By Murray Wenzel, Cairns Post
THIS time last year Josh Hall was competing in a high jump event in Cairns and went to Cazalys for something to do.
Tomorrow he’ll go to the ground again, but his duties will be slightly different.
The Townsville 22-year-old, who was on track for a berth in the London Games as a high jumper, is now an AFL player.
The Suns’ rookie draft pick had never even seen a live game of top-level footy until that sunny afternoon in Cairns.
But soon after he had a kick for a local club while doing a university placement, where he was promptly spotted by Townsville scout Peter Young.
Fast forward 12 months and he will debut against Richmond.
“That was my first ever game. The atmosphere at the ground was great, I thought it was pretty cool,” he said.
He admits he is still very fresh to the concept, but that just might be an advantage.
“Being new to the sport I don’t really know the players I’m playing against. I’m not really daunted,” he said.
“I’m just on cloud nine at the moment. There’s no real pressure; the coach has given me a licence to go in, roam around and show my athletic ability.”
And there is plenty of that.
Hall has a personal best leap of 2.26m – just 2cm shy of Olympic B qualifying.
It was athletics that brought Hall and fellow spring-bean teammate Zac Smith together.
“He only ever beat me once,” Hall said with a smirk.
“But it’s good to have him to throw advice to in terms of changing sports. Karmichael Hunt is another code-hopper; I owe a lot to his support as well.”
The North Queenslander welcomed the sweaty 30C conditions that greeted him in Cairns yesterday.
It is something that the Richmond camp are conscious of too, having come from an especially-chilly Melbourne winter.
Tigers’ defender Bachar Houli, who has been one of their best again this season, said arriving yesterday gave them enough time to adapt.
“Hopefully, we can become immune to these extreme conditions,” he said.
“For us it’s an opportunity to play and compete with a great young side.
“I think people forget how competitive they actually are.”
And with Suns’ skipper Gary Ablett saying his men were now playing without fear, Houli said it was important to snuff out their fire early.
“They shouldn’t be afraid, they have that confidence at the moment and it’s up to us to start at the level we need to be.”
Reprinted courtesy of Cairns Post