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Second time around suits Lee just fine
Tom Lee. Pic: Michael Wilson/WA News

Claremont forward Tom Lee says he will arrive at St Kilda vastly more prepared for life as an AFL player than he was in 2008 when Adelaide drafted him as a 17-year-old.

The Saints yesterday traded pick 12 in the national draft to GWS in exchange for Lee, picks 24 and 43. The Giants were allowed to sign Lee as an unlisted player who had previously been at an AFL club and then either keep him or trade him elsewhere.

Lee was outstanding for Claremont throughout 2012, kicking 60 goals and being named best on ground in the Foxtel Cup grand final. The 21-year-old spent one year on Adelaide's list, but struggled with the professionalism and demands of the AFL.

He admitted being too immature for the AFL when drafted, but said he had now earned his position at St Kilda.

"It's been a couple of years of hard work and I think this time around I deserve it a lot more than last time," Lee said.

"Playing league footy at Claremont in such an elite environment has helped me a lot in getting my physical preparation ready for AFL footy. I'm not quite there but I think I've taken the right steps to get myself there.

"Mentally, I'm miles ahead where I was when I got drafted at 17 the first time. I don't think I could have put myself in a better position to be ready to go."

St Kilda met with Lee during the build-up to the preliminary final as Claremont enjoyed the week off and then spoke to him again at the draft combine in Melbourne.

A calf injury sustained in the WAFL grand final prevented Lee from taking part in fitness testing at the combine, but the Saints had inside knowledge about his desire to improve.

Former Claremont coach Simon McPhee now works at St Kilda and Lee said he had played a significant role in his development.

McPhee laid down the law to Lee during the 2011 pre-season after he performed poorly in a 3km fitness test and made it clear that he had to earn his spot in the training squad before he could play.

"The first time I ran it about 11 (minutes) flat before the break and came back after the break and ran about 12 minutes," Lee recalled.

"He said you can't join in on the track until you can beat me in the 3km time trial. He put the hard word on me, I got fit, started working harder and made him happy.

"Those days are past me now. I learned my lesson."

He is the second Claremont premiership player in as many years to join the Saints. Last year the club drafted Beau Wilkes with pick 68.