Northern Knights’ Darcy Wilmot and Josh Ward have had their dreams realised during the first round of the 2021 AFL draft.
Wilmot will get his claws out with the Brisbane Lions, while Ward will spread his wings with Hawthorn.
At 17 years old, Wilmot has made a name for himself as a strong defender, and was the youngest player in the draft.
The Hazel Glen College student was surrounded by friends when the announcement came through, who all excitedly jumped on him in celebration.
Speaking to Fox Sports minutes after the announcement Wilmot said he would bring “the best footy” to the Lions.
“Hard work, determination, just everything I’ve got in me – I’ll bring to the AFL,” he said.
In a post to the Lions’ website, national recruiting manager Stephen Conole said the club were extremely pleased and excited to bring Wilmot in.
Conole said Wilmot had a rare mix of defence and offence skills that made him unique in the draft pool.
“He is a super competitive player whose ability to defend well but also run and create from behind the game really appeals,” Conole said.
“He played predominately as a small defender this year, but we have seen him play through the wing and across half forward in his junior years.
“He has enormous scope to develop into a terrific player for us going forward.”
Young midfielder Ward was selected at pick seven by his dream team.
Speaking on draft coverage, Ward said his great-grandfather, Alex Lee, played 32 games with the side, with his whole family supporting the club from then on.
“He’s the reason the whole family barracks for them [the Hawks],” Ward said.
“[It] means a lot to go there.
“[My] family will be happy they don’t have to buy any more merch for another club now.”
Ward said it was “unbelievable” and an “incredible feeling” to be scooped up by the Hawks.
“I’m so happy to get to the Hawks, and can’t wait to get started,” he said.
Ward had been a star for the Knights’ in the 2021 season, and averaged more than 30 possessions a game.
Ward had demonstrated his impressive running capacity in the draft combine, finishing the two kilometre time trial in five minutes and 57 seconds.
In a post to the Hawks’ website, the club said Ward was a hard-working on-baller for his team.
“A classy player capable of consistently winning mountains of possessions, Ward poses as an exciting prospect for the Hawks in the years to come,” the post said.
The rest of the draft will be held tonight, while the rookie and pre-season drafts will be held on Friday.