Star WA draft prospect Jedd Busslinger says the prospect of being drafted by Geelong would be “pretty crazy” after a strong decade-long relationship with recently-retired premiership skipper Joel Selwood.
Busslinger is widely regarded as one of the best key defensive prospects in this year’s talent pool and expected to be one of the first WA-based players to be taken in November’s national draft.
The 18-year-old is on the verge of an AFL career 10 years after he was named the 2012 Auskicker of the Year. Subsequently, he was flown to Melbourne for the Sydney-Hawthorn Grand Final festivities – where he presented Swans legend Adam Goodes with his premiership medallion – while also meeting Selwood – a relationship that has remained strong over the past decade.
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Amid the Cats’ flag celebrations late last month, Selwood said he would like to see Busslinger land at Geelong.
After presenting his premiership boots to 2022 Auskicker of the Year Archie Stockdale on the dais, Selwood said: “He’ll grow into them hopefully and dream to be back on this stage again.
“We have got one in the draft this year, Jedd Busslinger, but we look forward to him going and being a first-rounder.
“He’ll be a first-rounder to the Cats hopefully.”
While the Cats on Friday traded away their natural first-round selection (Pick 18) to the Giants in exchange for Geelong Falcons product Tanner Bruhn, they’re expected to land Pick 7 from the Gold Coast Suns as part of the Jack Bowes ‘salary dump’ deal.
Recruiters expect Busslinger to be taken in the first round, with some telling foxfooty.com.au they wouldn’t be surprised if he was selected inside the top 10.
Geelong hasn’t had a pick that high since selecting Selwood with pick 7 in 2006, and so could take Busslinger with their best pick since his mentor.
“It was pretty surprising after the Grand Final … I didn’t actually see it (Selwood’s shout-out), but I got a fair few messages saying Joel (mentioned) you, which was completely unexpected,” Busslinger told reporters on the first day of the AFL Draft Combine.
“I’ve met with Geelong. It’s pretty crazy to think about that I could go there.”
Busslinger said Selwood had had a significant influence on his footy journey to date.
“I’ve been able to message him whenever I want. It’s been pretty cool to grow up with all of that and a motivating factor in what an AFL lifestyle could look like,” he said.
“He’s been super for me. Realising what sort of person he is off field, he’s pretty selfless. It’s all about me, he never talks about himself. He’s pretty supportive and always encouraging.”
Asked what Selwood’s biggest piece of advice had been, Busslinger said: “Probably just to play to my strengths, continue to back yourself in and just enjoy it. It’s all good fun playing footy and making good friendships.”
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Busslinger was one of WA’s best players during the state’s Under 18 national championships campaign this year, albeit he withdrew from the carnival early.
A rangy 195cm defender who reads the ball superbly in the air and has great defensive nous and composure, Busslinger had 18 disposals and eight marks against Vic Metro before collecting 25 disposals and six marks against the Allies, going at 70 per cent by foot across both games.
But Busslinger was booked in for season-ending shoulder surgery after the Allies game.
He said on Friday he’d be in a sling for another fortnight and was hopeful he’d be training fully by the middle of January.
“It was just a bit painful and it probably wasn’t worth playing anymore,” Busslinger said of his decision to end his season midway through the champs.
“I sort of knew pretty early in the year that I’d need surgery, but to not be able to play out the championships was pretty flattening. I just wanted to be part of WA and I thought we would do really well in the championships, so I just wanted to be part of that and contribute to that.
“It’s just something that I had to do and hopefully it’ll hold me in good stead for quite a long career.”
Busslinger said he was prepared to start his AFL career at any club.
“I came to the reality pretty early in the year that there’s only two WA teams and there’s a fairly good chance (I’d have to move interstate),” he said.
“To play footy in Victoria would be pretty cool, but to be honest anywhere just to play footy would be a dream come true.”