It wasn’t easy to spot Jude Bolton at the Byron Bay AFL 9s Invitational.
The AFL 9s National Ambassador immersed himself in the competition, donning the colours of a number of teams across the divisions, stopping and talking to everyone around.
Bolton made cameos in the Southern Comfort side, and Newcastle side, the Leh’s, as well as throwing on the jumper as sideline morale for women’s side, UTS Shamrocks.
Fitting in with the Leh’s was the biggest eye-opener for Bolton, who was surprised how much the side, made up of high level rugby league players, adapted to AFL 9s.
“That’s a first for me- they absolutely loved it, they enjoyed it,” he said.
“They’ve got a passion for keeping fit and playing a fast game and that’s what it’s all about.
They’ve got good skills and I think they like the fact they can run in any direction.”
The dual premiership player sported a few battle wounds from the games he played in, but that didn’t take the gloss off the fun.
“I’ve got a few grazes from expecting the footy out in front, which didn’t happen too often, but I loved just getting out and being active, ”he said.
Bolton reserved some special sympathy for the whistle blowers for the weekend, who ran the equivalent of a half-marathon and then some on each day of the carnival.
“I just heard they (the umpires) ran 25 km yesterday, that’s phenomenal,” he said.
With 23 teams in the inaugural competition, Bolton said he could easily see the tournament growing in future years.
“It’s something that could be really special in the years to come,” he said.
“I envisage this being 40 teams next year and still building.
“Going around to some of the teams, they’ve all had great things to say and there’s has been such a good vide.
After seeing the Redland Bombers’ domination of the men’s competition, Bolton said he’d be coming back with a few friends to the 2015 competition.
“I’m not letting them go back-to-back.”