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Developing Doedee eyes debut

Tom Doedee: Pre-Season Update Second year Crows defender Tom Doedee speaks about last season, his pre-season and his expectations for 2017.
The expectations were pretty high, but I knew in my mind that I just had to develop and improve throughout the year
Tom Doedee

After an important development year in the SANFL, Tom Doedee has his sights set on an AFL debut.

Doedee, 19, was selected with Adelaide’s second pick (No.17 overall) in the 2015 National Draft.

The athletic but raw defender, who had only played football for three years prior to being drafted, spent his first season at West Lakes learning his craft in the SANFL. 

He played 19 senior games, improving with each week and taking on more responsibility as Adelaide’s defensive group was hit by injury.

By the end of the season, the former Geelong Falcon was one of Adelaide’s most consistent SANFL performers and finished top 10 in the State League Club Champion voting.

Doedee was aware of the external pressure associated with being a first-round pick, but maintained a narrow focus in 2016.

“The expectations were pretty high, but I knew in my mind that I just had to develop and improve throughout the year,” Doedee said.

“My biggest goal wasn’t necessarily to debut (in the AFL), it was more to get better as a player and improve in all facets of my game.

“Although, I’ve seen other people debut and I would’ve loved to have debuted myself I feel like I’ve improved and that’s good enough for me at this stage.”

However, Doedee has moved the goal posts in 2017.

The competitive backman was eased into his second pre-season to manage knee soreness, which bothered him on and off last year, but is now in full training.

He hopes to earn an opportunity in the JLT Community Series, and press for AFL selection in the season proper.

“I’ve got my eyes on debuting as early as I possibly can,” Doedee said.

“Whatever happens, I’ll take but that’s my main goal this year – to debut and continue to improve.”

At 189cm, 89kg, Doedee has the capacity to play on bigger and smaller opponents.

The courageous teenager, who was described as the “best one-on-one defender in the TAC Cup” in his draft year, has also worked on the offensive side of his game and, in particular, his kicking.

He collected a season-high 24 disposals against Norwood in Round 20.

Defensive coach James Podsiadly said Doedee was starting to put pressure on more experienced teammates in the AFL team.

“Tom reads the game as a defender really well and has great closing speed on his opponents,” Podsiadly said.

“We’re really happy with his progression as a player and we’re starting to see him train at AFL intensity regularly, which will hold him in good stead for the season ahead.

“We expect Tom to play AFL footy this year if his development continues, and he can be a real asset to our backline.”

Doedee will have to take the spot of one of his teammates, who have helped to fast-track him.

“We (the defenders) are very tight knit. We’re confident together and we all just seem to get along,” he said.

“Coming into the Club and having only been a defender for one year before I got here, they were all very welcoming and have made me a better player.”

Doedee also feels comfortable away from the football field.

Currently living with a host family, Doedee plans to move into a place of his own soon with his girlfriend, who is moving over from Victoria.

He’s forged friendships with third-year Crows including Reilly O’Brien, Mitch McGovern, Harry Dear and Harrison Wigg, who he holidayed with in Bali in the offseason.

Doedee, who has an interest in television media and wants to learn Dutch (the origin of his surname), has also bonded with teammates over a common love of NFL. 

“I’ve settled in well. We’ve got a ton of interstate boys,” he said.

“The year before me, Reilly O’Brien and Harry Dear both came here from Melbourne. I got along with them really well because we’ve been in similar circumstances.”

Adelaide’s AFL (Semi-Final) and SANFL (Preliminary Final) teams were both knocked out in finals last season. Doedee said that disappointment would help push the entire squad to improve in 2017.

“We’re a very driven group,” he said.

“In both levels (last year), it wasn’t what we wanted. Losing a final at that stage hurt us all. This year, we know we’ve got the talent and we know we’ve got the drive.

“We just need to continue to work and get better.”