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O'Brien has high hopes for Olango

December 1, 2017 10:00 AM

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West Coast will be patient with rookie ruckman Tony Olango

West Coast national recruiting manager Rohan O’Brien reckons rookie ruckman Tony Olango has some unique skills that could make him an AFL star of the future.

The Eagles used pick No.27 in Monday’s rookie draft to snare Olango, who has been honing his craft with NEAFL club Northern Territory Thunder for the past year.

The 19-year-old was tipped to go to an AFL club last year, but was overlooked in all drafts.

O’Brien said the Eagles had been keeping a close eye on the Kenyan-born Sudanese talent and believed he was ready to step up to the elite level in 2018.

“The thing with young ruckmen is you want them to have the athleticism, which the game requires now, and to be competitive. We think Tony’s got that,” O’Brien told the NT News.

“He’s got some unique attributes with his leap and speed, and he’s a tall fella – they’re primary components of the game now.”

With star ruckmen Nic Naitanui, Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy all raring to go following a lengthy off-season break, O’Brien said there was no need to rush Olango’s development.

He said the gentle giant would be given all the time he needed to prepare his body and game for the rigours of AFL football.

“The best opportunity for younger boys is to give them a little bit of time to build into their bodies, and the requirements of the AFL,” O’Brien said.

“With Tony only being 19, I think he’s got that time up his sleeve. We think the right thing to do is give him a lot of time to work with our guys.

“He’ll do a lot of work with (Eagles Next Generation Academy high-performance coach) Drew Petrie and our ruck coaches as well.”

“With all our positions, we’ve tried to build from underneath. We did the same with Nic and Scotty Lycett. They’ve had to build up from young fellas and wait their turns.

“That’s the pathway we see for Tony too.”