CATS recruit Oli Wiltshire says the reality of being an AFL footballer hasn’t really sunk in yet, after the Barwon Heads star was taken with pick 61 as one of the draft’s feel-good stories.
The BFNL star was sensational for the Seagulls at senior level this year, kicking 51 goals out of the midfield which included a 12-goal performance against Modewarre.
The 21-year-old said he started to get an indication Geelong was looking at recruiting him about halfway through the season, when he started getting calls from list manager Andrew Mackie and recruiting manager Stephen Wells.
“At the start of the year if you told me I was going to be on a list and speaking to everyone right now and I would have said no way,” Wiltshire said.
“I think halfway through the season I started hearing a few whispers of people coming down to watch me and here we are.
“I had a couple of chats with Andrew Mackie throughout the year, caught up over brekkie and had a coffee and what not.
“(I had) gone in and seen Stephen Wells a few times and last night he texted me and gave me a little indication.
“So I got the boys round on the night but you never know on the night.
“In the end it was just unreal to be picked.”
Wiltshire spent time at the Geelong Falcons in 2021 playing seven games, before returning to Barwon Heads ahead of the 2022 season.
He follows a similar path to Cats star Tom Stewart, who impressed Geelong legend Matthew Scarlett during his time at GFNL club South Barwon, before being added to the VFL list in 2016.
Wiltshire said Scarlett heading down to Barwon Heads as an assistant coach at the start of last season was a huge help.
“I just went back to Barwon Heads, put my head down and worked my a** off and just loved playing at Barwon Heads and loved playing footy with my mates,” he said.
“(Scarlett) got down there last year and he’s been a big part of this so I can’t thank him enough.
“Sam Schaller and Mitch Herbison the coaches and my coach back in 2022, Dan Donati, I can’t thank them enough, they’ve played a huge role in this.
“All the boys in Barwon Heads, they’ve been amazing.”
A self-confessed ‘diehard’ Cats fan, Oli he and his family are stoked to get to Kardinia Park.
“I love the way they play, I love all the boys who play there, I’ve looked up to them my while childhood.
“To be in there and playing for that team, I’m so grateful.”
Wiltshire was one of five selections made on Tuesday night by Geelong.
206cm Mitchell Edwards from Peel Thunder as taken with the clubs first selection of the night, while another feel-good story in Shaun Mannagh was taken at pick 36.
Mannagh sensational booted six goals and had 28-disposals in a best-on-ground performance in this years VFL Grand Final, despite his side Werribee going down to Gold Coast.
The Cats also picked up George Stevens at pick 58, and Lawson Humphries at 63.
Geelong passed on the final two selections.