Champion set for bright future after All-Australian honor

Mines Rovers teenager Malakai Champion’s AFL under-16 All-Australian selection this week is just the first step in a potentially stellar career, according to Diorites coach Marc Johnstone.

Champion was among four WA players named to the 23-player squad after strong performances at the recent national carnival.

He was named in a forward pocket, alongside South Australian full-forward Tyler Welsh and WA teammate Anthony Hansen.

Champion’s success is no surprise to Johnstone, who promoted him to the blue-and-white league team last season for a round 18 clash with Boulder at just 15 years of age.

The selection required the permission of the youngster’s mother, but he did not look at all out of place in kicking three goals on debut.

“He’s just an absolute ripper, a once-in-a-lifetime kid this one (who) I think he can be a top-10 (AFL) draft pick, that’s for sure,” Johnstone said.

“He’s not interested in the outside party scenes — when they turn 16 or 17, they can go either way and this kid’s chosen to go the right way.

“Academically, he’s fantastic and we’d love to see a big Perth school take him on next year for a full scholarship.

“His dad sadly passed away about 12 months ago which took a bit of a toll on him because he was pretty close to his dad.

“He lost that figure in his life, but is picking up others now which is great.

“Right now, he’s torn between continuing with Subiaco or staying and playing finals with Mines Rovers.

“But I’ll totally leave that up to Malakai and whatever he chooses.”

In May, Champion produced a clinical display of forward craftmanship against reigning GFL premiers Kalgoorlie by kicking five goals in the side’s 24-point win.

Champion has been named for the Diorites’ clash with Railways on Sunday, with Tyrell Dewar making his senior debut after lining up for WA at the national under-18 carnival.

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