He took the more circuitous route to the AFL, but Sydney back Dane Rampe has is full of praise for the role the academies in NSW and Queensland are playing in producing ready made players.
Rampe, who turned 26 last week, has been one of the modern day success stories of the competition, establishing himself as a quality player despite being overlooked as a youngster.
He spent three seasons with VFL club Willamstown and a year playing in the Sydney comp before making his AFL debut with the Swans at 22 in 2013.
Conversely, Swans’ academy products Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills were just 18 when each played in the Swans opening round game of their first season at AFL level.
“When I got drafted there wasn’t that clear pathway,” Rampe told AAP.
“What it (the academies) will do for kids is give them that definitive pathway to AFL level, whereas it was a little bit more complicated a couple of years ago.
“But I think thats only good for the game the pathway as it is now, because kids are going to be seeing the results, seeing the Callum Mills and your Isaac Heeneys, your local boys, being able to play AFL level and play good footy as well.
“Thats going to be really good for the growth in NSW and Queensland.”
Despite being a relatively recent recruit Rampe owns the longest current streak of successive games among the Swans, having played the last 82.
Now in his fourth season, Rampe is going from strength to strength and is a pivotal part of one of the competition’s best backlines.
The ability of the 188 cm defender to take talls as well as smalls has proven invaluable this year with key backs Ted Richards and Michael Talia missing lots of games.
He scoffed at the suggestion he is now one of the more senior members of the Swans backline, but hailed the impact of emerging defenders Mills, Zak Jones, Harrison Marsh and Aliir Aliir.
“They have just been playing their roles really well, they’ve slotted in almost seamlessly,” Rampe said.
“We’re not getting confused out there.”