Saturday, 22nd March, 2014
By By Ethan James
Broken Hill’s Mitchell Henderson is a step closer to his AFL dream after being selected in the NSW/ACT Rams squad in the Under 18 TAC Cup.
The competition is regarded as the premier underage AFL competition in the country and is seen as an important stepping stone for players looking to make their way into the draft.
The likes of Sydney premiership winner Craig Bolton, Collingwood and Swans forward Nick Davis and St Kilda midfielder Lenny Hayes were picked up from the combined NSW/ACT side.
Mitch, who played senior footy for South last year, recently returned to Broken Hill after a short stint pursuing footy in Queanbeyan.
Since making his way back to town, he has set his sights firmly on the TAC Cup.
The first trial of the season is against Murray Bushrangers is today.
Mitch flew to Sydney yesterday and then took a connecting flight to Albury.
Despite having travelled interstate for footy countless times, remarkably, it is his first time on a plane.
“Yeah, I don’t like heights too much ... but Mark McVeigh (Greater Western Sydney Academy Head Coach) will be picking me up from the airport so it should all be good,” he said.
“I know a few people in the side, probably about three from Canberra.
“I’m looking forward to the match and finally getting out on the field.”
Greater Western Sydney Academy coach Dale Tonkin has watched Mitch’s progression since he first entered the development program at age 12.
“He’s always been a kid who would listen and take onboard what the coaches were saying,” Tonkin said.
Although his height would perhaps suggest a career as a ruckman, Tonkin believes Mitch’s future lies as a centre/half forward.
“For a young man who is six foot five, he is very good at ground level for his height,” he said.
“He has very good footy intelligence and is pretty coordinated for a big man.
“But as the saying goes, ability can only get you so far and hard work has to get you further.
“As with any young players he has improvements to make and he needs to build up his tank in regards to his endurance.”
Mitch is expected to rotate between full forward and ruck duties during the trial but when asked about his preference, gave a short but succinct reply.
“Full forward, definitely,” he said.
The RAMS play a total of seven games in the TAC Cup this year, with their first fixture against Dandenong Stingrays on Saturday, May 3.
They travel to Melbourne, Albury, Mildura and Morwell across the course of the season and also play the curtain-raiser ahead of Sydney Swans’ Round 13 clash against Port Adelaide at the SCG.