The sun may be setting on the NSW scholarship scheme, with clubs no longer able to sign up any new youngsters under the system, but thankfully Derek Hine managed to get a few lads north of the Murray to put pen to paper, locking them in when the announcement of the eventual end was made. We may not be able to sign up any new prospects under the scheme, but we can honour any contracts that were already in place.
This means of course, that we’ve still got a few Hine freebies to come into the mix in the next couple of years — along with the likely father/son selection of young key forward James Stewart at the conclusion of this season.
Our remaining scholarship holders consist of Elijah Edwards (16), John Haggerty (16) and Jed Hillman (17). Recent news indicates that all three have made the initial trials for their respective zones for the NSW/ACT Rams squad and in the case of Edwards and Haggerty, they have done so as underaged players. We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out who made the final cut for the U18 championships that will be held in the middle of this year.
There has been a fair bit of hype already attached to Edwards, a young indigenous player who was labelled as the “wunderkind” in conversations played out in online forums. Edwards has been boarding and playing junior football at Scotch college, with a view to not only accelerating his football development but perhaps acclimatising him ahead of time to life in Melbourne.
The zippy small was the subject of a rather exciting highlight video back when we signed him up at the beginning of 2010, but unfortunately there has been a lack of recent footage. His size – or lack thereof – will raise some questions in terms of his viability, but from all reports he certainly doesn’t seem to be lacking in the talent stakes. Out of our current scholarship holders, Edwards rates as our best bet for representing the Rams in this year’s carnival.
John Haggerty was added to our scholarship list around the same time as Edwards, both being signed and sealed shortly before the cut-off date that marked the end of the scholarship scheme. At 16 years old, Haggerty already stands at 195-196cm tall according to the most recent update from Derek Hine. He has struggled with some injury issues in the last year or two, which are seemingly related to his growth, in a manner not dissimilar to what Witts experienced.
Having already represented the Rams at U16 level alongside Edwards, Haggerty will be looking to secure a spot alongside his future Collingwood team mate in this year’s U18 squad. Given his size and if he develops as we hope, we could very well bolster our key position stocks at minimal cost once more.
Jed Hillman is probably the scholarship holder we currently know the least about, with news regarding the young prospect scarce and fleeting. He tried out for the Rams U18 squad as a 16 year old last year, a feat that Edwards and Haggerty are attempting this year. Hillman may not have made the cut in 2011, but as a 17 year old this year and having likely reduced the gap in size that may have hindered him in 2011, we’ll hopefully get to see Hillman in the U18 champs in 2012.
Another player, still officially listed as a scholarship holder on our official site, is Tyson Carracher. After the club announced that Carracher would play for our VFL squad in 2011, like Tom Young the year before, Carracher seemingly fell off the face off the earth after being spotted training with us during last year’s preseason. Eventually it was reported that Carracher had suffered a knee injury early in the year whilst representing the Rams and his local club Ainslie.
Given the knee injury and the lack of news that followed, it seemed it may have been curtains for Carracher as far as a career at Collingwood was concerned. However, in the wake of our most recent draft, Derek Hine revived the prospect of Carracher joining us when he mentioned him as a player we may look to list as a 19 year old.
An article in the Canberra Times that may have escaped our notice during last year’s draft period can be found here, where former Port Adelaide and Carlton player Nick Stevens, who coached the Rams last year, touted Carracher as a genuine talent. According to the article, Carracher kicked 11 goals over the course of two trial games as a midfielder for the Rams early last year, before succumbing to the aforementioned knee injury.
If Carracher can bounce back from this setback and is still interested in a future at Collingwood, as a 189cm utility with the possible scope to play midfield, he could be another welcome addition. Hine mentioned that we would be tracking Carracher during the early stages of this year and would see how things play out, with Hine remaining optimistic about Carracher’s chances.
Last but certainly not least of our future Pie possibles comes in the shape of James Stewart, the son of Craig and very likely to be a father/son selection at the end of this year. Stewart has been named as part of the AIS squad for this year, along with making the initial cut for this year’s Vic Metro U18 side. As a 194cm key forward prospect who reportedly possesses very good skills for a player of his height, Stewart is another name that could further boost our key position depth up forward, joining recent additions in Jackson Paine and Corey Gault.
If Stewart makes the final cut for Vic Metro, we’ll have the opportunity to watch his progress closely this year, as he’ll be representing both Vic Metro and the Sandringham Dragons at junior level. He has already been spotted at Gosch’s Paddock this preseason, training alongside our senior squad.
This year’s draft is shaping up as a strong one from all reports, with many clubs banking compensation picks with a view to tapping into a draft pool that is expected to run deeper than the previous two years. Derek Hine will be hoping that our remaining scholarship holders come on well this year, with a view to maybe adding them to our VFL list as 17 year olds for the 2013 season.
There is already a lot to be excited about the team we’ve put together over recent seasons, but if some of these youngsters can display some genuine AFL scope, an already bright Collingwood future may yet become blinding.