A Bulldog’s fighting chance

Flynn Lakey formed a consistent piece in the Calder Cannons midfield this year. (Shawn Smits)

By Oliver Lees

Flynn Lakey has developed quite the football resume ahead of this year’s AFL Draft.

Last month the Gisborne Bulldogs prospect tied for first place in the prestigious NAB League best and fairest with Greater Western Victoria Rebels tall Josh Rentsch.

The pair topped the tally with 12 votes, two points clear of Rentsch’s teammate Marcus Herbet in second place. Fellow Cannons player Zac Taylor also finished in the top 10 with seven votes.

Both Lakey and Taylor were named in the NAB League Team of the Year on the interchange.

Lakey joins a list of impressive fromer Morrish Medal recipients, including current AFL stars the likes of Hugh McCluggage, Clayton Oliver and Dyson Heppell.

Lakey said he was humbled by the award, but was quick to dismiss whether it will have any bearing on his potential selection at the AFL Draft later this month.

“I’m pretty stoked, I didn’t expect it at all,” he told Star Weekly.

“It’s obviously a good feeling, but I’m not getting ahead of myself or anything, just trying to stay positive and I guess we’ll see what happens.

“I’ve spoken with some people and a little with some clubs but I’m just trying not to get too worried about it.”

It was an improved second season at the Cannons for the apprentice carpenter, who built on his reputation as a hard-ball winning midfielder.

From 2019 to 2021, Lakey improved across all key statistical areas and finished the season averaging 23 touches.

Speaking at last month’s virtual award ceremony, Lakey said using his handballing to find players in open space was something he had learnt at a young age.

“I think just giving the first option is something you’re always taught,” he said.

“If I see someone in a better position than I am, I just give the handball, and that’s where it comes from I guess.

“It takes a while to develop that camaraderie and mateship when you get in a team, and that was slowly coming together. Last year we did a few things outside of football and that kept us close, so it’s good to have that back and hopefully we can see more football continuing in 2022.”

This season Lakey has also had the opportunity to play senior football with his beloved Bulldogs due to ongoing restrictions that stopped NAB League play while regional footy continued.

Lakey was part of a consistently dominant side while playing at Gisborne as a junior.

“From as early as I could I played AusKick,” he said.

“I think we won five or six junior premierships in the end. Every year besides under-16s. I’m not sure exactly what happened there.

“I’ve loved playing with the senior’s. It’s a really good bunch of boys down at the Doggies and it’s helpful for me to play against some guys with bigger bodies and some more experienced players.”

The AFL Draft will take place on Wednesday, November 24.