It has been a whirlwind few weeks for South Australian teenager Nick Hayes who headed to Brisbane just two weeks after his 18th birthday in the hope of securing a spot on the Club’s rookie list.
The Lions recruiters rated Hayes very highly after closely monitoring his progress with both Sacred Heart College and Woodville West-Torrens throughout the 2012 season, but ultimately made the difficult decision to overlook him at November’s AFL National Draft.
So when he was still available post-draft, the Lions did not hesitate in flying him up to Brisbane to train with the Club ahead of the Rookie Draft, where he was promptly taken with Pick No.6.
Hayes’ journey to the AFL ranks might have taken a few weeks longer than desired, but he’s simply thrilled to be given the opportunity.
“I was pretty disappointed after the National Draft, but there is a lot of talent out there so I knew I would only be an outside chance,” Hayes told LIONS TV.
“But I was stoked when the Lions took me in the Rookie Draft.”
“I’m loving the culture and loving the lifestyle so far, even though I’ve only been up here for a couple of weeks. But so far it’s been good.”
For a young man who had never before been exposed to playing senior football at any level, the transition from under 18s to AFL has been quite challenging.
“The training load here is heaps more intense, and the humidity up here is much higher compared to back home,” Hayes said.
“It’s taken a while, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to get used to it now.”
“I just want to improve everything – like running – and build some strength because I’m pretty small at the moment. Hopefully then I can look to getting some games in a couple of years’ time.”
Hayes’ arrival has been made a little easier considering he’s been taken under the wing of another former Sacred Heart student – Jack Redden.
“Jack Redden has been great,” Hayes said.
“I’ve gotten to know him pretty well and he’s been killing it out on the track, so hopefully I can get there eventually too.”
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