Q&A: Austin van der Struyf (Claremont)

WESTERN Australia is primed to bounce back on the national stage this year, and smooth moving small utility Austin van der Struyf is among the state’s leading prospects. The Claremont premiership Colt already has state Under 18 experience under his belt and is ready for a big top-age campaign.

Speaking at WA’s preseason testing event this month, where he placed fifth in the 20-metre sprint, van der Struyf spoke of his confidence in Claremont’s side, plans to hit the ground running in 2024, and the pair of AFL players he moulds his game on.

Claremont-logoClaremont, Western Australia-logoWestern AustraliaDefender-Midfielder

Austin van der Struyf

Height: 178cm

Weight: -

DOB: 17-03-2006

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Q: Austin, give us a rundown of your bottom-age season.

A: Last year I played quite a lot of PSA at Christ Church. I had lots of fun there. It’s good being one of the older boys and leading the group a bit, and also just playing with some freedom – it builds a lot of confidence for your Colts games. I moved into the Claremont Colts towards the end of last year and we had a really strong group… We won the Grand Final which was awesome, along with my brother – that was a really special moment. Shifting from PSA to Colts was really smooth, just because of how good the Colts group was and the connection we had there.

Q: Claremont has a pretty strong team here again, are you feeling confident going into this season?

A: I think so. We’ve got quite a good few top-agers, but I think our bottom-age group is really good as well. We’ve got a really good base of fitness this year. Our 2km time trials have been the best for a couple of years at this time of the season. We have good representation here at the combine with some younger boys as well, really impressing. So yeah, lots of confidence coming into this year, hopefully we get off to a good start in the first couple of rounds and have some success.

Q: How’d you find the testing today?

A: I had heaps of fun. I probably pride myself on the 20-metre (sprint) and the short explosive stuff. I was quite happy with how I went in the sprint and the agility. Not sure about the jumps because it’s a bit hard to measure, and I probably surprised myself a little bit with the yo-yo (test) – I’ve never been awesome at that. The short change of direction stuff is more of my strength, so yeah, very happy. I’m hearing lots of other good results as well, which is good for the state.

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Q: What do you see as some of your strengths? 

A: I think my kicking is definitely my main strength, the penetration I can get off my kick. Rebounding from half-back as well with my speed. I try to take the game on there and use my decision making to pick apart the opposition.

Q: Is half-back where you anticipate you’ll play again this year?

A: I think predominantly off half-back, maybe with some spurts in midfield if my fitness can match what’s demanded. But I’ll be happy to play wherever as long as I can impact for the team. I’ll play wherever.

Q: What are some of the improvements you’re looking to make? 

A: My main focus this year has definitely been my endurance. Trying to cut down my 2km, but also lots of direction changes and repeat efforts because that’s what you need as a wing and half-back. That’s been my main goal, then also just having more and more confidence in my skills so, I can take the game on and I can hit some kicks that others won’t try.

Q: You got to play a couple of games for WA last year, are you looking to cement yourself in that spot this year?

A: Definitely. It was good having some experience and getting to see what it’s all about. Some bigger bodies, better quality footy. I had heaps of fun, but this year it’s a big thing. Hopefully I can be in the leadership group and help show the way for the boys getting that experience. We’ve got a good group this year, we’ve had a longer summer program so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can have some success in the champs.

Q: Which AFL club do you support? 

A: Freo.

Q: Is there a player you mould your game on?

A: I like Bailey Dale a lot from Bulldogs. Just his run off half-back and want to go quick and take the game. Also, going forward, maybe a little bit of Connor Rozee with his composure in the midfield to hit up some forward 50 options. I think those two are some guys that I model my game off a little bit.

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Q: What kind of goals have you set for yourself this year? 

A: I think the main goal is just to stay injury free and have some consistency across the year. Hopefully I get off to a good start in the Colts and win a couple of early games, but also just play to my strengths and build up some confidence to then hopefully play in all the champs games and get some success for WA.

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