Maguire and Baker to train with Sydney ahead of Draft

Image courtesy of NEAFL Media/TJ Yields.

Originally Published by the Canberra Times

Mitch Maguire almost hung up the phone when the person on the other end introduced themselves as the Sydney Swans list manager. It had to be a prank.

The Canberra Demons midfielder is glad he didn’t – because it was in fact Swans list guru Kinnear Beatson on the line, inviting Maguire and his NEAFL teammate Angus Baker to train with the AFL powerhouse.

The Demons stars will spend the bulk of the next fortnight training full-time with the Swans as the club considers picking the duo in the AFL rookie draft.

The pair have been brought to Moore Park alongside towering UNSW-Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs ruckman Jack Blair to press their claims ahead of the rookie draft at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on November 23.

A chance in the big smoke has Maguire far removed from the 300-acre farm just a few hundred metres out of Mirrool he grew up on, and a phone call “out of nowhere” has seen the NEAFL Rising Star winner scrambling to make other arrangement in the midst of his university exam period.

“I thought it was a joke to be honest, because one of the boys last year pranked one of the boys and said they were Kinnear Beatson,” Maguire said.

“I thought that was someone pranking me again, but it turns out it wasn’t. Ever since he rang it’s been playing on my mind and I had to sort out all these arrangements with uni.

“I do physiotherapy, so there was a few prac exams as well that threw other people out. It was a nightmare trying to sort it all out, but I’ve got it all sorted now.

“Last week I had to go down there on Wednesday for a medical and I had exams Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that week. They flew me in and out in time to sit the exams but it was all really rushed, but it’s alright.

“It hasn’t sunk in at all to be honest because I haven’t really thought too far ahead.”

Demons player-coach Kade Klemke’s arrival signalled a major culture shift as he set his sights on turning Canberra into a destination club for draft hopefuls.

Klemke believed the Demons were “a red hot chance to maybe get one drafted this year” following Canberra’s stunning run to the NEAFL preliminary final.

Now they are a genuine chance of having two 20-year-old prospects scooped up after 190cm defender Baker found himself on the radar of the Swans a year after returning from an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

“We didn’t really know each other got the phone call until a couple of days after,” Maguire said.

“When we found out, it was a bit of a relief for both of us I think because it would be pretty intimidating walking in there by yourself not knowing anyone. It was good to have Bakes get a call-up as well.

“It’ll make it that bit easier when we go into training.”

The Demons will boast a new-look team next season as they look to go one better than their preliminary final appearance and transform into a consistent premiership contender under Klemke.

Canberra have farewelled 11 players in Luke Robertson, Sam Tonkes, Luke McKay, Nathan Oakes, Ben Fulford, Sam Askew, Nathan Richards, Billy Muir, Cameron Milne, Sam Burge and Rohan McLachlan.

But a handful of key pillars have re-signed with captain Aaron Bruce, deputy Andrew Swan and Tom Faul committing to the Demons as the club eyes back-to-back finals appearances.

Donald Roberts, Riley Budd, Alex Paech, Connor Owen-Auburn, Jack Powell and Jarrod Osborne have all signed new deals while assistant coach Jeremy Rowe has departed to join Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes.