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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New West Coast rookie Tony Olango excited to learn off Nic Naitanui

Tony Olango will go from watching Nic Naitanui highlights to get “pumped up” before games to learning off the West Coast star.
The 201cm Sudanese ruckman, who was picked by the Eagles in Monday’s rookie draft, has drawn comparisons to a young Naitanui because of his freakish athletic abilities.
So it comes as no surprise that he can’t wait to pick the All-Australian big man’s brain when he arrives in Perth from his home town of Darwin this week.
“Obviously I look up to him. Before games I used to watch his highlights just to get me pumped up,” Olango said. “A lot of people have compared me to him. I just can’t wait to learn off him.”
Olango, who moved to the Top End when he was two years old, hasn’t exactly taken the traditional path to the AFL.
He grew up dreaming of becoming a round-ball star and had a three-month trial with Scottish soccer giants Glasgow Rangers in 2014.
But after being discovered by Northern Territory Football League side St Mary’s, Olango soon turned his attention to Australian Rules.
He made his NTFL debut at 17 and has played for the NT Thunder in the North East Australian Football League for the past two seasons.
The now 19-year-old has been on the Eagles’ radar for a while, with the club coming close to drafting him last year.
“It woke me up and made me want it more,” Olango said of last year’s draft disappointment.
“I worked a lot harder throughout the year with NT Thunder in the NEAFL.”
But in a bizarre twist, he revealed he has barracked for the Eagles’ cross-town rivals.
“My whole family goes for the Eagles, but I’m a Freo supporter,” he said.
“It’s going to be a big thing for my family. I’m grateful for the opportunity the Eagles have given me and I can’t wait to get started.”
Olango becomes the second NT Thunder and St Mary’s player to be drafted by West Coast in as many years, with his close friend Willie Rioli going in last year’s national draft.
“Me and Willie are really close, so it’s going to be really good having someone there who’s been in the system for a year,” he said.