NEW Zealand-raised forward Khan Haretuku is earmarked to be one of the most sought-after mature-age prospects heading into this year’s draft.
And if that is the case, he would be well on the way to proving former coach Ross Lyon wrong in returning to the AFL ranks, with several clubs already circling the talented 22 year old.
Haretuku was drafted at 18 as a rookie under the New South Wales scholarship program at St Kilda but was delisted after one season – and he said it still stings.
”Ross Lyon [former St Kilda coach, now Fremantle coach] sat me down in his office and told me that he didn’t think that I had the AFL talent and that stung quite a bit and I used it as motivation to get back ever since,” Haretuku said.
Haretuku, who has kicked 29 goals this season, has developed into one of the VFL’s finest forwards after three years on Frankston’s list. This has been the year that he has grown the most and Dolphins coach Simon Goosey believes he is a near certainty to be redrafted at the end of the season.
It is believed Carlton, Melbourne, Greater Western Sydney, Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast are among those that have him high on the pecking order for mature-age prospects.
And it’s little wonder given he has represented New Zealand against the AIS-AFL Academy at Wellington Stadium, and was also a deserving selection in the state team. He believes there were some AFL prospects in the New Zealand team with several offered scholarships with Hawthorn.
He said confidence has been the key to his emphatic improvement, where he has notably become a strong mark, playing out of the goal square and pushing up the ground with strong athleticism.
At 199 centimetres and 101 kilograms, he believes he is much more physically and mentally prepared for a second crack at an AFL career and can be considered a late bloomer given he didn’t start playing football until he was 16 after spending his childhood playing rugby union.– Brent Diamond, theage.com.au