GWS Giants Irish recruit Callum Brown has described his first season playing Aussie Rules as ‘brilliant’.
The former Derry U20 starlet was recruited as a rookie by the Sydney outfit ahead of the current season becoming their first ever Irish rookie recruit.
He’s impressed the club in his first season playing the game, averaging more than ten possessions in the NEAFL and even scoring five goals.
"It's been brilliant so far," Brown said.
The Limavady man was key in his county reaching the All-Ireland U20 football semi-finals last summer.
It was the Giants' Irish defensive coach Nick Walsh who spotted his talent when Brown impressed with his pace and strong ability under the high ball when Derry triumphed over Walsh's native Cavan.
"He texted me and said: 'I'm from the GWS Giants, we've been watching you for at least a year now. We think you have potential'.
"It was a shock, from Australia to come and say we want to have a look at you, we want you to come out in the summer as well."
The 18-year-old had already proved himself a versatile sportsman as he had also been on the books of Linfield FC.
Now getting to grips with a new code, he is finding his feet as a defender.
"I started off as forward but they wanted me to learn the game more down in the halfback position, they want me to be more of a running role.
"At the minute I've been playing back the last couple of weeks, been really picking up the game there and improving my skills in that area.
"I'm starting to get the hang of it now as well, even calling the shots during games, telling the boys where to go, what positions to sit in. So far they're very pleased with me.”
Brown is one of six fresh Irish players on AFL lists this year with James Madden at Brisbane Lions, Anton Tohill and Mark Keane at Collingwood, Red Óg Murphy at North Melbourne and Stefan Okunbor at Geelong.
"I love how they're able to come over as well, in the same position as I am. It's brilliant how they bring other boys over here so they can experience what it's like to play professional sport. Even for myself just the first irish man to come across and play for GWS, it's pretty exciting."
While he is the first GAA player to be signed as a rookie into the Giants set-up, he is not the first Irish player to wear the orange and grey. Setanta O'hAilpin played eight matches for the Giants in 2012/13.
Also, the current GWS defender Aidan Corr was born in Tyrone and emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of three.
"[Aidan] tries to say he’s the first Irish Giants player but I just don't take him on, don't take him on at all."
Brown hopes to emulate Irish players who have made their AFL breakthroughs in recent seasons.
"The position they're in right now is brilliant. Since they've been here a couple of years, they know the whole game plan and how it works and the system. For myself being new to the sport, it's a bit harder to get into it but watching them play, I can progress my skills and just think: ‘If they can do it, then I can do it as well’."
Brown is confident of making a similar breakthrough and is even cheeky enough to suggest that he will take the place of club veteran and legendary defender Heath Shaw in the senior team.
"If I stick to how I'm going now, I could possibly take Shawie's place as well. He thinks I won't take it but I one hundred per cent will take it."
That might have to wait until the 2020 season but the GWS Giants are almost certain to play finals footy in both the AFL and NEAFL competitions.