Jaeger O’Meara will know soon if he’ll find an AFL home via the Greater Western Sydney mini-draft, but the gifted West Australian isn’t getting ahead of himself.

O’Meara is younger than most of the 120 players attending the 2011 NAB AFL Draft Combine, but he could find himself on an AFL list before all of them if he gets selected first in the mini-draft held late in next week’s trade period as expected.

The Giants can trade the rights to the first of four mini-draft picks to any of the 17 other AFL clubs for national draft picks, experienced players or a combination of both as part of their list build concessions from the AFL.

The successful club can then use that pick on any of the 25 players born between January and April of 1994 who nominated for the mini-draft, with the highly rated midfielder the most coveted talent in that pool.

The only catch is that any player selected in this manner will be too young to play next year because AFL rules state a player must turn 19 in his first year of footy.

“It would pretty much be a stepping stone,” O’Meara says of the prospect of being an AFL-listed player who can’t play at senior level.

“To be able to have a year with an AFL club prior to being eligible to play would set you up for a good first year [in 2013]. It is an apprenticeship pretty much, and I’d be fortunate to get that opportunity.

“It’s definitely exciting, but if things don’t pan out how I’d like them to then I’ve always got next year. That’s the luxury of this mini-draft, it’s a year early so even if I don’t go, then I’ve got next year to focus on and another year of development.

“I’ve still got my exams to focus on so I haven’t thought about it much because of that. I’ll definitely be busy studying so that will keep my mind off it, but it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t happen because I do have next year anyway.”

O’Meara has an ankle injury and won’t be able to do any of the physical testing at the combine, but AFL recruiters have seen enough of his explosive pace and skill by foot for WA at the national championships and with WAFL club Perth to know he’s a rare talent.

Gold Coast is thought to be in the box seat to secure his services given the Suns’ ability to trade pick four at November’s NAB AFL Draft.

O’Meara hails from Dongara, a small town near Geraldton, but moved away from his family to Perth to further his football at the start of this year and is unfazed at the prospect of moving interstate.

“I think this year has really set me up,” O’Meara says.

“If I was to move away from Perth with an AFL club then it’s given me a year’s head start to realise what it’s like living away from my family.

“It would be good to be able to have my family close, but I wouldn’t mind as long as I got the opportunity to follow my dream.”

Any club that is able to snare O’Meara will have to pay a hefty price for a player who won’t debut until 2013, but most in the industry agree he’ll be worth the wait and will flourish with a year of development in an AFL system.

“To have a year of development to focus on getting my body right would be good,” he says.

“I’d like to work on my injury management. I’ve had a few injuries this season, so I’d like tot get better at recovery. I’ve been doing a lot of core work and I’ll do a lot more over the off-season.

“I also don’t think I accumulate enough of the ball around the ground as what I could so I’d like to work on that.”

Any deals to secure a pick in the mini-draft must be finalised by 5pm on Thursday, 13 October, with the mini-draft likely to be held on the closing day of trade week on Monday, 17 October. 

AFL.com.au will broadcast live from the Draft Combine on Wednesday 5 October (4.30-6.30pm AEST) and Friday 7 October (1.30-3pm AEST) and as video on demand through the week via its Total Access show.

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