Eric ‘Roy’ Benning’s big move from Kununurra to Perth early this year has paid off with the forward / ruck drafted to Fremantle at no.54 in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft.
Benning, who goes by his middle name Roy to family and friends, is a product of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy and showed rapid improvement playing Colts for Claremont and in three games for WA in 2021.
While familiar to the Club, especially to NGA coach Roger Hayden and development coach Tendai Mzungu, it was senior coach Justin Longmuir who officially welcomed him to the Club on Thursday evening.
“I’m over the moon, just so stoked. I supported this team growing up so to get drafted by them is a dream come true,” Benning said.
“It was good to meet the coach, such a good experience and I can’t wait to get started with the club.”
Benning’s football benefits from his study in Sports Science at UWA, which he says helps him physically and mentally, and he loves playing a versatile role.
“I feel I’m very hard working and very competitive. I like to think I’m skilful for my height,” Benning said.
“I don’t have a preference for forward or ruck, I like playing both roles.”
Despite his own hard work through his junior years, Benning praised the help he received from Fremantle’s NGA as well as Claremont and the WA State Academy.
“I’m so grateful to the Next Generation Academy. I tried to learn as much as I could while I was there. Tendai was a big help with me in my early stages and then Roger took over the role and he helped me so much as well. Those two were great,” Benning said.
“This year felt like a quick journey, with the support at Claremont and the State Academy, they really helped with my development and I’m so grateful for them.
“I just recently moved down here in February. I graduated back home and moved down. It was a tough move but I’m so glad to have done it. It was hard to adjust to playing down here initially but as the season went on, I gained more and more confidence.”
Benning has two brothers on AFL lists in Ash Johnson (Collingwood) and Shane McAdam (Adelaide Crows), and said he was most excited to run out and play at Optus Stadium in front of the Fremantle fans.
“I played two games there this year, it was amazing. It’s such a nice and amazing stadium and I’m so grateful to get to play on that oval,” Benning said.
“It’s super exciting and I can’t wait to play there for Fremantle.”