Angus Sheldrick in his debut against GWS in round one of 2022 (Image: Sydney Swans website; Design: Will Cuckson)

With pick 18 of the 2021 Draft, the Sydney Swans selected Angus Sheldrick out of Claremont, WA. The undersized midfielder entered the hallowed grounds of the SCG under the tutelage of some of the league’s past and present stars.

During the pre-season, the young Swan spoke to The Inner Sanctum about his football journey so far and his plans for the future in a four-part series named ‘Biding his time’.

Part one – Road to the Draft

As a 17-year-old in Western Australia during 2021, Sheldrick was coming off a season-long injury entering his draft year. He was happy to admit he started the all-important season year well behind the eight ball, missing out on his entire under-aged season.

“I was injured all my bottom-aged year and missed out on a pre-season,” Sheldrick told The Inner Sanctum.

“I can guarantee you no recruiter would’ve known my name that year. I had to start from scratch and build my way up.”

As a credit to his resilience, Sheldrick says it wasn’t something that worried him. He felt lucky more than anything to be able to play in his top-aged year, batting injury and COVID guidelines.

He made most of his appearances for Christ Church Grammar in the PSA, but made a name for himself in his seven games for the WAFL Colts. Sheldrick averaged 27 disposals, 5 tackles and 6 inside 50s over the season and was lauded for his consistency.

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It included a best-on-ground performance against East Perth to help Claremont secure victory in week one of the 2021 WAFL Colts Finals series. He picked up 24 disposals, 12 tackles and a goal in the four-point victory and was influential in driving the Tigers to victory.

He says he wanted to capitalise on the opportunity that he was given each game, and use Western Australia’s fortunate position to make-up for lost time.

“Every opportunity you get to go out on the field is really important,” he said.

“Especially since COVID was still lingering. That was always in the back of my mind as well, you never knew when something out of your control like the government says we’re in lockdown.

“So you had to take advantage of every game you had because the Victorian boys in our year didn’t have much of an opportunity, so we had to capitalise on that. [In WA], we were lucky enough to get a full season together.

“I tried to play every game like it was my last.”

Sheldrick playing for Claremont colts. (Image: Claremont Football Club)

He knew he was putting together a strong season and building a draft case for himself, however it wasn’t something he wanted to spend too much time worrying about.

“I didn’t really want to expect much but my aim going into the year was to get drafted,” he said.

“I just went in and tried my best and I was lucky enough to string a few good games together for Claremont, and school footy and then WA as well.”

He was off to a strong start for Christ Church when his manager told him a few clubs had started to take notice, but he didn’t have a preference about which club picked him up.

Sheldrick continued to work hard, relying on his remarkable consistency to build his case. It wasn’t until July that the Swans made their interest known.

He says it was a relief for him that they showed such a strong care in the off-field side of things. And took comfort in their concerns for who their players are outside of the game.

“[It was] maybe mid-way through the year [when the Swans made contact],” he said.

“We just had a few conversations, just getting to know you and getting to see what you’re like away from footy.

“That’s always been an important thing for all players Sydney draft, to make sure they’re not only good footballers but good people as well.”

Although he’d had a few talks with the Swans, it was still a shock when he heard his name read out in the first round.

“I had no idea I was getting picked until they read my name out,” Sheldrick continued.

“They called my manager earlier in the day. My manager told my parents, but they didn’t tell me.

“I’m not sure if he [my manager] knew it was Sydney, but he heard whispers there was a club who was interested in taking me in the first round, so my parents didn’t know who it was and I didn’t even know it was happening.

“I was just watching the first round to watch a couple of my mates get picked up. But to hear my name get called out was an incredible feeling.”

Read Part Two – In the deep end

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