The West

In an era when players are told to pirouette out of contests for fear of being suspended, Clem Smith is a breath of fresh air.

The Perth teenager is one of the most naturally talented in this year's draft pool, with his ability to win the ball, attack from the back line and deliver with pinpoint accuracy allowing him to have an impact at senior WAFL level already.

But it's not what he does with the ball that makes him so entertaining to watch - it's what he does without it.

Smith, 18, plays with aggression belying his 177cm, 74kg frame and seems to take pleasure in felling bigger opponents with a well-timed, perfectly-executed bump.

It's an approach which has drawn inevitable comparisons to Norm Smith medallist Byron Pickett and, when combined with his brilliant ball use, it's one which is likely to see him be the first West Australian picked at this year's national draft.

"The proving ground is the next couple of months, but that's the way he comes into the championships, no doubt," AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan said.

"He really attacks the ball with such ferocity and speed and cleanness, he's totally unafraid.

"Whether it's across half-back or through the midfield, he's shown great acceleration and ball-winning ability.

"He's a pretty exciting player."

Smith was one of the stars of last year's AFL under-18 championships, winning All-Australian selection as a bottom-aged player, being named WA's MVP and earning a spot in the AIS-AFL Academy for the second season in a row.

After the carnival, WAFL State Academy manager Raff Guadagnino described him as more talented than fellow West Aust- ralians Jack Martin, David Swallow and Stephen Coniglio.

Smith is expected to again play a key role for the State when it begins this year's championships against South Australia at AAMI Stadium this morning.

Recruiters are expected to be watching closely to see how he stands up under the spotlight.

The West Australian

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