Growing up in Queanbeyan, Josh Fahey was surrounded by rugby union, which was natural enough given his father, Adam Fahey, coached first-grade at both Queanbeyan and Uni-Norths Owls, as well as having a stint as director of rugby at Canberra Grammar.
“I played rugby league and rugby union,” says Josh, “All my mates in Queanbeyan played AFL. In year six, they had an AFL gala day and I ended up making the under-12s team.”
Queanbeyan Tigers legend and school teacher Mark Armstrong encouraged Josh to keep going in Australian rules football.
Mark has remained an important influence throughout Josh’s football career.
With his booming left-foot kick, Josh was drafted into the Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy at just 13 years of age. From there he made the ACT under-14s team for the national championships in Perth. His star has been on the rise ever since.
In April, playing for the NAB AFL Academy against the Geelong VFL team, Josh won the MCC President’s Medal for best on ground with 23 disposals in a losing team.
If he wasn’t already on the radar of AFL clubs before then, he soon was at just 17 years of age.
“After the Australian game, I had interviews with most of the AFL clubs,” says Josh. “It wasn’t footy based – they wanted to know about my schooling and education. They also wanted to know more about my personality and character.”
The success of fellow Canberra GWS Giants Academy player and training partner Tom Green has only fuelled Josh’s desire to play AFL.
“My dream is to play AFL,” he says. “I’m very competitive and passionate about the game.”
The only uncertainty came when Josh’s family moved to Queensland after Adam secured a position at The Southport School.
Josh went with them and ended up playing with the Gold Coast Suns Academy.
However, he returned to Canberra this year to complete his schooling at Erindale College, with Armstrong a guiding influence.
Josh was also back in the GWS fold, playing three games for the club’s VFL side this year.
Under AFL rules, players must have had an unbeaten five-year run in a northern academy club for that club to have first rights when it comes to drafting.
His short time with the Gold Coast Suns broke that unbeaten run.
But in a sign GWS were determined to sign him, the club made an application to the AFL to have first rights and were successful with it.
On the official AFL website, Josh expressed his surprise and relief with the ruling that gives him certainty.
“I thought I was no hope of being eligible to re-join the Giants so that was a bit of a shock when we got the answer of yes from the AFL,” he said. “It was very humbling to be accepted, knowing the Giants were my home again.”
Josh has been selected for the upcoming AFL draft combine, where players undergo screening coupled with interviews with AFL club recruiters.
COVID-19 will change how this normally operates, but the majority of clubs are already well aware of his talent.
So how does Josh’s rugby union family feel about his AFL career trajectory?
“Mum and dad have always been very supportive,” he says. “And dad has done coaching courses in AFL.”
Josh turns 18 in November 2021. The world is definitely at his feet.