There were some heavy hitters down at the recent Byron Bay AFL 9s Invitational, headlined by AFL General Counsel, Andrew Dillon.
Dillon and his team, Southern Comfort, battled valiantly through the two-day, but even their secret weapon, Josh Vanderloo – the AFL’s National Development Manager and the creator of the shortened AFL format – couldn’t help them take the chocolates.
Dillon said having Vanderloo, a late addition to the team, certainly helped.
“We kicked four goals in our first game and he kicked all four,” he said.
“Once we knew he was coming up, we made sure we got him.”
Joined by AFL Queensland CEO, Michael Conlan, as well a number of ex-Xavier College students, the team also featured cameos from the national AFL 9s manager, Andrew Hughes and Sydney Swans premiership player, Jude Bolton.
Dillon said their skills may have left a bit to be desired, but the atmosphere more than made up for it.
“A few of the guys haven’t played for a while, so they were a bit rusty first up,” he said.
“You’ve got to be very good with your skills in 9s.”
After a few casualties in the lead-up to the competition, with an ankle and a hamstring injury, Dillon said the side pulled itself together well.
They didn’t stop looking for potential recruits either, picking up one of their members, Lachlan Bunn, at dinner on the eve of the competition.
“We were sitting next to him at dinner and figured out we used to play footy against him,” he said.
“I think the Byron Bay Magpies were interested in him, but we were able to put in a better bid,” he joked.
Dillon said Southern Comfort would be interested in making a northern comeback in the future.