FREMANTLE revealed it closely followed Matt Taberner’s form with Ovens and Murray club Myrtleford this season.
The Dockers pounced on the athletic forward yesterday, taking the 19-year-old with their first selection in the rookie draft, pick No.11 overall.
The region proved a goldmine for AFL clubs, with the Border’s Jon Ceglar (Hawthorn), Cobram’s Cadeyn Williams (Richmond), Narrandera’s Zac Williams (Greater Western Sydney), the Border’s Orren Stephenson (Richmond) and Wagga’s Joe Redfern (GWS) also drafted.
Taberner, who played for the Murray Bushrangers late in the season, had been invited to train with Fremantle and the club’s general manager of player management, Brad Lloyd, said the Dockers liked what they saw.
“We watched him play throughout the year at Myrtleford and Murray and thought he deserved the opportunity to train,” Lloyd told The Border Mail.
“He’s in the top group of runners at the club and trained well with the ball work as well.
“We thought with our key forward stocks he deserved an opportunity.”
Of the five players invited to train with Fremantle, just two were taken as rookies.
Lloyd said Taberner, who will play for Peel Thunder in the WAFL, ticked all the boxes.
“His running capacity will suit the big grounds in Western Australia,” he said.
“He uses his left-foot really well and he’s really a nice size and those guys are hard to come by.
“Matt played mainly as a 19-year-old this year for Myrtleford under Stan Magro, who was a big supporter of his.
“He’s done a week of training with us and he can run with our best endurance runners.”
Of the six players drafted yesterday from TAC Cup clubs, two were from the Bushrangers — Taberner and Cadeyn Williams.
Bushies region manager Andrew Carson said the club was delighted for both players.
“We are really happy for them and a new journey begins for them now,” Carson said.
“Fremantle had the opportunity to get to know Tabs as a footballer and a person and he’s obviously impressed them.
“He had the two years with us and then came back in the second half of this year.
“It’s a great result for him.”