KALLAN Dawson had some calls to make late Wednesday night. The second-year electrician had to explain to his boss that he would no longer be working for him after North Melbourne pounced on the key defender at pick No.2 in the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
It will come as a surprise to his boss, just like it has come as a surprise to many.
This time last year, the 23-year-old was playing B-Grade amateur football for Williamstown CYMS against old boys from De La Salle, Carey, Haileybury and St Bedes.
It was a world away from the bright lights of the AFL.
Dawson was overlooked by the Western Jets as a junior but has been on the list at Point Gellibrand since 2018, barely getting a look in before this season following a shoulder reconstruction, ankle and groin issues, around a season wiped out due to the pandemic.
But an eye-catching first half of the season for the Seagulls quickly saw recruiters calling his manager, Tim Hazell, from Vivid Sport, and Williamstown coach, Justin Plapp, wanting to know more about the athletic 194cm defender who made clever decisions and used the ball well.
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Dawson was interviewed by six clubs – two via Zoom, four over coffee – sitting down with Kangaroos coach David Noble and GM of Football Talent Brady Rawlings last week, before they called to confirm his selection an hour before they picked him last night.
"It's pretty overwhelming, I'm still in shock. I'm super pumped. I can't wait to get there," Dawson told AFL.com.au after the mid-season draft.
"I had a meeting with them about a week ago and then just an hour before the draft they called and told me they were going to take me, which calmed the nerves."
Dawson found himself stuck behind Charlie Dean at Williamstown last year but realised the AFL could be within reach after Collingwood plucked the tall defender out of the VFL in the Rookie Draft, following a season where the 20-year-old won the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal and became the 15th successive player to graduate to league football.
"It 100 per cent made me realise it's not that far away," Dawson said.
"I worked with him really closely last year as a key back. Once he got picked up, you realised that it was possible to make it onto a list."
After struggling for opportunities in the past, Dawson was picked to face Southport in round one and quickly sent recruiters scrambling after taking 12 marks against the Casey Demons in round two, before gathering 19 disposals and nine marks against Werribee the following week.
Plapp, who played for Richmond and St Kilda before coaching at a number of VFL and TAC Cup clubs over the past 15 years, was the first to believe Dawson could land on an AFL list, building his confidence over the past few months.
"Plappy has been huge for me. He has instilled belief in me that I can play VFL footy and push up and play some AFL footy," he said.
Dawson injured his ankle against Footscray at Williamstown Oval last weekend and is set to be sidelined for the next few weeks. But it didn’t put clubs off, just like it didn’t with Massimo D'Ambrosio who was selected by Essendon with the following pick, despite suffering a shoulder injury that will sideline him for the next month.
With North Melbourne undermanned down back following the departure of Robbie Tarrant to Richmond last October, Dawson could play sooner rather than later alongside Aidan Corr, Ben McKay and Josh Walker.
"Yes, 100 per cent. I think I can come in and have an impact in the second half of the season," he said.
The Williamstown product – he played Willy Juniors before the CYMS and Seagulls – has been juggling full-time work around part-time football.
Now he is ready to put all his eggs in the football basket. First, he has some explaining to do to his boss.
We think he'll understand.