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How the planets aligned for Lochie

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  November 29, 2017 9:37 AM

Lochie O'Brien highlights | Pick 10 Watch number 10 pick Lochie O'Brien highlights.

CLICK on the Lochie O’Brien's video highlights on carltonfc.com.au and what first catches your eye is that truly wicked left foot. 

The execution, whether hitting a moving target or slotting a six-pointer post high from 60m, is truly sublime and, one presumes, totally natural for O’Brien - the boy from Mildura taken with Carlton’s pick No.10 in the 2017 NAB AFL National Draft, earned in part for the Bryce Gibbs trade. 

But speak to Carlton’s second selection of the 2017 draft and he’ll tell you that his Johnston-esque kicking capability came with the support of his father Jason and his junior coach at South Mildura, Dom Scullino. 

“I can’t remember too far back, but Dad always talked about how when I was young I was a terrible kick, that I always used to slam the ball onto my boot and didn’t have much success with it,” O’Brien said.

“Dad and Dom spent a lot of time on me, just making sure I got my kicking structures right and it’s really worked out . . . I reckon that was when I was at Auskick age, somewhere between four and eight.”

AFL 2017 U18 Championships - Vic C v WA
O'Brien boasts a truly wicked left foot. (Photo: AFL Media)

At the time of writing, O’Brien was still trying to process the events of Friday night, when his name was called at Sydney Showground. 

O’Brien had a fair idea he would end up at Carlton if the cards fell as anticipated. As he said: “I was pretty much told that if St Kilda took Hunter Clark (at selection No.7) then I was going to be taken at No.10”. 

In truth, O’Brien had been on Carlton’s radar for months, having participated in a 10-day training camp with the players on the Gold Coast in late 2016. The camp proved to be invaluable for O’Brien, for as he said of the experience: “I got to know a few of the boys, which definitely boosted my spirits”. 

Along the way, O’Brien’s fortunes at Bendigo Pioneers were closely monitored by Carlton’s recruiters. 

“I was in pretty regular contact with (recruiting officer) Michael Jordan. We pretty much spoke on a weekly basis and he took me out to dinner a few times,” O’Brien said. 

“There were probably four clubs heading into it that I was probably getting ready to go to, but Carlton was the main one I was hoping for.”

AFL 2017 Media - NAB AFL Draft
O'Brien was thrilled to join the Blues, who were No.1 on his wishlist. (Photo: AFL Media)

There was a time where O’Brien actively pursued a career in athletics, as an accomplished runner over 400 and 1500-metre distances. History records O’Brien as a Victorian 400-metre winner who claimed the state’s schoolboy record with a time of 51.06 seconds. 

In the aftermath of the national championships, O’Brien knew he had reached the sporting fork in the road. 

Crucially, he thought “team”.

“I had a decision to make regarding which pathway I was to choose,” O’Brien said.

“I saw people celebrating wins by running a lap on their own and I thought ‘That’s not really for me’. I obviously thought about how success comes in different ways and there’s nothing that beats a team environment in celebrating success.” 

In the aftermath of the draft, O’Brien also had to switch allegiances from Collingwood to Carlton - a no-brainer if ever there was one. 

O’Brien, whose father Denis managed one senior game for the black and whites in 1971, once featured on a grand final poster with Scott Pendlebury’s No.10 painted on his face in black and white.

Who knows, come 2018 O’Brien could be standing ‘Pendles’ – and that’s fine by him, for in Carlton he knows the planets are fast aligning. 

“It’s a very young team obviously in the rebuilding stage and I’m really looking forward to being a part of it,” O’Brien said. 

“The club’s heading in the right direction, the culture’s good, and from what I’ve been told everyone is striving to get the very best out of themselves.” 

Taglining himself as “a running player who loves to take on the game, who tries to split the game open and impact the scoreboard with my left foot”, O’Brien is also a goalsetter. 

So what does he hope to achieve in season one at Bluesville? 

“I want to make little steps along the way, and maybe set little goals to improve. The biggest thing for me is to stay injury-free, keep improving and try to get a senior game in my first year.”