COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES FC
Born: 1 October 1991
Junior Club: Wynnum, Redland
Senior Club: Redland
Schools: St.John Vianney's Primary School, Iona College
Region: South-East Bushrangers
Queensland: U18 (2009)
Draft Details: Selection #75(5th round) 2006 National Draft
AFL Debut: -
Jumper Number: 40
AT A GLANCE: A young man with the courage of his own convictions and the confidence to back himself to follow his AFL dream on his own terms, Josh Thomas knocked back a guaranteed contract with the Gold Coast expansion franchise to throw himself at the mercy of the 2009 National Draft. And came up a winner. The pocket-sized midfielder from Brisbane’s bayside area had been such a standout performer with the Gold Coast in the first half of the 2009 TAC Cup season that he was the first uncontracted player offered a contract for 2010 and beyond.
It would have taken the anxiety out of the draft process, guaranteeing him a passageway to the elite competition, but it would have meant a further season in the VFL before he entered full AFL ranks. He wasn’t prepared to wait. So, recognizing that it meant he could have ended up anywhere, or could have missed out altogether, Thomas decided to back himself and nominate for the draft. He’d had interest from a string of clubs, notably Collingwood. But there could be no guarantees – even if he was the only Queenslander invited to the NAB AFL Draft Camp. So, on 26 November 2009, like hundreds of other draft hopefuls around the country, he followed every pick in the draft. He waited, and he waited. He waited as 74 players were chosen, and by his own admission was “mighty nervous”. But it all came up trumps when Collingwood picked him with their third choice at No.75 overall. Widely tipped to go much earlier, he was overjoyed. It didn’t matter where he went. All that was important was that he’d get his chance.
It was the culmination of a junior career that began in 2000 when he played with the Wynnum Vikings as an eight-year-old. Later, he progressed through the ranks to the Redland Sharks/Bombers and the South-East Bushrangers junior representative program. Son of former Morningside QAFL wingman Greg Thomas, he was a Queensland representative at U12, U15 and U18 level, missing out through injury in the U16s. He made his senior QAFL debut as a 16-year-old with Redland in 2007 but missed much of the ’08 season with stress fractures in his lower back following a sizeable growth spurt. Still, he was highly rated by football people state-wide, and had demonstrated his enormous potential with a stellar TAC Cup season until a foot injury curtailed and eventually stopped his progress. Still, he was described in the AFL’s official draft camp scouting report as “a classy midfielder who wins plenty of contested ball”. His pace, clean hands and sharp kicking skills on both sides of his body were listed as additional features. AFLQ Talent Manager Mark Browning went further, describing him as “a quality kid who is destined to play a lot of AFL footy”. Said Browning of Thomas: “He was always going to be a very good player from his time at State U16 level, when he had more than his share of injury problems but always showed plenty of potential”. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, and after two intra-club practice matches at Collingwood in February 2010 he underwent surgery for Compartment Syndrome which required total rest for six weeks thereafter. It was frustrating but nothing more. He is in it for the long haul. If six weeks lying flat on his back was going to help his long-term AFL career prospects so be it.