At the upcoming AFL Draft, recruiters will be choosing the best young talent to bolster their respective lists.
Most of these prospects will be around 18-years-old, however, recruiters will also be monitoring some mature age prospects as well.
Former Fremantle Dockers’ rookie Haiden Schloithe put in a sensational 2017 campaign for South Fremantle, that saw him claim the Sandover Medal with 52 votes, the most since Rory O’Brien polled 55 votes in 2013.
“You’re pretty raw to it all and the few days after you’re doing all media stuff. When I got home on Grand Final weekend, I was able to sit down with my family and sort of reflect on it. It sort of sunk in then, and to win the most prestigious individual award in the WAFL is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Schloithe says.
He also took out the W.J. Hughes Medal (South Fremantle’s B&F), South Fremantle’s Player of the Finals Award, and selection in the WAFL Team of the Year.
“It’s something that means the world to me. To win your club’s Best & Fairest is probably right up there with any individual award, and to also be awarded player of the finals also means a lot, because I felt like in the past couple of years, in the finals and the big games, I hadn’t really performed and I felt like this year, I played well. Those two awards are pretty special,” he says.
Apart from these awards, Schloithe also played his 100th game for the Bulldogs, a significant achievement.
“To play 100 games for South Freo and to get your name on the locker, if you asked me six or seven years ago, when I was preparing to do my first pre-season as a League footballer I would’ve told you you’re kidding yourself. When I was a young boy I always used to come up with my old boy and watch Ashton and Kyle play footy. I wished that I would be given that opportunity to put on the great jumper, and to play 100 games is always a kid’s dream,” he says.
“It’s something that means the world to me. To win your club’s Best & Fairest is probably right up there with any individual award”
He was also a key player for the WAFL State Team that beat Victoria in Victoria earlier this year with 18 possessions, seven tackles, five inside 50s, three marks and three goals.
“That was pretty special, to break a 113-year-old drought that was there. I felt like we just really gelled and blended as a group really well. Soon as we got over there, everyone sort of connected as a group and we put our WAFL teams to a side for the weekend and blended as a state really well; I thought that paid dividends during the game, and everyone could see that with the way we played our footy. That’s something that when I hang up the boots later in my career, will be one moment that will really stick out for me,” he says.
In 22 games he booted 30 goals, and averaged 28 possessions, 77% disposal efficiency, six marks and four tackles to be the most dominant midfielder in the competition. What makes his season so remarkable is that he had to overcome serious ankle and foot injuries.
“I coped pretty well. I was pretty fortunate through my footy career that I haven’t had any serious or long-term injuries, touch wood, so I sort of knew that it would only be a short period of time that I was missing. We’ve got a fantastic medical staff down here, so I always knew that I would be coming back fresh,” he says.
The Sandover Medallist formed a dangerous partnership with fellow AFL Draft hopeful Tim Kelly on-field, and the two often blitzed opposition teams.
“Yeah mine and Tim’s [relationship] is very strong I feel, I wouldn’t say we’re the best of mates, but when it comes to football and game day, we build that really strong relationship, we really complement each other really well. I feel like we feed off each other’s performances and the energy and stuff like that on the field and around the club. I absolutely love the kid, he’s a fantastic kid and I really wish that he gets that opportunity at the next level,” Schloithe says.
There is no doubt that Haiden Schloithe is one of the premier mature-age prospects for this year’s draft. Any club that needs an explosive goalkicking midfielder should strongly consider the South Fremantle on-baller.