By JESS WEBSTER
NEAFL premiership player Connor Owen-Auburn is chasing a fresh start in Canberra in the hopes of resurrecting his AFL dream.
A member of the GIANTS Academy since 2013, the St Clair junior was a member of the GIANTS’ NEAFL premiership team in 2016 against Sydney.
Owen-Auburn was selected in the GIANTS’ U19 Academy squad last year and also lined up in the AFL Academy Series as an overage player.
But his season came to an abrupt halt in Round 3 against Canberra when Owen-Auburn fractured a bone in his foot, sidelining the young gun for the rest of the year.
The 19-year-old signed with the Demons this off-season, and is excited at the chance to start afresh and reignite his bid to be drafted to the AFL.
“After the academy, I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen. I had talks with Canberra and Sydney Uni, and I sat back and spoke to my family and really thought about what would be best for me,” he said.
“I felt like I needed a fresh start, and I thought Canberra did well in the previous season. They are such a young side that has made some huge steps, and I just really wanted to be a part of history with the Canberra Demons.
“My ultimate goal is to play AFL footy. I’m definitely always pushing to get there, and I always will. But I’m trying to keep the small goals in mind.
“Hopefully I go well with Canberra and turn a few heads, and we’ll go from there.”
Owen-Auburn is one of a number of former academy members who have joined the Demons in 2018, including Angus Baker, Jarrod Osborne, Harry Carr, Luke Robertson (Swans Academy), Alex Paech and Jacob Conlan (GIANTS Academy).
Although young, Owen-Auburn believes the Demons’ squad will have the ability to challenge many NEAFL teams as they search for a maiden finals berth.
“I’m absolutely stoked to be down here, training and playing alongside some players that I’ve known through the academy… it’s been really enjoyable,” he said.
“I think it’s the overall program that makes Canberra attractive. They’ve always been a bit of a young side and a dark horse in the NEAFL. You never really knew what to expect when you come up against them
“I guess, with all of us playing against each other in the academy series, and growing up with each other since around 12 years old, we kind of all knew each other.
“That was one of the good things about coming to Canberra, it made it a bit easier to come into the group and it’s so easy to fit in. They make you feel really welcome.”
Owen-Auburn is aiming to return to the field as early as the Demons’ season opener on Good Friday against Southport at Queanbeyan.
After nearly a year out of the game, Owen-Auburn can’t wait to come back bigger and stronger in 2018.
“I’m absolutely jumping out of my skin. I kicked a footy for the first time three weeks ago with the boys, and it was the best feeling in the world,” he said.
“I can’t wait to put a guernsey on – I’ve got a countdown on my phone to Round 1.”
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