A growth spurt has lifted Henry Hustwaite right into top draft calculations as the talented teen looks to cement his role as a midfielder – despite his 194cm standing.
Hustwaite, who measured 187cm to start the 2021 season, has also added 10kg to his frame in just 12 months in a bid to ready his body for midfield minutes.
The 18-year-old says he’s ready to put himself up in that tall midfielder category like Carlton’s Patrick Cripps, who measures 195cm, after playing as a defender in recent seasons.
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“I’m probably most comfortable as a midfielder. As a defender, it’s been awesome so I’ve still got a bit to learn with that. But I think the ability to be able to do both is a good thing to have,” he told Fox Footy.
Compared by scouts to the likes of Magpie Scott Pendlebury for his left foot kick and composure, Hustwaite has also been praised for his footy IQ and clean hands.
Hustwaite started 2022 down back but when teammates headed to private school footy, he was given the opportunity to move on ball.
“I just tried to show what I could do,” he said.
“I work pretty hard. I was kind of focusing on being a midfielder so to be able to show that and show that work I put in and put it into the action, I think was great.”
The Dandenong junior laughed as he recalled his “cop out” moment when interviewed by Brisbane at the recent draft combine where he didn’t complete physical testing due to an ankle injury.
“Brisbane asked me whose spot I would take out of the team right now. I went with (Dan) McStay because he left so that was kind of a cop-out,” he said.
The youngster is not short on advice heading into this month’s Draft after watching brother Campbell try his luck back in 2018.
While Campbell was overlooked, and is still searching for his AFL break as captain of Collingwood’s VFL team, Hustwaite said there was plenty to learn from his brother.
“He’s just said don’t get too caught up in it all. Have fun and stick with what you know, don’t do anything crazy and you’ll be right,” he said.
“Sometimes people get caught up in these situations but you just stay level headed and focused.
“He’s been really consistent his whole career in VFL, so he’s still trying hard to reach that next level.
“I always tried to do what I could at a high level.
“As a midfielder, just getting your hands on it early and releasing to others in better positions.”
But Hustwaite said that early release mindset was exactly what clubs gave him for feedback – could he win the footy and drive out?
“I think my first instinct is just to find that first option and release it to a player in a better position than me. (AFL clubs) want to see that I can do both – drive out and take on defenders and use my kicking to hit up the forward,” he said on his draft feedback.
“That’s been a big thing for me and something I keep working on to hopefully keep improving and reach a new level.”
St Kilda fan Hustwaite said it would be a “dream” to play AFL for a living.
“Once I get over this injury, I feel like I’d be prepped and ready to go.”
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au