By Luke Voogt
Oliver Henry grew up jostling for the footy against older brother and Geelong Cats defender Jack in the backyard.
So it’s little wonder talent specialists rate his chances highly in next Wednesday’s AFL draft.
“He’s four years older than me, so he was always a lot bigger and stronger than I was,” the 18-year-said of his brother on Tuesday, ahead of a Melbourne training session.
“It taught me about scrapping for the footy. He’s also been a bit of a guide and role model for me.”
In an “ideal world” Henry would love to don the blue and white hoops alongside Jack.
“Growing up I was always barracking for Geelong,” he said.
But that seems unlikely after the Cats sacrificed several draft picks to secure star forward Jeremy Cameron, and Henry is modest about his chances.
“I’d be grateful for any opportunity at that level – I can’t really pick and choose,” he said.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work in and I’d love to have a shot at my dream.”
Henry booted 18 goals in his 15 NAB League games for Geelong Falcons last year, including a five-goal haul.
The 187cm utility has a big vertical leap allowing him to play above his height up forward or as an intercept-marking defender.
Henry credits St Mary’s junior coach and former Geelong Cat Kane Tenace for “throwing him around” the ground to develop his versatility.
“He wanted me to play each position so I could know what an opponent might struggle with,” he said.
“When I’m playing forward I’ll know a bit about what a defender won’t want me to do.”
Recently-retired Geelong Falcons talent manager Michael Turner described Henry as “one of the better ones” he had seen in 26 years in the role.
“He’ll get drafted, 100 per cent,” Turner said.
“They’re the sort of players that AFL clubs are after – that are good now and are going to be better in five years.
“Olly’s much more developed than Jack was at his age – Jack was more involved in athletics [then].
“Every recruiter I talk to ranks him really highly. If I was recruiter I would take him top 10.
“If Geelong had those three first round draft picks, they would be taking Olly.”
Turner also praised on-baller Tanner Bruhn, who has made the Draft Combine list alongside fellow Falcons Noah Gribble, Henry Walsh, Blake Reid, Cameron Fleeton, Charlie Ham and Charlie Lazzaro.
They will face heightened completion with fewer spots up for grabs due to COVID-19.