Nick Buykx has caught plenty an eye with his endeavor on the footy field, but few have had the chance to observe as keenly as Daniel Fraser.
As coach of Werribee’s development side, Fraser has been in the box seat to witness the form that has earned the 19-year-old a call-up for his VFL debut with the Tigers this weekend.
But he first had the chance to observe the young recruit in action during his coaching days with VAFA club Point Cook, where Buykx was running around as a junior.
“I remember going down and watching a few junior games when I was senior coach there, and one kid kept catching my attention,” Fraser recalls.
“He was only small at the time, but he had a real desire to win the footy, and he just kept competing.
“He was very determined, and he was never beaten in the contest. He always caught my eye as one who would take the next step and who would get the most out of himself.”
Fraser’s instincts proved spot on. Buykx was soon snapped up by TAC Cup club Western Jets, where his strong performances last year were enough to entice Werribee recruiting manager Ange Cristoforo to invite him to spend the pre-season with the Tigers.
Since arriving at Avalon Airport Oval, Buykx has impressed the coaching staff with his attitude as much as his ability.
“It’s his willingness to be coached and his desire to get better – that’s one thing I’ve really noticed with him when I’ve been coaching him,” says Fraser.
“He wants to listen to everything, he wants to take everything on board, and his determination to make himself the best footballer he can is first class.
“I think a lot of the guys can take something out of that for their own improvement.”
At 175cm and 70kg, the slightly-built Buykx has the look of a classic in-and-under midfielder. But while he has certainly shown an ability to compete in the middle when given the chance, he has largely plied his trade as a defender.
“Last week, we gave him a chance in the midfield,” says Fraser. “He sat a little bit in there, and we were really impressed.
“Then he went back and played on one of the better players over the last few years in the competition and showed that he can compete against those blokes as a small backman.”
It is as a defender that Buykx will be given his opportunity as Werribee’s 23rd man on Sunday, and senior coach John Lamont believes the presence of Michael Sodomaco in a similar role should serve as a shining example for the debutante given the captain’s rich vein of form.
“He’s got a great role model there in his skipper,” says Lamont.
“We want him to take the game on and show that initiative, to defend hard but then be part of our ball movement and our offensive side of the game.”
“He’s a goer. He’s got one speed, and that’s flat out, so he’s not going to die wondering. He’ll have a good, hard crack at it.”
Buykx will run out for Werribee against Casey Demons at 2pm on Sunday at Hogans Road Reserve in Hoppers Crossing.