BY JESS WEBSTER (NEAFL)
Former GIANTS Academy star James Peatling will embark on a new chapter with Sydney University in 2020 following the heartbreak of missing out in last year’s NAB AFL Draft.
Peatling, 19, was unlucky not to be snapped up by an AFL club last November after an impressive season with the NEAFL GIANTS and Under-18 Allies, having been a member of the academy since he was 13.
The young talent from western Sydney settled on the Students as his new home, believing it’s the right fit for him to rediscover his love for the game after a taxing few years in the underage system.
“I just felt the best thing for me this year was to stay at home with family and play at the highest level I could,” he told neafl.com.au.
“Sydney Uni have been really competitive lately and their program seems to work really well. I thought I’d fit in quite well, and I knew a few of the boys already.
“It was just the best fit for everything at the moment and I am really excited to see what happens.”
Peatling made his NEAFL debut as a 16-year-old back in 2017 for the GIANTS and has been nominated for the NEAFL Rising Star Award in each of the past two seasons.
Settling into a new role off half-back last year, the Pennant Hills and Westbrook junior featured in 13 NEAFL games – taking his career tally to 32 – as well as three Allies matches.
“I was pretty flat (after the draft), I thought I put in a pretty good body of work to earn a spot on a list somewhere,” Peatling said.
“When it didn’t come to fruition like I had hoped, it was tough initially, and that’s why I took my time making a decision on my future.
“For me it comes down to, if you’re good enough, you’ll get picked up from anywhere.
“It’s a weird feeling, but I’m happy to have a fresh start at Sydney University and be in a new system, and to just come into the club, be myself and work hard.”
Peatling joins a young list on the rise after a rejuvenated Students list made the finals last season, falling to Sydney in a thrilling Elimination Final by nine points.
Excited at the prospect of chasing premiership success in the future, Peatling says he cannot wait to get stuck into pre-season and push for a Round 1 debut.
“I’ve been in the system a while, and seeing new faces can sometimes turn your view from something that you weren’t too happy about,” he said.
“You can come in with a clean canvas, and that’s what I’m pretty happy to do. I am super grateful for everything the GIANTS have done for me for so long, but sometimes a change can give you a little kick up the bum to get you working again.
“I’m also pretty keen to get back to why I started playing football for, and hopefully I can do that at Sydney Uni.
“As a team, I’m looking forward to being as competitive as possible, push for another finals series and get the most out of our young group.”
You can keep up-to-date with all the player movements here.