THE first day of training at an AFL club is exciting for any new draftee but when you haven’t played football for a year, it’s even more so.
That was the scenario faced by new Port Adelaide draftee Mitchell Georgiades.
The 18-year-old Subiaco product was a surprise selection by Port Adelaide at pick 18 in Wednesday night’s first round of the AFL Draft.
At the end of 2018 he was predicted to be named at the top end of this year’s draft but a nasty leg injury sidelined him from the entire season.
Sitting on the sidelines for so long made his first day at training with his new Power teammates on Monday even more special.
“The boys were amazing, they all got around you straight away. I’m starting to learn everyone’s names. It was great fun out there and I can’t wait to get stuck in again,” he explained in a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“(Their advice was) just enjoy it, you don’t get your first day all that often so take it in and they’re all going to be there to support us so I can’t wait to get into it and it’ll all flow from here. So just take it all in, that’s what they’ve driven into us.
“We actually got lucky. We got out of the running at the end. In most of the drills they’d pull us out every now and then so we missed out on the running, which I was a little bit happy with.
“It’s pretty exciting. You’ve been waiting for this moment all year and to for it to finally come is exciting.”
An innocuous corked thigh suffered on Grand Final day in 2018 calcified and required three bouts of surgery earlier this year.
It’s left Georgiades with an impressive scar on his upper leg and a greater appreciation of being able to play the game he loves.
“I went to Bali on a surfing trip and came back the following week and started playing a bit of cricket and it kept getting stiffer and stiffer so I had a couple of weeks off just to let it rest,” he explained of the injury.
“I came back in full training and was in the one-week experience at the West Coast Eagles and I was just walking across the oval and it blew up and started spasming.
“I just sat there and knew something was not quite right so I ended up spending a couple of nights in hospital, which was good fun. I had three operations in January and February and then since then I’ve just been building it back up to full strength.
“It’s all good now so I’m back into full training today.”
While he was pushing for a return for Subiaco late in the season, advice from his parents and WA Talent Manager Michael Ablett to hold off and instead focus on the draft combine proved telling.
The athletic, strong-marking forward built up his fitness and tested well at the combine.
But it was his resilience while dealing with a lengthy injury layoff which was also impressive.
“I just surrounded myself with some pretty good people and just focussed on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t,” he explained.
“Probably school was a bit of a blessing in disguise. It kept me busy in that sort of regard, I focussed on school for a couple of months and then when footy came back I just got that balance right and focussed on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t.
“If the boys were training, I’d be swimming or doing stuff and just surrounding myself with them. I’d be down at every training just to still feel a part of it.”
At 191 centimetres, Georgiades is six centimetres taller than his father John Georgiades who carved out a solid football career with Subiaco and Footscray.
The younger Georgiades is keen to push for an AFL berth in 2020, which he knows is a big year for Port Adelaide.
“I think Mum and Dad will be a bit sad but I’m happy to move away and do something a bit different. I can’t wait to get stuck into it at such a great club in such a historic time in the 150th year as well so I can’t wait,” Mitch Georgiades said.
“I read that they dominated in the local competition over here for years and then boosted into the AFL so I knew a fair bit but I’ll learn more and more as I go on and I can’t wait to be involved in such a historic year.”