Monday, 7th February, 2011
By Darrin Manuel
After battling through two years of injury and disappointment, Thomas Kickett's charge towards an AFL career is back on track.
The talented 18-year-old has received a one-year extension on his scholarship with Hawthorn, and the chance to move to Melbourne to live and learn in Australia's heart of football.
Kickett originally began an AFL NSW/ACT scholarship with Hawthorn in May 2007, and later relocated to St Ignatius College in Sydney to further both his football and his education.
But his dream of an AFL career was dealt a cruel blow when he was struck down with the chronic groin condition Osteitis Pubis before the 2009 season.
Osteitis Pubis has become prevalent in the AFL as the athletic workload on footballers increases, and is caused by excessive stress on the pubic bone in the pelvis.
The condition causes acute groin pain and severely restricts physical movement - symptoms that ruined Kickett's entire 2009 season and restricted him to just 10 games in 2010 with both his college team and the GWS Giants in the TAC Cup competition.
Unable to show his wares on the field, Kickett was subsequently overlooked by Hawthorn in the 2010 National and Rookie drafts despite the club having priority access to recruit him.
The disappointment at not being drafted didn't last long though, with Hawthorn successfully applying to the AFL to extend his scholarship.
Hawthorn's General Manager Player Personnel and Strategy, Chris Pelchen, said his club had recognised Kickett's obvious talent despite his wretched run with injury, and were keen to retain him in the scholarship program.
"The reason for the scholarship is twofold, and the first reason is that Thomas has genuine football ability.
"You make your recruiting decisions first and foremost on ability and the potential to play AFL, and Thomas certainly has that.
"He's a natural forward-cum-wingman, slightly built obviously, and that will be one of the challenges for him; to improve his strength and also his endurance. But his marking and kicking are very good, and they're the two most fundamental skills in the game and he has them well covered.
"Secondly he's had such a limited program over the last two years due to injury that we thought it would definitely be worthwhile to offer him an extra opportunity."
With his injuries now behind him, Kickett said he was delighted at the prospect of maintaining ties with the Hawks and forging an AFL career.
"I found it hard last year when I nominated for the draft and didn't get selected," he said.
"But I'm really happy they've given me the opportunity, and hopefully I can bounce back and improve my fitness and my footy.
"It should be a good experience - coming back from injury and playing footy... and it will be pretty big to play in the VFL really."
As part of Kickett's scholarship extension he will move to Melbourne to play and train with Hawthorn and their VFL affiliate Box Hill.
He will also undertake a four-year Bachelor of Arts course at the University of Melbourne.
Kickett said he wished to thank his family, friends, and the Hawthorn and West Broken Hill football clubs for all their support over the years.