Todd Marshall cut his teeth in the country.
Marshall, 18, grew up in Deniliquin, playing football in winter and cricket in summer like millions of regional children across the world.
It means the 198cm tall forward will feel more at home than most when he makes his AFL debut for Port Adelaide tomorrow at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium.
Far from the electric atmosphere of his new home Adelaide Oval or the grandeur of the MCG, Marshall will run out for the Power against the Western Bulldogs at the newly-refurbished 11000 capacity venue after knocking the selection door down with some great SANFL performances during the past fortnight.
Marshall returned from concussion to kick three goals against South Adelaide and five last week against West Adelaide, being named among the best both times.
His return for the season so far is 23 majors from 16 matches, helping the Magpies to an 11-5 record as their second-best offensive weapon (behind Brett Eddy’s 45 goals).
The 16th pick in last year’s draft will be the sixth first-gamer for the Power this year, and will line up alongside fellow regional exports Ollie Wines (Echuca), Tom Clurey (Katamatite) and Aidyn Johnson (Moama), with Rochester’s Joe Atley and Shepparton’s Jarman Impey also on the list.
With Port Adelaide set to feature heavily in this year’s finals series a breakout performance from Marshall could be enough to see him cement a spot alongside fellow forward target Charlie Dixon for the foreseeable future.
Either way, Marshall’s decision to leave cricket behind him after representing Australia as a junior, as well as remove himself from Greater Western Sydney’s talent academy in the lead up to the draft, has certainly been vindicated.