The West

Young gun desperate to clean up his act
Young gun desperate to clean up his act

Dayle Garlett knows he's living on a knife's edge.

A supremely talented midfielder with pace and skill, Garlett would be one of the first players chosen at this year's national draft if recruiters were picking on football alone.

But AFL clubs can no longer afford to base their draft judgments simply on what they see during games.

When off field indiscretions result in a player being dumped from the prestigious AFL Academy and later suspended by his WAFL club, recruiters have every reason to be concerned.

So Garlett knows that if he stays out of trouble for the rest of the year, clubs may decide he deserves the chance to play in the AFL. But if his off-field discipline falls away again, his prospects will disappear.

"I'm doing the right thing at the moment. I'm working with the David Wirrpanda Foundation and training hard," Garlett said.

"I've definitely changed, so I hope I've got a few ticks. Hopefully they're happier with me now.

"I'm finding it's worth it. It's not worth stuffing up in life if you've got a good career. You've got to put it to the side.

"I still go out, but not as much as last year. I've changed my group of mates. I have to be good outside of footy and keep my fitness up."

Garlett said Swan Districts coach Greg Harding and football manager Phil Smart had played a key role in helping him to get his life back on track. He said working alongside current and former AFL players had shown him what was required to succeed.

He'll get his driver's licence back in two months and is now considered a leader among WA's under-18s team. Garlett said he was desperate to get drafted and felt a move interstate would be beneficial both on and off the field.

Garlett's manager Jason Dover said the 18-year-old had improved a lot after being told some home truths.

"We sat down prior to Christmas and made some strong calls but his response has been terrific," Dover said.

Garlett was one of WA's better players in last week's shock loss to Queensland and will look to maintain that form against NSW today.

Josh Simpson, Jack Martin, Laurence Grescos, Dominic Sheed, Marco Paparone and Tim Sutherland were added to the team for today's match at Arena Joondalup as coach Michael Pratt strives to select his entire squad throughout the carnival.

The West Australian

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