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Time out sparks Wilson

Alex FitzGerald  November 30, 2017 3:02 PM

Rookie Selection: Patrick Wilson Check out the highlights of our rookie selection, Patrick Wilson
I feel like I have a bit of class on the outside and can impact the game.

Just two years after taking a season off football, Patrick Wilson is an Adelaide Crow.

A breakout season for Sturt, which included a premiership and selection in the SANFL Team of the Year, saw the 22-year-old midfielder taken by the Crows with pick No.17 in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

Wilson was on his way to train with the Double Blues on Monday when he first heard the news from Crows National Recruiting Manager Hamish Ogilvie.

“I was getting ready for one of my teammates to come around, because we carpool to training,” Wilson said.

“I thought the draft was starting at five o’clock Adelaide-time, so I was waiting until five.

“Then I got the call from Hamish in the car saying that I was joining the Crows and I was in shock.”

After being overlooked in the 2012 draft, Wilson remained at Sturt, making his senior debut in 2014 before making a conscious decision to step away from the game at the age of 20. A string of injuries and inconsistent form led to a feeling of indifference about a sport he’d dedicated so much of his life to.

“I took the year off in 2015 and went travelling and did something unrelated to sport,” he said.

Reflecting now on his decision to take a break from the game two seasons ago, the new Crow has no doubt that it has helped him to reignite his passion for football and build resilience.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I have some good life experience.”

Upon returning to the Double Blues the following year, Wilson was forced to watch his team mates celebrate a premiership win from the sidelines after a shoulder injury required a mid-season reconstruction.

“It was tough, but it happened midway through the year, so I had about 12 weeks to really get over it,” he said.

“I knew I had to get the surgery and it was out of my control, so I was just happy for the people who were playing and the club.”

Wilson returned from his injury this year with a renewed determination, shifting from defence into an onball role that saw him establish himself as one of the SANFL’s leading midfielders.

“Marty (Mattner, Sturt Senior Coach) said to me that there was a chance for myself to play in the midfield,” he explained.

“At first I was a bit hesitant to do that, but he pushed me. We had a few injuries which meant I could start in there straight away.”

The positional change encouraged Wilson to play to his strengths, leading to a strong run of form.

“It came together perfectly. I like the physical side of football; tackling, bumping, it suited my style a bit,” he said.

Wilson finished the SANFL season averaging 20 disposals, six tackles and five clearances from his 19 games, booting 18 goals along the way.

“One of my strengths is that I can kick the ball a long way but also pretty accurately,” he said.

“I found that during the year I was able to push forward as a midfielder and impact the scoreboard; I had a couple of games where I was able to kick two or three goals.”

With six Double Blues drafted into the AFL this year, former Crow and back to back SANFL Coach of the Year Mattner has helped to build players ready to take the next step with their football.  And Wilson acknowledges his guidance reaches further than the football field.

“Marty is great; he’s probably more of a teacher than a coach,” he said. 

“He’s really good at developing a personal relationship with you, which is something that I really like, because at times you just need someone to lean on and talk to. 

“He was great with the whole playing group; everyone has the utmost respect for him.”

Wilson is looking forward to training with the main group after Christmas, having been placed in the rehab group as he works his way back from a toe injury.  Once fit, he’s confident he can continue to build on his strengths.

“I think I can do the hard work and feel like I have a bit of class on the outside and can impact the game.”