Rams product joins Doggies

Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph
Rockingham’s Aaron Naughton gathers the ball in defence for the WA under-18s earlier this year.
Camera IconRockingham’s Aaron Naughton gathers the ball in defence for the WA under-18s earlier this year. Credit: The Sunday Times, Daniel Wilkins

Rockingham Rams and Peel Thunder product Aaron Naughton’s football career took a huge leap last Friday, as the 17-year-old defender was selected by the Western Bulldogs in the 2017 AFL Draft.

Naughton, who will celebrate his 18th birthday tomorrow, was selected at pick nine by the Bulldogs and was also the first WA player to be picked by a club in the draft.

His selection to the 2016 premiership winners marks a stunning conclusion to 2017, with Naughton first impressing earlier this year at the under-18 championships before making inroads with Peel Thunder.

Naughton played seven league games for Peel this year before he was squeezed out of the side for a number of Fremantle Dockers players who came back into the aligned club’s league team for another successful WAFL finals series.

The new Bulldog told The West he had his eyes on a round one clash with Greater Western Sydney in March, but knows he has plenty of work to do.

“I’ve got a big pre-season ahead and hopefully those senior games will put me in good stead to put my hand up for round one,” Naughton said.

“I had a big off-season in the gym last year and put on a bit of size.

“There’s still a bit of size to go but I’m confident in my body.”

Craig Otto, who was Naughton’s former colts coach at Peel Thunder as well as at the Rams as a junior, said the youngster had shown all the hallmarks of a future AFL player from a young age.

“He’s a great solid mark and he can read the play — he used to be able to steal the ball off kids’ feet just as they were about to kick the ball,” Otto said.

“As a nine-year-old I’d never seen that (done) before and I just thought ‘wow’.”

As one of his former coaches, Otto said it was a proud moment for all involved in Naughton’s development to see him drafted.

“Knowing Aaron and all the time and dedication he’s put in, especially in the last 18 months — it was a pretty emotional moment when his name finally got called out,” he said.

“He’s the one who’s done all the hard work and it’s a credit to him.”

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