A Kimberley footballer once rated as one of the most exciting talents in the country is back on the AFL radar and set to showcase his abilities on a new reality TV show.
Excitement machine Waylen Manson has been widely tipped to make the final cut for The Recruit, a groundbreaking program in which the winner will receive an AFL rookie contract outside of the draft for the first time.
The 20-year-old, who hails from the Aboriginal community of Billiluna, 180km south of Halls Creek, was billed as a potential star of the game three years ago after booting 10 goals in a Northern Territory Football League match to upstage dual Coleman medallist Brendan Fevola.
But the then-teenager was overlooked by AFL clubs amid doubts over his ability to adapt to football's elite system after struggling through the 2011 AFL draft combine in Melbourne.
Now the 195cm forward is intent on resurrecting his AFL dream. Manson reignited interest after testing in Melbourne on the weekend to help select the 12 contestants for the Fox8 show.
Michael Voss will select an amateur footballer in the 10-part show to catapult from the bush leagues into the big time with the help of an expert coaching panel including retired Hawthorn forward Ben Dixon and Port Adelaide high performance manager Darren Burgess.
And the three-times Lions premiership captain and former coach predicted Manson would feature prominently in the series.
Filming starts next month.
"They've got a coach that is looking at them with a fresh set of eyes," Voss said.
"Clearly I'd heard across the day about his (Manson's) background … but he moved really well, approached it well and got through it.
"I would certainly hope when we sit down as a match committee and start to flick through the players that he'll figure prominently."
Manson's supreme athletic ability made him a standout as 160 applicants were put through a series of demanding tests at Collingwood's Westpac Centre.
It is understood several AFL recruiters who attended the session were excited about Manson's progress and have already made calls to assess his suitability come national draft time.
Manson made the trip east with former Brisbane and Fremantle midfielder Des Headland.
Kimberley Football Association general manager Brett Angwin predicted Manson would be on an AFL list next year regardless of whether he came close to winning The Recruit.
"He is in a much better space," Angwin said. "He has matured, he's 21 this year.
"There was a huge weight of expectation placed upon his shoulders by everybody before.
"He's gone back to basics. He's started to enjoy his football. He's still playing up in the Northern Territory and he's had half a season in a Victorian league. He's made the decision himself that the time is right for him to enter the AFL system.
"Undoubtedly he is the most talented footballer in the top half of Australia."
Manson, who has been compared to former Melbourne high flyer Liam Jurrah, played seven games for Lower Plenty on the outskirts of Melbourne last season and reportedly handled living away from his remote home well, a strong sign for his prospects.
He showed his potential at colts and reserves level for Claremont in 2011, kicking 14 goals in three games, including a haul of eight.
The Recruit is open only to footballers aged 20 or above who have not previously been on an AFL list or played in the VFL, SANFL or WAFL during the past two years.
The winner's contract will be decided by a mini-draft involving all 18 clubs at the end of the home-and-away season.