Knights Make Draft History

The Northern Knights have made history by becoming the first club ever to provide the Top 2 selections of the NAB AFL Draft. It all took place this in the Victory Room at Telstra Dome this morning when the Carlton Blues and Richmond Tigers respectively read out the names Matthew Kreuzer and Trent Cotchin.

This unique quinella has never happened to any club at any level around Australia and Knights Region Manager Peter Kennedy couldn't be more thrilled. "We're really ecstatic and proud for the two boys. We've known all along that we've had two very talented boys and for them to go #1 and #2 is a fantastic achievement."

Kreuzer, in his signature laidback approach spoke of the expectations leading into the draft this morning. "I tried not to read much into it this year." Kreuzer was so uninterested in all of the publicity about him in 2007 that he even opted to go to bed rather than stay up to watch Footy Classified on a night he was told they would be talking about him.

Laidback only in the attention surrounding him, Kreuzer's passion to work hard and improve his game showed this morning. "In a way I'm sort of relieved that the draft is over. Now the hard work begins and I'm straight into training this Thursday so I look forward to proving myself there." Kreuzer continued, "I couldn't care where I played because it's always been my dream to play AFL."

The jubilation for the Knights didn't end their when Sydney selected Patrick Veszpremi and Brett Meredith with Picks 11 and 26 respectively, and Melbourne took U/18 Vic Metro and Knights Club Captain Jack Grimes with Pick 14. Kennedy was equally delighted at this news. "It was beyond our expectations to have that many drafted so early. We had a fair idea that those boys would get up, but for them all to be taken in the first two rounds is great.

Veszpremi at 11 was a little bit of a surprise. We knew that he was highly rated, but it was hard to tell how high. Sydney got him at 11 and that's great. Grimes we thought would be around that mark in the first round and for Meredith it's an excellent achievement for Brett (after coming back from a 2006 shoulder reconstruction) and the club."

Coach Paul Satterley echoed the sentiments of Kennedy. "It's just really good reward for their hard work. They are five very talented boys who deserve every success."

The two heading to Sydney (Veszpremi and Meredith) are close friends and will join former Knights player Daniel Currie, who was drafted to the Swans last year as a bottom aged player - making the three of them all the same age. Veszpremi was over the moon to hear that he'd be moving north with his two mates. "It was awesome to hear! First of all, I didn't really expect to go that high and then when I heard Bretta's (Meredith) name called out at 26 I was jumping around the room all excited and it'll be good to join Cuzza (Currie) up there."

On the move out of Melbourne, Veszpremi is looking forward to the experience. "I think it'll suit me better (the lower profile of AFL football in Sydney). I like not being recognised so the Sydney lifestyle will suit me better as a player and a person. I guess the move will be a bit hard but I'm not panicking. You always know that your parents will be here, you just can't see them every day now. Once the footy starts there'll always be something to keep you busy and I look forward to it all."

Meredith, who was eligible for last year's draft was realistic about his chances in 2006. "Last year I wasn't really expecting to get picked up, but it was much more nerve wracking this year because you just don't know. I wasn't playing that great in the first half of the year, but in the second half I moved into the midfield and started picking up my form. I'm just rapt. It's awesome to get drafted and especially to the same place as some good mates. I just broke down, pretty much, when I heard my name called out. It was a great moment."

It will be a quick change for Veszpremi and Meredith as they'll be making the move up north this week. Meredith is certainly looking forward to it. "I'm excited about moving, about doing a pre-season at an AFL club and getting right into it."

The run of good stories for the Knights boys certainly don't end there with Grimes getting his ultimate wish - to play for the club he grew up supporting - Melbourne. "It's been an exciting morning, especially going to Melbourne, which is the club I grew up barracking for." Grimes said this morning. "I play a similar role to a lot of their players and since I follow Melbourne I even kind of try to model my game on some of them like James McDonald. I'm just looking forward to settling in and making the most of my opportunities."

The level headed Grimes is well aware of the challenging road ahead of him. "I had a bit of a taste of the training when I trained at Melbourne as part of the AIS program. The work rate required is much bigger and it will be hard to adjust. The guys you're training alongside are a lot better and there'll be great competition within the club because it's harder to get into the 22."

Unfortunately, not every Draft Day story can be a happy one and there were a handful of Knights who missed out. Matthew Quinton and Tim Bongetti, in particular will keep a keen eye on the Rookie Draft this year as they are top aged players and eligible to be picked up there, while David Zaharakis, Luke Stanton and Ben Power are set to resume with the Knights in 2008 after missing the boat as bottom aged players.

On Quinton and Bongetti, Kennedy stated, "I think they always knew that they were more looking to the Rookie Draft than anything, but it will still be disappointing for now. Zaharakis, Stanton and Power still have next year in the TAC Cup and it gives them a chance to finish their schooling here without worrying about AFL football."

Satterley added, "It's disappointing that things didn't all go their way but that's the harsh reality of football sometimes. The guys that missed all have so much to offer. It's not the end of the world for them though and with hurdles like this it's how you overcome them. A good example of this for the bottom aged boys is someone like Rhys Palmer (Western Australia) who missed out last year but ended up Pick 7 for Fremantle this year. Even our own Brett Meredith didn't get picked last year and now he's going to Sydney. For all of these boys if they put their head down and their bum up and make the most of next season they'll be every chance next year."

Kennedy finished up by paying due credit to the Knights coaching staff. "Every one of these boys drafted have been in our program since they were 15. They've developed with us over a few years, but for Paul to come in and coach these guys as a first year coach, continue their development and get them to this point is a credit to him and the coaching staff.


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