Charlie Cameron to become one of the AFL’s greatest small forwards

Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron can do what few others can on a football field. One key lesson the veteran small forward taught his protege during their time at Adelaide helped put the Brisbane Lion on the path to stardom.

He was the kid that didn’t like his veggies who could become one of the greatest small forwards the game has seen.

When Charlie Cameron entered the AFL his housemate would hide vegetables inside meat patties to make sure he received his daily dose of vitamins.

That housemate knows a thing or two about forward craft and reckons Cameron could become one of the greatest.

Eddie Betts swells with pride when talking about the rapid trajectory of the Lions’ sharpshooter, who will run out for his 100th AFL game on Sunday against Port Adelaide.

“I guess it goes with work rate, Charlie has always had the talent,’’ he said.

“He’s got his body right, he is injury free and he has really taken the next step to being one of the best forwards in the competition.

“I believe if he stays fit and healthy he can become one of the greatest small forwards to ever play the game.’’

Betts takes just as much enjoyment from Cameron’s development off the field.

“It is, he got to the Adelaide Crows at the same time I first got there and me and my wife took him in,’’ he said.

“Seeing him develop into the person he is today has been phenomenal, he is an amazing person.

“He didn’t even eat his vegetables and we had to hide them in his meat patties and now he is one of the best players in the competition the way he is playing this year.

“He has come a long way young Charles.’’

Cameron with Eddie Betts at the Crows in 2017. Picture: Getty Images
Cameron with Eddie Betts at the Crows in 2017.

He believes the most obvious demonstration of that growth is the presence Cameron has within the footy club.

Cameron is no longer the quiet, reserved kid who first arrived at the Crows.

“I think he has become a leader,’’ he said.

“I guess starting at the Crows they have a lot of leaders there already and he became one of those players that just gradually goes through the motions.

“Now moving to Brisbane he had to become a leader and come out of his shell and he is one of those guys that take younger indigenous kids, like Cedric Cox, under his wing.

“He has really developed in that area which I am proud of.’’

Betts will be at Adelaide Oval tomorrow and his advice to Cameron is simple.

“Just good luck and go out there and have fun, don’t think, just play,’’ he said.

“That’s how Charlie plays his best footy.’’

Cameron is thrilled the milestone game coincides with a trip back to the ground he still rates as his favourite in the competition.

And he is excited that alongside Betts will be a host of former Crows’ team mates including Rory Atkins, Riley Knight, Cam Ellis-Yolmen.

“I always love playing at Adelaide Oval, it is my favourite ground and the best one I have played on,’’ he said.

“I have got twenty tickets I think for different friends, a lot of the Crows boys I was close too will be there and are coming into the change rooms.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity the Adelaide football club gave me and the people I met there.

“That is a great part of footy, you may move on but you make friends that will be there forever.’’

Charlie Cameron celebrates a goal with Dayne Zorko celebrate a goal. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Charlie Cameron celebrates a goal with Dayne Zorko celebrate a goal.

When Cameron kicked his second goal against GWS last week it took his tally to 29 for the season, a personal best, which supports Betts’ view he was in career best form.

He agrees with his mentor that work rate is the basis of his form but says he also feels he now has a handle on the art of playing small forward and how to operate within the team.

“At the start of my career I was just trying to lean the patterns and how to play and now I understand that a lot more and that has improved my game,’’ he said.

“It is also knowing how the team plays, our game is all about pressure and having energy and I feel I have done that this year.

“The goals are secondary.

“We play a selfless brand of footy in our forward line, we look for each other and try to bring each other into the game.’’

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