Coleman’s Climb to the Lions

Submitted by Peter Blucher.

It is a little-known fact that Keidean Coleman could very easily have been a West Coast player.

After being overlooked by every club in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, there was a strong push within the Eagles recruiting team to take the Lions Academy star in the Rookie Draft.

Having won the flag, the Eagles had last pick in the first round and at #18 they chose local key defender Harry Edwards, who has played 21 games and is still at the club.

With their second and last pick at #34 they were torn between an 18-year-old Coleman and 24-year-old Josh Smith, an ex-rookie who had played 32 games in three years for Collingwood, finishing 7th in the club B&F in his first season and winning the ‘best first-year player’ award in 2016 before he was surprisingly delisted in 2018.

They went with Smith. And while Coleman went back to the Lions Academy to work on his game in 2019, Smith played two games with West Coast and was delisted.

How the Eagles would love that pick back now. And how grateful are the Lions that he is wearing maroon, blue and gold and not blue and yellow.

From his delayed introduction to the AFL, Coleman has become a fixture in the Lions side and looks set to be a long-term weapon off half back.

On Saturday night, as the Lions accounted for a much-improved St Kilda by 21 points at the Gabba, Coleman had perhaps the best game of his 31-game career.

Not statistically. His 19 possessions and 317 metres gained against the Saints fell short of his 26 possessions and 422 metres gained in the Round 10 loss to Hawthorn in Launceston.

But in terms of impact, it was more profound, with his pinpoint kicking a feature that saw him ranked the third-best player on the ground by the coaches.

Coleman polled seven votes in the AFL Coach’s Association Player of the Year award, behind only midfield teammates Hugh McCluggage (10) and Lachie Neale (7).

Others to poll with Chris Fagan and Brett Ratten were Brisbane’s Jarrod Berry (3), Oscar McInerney (1), St Kilda’s Jimmy Webster (2) and Jack Sinclair (1).

Coleman’s first votes in the highly-regarded award represent another notch on a blossoming career of a now 22-year-old who was born in Katherine in the Northern Territory and moved to Brisbane with his family aged nine.

He played juniors at Wynnum before a switch to Morningside from where the Academy graduate was finally drafted by the Lions with pick #37 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft after they matched a bid from Essendon. He was the Lions’ third pick after Deven Robertson at #22 and Brock Smith at #33.

After what could have been a costly miss with Keidean Coleman in the talent lottery, the Lions were taking no chances in 2020 with his younger brother Blake – they took him with their first pick in the National Draft at #24 after a bid from Collingwood.

Oddly, after being drafted at #37, Keidean Coleman was the 37th player from the class of 2019 to play at AFL level when he debuted in a Friday night game against Collingwood at the Gabba in Round 15 2020, but the only player from the Class of 2019 to play in the 2020 finals when he stepped out against Richmond in the Qualifying Final win over Richmond at the Gabba.

Two and a half years on, Coleman ranks 12th in games among 2019 draftees behind Kysaiah Pickett (51), Noah Anderson (48), Caleb Serong (46), Lachie Ash (46), Trent Rivers (44), Luke Jackson (42), Brad Close (42), Jack Mahony (39), Mitch Georgiades (38), Harry Schoenberg (37) and Tom Green (36). And his three finals are equal best.

Peter Blucher is a Consultant with Vivid Sport.

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