Growing up James Borlase was always one of the biggest players in his team.
And even when he was drafted by Adelaide in December and walked in at 192cm and 98kg, he cut an imposing figure at his new home.
But the 18-year-old admits his first AFL pre-season has been a steep learning curve around how to best use his size and strength.
“Last Thursday, I had to play on Tex in the last quarter of our match sim and he just gave me a bath, he was a class above everyone else, so it was a great learning experience,” Borlase said.
“As a junior I was always the biggest bloke so I didn’t have to worry a lot about body positioning and stuff like that, so that’s definitely something I’ve learnt so far, and also communicating to other players where you are on the field, telling them my opponent is coming over to block.
“Also when you make a mistake don’t be too harsh on yourself because another opportunity will come and you won’t make that mistake again.”
Borlase is on the rookie list this season after being drafted as part of the AFL’s Next Generation Academy (NGA) program.
He qualified as an NGA prospect because he was born in Egypt before his family returned to Adelaide where his father Darryl had played in four premierships and captained Port Adelaide in the SANFL.
“Being an Adelaide boy it’s just awesome to be at an AFL club and living my dream,” Borlase said.
“I’ve got two Crows polo shirts and I probably will give Dad one but he might not wear it.
“I don’t even know if he’d put a scarf on to wear to the footy, but some of his mates have given him Crows stubbie holders, and people have given grandpa who is a mad Port supporter a Crows beanie so that’s been good.
“Last year, Dad watched every game of mine he could and we’d sit in the car on the way home and he’s say what I did well or needed to work on, he was very supportive.
“He’s been really good and I credit where I am today to him helping me.”
Borlase said he was excited about the prospect of playing practice matches now that the bulk of pre-season training was behind him.
“I’ve loved it, I trained for a week with the Crows in December and got a little taste of it and that’s carried into the start of this year,” he said.
“At first it was really tough, I’d come home from training and go to sleep for an hour or two, but now I’m getting a bit more used to it, and I’ve been lucky enough not to get injured.
“Scott Burns and Radar (Brent Reilly) have been really good in the defensive line and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from them so far.
“The plan is to hopefully get a few SANFL games under my belt and see where we go from there.”