Home / World News / GWS Giants endurance king Cooper Hamilton to make AFL debut after ‘bittersweet’ draft experience

GWS Giants endurance king Cooper Hamilton to make AFL debut after ‘bittersweet’ draft experience

Greater Western Sydney’s newest debutant Cooper Hamilton has mixed feelings discussing how his AFL dream was realised in November last year.

There was the bitter disappointment at being overlooked in the national draft, then the elation of finding out the Giants were selecting him as a rookie.

But there was one last dip on the hard-running defender’s emotional rollercoaster: his twin, Hugh, hadn’t found an AFL home.

Five months on, Hamilton’s strong VFL form has earned him a spot in Leon Cameron’s senior side for Saturday’s must-win clash with the Crows at Adelaide Oval.

Hugh will be in the stands to watch before racing home to Bendigo, in north-east Victoria, to play for the Pioneers on Sunday in the under-18 NAB League, after starting the season with Carlton’s VFL team.

Giants 27.4.22
Camera IconCooper Hamilton has been in good form for the Giants’ reserves. Phil Hillyard Credit: Supplied

“Ultimately, it’s bittersweet because I was lucky enough to get picked up and Hugh was unfortunately not able to get onto a list,” Hamilton said.

“But he’s been extremely supportive of me and he was really happy when I told him I’m making my debut, so he’s pretty ecstatic for me.

“He’s still grinding it out and trying to get onto an AFL list … but it was really hard, especially at the start. I think we’ve slowly adjusted to it, and Hugh’s definitely been really good about it.”

An interesting spin-off to Hamilton’s debut is he could find himself playing on his best friend, Adelaide’s first-year sensation Josh Rachele.

“(Rachele)’s playing some really good footy at the moment and hopefully we can mitigate his impact on the game this weekend but that obviously adds more excitement to it,” he said.

Cooper Hamilton hopes his twin, Hugh, can follow him into the AFL. Phil Hillyard
Camera IconCooper Hamilton hopes his twin, Hugh, can follow him into the AFL. Phil Hillyard Credit: Supplied

“I get to play against my best mate, which not too many people can do that. He’s had a wonderful start to his campaign and career, but I’m just starting out and I don’t have too high expectations on myself.

“I just want to get through the game and have a win, hopefully. Maybe we’ll cross paths at one point, but I’ll give him a cheeky little bump if I ever do get onto him.”

Hamilton is a gifted runner who smashed the Giants’ 2km record by 18 seconds in December, after also setting the second-fastest time ever at the AFL draft combine over the same distance.

He promises to “compete”, give his absolute best and do whatever Cameron tells him to on Saturday. It’s not hard to believe Hamilton when you learn what he’s endured to make it this far.

Vic Country vs Vic Metro
Camera IconCooper Hamilton played for Bendigo Pioneers, Caulfield Grammar and Vic Country last year. Michael Klein Credit: News Corp Australia

The 18-year-old relocated from Bendigo to Melbourne to attend Caulfield Grammar – an experience that helped prepare him for the move to Sydney – but also watched his mother be diagnosed with, then beat cancer.

“After (my mum)’s mother passed away while I was at school; she was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Hamilton said.

“That was really difficult, and then lockdown happened and we were all isolated. It was good to see her but it was hard to see her every day, because she was pretty unwell and going through chemotherapy.

“She was always upbeat … luckily, and thankfully, she’s perfect now. She’s on the mend, recovered from the cancer and doing really well, so I couldn’t be happier.”

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