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“He’s a unicorn”: How Darcy raced into No. 1 calculations, and why Daicos can't be tagged


Not even a year after snapping up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan with the first selection, fortune once again is set to smile on the Western Bulldogs at the draft.

Sam Darcy will be a rare third generation player for his future club, who spent the trade period accumulating the draft points to match an early bid for the Oakleigh Chargers product.

The key position player raced into No. 1 calculations after booting six goals for Vic Metro in a trial match against Vic Country in June.

His father Luke, a ruck-forward, played 226 games with the Dogs from 1994 to 2007, and split the 2002 AFL Players’ Association MVP with Michael Voss.

Grandfather David played 133 games for Footscray across two stints from 1963 until 1971, and held down key posts at both ends of the ground.

“He’s a unicorn,” Chargers coach Jason Davenport told SEN Drive on Friday afternoon.

“You see 200 plus centimetre 18-year-olds and they tend to wobble around like a baby giraffe. Sam’s just not that.

“His mum is involved in yoga and pilates, and Sam applies himself to those things. He’s just got an unbelievable sense of balance and timing, particularly in the air.”

Darcy reprised his grandfather’s role as a swingman in 2021, having mostly emulated his father to that point.

“We gave Sam the opportunity to play as a defender this year,” Davenport continued.

“He was really energised by that, because through the Vic Metro and school programs he played a lot of forward and second ruck.

“We wanted him to be energised coming through the doors of our footy club, and use it as an opportunity to get better.

“His ability to intercept the ball in the air and go straight back at the game, and read what the game is giving him, was evident from the get-go.

“That’s why he jumped on a lot of people’s radars.”

Darcy is in the same program as Collingwood father-son prospect Nick Daicos, who will soon join brother Josh at the Magpies.

Their father Peter played 250 games and booted 549 goals in black and white between 1979 and 1993, including two in the Pies' 1990 Grand Final victory.

“Some may hear this as potential bias, but from what I’ve seen this year, I do see those two as the highest-talented players of any in this draft,” Davenport declared.

“The way they’ve carried themselves, the maturity… and we’re talking about 18-year-old men coming out of school and transitioning into the full-time environment of being an elite athlete.

“It’s been admirable, really.”

Davenport outlined why Daicos will be ready to contribute for the Pies from day dot.

“He has that edge that great players require,” he explained.

“A sense of determination is going to allow him to have at the very least a really successful and long career with Collingwood.

“More importantly, his skill set as a player is quite unique. We often look at these smaller midfielders and try to pigeonhole them, and compare them to different players.

“‘Daics’ himself is quite unique. He’s got a great ball-winning ability, his running capacity is outstanding already, his decision-making and ball use is elite not just for his age group.

“He has a level of composure that sat second-to-none really, in the (NAB League).”

Davenport says Daicos can rotate through different positions in the event that an experienced player curbs his impact.

“We see it at the next level, Marcus Bontempelli for instance has a great ability to go forward, mark and kick goals,” he explained.

“Then Robbie Gray can dominate clearances and hit the scoreboard two or three times as a small forward.

“These special players often find a way.

“Whether that be in one area of the ground through sheer determination, or like Nick who can carry two or three positions where he can really influence the game.”

Having canvassed the two blue-chip prospects, Davenport went on to name two Chargers who could bolt up the draft order.

“(Lachlan) Rankin will do things that a lot of players just can’t do on a footy field,” he enthused.

“I talk to him a lot about Alan Didak… he’s way too young to remember Alan Didak, but as someone who only needed the ball a handful of times to influence the game.

“And then (Collingwood NGA prospect) Youseph Dib… whatever environment he walks into, he will make the place better, utilise his resources and really get the most out of himself.

“He’s just a character that I would want at my footy club.”

Darcy and Daicos will likely find their way to the Dogs and the Pies on the opening night of the draft on November 24, with the second and subsequent rounds to be held on November 25.

Western Bulldogs Collingwood

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