KIAMA Power AFL Club teenager Lachlan Kirk has returned from playing for the Sydney South under-14s at last week's Joss State Zone trials keener than ever to further his representative career.
Head coach and former Sydney Swans premiership player Amon Buchanan was full of praise for his young charges, who backed up from a seven-hour bus trip to go through the four-day tournament at Albury undefeated.
Kirk played for the Power since he joined Auskick as a four-year-old and advanced through the various age groups before taking the next big step last week.
"When I saw that the trials were on, some of us tried out for the Illawarra Suns - Will Howitt, Will Stewart and William Lourey made it into the squad, with Will Stewart and I eventually making the squad for Albury," Kirk said.
"But then Will couldn't play because he is holidaying in the US. We originally had four squads, but by the time we went to Albury they were whittled back to three.
"While I usually play ruck and rover, I was selected in the backs for the cup, which was a great learning experience.
"Next year they will cut it down even more to just one team.
"I think the thing I love most about AFL is it really makes you think - there are so many different aspects of it.
"There is so much off-the-ball stuff as well and I guess I really like that too."
Kiama coach Dave Heffernan was also part of the squad as team manager/forwards coach, and heaped praise on the red-headed youngster.
"Lachlan's selection in the team was the result of his great efforts at Sydney Swans Academy training and Academy Cup games over the season," Heffernan said.
"Lachlan was outstanding over the four days despite playing out of position in the backline.
"He has a big kick - clearing 50 metres plus - and used both sides of his body well.
"Playing in the backs was an unfamiliar role for Lachie, but he adapted extremely well and his non-preferred left-foot kick had plenty of use."
Success at the Joss trials was the perfect ending to Kirk's 2013 season after he was named the regional under-14s Best and Fairest player as decided by umpires' votes during the season. He also received the David Johnson Award for Kiama's Outstanding Achievement.
He was well supported in Albury by fellow Illawarra Swans Academy Players Will Humphreys (Highland Hawks), William Gamble and James Bell (Shellharbour Swans).