Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Banfield Ready to Take on Naitanui

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Banfield Ready to Take on Naitanui

Article excerpt

Terry Mallinder

THE residents of Bushby St in the Perth suburb of Midvale would've had no idea at the time.

But the boys kicking the footy out on the road would one day grace the biggest stages in the AFL.

There was Nic Naitanui, Chris Yarran and Michael Walters, who lived within a few doors of each on Bushby, and Todd Banfield, who was just around the corner.

A simple street kick-to-kick between a handful of teenagers has probably never been laden with so much talent.

On the weekends though with WAFL club Swan Districts was when the quartet would really showcase their skills a and lead to them all being drafted at the end of 2008, along with five other teammates, including Jeff Garlett and Jamie Bennell.

Banfield also attended Governor Stirling High with Naitanui and remembers the lanky Fijian being more interested in basketball than footy.

aHe was in the same group of friends we had at school,a Banfield recalled. aWe were pretty close.

aProbably Year 10, Year 11, that's when he started to show his ability ... jumping, running. So it was only towards the end of our high school years when he started to develop a lot more.

aYear 8, Year 9 we never would've thought he would get drafted. He just loved playing basketball.a

Banfield said Yarran was the stand-out among them.

aChris was probably the most talented,a he said. aEveryone thought he was going to get drafted.

aThere was a lot of other boys we weren't sure were going to get drafted or not. (But) we were all playing good footy at the right time.a

While Naitanui was selected by the team they supported, West Coast, at No.2 in the National Draft, Yarran was picked by Carlton, Banfield by Brisbane and Walters by Fremantle.

The boys from Bushby St all played in the '08 WAFL Grand Final for Swan Districts against Subiaco, which featured another future star, Daniel Rich.

A couple of months later Banfield found himself sitting next to his old rival on a plane bound for the Sunshine State after the pair was drafted by the Lions. …

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