Kiwi Heatherley upgraded to senior list

KURT Heatherley has moved a step closer to making his AFL debut after being upgraded to Hawthorn’s senior list on Thursday.

The New Zealander, who has spent the past two years as a Category B International Rookie, was promoted after a strong season at VFL level.

He played 20 of a possible 21 games for Hawthorn’s VFL affiliate Box Hill Hawks in 2015 and was named in the team’s best performers on five occasions.

A mobile key defender, the 20-year-old spent time developing his game by playing on the likes of AFL-listed forwards Majak Daw and Aaron Black.

Heatherley signed a contract extension earlier this season and said his dream was to play an AFL match.

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“The club has obviously put a lot of faith in me, so hopefully I can repay them over the next few years,” he said earlier this year.

“I’ve still got a lot to improve and a lot to learn, but hopefully over the next few years I can keep developing and achieve that goal of playing AFL football.”

When Heatherley re-signed with the club in August, Recruiting and List Manager Graham Wright said the former basketballer had made significant progress.

“What we liked about him then was that he was quick, big for his age, had good lateral movement and was pretty aggressive,” Wright said.

“He’s grown a bit since then, about five or six centimetres, and has done a really good job to get to where he is now.

“He’s still quick with good lateral movement, and he’s improved his kicking and handballing and has worked really hard on his game.”

With the retirement of triple-premiership defender Brian Lake, a key defensive post could be up for grabs at the start of next season.