AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan has hailed last season’s minor premiers Hawthorn as visionaries after they landed two talented international rookies more than capable of causing a sensation in the aussie rules betting news.
In November, it was confirmed that the Hawks would draft New Zealander Kurt Heatherley on a three-year deal at the end of 2013. The teenager had spent three years with the club on an international scholarship.
Heatherley was this week unveiled alongside compatriot Shem Tatupu at Hawthorn’s Ricoh Centre base. Like Heatherley, Tatupu will not be eligible to play in the AFL in 2013 and has penned a three-year contract, which will begin at the end of the year.
The 17-year-old, an imposing figure at 197cm and 105kg, has been fed a diet of rugby throughout his childhood by his father and former rugby league star, Tony.
Sheehan believes the emergence of Tatupu and Heatherley vindicates a recent move by the league to encourage young talent from overseas.
“We congratulate Hawthorn on having the initiative to do it, to be the first club to move on this,” Sheehan told AFL.com.au.
“When we introduced the South Pacific into the under-16s championships three years ago we could see there’s going to be potential emerge, and these are the first two boys to come through.”
The youngsters will not play a part as Hawthorn attempt to overcome last year’s Grand Final disappointment. However, the club and those who enjoy betting aussie rules, hope Tatupu and Heatherley can be the cornerstones of a successful team in the near future.
Recruiting and list manager Graham Wright is particularly excited by the arrival of Tatupu, who he first saw as a 14-year-old in a tournament in Fiji.
“To be able to entice him to play AFL and commit to playing AFL was very exciting for us,” said Wright.
The new boys will simply have a watching brief when Hawthorn begin their season against Geelong on April 1.