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  1. #1
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    Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings



    Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings, the origin of his helmet and the Twitter fan page dedicated to his kicking

    So revered is Caleb Daniel’s kicking, there’s been a Twitter page dedicated to it. The Western Bulldogs star details his journey from a rugby-mad town in Queensland — where he idolised a league great — to AFL premiership success.

    Had things turned out differently and I stayed in Queensland, I might have kicked on with rugby league.

    I was born in the sunshine state and spent my first few years in Beaudesert, which is about an hour’s drive west from the Gold Coast.

    Rugby league is big there and my earliest dream was to play it at an elite level.

    One of my first sporting heroes was former great Johnathan Thurston.

    JT wore a helmet and so did a lot of rugby players, which is why I didn’t mind when my mum first presented me with one.

    I was playing under 9’s and had it on, and ever since it’s almost been like a mouth guard for me.

    I still wear the exact same one today, although there have been some modifications made along the journey.

    It was a fair bit oversized in my early days.

    Early on, I was running around like a little bobblehead, and I guess I still do a bit today.

    Once it carks it, that might be it for playing in a helmet.

    Although it’s something I hope I can keep until the end of my career, or maybe I’ll raffle it off for a good cause before then.

    It’s probably gone through thousands of games of footy over the years, and there’d be a fair bit of sweat and a little bit of blood in it by now.

    It is kind of nice to have a little memento from almost every game I’ve ever played in my life.

    EARLY DAYS IN ADELAIDE


    Even when we moved to Adelaide, I still kept a passion for rugby league.

    I even played it at Aberfoyle High School along with footy.

    When we first moved to South Australia, I played for the Edwardstown Footy Club, where my cousins played, and they allowed me to play three years under age.

    I was a strange kid in that I didn’t really support an AFL team growing up.

    Being in Adelaide I guess I had a soft spot for the Crows, but I more followed players.

    Chris Judd and Ben Cousins and that Eagles midfield of the mid 2000s was a big one for me.

    They were idolised, along with Andrew McLeod.

    I always loved watching and playing footy from an early age, but I never truly thought I’d make it.

    TOO SMALL FOR THE BIG TIME?


    I was never not going to be the small kid.

    Mum’s pushing five foot and dad’s five foot seven, so I realised pretty early on I was never going to be six foot.

    I put it in the back of my mind and didn’t think much about it.

    I’m a pretty easy going guy so it never really affected me.

    I always went out there with the mindset to have fun, enjoy myself and not take it too seriously.

    As I got closer to my draft year, I didn’t really worry about my height.

    No club told me I was too short to make it.

    They just wanted me to realise the challenges that come with being a short player and how I was going to overcome them.

    Looking back, playing 11 SANFL games in my draft year and a few before that really helped my confidence.

    I owe a lot to the South Adelaide Football Club.

    I don’t think there’s many SANFL clubs or I guess VFL clubs that would consider putting juniors into their senior team.

    They did and it was great for my development.

    I played for South Adelaide in their under 13’s when I was 10 years old, so regardless of age and size they really wanted me to grow as a player and a person really rapidly.

    I know a few players at other clubs that should have been playing seniors but they were stuck in the under 18’s.

    I’m really thankful to South Adelaide for helping develop me into the man I am today.

    My coach Brad Gotch was huge in that and he gave me the licence to play senior footy and in some positions I might not have been playing anywhere else.

    BECOMING A DOG

    Leading into the 2014 AFL draft, I leant on my manager for any early mail.

    I remember texting him on the day of the draft asking him if he thought I was a chance.

    He told me he’d heard good things and he thought it would be a team with red and white in their colours.

    That narrowed it down to a couple, but it was still a nervous wait.

    I didn’t actually think I would be taken in the national draft, and I thought I would maybe get taken in the rookie draft at best.

    Regardless, we watched the draft at home with quite a few family members and a mate.

    We didn’t have Foxtel at the time so we were trying to stream it on my sister’s computer.

    It would drop out and then they kept replaying the top 20, so it was a bit frustrating.

    We ended up chucking on the radio and it just so happened there was a break in conversation when it happened.

    Pick No. 46 came up and the Bulldogs read out my name.

    I was ecstatic.

    EARLY DAYS AT KENNEL

    In Adelaide I had a great crew of friends and family.

    In Melbourne I barely knew a soul.

    A few days after the draft I was in my new home, which was quite a hard adjustment at first.

    At the same time I was living my dream, so there was a lot of excitement.

    When I first came across I was living with a great host family and Lukas Webb, who was another draftee.

    We got on like a house on fire, so that made it very comfortable.

    My initial thought of the footy club was hard work was required the second you walked in.

    It was funny though because as a young kid you tend to idolise certain players and then you get to the club and you realise they’re just normal people who like to have a laugh.

    That helped me feel more at home as I went about trying to earn some respect.
    Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.
    Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.
    And what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Part 2


    THE RIDE THAT WAS 2016

    I’ll never forget the feeling in the rooms before the 2016 elimination final against West Coast in Perth.

    I was having a stretch and doing my warm up and as I looked around at my teammates, we were all so connected and it felt like a different vibe.

    It was strange, there was an energy and everyone was so mellow.

    It didn’t feel like a final, but more like a group of carefree school kids that were about to have some fun.

    It felt like no matter who we were playing, we weren’t going to lose that night.

    I think that probably showed in the way we were able to play.

    Looking back, that’s probably one of my favourite games I’ve personally played.

    Then we got past Hawthorn and played the GWS Giants on their home turf for a spot in the grand final.

    It was a strange experience because we were at their ground but our great supporters seemed to outnumber theirs.

    That was huge and it was an awesome experience.

    Even though it was a smaller venue, it was one of the loudest crowds I’d experienced.

    We were able to feed off that energy of our fans to play some pretty good footy.

    It was one of the best wins I’ve been a part of.

    GRAND FINAL

    My favourite memory of the 2016 grand final was everything that followed it.

    Firstly it was the feeling in the rooms once we got back there.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happier group of guys in my life.

    I was 20 years old and pretty young, playing in just my second season.

    There were guys there that were 33 or 34 that had played for 15 years in that team, so I think I was more excited that they got to win one.

    The day after the grand final we all met up at the Railway Hotel in Yarraville, and all the families and friends and the past players were there.

    Just to see some of the past players there that weren’t able to win a premiership so happy for the footy club was extremely special.

    My favourite memory from the game itself was the Dale Morris tackle on Lance Franklin that led to Tom Boyd’s goal.

    I was on the bench at the time but I had a great view of it.

    THE TWITTER PAGE

    I didn’t believe it at first when I was told there was a Twitter account dedicated to my kicks.

    It’s a little bit strange.

    I’ve had a few questions from the boys asking whether it was me who started it up.

    Someone sent it to me but I haven’t really had too much of a look at it.

    If anything it just puts a little bit of added pressure every time I miss a target, which is a little bit daunting.

    It’s obviously nice to be recognised and to have someone that respects what you do.

    My ball use is a bit of a feature of my game I guess.

    Being able to read the game is something I’ve always prided myself on.

    At our club we train with footballs from the first day of pre-season.

    The footballs are out and we’re not just running laps in the sun.

    We always implement footballs into our running and I think that’s really helped.

    The more you practice the better you get.
    Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.
    Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.
    And what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.

  4. Thanks The bulldog tragician, Eastdog thanked for this post
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  5. #3
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Before the 2014 draft I was watching highlights of various highly touted under 18s including Caleb - was impressed then and have remained impressed in the intervening years. When he has the ball in hand, I expect him to successfully find another Bulldog player, such is his consistently high disposal efficiency. Great get for the Dogs and now an emerging leader of the group.
    Dunks for PM...

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  7. #4
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    I also saw Caleb in the under 18 championships and was impressed too. He had the knack of always being where the ball was. Still think he would be a great rover even at his height.

  8. #5
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Definitely a one club player. Love the fact that he has never gone for a lower number. Probably my favourite no. 35 along with Terry Wheeler.

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  10. #6
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    I loved the draft profiles that basically read:

    Cons:
    Height

    Pros:
    Everything else

    Thank god he's short. He wouldn't have slipped to us if he was 6 foot.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

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  12. #7
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  14. #8
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    I always remember when Daniel was drafted, a whole lot of Crows and Port fans flocked to the Dogs BF draft thread saying that they were so glad Daniel found an AFL home and that he would be a terrific player for us.

    They were right.
    HEIGHT IS OVERRATED: CALEB DANIEL > TOM BOYD

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  16. #9
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Dry Rot View Post
    I always remember when Daniel was drafted, a whole lot of Crows and Port fans flocked to the Dogs BF draft thread saying that they were so glad Daniel found an AFL home and that he would be a terrific player for us.

    They were right.
    From memory there was a boo from the crowd at the draft, as they were hoping a SA team would pick him up.
    “In 2020, we will believe that we are closer than we may be, but we will prepare like we’re further away than ever.” - senior coach Luke Beveridge.

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  18. #10
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Quote Originally Posted by KT31 View Post
    From memory there was a boo from the crowd at the draft, as they were hoping a SA team would pick him up.
    They had had seen the wee teenager play against men in the SAFL GF IIRC.
    HEIGHT IS OVERRATED: CALEB DANIEL > TOM BOYD

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  20. #11
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Dry Rot View Post
    They had had seen the wee teenager play against men in the SAFL GF IIRC.

    Nah, South Adelaide haven’t made a grand final for many decades

    He had starred in the state u18 champs

    Been a few handy dogs from south including Caleb, Luke Darcy and Ryan Griffen

  21. #12
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Great user of the footy. When the ball is in his hands you are confident he will not turn it over. Great season in that half back line.
    AFL PREMIERS 2016

  22. #13
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Nice to see Daniel be nominated for AA hnors.
    “In 2020, we will believe that we are closer than we may be, but we will prepare like we’re further away than ever.” - senior coach Luke Beveridge.

  23. #14
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Already of my all time fave players. Nice article. Thx GVGjr.

  24. #15
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    Re: Caleb Daniel opens up on his rugby league beginnings

    Is he the best 5 foot 6 or below player ever to play the game? Maybe Libba Sr?
    If you kicked five goals and Tom Boyd kicked five goals, Tom Boyd kicked more goals than you.

    Formerly gogriff

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