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Tuesday, December 19 2017 @ 07:06 am ACDT

West Coast Eagles Pounce On NT Ruckman

The West Coast Eagles have swooped and selected Northern Territory ruckman, Tony Olango, with their second pick, #27 overall, at today's AFL Rookie Draft. The young giant - of Kenyan and Sudanese descent - missed selection in 2016, but will now head west as an Eagle. 

Marc McGowan, from the www.afl.com.au website looked at another Northern Territory talent ahead of this afternoon’s AFL Rookie Draft. With the Brisbane Lions selecting Territorian, Zac Bailey, at pick #15 at last week’s national draft, big ruckman Tony Olango (of Kenyan and Sudanese descent) was one of a group of other players hoping for another chance to get onto an AFL club list today.

INTRIGUING Kenyan-born Sudanese talent Tony Olango's AFL future rests in the hands of two clubs at opposite ends of Australia. 

AFL.com.au understands West Coast and Geelong are both considering recruiting the 201cm jack-in-the-box ruckman in Monday's NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

Sudanese footballers already in the AFL are Sydney's Aliir Aliir, Eagle Tarir Bayok, North Melbourne's Majak Daw and Tiger Mabior Chol. 

Olango is set to relocate from Darwin to Perth to be closer to family if his name is not called – with the Eagles willing to help – and he plans to continue to pursue his AFL dream in that scenario.

The 19-year-old, who has been likened to West Coast big man Nic Naitanui, spent this season playing for Northern Territory Thunder in the NEAFL and NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. 

He also played a match for Hawthorn's VFL affiliate Box Hill in the AFL Victoria development league in July. 

Olango's story – from a Kenyan refugee camp to the Top End by age two, then an unsuccessful trial with Scottish soccer giants Glasgow Rangers in 2014 and eventually his AFL tilt – has been well told. 

But he was left devastated last year when, after having enough interest to attend then excel at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, he was overlooked at all drafts. 

Multicultural Darwin footballers previously didn't come under Next Generation Academy guidelines, but a rule tweak put Olango's draft rights up for grabs for the NT's applicable AFL clubs. 

Olango, in consultation with AFLNT State Academy coaches, chose Hawthorn in February this year over West Coast, Geelong, Essendon, Collingwood and Melbourne. 

But the Hawks elected not to nominate him and will instead draft fellow Sudanese and NGA prospect Changkuoth Jiath, who played for Gippsland Power and Xavier College in 2017.

Olango boasts a rare combination of speed and spring for someone of his height, but his football game sense remains a work in progress.

The sports science student's rawness and an extensive injury history, including osteitis pubis, shin stress fractures and knee issues, scared off AFL recruiters last year.

Olango has one sister and six brothers, one of whom, Matty, spent time with A-League club Perth Glory’s Youth team. 

Adam Sambono, Francis Kinthari and Kieren Parnell are among other Northern Territorians hoping to find an AFL home on Monday. 

Marc McGowan’s original story can be found at: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2017-11-27/opposites-attract-for-sudanborn-ruck-talent

Picture Credit: www.afl.com.au 

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