By Nick Creely
Potential number one draft pick Luke Davies-Uniacke is a rare type of match winner, the type of ball-winning midfielder who can change a game in a matter of seconds.
The 18-year-old Dandenong Stingray is firmly in the frame to be taken as the number one pick in Friday’s National Draft in Sydney after a stunning two years of elite junior football, with Davies-Uniacke a certainty to be taken inside the top three with fellow youngsters Cam Rayner and Paddy Dow.
His abundance of class was on show in the latter stages of the TAC Cup season, and in particular on 9 September against Eastern Ranges in an elimination final, where the midfielder accumulated 33 disposals and a goal to lead his side to victory after being down by 50 points at half time.
Ahead of the draft, Davies-Uniacke will head to Sydney on Thursday, and will try and keep his thoughts in check before his life changes forever.
“I’m pretty relaxed actually – every time I do think about it, I get a few butterflies, but other than that, I’m pretty relaxed about it all,” he said.
“I’m just looking forward to Friday night, and hoping for the best and gearing up for what could happen.
“I’ve had some family come around, so said hello to them because I’m not going to see them too often, and I’m just relaxing at home with Mum and Dad.”
With AFL clubs virtually finalising their plans for Friday, Davies-Uniacke can only watch on and let fate take care of itself.
“I believe it is (out of my control), it’s all up to the clubs now in what decisions they make – there is not a lot I can do besides rocking up on the night and hoping for the best,” he said.
And he doesn’t “buy” into the media speculation about where he is going to be drafted, but acknowledges he is likely to be going to one of three clubs, two of which are on different sides of the country.
“I don’t go out of my way to look at what’s been said (in the media), it’s only the stuff my mates tag me in, but I’m comfortable with everything that’s being said,” he said.
“It’s come across my mind that it could be Brisbane, Fremantle or Carlton, and I’m happy with any of those three – even interstate I’m okay with.
“Even though I’d love to stay in Melbourne to be with friends and family, I’m easy.
“The challenge for me is that I’ve got great connections in Melbourne, and just trying to restart those connections would be different – I have a set routine before every game, and that’s usually with people that live near me, so it’d definitely be a challenge to seek out new people interstate.
“But I’m sure those clubs would help me out, and there’d be no issues from my end.
But Davies-Uniacke prides himself on honesty, a quality that will assure he demands respect at an AFL club.
“Coming into this year, I knew I’d have clubs coming to my house, and I pride myself on being an honest guy – every interstate club will ask you that same question over and over, and telling them the truth goes a long way,” he said.
So what kind of player does Davies-Uniacke believe he can be at AFL level?
“I want to have a long career, that’d be unreal – I do see my game around (Patrick) Dangerfield’s, just the way he goes forward too, and also Dusty (Dustin Martin), so hopefully I can have great careers like they do,” he explained.
“I feel ready to get to pre-season – during pre-season, they’ll tone me up and get me prepared, but I do have some confidence that I can have an impact, maybe not straight away, but throughout the season for sure.”
And throughout what has been a challenging year, with school, Vic Country, AFL Academy and TAC Cup football, Davies-Uniacke has leant on friends, family and his manager, Robbie D’Orazio.
“My family have been amazing, alongside Robbie, I can’t thank him enough, and that’s the same with my parents and friends – all their advice has been the same, to just be myself, be honest and to make the most of the year,” he said.
PLAYER PROFILE – LUKE DAVIES-UNIACKE
DRAFT RANGE: 1-3
POSSIBLE CLUBS: Brisbane (Pick 1), Fremantle (Pick 2), Carlton (Pick 3)