Emerging Canberra midfielder Mitch Maguire has credited the trust coach Kade Klemke showed during his debut season as a catalyst for his rapid development in the past 12 months.
Maguire has earned a nomination for Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star Award for the second consecutive year after a starring role for the Demons against Sydney University last week, where the 19-year-old polled eight NEAFL MVP Award votes after 28 disposals, six inside 50s and three goals.
Maguire joined Canberra last year where he played every game, averaging 22 disposals, three inside 50s and 3.5 clearances per match.
He earned his first Rising Star nomination in Round 2, but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that Maguire approached Klemke asking for a bigger opportunity.
“Kade was massive for me last year. It was about Round 4 or 5 and I said to him, ‘I would mind a bit more midfield time’. He gave me that time and said, ‘here’s your chance’,” Maguire recalled.
“From memory I played okay on ball, but he stuck with me and he showed a lot of trust in me as a young player to play as an inside midfielder most weeks, so I was pretty thankful for that.
“It helped me play against some big bodies and AFL-listed guys – it’s a lot different for sure playing against 18-year-old’s.”
A member of the GIANTS Academy since he was 13, Maguire made the Under-15 All-Australian side before making the Allies squad to compete in the Under-18 Division 1 Championships in 2016.
The boy from Mirool – located roughly 470km south-west of Sydney in the Riverina region – hasn’t wasted any time making a mark on the competition after being named emergency for the NEAFL’s representative clash against Tasmania last year.
Maguire said he thoroughly enjoyed his first season at the club last year, but came into the 2018 with the desire to improve his game.
“We made big improvements last year and we showed glimpses of being a good side. I loved every minute of it,” he said.
“My main aim over the pre-season was to get in the gym and put on a few more kilos, so I’m not being knocked off the ball as much.
“I can sort of throw my weight around a bit more now. Hopefully I can play with a bit more confidence and dash compared to last year.”
While the Demons have started their season 0-2, Maguire said their eight-point loss to premiership contenders Sydney University last week gave the side a lot of confidence to get their season back on track.
“We were very upbeat after the game, we gave a good four-quarter effort compared to the week before where we really didn’t show up,” he said.
“It hasn’t been a great start, being 0-2, but I think if we can bring the effort we brought on the weekend every week, I think we can win a lot of games and hopefully press for finals.”
The Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 senior games (excluding games as AFL Academy players) at the start of the 2018 season.
By JESS WEBSTER