The following article was published on aflplayers.com.au.
Sam Durdin has a simple message driving him through pre-season: “expect to play”.
While North Melbourne’s first selection in the 2014 National Draft is remaining grounded, he’s also feeding off the encouraging words provided by the Kangaroos’ coaching staff.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself at all, but I got given some advice at the club to just expect to play,” Durdin said.
“Not saying that I will play, but just [that I should] expect to play. I’m just trying to work to get myself right and ready for whatever happens in 2015.”
Having “pretty much completed every training session so far”, the 16th overall pick has a solid pre-season training base under his belt and could be a candidate to debut in the early rounds of the AFL season.
The question is, where on the ground will he be used?
Durdin’s adaptability for West Adelaide in the SANFL and South Australia during the Under-18 Championships saw him play across all key posts, making his ideal position somewhat of a mystery.
He was adjudged best on ground in West Adelaide’s Under-18 Grand Final win playing as a mobile ruckman, racking up 48 hit-outs and nine marks, and has also proved perfectly capable forward or back.
North Melbourne list manager Bryce Lewis has already flagged the club’s intent to use Durdin as a traditional swingman – understandable given his 87kg frame may not be equipped to handle ruck duties at the elite level.
Even Durdin hasn’t got a concrete idea on where he might thrive. Like most draftees, he insists he’ll do anything that helps him be part of the senior side.
“It’s something I’ve been asked a lot over the last year – I honestly don’t have an answer.
“I’m confident I could play a role down back, but also up forward as well… any key position is where I’d like to play, as long as I’m playing.”
Born and bred across the border, the South Australian native is fitting in well at his new home and sat firmly on the fence when asked which city he prefers.
“Adelaide is great, I’ve been brought up there the first 18 years of my life… but I’m slowly getting used to Melbourne and I’m quite enjoying it actually, so it’s a tough one to call.”
The Kangaroos’ utility shouldn’t have too much trouble finding his feet in a situation that requires flexibility and adapting to a change of environment. He’s had plenty of practice doing exactly that on the football field.