By Nick Creely
Another of Beaconsfield’s favourite sons will get his first taste of AFL football, with small forward Cody Weightman set for his debut on Friday night against Essendon.
Off the back of fellow small forward Jake Aarts making his AFL debut for Richmond only weeks earlier, it’s yet another proud moment for the club out of Holm Park, which continues to produce quality league footballers.
An absolute excitement machine, Weightman was a vital part of the Dandenong Stingrays’ program in 2019 and his leadership qualities were also on display by captaining Haileybury to a third successive premiership in the APS competition.
After picking up a Sherrin for his home club in the under 9s, incredibly Weightman last featured in the Eagles colours in the SEFNL (now AFL Outer East) Under-19 grand final in 2018, where he was awarded best on ground honours after an eye-catching display on a day of torrential rain at Berwick’s Edwin Flack Reserve.
Since then, the young star has gone to even greater heights, becoming the Bulldogs’ top draft pick in the last year’s draft.
The first round draftee will be unleashed on Metricon Stadium against the in-form Dons after some highly impressive form in the scratch matches, with the Beaconsfield and Dandenong Stingrays product handed his jumper by Mitch Wallis at training on Wednesday after rumours of his debut circulated for several weeks.
“I’m a little bit shocked, I was always hoping for it to come,” he told Western Bulldogs media on Wednesday.
“I’m super happy, and I can’t wait to get out there.”
Weightman said that being handed his jumper from Mitch Wallis, someone who has played a big part in his development, was a moment he’ll never forget.
“Bevo (Luke Beveridge) called up Wally, Mitchy Wallis, and I’ve become pretty close with him at the club,” he said.
“I started living with him when I first got to the club, and he’s a legend – he said a few nice words.
“He’s a pro – he’s obviously been in the system for a long time now, and on and off field he’s ticked a lot of boxes and showed me how to do it.
“Wally’s been massive for me.
“It was a really good moment for me, and I’m really thankful.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic preventing the VFL from holding a season, AFL clubs have had to become inventive and rely on other means to develop their players, but for Weightman its just been about knocking down the door and controlling what he can control.
“You have to be patient, we’ve got a really good young list,” he said.
“Obviously you want to be playing, but you’ve just got to keep knocking down the door, playing consistent footy, so that was a key for me, and bringing offence and defence to the game.
“I get my shot this week, so hopefully I can bring that and correlate that into the AFL.”
So what can the Dogs fans expect from the Beaconsfield boy?
“I’ll try and just play my role, do the basic things well, try and play naturally and not overthink it,” he said.
“I want to just have fun, and hopefully help the team get a win.
“Watching Friday night footy as a kid all the time, you always dream of being out there, fortunately for me now it’s a reality.
“I’m pumped, can’t wait to get out there.”
Weightman’s good mate and his ex-teammate at the Dandenong Stingrays, Ned Cahill, is set to debut for Essendon in the very same game in prime time.
Also a high energy, speedy small forward, Cahill from – Mt Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula – has been in incredible form in the scratch matches, which included a five-goal haul against North Melbourne last week.
For Bombers fans, expect the crafty forward – who is similar in many ways to Bunyip’s very own Tom Papley – to have an instant impact.
In the lead-up to the draft last season, Stingrays coach Nick Cox described the player Cahill is.
“Ned does everything well – he is clean, efficient, runs well, but I think he plays fast with what he does with the footy,” he said.
“He has played through the midfield; he has played as a forward. His running power to get up the ground is unbelievable; he burns his opponent off and gets out the back.
“His pressure is great as well; Ned creates the turnover and gets on his bike to get another possession down the ground.”
To hear more about Cody’s debut, pick up a copy of next week’s Gazette.