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Swan spreads wings at Crows

Katrina Gill  November 26, 2016 1:26 PM

Ben Davis Interview: Pick #75 Hear from new Crow Ben Davis who was selected with Pick 75 at the National Draft.
The numbers started getting later and later and I was panicking a bit

Maroubra teenager Ben Davis’ decision not to nominate for last year’s draft allowed the Crows to swoop in and secure the Sydney Swans Academy member on Friday night.

Davis, 19, played four NEAFL games for the Sydney Swans Reserves this season, but didn’t qualify to join the club as an academy player – the way his brother Abe did in 2014.

Under the AFL's rules, a player has to have nominated for the draft in his 18th year to be eligible to join an academy in his ‘over-age’ season.

Davis, who was playing for UNSW, didn’t nominate in 2015 after missing a large part of the season through injury.

“I knew there was no way I’d get picked up, so I didn’t bother nominating,” Davis said.

Davis started the 2016 season playing for the Swans Academy as an over-ager in the Academy series, and was then selected to represent the NSW-ACT division two side at the National Under-18 Championships and TAC Cup.

The clever forward kicked 10 goals and averaged 16 possessions in three Division Two matches to earn a spot in the combined Allies team to play in Division One, where he played alongside new Crows teammate Elliott Himmelberg.

It was around this time Davis attracted attention from Adelaide’s recruiting team.

“Throughout the championships, I had a fair bit of contact with the Crows but I didn’t really know how interested they were,” he said.

“They didn’t give too much away.”

Davis’ season culminated in an appearance for ‘Team O’Loughlin’ in the All Stars Under-18 clash, featuring the top 45 draft prospects in the country, on Grand Final eve. The clever and versatile Sydney-sider kicked two of his team’s eight goals to be named in the best players.

The Crows liked what they saw, so much so that they used a fifth pick (after planning only to use four) when Davis was still available at No.75 in the National Draft.

"We debated whether we'd have the last pick. We thought we'd probably finish at four but we had Benny pretty high on our list so we made a quick decision our table let's keep going,” said National Recruiting Manager Hamish Ogilvie.

“Ben's had some really high-level performances this year with the Allies and New South Wales … we just thought he was too good not to keep going and use the extra pick."

Davis was the third-last selection in the 2016 National Draft. Only ironically named Hawthorn recruit Mitchell Lewis (No.76) and West Coast father-son selection Jake Waterman (pick No.77) were taken after Davis on Friday night.

Davis, Abe and mother Karen, who were only 10 kilometres away, quickly jumped in the car to join Jordan Gallucci and his family at dinner with Crows recruiting staff after the draft.

“I was sitting at home with friends and family. I had a range in my head of where I thought I’d be going (in the draft), but the numbers started getting later and later and I was panicking a bit,” Davis said.

“To finally hear my name called out at pick No.71, I was pretty stoked and over the moon.”

As well as having the advantage of being a year older than most draftees, Davis also has the benefit of seeing his older brother go through the process. Abe, 20, spent two years on the Swans' list and has provided “invaluable” guidance to his younger sibling. 

“With Abe still living at home, seeing what he goes through on a daily basis and being able to ask him questions and gain knowledge has been better than gold for me,” Ben said.

“He’s been through exactly what I’ve been going through, and what I’ve got in front of me.”

The mature Davis has also sought out information along the journey.

He studied up on the Crows when he realised he was a chance to join the Club.

“I started doing my research so I do know a fair bit about the Crows now!” he said.

“At the start of the year I knew the players and stuff, but it wasn’t until recently that I dove in a bit deeper and made sure I knew a bit more than just their names!

“I learned that I’ll be coached by (SANFL coach) Ryan O’Keefe next season ... just little things like that, that I have to look forward to.”