North Melbourne FC
Born: 21 March 1983
Junior Club: Aspley/Zillmere
Senior Club: Northern Eagles
Draft Details: North: Selection #42 (3rd round) 2000 National Draft; Selection Brisbane: #16 2003 Rookie Draft and Mid-Season Rookie Elevation 2004; North: Selection #74 (6th round) 2004 National Draft.
AFL Debut: Brisbane Lions v Fremantle, Subiaco, Rd 9, 2004, (22 May)
Jumper Number: 30
AT A GLANCE: Is a third-chance AFL footballer, cast aside not once but twice by AFL clubs before, curiously enough, forging a fine AFL career at his original club. A product of the Aspley Juniors via Northern Eagles, he was judged ‘Most Consistent Player’ for Queensland at U16 and U18 level, and in 2000 was the youngest player on the ground in the Northern Eagles QAFL State League grand final loss to Southport. He was taken by North Melbourne that year as a third-round draft selection, and despite some promising senior performances in the 2001 Ansett Cup he spent two years training at Arden Street and playing with the Murray Bushrangers without getting a chance at senior level. De-listed by the Kangaroos, he was picked up by the Brisbane Lions as a 2003 rookie before winning senior list elevation and an AFL opportunity in mid-2004.
He made his AFL debut for the Lions in Round 9 of 2004 against Fremantle in Perth, but after two further senior games was de-listed at the end of the ’04 season. The Roos, it seemed, hadn’t forgotten his teenage potential, and at 21 he was thrown a lifeline and a return ticket to Arden Street via the sixth-round of the 2004 National Draft. This time he turned potential into performance, and since 2005 has developed into a consistent senior player and a club leader. A hard-at-it, rebounding defender, he played 17 games in the first year of his second stint at North in 2005 before narrowly missing finals selection. In ’06 he cemented his spot and despite missing the last three games of the year finished 10th in the B&F. He was regarded as one of the club’s most improved players amid suggestions in the 2007 AFL Guide that he would become a backline general for the Roos following the retirement of Glenn Archer.
Season ’07 was his breakout year. Highly regarded for his uncompromising attack on the ball and the man with the ball, and for his poise and decision-making under pressure, he played 25 games, including his first three finals, finished 3rd in the B&F and won a spot in the preliminary 40-man All-Australian squad. He played 21 games in 2008 and in ’09 was appointed deputy vice-captain of a young and rebuilding side. But things didn’t quite go according to plan when he missed Rounds 7-10 with a knee injury and was twice dropped to the VFL in the second half of the season to finish the year two games shy of posting a very satisfying 100th AFL game.