QUEANBEYAN Tigers teenager Stephen Camp says he’s not holding his breath in the hope of a call up to the Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy program.
That’s despite the 18-year-old making his third appearance for the Giants’ NEAFL side last weekend in the club’s 29-point loss to the Tuggeranong Hawks.
Camp isn’t listed on the Giants books this season but is well regarded by the AFL club’s academy coach and former Queanbeyan Tigers legend Mark Armstrong.
“The first time I played for [the Giants] they had a lot of their academy players away and then right before the match someone else pulled out,” Camp recalls. “I think Mark Armstrong was just looking for anyone really to fill in and he happened to give me a call so I got a run from that.
“I guess they were pretty happy with what they saw because they’ve asked me to have a couple of runs since then.
“Not being an academy player I’ve got to take what opportunities I can get with the Giants because I don’t know when my next chance might come.”
Camp is currently completing Year 12 at Erindale College. Erindale serves as the base for the Giants ACT and South Coast Academy program while Armstrong is a former 300-game player with Queanbeyan.
Both factors have played into Camp’s favour in breaking into the Giants line-up from outside the academy program. But the half-back flanker said he wasn’t expecting his most recent call up to lead to a more permanent role with the Sydney-based club.
“It’d definitely be good to get into the academy but I’m not too worried to be honest, I’d rather be playing good footy for Queanbeyan,” he said.
In between his NEAFL commitments with both the Tigers and the Giants, Camp captains Queanbeyan’s under-18s side which remains unbeaten this season.
Camp is one of two players from the club’s under-18s ranks to have forced their way into regular NEAFL selection contention this year alongside fellow youngster Kieran Shea.
After making his first grade debut for the Tigers against the Giants in round five, Shea was called into first grade once again for Queanbeyan’s 47-point win over Ainslie last Saturday.
The two teenagers have played their way through the Tigers junior ranks together but Shea said stepping up to first grade had proved a whole new challenge.
“You’ve got to be thinking all the time in the NEAFL,” he said. “You can’t drop out of the game for a second or you’ll lose the ball or suddenly not be in the right spot. You’ve got to be on all the time.”
NEAFL, round 14
Who: Queanbeyan Tigers v Belconnen Magpies
Where: Dairy Farmers Park
When: Sunday, 2pm