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After being taken with pick 67 in the 2017 AFL draft, Dylan Moore faced an uphill battle with injury during his first year in the AFL system. After earning his stripes and making his debut for Hawthorn, Moore spoke to about his journey so far and the important advice he received from Hawthorn greats.

Congratulations on making your recently. You were a late in to the side, what were the emotions like when you found out you’d be playing?

I was pretty shocked because I wasn’t the carrying emergency or anything and I was actually preparing to play Round 1 for Box Hill that day. When I got the call from Clarko in the morning and he started chatting about the day before asking me if I’d like to make my debut on the G. I was shocked, I said ‘what? Really? Me? Are you sure?’ I froze for a little bit before saying of course. We kept talking and I was so nervous I would just respond with ‘yep’. I didn’t know what to say.

You were replacing Jarryd Roughead as the late out, did you feel any level of expectation or pressure going out there or were you comfortable enough to just go out and make the role your own?

Clarko spoke to me about and so did a few of the boys who just wanted to remind me not to be concerned with their being massive pressure on my shoulders or a weight on my shoulder to carry out what Rough has been able to do. They reassured me that he’s a 300 game player so I wouldn’t be expected to do what he can do straight away but rather just play my role, work to my strengths, run and put pressure on and show why I could be in the team in the future.

What was the game like for you and having the opportunity to live out your childhood dream of playing AFL football?

And the fact that I grew up supporting Hawthorn! It was amazing. I had played at the ‘G once in a Future’s game a couple of years ago in under-18 football but running out there representing Hawthorn was completely different. The emotions, the crowd and all the hard work that has been put into making AFL came to fruition. I felt like I was on top of the world for that moment in time.

The back end of your 2017 VFL campaign was reasonably successful, were there areas of your game that Clarko and the Hawthorn coaching staff wanted you to work on before earning senior selection?

Yeah, through juniors I was more of a midfielder and on-baller but due to my size they wanted me to try and carry out a forward role. It was good to get that experience playing in finals at VFL but then, over the off-season, they said that they wanted me to come back bigger, stronger, and more powerful and work on my forward craft. I started hanging out with Luke Breust at the club and seeing how he goes about his forward craft. The same with Paul Puopolo and now Chad Wingard coming in. It was perfect for me to be able to watch them train and their patterns and learning off their vision which could help me in the future.

What advice have players like Luke Breust and Chad Wingard since he’s been at Hawthorn given you?

Those two have been massive for me. They’ve taught me a lot about leading patterns and your strengths as well. Not thinking that I have to play like a tall forward or small forward based on my size but about using my body and little tricks to manoeuvre my opponent and blindside them. We’ve done a lot of vision together on little plays I can do to help myself get to a better position.

You mentioned your size before, did you have any level of trepidation or self-doubt going into your draft year about your size relevant to your position playing as a midfielder or did it become more about trusting in your ability and knowing that if you got the opportunity you’d find your niche in the side?

I trust myself as a footballer in general that my ability and talent would help me to get onto an AFL list, whether it was for my draft year or the next year, but I felt like I was good enough to make it. I was lucky enough Hawthorn picked me up in the draft. I didn’t have too many doubts in that final year but it was more when I was 15 and 16 and I wasn’t making any representative teams. Those were the moments when I wasn’t sure if my dream would come true.

After injuring your shoulder and missing eight-weeks of footy while seeing your teammates and mates from the under-18 pathway debut, how did you deal with that?

The first thing you want to do when you get to a club is to want to play football and then earn the respect of your teammates. Unfortunately in my second game in the VFL I had a bit of a hiccup and had eight weeks out with my shoulder but within those eight weeks it was almost a blessing in disguise for me. I had the opportunity to do rehab with Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo and they helped me to get back on track. We spoke about injuries together and how in football there are always going to be setbacks. We were able to train together away from the group and they were great in giving me tips of footwork and kicking and other aspects of the game that being away from the main group meant I could focus on. It was pretty crazy completing my rehab with them. I certainly didn’t go into the club expecting to form such close connections with them through injury.

Although it’s only early in the season, what are your goals moving forward this year?

I want to try and play as many senior games as I can and get exposure at the highest level, even talking to the coaches and players during the week, the focus is on developing from every game and taking a little bit out of every game that you get at the senior level. That will give me the opportunity to then go away and fine tune my forward craft, work on my body and then my strengths to hopefully play as many games as I can.

Now that you’re into your second-year of at the elite level and you’ve got the chance to spend some time away from the club pursuing off-field passions, what does that look like for you?

I’ve started studying now so, on my day off, I head into university and I’m studying Commerce and Finance. I’m trying to get two subjects done this semester and hopefully the same next semester. I’ll be trying to chip away at that in the background because you never know when you’re AFL career will end.

That’s a very wise head on young shoulders, Dylan! Thank you for the chat and good luck with your season.

No worries, thank you very much.