Giants' latest No.1 pick says pressure should be no problem
GWS Giants No.1 draft pick Lachie Whitfield entertains kids from Burgmann College. Photo: Graham Tidy
Wherever GWS Giants star Tom Scully goes, Lachie Whitfield won't be far behind.
The AFL's latest No.1 draft pick has locked on to one of the competition's elite midfielders as he adjusts to life with the pressure that comes with being the most highly-rated junior footballer in the country.
The 19-year-old has trained with the Giants over the past fortnight after being selected at the national draft on the Gold Coast last month.
He has already attached himself to Scully, the former Melbourne Demon who is one of three former No.1 draft picks on the Giants' list; besides Whitfield, key forward Jonathan Patton is the other.
''I try and pair myself up with Tom Scully, work with him and try to follow his running patterns because I believe we're similar players,'' Whitfield said.
''He's one of the best in the comp at what he does so I want to learn from him.
''You can't fault anything he does.''
Only at the Giants can 21-year-old Scully and co-captain Callan Ward, 22, be described as ''older blokes who are more seasoned''.
But the club's emphasis on youth means that Whitfield is likely to see plenty of playing time in his rookie season.
Giants coach Kevin Sheedy forecast he would receive between 15 and 20 games.
Ward has been impressed with what he's seen during Whitfield's brief tenure at the Giants and believes he can handle the pressure that comes with being the No.1 draft pick.
''He seems like the kind of guy who can handle pressure OK, he seems really switched on,'' Ward said.
''From talking to him in the first week, he's got his head screwed on his shoulders, so I think he'll be fine.''
Whitfield starred for Vic Country during the national under-18 championships the past two years and is likely to be shifted through the midfield with the Giants, but can also spend time up forward or running off a half-back flank.
While the slightly built teenager - who tips the scales at 76 kilograms - wouldn't get a second look down Canberra streets, he got a peek into his future when hounded for autographs during a school visit in Gungahlin as part of the Giants' community camp in the national capital.
Whitfield admitted the lack of AFL exposure in western Sydney would be a positive.
''Being in Sydney, where it's heavily rugby league-based, the scrutiny isn't on me as much as it would be in Melbourne, so I'm enjoying that part of it,'' Whitfield said. ''Tom Scully and Jonathan Patton have both been through what I'm going through now, so I'm getting their advice.''