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Trust these boys to deliver in draft
Trust these boys to deliver in draft

Former AFL stars Andrew McLeod and Chris Johnson say clubs won't regret drafting WA's elite Aboriginal players at next week's national draft despite them having question marks over different aspects of their lives.

Dayle Garlett, Josh Simpson and Shannon Taylor were selected in the elite AFL Academy and have shown outstanding potential as teenagers.

But Garlett lost his scholarship because of poor off-field discipline, Taylor has the challenge of being a father of two and homesickness lured Simpson back to WA this year after he completed high school in South Australia.

Johnson and McLeod have worked with the three youngsters throughout their development.

In WA with former St Kilda star Xavier Clarke for the AFL's Indigenous Footy Means Business camp, Johnson said the trio's challenges had highlighted several strengths.

"You're always going to have setbacks but it's how you respond to those setbacks," Johnson said.

"It'd be quite easy for them to sit back on their heels and do nothing about it. But they've got on the front foot and done something about it.

"Shannon is the best example. After having two kids, he knows what commitment is all about. Having two kids and being able to settle down to be the male figure in the family, that will help him in an AFL career.

"Josh came home and played good footy in WA. Dayle has been able to bounce back. Dayle Garlett's ability to win his own ball in a contest is really good.

"The clubs that draft them will identify the football talent and back their welfare people to get around them."

Simpson is almost certain to be the State's first draftee. He is spending time in Yalgoo, 200km east of Geraldton, in the build-up to the draft. The wingman has been linked to Port Adelaide at pick seven, GWS at 12 and Gold Coast at 13.

"He's got great skills, is a good decision maker and is cool in heavy traffic," McLeod said.

"A lot of people in South Australia were very upset when he left.

"They'd embraced him and wanted him to be a big part of South Australia.

"The State guys were shattered when they saw him in a WA jumper playing against them.

"But he is a WA guy and he made the decision that was best for him, so hopefully he goes on to bigger and better things."

McLeod and Johnson will spend a week in WA, mentoring 50 Aboriginals aged between 18 and 24.

The program is designed to use football as a link towards helping them to off-field careers.