18/05/2024

Will Ashcroft is officially a Lion with the second pick of the 2022 AFL Draft (Image: Sandringham Dragons Twitter)

Will Ashcroft is officially a Lion after being selected with pick 2 of the AFL Draft, Brisbane matching North Melbourne’s bid on the Father-Son prospect.

Earmarked by many as the best player in this year’s draft, he heads north along with fellow Father-Son recruit Jaspa Fletcher to fill out a strong Brisbane squad for 2023.

Ashcroft sat down with The Inner Sanctum the morning after the draft to talk about the draft process and planning for next year. Despite knowing for most of the year, hearing his name read out filled him with relief.

“It’s an awesome feeling, even though I knew where I was going it was still a surreal moment,” Ashcroft said.

The move is made easier by being accompanied by longtime friend and fellow Father-Son selection Jaspa Fletcher, the pair are looking forward to carrying the torches first lit by their parents. He’s excited to keep in touch with the past but makes it clear he wants to build his own career.

“I’ve known Jaspa for a long time, we’ve played plenty of footy both with and against one another. I’m hoping we can both get up there and make an impact,” he said.

“I love that the footy club wants to keep up with tradition with the Father-Son rule and give us a chance to reconnect with the club.

“For me, I’m looking forward to building my own legacy. But it will be nice to follow in the footsteps after Dad.”

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He’s already had a taste of Brisbane life, getting three games in their VFL side where he averaged 27 disposals and five tackles from the half-forward line. One of the best players on the ground whenever he took the field, he says the best thing he learned from his time with the club was their off-field behaviour.

“What I learned most from the V/AFL boys was honestly the professionalism and the way they acted around the club. Everyone knew where they sat and what was required of them,” he said, reflecting on what it means to be a high-level athlete.

“To go to the next level I know I have to increase that side of things now to be able to fit into that dynamic.”

After training with Brisbane during their pre-season last year, Ashcroft is looking forward to being back with a lot of the boys and seeing a few new faces. He credits that block of training to a lot of his success this year and can’t wait to get back into it.

He flies up to Brisbane on Wednesday, he plans to take a few days to settle in before making himself too social.

“I stayed with [Hugh] McCluggage when I was training there last summer, he was great and I’m looking forward to seeing him again,” he said.

“Lachie Neale was good as well, Josh Dunkley wasn’t there last time but I can’t wait to get to work with him.

“It’s a great list and there’s plenty of guys I’m excited to work with.”

His arrival will only further boost one of the deepest midfields in the competition, the Lions could now almost have their starting centre bounce go down injured and have three AFL-standard replacements. Brisbane will be close to competition favourites with an off-season focus on developing the connection between the midfield and forward line.

There’s a long summer before round one, Ashcroft isn’t expecting his name to be first on the team sheet, but he’s confident he’ll put in enough effort to go close. He’s got a list of things he wants to improve on to make his game as well-rounded as it can be.

“There’s a couple of things I started to develop this year that I know I’ll need to keep working on to get them to AFL standard,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to work on my defensive habits and just improving a few things I do without the ball to be more of a two-way player.

“Coming out of the stoppage with power is another one, trying to find the balance between handball first and using my leg speed to get out.

“I’m hoping to keep building on them to make myself more damaging come next season.”

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