Xavier Duursma is one of Port’s terrific trio from the 2018 AFL Draft, but one thing most people don’t notice are his terrific leadership credentials.
Behind the bow and arrow is a future star destined to lead an AFL club.
Jack Hudson: What was it like playing your juniors with Foster Football Club?
Xavier Duursma: In our country town, we didn’t have ‘junior’ juniors, so no under 11s, under 13s and that kind of stuff.
I started off with East Ringwood, where my cousins played in Melbourne every two weeks or so.
My dad and one of his mates in Foster, they created a junior club called the Corner Inlet Stingrays, I played there for under 11s and under 13s, then I went to Foster.
Foster is my home club.
JH: You were the skipper down at the Gippsland Power – is leadership something you pride yourself on?
XD: It’s something I like to do, I like to lead from the front.
I’m a very proud Gippsland boy, so I loved the opportunity to get to lead the boys last year, and we had quite a successful year making it to the preliminary final.
I enjoy leading and hopefully one day I’ll do it again, it’s good fun.
JH: What do you remember about the lead up to the draft and how many clubs did you speak to?
XD: I spoke to every club except North Melbourne.
It was interesting in terms of that, I thought I was going to go in between 10 or 20.
I was a little bit nervous going into it, you don’t know where you’re going to go.
I was nervous on the night, but I thought I managed my nerves well.
But once you get into that place and sitting down, people start getting called out like that, it starts to chew away at your mind and you wonder if you’re going to go, or where you’re going to go – it’s all up in the air.
You have no control over it, and it’s your whole future up in the air.
It’s good fun, and every young boy or girl that gets to do it will enjoy it because it’s bloody good fun.
JH: How did it feel when Port called out your name?
XD: Coming into the draft I thought I was going to end up in Adelaide with the Power or the Crows or with GWS.
They were the three clubs I thought I was most likely to go to.
I was very open and happy to move interstate.
I lived in country Victoria in the middle of nowhere, so I’d have to move to do any kind of job anyway.
I’m going to have to move with whatever I do.
JH: What was the process like?
XD: Ken (Hinkley) was there on the night and Chris Davies and the rest of the staff, Kochie was there too.
We got to know each other straight away, the club did all the right things and made me feel welcome straight away.
I had a couple of days to pack my bags and get everything organised and head out on the Sunday and get over to Adelaide and into it.
I’ve loved every minute of it, and I’m loving it here.
JH: What was your first pre-season like?
XD: I walked around with starry eyes really, seeing these blokes that have been here for a long time; Travis Boak, Robbie Gray, Justin Westhoff, Hamish Hartlett – all those guys you grew up watching and now you get to be out there with them and alongside them.
To be honest I don’t remember my first training as it was a bit of a blur, but I remember it was hard – they didn’t go easy on us in our first session.
It was fantastic and it was great fun.
JH: You made your debut against Melbourne at the MCG, not many better places to make your debut. How did you feel going into it?
XD: It was pretty awesome, it worked out really well that my debut was in Melbourne where my family and friends could come and watch.
We got the job done as well, I couldn’t ask for much more out of my debut, getting the win, kicking a goal and getting to celebrate with friends and family there.
I was very lucky in the end with that.
JH: Where did the bow and arrow celebration start?
XD: I started doing it my bottom year of TAC Cup when I was about 16 or 17, it comes from a Reggie Jackson/Jamal Murray kind of influence out of the NBA.
I love the NBA and I thought not many people in the AFL have celebrations like that, so I thought why not be different and have a bit of an identity of my own, so I just did it.
JH: Your first game at Adelaide Oval was against Carlton, what was the noise like?
XD: It is loud.
It was very nice to get a good win again, but Carlton put up a very good fight.
That home crowd, all the Port faithful getting around us was really good fun.
I hope to do it as many times as I can, because to experience once is great, and you want to do it as many times as you can.
JH: You learned a pretty tough football lesson against Richmond early on – how did you respond?
XD: It was pretty tough, I took it upon myself and I felt pretty terrible after that I missed it – I could’ve won us the game.
But there’s plenty of other things that can win you the game.
I just worked as hard as I could for that week and for the rest of the year and my set shot goal kicking.
I think my coaches were happy with me because I was able to take a big contested mark before that, and they love I had the guts to go and take it and try and do the right thing.
That’s just footy, it’s not gonna work out every time, you just have to improve and get better for the next time.
JH: You got your Rising Star nod against North Melbourne – the only club that didn’t speak to you ahead of the draft – how good was that?
XD: That was really nice, it doesn’t matter who it’s against, it’s just nice to get recognised.
It’s not what you do it for though, you want to win and we did win that night.
It’s a great little memento, a little bit of a nod for your game, you just want to play consistent as possible.
JH: You played in your first Showdown in 2019, what was your initial feeling of Showdowns?
XD: It was very, very hard.
Adelaide came out and set the tone early.
The atmosphere just doubles, and it is really one of the best rivalries going in the AFL.
When all the fans are there, it gets pretty wild.
It’s something I hope every Port and every Adelaide player gets to experience.
JH: How close are you with Connor (Rozee) and Zak (Butters)?
XD: We’re pretty close, which is good in terms of long-term relationships and staying with the club.
Those boys are good fun, Connor’s a great kid and Butsy’s always cheerful and a lot of talking and mischievous stuff going on.
Same as the other first year boys, we’re all a tight knit group, we’re sticking together – there’s eight of us.
It’s good because it’s a big group of us and we all get around each other.