AFL dream becomes reality for junior stars

Published on Thursday, December 10, 2020

The NFNL congratulates Nikolas Cox, Bailey Laurie, Liam McMahon and Josh Eyre on their selection in the 2020 AFL Draft.

The quartet were all taken inside the top 40 of last night’s AFL Draft in a wonderful result for the NFNL’s junior clubs.

Essendon used its first selection to take Cox at pick 8, before selecting Eyre at pick 39.

Laurie was drafted by Melbourne at pick 22, while McMahon found his way to Collingwood at pick 31.

A key position player from Montmorency Junior Football Club, Cox had long been earmarked as a top-10 prospect.

He represented Vic Metro at the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships, was a member of the NAB AFL Academy and was named co-captain of the Northern Knights in 2020, prior to the cancelled NAB League campaign.

Standing 200cm, Cox boasts remarkable athleticism and was one of the top performers at the Vic Metro Draft Combine – running the 20m sprint in 2.95 secs and the 2km time trial in 6:05 mins (the third-best result of all Draft Combines).

An elite kick on both sides of his body, he has great hands both in the air and at ground level.

Cox is the son of former Fitzroy, Brisbane Lions and Melbourne utility Darryl Cox, who played 30 VFL games between 1980 and 1987.

Essendon General Manager of List and Recruiting Adrian Dodoro said the Bombers had no hesitation using their first selection in the draft on Cox.

“We don’t know what his ceiling his. He has an amazing engine and he kicks on both sides of his body, so he’ll run around like a midfielder,” Dodoro told the Essendon website.

“He’s a very exciting prospect. We’ve lost a lot of talls over the past couple of years and we wanted to replenish that area of our list with this draft, and I think we did a really good job of doing that.”

Laurie began his football journey with Diamond Creek Junior Football Club, before moving to Beverley Hills Junior Football Club and progressing through to the Oakleigh Chargers.

The classy small forward has been praised for his outstanding game sense and clean skills. He also possesses great leg speed and can also play on a wing.

He represented Vic Metro at the AFL Under-16 Championships in 2018 and impressed as a first-year player in seven NAB League matches for the Chargers last year.

Laurie said it was a dream come true to be drafted.

“I’m still a bit lost for words – my legs were shaking for a fair while after my name was called,” Laurie told the Melbourne website.

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment for so long, so to get my name called out, I’m just so honoured and so happy at the moment.

“Mum and dad were over the moon that I get to stay in Victoria, and I had a couple of interviews with the Dees so they were one of my preferences.”

An NFNL representative at both under-14 and under-15 level, McMahon played junior football with both Eltham Football Club and Greensborough Junior Football Club.

He burst into draft contention with a promising 2019 NAB League campaign, where he kicked 14 goals in 15 appearances as a bottom-age player for the Northern Knights.

The high-marking forward has shown great athleticism and caught the eye of recruiters with outstanding results in last month’s Vic Metro Draft Combine, most notably in the 2km time trial, vertical jump and 20m sprint.

Collingwood’s National Recruiting Manager Derek Hine said McMahon’s versatility stood out to the Magpies.

“This draft was like no other. We were able to move to our needs, for example bringing in Liam McMahon,” Hine told the Collingwood website.

“He’s a 196cm key forward and key back and a really athletic young boy. He’s got unique speed for someone his size.

“He runs a 2.92 for the 20m sprint. He’s got some real tools to work with.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by collingwoodfc (@collingwood_fc)

Eyre capped a great night for the NFNL and its member clubs when he was selected by Essendon with pick 39, after the Bombers matched a bid from Richmond for the talented key tall.

A product of Kilmore Junior Football Club, Eyre played eight games for the Calder Cannons during the 2019 NAB League season and was a member of Essendon’s Next Generation Academy.

Standing 198cm, he was a standout at the Vic Country Combine last month, finishing second in both the 2km time trial and 20-metre sprint, as well as runner-up in the running and standing vertical jumps tests.

Essendon General Manager of List and Recruiting Adrian Dodoro said the Bombers were not going to miss the opportunity to select Eyre once the Tigers had bid on the Academy player.

“Josh is one of those guys who has amazing athleticism. He’s 198(cm), but he could play on the wing, half-back, half-forward and pinch-hit in the ruck,” Dodoro said.

“He was too exciting to let go, so when he was bidded on, it was incumbent on us to keep him at our football club.

“He’s a very exciting talent and he’s going to excite our fans for many years to come.”

The NFNL congratulates Nikolas, Bailey, Liam and Josh on their selection in the AFL Draft and wishes them the very best in their AFL careers.

The 2020 Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts will be conducted later today and the NFNL wishes the best of luck to all draft prospects hoping to be selected.

Related News

  • NFNL Match Replays

    Watch replays of every NFNL senior men’s football match.

  • Bulldogs win epic battle

    North Heidelberg rallied in the last quarter to win a four-point thriller against Bundoora, with the Bulldogs surviving a shot after the final siren to win their fifth game of the season.

  • Banyule make statement against Creekers

    It was billed as a blockbuster clash between the top two teams on the MC Labour Division 2 ladder and it was Banyule who romped to a sixth-straight win, downing Diamond Creek to confirm top spot.