Cairns product moves step closer to big league
Manunda Hawks junior Jermaine Wardle has all the ingredients to make it at the highest level, according to club president Richard Martin.His endorsement comes after the exciting prospect was named in the Queensland under-18 team to contest the national championships, where future AFL stars are unearthed each year.
Wardle won a senior premiership with the Hawks last season, playing the majority of their campaign at centre-half back. A move to Gold Coast club Labrador has seen him progress to
the NEAFL and strong form for the Gold Coast Academy was enough to give him the nod for Queensland selection. Martin said it would be an "opportunity of a lifetime" for Wardle, but one he thoroughly deserved.
"I’ve rated him since he was 14, and to play senior footy and hold down centre-half back as a 16-year-old says it all," he said. "Jermaine is very, very good and he’s an excellent kid to match."
Wardle admitted his excitement at the news of his selection and is now focused on making the most of the chance.
"I just want to play AFL, but to do that I know have to learn more and really focus on my footy," he said.
Last year, former Cairns pair Peter Yagmoor and Sam Michael both excelled for Queensland and were rewarded with AFL contracts. Yagmoor has already debuted for Collingwood in round one this season.
"Peter and I played a lot of juniors together and I was really happy for him getting drafted," Wardle said. "To see that happen to him was pretty cool and my goal is to do the same."
AFL Cairns development manager Eddie Skiba said Wardle had "given himself every chance" to follow Michael and Yagmoor into the AFL.
"It’s always tough, but every recruitment officer will be there and every No. 1 draft pick you’ll see has always slayed it at nationals," he said. "Jermaine’s got the shape, the speed and he’s hard as nails."
While going hell for leather on the field, Wardle is as quiet as a mouse off it. But he admitted that life was good on the Gold Coast – he is just a short drive from the beach and has taken a liking to the up-tempo style of football.
"It’s a lot faster and more organised, I’m loving it," he said. "It’s very exciting to be in this Queensland team and, hopefully, I can make the most of my chances."
Courtesy of The Cairns Post.