DEVELOPING Kiwi defender Kurt Heatherley is hoping he can push for an AFL debut before the end of 2015.
The New Zealander, in his second year on the Hawks’ rookie list, has been a consistent contributor in the back half for VFL affiliate Box Hill Hawks so far this season.
He’s still learning the game, but has enjoyed an injury-free season and is gaining confidence on the back of consistent performances at VFL level.
“I’ve been playing some consistent footy down at Box Hill, and it’s been good maintaining my spot in the VFL team,” Heatherley told hawthornfc.com.au.
“I’m still learning about the game and I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m making inroads.
“I feel like I’m going well – I’ve been more consistent compared to last year.
“Hopefully in the second half of the year I can push forward and try to play an AFL game, but at the moment I’m pretty happy with how things are going at Box Hill.”
Heatherley says his focus is on doing the basics well – and he’s been utilising experienced defenders such as Josh Gibson and Brian Lake as resources to help improve his game.
The 20-year-old has been holding down a key defensive post for the Box Hill Hawks, who have won nine of 11 games and are sitting second on the ladder.
Hawthorn’s Head of Development Academy Damian Carroll said Heatherley had definitely taken his game to a new level this season.
“He’s been one of the most consistent and effective tall defenders at Box Hill level,” Carroll said.
“Although he’s on the rookie list, we believe he could step up to AFL football if the opportunity arose – however he’s still a work in progress for us.”
Heatherley’s football apprenticeship has seen him play on a number of AFL-listed forwards this season, including North Melbourne duo Aaron Black (North Ballarat) and Majak Daw (Werribee).
He’s relishing the challenge of matching up on the big forwards.
“I played on Aaron Black last week, Majak Daw a few weeks ago and a few big VFL forwards like (Scott) Clouston (from Williamstown),” Heatherley said.
“It’s been a good learning experience, and having guys like Angus Litherland, Teia Miles and Daniel Howe down back has been good for my development.”
Heatherley has been joined by fellow countryman Shem Tatupu over the past fortnight in the Hawks’ VFL side, after Tatupu earned promotion from the development side.
“It’s obviously good to have another Kiwi over here – Shem’s come up into the VFL team and he’s playing pretty well,” he said.
“It’s good to see New Zealand slowly developing.”
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