By NEAFL MEDIA
Photo: TJ Yelds/NEAFL.
Cody Filewood was pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to hold his place in Southport’s NEAFL side.
The 19-year-old youngster was handed a defensive role by coach Nathan Bock at the weekend, and it proved to be a masterstroke as Filewood played a crucial role in the Sharks’ 18-point victory over Redland at Fankhauser Reserve.
The 184cm and 84kg prospect finished among Southport’s best players with 21 disposals, nine marks, five rebound 50s, and earned the NEAFL Rising Star nomination as a result.
Not bad for someone who’s never played a game as a defender in their life.
Filewood, a former Gold Coast Suns Academy member, admitted there were plenty of nerves leading up to the match, but he wanted to give it all he had.
“When ‘Bocky’ let me know that I was going to play a team role I was getting pretty nervous, because if you mess up in the backline it costs your side a goal,” he said.
“I was nervous all week, but they put full confidence in me so I felt pretty good going in to the game.
“He took a gamble on me, and I told him I’d have a crack for him. It paid off, and I actually really enjoyed it.”
Originally from Mackay, Filewood was scouted by the Suns Academy and made the permanent move to the Gold Coast after he finished high school.
The North Mackay Saints junior made his NEAFL debut as a 16-year-old in 2014 for the Suns, and was offered a place on Southport’s rookie list last year.
After four NEAFL appearances last year, Filewood began 2017 on fire when he ran into some form in pre-season matches.
But after the opening few rounds of the season, Filewood’s confidence began to suffer, and he returned to the QAFL with Surfers Paradise.
“I found some form early in the pre-season, but after we went to Sydney (in Round 2) and got smashed I began to lack a bit of confidence,” he said.
“I had a chat to Bocky about it and we decided it was best I go back to the QAFL to get some confidence back, and then hopefully bring that back into NEAFL level.
“When I did get that confidence back it’s really helped me.”
Filewood was back into the side in Round 8, a week before his reinvention as a defender when Southport threw Jack Anthony (five goals) back into his customary forward role.
Now that his mind is more open to what he is capable of playing, the next step for Filewood is to find some consistency at NEAFL level to cement his place in the side.
“Every year (since 2014) I’ve been in and out of the NEAFL, and just getting a taste of it,” he said.
“I’d now tell people to keep your mind open, because you never know what will happen.
“On a personal note, I’d just like to play consistent footy, string a few games together and build a base level and keep improving from there.”
The Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 senior games (excluding games as AFL Academy players) at the start of the 2017 season.
Keep track of all our 2017 nominees here.
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