Collingwood Football Club announced the elevation of Sydney University Australian National Football Club (SUANFC) product Tom Young to its senior list on Friday.

Tom is the first SUANFC player to be drafted by an AFL club, though a number of players with AFL/VFL experience have represented the club in previous seasons.

Originally from Wollondilly Junior FC (near Bowral), Tom played some football with Campbelltown before spending 2009 with Sydney University where he combined NSW/ACT U18 Rams commitments and played eight senior Premier Division matches as a 17 year old. He was so impressive in his performances for the Students that he won the Sydney AFL Rising Star award at the end of 2009.

After changes to the scholarship scheme, Tom was allowed to relocate to Melbourne in 2010 and play full-time with the Collingwood Reserves in the VFL prior to being eligible for the Draft. Tom had many eye-catching performances throughout the year playing all 20 matches and averaging 19 disposals and 4 marks per game primarily from half back.

No doubt the experience has been significant and shown the Collingwood coaching staff that he has what it takes to have a long career at senior level.

SUANFC General Manager Brett Pettersen said “Sydney Uni is extremely proud of what Tom has been able to achieve to date. Tom is a talented footballer who still has plenty of improvement left in him. Given the support he receives from his family and the Collingwood Football Club, I have no doubt that he will be a quality player over a long period of time”.

The 18 year old commenced day one of pre-season training last Monday (October 25) and will be looking to emulate the achievements of the Pies’ youngsters who held the premiership aloft this season.

Collingwood’s premiership side contained seven players with less than 50 AFL games experience under their belts – including rookie Jarryd Blair.

It will be the likes of Ben Reid, Steele Sidebottom, Tyson Goldsack among others as players who Young will look to for advice as well as their new coach-in-waiting Nathan Buckley.

“There are a lot of good players at the club but if you work hard enough you should be able to crack the team,” Young said.

“I actually lived with him [Jarryd Blair] a bit last year and you could just see how hard he worked in the pre-season and he got rewarded for it.

“Bucks [Nathan Buckley] is training us in the pre-season at the moment and you can already tell he’s going to be a really good coach.

“His advice to me is just to keep working hard and surround yourself with good people at the club and you should be right.”

Young is now one of eleven NSW/ACT born players to be picked up by an AFL club this year.

The 188-centremetre prospect was introduced to the game by his father as a five-year-old and quickly worked his way up through the AFL (NSW/ACT) Talented Player Program.

“I would love to debut next year – I’ve just got to work hard,” he said.

“We’ve started pre-season so we’re three weeks up on the senior team as they’re starting in two weeks time.

“So I’ve just got to work hard in the pre-season and look to get a NAB Cup game and then go from there.”

With another full pre-season under his belt it may only be a matter of time until Young cements his place in the team, and with it, a chance of tasting premiership success with Australia’s biggest sporting club.

Young will officially become a Magpie on November 18 through the 2010 NAB AFL Draft being held on the Gold Coast.

Sydney University currently has several other future AFL prospects coming through the ranks including 208cm Jarrod Witts, Michael Hartley and Adrian Yakimov who have scholarships with Collingwood and 203cm Craig Moller who is scholarship listed with Fremantle. Also, Nick Perry (former-Collingwood scholarship) is currently pursuing preseason opportunities with AFL clubs in the lead-up to the Draft after a fine season spread across SUANFC senior and U18 teams, Greater Western Sydney’s TAC Cup program and the NSW/ACT Rams.