Riley Hardeman had a standout performance in the Swan Districts 2023 season. Picture: Blake Parry

North Melbourne scoops up Swans defender

Although he's from a St Kilda Family, Swan Riley Hardeman says he can't wait to start at North Melbourne.
November 23, 2023
Chris Pike

CAVERSHAM’S Riley Hardeman will be travelling to North Melbourne for the 2024 season, after being drafted by the Victorian club at pick 23.

The 18-year-old was outstanding in the colts at Swans throughout the 2023 season averaging 22.1 possessions a game largely as a hard running, long kicking defender.

Hardeman was talked about as being one of the first selections from Western Australia for the 2023 AFL draft on the back of a season with Swan Districts that saw him captain the state 18s, make his WAFL league debut, and be a standout performer at colt’s level.

The left-footer not only captained WA in the National 18s Championships in 2023, he was so impressive he was named at half-back in the All-Australian team but there was still a nervous wait as the opening night of the draft unfolded.

While his family are dyed in the wool St Kilda supporters and his grandma might need some convincing to change allegiances, he couldn’t be happier to land at North Melbourne.

“I actually haven’t seen nan yet. She couldn’t take the dread of the draft yet, but I will see her shortly and she’s going to have to switch up the Saints colours for blue-and-white I reckon,” Hardeman said.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the night to be honest. The lead up to my name being read out, pick after pick, it was a very daunting experience.

“You just want your name to be called out and I think once it did it was just a complete wave of relief of emotions and excitement. But I can tell you, it hasn’t sunk in yet and I’m still wearing my North Melbourne jersey, and now I can’t wait to get to the club and to start getting to work.”

The 23rd pick in the first round of the draft ended up being the fifth selection that North Melbourne had already. While Hardeman will look to show perhaps he deserved to be taken earlier once he gets to Arden Street, being part of such an emerging young group was exciting.

“Once my name was called out, it didn’t matter where I was going and I’m absolutely rapt it’s the ‘Roos and I’m just so excited.”

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