Finn Callaghan and Blake Howes got a taste of what’s to come in the years ahead with a game of senior footy against the Geelong VFL side on Saturday morning.
Representing the AFL Academy, both players got the chance to impress recruiters, playing alongside the cream-of-the-crop in this year’s draft class at GMHBA Stadium.
Despite the 130-point loss, both players were significant contributors. Callaghan’s link play on the wing was impressive, covering plenty of territory and providing a spark through the midfield, whilst Howes was a constant threat when the ball went in the Academy’s forward line.
In what was his first hit-out of senior footy, Callaghan was impressed with the conviction of the ball movement on show at a higher level.
“The one thing that really stood out to me was how fast they move the ball, especially in attack,” Callaghan said.
“They didn’t muck around and they move it much faster than what I’ve played in before, so that was the main thing.”
The wingman also noted the step-up in ferocity around the contest compared to the NAB League.
“Physicality and intensity was definitely much higher.”
“They were much bigger boys, much stronger, and they got a hold of us and smashed us.”
Having only been informed of his selection last Saturday, Callaghan was a late call-up to the elite squad. He really embraced the week, relishing in the environment and rubbing shoulders with players such as Nick Daicos and Tyler Sonsie, who are projected to be in the top handful of selections come draft night.
“It was great playing with those boys,” he said. “They’re all ripper fellas and it’s been a great week of training and being with them all the time.”
“We came in [to camp] Wednesday, and it’s been pretty full-on. We’ve had training Thursday and Friday, which was at a really high intensity and had a lot of people watching, so that was all good, and then there was a lot of activities we need to do but it’s been a great week.”
The boys squad will take a short break for a few weeks whilst the girls’ NAB League season comes to a close.
They will return to represent Sandringham on Saturday May 22nd when they face the Western Jets at Trevor Barker Oval, looking to continue their undefeated start to the year.