The West

The WA spark behind Hawk Breust
Luke Breust. Pic: AFL Media

Meet the Kalgoorlie mining electrician who has helped put the spark in Hawthorn forward Luke Breust's powerful surge into today's grand final against Sydney at the MCG.

Country football gun for hire Kody Kelman was the key forward a then-teenage Breust once clung to while honing his exquisite crumbing skills when the pair played for little-known Temora in NSW.

And the premiership omens have built in recent weeks to suggest the talented young Hawk, who once had dreams of being a rugby league star, may be about to share in the AFL's ultimate glory.

Not only did Kelman play in a fifth flag for Railways in the Goldfields Football League a fortnight ago, but on the same day Temora won their first premiership since 1960 with their grand final win in the Farrar Football League.

"I was playing with the Temora Kangaroos and we struggled," Breust recalled this week of his time playing in the NSW Riverina area.

"We ended up making finals, but we were no chance of making the grand final.

"Kody was a great player to play alongside and I didn't mind crumbing off him when he was crashing packs.

"He was good for me, but to run around at Nixon Park compared to running around at the MCG is a fair contrast."

Kelman was recruited from WA at the start of 2007 to help lift the battling Temora and recalled a then-helmeted Breust joining the senior team when he was just 16.

"He was only a young fella and he wore the head gear from the rugby league background," the five-times GFL leading goal kicker said.

"He was running in the helmet back then because his mum and dad used to make him wear it.

"But no one really stirred him up about it because he was so good.

"The things he does now, like when he takes a mark and then just takes off and everyone else is sort of standing there, he used to do that for fun against all the older blokes.

"There'd be a pack situation and he'd be just gone and having a bounce while everyone was wondering where the ball was.

"He'd only just started getting into the footy properly, but you could even see then that he was one of those blokes who just had it.

"Some blokes who've got it know it and strut around, but he was never like that, he was just good at everything.

"I don't think fanfare is a big thing for him and, to be quite honest, it's weird how he plays exactly how he used to - he's just wearing a different jumper."

Breust said he changed his career path from rugby league to Aussie Rules when he was 15.

He had played both sports from a young age.

The St George Illawarra fan was once on the verge of an NRL breakthrough when he trialled with the North Queensland Cowboys, but was too small to make his way.

The 21-year-old tasted premiership success as a rugby league junior, but also shared in a reserves flag for Sydney in 2007, a year when he shared his playing skills with them and Temora.

But the Swans still chose to overlook him and Hawthorn ultimately took the punt with pick No.47 in the 2009 rookie draft.

Breust has since bulked up 10kg to the 80kg frame he will dart around with today.

"I don't think I was ready back then," he said.

"I was probably good enough for that second-tier competition I played in for Sydney, but even in my first two years at Hawthorn I was still very light.

"I guess there's a little bit of irony there, but it wasn't to be and Hawthorn ended up rookie-listing me. They gave me the opportunity and I want to repay the faith to them.

"It's a fantastic opportunity and I guess I've dreamed about it since you were a little kid about winning grand finals. So it means a fair bit to me."

Kelman said Breust's older brother, Mark, broke a leg while playing for Temora in this year's semifinal and missed the drought-breaking premiership.

He said the young Hawk's attitude while dealing with his injury problems while with the Kangaroos had been a great measure of his character.

"In the second year with us, he played the first two games in the under-18s titles and got best-on and third-best and then he hurt his knee," Kelman said.

"So they said he was going good enough and told him not to continue playing and just get himself right.

"He still trained with us every night and did his rehab, but just wasn't allowed to play in case he busted his knee again.

"He was really good around the boys and I think it showed how much he just loved footy.

"It was never about him, it was just about being around the boys."

One sound certain to boom from the stands through today's expected weather gloom is the now-common collective call from Hawks fans of "Breust" whenever he wins a possession.

He is comfortable with the tradition now, but that wasn't always the case.

"I definitely hear it now," Breust said.

"Early on I probably didn't realise what they were doing.

"Initially I thought they were booing me and I thought, 'what have I done wrong?' I think in my third game I took a mark late and realised what they were doing.

"If anything, I probably get a little bit of a lift from it, especially if you kick straight in front of goal. That helps. I enjoy it."

The West Australian

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