TV puts Manson back in spotlight
Waylen Manson, left, Reece Maxwell, Haden Martin, Ryan Smith and Ben Leech are part of new AFL TV show. Pic: Michael Wilson.

A high-flying Kimberley sensation has reignited interest from AFL clubs after moving to Melbourne and starring in a new reality television series airing this month.

Three years after failing to convince recruiters he could last in an AFL environment, Waylen Manson is set to be a star attraction in The Recruit - a program on pay TV channel Fox8 that will award the winner an AFL rookie-list contract.

Those close to the 21-year-old forward have tipped him to be drafted at the end of this year regardless of the show's outcome, with Manson's commitment to playing in the Victorian Amateur Football Association believed to have helped convince several scouts he is ready.

Manson, from the remote Aboriginal community of Billiluna, south of Halls Creek, is living with the AFL's diversity officer Jason Mifsud in Melbourne in a sign of his renewed commitment to reaching the elite level.

He played his first game this year for VAFA A-Grade side Beaumaris last Saturday and booted three goals to be named his team's second-best player.

The 193cm goal kicker, who has been likened to former Melbourne forward Liam Jurrah, first sparked a flurry of interest after booting 10 goals in a Northern Territory match in 2011 to upstage dual Coleman medallist Brendan Fevola.

He also kicked 14 goals in three games playing for Claremont's colts and reserves that year, with a best haul of eight majors.

Manson is one of five WA footballers selected for The Recruit's top 50 alongside Reece Maxwell, Haden Martin (Scarborough), Ryan Smith (Lancelin) and Ben Leech (North Fremantle).

Manson is expected to make the final 12 announced in the show's premiere airing next Wednesday.

Kimberley Football Association general manager Brett Angwin praised Manson's growth as a result of the experience.

"There's been a lot of interest in him," Angwin said.

"Obviously we've sent him back to Melbourne for a reason. We have some indications of what could transpire.

"The most important thing is he wants it to happen. It was nothing to do with his football ability. The question mark was always on his longevity and ability to engage in a football club or any sort of program for a length of time and he's fulfilled those requirements well and truly."

Manson's first shot at an AFL dream failed after he battled to handle his time at the 2011 AFL draft combine. He said improving his fitness levels had been the toughest challenge in filming.

"I thought this might be my last offer," he said. "I just had to go for it."

Maxwell is a former Oceania Championship-winning basketballer, Smith is a gym owner, Martin is a qualified umpire and Leech is studying sports science.

The final 12 will be judged on individual and team challenges.

A selection panel led by triple Brisbane premiership captain Michael Voss and Port Adelaide high performance manager Darren Burgess choose who to cut each week.

The winner's contract will be decided by a mini-draft involving all 18 AFL clubs at the end of the home-and-away season.

The West Australian

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