AFL draft hopeful Liam Flaherty. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Liam Flaherty has a nervous wait before Thursday's AFL draft, when clubs will make the dreams of some talented young footballers come true.
Flaherty is rated the best local chance of getting to an AFL club, out of an estimated ''handful'' of ACT teens who nominated for the national draft, but he's been doing his best to distract himself from the big event.
''I'm just trying not to think about it. I've had a bit of uni work on, so that's kind of kept my mind off it, but [I'm] pretty excited. Hopefully something happens from it,'' he said.
The 18-year-old, who is nearing the end of his first year of an applied science and human biology degree, has spent the past few months in the gym in an attempt to bulk up for the demands of playing the game at the top level.
''Any club that's talked to me has said I need to put on a bit of size, so I've just been at the gym, mostly trying to gain some weight and some strength against the bigger opponents I'd be playing. I've got the height, I just need to fill out a little bit more,'' Flaherty said.
The 196-centimetre forward has added five kilograms to his frame to now weigh in at 91kg.
It adds to his claim to play at the top level, after winning the Eastlake Football Club's Rising Star award after the 2011 North East Australian Football League season.
He had a stint with the GWS Giants reserves before that and kicked two goals against both the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns.
But playing for the NSW/ACT Rams at the national under-18 titles provided the biggest boost as he earned a call-up to the one-day state combine camp in Melbourne last month and a chance to be seen by all the clubs.
NSW/ACT state talent manager Darren Denneman said he doesn't like to make draft predictions.
''I sit on the fence when it comes to this because it's a bit hard for me to put out my crystal ball, because our opinions are our opinions, and the AFL clubs make their own,'' Denneman said.
''Thursday night we're very hopeful a few of our players will be listed to AFL clubs and if not, then obviously the rookie draft presents a really good opportunity for our young guys in December.''
Flaherty will watch the broadcast of the draft at home on Thursday with his family, who he says has more of an idea of who he is up against.
''My mum's followed it pretty closely, so I think she'd know more than I do, she's pretty keen on it,'' he said. ''She'll probably know who's going to be picked when.''