GWS Giants No.1 draft pick to make eagerly anticipated debut

The senior football journey of richly talented 18-year-old No.1 draft pick Tom Boyd is about to begin with Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron announcing the boom youngster’s selection for the Giants’ clash with the Crows at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

Boyd, who stands a commanding 200 centimetres and weighs more than 100 kilograms, will play in his customary forward role, linking with Jon Patton and Jeremy Cameron, and help out in the ruck in the absence of the injured Shane Mumford.

“I was pretty nervous early on in the week when they let me know I was in the squad and up for selection,” said Boyd, who is of Danish descent and whose draft selection had been front page news in Denmark.

“That was probably the most nervous I’ve been. To get that out of the way and then Leon let me know, I was stoked and just really relieved. I’ve dreamt of this all my life.”

Cameron could barely hide his excitement about announcing Boyd as the 63rd player to represent the Giants at the top level, but cautioned against expecting too much from the teenager.

“I understand there is a lot of pressure on high draft picks to perform first up. But it’s a tough, brutal game. It’s a huge step up from the NEAFL to the AFL,” the coach said.

“You can’t have too much expectation. All we want him to do is compete, play his role as a key position forward and play in the ruck as well. Anything on top of that is a bonus.”

Expectations may be tempered, but Cameron left no doubt about what he saw as Boyd’s many talents, describing him as “obviously a very very good contested mark” whose defensive and groundwork was equally impressive. He said, also, “for an 18-year-old kid he’s got really good leadership”, in being able to read the game’s tempo and situations. His ability in the ruck, too, made him “a great asset”.

Boyd was sidelined for much of last year with an ankle injury but had a good pre-season and is in peak form after six games in the reserves, including three goals in his last game.

“I think it was probably my most rounded game,” he said. “I had a lot more of the ball and my ground efforts were probably the best they’ve been.

“I definitely feel like I’ve been getting my touch back and my agility. I’m just about back to my best and hopefully I’ll have an impact.”

The Giants’ 2-2 record will be tested against the Crows, who scored an 86-point win over St Kilda last round.

“We understand it’s a tough task,” Cameron said. “We look forward to going to Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon. They’re back in form but, equally, we’ve played 16 quarters of pretty good footy.”

Vice-captain Heath Shaw is unavailable due to a hamstring niggle and Liam Sumner and Jacob Townsend have been omitted. Cameron has brought forward Devon Smith, half-back Zac Williams, and defenders Matt Buntine and Jono O’Rourke into the squad.

Most eyes, however, will be on Boyd. Asked if he thought his selection would put him back on the front page in Denmark, he quipped: “I hope not. They’re not much of football country. Hopefully the game keeps spreading over there. But, at this stage, I don’t think so.”

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