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Saturday, July 21 2018 @ 11:49 am ACST

Made In Canada

North America
Andrew McGrath has been named the number one draft pick at tonight’s NAB AFL Draft, and in one of a number of quirks for the night, McGrath was born in Canada. He still holds Canadian citizenship and even speaks with a slight Canadian accent when conversing with Canadian friends and family.

The Bombers’ newest addition, and first ever number one draft selection, was born in Mississauga, near Toronto, and moved with his father’s new job to Australia when he was five. He took up footy in Melbourne largely because most other boys at school did also. The rest, as they say, is history.

Canada has proudly watched the career of Sydney Swans’ premiership ruckman, Mike Pyke, from a distance. But now they can claim a potential superstar, with McGrath effectively holding the honour now of the best young player in Australia, drafted as the first selection nationally.

McGrath is also a gifted athlete, very close to going to Colombia last year for the world youth championships. A sensational 400 metre hurdler, he chose footy instead. Essendon fans remember one of the greatest club hurdlers ever – Tim Watson hurdling a pack of players to goal sensationally back in 1981 against Carlton. But maybe McGrath can top that.

McGrath’s extended Canadian family wasn’t fully briefed on Australia’s national game, nor the importance of the draft, in the years leading up to his rise to the top. But you can bet your life that they know now, along with many more proud Canadians, as they understand the gravity of McGrath’s achievement and Essendon’s selection.

One of the key players in the Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup Grand Final win this year, McGrath recorded an incredible 38 possessions in the game to lead the team to victory and at the same time propel himself into the rarified air of “potential number one draft pick”. Essendon took a long time agonising over McGrath, or Hugh McCluggage from the North Ballarat Rebels or even GWS Academy player, Will Setterfield.

But history will now record that McGrath got the big nod and now embarks on the next part of his football journey at the highest level.

And you can bet that a good portion of Canada will be watching.

For full details on the NAB AFL Draft, go to: http://www.afl.com.au/draft/draft-tracker

Picture: Courtesy ABC.
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