Jack Callinan in action during the Allies' clash with Vic Country in the 2023 AFL Under-18 Championships. Picture: AFL Photos

THERE are many different ways to get on an AFL list.

Jack Callinan, given his family's history, should know that better than most.

Callinan's dad, Ian, toiled away for almost a decade in both the VFL and the SANFL after missing his chance as a junior. There were times when he thought his AFL dream was over, before Adelaide finally gave him an opportunity at the age of 27.

Ian ultimately managed 32 senior games for the Crows in a career that followed a J.J. Liston Trophy as the VFL's best player in 2005, four SANFL premierships, and a Jack Oatey Medal as the best player in the 2010 SANFL Grand Final. He was finally picked up in 2011.

The junior Callinan, a crafty 179cm forward who has impressed for Tasmania and the Allies this year, could follow in his father's footsteps. However, he is hoping his own path to professional football is far more orthodox.


"He didn't really have the conventional journey to the AFL," Callinan told AFL.com.au.

"But I think that's what made him who he is. He obviously started by not getting picked up, then he played for Tasmania in the VFL and moved away to South Australia to play for Central District.

"He was there until 2010, then was lucky enough to get picked up in the rookie draft in 2011 by (Crows national recruiting manager) Hamish Ogilvie. It's not a long time ago, but he played for two or three years there and continued his footy back home.

"I would've been six when he was drafted. But I only probably remember the highlights, really. There were still some moments there that I'll remember forever, I was really grateful to be part of it.

"Growing up, I got pigeonholed a little bit as a small forward because of dad. But, luckily enough, I'm a bit taller than him. He was only about 170cm, so I got lucky there. I've grown out of it."

Ian Callinan in action during Adelaide's clash with Sydney in round 13, 2011. Picture: AFL Photos

Callinan himself is a goalkicking forward like his father. Yes, he's slightly taller and subsequently more adept overhead, but he's got the same ground-level abilities that made Ian a fan-favourite at Adelaide.

The teenager kicked 38 goals from 24 games in the Coates Talent League with Tasmania over the last two seasons, while he added five more from four matches for the Allies in their successful national under-18 championships campaign this year.

It's a record made all the more impressive by the fact he spent a prolonged period in the backline midway through this season, with Tasmania coach Jeromey Webberley hoping it led to Callinan picking up new skills in a variety of roles.

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"It was pretty different, to be honest," Callinan said.

"It was something I really enjoyed. I finished off the year forward again, which we were comfortable with. Obviously, playing back was something I really enjoyed doing. I'd never played a game back there.

"I'd never actually been in the back half, let alone played there. But it was really good. I'm really thankful to Jez and the Tassie crew to give me that opportunity. Just seeing the game from a different perspective, it really shows you how the game opens up."

Jack Callinan in action during the AFL Academy's clash with Port Adelaide in April 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Callinan's return to the forward line sparked Tasmania's successful Coates Talent League finals campaign, where he kicked three goals from 16 disposals in an elimination final victory over Gippsland Power and another three in the semi-final against Eastern Ranges.

"He's got that forward craft and goal awareness," Webberley told AFL.com.au.

"Some players have that and some players don't. Jack's got that. He's not your typical pressure forward, he's almost old fashioned. He's not going to go up in the contest, but we liken him a little bit to Jack Ginnivan. He'll get his 10 or 12 disposals per game and create scores and set up scores.

"He's crafty around goal and he hits the scoreboard and sets up his teammates. I thought his two finals were a really strong depiction of what he could do. He's a great finisher, he's pretty strong overhead, but he's also got that front and centre ability."

Callinan, who is from Hobart, has been a key part of Tasmania's success at junior level over the last two seasons. But he's also witnessed the state ride the wave of momentum following the announcement it would receive the 19th AFL licence.

While the teenager is excited about Tasmania entering the League, he has also spent his entire life preparing himself for a move to the mainland if he was to make footy his profession.

"The news about Tassie was really special, to be honest," Callinan said.

"There was a big build-up to it, whether it would happen or whether it wouldn't happen. But to get it over the line, it was probably the biggest weekend the state has seen in a long time. It was really special, not only for sport but the whole community as well.

"I get asked about it a little bit (by clubs). You can't hide away from it. It's always going to be there now, but it is an option for people down the line. Personally, though, growing up I'd always thought I'd be forced to move away if I did get drafted.

"You have to be comfortable with living away from home and that's something I've prepared myself for. If I'm happy and enjoying my time over there, I don't see why I'd need to move back."

Jack Callinan celebrates a goal for Tasmania against Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League in 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Besides, Callinan will definitely need to move away from Tasmania if he's to fulfil his ultimate dream. That being the chance to follow in his father's footsteps and play for a Crows side he supported growing up.

"I'd be lying to myself if I said I hadn't thought about it," Callinan said.

"But, like everyone, you dream of playing for your boyhood club. I'd be happy enough to get an opportunity at any club, but if it was Adelaide it would be pretty special. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, though.

"Obviously, the draft is something that's going to eventuate. But whether I'm lucky enough or not lucky enough to get picked up, I just want to know that I've given myself the very best chance."