MOSESE Baleidrokadroka could hardly have been starting from any further back.
Coming to Culcairn from Fiji with a rugby background, Baleidrokadroka’s knowledge of Australian Rules was comparable to his co-coach Brendan Way’s background in synchronised swimming.
The former Fijian rugby sevens squad member turned up at Culcairn’s training the week before the start of the Hume league season and immediately turned heads.
"His kicks were going 30-foot up in the air and 20-foot forward,” Way said.
“But he picked it up really quickly for someone who had never seen the game before.
“Mosese played in the twos that weekend and we just went ‘WOW’.
“His speed, athleticism and reaction time was incredible and within a week I reckon his kicking had improved 50 per cent.”
While natural talent has played a major role in his rapid improvement, so has hard work.
The Culcairn tannery employee has spent hours watching AFL matches at the local library and jumped at the chance to practice his skills when Way gave him a football over the Easter break.
“Someone from the high school actually rang and said: ‘What are you doing to the young Fijian’,” Way said.
“She said he’d been down at the school oval that day kicking goals for an hour and a half.
“Mosese doesn’t waste a chance to practice - he’s always wanting to learn.
“I can just see him getting better and better.”
While the 23-year-old has kicked 10 goals in eight senior matches this season, pressure and tackling inside the 50-metre arc is proving his biggest asset.
Few backmen have escaped the solidly-built forward-pocket’s grasp with Way saying it set a good example to the young Lions.
“It’s ridiculous what he can do sometimes,” Way said.
“He’s getting used to having people coming from different directions and, in another six games, goodness only knows what we will be able to do.
“From a coaches point of view he’s fantastic because he comes to training and trains flat out.
“He’s a bit of a culture hero.
“All the supporters and young kids love him.
“He can be riding his bike down the street and he’ll come over and give them a high-five.”
Culcairn has rocketed up the ladder this season to be sitting fifth with the late signing of Lachie Bruce and Ian McGillivray a huge boost to its chances of doing some damage in September.
They are set to line-up against ladder leader Osborne at Culcairn on Saturday.
“They used to play here so it’s good to get them back,” Way said.
“They will fit in well.”