HE is the South Australian born, West Australian raised son of a Port Adelaide premiership gun, but while Taj Schofield hopes to land at the club where his father became a household name at next month’s draft, the teenager knows there is no guarantee.
Schofield, 18, has been a consistent performer at SANFL under 18 level with Woodville-West Torrens since moving back to Adelaide when his father Jarrad Schofield was appointed midfield coach at Port at the end of 2018.
On Wednesday Port Adelaide nominated the younger Schofield as a father-son option for the draft on Wednesday 9 December. This does not guarantee his selection but gives the club the first option to match any rival bid on him.
“For me that’s the place I want to be but at the same time it’s not guaranteed anything, but they’re pretty confident that I’ll end up there so fingers crossed I’ll end up there,” the teenager said on Adelaide radio.
“I’ve had chats with my manager who has spoken with other clubs as well and I’ve had a few clubs contact me but I probably haven’t had as many as some of the other boys.
“I’ve had Essendon, Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions as well.
“I guess being a father-son prospect, they tend to back off a little bit.”
Schofield was just two years-old when his father Jarrad was part of the ground breaking Port Adelaide team which won the 2004 premiership, and admits he recalls little of that time.
Instead he is more familiar with his dad’s coaching, including playing under him at Colts level when Jarrad coached Subiaco to three premierships and five grand finals in six years.
Taj Schofield’s loyalties remain divided between Western Australia and South Australia, but he is comfortable with that.
“I’m probably 50-50 because I’ve spent the majority of my life in WA but was born here (in SA) and live here now so I don’t know, it’s a pretty standard answer, but I’m probably 50-50,” he said.
“I was born in Adelaide when Dad was playing at Port and to be honest, I don’t really remember too much from that time, especially from the Grand Final.
“I’m pretty sure I was asleep during the Grand Final.”
Taj Schofield caught the eye of recruiters at the state draft combine where he placed inside the top five in all of the testing except the 2km time trial, when he finished sixth.
Having tweaked a hamstring at the national combine, he has completed his rehabilitation and is completing a block of running to get himself in top shape for pre-season training, especially if he finds himself on an AFL list.
Asked about how he would feel if the Crows selected him instead of Port, Schofield was pragmatic.
“It would be a little bit weird, coming home to the same household with Dad who would be at Port and I’d be at the Crows,” he explained.
“But I just want to get drafted and play AFL footy and live out my childhood dream so if that was at the Crows or at Port Adelaide I wouldn’t care, but obviously the preference is at Port.”
Anyone who had watched any highlights of Schofield would find it hard not to see similarities with the way his father played.
Composed with ball in hand, a good runner and possessing good agility, their size is also similar with Jarrad coming in at 180cm and 76kgs in his playing days and Taj not far behind at 178cm and 72kgs.
“I can play inside and outside mid,” the younger midfielder said, describing his strengths.
“I can play as a small forward and I’ve got good skills, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good kick, good speed and agility and I guess just good footy smarts.
“I feel like I know the game well and make good decisions with the ball.”
Schofield will learn his fate at the AFL National Draft, which will be held online for the first time, on Wednesday 9 December.
Port Adelaide currently holds picks 35, 47, 57, 59, 73 and 95 and has also nominated NGA product Lachie Jones as a potential selection on the night.