5th March 2024

Triple Geelong premiership defender and membership legend Matthew Scarlett could have discovered his Cats one other defensive prodigy, however this one is not named Tom Stewart.

As an alternative, it is Oli Wiltshire who, like Geelong premiership defender Stewart, was additionally an unlikely get from the South Barwon Soccer Membership below Scarlett’s watchful eye.

However in case you requested the 21-year-old Barwon native if he thought he’d ever play AFL just a few months in the past, he’d let you know there was simply no means.

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Wiltshire, a lifelong Cats supporter, performed below Scarlett at South Barwon and was approached by the legendary defender in the course of the Bellarine League’s season, posing one life-changing query.

“He pulled me for a chat earlier within the 12 months and mentioned ‘do you might have any aspirations to play AFL?’ I clearly mentioned ‘yeah, it is each child’s dream’, and right here I’m at this time,” Wiltshire mentioned on the membership on Thursday.

Cats new recruits George Stevens and Oli Wiltshire with coach Chris Scott. (Geelong Cats)

It wasn’t simply Scarlett who noticed the unearthed potential in Wiltshire, who was taken at decide 61 throughout the draft on Tuesday night time. 

Geelong listing supervisor Steven Wells, who has lengthy ben dubbed the “wizard” for his profitable left-field drafting work, had been keeping track of the younger defender for just a few seasons.

“This 12 months Ollie Wiltshire, who got here via the Bellarine Soccer Netball League, he truly had a few video games on the Geelong Falcons a few years in the past and did not go fairly so effectively, however his performances over the past two years and this 12 months particularly has been excellent,” Wells mentioned on Tuesday night time.

“We simply all the time attempt to do what’s in the perfect pursuits of the footy membership, and the Geelong area is a good footy space and the totally different leagues down, there’s gamers that develop at totally different charges.”

Wells lauded the “nice expertise” that the Geelong and Surf Coast areas have to supply, explaining that the membership will all the time look to prioritise drafting native expertise.

“It will be actually fascinating to see how he develops and we’ll see lots of upside there. However there’s nice expertise down in Geelong and it is there for everybody to see,” he mentioned submit draft on Tuesday night time.

“Wanting again, we’d have been higher off selecting Tom Stewart earlier than he received into the VFL program. Simply Ollie’s performances this 12 months have been excellent, we felt that if we simply took him via to the VFL program that by the tip of subsequent 12 months he could be going so effectively that we would miss him.”

That Cats did much more injury on the 2023 draft, with one other distinctive choice an enormous suggestion that they are seeking to win their second flag in three years.

Shaun Mannagh enjoying for Werribee. (by way of Getty Photos)

One particular choice was Shaun Mannagh, a 26-year-old Werribee small ahead, who single-handedly led his aspect to victory within the 2023 grand ultimate, with a six-goal, 27-disposal efficiency.

He spent seven years within the VFL, now eager to point out Geelong what he’s product of.

”Because the pre season progresses and I am truly at their coaching, I can showcase the place my greatest capabilities may be,” Mannagh mentioned on Thursday.

The Cats even picked up ex-Hawk Emerson Jeka, who’s eager to fill an enormous defensive gap left by large man Esava Ratugolea, who was traded to Port Adelaide final month.

“There’s a chance there. I simply must take that with each arms. I really feel like I play my greatest soccer down again,” Jeka mentioned.

As for Wiltshire, the carpenter will not be given up the instruments simply but, with just a few jobs to complete earlier than his skilled AFL profession begins. 

“I am going to maintain them, only a little bit of useful work round the home. Mum and Dad will need some jobs achieved, I am certain.

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