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O'brien dons the teal

Thursday, 26th June, 2008

O'brien dons the teal O'brien dons the teal

Broken Hill is shaping as an important incubator for AFL Club Port Power, which has just added a second local to its scholarship program.

Young South star Simon O'Brien joins teammate Jordan Johns on the program which is designed to help fast-track the development of young players.

It also gives the Power first priority on the boys once they turn 18, the minimum age a player can be before they are able to enter the national draft.

Fifteen-year-old Simon, who will be eligible for the draft in 2010, has been on the Power's radar for some time, according to the club's national recruiting manager, Blair Hartley.

"We've had someone keep an eye on him," Mr Hartley said yesterday.

The Willyama High School student's performance during a recent game in Adelaide convinced the Power to sign up the teenager.

Mr Hartley, who watched the game, said Simon "showed enough" to indicate he might just have what it takes to make it in the AFL.

Like Jordan, Simon has been given a training program to follow, and will take part in the club's pre-season training next year.

Mr Hartley said the scholarship program was about "trying to fast-track" junior players' development.

"We'll have someone there watching the games and tracking their performance."

The signing bring to five the total number of Broken Hill juniors who are now on AFL scholarship programs.

"There's been a lot of young players come out of Broken Hill and it's certainly an area we'd like to get our hands on," Mr Hartley said.

"I think it's a convenient fit for kids who come out of Broken Hill."

Local AFL development officer Dale Tonkin said that he wasn't surprised by Simon's inclusion on the program.

"Simon's strengths are his kicking and marking abilities and his speed - three qualities that AFL recruiters look for."

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