Tough pre-season awaits for youngsters

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

A large group of Great Southern footballers will begin their quest to play at WAFL level as they move to Perth to join pre-season training with Claremont in the next fortnight.

State underage representative Tyron Smallwood, who won the Alan Barnett Medal in last year’s Great Southern Football League grand final, is one of seven local players who will be making the move ahead of a gruelling pre-season schedule.

Smallwood and fellow Great Southern Storm products Hamish McMorran, Tom Baldwin, Ben Watson, Ethan Dennis, Tom Candy and Robbie Baker will all be trying to earn a place on Claremont’s colts list for the upcoming season.

The Storm program has been helping these players prepare for the challenges of a WAFL pre-season since the GSFL season finished last year.

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Smallwood said he was itching to start the next chapter of his football dream.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.

“The opportunity to play at the highest level I can. I’ve basically been running most days for almost the two months — I went up there a bit before Christmas and was not where I needed to be so I’ve put the hard yards in and hopefully it pays off.

“The Storm program is run so well and helps us boys get a head-start on some of the others up there.

“I’ll try to play good colts football and hopefully get selected in the State (18s) and at the end of the year try to get a few league games.

“The ultimate goal is to obviously get drafted.”

The 17-year-old said having so many Great Southern players going up at the same time and Claremont’s strong association with the region were a major assistance in becoming settled quickly ahead of training beginning on January 15.

Corey Hitchcock, Corey Linthorne, Brandon Woods and Jordan Reid, who have all been part of the Storm program, will do a senior pre-season as they try to earn a spot on the Tigers’ list.

The Tigers already have a large contingent of Great Southern players in their senior squad, with several of last year’s colts moving up as well.

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