East Fremantle's David Swallow representing WA under-18s
East Fremantle's David Swallow representing WA under-18s

The Gold Coast have scored another major coup by convincing East Fremantle teenager David Swallow to move interstate 12 months early to play for their VFL team in 2010.

The 16-year-old is one of the leading under-age talents in Australia after becoming the youngest player to win the Larke Medal as the best player at the under-18 national carnival this year.

The Gold Coast have the first three picks in the 2010 national draft. They invited Swallow to look over their facilities during the recent school holidays in an ambitious bid to secure him 12 months early.

Swallow told The West Australian he had agreed to move.

“I’m just waiting for the contract to sign,” he said.

“This has never been done before with a club selecting someone a year before the draft, so they’re working through the technicalities of it all.

“They’ve said they’ll select me in the first three but I don’t think I’m going to be No. 1.

“I think it’s better for my development to go because I’ll get used to the area and the other players.

“If I stayed in Perth, I would have been playing in the WAFL and just waiting to go. Now I do everything that the other players are doing.”

The Gold Coast already have signed seven teenagers under draft concessions, which give them access to up to 12 players born between January 1 and April 30, 1992. That crop includes South Fremantle forward Brandon Matera. West Perth key forward Jack Darling is expected to be among the club’s draft targets next year.

The Guy McKenna-coached Gold Coast have promised to recruit aggressively. They dropped a bombshell in July when they convinced rugby league star Karmichael Hunt to switch codes.

Swallow, whose brother Andrew won North Melbourne’s best and fairest award this season, played four league games in 2009 and toured South Africa with the AFL academy.

His decision will set off alarm bells among clubs because the WA Football Commission queried the Gold Coast’s approach with the AFL when they first made contact.

Swallow will be followed into the AFL system by WAFC highperformance manager Jon Haines and former State under-18 coach Andrew Lockyer.

Haines has been appointed a development coach with North Melbourne. Lockyer has replaced Neil Ross as Collingwood’s WA recruiting manager.

Haines implemented the State’s football academy during his three years in charge.

WA produced a raft of early picks in the draft under his leadership, won two national titles and also finished runners-up. The WAFL could produce another four first-round draft picks this year.

Haines will move to Victoria next month. His position will be advertised nationally and WAFC director of football Grant Dorrington expects a strong field of applicants.

The West Australian

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