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Wasley-Black moves towards AFL dream

NT Thunder prospect Errin Wasley-Black has moved to Darwin in a bid to boost his chances of being drafted this year - ${keywords}
NT Thunder prospect Errin Wasley-Black has moved to Darwin in a bid to boost his chances of being drafted this year
ERRIN Wasley-Black had made the decision long before he made it happen.  

Wasley-Black was born in Alice Springs, and grew up there. But as soon as he knew he wanted to make a career out of playing football, he knew something else.

At some point he needed to move to Darwin, to show he could live independently, to grow as a player, and to prove a few things to the people making assessments on him.

"I've wanted to get away for a bit, just to say to recruiters I'm not scared to move away from home," Wasley-Black told on the AIS-AFL Academy's Europe tour earlier this month.

The 18-year-old is now five months into the move, and is finding himself to be better off in a number of ways. Firstly there's his job. Through his new club, the Northern Territory Thunder, he has started working at Amart Sports, a retail store.

"I'm enjoying it a lot. Everything's a lot more structured now. When I was back at home some days I would finish school at one o'clock. Some days I'd start school at one o'clock. There was no routine. So now it's wake up, go to work, go to gym or go to training," Wasley-Black says.

He's more homely. Living with three older Thunder teammates has meant he has been able to watch how they prepare for games, and how they live their lives.

Wasley-Black has "nailed" a spaghetti carbonara, but the four share domestic duties and all the things he took for granted back at Alice Springs, like cooking and cleaning. And although he knows they are his housemates, he sometimes sees them as mentors, too.

There has also been the chance to get away from a scene that might have otherwise consumed him. Wasley-Black says he didn't hang around the wrong crowd in Alice Springs, but knows that he could have been easily drawn to a detrimental environment there.

"When I was younger I wasn't so aware," he says.

"But over the past few years you tend to turn a blind eye to the people doing all the wrong things. Last year it was easier for me to say I wouldn't go out on the weekend or things like that. Up in Darwin I'm not really with that any more."

His football has benefited from it.

He feels more stable in his game, and although the slippery ball has caused a few problems – "I murdered the ball one game. I might have had 20-odd touches but no joke I would have only hit about five," he says – it's only been part of the adjustment.

Adapting to new situations isn't new for Wasley-Black. On the field he has moved gradually from half-forward, to the wing to now being stationed on a half-back flank.

At one stage last year, in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships for NT, the 188cm Wasley-Black even played in the ruck. He took it as a chance to improve as a midfielder, jumping at the main contests and then roaming around the ground.

Wasley-Black finds himself in a slightly different position to most draft hopefuls this season.

As a prospect from the Northern Territory, the AFL's list-building rules allow Greater Western Sydney to sign the versatile tall automatically to its list if it wants him as a zone selection.

But it can also sign him and then immediately trade him to another club, like it did in deals involving Territorians Jed Anderson, Dom Barry and Jake Neade last year.

Then, the Giants added the NT players as part of their respective trades with Hawthorn, Melbourne and Port Adelaide.

Wasley-Black would like to play for the Giants, because he already knows fellow NT recruits Curtly Hampton and Shaun Edwards, but he has no preferences. He is happy going wherever his football will take him.

"Playing AFL is playing AFL," he says.

Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.