NORTH Melbourne AFL rookie, Tom Jeffries was playing rugby union and rowing at school only a couple of years ago.
Now, the 202cm ruckman has earned himself a spot on the Kangaroos’ list and is delighted to be spending some time with Avondale Heights in order to improve his game.
“There’s a bit of a gap between me and playing VFL so I needed to develop my skills and craft so the EDFL’s been really big for me,” Jeffries told essendondfl.com.au.
The 19-year-old has donned the Heights jersey four times this season and was named best-on-ground by his coaches in his latest outing against Maribyrnong Park.
His head coach, Donald McDonald gave Jeffries the chance to develop his craft at Avondale Heights, recommending that he should join the club.
The ruckman says McDonald has played a big part in his football journey.
“He’s very insightful and helps me out a lot with everything I need to do,” Jeffries said.
“It’s obviously a lot better with him around the club to have someone I can talk to and someone I know down there.”
The players at the Heights have also been able to give the Category B rookie advice about his game, giving Jeffries the knowledge he needs to one day play a coveted AFL game.
“The boys down there have all been really inclusive in helping me develop everything or giving me tips on the field which is good, it helps me a lot,” he said.
This advice will be quite handy for Jeffries, as he continues to learn the fundamentals of the game.
Before signing up with North Melbourne, the 19-year-old played rugby union and participated in rowing, having promising careers ahead of him in both sports.
He was offered a contract with an Australian Super Rugby team and a scholarship to row in the United States, but turned down both to pursue Aussie Rules.
Now at North Melbourne, Jeffries says he is comfortable with the decision he made.
“Obviously being in the AFL, it’s a big industry and a great opportunity to come up, it’s a good pathway,” the 19-year-old said.
“They’ve helped out heaps with my development.
“I’ve spent a bunch of time in rehab but I’m getting through that now and getting some games under the belt.”
Jeffries recommends that players in his position take the opportunity to play local football, as it has personally helped him a lot with his development.
“If you can’t get into the VFL, take that step back into local league,” the Heights ruckman said.
“It’s obviously really helped me gain confidence and everything like that and I’m growing week to week.
“If they can do that, it would obviously be a good decision for their footy.”