GWV Rebels utility Thomas Berry had a good family role model to look up to when injury struck during his two seasons in the TAC Cup.
The 18-year-old Horsham Saints (Wimmera FL) product played 16 TAC Cup games across 2017-18 and represented Vic Country at the NAB AFL U18 Championships this year but missed chunks of both seasons with a range of injuries – from a back stress reaction and a meniscus tear in 2017 to internal bruising and a hand fracture in 2018.
Still, Berry showed what he’s capable of in five matches for GWV this year as a 185cm midfielder/forward, averaging 20 disposals per game and kicking five goals to push his claims for selection in the AFL Draft on November 22-23.
But how he’s been able see the bigger picture of life in dealing with a range of setbacks may have revealed even more to AFL clubs, who would be familiar with the strong character of older brother and 37-game Brisbane player Jarrod Berry.
“Football is not all sunshine and rainbows,” Berry said at the recent AFL Draft Combine. “I’ve faced a fair bit of injury through my Rebels career, so resilience has been a big thing I’ve had to work on.
“Seeing the hard work and commitment that Jarrod put in to get to AFL level and the lifestyle he lives now has been a massive eye-opener and a real driving force for me to try and follow that.
“In his top-age year (at GWV) he did say to me that he struggled with being able to get away from footy, but I think I can probably shut away from footy a little easier than Jarrod was able to.”
Berry said while his brother’s biggest strengths were aerobic power and foot skills, his own natural speed and aggression at the contest – formed by “being the youngest of three boys and always getting belted” – were the hallmarks of his game.
Versatility is a trait the siblings seem to share though, with both Thomas and Jarrod able to play in a range of positions. Indeed, Thomas used his four appearances for Vic Country to develop himself in an unfamiliar role.
“I feel like I’m a pretty good one-on-one player and I got to play as a shut-down defender for Vic Country,” he said. “That was something I’ve never really experienced through my junior career.
“It was different but also something I feel I need to develop in my game. I played on elite players like Izak Rankine (South Australia) and Curtis Taylor (Vic Metro/Calder Cannons) and I feel I did my job, although at times they might have slipped through and kicked a couple of goals.
“I think when I was on the park this year I put in some pretty good performances, although I would like to have played more football and showcased my talents.”
THE AFL DRAFT WATCH ‘FAST FIVE’ with Thomas Berry
Why should an AFL club draft you?
“I like to think that I am a hard-working, committed player. I feel I have attributes that would benefit an AFL club, with speed and aggression.”
What is the funniest or weirdest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?
“I was asked if I had ever been in a street fight, so that was pretty funny and weird. The answer was ‘no’.”
Who is your football idol?
“Joel Selwood (Geelong). He is a committed leader, hard-working, puts his head over the ball and is an idolised player in the AFL system.”
Who will be selected with pick no.1 in the 2018 AFL Draft?
“Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons). He is a highly remarked player, gets the job done and obviously can find the footy pretty well.”
Which of your 2018 teammates should also be in draft consideration?
“Matty Lloyd, Charlie Wilson and Jed Hill. Each have their attributes that could benefit an AFL club.”