More new blood for Magpies
More than 20 years after Robert Harvey was too slow to catch Irish Gaelic football star Anthony Tohill, the Magpies caretaker coach has given his son, Anton, an AFL debut.
Tohill, who Harvey labelled a “supreme athlete”, and small forward Jack Ginnivan will become Collingwood’s eighth and ninth debutantes for 2021 when they run out against Port Adelaide on Friday night.
Harvey said there was “commotion” on the training track on Wednesday when it was confirmed Irishman Tohill, who was taken by the club in the 2019 rookie draft, would play this week.
“After a long journey from Ireland, he has really worked hard at his game. He was really emotional to get this opportunity,” Harvey said on Wednesday.
“It was great to see that reaction (from the players) and the heartfelt response. They know how much he has sacrificed, so has (fellow Irishman) Mark Keane to be here with us.
“It’s been not enough just to come here. He’s worked so hard at his game. He’s a very smart individual, he’s a medical student in waiting when he gets back to Ireland.
“The respect he has earned from us has been enormous. His opportunity has been off the back of all his work. We are rapt for him.”
Harvey said it was a “small world” when he revealed he had encountered Tohill’s father in 1998 when he captained Ireland in an international game of Australian rules.
“He had blonde hair, and he was fast,” Harvey said.
“We were on the end of a trip, we weren’t at our very best, but he was running away from us pretty easily. I had a beer with him, he’s very upstanding.
“It’s one of those moments you get where the world is small, there is a connection there.”
Anton’s special moment. pic.twitter.com/O9B4C3L0pM
At 200cm, Tohill has played as a defender in the VFL and will play down back against Port.
Ginnivan, 18, Collingwood’s first selection in last year’s rookie draft, is the opposite in every way having emerged as a small forward in the second-tier competition, booting four goals in games against Sandringham and Richmond.
“He’s got a natural ability to kick goals and puts himself in the right place at the right time,” Harvey said.
“There’s excitement around both guys but in different ways.”
Harvey said he hoped Ginnivan could help the Magpies take better advantage of their increasing forward 50m entries, an area they needed to improve after last week’s loss to Carlton.
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