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AFL: Hawthorn forward Dylan Moore wants to be a difference-maker on and off the football field

Dylan Moore doesn’t have much to complain about these days.

The 22-year-old Hawk breathed life into his AFL career with a breakout game against Gold Coast in the final round of 2020 and has become a Champion Data darling and one of his side’s rising stars.

Hawthorn shunted Moore to the rookie list ahead of last season and he responded by playing 20 matches – double his tally from his first three years – and finishing fourth in the club’s Peter Crimmins Medal count.

He was rewarded with a fresh two-year contract, so that helped absorb an off-field financial blow that his teammates haven’t let him live down.

Moore is a self-confessed “financial nerd”, a moniker he also gives his mentor, close friend and fellow small forward Luke Breust, who spoke glowingly on Friday about his teammate’s emergence.

Together, they dabble in stocks, cryptocurrency and the newest craze, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which AFL headquarters is showing an interest in now.

NFTs first caught Moore’s eye via the NBA’s Top Shot, which gives users the chance to buy individual game moments at random that will, naturally, differ in value, then be able to sell them.

He had the fortune of “pulling” an early LeBron James moment for $300 that skyrocketed to almost $25,000.

“I thought it was the best thing ever, so I never sold it,” Moore told News Corp at Waverley Park this week.

“So when it went really high, I was like, ‘No, it’ll keep going higher’. I could have made a lot of money out of it, but I didn’t.”

What’s it worth now?

“It’s back down to like $500,” he said, sheepishly.

“Everyone gets stuck into me about it. It’s pretty crazy what’s going on in crypto and NFTs. I’ve been able to get a few of the boys onto it and there’s a lot of hype around it.

“It’s a bit of fun and a little hobby of mine and I’m trying to start up an NFT project, so hopefully that goes all right. But I’m a bit of a nerd, in that sense.”

As always, there’s more to Moore’s life than the 120 minutes fans see of him each weekend during winter.

Ask pretty much anyone at the Hawks and they will give you variations of the same theme about him: selfless, hard worker, solid citizen, self-aware.

The “immature” teenager who thought he was better than he actually was when he walked through the brown and gold doors has come a long way.

Moore is one of the first players at Hawthorn to put his hand up to volunteer for any causes, from mental health, charities or even the LGBT community.

At the heart of that passion is his family, not least of which is him being grateful for his parents’ ability to pay for his Caulfield Grammar tuition – “we’re not overly rich” – and wanting to give back. But it goes beyond that.

“My sister’s gay, so the LGBT stuff and accepting people for who they are is very close to me,” he said.

“I’m not one to go out and say, ‘I’m doing this for the LGBT community’. It’s just if I can do anything for the club, to help them make people feel more welcome, then I’m very happy to do that.”

Moore’s willingness to discuss and endorse his passions so openly, he says, owes plenty to Breust, the dual All-Australian, triple premiership star who played a significant role in his uprising as a footballer.

That kid who arrived at Waverley Park in late 2017 was on the verge of being delisted two years ago but found a kindred spirit in the 31-year-old champion, on top of making his own luck.

“He was a real mentor for me, footy-wise, but now he’s a really good friend of mine and he teaches me a lot off the field as well,” Moore said of Breust.

“We’re both kind of finance nerds, in a way … I teach him a few things about that and he teaches me. We chat about random stuff like that.

“He’s a good mate of mine and he’s helped me feel really comfortable within the footy club to be myself.”

It’s no coincidence his football is thriving at the same time.

St Kilda vs Hawthorn
Camera IconLuke Breust (right) and Dylan Moore (in his old No.36) have become close friends. Michael Klein Credit: News Corp Australia

Moore is a goal-setter and likes to write things down and tick them off. He did a lot of that last year. His first multiple-goal game. Playing 10 matches in a row. And so on and so on.

He had to raise the bar since his excellent season last year.

“If I’ve written something down, it’s like, ‘I’ve got to strive for that’,” Moore said.

“I’ve got some individual goals and making the All-Australian squad would be awesome, but we’ve got an award here, the Lethal Award, which is internal recognition of pretty much the best teammate.

“So if I can get as high up in that award as possible, then that’s something I really value. Obviously, I want to do well in the best and fairest as well.”

But Moore remains on edge despite his obvious climb in the Hawks’ pecking order.

It took his top-five Peter Crimmins Medal finish for him to truly realise his value, but the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2021 season and interrupted his pre-season also left him with doubts.

Was his breakout campaign a fluke?

“I didn’t feel like I was a lock going into round 1, because I missed most of the pre-season and there were guys going really well,” Moore said.

“I needed to prove to myself, and everyone, that I could still play good footy.

“You see a lot of people have a good year and they get the second-year blues. I didn’t want to have that this year. We’re only seven games in, so hopefully I don’t fall off the cliff.”

Rookie coach Sam Mitchell has a lot to do with Moore’s mindset in that regard.

Moore watched veteran midfielder Liam Shiels get axed after winning 25 disposals in the season opener, so he knows he is only one or two underwhelming performances away from potentially suffering the same fate.

But after every quality game – pretty much weekly nowadays – including having 25 touches in the second half of Saturday’s narrow defeat to Melbourne, Moore feels that little bit safer.

“It’s pretty publicised that we’re a young group and we’re developing but Sam’s very big on wanting to win games of footy, because a winning culture is the best culture in the AFL,” he said.

“He built really good relationships over the past two years when he was an assistant and Box Hill coach and now I feel like you can see a few of us younger boys really flourishing.

“Because he’s got such a good relationship with us, he can go hard at us. If I play an average game, he’ll go, ‘Mate, that’s not good enough’ or ‘You’re better than that’. He’s got the licence to challenge us.”

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