Gideon Simon a first on AFL list

Friday, October 05 2012 @ 11:16 pm ACST

Contributed by: Troy Thompson

Gideon Simon has become the first player who has learnt and played Australian rules football in another country to make it through the development pathway onto an AFL rookie list. Richmond yesterday announced that young PNG star who has been on an International Scholarship with the club will be officially listed with the Tigers in the Rookie draft this year as an International Rookie. The announcement came at the end of the AFL Draft combine in Melbourne where Simon tested well.

Others such as Mike Pyke, Shae McNamara and the now long list of Irish code crossers all came from other countries but did not play Aussie rules in their home country.

This is a huge vindication of the development pathway that has been developed in PNG, and hopefully will give hope to those elsewhere around the world to develop the game in their own corners of the globe. It is also a giant pat on the back to all that have been involved for many years in footy in PNG to bring the game there back from the brink.

Simon has been at the club for the latter part of this season, playing with Richmond's affilliate club Coburg (this affilliaton will not continue in 2012) in the Development League of the VFL.

On the club Richmond recruiting manager Matt Clarke said on Friday that the Tigers planned to turn Simon, who just turned 18, into a "tackling machine". He noted that Simon had rated highly in the sprinting and agility events at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, which finished at Etihad Stadium on Friday.

"Yes, he's little but he's powerful," Clarke said. "The thing that impressed us (during his stint at Punt Rd) was how well he fitted into the group. "Our players were disappointed when he had to go back home. "The coach (Damien Hardwick) said, 'he does everything right as a person, he does everything right on the ground. Let's give him a chance'."

Simon will be able to be upgraded to the senior list during the 2013 season and hopefully become the first internationally developed player in the AFL.

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