Stewart setback not final

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 06 November 2012 | 14.43

Quick, versatile and perfectly suited to the modern game, James Stewart is likely to be taken in the second half of this year's AFL Draft.

James Stewart (left) should still get drafted despite the Pies overlooking him as a father-son pick. Bruce Magilton Source: Herald Sun

JAMES Stewart had to focus on the 17 other doors that could open when Collingwood closed theirs.

With three picks inside the top 21, the Pies made the tough call to overlook the father-son prospect, turning Stewart's draft dream on its head.

The setback continued a year of challenges for Stewart, which included a stress fracture to his back, and a major growth spurt that turned the former midfielder into a 197cm key-position player.

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While it has taken time to develop into the new role, Sandringham Dragons regional manager Ryan O'Connor said Stewart had the tools to blossom into an agile AFL forward.

"He's 197cm and he can basically run like an onballer. He has the athleticism of a wingman," O'Connor said.

s51me970 - U18 AFL champions. Vic Metro vs Tasmania at Visy Park. Vic. James Stewart tackling. Picture: Hilton Stone Source: Herald Sun

"He has fantastic foot skills and is very good with his hands. He just needs to keep working on all the attributes of contested football - like positioning as a key forward and key back."

"But the reality is he hasn't played that much in those roles.''

There were some encouraging signs late season when Stewart reeled in a string of contested grabs and conversions on goal, providing what O'Connor believes was a "taste of things to come''

Stewart said he tried to emulate the versatility in the game of Sydney champion Adam Goodes.

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"I'm a tall player that can play in the forward line, up the ground as well," he said.

O'Connor said Stewart, whose dad Craig played 115 games for the Pies, had shown great maturity dealing with the father-son focus.

s02wh202 c1 Football. Eastern Ranges v Sandringham Dragons. Sandringham's James Stewart with ball against Eastern's Shaun Kennedy. Picture: Carmelo Bazzano Source: Herald Sun

"Like any young footballer would be, there was a part of him that was disappointed (being overlooked by Collingwood)," he said.

"The whole experience has put a microscope on him, and it's something he's had to come to terms with.

"But I think he will be better off from it all."

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"A kid of his size and his athleticism, given the right opportunities, I have no doubt he will get out there (in the AFL) and do very nicely."


AGE: 18
HEIGHT: 197cm
WEIGHT: 82kg
FROM: Sandringham Dragons
POSITION: Mobile forward
DRAFT RANGE: Late third round
IN THE MIX: Crows (54), Roos (58), Cats (59)
PLAYS LIKE: Adam Goodes

Follow Jay Clark on Twitter: @ClarkyHeraldSun

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