By Paul Pickering
IT’S no wonder that Pakenham’s Arryn Siposs remembers the past 12 months as the fastest of his young life.
This time last year, he was just another tortured St Kilda supporter, mourning a grand final loss to Geelong and praying his beloved Saints could make amends. Today he is a Saint – and can finally do something about it.
Siposs was selected by St Kilda with pick No. 75 in last Thursday night’s AFL draft and will today embark on his first pre-season at Moorabbin.
The Dandenong Stingrays’ sharpshooter, who turns 18 tomorrow, was still spinning on Monday, having just returned home from a tour of his new club.
“It was so exciting, and being a St Kilda supporter just made it that much better,” he said.
“It’s been my dream and now I have the chance to fulfil it, so I couldn’t ask for much more.”
Siposs was flanked by his parents, Attila and Meredith, as he watched the draft telecast at the house of Stingrays teammate Alex Benbow last week.
He was the 71st of 77 players to find their way on to an AFL list for the first time, so it was agonising wait.
“When it goes past (pick) 70, you know there’s not too many left, so I started to think that maybe it wasn’t my day,” he said.
“I started shaking a little bit, but then I heard my name get called out and it was such a relief. Mum and dad got pretty emotional – they were stoked.”
That moment capped a remarkable rise for the talented young forward, who wasn’t even invited to train with the Stingrays last year and ended up playing under-16 footy for Beaconsfield.
Siposs had already turned 16 before the season started, but was granted permission from the Dandenong and District Junior Football League to play a second season in the age group.
He says the request was borne partly out of frustration at not being able to catch the eye of Stingrays staff.
“I thought maybe the dream was over and there was no point playing under-18s, so I’d just give it another go, play with my mates, enjoy my footy and see where it takes me,” he said.
Siposs also enrolled in Hallam Senior College’s specialised football program – run by AFL director Ben McGee and Stingrays region manager Darren Flanigan – in 2009, and says he benefited immediately from a more professional approach to the game.
He booted 99 goals in 16 games for Beaconsfield that season and, not surprisingly, was invited to try out with the Stingrays last summer.
The smooth-moving 188cm forward looked at ease from the round one of this year’s TAC Cup, kicking three goals on debut against Gippsland.
He went on to slot 34 for the season, was a member of Vic Country’s triumphant National under-18 championships squad and secured an invite to last month’s national draft combine in Canberra.
That’s where Siposs first learnt of St Kilda’s interest, but he could hardly have believed his dream to play alongside the likes of Saints superstar Nick Riewoldt would pan out so perfectly.
“(Riewoldt) is probably the best forward in the competition, so who better to learn from than him,” Siposs said.
“I just can’t wait to start training with him and hopefully playing games alongside him.”
By Paul Pickering