Draft Watch: Eastern’s Josh Begley

Josh Begley couldn’t have imagined what he’d achieve for the Eastern Ranges in 2016 when he was completing his pre-season with Upper Ferntree Gully in the Eastern Football League.

The 187cm big-bodied mid-forward was rushed into Eastern’s program after a barnstorming start to the local season and promptly kicked six goals on his TAC Cup debut in Round 4, before going on to be named on the TAC Cup Team of the Year interchange and receiving an invite to the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine.

Begley kicked 26 goals – including bags of five and four majors in addition to his six on debut – and averaged 17 disposals and four marks per game in 15 TAC Cup matches, moving into more of a midfield role as the season progressed.

taccup.com.au talked to Begley at the Draft Combine.

Could you have imagined you’d be at the Draft Combine when you started the season playing for Upper Ferntree Gully?

“If you told me last year I’d be here right now getting interviewed by AFL clubs, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Down at Upper Gully, I just wanted to start in the ones and build on their success. They’ve done well down there without me this year – they won the (Division 3) premiership in an undefeated season. It would have been good to play, but (I went on to) bigger and better things I think.”

How have you been selling yourself as a footballer to AFL clubs in interviews at the Combine?

“I’ve been saying that I pride myself on my competitiveness and also my contested footy – I love that, and just crashing into packs.”

What is the strangest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?

“I got asked how to spell ‘Melbourne’ backwards, so that was a bit of a struggle. I got it right in the end – it took me a while though!”

What parts of your game do you know you’d need to work on if you were drafted?

“I definitely have to work on my endurance. Not having a TAC Cup pre-season, I’m probably a bit behind all the rest.”

Which AFL players do you particularly like to watch and model your game on?

“I’ve been told (I play like Melbourne’s) Christian Petracca and (Port Adelaide’s) Ollie Wines – that kind of contested midfielder/forward role, setting up the play for everyone in the forward line.”

You kicked six goals against Tasmania on your TAC Cup debut in Round 4. Did you feel comfortable at the level from the outset?

“After that game I felt comfortable, knowing I can actually do it. I’ve definitely changed as a player and a person. I obviously dropped a few kilos and got a little bit fitter, which helped me get around the ground a bit more and get to more contests.”

What do you think was your best performance of the year individually?

“My first game (15 disposals, six goals in a win against Tasmania) or against Bendigo (in Round 6) I kicked five goals (from 16 disposals and nine marks) – that’s when I started playing in the midfield.”

Which opponents caught your eye or were particularly difficult to play on this year?

“A person who took my eye was Willem Drew from North Ballarat. He’s kind of a similar player to me. I played on him and had a couple of battles with him. He had a couple of games against us (losses for Eastern in Rounds 8 and 17) that he dominated.”

Talk about why you think your teammates at the Combine are so highly rated.

- Callum Brown: “He’s a good prospect as a midfielder – just like his dad (former Collingwood captain Gavin Brown).”
- Dylan Clarke: “He’s just competitive.”
- Jordan Gallucci: “He’s just an athletic person. He can jump and do everything.”
- Jack Maibaum: “He’s a pretty good shut-down defender.”

If you weren’t possibly going to become a full-time footballer, what would you be doing in life in the next few years?

“I’d hope my dad would give me a job at his business. He’s a customs broker. My brother works there so hopefully I can get a job there if it doesn’t work out (at the draft). I’m the favourite, so I should get a job.”

Who’s your tip for the no.1 NAB AFL Draft pick?

“I reckon (Sandringham’s) Andy McGrath.”


Other Draft Watch profiles:

Joseph Atley - Bendigo Pioneers

Josh Battle - Dandenong Stingrays

Daniel Venables - Western Jets

Alex Witherden - Geelong Falcons

Patrick Kerr - Oakleigh Chargers

Ben Ainsworth - Gippsland Power

Andrew McGrath - Sandringham Dragons

Todd Marshall - Murray Bushrangers 

Patrick Lipinski - Northern Knights 

Hugh McCluggage - North Ballarat Rebels 

Jack Maibaum - Eastern Ranges 

Kobe Mutch - Bendigo Pioneers 

Judah Dundon - Western Jets

Mitch McCarthy - Dandenong Stingrays 

Jordan Ridley - Oakleigh Chargers

Sean Darcy - Geelong Falcons


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