Geelong and Hawthorn are poised to pounce on an AFL draft billed as “the next Joel Selwood.”
Jhye Clark is considered a top 10 certainty and even plumbed for the Cats champion just days before realizing his AFL dream.
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Clark has been described as a ruthless competitor with a never-say-die attitude, and 7NEWS reporter Mitch Cleary says “it’s easy to see why clubs have fallen in love” with his fearless attack ahead of Monday night’s draft.
“I always like to give 100 percent whether it’s smothering, tackling or blocking for the guys,” Clark told 7NEWS.
“I’ve always looked up to players in the AFL who do their best for the team.”
After winning Vic Country’s MVP award, the Selwood comparison has come and the tough midfielder is looking to make the most of the opportunity by prioritizing pre-draft sparring over ‘students’.
“[I’m]pretty nervous but pretty excited at the same time,” he said.
“It’s strange to think that in a few weeks you could be living your dream.”
He said it was a different experience speaking to AFL clubs because he had “not had any actual job interviews” before, but he was living his dream by just “speaking to all the AFL coaches and recruiters.”
“So it’s pretty cool and[I’m]very grateful,” Clark said.
Clark describes himself as an “inner midfielder” who likes to go forward and score a goal, although he says that at 180cm he is “quite short” compared to the modern midfielder.
“I was a pretty competitive (ball player) last year and didn’t have much of an outside game, this year I’ve just been trying to work on (my) aerobic capacity and I feel like that’s starting to come into my game.
“I’ve never been a born runner, but it’s something I’ve worked hard at and (I’m) not that bad at (now).”
Clark spent time in Geelong earlier in the year and met Selwood when he felt he wasn’t having the best start to the season.
“I was lucky enough to have coffee with him and just talk about the leadership roles and preparing for the draft,” Clark said.
“There isn’t much better in the game. I probably didn’t have the best start to the year so we had coffee with him and he just told me to relax a bit.
“He’s one of the best captains in the game so I really relied on him to learn some new leadership skills as well.
“It’s a great expectation… (and) it’s a great honor to be compared to him, but I’m very far from him… (I) try not to look up (too) much to the expectations. I’m just trying to focus on my own game.
“I wished him good luck … and congratulations after the grand finale, so he was pretty good.”
Though Clark is a Collingwood fan and a self-confessed admirer of Scott Pendlebury, he’s hoping he’ll be drafted by Geelong and put in the Cats’ first pick in their draft bucket.
“It would be pretty cool to play for your hometown. A lot of my buddies go to Geelong too so that would be very special but I understand it’s a national competition (so I’m) happy to go anywhere.
“(Moving) would be quite difficult at the beginning but they have all the support systems around them and you understand it’s a national competition. You just want to live your dream and I think I’ll be fine moving.”
https://7news.com.au/sport/afl/geelong-hawthorn-eye-the-next-joel-selwood-in-afl-draft-as-clubs-fall-in-love-with-top-10-certainty-c-8959877 Geelong, Hawthorn see ‘the next Joel Selwood’ in AFL draft as clubs fall in love with top-10 certainty