REEF McInnes was gone like the wind.
So quick was the Oakleigh Chargers prospect at last month's NAB AFL Draft Combine testing, he was actually made to repeat his rapid effort in the 20m sprint to ensure there wasn't an issue with the official's timer.
McInnes, eligible to join Collingwood as part of its Next Generation Academy at the NAB AFL Draft on December 9, posted a speedy time of just 2.779 seconds. It was by far the quickest of any draft prospect tested across the country this season.
The time even surprised McInnes himself, so he agreed to do it again. But on take two, he repeated his remarkable feats.
"I've never been slow, but I didn't think I was that quick," McInnes told AFL.com.au.
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"The person who was timing it asked me to do it again, because he thought he'd stuffed it up given how quick it was. They did it again and I got the same time, so he was happy."
The effort would have otherwise put McInnes among the best-ever Combine times for the sprint test. However, completed outdoors at the Holden Centre to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, it was judged the teenager was aided by a tailwind.
His time therefore did not officially enter the record books, but it did further enhance his reputation among AFL recruiters as the strong 193cm midfielder continues to press his claim as a potential first-round selection.
"There was a bit of a wind," McInnes laughed.
"I'd like to say there wasn't, but there was a fair wind. It probably shouldn't count as the record. I'd love to do a proper indoor test just to see where I'm at, because I'd like to know if I'm actually that quick or not."
The testing results added to an impressive draft CV for McInnes, who played an integral role in Oakleigh's 2019 NAB League premiership as a bottom-age prospect where he displayed his versatility in a number of roles.
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Best suited as an inside midfielder where he can extract the footy through his size and power, McInnes enjoyed a three-game stint in the NAB League last season where he averaged 27 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five clearances and seven tackles per match.
He was employed across half-back when star midfield talent including Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson returned from representative duty, while his height and agility has also meant he can be thrown forward to good effect.
Collingwood now has the option of matching any bid for McInnes at the upcoming draft, with the teenager qualifying for the club's Next Generation Academy program as his mother was born in the Philippines.
The Pies would ideally love for that bid to fall after their opening two selections, which currently stand at picks No.14 and 16. However, there have been suggestions among rival clubs recently that it could be made earlier.
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That would equate to a complicated draft night for both Collingwood and McInnes, though the youngster himself isn't getting carried away by the thought of potentially landing elsewhere later this month.
"The club has been catching up over the phone with me, they've been checking up on me and my wellbeing and I appreciate that heaps," McInnes said.
"(Recruiting manager) Derek Hine and their staff have been great. I've been in a bit of contact with them over the year, but it's pretty much still up in the air. The recruiters have never given anything away, so I can't say definitely whether I'm going to the Pies or not."
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McInnes enjoyed a taste of what it would be like to be a Collingwood player when he joined the club for two weeks of pre-season training last summer, which he spent engrained among its talented midfield group.
Brodie Grundy delivered timely and sage advice on dealing with a back problem that had plagued McInnes earlier this year, while veterans Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom also dished out a few tips on improving his midfield craft.
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"It was awesome," McInnes said.
"It really showed me what an AFL player's lifestyle is like and how physically and mentally tiring it is, just being there and being engaged 24/7 with footy. It really showed me how the best players in the game go about it.
"To see them actually train in front of me and to train with them, it really helped my development and it encouraged and motivated me to try and get to that level. Hopefully that happens soon, but we'll see."
But there were also a couple of familiar faces, younger in their AFL careers, who gave McInnes an added injection of inspiration to one day make it to the next level.
Trent Bianco, his Oakleigh Chargers premiership captain, fulfilled a boyhood dream when he was drafted to Collingwood with pick No.45 last year. Will Kelly, a long-time friend, was a father-son selection to the Pies the season prior.
"It was good to hear from them and see how they're doing," McInnes said.
"It's cool to see them thriving in their dream. Now, to think I might possibly get that chance … I'm hoping to get to where they are."