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Academy: Crouch pledges persistence

Academy Update - 5th May, 2018 Jared Crouch updates Swans TV on whats going on at the Sydney Swans Academy.

QBE Sydney Swans Academy head coach Jared Crouch has pointed those sidestepped by early opportunities to two of the Club’s biggest stars.

Allies selection and Draft success have in recent times eluded a number of Academy members, but Crouch urges those eyeing AFL dreams to look to Sydney’s Ben Ronke and Dane Rampe.

Ronke was shunned at the 2017 National Draft and bounced back to sign with the Swans as a Rookie later in the month, while Rampe inked an AFL contract at the 2013 Rookie Draft.

Although they both once had the door shut on them, Ronke and Rampe have gone on to impact in the limelight.

Ronke this year kicked seven goals in his third game and Rampe has piled up 126 matches and established himself as one of the most reliable defenders in the competition.

Crouch said the two Swans were excellent examples of players who defied the odds.

“You look at certainly a number of guys from our Club – Dane Rampe, Ben Ronke – who took longer before they got their opportunities and they’re making the most of it now,” Crouch told SwansTV.

“There’s plenty of stories of players, while for whatever reason they’re not given the opportunities, that if you have determination and you’re prepared to continue to work hard, then those opportunities can eventuate. You just have to be patient.”

A total of six Academy members were last month selected for a 50-man Allies squad for the five-round Under-18 Championships, but exciting forward Nick Blakey is the only Swan set to face Victoria Country on Saturday.

The Allies squad pulls talent from the Gold Coast Suns, Brisbane Lions, GWS, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and will kick-start its campaign at Spotless Stadium.

Joey Reinhard, Josh Stern, Zac Cameron, Kyle McKellar and Josh Rayner all joined Blakey in the Allies squad but have been evaded by Round 1 selection.

But all bar Cameron featured in the NEAFL side’s win over Sydney University last Friday and Crouch says the reserves competition offers a strong avenue to the Draft.

“While the excitement is around the boys in the Allies and their opportunities, what’s most pleasing for us at the Academy is those guys who aren’t playing for the Allies haven’t sulked,” Crouch said.

“They’ve got back out on the football field, they’re playing for the reserves and they’re showing that they can play a really good brand of football.

“Josh Rayner was making his debut against Sydney Uni and I thought he played very well. Joey Reinhard was down in defence and did a very good job down there all day. Josh Stern was lively up forward. Kyle McKellar was another one who played very well.”

Stern was the best of the current Allies lot in a return of three goals from 10 touches.

Rayner finished with 14 disposals and three tackles in his first NEAFL outing and they all brought young energy to the team as the Swans collected their fourth consecutive win.

A number of Academy members who failed to land AFL contracts at the 2017 Drafts continued to impress themselves.

Under-19 Academy star Bailey Stewart recorded 25 touches, seven tackles and three goals off the back of an exceptional display in Sydney’s match with Brisbane the week prior.

The East Coast Eagles junior tallied 20 possessions, five tackles and two goals to earn the Round 8 NEAFL Rising Star nomination as the Swans toppled the Lions.

He was eluded by Allies selection in 2017 and was unsuccessful at the National and Rookie Drafts.

Under-19 Academy member Mitchell Rogers last year earned Allies selection but also failed to put pen to paper at the National and Rookie Drafts.

But the Many Warringah Wolves junior played his seventh NEAFL game last Friday and is preparing for another huge tilt at November’s National Draft.

Sam Wicks has played 15 NEAFL games and is using the second-tier competition as a launch pad for the Draft himself.

While Wicks and company prepare for Sydney’s trip north to face the Redland Bombers on Saturday, Blakey is fine-tuning himself for the Allies’ Championships-opener.

The 18-year-old will play as a forward and could also prop up the midfield and Crouch said he was set for an enormous opportunity.

“Getting named in this side is a huge excitement for him,” Crouch said.

“Victoria Country is a bit like the Allies because with the metro teams it’s a bit easier to get the boys around to train. The Victoria Country boys travel from near and far to get together as squads and that’s no different to what the Allies boys do.

“So it’s a great first game for both teams in the Under-18 Championships and I know Nick would be looking to put his best foot forward.”