K rock Football

Stewart rapt for mature-aged duo

Tom Atkins in action at Geelong training this week. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

AS a player who has trod a similar path, no one was happier for Geelong draftees Darcy Fort and Tom Atkins to finally earn a shot at their AFL dream than Tom Stewart.

Both have bided their time at state league level, with Fort impressing at SANFL club Central Districts and Atkins starring in the Cats’ VFL team, winning two of the last three best-and-fairest awards.

Stewart was a teammate of Fort’s at both junior and senior level at South Barwon and played alongside Atkins at VFL level before himself being drafted in 2016.

The All-Australian says Fort has “worked his arse” off for a chance.

“It’s been awesome to see him get an opportunity,” Stewart said.

“He’s in really good nick, he’s running well, and he’s training exceptionally well.

“We played in two junior flags and had some good times together.”

Stewart also played alongside Atkins, finishing runner-up to the rookie in the VFL best-and-fairest in 2016.

“I think it’s a bit closer to home with Tommy, just to see – as a lot of people have seen over the last three years – the way he’s gone about it in the VFL,” he said.

“He’s never cried poor me; he’s just put his head down and worked at his deficiencies.

“He’s a very well-rounded player. He can go through the middle, he can forward, his impact on the game has doubled.

“He was a high-numbers midfielder. Now, he’s maybe not getting the same amount of stats, but the impact he’s having on the game – the tackle numbers, the clearances, the goals he’s kicking – it’s awesome to see.”

Twitter: @tom_king79