Jackson Broadbent, Reuben Ginbey, Tom Smith Connor Carbone and Clay Hall: The South West’s future AFL stars
From a young gun following in his father’s footsteps to one of the State’s best who is already being compared to champion AFL stars — these are the next generation of South West footballers likely to make it to the top.
The five youngsters — Clay Hall, Reuben Ginbey, Jackson Broadbent, Connor Carbone and Tom Smith — all featured in the WA State Under 18 football squad recently and already have their sights set on an AFL career.
The tournament drew the attention of AFL scouts across the country who all had their eyes glued to the action to find the next star of the competition.
For Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault player Hall, one of the youngest members of the WA squad who will not be eligible for the draft until 2023, a chance at AFL level means following in his father’s footsteps.
The 17-year-old is the son of former Geelong and West Coast forward Derek Hall and played one game in the championships this year on the wing.
Hall said the pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps was outside noise and had never come from his dad.
“It is more stuff you see online or in the newspaper,” he said.
“Dad puts no pressure at all on me, he is just there for support, if there is a couple of things he has to say, he will say it.
“Obviously he is going to get a mention because he did pretty well in his footy career, but at the same time, it is a bit annoying because nothing I am doing at the moment my dad is doing for me.
“I still have to put in the work myself, go to training, go to the gym, so it is a bit annoying in that regard, but it is obviously going to happen to everyone whose parents were good at footy back in the day.”
The Peel Thunder colts players said despite his star father not putting pressure on him to succeed, the hard-running midfielder found he was putting it on himself.
“At the start of the season, it got to me a fair bit because I thought as a bottom-ager I had to perform in every game,” he said.
“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself for no real reason, so I sat down and had a chat with my coach about it and a chat with my dad about it a few times, and they just told me to chill out a little bit.
“It is my bottom age year, which means there is no pressure at all, and since then I have gone out there and done what I normally do and have been really enjoying my footy ever since I took a bit of pressure off myself.”
Broadbent, Ginbey, Smith and Carbone will be among hundreds of youngsters across the country with a nervous wait over the next few months in the lead-up to the 2022 AFL draft from November 28 to 30.
Dunsborough’s Reuben Ginbey — an inside midfielder who has been likened to Collingwood’s Jack Crisp — was named WA’s most valuable player over the tournament after playing all four matches and averaging 22 disposals and kicking three goals.
Dubbed a top 10 “smokey” in a recent draft guide on AFL.com.au, the 189 cm midfielder said he had started getting attention from clubs.
“The chatting to clubs has definitely ramped up after the championships, I have chatted to a few, which is quite exciting,” he said.
“I have three more games (at East Perth) so hopefully, I can push back into the league side and put my best foot forward for the draft.”
Ginbey was the only South West youngster to be invited to the 2022 NAB AFL Draft Combine in Melbourne in October and said he was trying to keep busy in the meantime.
“I can’t wait to get over there and get tested among the best and have a chat with a few of the AFL coaches,” he said.
“For now I am just keeping busy, I am at the boarding house at Wesley College so I am just hanging out with my mates.
“I am pretty busy with school so that keeps my mind off things rather than just thinking about footy.
“I am sure if I was only thinking about footy all day that could build up, so I just try to find other things to do like school work and hanging out with my mates.”
Collie big man Jackson Broadbent was touted as one of the region’s best prospects heading into the championships but admits he was not as his best.
The 201 cm Peel Thunder ruck was a rare bottom-ager to gain WAFL league and State under-18 experience in 2021 but only features in the first two games for WA before being dropped.
Broadbent said he was not giving up on his dream of being picked up in this year’s draft.
“It was an awesome experience to play those two games, unfortunately, I didn’t play my best footy, but I still thought I did some good things,” he said.
“I took away from it that I have a lot to improve on towards the end of the year.
“(Getting drafted) is definitely something I am still striving for, so hopefully I can play some good football in these last few games.
“I have come back to Peel and am playing some decent footy, hopefully, I can keep doing that, and we go deep into finals, and that gets me there.”
The Collie product said the whole squad faced some sort of pressure but believed it was heightened for regional players.
“There is a fair bit of pressure and mentally it is really a challenge what you get put through,” he said.
“Being from the South West, you travel all the time, which knackers you out and makes it really mentally challenging.
“The pressure is there, but you just have to take it week by week.”
Harvey-Brunswick-Lechenault’s second player to feature in the side was defender and wingman, Connor Carbone.
The 185 cm defender was not selected in WA’s first outing but played the next two games before missing their final match against South Australia through injury.
Carbone — who debuted for Peel Thunder’s reserves at the weekend — said it would be a dream to hear his name called out in November.
“I was happy with how I did, it is a very good opportunity to even play, so you can’t be too unhappy with that,” he said.
“I have had a few injuries during the season which has knocked me back, I missed a State game and a few weeks at Peel.
“It would mean the world (to get drafted), every kid has the dream to make it to the AFL and if I do make it it would be massive.”
South Bunbury product Tom Smith was the only of the South West players not to feature at the championships this year but said he still would take a lot from the experience and would not be giving up on his AFL dream.
“It was disappointing not to get a game, but it was still one of the best experiences of my footy career,” he said.
“I am definitely always going to keep at it, the next few years will be big with a lot of hard work, but I am going to get there.”
The ruck forward has been impressive at the colts level for Swan Districts throughout the year, earning himself three reserves games for the Black Ducks in June and July.
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