‘A lot of challenges’: Sons of guns ready to make their mark

One son of a gun will begin his AFL career on a limited training schedule, but another is already firmly in the frame for selection in round one next year, as the league’s elite draftees begin their professional careers.

It was all smiles at Marvel Stadium on Thursday, when the Victorian-based players taken in round one of the national draft gathered for a photo shoot and introduction to life in the AFL fishbowl.

The Victorian-based first round draftees at Marvel Stadium on Thursday.Credit:AFL Photos

For some, it was the first time they had met their club media managers, while one player nervously sent a social media message to his club’s supporters that required a couple of takes. But one thing all players had in common was a desire to get to their new clubs next week and begin training.

Star midfielder Nick Daicos could not wipe the smile from his face as he contemplated life at Collingwood, the same club where his father Peter was a champion, and brother Josh currently plays.

Daicos, the No.4 pick who could easily have gone higher, is already seen by recruiting bosses as a ready-made senior player who will reinvigorate the Magpies’ midfield alongside the likes of Scott Pendlebury and Taylor Adams.

Already calm and composed before the cameras, Daicos, from the Oakleigh Chargers, would only say his focus was on proving himself over the pre-season.

Nick Daicos is raring to prove himself at the Pies.Credit:Getty Images

“I will have to wait and see. I haven’t played against AFL boys. I will have to prove myself in the pre-season and that will be a good indication of where I am at,” Daicos, who will don his father’s famous No.35 guernsey, said.

“There will be a lot of challenges but the main for me will be staying on top of my body. Us boys haven’t played much in the last couple of years. It will be a big change to play 20 games next year.”

This year’s draftees have dealt with two years of limited on-field action because of the pandemic but all took the opportunity to at least work diligently on their skills.

Sam Darcy also has a rich AFL pedigree, for he is now a third-generation Western Bulldog. The son of former club captain and bow board director Luke, Darcy has been dealing with a foot stress fracture and will be on a limited program before Christmas.

Sam Darcy will have a slower build-up as he returns from injury.Credit:AFL Photos

“The foot is coming along really well. It feels great at the moment. It is starting to ramp things up now and, hopefully, running in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“It will be modified training the first couple of weeks at the club, then hopefully start to pick things up if all goes smoothly.”

Taken with pick No.2, the athletic, 205-centimetre tall can ruck or play forward (he booted six goals in a state trials match) or in defence and adds to a playing list already bursting with elite mature talent and a younger generation set to keep the club in premiership contention for some time.

The Bulldogs eased Jamara Ugle-Hagan, last year’s No.1 pick, in this season. He played only five senior matches and wasn’t deemed physically ready for week-to-week combat.

The Bulldogs will also do what’s best for Darcy but the Oakleigh Chargers product has indicated he will push as hard as he can for a senior call-up.

“That [Ugle-Hagan handling] potentially could play a similar role to me, but that depends on how I train over the pre-season and how the start to the year goes as well,” Darcy said.

Darcy had dinner with Luke Beveridge and his family this week, with the coach’s advice just being to soak up the excitement of the week.

Daicos, like Darcy, knows all about media attention, and the young Magpie is another who won’t be fazed by the bright lights that come with his new life.

“I don’t really focus too much on it,” Daicos said when asked about the hype his name had generated.

“I can’t really control what everyone expects of me. I will just continue to work hard and hopefully earn that spot for round one.”

Josh Ward, the young Hawk who is an elite runner and left-foot kick, also has family history with his new club. Taken with pick No.7, Ward’s great-grandfather Alex Lee played 31 games for the club from 1933-35.

Ward said he was keen to hit the training track next week and is hopeful of being in the selection mix for round one.

“More immediately, I just want to get to the club, get to know everyone and just learn as much as I can,” he said.

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