Josh Glenn’s journey to the AFL has been far from conventional. Unlike most draftees, the South Australian didn’t progress through a development pathway in a traditional manner.
After spending time with SANFL powerhouse Central Districts as a junior, it wasn’t until he turned 18 that he decided to commit to their program full-time. A year earlier he played only a handful of games for the Bulldogs before electing to play for his local club, Elizabeth, citing a lack of enjoyment for the move.
In 2013, Glenn returned to his former SANFL team, this time ready to give senior football his full attention. In an eye-catching season, the skillful utility attracted enough interest from AFL clubs to be invited to the Draft Combine. But, Glenn decided he wasn’t ready to enter the AFL System – if the opportunity arose – withdrawing his nomination and eligibility.
After another stellar campaign in the SANFL, Glenn knew he was ready to take the next step.
The only question was who, if anyone, would pick him. With selection seven in the Rookie Draft, the Gold Coast SUNS came calling. Little did Glenn know, List and Strategy Manager, Scott Clayton, had strongly contemplated taking the polished left-footer with his final pick in the National Draft.
Now, two months into his time at Carrara, Glenn has turned heads with his elite endurance. The 20-year-old finished third behind Kade Kolodjashnij and Alex Sexton in the recent 2km time-trial at Griffith University.
Coming from an elite football program at Central Districts has provided Glenn with an advantage. Whilst the step up has been noticeable, it hasn’t overawed the young South Australian.
“(Central District’s coach) Roy [Laird] was actually very hard on us, so the pre-season was tough, but obviously not as tough as what it is here, but he was pretty tough on us,” Glenn told SUNS TV on Wednesday.
“He had some really good knowledge about structures. It’s a bit of a difference here, but not a huge step. I’m adapting pretty well.
“Early days I was a bit sore after every training session, but lately I’ve been getting better because I’m used to it.
“With the running I’ve got more people to try and catch up to. At SANFL level I was sort of at the front, but (here) I’ve got more people to try and beat.”
VIDEO: See behind the scenes at the SUNS team photo day.
Rookie success stories have been well documented in recent seasons with clubs taking chances on mature-aged players who for one reason or another weren’t recruited at 18.
With the insecurity of a one-year contract, coupled with the reality of living away from those closest to him, Glenn acknowledges the absence of family and friends as the biggest challenge he has faced since relocating to the Gold Coast in early December.
“Just not being around them (family and friends), knowing that they’re a flight away,” Glenn said.
“It’s a bit tough, but I’m sort of coping well because I’m living with Adam Saad at the moment who is helping a bit. And the players get around you a lot, so it’s not too bad in the end.”
It may have taken him longer than some to land at an AFL club, but Glenn is doing all he can to make the most of his opportunity at the SUNS.
He may be forced to bide his time on the rookie list, but if Rodney Eade comes calling you get the sense Glenn will be ready.