Melbourne coach Mark Neeld will back Jack Viney’s strong self-belief and talent, saying he hopes the teenager will make his AFL debut next season.
After weeks of speculation, the Demons secured Viney with the bargain national draft pick of No.26 in Monday’s father-son bidding meeting.
There had been plenty of speculation that Gold Coast might bid for Viney with their first-round pick, forcing the Demons to match that with their top pick at No.3 or give him up to the Suns.
Viney said last week that if Melbourne did not pick him, he would make them regret it.
But there was no high bid for Viney, who was rated as a potential top-10 draft pick on the open market.
He is the son of 233-game Melbourne player Todd Viney, now the Demons’ player development manager.
“If Jack completes a full pre-season, those types of things, we see him playing straight away – keep in mind that Jack has been already part of the place for a year,” Neeld said.
“He fits in very well – if you were to give a description of a player or types of player that we need to help us progress up the ladder, Jack fits that description really well.”
The younger Viney, who is still at school, first dreamt of becoming an AFL player since he made the Victorian under-12 team.
“Personally, I reckon I was worth pick three – I’m really looking forward to putting my food in the door at Melbourne and I’ve been fortunate enough to get the opportunity,” he said.
Neeld declined to say whether they would have used their top pick on Viney.
“The strategy was to wait and see,” he said.
“You guys will never know, but we were quite happy that he was there at 26.
“We’d discussed a whole lot of things … I’m just pleased to say that Jack is going to play at Melbourne next year.”
Now Melbourne will try to trade for experienced players to bolster their list.
There has been speculation that they will use their second draft pick at No.4 to recruit Collingwood player Chris Dawes and Sharrod Wellingham, although Wellingham wants to go to West Coast.
St Kilda utility Farren Ray is another player potentially on Melbourne’s trading radar.
“It’s amazing how many friends you pick up with you have numbers three, four and 13 in the draft,” Neeld said.
“We’ve made no secret that if there are a couple of experienced players around who we think will play in our senior side and then add some know-how and guidance to an inexperienced club, we’d certainly look at it.”
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