Josh Fahey's first taste of Australian football came when he signed up for a gala day just to get a day off school in year six.
Now the emerging Queanbeyan Tigers star looms as Canberra's next AFL draft hopeful after being invited to a combine featuring the game's brightest young prospects.
The dashing defender with a booming left boot has already been touted as a potential top 20 pick in the draft after capturing the attention of AFL recruiters.
It caps off a remarkable rise for the Canberra-born prospect.
"When I was 12 I put my name down for AFL to get the day off schooI," Fahey said.
"I played rugby league and rugby union up until under 14s and then started filling in for my local AFL team because all mates were playing. It's only my sixth year playing so I'm very glad I made the change."
The AFL draft combine is scheduled for September 29-30 in Melbourne for the top 60 players out of a group of 120 as identified by AFL recruiting staff, to participate in medical screening and interviews with AFL clubs. The remainder will then feature in state-based combines in October.
The GWS Giants will have first rights on Fahey during November's draft, but there was a debate about the GWS academy member's eligibility.
Fahey has been a part of the GWS pathway since the age of 13, but last year he spent three months with the Gold Coast Suns academy after relocating due to his father's work commitments.
AFL rules state a player must have spent five consecutive years in a northern academy to give that club first rights in the draft. While a stint with the Suns broke that run, GWS were still granted priority.
Now Fahey hopes to emulate fellow Canberra export Tom Green, who is currently playing for the Giants in the AFL finals after being drafted with pick 10 two years ago.
"It made me realise that it can happen, even though coming from a smaller state where we aren't known for AFL like Victoria is. I kind of like it though, we get to be a bit of an underdog," Fahey said.
Fahey was crowned the AFL Academy's best player when he starred in a game against the Geelong Cats' VFL side in April this year.
But that stellar outing was following by a foot injury which caused him to miss the majority of the season.
"I missed a good 10 weeks so, it was pretty frustrating to miss the main part of the footy season," Fahey said.
"Now going into lockdown knowing that I could have been playing, I hope it doesn't change too much in the draft, but I don't think it will affect me. "
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