It’s what you dream of as a kid and what you play for
Crows recruit Rory Atkins is confident being in an AFL environment, which will include working alongside namesake Rory Sloane, will help him deliver on the talent that saw him rated one of the top 30 juniors in the country two years ago.
A smart and skilful ball winner, Atkins was selected in the 2010/2011 AIS-AFL Academy intake but was cut from the elite development program after a quiet 2011 season. The exciting 18-year-old played two games for Vic Metro at the Under-18 Championships in June and finished the season strongly, winning the Calder Cannons best and fairest.
Atkins admits his work rate could’ve been questioned at times, but says he’s learning what it takes to become a player at the elite level.
“I think that will come with maturity. As I get older, I’m realising the more important aspects of the game and what I have to do to be successful,” Atkins told afc.com.au.
“I reckon it’ll really help being in an AFL environment. I’ll be able to feed off the other guys and see how hard they work. Hopefully, that will rub off on me.”
Adelaide national recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie said Atkins’ natural talent was undeniable.
“Rory’s got a bit of spunk and cheek about him,” Ogilvie said.
“Rory is very talented, but things have probably come easy to him. He’s just starting to learn how to work hard now after a few kicks in the pants. He’s had his ups and downs, but he’s been up for the last half of the season and played really well.
“He still has a bit to learn about the work required to play at AFL level, but you can’t beat talent.”
A midfielder, who can go forward and hit the scoreboard, Atkins is damaging by foot. The polished left-footer finished equal first in the kicking assessment at the Draft Combine last month.
Despite this performance and being interviewed by at least 10 clubs, he had to wait until pick No.81 to hear his name called out by the Crows.
“I was on the edge of my seat last night. It’s a nerve-racking process to go through,” Atkins said.
“I’d already tried to prepare myself for it not happening and what I was going to do next, so when Adelaide called my name I was stoked.
“It’s a great opportunity to be picked up by an AFL club. It’s what you dream of as a kid and what you play for. To have that dream come true is grouse.”
Atkins will arrive in Adelaide on Sunday night ahead of his first training session on Monday.
The laidback teenager doesn’t support an AFL club, so has no allegiances to break and already has a familiar face at the club in strategy and innovations coach Dean Bailey - he is good mates with Bailey’s son, Darcy.
Remarkably, Atkins is the third 'Rory' at the Club, joining star midfielder Rory Sloane and rookie Rory Laird. He said he was looking forward to the move.
“It’s what you’ve got to do. My sister lives in Hong Kong, so my mum and dad have already had to deal with one of their kids moving out,” he said.
“Danger, Thommo and Rory Sloane are great to watch, so it’ll be grouse being able to train alongside them and see how they go about it.
“Sando called me before and said, ‘we’re happy to have you mate … pack your bags, we start training Monday. It’s a dream come true.”