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Academy: Multi-talented Dunstan juggles all the balls

Hamish Dunstan in action for the U16s side for the QBE Sydney Swans Academy.

Hamish Dunstan
Age: 16
Junior Club: East Sydney Bulldogs AFL
Selected in NSW-ACT team for 2018 National AFL U16 Championships

Hamish Dunstan is a busy young man. 

Dunstan, 16, trains twice a week with the QBE Sydney Swans Academy and three times a week with his school rugby team at Scots College, as well as playing a game of AFL and a game of rugby.

On top of that, Dunstan is a promising sprinter who has performed at state level in the 100m and 200m, and at national level in the 400m.

So far he’s keeping all the balls in the air, and managing to compete at a high level in all his sports.

But it’s his AFL commitments that are front of mind just at the moment.

Last month Dunstan was named in the NSW-ACT U16 team to play in the AFL National Championships that begin on Monday June 11, when Dunstan and his teammates take on the Northern Territory at Blacktown International Sports Park.

There will also be games against Queensland and Tasmania in July.

Dunstan’s State selection came on the back of strong form during the recent NSW Academy Series, when the Sydney Swans U16 Academy team pIayed three games against the GWS Giants Academy.

“I was really happy to make the State team, it’s a great privilege,’’ says Hamish, who began playing junior AFL at East Sydney Bulldogs when he was five years old.

His coaches at the Swans Academy praise Dunstan for the way he manages his various sporting and school commitments.

“It was a great effort for Hamish to be selected to play for NSW,’’ says Swans Academy U16 coach and 2005 Swans premiership player, Nick Davis.

“We did have some concerns about how he’d manage to balance his different sports, particularly AFL and rugby.

“But at the Academy we know the best way to support Hamish is to minimise his training load, and that gave him the best chance to be fresh and able to perform well in games.’’

He achieved that during the Academy Series, playing in the midfield, and also at half forward and half back against the Giants in a Series the Swans won two games to one.

“He’s a talented sports person and an exciting AFL prospect,’’ says Chris Smith, the general manager of the Swans Academy. “He’s extremely competitive, and is tough, quick and powerful.’’

Hamish says he’s had a few challenging moments juggling his different sports, but his coaches at the Academy and at school have been understanding and flexible.

He also believes playing the two codes has its advantages.

“My strengths in AFL are my tackling and hardness at the ball, and they’re also important in rugby,’’ Hamish says.

“I can also use my speed as an asset in both sports.’’

Hamish has been in the Swans Academy since he was 11 years old and says it has given him the knowledge and incentive to stick with AFL.

“The Academy has played a big part in me continuing to play football,’’ he says. “I’m able to get a different level of coaching and playing than I get at club level, so it’s a good combination.’’