Sydney’s new recruit shoulders ruck load

Michael Knoll in his second game for Sydney on 9 June.

By Jed Lanyon

Sydney Swans new recruit Michael Knoll was selected with pick four in last month’s AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft and has put together some impressive early performances in the North Eastern Australian Football League (NEAFL).

Knoll, who grew up in Mount Evelyn, spoke to the Mail to share how he is settling in at his new club.

“It’s been huge for my development as a player to be training everyday… You’ve got more time to work on the smaller things and the one-percenters.

“Going over my ruck craft with Coxy (Dean Cox) has been really good.”

The 205 centimetre mature-age ruckman said it was a huge relief to hear that he had been picked to join an AFL list.

“It was unreal, and I was obviously very excited.

“I got the news I was getting drafted on a Monday and they flew me across on the Tuesday to get straight into it. It was a bit of a whirlwind.”

Knoll joined another Yarra Valley local at the Swans when the club picked 19-year-old Cody Hirst from Wandin moments later at pick 15.

Both of the new Swans have played in all three games for Sydney’s reserves side in the NEAFL since being drafted.

Knoll said his confidence had grown after he was tasked with the number-one ruck role in Sydney’s victory over the Canberra Demons on Saturday 22 June.

“It was really good to play full game out in the ruck, and I hope it shows that I can play that prominent role.

“I played alongside some really great players who have played some high level AFL games.”

Knoll amassed 39 hit-outs in the game and has kicked three goals in his three outings for his new club.

Knoll’s sports career has seen him play four seasons of US college basketball for St Ambrose University in Iowa, only to return to Australia to pick up the Sherrin for the first time, joining the Box Hill Hawks for two seasons.

The 26-year-old then signed on with South Adelaide Football Club in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and impressed AFL scouts in a state league game against Western Australia Football League (WAFL).

Knoll was awarded the FOS Williams Medal as the SANFL’s best player in their victory at Optus Stadium earlier in the year.

Despite his career on the move, Knoll said he still has a connection to Mount Evelyn, where he and his wife Tiffany attended school and where his family still lives.

“When I come home, I come back to Mount Evelyn,” he said.

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