The journey onto an AFL list for new Crow Shane McAdam has been far from conventional.
Hailing from the small town of Halls Creek in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, McAdam first emerged as a genuine draft prospect as a 20-year-old in 2015.
He played 11 League games for Claremont in the WAFL that year, kicking 19 goals and averaging 3.2 tackles per game before showcasing his athleticism at the WA Draft Combine in October.
McAdam equalled West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui’s running vertical jump record (102cm), finished first in the 20m sprint (2.89 seconds) and second in the agility test (8.04 seconds).
But after being overlooked by AFL club recruiters in both the national and rookie drafts, McAdam went home to Halls Creek and, by his own admission, ‘barely played any footy’.
He relocated to South Australia at the beginning of 2017 and linked up with Scotch Old Collegians in division two of the Adelaide Footy League.
McAdam kicked 28 goals for the year, with his season highlight coming against Broadview in May 2017 where the West Australian booted 11 of his team’s 18 goals in a 45-point win.
An end-of-season discussion with Marty Mattner, who was then Sturt’s premiership-winning mentor, restored McAdam’s AFL dream; a dream which became reality on Wednesday morning when he was traded to West Lakes as a mature-aged pre-draft access pick in the Mitch McGovern deal.
“We spoke to Shane at the end of 2017 about coming out to Sturt,” Mattner told AFC Media.
“He was pretty keen to do that and made a big sacrifice and overcame some big challenges in life to move to Adelaide and set himself up here.
“When he arrived the football club, he had been through a bit. He missed out on the draft a couple of years ago, played Amateur League last year and then he came to Sturt and had a really good season.
“His main goal was to get drafted and he’s achieved that which is a really good thing.”
Check out McAdam’s Goal of the Year contender in his WAFL debut in 2015…
McAdam has described Mattner as one of the biggest influences on his footy career, and the pair have developed an incredibly strong bond over the past year.
After joining the Crows a month ago as an assistant coach, Mattner is relishing the prospect of reuniting with his protégé, paying tribute to the 23-year-old’s maturity and work ethic.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations about footy and life and those sorts of things throughout the last 12 months,” Mattner said.
“His goals about getting drafted, wanting to get drafted and what he had to do. How hard he’s worked as well. He’s a great lad and I’ve really enjoyed working with him this year.
“I think the main thing he had to do was moving away from home, getting a job and doing all of those things he did this year. Doing his electrical apprenticeship and outside of footy he’s got all that organised, he’s found a place to live, which I think is a sign of maturity.
“He’s taken a big sacrifice in his life to get to Adelaide and he has worked really hard to get where he has to get the opportunity, but now probably the real hard work starts.”
Shane McAdam tackles Port Adelaide’s Joel Garner in a Round 11 SANFL game
In just over three weeks McAdam will join Adelaide’s first-to-fourth year players on their return to pre-season training on Monday November 5.
Building a fitness base ready for the rigours of elite-level football will be high on McAdam’s priority list.
“His initial objectives will be to try and get fit,” Mattner said.
“I think that’ll be his main focus – settling in, getting to know everyone but then working on his fitness is going to be his major goal I think.
“He worked really hard with his fitness this year, but I think if he can get to an AFL level of fitness he can then showcase his skills, his strengths and his attributes.”
McAdam’s highlights reel shows his freakish ability and massive upside, drawing comparisons with star forwards Eddie Betts and Cyril Rioli for the x-factor he brings whenever he goes near the Sherrin.
Mattner describes him as ‘a bit of everything’; a player with frenetic forward-line pressure that can take marks and kick goals.
“He can pressure, chase, tackle, but also he can kick goals, take hangers. He can take marks on the lead. He’s a very unique player,” Mattner said.
“At SANFL level and even at AFL level, there’s not many guys who can do what he does and that’s probably why he’s going to get the opportunity.”
Mattner is backing McAdam to give himself the best possible opportunity of an AFL debut in 2019.
“He’s a very easy person to coach because he’s got that natural talent, it’s just about putting him in the position to be able to show that talent,” Mattner said.
“If you work hard and dedicate to yourself to being an AFL footballer then I think you give yourself an opportunity.
“I think he’ll do everything he needs to do to give himself that opportunity to play AFL next year.”
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) October 9, 2018