From recruiter, to the recruited: How late-blooming McCartin is turning the heads of AFL scouts

He’d be considered a draft smoky if not for his surname, his coach, and Victoria’s entire surf coast knowing who he is.

Charlie McCartin, the 25-year-old late-developing middle brother of Swan Tom and ex-Swan and Saint Paddy, is being scouted by a handful of AFL club recruiters while playing country footy in Victoria.

Twice in the past month the Swans have watched McCartin playing for Lorne. A few weeks ago, when Lorne played Birregurra, Swans recruiter and 2012 premiership skipper Jarrad McVeigh was in the crowd, and a fortnight ago Sydney’s long-term head recruiter Kinnear Beatson watched him play live.

Given his surname, his brothers, and the fact that Lorne is coached by former Carlton midfielder Ed Curnow, McCartin is not exactly flying under the radar.

from recruiter, to the recruited: how late-blooming mccartin is turning the heads of afl scouts

Paddy McCartin’s AFL career was curtailed by concussion, while his younger brother Tom also has a history of head injuries.

St Kilda, where former Swans recruiter Simon Dalrymple is now head recruiter, have been closely tracking him this season, too, while recruiting sources said Carlton and Geelong were among the AFL clubs to have also all scouted the key defender.

Two recruiting sources – who spoke on the condition of anonymity given list decisions for next year have not yet been made – said the 194-centimetre athletic defender had similar traits to his younger brother in that he is very good overhead and a beautiful kick, albeit he is playing at a drastically different level of competition.

The query on him as an AFL prospect is the gulf between Lorne and the game’s higher levels, and how he would compete against better opposition.

Tom occasionally helps out with training at Lorne. Charlie plays more like Tom than his older brother, the now-retired Paddy – the No.1 draft pick in 2014.

from recruiter, to the recruited: how late-blooming mccartin is turning the heads of afl scouts

Tom and Paddy McCartin share an emotional moment after Sydney’s loss to Geelong in the 2022 AFL grand final.

McCartin is well known to the Swans not only through his brothers, but he used to work part-time in recruiting with the club, coding vision and going to games to report on players – doing the sort of work on other players that recruiters are now doing on him. He is a popular character and extremely well-liked at the club.

Charlie had been through the AFL talent pathways as a junior and represented the Geelong Falcons but did not progress with his football at that stage.

Isaac Smith and Tom Stewart are the best recent examples of players making the move from local football leagues to the AFL within the course of a season.

Smith began the 2010 campaign playing for Redan in the Ballarat league and finished it playing for North Ballarat in the VFL before he was drafted by Hawthorn at the end of that season and went on to win three flags with the Hawks and another with Geelong.

Stewart had been in the talent pathway as a junior for the Falcons before missing the draft. He played for South Barwon in the Geelong Football League before being persuaded to play for Geelong’s VFL team. He was drafted by the Cats after controversially making it clear to clubs he was uninterested in playing anywhere other than Geelong.

The Colac and District league, where Lorne plays, is a step below the Geelong Football League.

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