Vincent’s mate Roughy

‘You tell your brother, that if he messes with me, he messes with my whole family!’

It’s the iconic line of the Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger 1988 film, Twins– the story of two contrasting long-lost twins, who form an unlikely, but remarkable partnership.

We’ve all seen the movie.

And now the Box Hill Hawks have their own version.

But, instead of main character Vincent Bennedict, this time it is Vincent Adduci.

In his six games in season 2019, he’s formed a unique and special bond with AFL great Jarryd Roughead.

It’s not straight from the textbook.

One is a budding, and burgeoning 21-year-old small forward who is learning his trade in the VFL system, while the other is in the twilight of an illustrious career as a favourite son of the Hawks.

But despite 11 years, 16cm, 16kg and a wealth of experience inferior to Roughead, Box Hill youngster Vincent Adduci cannot be more delighted with the partnership.

“You’d think a player that has played 250+ games, kicked 500+ goals and won four flags would have an arrogance about him,” Adduci said.

“But, since the first time I met him, he treated me as if I was equal with him.”

“He has taught me so much out on the track and is someone who is really easy to come and talk to.

“Every chance I get to play with him, I know he helps me play to another level.”

When referring to his new mate, the glow and affection on Adduci’s face is infectious.

And according to the dynamic small forward, creating a foil to Roughead has brought fruitful benefits on-field.

“In games, him talking to me…If I do something wrong, he’ll tell me to keep going,” he continued.

“My running patterns; he’ll tell me to come back and go forward…he is always encouraging me.”

“If you run to that spot or give this player a bump, you’ll become free, because he draws that other defender.

“I remember at half-time against Richmond I was feeling flat. I wasn’t feeling it.

“Roughy said to me ‘you’ve got another half, just keep going, you’ll be fine, just keep doing what you’re doing’.

“I am so thankful he has taken the time to take me under his wing.

“I am really lucky and grateful in that sense. He’s the most lovely guy.”

The blossoming relationship hasn’t gone without notice to Box Hill Senior Coach Max Bailey.

“Roughy loves playing with him,” Bailey explained.

“They’ve created a really nice bond those two.”

“Which is pretty cool for someone like Vince, who would’ve been looking up to Roughy for years.”

Drawing on Roughead’s wealth of experience in part has allowed Adduci to produce his finest season in the brown and gold yet.

His high energy, all-action offence and ability to take his chance whenever it comes, has seen him deliver in clashes against Williamstown (12 disposals, eight marks and a goal), Sandringham (four marks, five tackles and a goal) and Richmond (four marks, three tackles and a goal) this season.

More importantly for Adduci, he has now cemented his spot in the reigning-premiers coveted forward line.

This year, my goal was to have fun with my footy,” Adduci explained.

“I’ve been able to hold my spot by following the team rules and structures and by not trying to set the world on fire.

“Do my role, play my role…that’s held me in good stead.

“I just try to work to my strengths; my pressure and tackling and when I get it, try and be as clean as I can.

“I understand my position as a small forward, you have to sacrifice your game. Running patterns, creating space for others, is how I judge my performance.

“I find what I do without the ball, is why the coaches like me.

“I bust my gut. I run a lot to create space and try to put as much pressure on as I can.

“I love the ball in my hand.

“Playing VFL is what I want to do. I want to do everything I can do to keep my spot.”

It is not only on the football field that Adduci has grown in stature this season, but as a person in whole.

A self-confessed quiet and introverted character, it has been relationships, such as those with Roughead, and lifelong school mate Ollie Hanrahan, that have had the most profound effect on the development of the third-year youngster.

“Forming those close relationships, those bonds with the AFL boys, is so important,” he said.

“I’m a pretty shy bloke.

“This year has been a big leap for me, in terms of my confidence and where I sit with the team.

“I now feel like an equal, and I can hold my own.

“I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of boys to be playing with.”

Adduci’s mentor, Senior Coach Max Bailey, has played a vital role in helping him strive to reach his undoubted potential.

“I’ve been really close with Max Bailey ever since my first year,” Adduci said.

“In my first few years, he would always take the time to catch up with me for a coffee and set some goals.

“I struggle with my confidence – and he’s always finding ways to boost it.

“It’s been a bit different this year with him as head coach.

“But he has always been there for me. I’m really grateful for what he’s done for my playing career.”

According to Box Hill Coach Max Bailey, a commitment to professionalism and a strong fitness base will allow the Hawks no. 51 to continue to flourish.

“He’s been a little bit up and down since coming back into the team,” Bailey said.

“He missed a bit of pre-season, so we are still trying to get some consistency in him.

“He’s had a couple of really good games (against Williamstown, Sandringham and Geelong)

“We like what he’s about at ground level, and he’s good in the air.

“He has some really great attributes that can stand out at VFL level; his speed, composure with the footy and ability to make things happen.

“He’s able to have an impact, it’s just a matter of continuing to learn how his attributes can fit best in the team and how we can get his body to a point to allow him to play his best footy.

“He’s a young guy still learning how to do things.”

Season 2019 has been a welcome relief for Adduci.

Injuries have plagued the St. Kevin’s product – dating back to a stress fracture in 2016 that inevitably put him out of draft contention.

“I was really unfit, I had a lot of making up to do,” Adduci explained of the aftermath of the injury.

“At Oakleigh Chargers, you want to play the best footy you can, and aspire to be drafted.”

“It was disappointing. Just knowing that I had been working hard and had to sit out for a while.

“But in a weird way, it sort of relieved the pressure for me.

“I just wanted to have fun with my footy and enjoy my Year 12 with my best mates.”

After signing with Box Hill the next season, the energetic and hardworking playmaker emerged as one of the great success stories from 2017, playing twelve senior games – including the Qualifying and Preliminary Finals – in a positive maiden campaign at City Oval.

But five weeks into the 2018 season, Adduci experienced yet “another” devastating setback, breaking his wrist in a routine training drill mid-week.

“It was really overwhelming,” Adduci recollected.

“It was the first real injury I’ve had in season, where you’re done for the entire year.”

“All the boys got around me, and I had a really close support system. My family really helped me.”

Now, injury-free for the first time in his career, Adduci has set a premium on enjoying his footy and letting it all come naturally.

And he’s now loving it more than ever.

“Footy is my escape from reality,” he concluded.

“I just want to have fun with my footy and that’s when I’m playing my best.”

Box Hill will resume its season when it takes on North Melbourne at Arden Street on Saturday.


(Image: Kadek Thatcher Photography)

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