Melbourne draftee Sam Weideman believes a Round 1 debut is an achievable target on the back of an encouraging, albeit modified, pre-season training regime.
The ninth overall selection in the 2015 National Draft endured an injury-ravaged preparation for the AFL system, with an ankle stress fracture ending his season in May last year after just five TAC Cup matches.
But more recent signs have been positive for the exciting key forward prospect, prompting genuine hopes of some early action in 2016.
“Round 1, if they want to pick me, I’m all for it and I’ll be ready to go” – Sam Weideman
“The sky’s the limit I think,” Weideman told aflplayers.com.au.
“They haven’t really put a set time when I’m going to be back fully fit, but I think I’m progressing really well.
“Round 1, if they want to pick me, I’m all for it and I’ll be ready to go.”
The 18-year-old grandson of Collingwood legend Murray Weideman has been preparing for the opportunity to make an impact at AFL level since long before he was drafted – even as injuries were keeping him off the training track.
During the infancy of his ankle rehabilitation, the Eastern Ranges product utilised his time on the sidelines by closely observing some of the AFL’s finest forwards.
The skills and nous of two players in particular stood out as worthy role models to help enhance his understanding of the craft.
“I did gain a lot of knowledge.”
“I especially watched Tom Hawkins. Just the way he moves his body and works his opponent, that’s part of the game I really want to work on, myself – technique of body positioning.
“And also Nick Riewoldt – his running patterns, the way he moves up the ground and the different ways he leads.”
At 196cm and 91kg, the Demons recruit has the physical attributes to become an imposing presence in the same mould as the highlighted duo.
Add other similar characteristics like great hands, football smarts and capable goal-kicking – he booted five majors in his penultimate match before injury – and it becomes increasingly clear why the Demons used their second top-10 pick on Weideman despite a limited sample of exposed form.
But perhaps the most admirable trait he shares with those football greats is unwavering, instinctive courage. Weideman displays Jonathan Brown-style fearless disregard for his own safety and insists no alterations will be made to his approach for the sake of self-preservation.
“I’m quite proud of it. I like to crash into a pack and not be afraid of what’s going to hit me, or anything that’s coming at me.”
“I want to keep that as a strong point in my game. I won’t change that.”
When offered the choice between taking a mark or kicking a goal, Weideman opts for what he views as the more prominent part of his football identity.
“A strong mark is always nice because it’s something I really pride myself on.”
“When I get a hold of them my confidence lifts and then hopefully I’m within range of goal.”
The Demons will take on the GWS Giants in their Round 1 clash at the MCG, starting at 1:40pm on March 26.
You can follow Sam Weideman on Twitter @SamWeideman