Jye Bolton dives for a mark in 2015 while playing for Werribee
CLAREMONT ball-magnet Jye Bolton hopes a spike in interest since his second Sandover Medal triumph materialises into an AFL lifeline as clubs search for more readymade talent available in state leagues.
Since becoming just the 14th multiple Sandover winner, Bolton has met with five clubs, including three in the past week during a holiday back in his home state Victoria.
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AFL.com.au understands Sydney also has some interest in the former Collingwood rookie, who is desperate for another chance.
Bolton only played one pre-season match for the Pies before being cut in 2011, however he has never felt more ready to step straight into AFL ranks after averaging 30.8 disposals for the Tigers in 2018.
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“I’ve probably spoken to the most clubs I have in around about five years, or probably ever,” Bolton told AFL.com.au.
“I’m not sure if that’s got something to do with the success of some mature-age recruits in the last year or two who have really helped teams come on and get into a better position – that’s probably assisted.
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“I’m holding out hope someone gives me a chance, although you don’t really know until draft day.”
Bolton’s ex-Claremont teammates Bailey Banfield (Fremantle, 20 games), Zac Langdon (Giants, 21) and Matt Guelfi (Essendon 15) impacted the AFL in 2018, raising hopes he could be next.
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Meanwhile, former South Fremantle gun Tim Kelly became the WAFL’s poster boy by finishing equal runner-up in Geelong’s club champion award.
At 26, Bolton knows his draft window won’t be open forever and he has barely had a break from training since the Tigers’ finals campaign ended, in a bid to remain at peak fitness and impress recruiters.
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“It definitely crosses your mind that it might be your last chance. I’ve sat through seven drafts or something like that now and not heard my name called out,” he said.
“I think I’ll be disappointed if I never got a chance to try and prove someone who gave me a chance right, or prove the people who haven’t given me one wrong.
“Less so in the WAFL, but we play against AFL-listed players most weeks at state league (level) and you can feel as though you’ve got the wood over them, or smashed them on the day and beat them one-on-one and the next week they go up and play AFL.
“You’re just scratching your head going ‘well, if I was on an AFL list right now would I be playing instead of that bloke?’.
“It’s frustrating at times, but that’s just the way the industry is.”
Bolton took home his first Sandover in 2016 and believed he has become a more rounded player since then, while also focusing on becoming a stronger leader at the Tigers.
“I’ve just tried to make people around me better, rather than necessarily just trying to improve myself,” he said.
“My knowledge of the game has improved significantly and the way I can adapt my style of play to the game-plan depending on who the opponent is and the weather conditions has definitely improved as well.
“I’m someone who is probably known in the WAFL for my contested ball, stoppage work and clearances, but before I moved over (to Perth) I was very much an outside player, winger, half-forward.
“I think I’ve got both aspects of my game, so I don’t think I would be necessarily be pigeonholed into being in an inside player our outside player.
“I’ve got both capabilities where I can extract the ball from the contest and then also get on the spread and hurt opposition with ball movement, penetrating kick and run and carry.”
With the AFL set to introduce a mid-season rookie draft from 2019, Bolton could be the type of ready-to-go player a club looks at if injuries bite next year.
But, for now, he is pinning his hopes on being picked up in the latter stages of the national draft or rookie draft on November 23, and will probably head to a mate’s house to watch the selections unfold.
“I didn’t even turn it on last year,” Bolton said with a laugh.
“I’ll definitely turn it on and have a look with my fingers crossed.”
Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS