Whether it’s in football, tennis, golf, basketball, or even a game of cards, Ben Hobbs just wants to win.
The draft prospect out of the Greater Western Victoria Rebels is a competitive beast – an inside midfielder who tackles with intent, wins plenty of his own ball, and drifts forward to kick goals.
Ben Hobbs at the AFL Draft training day at Trevor Barker Oval.Credit:AFL Photos
But his toughest competition yet did not come at a stoppage, nor on the fairway. It would not come in a fiery game of Texas hold ’em, either.
To even establish himself as the likely top-10 pick he has become, Hobbs had to win a battle with his own body first. The 18-year-old recalls drawing on his trademark competitiveness to overcome an ankle injury that threatened to derail his season back in April.
Ben Hobbs has worked his way back through injury.Credit:AFL Photos
“It was frustrating,” Hobbs told The Age. “The first few days with it I really struggled, but as soon as I realised this would happen at AFL level, it just turned my mindset into getting back and playing good footy for the chance to get drafted. It was a bit of survival mode; I went pretty hard on getting back.”
Surgery soon followed, sidelining the hard-nosed prospect for nine weeks. Hobbs, however, found the silver lining in his lengthy lay-off.
“It set me back a bit, but I learnt a fair bit throughout that period on how my body handles an injury like that,” he said. “How surgery was, and how to get back and perform, so it was actually a blessing in disguise, I think.”
Hobbs’ eventual return to football was emphatic. He combined 34 touches with two goals and nine tackles against the Murray Bushrangers, and racked up 32-plus possessions in two of his next three contests before Victoria’s season-ending lockdown struck.
Hobbs’ undeniable fervour for football was first lit in Horsham, a town in western Victoria with a healthy connection to the sport. Before Hobbs, it had produced the likes of Craig and Brad Sholl, Adam Goodes, and Jake Lloyd.
The midfielder cracked state selection for the first time as an under-12.
“That really made me understand that I wasn’t too bad,” he said, modestly. “I wanted to keep making these representative teams. It moved on to [under] 15s, and at that stage, I wanted to be the best player on that team. It developed from there.”
Hobbs then made the move to Clarendon College in Ballarat, both in pursuit of his sporting goals, and in a desire to push himself academically. He remembers the boarding experience as “tough early on”, but he remains grateful for the opportunity.
“I’ve got a lot out of it and really matured as a person,” he said.
Clearly, Hobbs’ maturity is of note. He has already been earmarked as a future leader at the top level and captained Vic Country in games against the state’s Metro team earlier in the year.
“That was huge for me, I’m really proud of that,” he said. “Sadly, we didn’t actually get a carnival, but I got two games to be the captain, and leadership is something I feel strongly about. I see myself as a future leader at the next level.”
In a football sense, Hobbs’ leadership style has been inspired by Chris Judd and Richmond premiership skipper Trent Cotchin, of whom he is a particularly avid fan.
“I’ve listened to a few podcasts with Chris Judd and I think he was a fantastic leader,” Hobbs said. “I think Trent Cotchin has been an unreal leader as well, and I go for the Tigers so I’ve really watched ‘Cotch’ and I think he’s done huge things and really turned the club around.”
It comes as no surprise to learn that Hobbs focuses on leading by example, but he also places a firm emphasis on improving those around him.
“I like to get around my teammates and push them to be the best as well,” he said. “I can definitely be pretty vocal, and I think I know the game pretty well.”
But above all, this competitive beast leads to win.
“I like to win and compete. I don’t think twice about it. It’s been in my nature and my personality all the way through,” he said.
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