WAFL draft watch: Stephen Coniglio
WAFL draft watch: Stephen Coniglio

He's the young man with a choice envied by failed athletes across the country.

Does he nominate for the AFL draft and likely head to Greater Western Sydney? Or does he listen to the pleas of the WACA and spend his days perfecting his technique with a willow?

Stephen Coniglio obviously has a fair bit to think about.

The 17-year-old burst into recruiters' calculations last year with a stand-out finals campaign for Swan Districts, culminating in a four-goal, 17-disposal WAFL grand final performance.

But while early draft talk is always nice to hear for a young player, it can often lead to a less than impressive follow-up season, a la Jack Darling's 2010 under-18 championships.

Darling dominated the 2009 carnival, recording the competition's highest champion data points as a bottom-aged player. After being hyped as a top-three draft pick, his poor showing the next year contributed to his slide, allowing West Coast to snare him with pick No.26.

Coniglio's 2011 performance has been exactly the opposite. Going into the year with plenty of hype, the Swan Districts midfielder has not missed a beat.

After a handful of impressive early games in the WAFL, Coniglio was named captain of the WA under-18 side. While his team came up short in division one, Coniglio's average of 22.4 disposals and his tally of eight goals further enhanced his reputation.

Not only was he named an All-Australian, his performance in the championships earned him the Larke Medal as best player in the top division.

The past two Larke medal winners were fellow West Australians David Swallow and Harley Bennell, the top two picks in last year's AFL draft.

Coniglio's return to the WAFL at the weekend just as impressive. With Swan Districts being outplayed across the ground by Subiaco, the youngster gathered 27 touches and laid eight tackles to be his side's best.

With a tight run home, he may just be the missing piece Swan Districts need to reignite their finals hopes.

But regardless of his performance in the remaining rounds, and should he choose to stick with AFL, Coniglio is almost certain to be one of the first names called when the eyes of the AFL descend on Sydney's west for this year's draft.

He'll no doubt come to know the area well.

The West Australian

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