Irish recruit Ross McQuillan says he hopes his speed, aggression and foot skills can become key strengths for him in the red and black after making the big move to The Hangar.
McQuillan impressed as he trialled and trained with the Bombers late in the home and away season this year before being added to the list in mid-September as an international rookie.
The 20-year-old from County Armagh in Northern Ireland was one of the up-and-coming stars of Gaelic football back home, earning a spot in the 2018 GAA Football U20 All Ireland Team.
And while McQuillan’s introduction to Australian football was only recent, he was immediately drawn to the fast style of the game.
The similarities between the sport and its Irish equivalent have only grown stronger with fellow Irish Bomber Conor McKenna’s unique set of skills dazzling local fans, and his infamous solo dummy at Adelaide Oval this year gathering plenty of attention in his homeland.
“I first learned about (footy) when one of my friends was actually asked to go and trial with North Melbourne. I watched a wee bit from the International Rules,” McQuillan said on Wednesday.
“What excited me was it is such a quick-paced game, it’s quite similar to ours at home.
“Anything you do is kind of what we do; kicking, handpassing and a lot of running, so I’ll get used to it.
“I’ve seen a wee bit of (McKenna) obviously seeing the solo dummy. He’s actually from close enough to where I’m from, so a couple of older people like my friends would have known him and maybe talked about him.”
McQuillan admitted it was “massively” difficult to leave so much of his life behind, but he is excited to follow in the footsteps of McKenna in taking on the new challenge.
“It is hard to leave home whatever you’re doing. Your family and friends are there, football too - they’re all a big part of your life, so it is quite difficult to leave.
“Especially (playing for) your county and your club, which you feel so passionate playing with, it’s always difficult to leave that kind of stuff behind, but hopefully it’s a new adventure here.
“It’s a professional sport … we don’t get that back home; it’s amateur.
“To come to a facility like this at The Hangar, it’s unbelievable. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you’ve got to try to grab it with both hands.”
The 188cm recruit turned heads at the AFL Europe Combine with his elite athleticism, recording a sensational 2.77-second 20m sprint that places him at the top of the tree for pure speed at The Hangar.
While he is still getting used to the Sherrin, McQuillan – who can kick well on both feet – hopes his skills with the ball and toughness in the contest can also become strongpoints.
“The different shape of the ball is a big challenge, because we use a round ball and you use other parts of your foot,” he said.
“Here it’s very difficult to get the drop right, but it’s fun.
“My speed would have been something I was scouted for, my aggression through the tackling end of it and hopefully my kicking, because it’s something we’re used to back home.
“Hopefully I can get used to that and maybe make it a big part of my game.”
McQuillan’s reign as the club’s newest international recruit was short-lived, with fellow Irishman Cian McBride joining Essendon just last week. Sharing the journey with McBride, alongside McKenna, is something McQuillan is looking forward to.
“It’s just brilliant to be out and hopefully get started soon and hit the ground running,” he said.
“All of the lads were joking upstairs about having a little Irish crew running about now.
“It’s brilliant to have somebody from home out with you to experience something that you’ll also be going through.”
Bombers entering their first to fourth seasons will return to training at The Hangar on Monday.