Northern Knights duo Nik Cox and Liam McMahon put in plenty of hours of hard work during lockdown and it paid off on Wednesday.
The two were both taken in the AFL draft by Essendon and Collingwood respectively.
Cox, who was co-captain of the Knights this year, didn’t have to wait to hear his name called out, with Essendon using the first of its three picks in a row in the top 10 to pick the utility.
Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro said the most exciting thing about Cox, who was taken at pick eight, was that they didn’t know what his ceiling is.
“He has an amazing engine, is super quick and kicks both sides of his body,” he said.
“He’ll run around like a midfielder. Not having seen these boys playing this year we don’t know where they could have got to.
“We thought he could have been higher in the draft had he played.
“We’ve lost a lot of talls over the last few years and we really wanted to replenish the list in this draft and I think we did a good job of doing that.”
While many people remain unsure of Cox’s best position, the man himself sees himself as a defender.
“I think centre half-back or half-back flank in an interceptor role down back, that’s where I feel most comfortable and can be most damaging in that position,” he said before the draft.
“I’ve watched a lot of Darcy Moore. I think he is a pretty similar player, over 200cm and really athletic, really co-ordinated, uses the ball well and makes good decisions.
“He just plays that role down back where he can lockdown, but can also peel off, set up really well for the players in front of him.”
McMahon soon realised his dream, with Collingwood taking him at pick 31.
Collingwood national recruiting manager Derek Hine said McMahon helped fill a need they have. The Magpies have been crying out for key forwards, a role that he can play.
“He’s a key forward or key back, a really athletic boy,” Hine said.
“He has a unique skill for someone his size. He has some real tools to work with.”
McMahon worked hard during lockdown and put on seven kilograms and grew two centimetres to help with his game.
He performed personal bests in all three of the tests at the combine in the lead up to the draft.
It was disappointment for co-captain Ewan Macpherson who wasn’t selected.
The son of Steve Macpherson, who played 188 games for the Bulldogs, was nominated as a possible father-son pick.
No club selected him in the national draft, with the Dogs choosing not to select him as a rookie-draft selection under the father-son rule.
Fellow Knight Liam Kolar, who also tested at the combine, also missed out on being selected.