BOYD WOODCOCK rarely backs away from a challenge.
At 179 centimetres tall and 76 kilograms, many might have considered him to be too small for league football.
As a teenager he proved them wrong when he starred in North Adelaide’s 2018 SANFL premiership success.
He was drafted by Port Adelaide with pick 76 in the 2018 AFL National Draft but delisted a year later, only to be reclaimed by the club as a rookie.
Left in Adelaide when the rest of the side moved to the AFL’s Queensland hub to resume the season after the COVID break, and with no SANFL football to build any form, it appeared his opportunities in 2020 would again be limited.
But he worked hard on the track to build his running capacity and eventually forced his way into the side for an AFL debut against the Western Bulldogs in Round 10.
“It was obviously a bit of a different path than what some of the other boys have taken,” Woodcock told portadelaidefc.com.au of his journey.
“But I’ve always had a pretty strong self-belief and stepped up to every challenge that’s been presented to me so I took it in my stride, everything that happened, and did whatever I could to get myself into a position to play AFL and now that I’ve done that, I want to keep playing consistently.”
The 20-year-old has given himself every chance, agreeing to terms to a contract extension to remain at Alberton until the end of 2021.
He played five games in 2020, including four in a row from Round 10 to 13, and is now eager to hit the track again over pre-season and build on a breakthrough year.
“It’s always a dream to play your debut so it was pretty special to have that moment and I’m looking forward to having a big pre-season and building on what I did last year, playing those five games, and going from there to build my career,” he said.
“It’s really exciting to sign on again. It’s a great club to be at and obviously it was a really positive last year, we made it to the Prelim and only lost to the Premiers by a goal so there’s plenty of excitement around the group, everyone’s really close and tight knit.
“I’m looking forward to a big pre-season and building on last year.
“Over the COVID break last season I added a lot of extra running and stuff in and got myself really fit so that’s what I want to do again in the pre-season and just keep working on building that endurance up so that I can keep running up and down the ground and playing that high forward role to the best of my ability.”
He will have the added selection pressure of recent trade arrival Orazio Fantasia to challenge with, but he is looking forward to it.
It was an easy decision to hang around at Alberton for Woodcock and he’s determined to make the most of his latest opportunity.
“The club is full of good people, I think that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“There’s a lot of young boys and a lot of older boys but everyone gets along.
“We’re able to learn off those guys, it’s pretty special to learn off guys like Trav (Boak), Robbie (Gray), even Hoff (Justin Westhoff) and Ebo (Brad Ebert) last year.
They’re all pretty big influences on us young boys in terms of their attitude and work ethic.”