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Wednesday, November 22, 2017


HE’S not on a club’s list yet, but already Gryan Miers has ‘AFL cult hero’ written all over him.

It’s the Nic Naitanui-style hairdo — although that didn’t come about purely so he could stand out on the footy field or at school.
“The dreads have been the go for the last few years because I’ve got naturally curly hair and they always formed. I tried taking them out but they just kept coming back, so I’ve stuck with dreads,” Miers jokes.
It’s the, in Miers’ words, “unusual” Christian name — although that was all his parents’ doing.
“Mum and Dad liked Ryan, but they wanted a bit of oomph to it. They just added a ‘G’ and they liked it, so they’ve taken it,” he laughs.
“It’s been pretty difficult growing up and people can’t pronounce it.”
But it’s also his mercurial football ability as a small forward/midfielder and genuine confidence to perform on the big stage — traits that have seen him soar into second-round — possible first-round — calculations.
Prior to this year’s TAC Cup grand final, Miers had already booted an impressive 43 goals for the season. But he saved his best until last, slotting an incredible seven goals at Etihad Stadium to lead his Geelong Falcons to a thrilling two-point victory over the Sandringham Dragons.
Whether he was in the pocket or kicking from a set-shot, Miers could do no wrong as he put on a lively grand final masterclass that reminded on-lookers of Steele Sidebottom’s 10-goal effort almost a decade prior.
That effort no doubt boosted Sidebottom up the 2008 draft order — and the same could happen for Miers come Friday night’s AFL draft.
“I was loving it,” Miers says with a big smile.
“It all just came my way that day so I just took most of my chances and I was lucky enough to produce.
“It’s hard being on the other side, but in a way yes (it helped my draft prospects) because It shows that I can perform under pressure and on the big stage. That’s what club’s would be looking for — to perform in grand finals and not just going into your shell.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything amazing — even though I did kick some weird goals.”
Big mop of hair, big goal tallies, ample talent and an “usual” name. It’s no wonder his Falcons teammates dubbed him ‘Poster Boy’ after seeing Miers grace the back page of the Geelong Advertiser.
To add to the Miers hype and story, he comes from decent famous — and “genius” — genes.
His father David Miers, a scientist in biomechanics, was on Collingwood’s list during the 1980s but was constantly plagued by knee injuries. In fact it’s understood he underwent 11 knee operations during his career.
Determined to get to the bottom of his issues, David concluded that the studded boots he once wore were one of the major issues behind his knee injuries, especially due to the stresses of a full footy match.
It led to David dispensing with studs and developing a shoe that included a rubber sole with X-shaped ‘blades’. Thus XBlades were born and formed.
Few are prouder of his dad’s achievements than Gryan — and he knows how the revolutionary shoes work.
“It shoots up your leg a little bit more when you land on it to prevent knee injuries,” Miers says.
“A lot of people wanted to get on board so he made more and more then it became pretty large.
“He’s a mad scientist, my dad. He’s a genius, a bit crazy, but he knows unbelievable things that no other people think of. That’s what helps me with my footy as well because he takes me through techniques that nobody else could think of and that helps me with little things in my game, like twisting and turning.”
The obvious question: Does Gryan wear his dad’s shoes?
“I did growing up because he had to sell them for a few years before I was born,” he says.
“But I’ve changed now. I get whatever’s best for me for the year. Other years, I’d play on muddy grounds so I’d need the longer spikes for Blades. But this year we’d play mainly on beautiful ovals, so I could wear short spikes that were really quick.
“Dad didn’t mind.”
David lives in Melbourne, but makes every effort to watch his son play all over the state.
“He devotes so much time to my footy. He’s really serious about helping me,” Myer says.
“Through anything, he’ll always be by my side.”
Miers claims he’s been playing footy “basically since I was born”.
He was only two-years-old when he watched his older brother start his Auskick career. It was the day, he says, he fell in love with the game.
“I went down there, sat in the forward pocket and kicked two goals. Basically ever since then I’ve just loved it,” he says.
As a six-year-old, he joined the St Mary’s Under 9s side because the Torquay Under 10s told him he was too short to play with them. That left Miers even hungrier.
“I’ve always taken footy very seriously, it’s that competitive nature in me,” he says.
“I was born into a footy family and have always loved it. I’ve never stopped.”
Miers was part of many premierships growing up — both as a player and as a fan.
Despite his dad’s past Collingwood allegiance, Miers gravitated towards the all-conquering Brisbane Lions during the early 2000s.
“They started winning premierships, so I jumped on board there and have followed them ever since.
“I loved Jason Akermanis. I modelled my game on him when I was younger and I adored him.
“Then there was Simon Black, Luke Power, that whole premiership team — I just fell in love with them all. They were my heroes growing up.
“I’d love to (go to the Lions). It’d be a childhood dream.”
While he’s always loved the game, it wasn’t until this year when Miers believed he was a genuine chance to be on an AFL list in 2018.
As a bottom-ager, Miers only played five games for the Falcons last year, but established himself in the club’s best 22. And that quickly led to higher honours, including a surprise call-up to the Vic Country squad for the Under 18s national championships.
“I was no big name around the club, I was basically just trying to get on the list at the start of the year,” Miers said.
“But I played some good games at the start of the year, got picked for Vic Country and I was like ‘yeah I can do this, I believe in myself’ and I haven’t looked back on it.
“There was a lot of little things. I had a bit more growth in my body, the position I played really suited my style of game and I also had a big pre-season of running, really endurance-based, that helped me through the year.
“With a bit of extra confidence, it all just came together and I just felt like there was no reason I could do it.”
From a scoring perspective, Miers is one of the most dangerous prospects of this year’s draft class.
Not only does he kick snags himself — as demonstrated by his half-century in the TAC Cup this season — but he hands them off to teammates while recording good pressure numbers.
Geelong, armed with Picks 22 and 24, are reportedly keen on the local product, as are the Giants with Picks 27 and 28. Both teams could do with player like Miers — an elusive small forward but just as dedicated to the team’s cause, as demonstrated by his thoughts when reflecting on the Falcons’ 2017 triumph.
“There was a lot of hugging and screaming — all of us lost our voices,” Miers says of the post-game celebration.
“We wanted it all year from November. Our focus as a team was winning that premiership because we knew we had a good enough team. Then to produce what we did on the big stage was amazing.”
You get the feeling, though, that grander stages await the Poster Boy.