You only have to listen to Jack Bytel talk about football for five minutes to understand why he was made co-captain of the Calder Cannons.
A star bottom-age player last season and part of the NAB AFL Academy for the past two years, Bytel has a resolve to not only take his football to the highest level, but also the games of his teammates.
Using what he’s learnt at the academy, which included a week training with Essendon, Bytel is keen to pass on that knowledge.
“The one thing I took from training with Essendon was how much they take the little stuff so serious,” he said before the Cannons season opener.
“I am a serious person and take everything serious. It’s about not dropping off when I came back here.
“I’ve spoken with Kytey [Ian Kyte] and it’s about bringing other players with me.
“As a leader … I want to help others get drafted. It’s not saying that I will get drafted, but I want to help others as well and kind of bring them along for the journey.”
Bytel is sharing the captaincy with close mate Mitchell Podhajski.
The Ascot Vale resident said he took a lot out of how Podhajski handled missing out on being drafted last year.
He’s hoping both can get on AFL lists at the end of this year.
The inside midfielder said his biggest strengths are his clearance work, versatility and his quick hands and said he didn’t feel out of place during his time at Essendon.
“It was more the backing it up each day and getting there at 8 each morning and leaving at 6pm … I was then falling asleep having dinner.
“It was about day by day and getting through it.
“All the footy stuff I was fine with.
“From under-10s, I was winning best and fairests basically every year, so I knew I was decent at footy.
“It was more under-15s, when I made the metro team and played the carnival and played really well and made the All Australian team … that’s when it clicked that it could be a pathway for me.”
Bytel will juggle playing with the Cannons, with the academy and hopefully Vic Metro commitments.
He has high hopes for the Cannons and is looking forward to playing at the higher level later in the year.
“Last year we had a more dominant bottom-age group which brought us through,” he said of the Cannons.
“We’ve got a [academy] camp coming up in April with a game against North Melbourne VFL, I think on the MCG. It’s one of the games I’m looking forward to.
“To see whether I can keep up with the big body mids.”