It’s been a big year for Ronin O’Connor, topping off three pieces of silverware with finding himself an AFL home in the 2019 draft.
The West Australian product - who captained two of the three winning sides - saw his football dream come true when he was selected by Adelaide with pick No.42.
“Since I was little, as soon as I could hold a footy, dad had me down at the park,” O’Connor told AFC Media.
“It’s been my dream my whole life to play AFL footy.”
It all started when O’Connor joined Marist Junior Football Club in Perth, but it took the self-proclaimed late bloomer a couple of years to find his feet.
“I had a few rough years where I wasn’t as big as the other kids or as fast - I probably wasn’t as developed,” he said.
“But in my years 11 and 12 at the Club (Marist FC), I started to really come into my strides.
“I started growing, started getting a bit quicker and stronger.”
And in his final year with Marist, all his hard work paid off.
“At the end of year 12 (2018), I captained the side and we got all the way through to a premiership,” O’Connor said.
“That was a great way to top off my junior footy career.”
Six months on, O’Connor’s leadership abilities and impeccable work rate were acknowledged with a selection in the Western Australian side for the 2019 AFL Under 18 Championships.
After five rounds across June and July, the WA side came out on top, claiming their first national title in a decade and O’Connor’s second piece of silverware in less than 12 months.
As elated as his was, the celebrations were kept short as he prepared for his next challenge.
Representing Claremont, O’Connor captained their WAFL Colts side to a Premiership in September and just like that, he had his third medal.
“I was part of the leadership group all year and then got the nod by the coaching staff to captain the side through the finals series and grand final,” he said.
“It puts a bit more pressure on yourself but I thrive under that and looked forward to taking my team through the whole thing.
“Eventually, we got what we wanted - it was a great experience.”
Now at West Lakes, he faces his biggest task yet.
Grateful for the opportunity to prove himself, O’Connor’s main focus for the 2020 pre-season is to build on his strength and fitness.
“I’m hard-working, hard at it and love being at the heart of the contest and my leadership qualities are definitely a strength of mine so I want to build on that,” Ronin said.
“I’ll look to put a bit more muscle on in the gym, increase my fitness and play a consistently strong level of senior footy.”