IT’S been almost a month since he played, but Echuca’s Oliver Wines has not stopped working on footy skills or building fitness and strength.
While others have pursued success in finals across the country, Wines and Pioneers team-mate Jake Stringer have focused on the AFL national draft camp, which kicks off next Tuesday at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.
The award-winning spree for Wines, captain of the Bendigo Pioneers in this year’s TAC Cup under-18s competition has kept on rolling.
Latest accolade for the gun centreman or ruck-rover was being named player of the year by the TAC Cup Future Stars panel, which includes AFL national talent manager, Kevin Sheehan from Bendigo.
Wines pocketed a significant cash prize courtesy of McDonald’s.
“To win the award means a lot to me,” said Wines.
“It’s a big honour, and the cash will help a lot.”
A superb season included being named in the centre for the TAC Cup Team of the Year, as well as being a midfielder for the All-Australian Team selected at the end of the national under-18 championships campaign.
Stringer also played in the national titles and was selected on interchange in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.
A second-year Pioneer, Wines said lifting workrate was a major goal leading into the season.
He learnt a lot from 2011 in which he was runner-up to Sam Heavyside for the club champion award, the Neville Strauch Memorial trophy.
“Having greater endurance was really important so I could get to more contests,” Wines said.
Not only was he was at more duels, but Wines often won possession and set up attacks, whether it be for the Pioneers, Victoria Country or the AIS-AFL Academy during its tour of Europe.
Wines believes kicking is an area he has improved a lot through his time with the Pioneers, the national titles and the Academy program.
Since the seasons ended for the Pioneers and then home club, Echuca Bombers, Wines has trained daily.
“There’s a small group in Echuca that I’ve been working with.
“It’s been a mix of skills, sprints and endurance,” he said of the workouts.
There have been many highs in 2012, including playing football in Paris on a field usually reserved for polo.
Wines first played for Moama at under-12s level and then joined the Echuca Bombers.
Away from the football field, Wines is studying year 12 at Goulburn Valley Grammar.
After exams he will eagerly await for his name to be called on November 22 and join the latest intake to the big league.