergartens and retirement homes in Whyalla, Port Augusta and surrounding areas.

36 players also hosted a super clinic at Whyalla’s Bennett Oval on Monday evening, while coaches Jarrad Schofield and Scott Thompson held an education session for local junior and senior coaches.

The highlight for Rozee, though, was getting back to Stirling North, where he spent his childhood.

“It’s a really cool experience,” he said.

“I haven’t been back here for five or six years so it’s great to see all the old faces – some of the teachers who taught me back in the day are still here, and a few mates who were around the place came around so it’s good to see all the new faces and all the kids.

“There’s a couple of new buildings but it’s pretty similar.

“I still remember coming out on this oval and having a kick so it’s pretty similar to what it was back in the day.”

 

In 2012, when Rozee was finishing year 7 and preparing to move to Adelaide to chase his AFL dream, Simon Robinson was his teacher.

Still at the school now, Mr Robinson was one of the first to welcome Rozee back.

“We’ve been using him as an example to the kids so it’s a really good opportunity for them to meet him and to talk about him further down the track,” he said.

“Connor was a great student in school. He was really good in class, he worked really hard at all his subjects, he was really good at his sport and he was a really good role model for the other students.

“He got along well with all the other kids and he always showed strong leadership skills.

“He was always pretty focussed. (We didn’t) necessarily know (he would) be an AFL footballer because he was good at other sports – he could have been a really good cricketer or even a soccer player – and he always had a professional approach to sport.”

Being a role model sits comfortably with Rozee.

Despite his tender years and the fact he is yet to make his AFL debut, Rozee is happy to help inspire others in regional areas to chase their dreams.

“I remember when Port Adelaide and the Crows came down here and that’s an experience that I’ll always remember so I hope having some of us coming now will let the kids have a similar experience,” he said.

“It’s good to give back to communities around this area, especially having grown up here.

“It doesn’t really matter where you are from, you can still have a dream and achieve it.

“I had a dream to play AFL football, and there are sacrifices you have to make along the way but it doesn’t matter that you come from a small town outside of the city, if you want to make it, you can make it.”

Rozee impressed in his first competitive hit-out for the side in the intra-club match last Friday night.

He will get another chance to push his case for selection on Saturday when the Power’s best under 23 players take on Adelaide’s under 23 side in a trial game at Thebarton Oval.

And despite receiving high praise from external commentators, Rozee isn’t expecting to break immediately into the Power’s side for Round 1 of the AFL Premiership Season when the Power takes on Melbourne at the MCG.

“My goal is to just play an AFL game, obviously I haven’t done that yet so just to play one – whether that’s early in the season or late in the season, or in a few years’ time it doesn’t really matter to me,” he said.

“My goal is to play AFL football and hopefully I can have an impact and play my role.

“If I don’t get picked, I don’t get picked.

“I’ve got to earn my spot in the team and if Ken thinks I’m ready to go for Round 1, then I’ll be ready.”