ALIPATE CARLILE begrudgingly walked around Football Park at West Lakes to take up a position on the outer wing.
It was 2017 and the recently retired backman had taken on a role working with Port Adelaide’s Next Generation Academies, under Shaun Hart, and it was Hart who had asked him to watch the group of young footballers from a different angle to get a new perspective.
But soon after taking his seat, his eyes shone with excitement at the teenager dominating off half back.
Carlile had to know more.
“Harty made me go out onto the wing because he couldn’t be bothered and I just saw this kid play,” he told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“He read the ball really well, he was tough and he was really athletic as well.
“It was only a 12-a-side game and he was a fair bit more advanced than the other kids but he was still humble and pretty quiet and just went about his business.”
That kid was Lachie Jones, the teenager from Bute on Yorke Peninsula who was in town for an under 15 talent identification match.
He was “marking everything” and was powerful, fast, and hard at it.
Not renowned for his speed during his playing days, Carlile set a cracking pace as he rushed back to Hart to tell him about his find.
“It wasn’t like spotting a needle in a haystack, it was more like finding a beachball in a ball pit,” Carlile joked.
“I rushed over to Harty and said ‘we’ve got to find this kid’ and we found out he was in our zone so that was really exciting.
“We found his parents and exchanged details and got him into the club.”
Since then, Carlile has taken an interest in how Jones has developed, following on as the now 18-year-old crashed packs, lay bruising tackles, took countless intercept marks off half back and got the ball going the other way with his booming right foot.
Carlile even remained in close contact with Port Adelaide’s National Recruiting Manager, Geoff Parker, to ensure the club found a way to secure him in the draft.
“I’ve watched him a few games and sent a text or two to Parks and told him to throw away the kitchen sink to get him,” Carlile explained after Port Adelaide landed Jones by matching a bid from Collignwood with pick 16 in Wednesday night’s draft.
“Parks was adamant that we were going to land him and I think we’ve done a pretty good job to get him.
“We’ve seen what he did throughout the SANFL this year, which was really impressive and we’ll be watching him go around for many years to come in the AFL.
I think the Port Adelaide faithful will be pretty happy with the future that he holds for the footy club.”