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Fine Wines leading from the front

Oliver Wines' leadership skills have impressed his Port Adelaide coaches - ${keywords}
Oliver Wines' leadership skills have impressed his Port Adelaide coaches
WRESTLING under a baking summer sun behind the goals at Alberton Oval in Port Adelaide's makeshift sandpit, Oliver Wines' body told him he'd had enough.

Ignoring the immense pain surging through his legs and arms, the 18-year-old refused to throw in the towel.

The Power's assistant coach Josh Carr remembers looking on and being thoroughly impressed; here was a clear indication of what the football world could expect from the talented teenager in years to come.

"There was a session where Ollie was cramping up and everything was happening but he just kept pushing through it," Carr said.

"I think it's a true sign of the character he's got and a true reflection of what he wants achieve in his football as well.

"He's still obviously got a long way to go, but definitely when he's out on the field he does lead … I think it's outstanding."

There's no doubt Wines' pre-season form has captured the Power's fans' imagination - 19 clearances in three games is a solid return from a kid who's yet to make his AFL debut.

But while the youngster's incredible clearance work and ability to match it physically with AFL regulars has impressed, Wines' ability to lead from the front has his coaches salivating.

Praise for his leadership capability hasn't just come from Carr and the other coaches either.

NAB AFL Pre-season Draft pick and Under-18 All Australian defender Sam Colquhoun told he had already learned much from Wines' outlook.

"Ollie has a great attitude because even though he's still young, he doesn't use it as an excuse as to why he can't get that hard ball and be competitive at AFL level," Colquhoun said.

"I look at the attitude of someone like him and try to use that to help me.

"Obviously Ollie's a bit bigger than me, but that attitude and intent he shows in hard and competitive situations is something that I can really use.

"He can be really proud to come into a club and already have others looking up at him."

Wines has all but locked down his spot in the Power's round one side and signs have been encouraging that he will develop into one of the competition's leading clearance players.

Carr said it was rare for a young player to come in and influence contests as much as Wines has this summer, but added it was important not to get carried away, without suggesting that Wines was the sort of person to let hype get to him.

"I think you've got to be aware of how the kid handles himself around the club, around his peers, but so far he's been fantastic," Carr said.

"He hasn't gotten ahead of himself, he works hard, he does the right things … we can't fault him."

It was Wines' outside game that Carr said coaches would focus on, comparing him to a young Sam Mitchell.

Carr said Mitchell's evolution from a player only seen as a tough inside midfielder into a genuine champion was a blueprint for Wines to follow.

Time will tell whether Wines matures into another Mitchell, but the foundation is there.

"I think of a guys like Sam Mitchell - he was purely just an inside player and people may still see him as that only, but he's worked on his fitness and has been able to get himself to a level where he spreads pretty well," he said.

"Ollie's fitness level is very, very good; the time trial he ran when he came to the football club was outstanding … he's got the running ability and he's got speed as well, so over time he'll definitely develop his outside game."

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry