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Ten years ago Angus Brayshaw signed up to play U9s at Hampton with his friends from school – fast forward to November this year and most likely he will hear his name read out in the National Draft.

From all reports the U18 2014 All-Australian’s name will be read out pretty early on too.

Before he became the next big thing to come out of the Sandringham Dragons though, Brayshaw was playing at his local SMJFL club, the Hampton Rovers and winning unlikely premierships against future AFL calibre players.

One memory that stands out for the midfielder was from his U15’s campaign in 2010 when Brayshaw’s Rovers come up against the undefeated East Brighton Vampires in the grand final.

“When first played second to go through to the grand final, we played them and they beat us by about 80 points,” he said. “We came back to take them on in the grand final and they hadn’t lost all season and we just pipped them at the post.”

He still isn’t sure what changed in that fortnight for such a radical turn around but it’s the kind of footy narrative you love to hear. The Vampires had a couple of pretty handy junior footballers too, future AFL listed Josh Kelly and Christian Salem suited up against Brayshaw in that game.

Next year he will have the opportunity to lace up the boots either alongside or against those boys once more, but for a while it looked like the AFL dream might elude the young Sandringham Dragon.

His 2013 campaign was one that was riddled with setback after setback due to injuries. Initially missing games because of a broken arm, he returned only to suffer a strained AC joint, back contusion and then required stitches in his hand.

The prodigious talent still had a year left in the system but such a string of bad luck couldn’t help but foster some negative thoughts and worries about a potential career as a footballer.

“There are people around me telling me that it’s not the end of the world, but when it happens to you and you’re missing games and seeing other guys really develop you certainly get worried,” he said.

“About a fortnight after it happened I had a look at myself and said ‘I can work this into a positive’ and I stayed fit and really worked on my core.”

All of the hard work he put in while he was injured helped him hit the ground running when he finally returned to action and he picked up 29 disposals upon his return.

When he was 15 and selected to travel to South Africa as part of the Victorian team he realised that he was in a position to make an AFL career for himself if he “worked hard and had a crack”.

Listening to him recite his weekly routine, hard work is the cornerstone of his week. His training sessions each week include game reviews, opposition previews, light skills and match simulation drills.

“Usually I have about four sessions a week one way or another… There’s always little bits and pieces you can do to make sure you’re ready for game day,” explained Brayshaw.

“While [Vic] Metro’s finished I’m there [at the Sandringham Dragons] Monday, Wednesday, Friday but there’s always other stuff to do on Tuesday and Thursday.”

While most mock drafts you read will have Brayshaw listed in the top five upcoming prospects, it’s not something he reads too much into.

“Until draft day comes there’s not much really that you can read into – the AFL clubs really keep their cards close to their chest and if you get too caught up in that you lose focus on what’s important – that’s playing good footy.”

He’s also well aware it’s not somewhere he got overnight and is grateful to his junior club Hampton for the time they put into his development.

“I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for the Rovers, everyone besides the odd exception really needs their junior club to get where they are… It goes unrecognised in my opinion the amount of work [from locals] that grass roots footy gets,” he said.

“So a big thanks for that and much appreciated.”