Kersten plays the waiting game
Last Thursday Shane Kersten was a second-year apprentice painter and decorator, an Essendon supporter from way back, and an admirer of the on-field achievements of Brendan Fevola.
This Thursday, he will become to be one of the top picks in the AFL draft – and what will make him standout is he is won’t be going to GWS.
Where he is going, no-one seems to know, although with elements of Fevola in his own game – strong hands, an eye for goal and blistering pace over 20m – then Brisbane, Fremantle, Essendon and Richmond will all know his name and draft number.
When that number is called out, it will fulfill a childhood fantasy for the South Fremantle forward.
“I have wanted it since I was a little kid – I am going to grab it with both hands,” Kersten said.
“It is a bit more pleasurable than (studying for an exam), knowing that in a week’s time I could be at an AFL club.
“I have got family in Victoria – it would be good to stay home with the parents, but if I went off to Victoria it would be a bit of a bonus again.
“Anywhere would be good.”
Kersten is one of those rare draft commodities, a key position player who is ready to play, having traversed the ranks of under-16 to under-18 football with style.
After making his senior league debut with the Bulldogs, the 18-year-old kicked suffered a serious elbow injury early in 2011, which looked to have ruined the year – but not Kersten’s drive.
After using his time on the sidelines to become the Colts’ runner, Kersten returned to kick five in the side’s grand final victory – and then attracted even more interest with some eye-catching performances at the draft combine.
Kersten scored of 25 out of 30 in the clean hands test evised by Matthew Lloyd, putting him amongst the best in the country at that skill.
And having gone through the stress of the combine as a 17-year-old, he knew what to expect – even if some of the questions from clubs were bizarre.
“I had the experience last year as a 17-year old – I knew what to expect, so I had a headstart on some of the guys,” Kersten said.
“Last year I only had one interview, this year I had 14 – so I think I will benefit from it.
“Some tend to grill you a bit, others are more laid back – mentally and physically it takes its toll on you.
“A few of the other guys got (questions) like what shoe size do you wear, and another was asked to count back from 350 in sevens.”
Kersten’s under-18 form – kicking 15 goals in five matches – assured him of a spot in the upper echelon of the AFL draft, even with his injury.
And that was the best possible return, after the Giants declined the chance to make Kersten one of its 17-year-old selections last year and having officially ruling out an interest in the WA-product again
That means Kersten’s last days as a regular teenager will be filled with speculation – not that that will worry him.
“It does not really phase me, you can speculate all you want you never know – unless you are one the guys that are pretty much a shoo-in to go there,” Kersten said.
“Other than that it is just a waiting game.”
In similarly relaxed style, the night which will change Kersten’s life will be spent in front of the TV with family and friends – with a sneaking hope a home town team might be the one who calls out his number.
“Since we moved over here I have had a soft spot for Freo, but I am still a Bombers man at heart,” Kersten said.
“Fremantle is definitely close to home and right next to South Fremantle whom I play for.
“That would make things a lot easier.”