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Garlett finding his feet at Hawthorn

“As soon as I heard my name called out I just took a deep breath, because I knew a lot was going to be expected of me this year.”

It mightn’t be the standard reaction of a teenager whose dream of being drafted has just come true, but Dayle Garlett’s response says plenty about what his opportunity at Hawthorn means to him.

“It’s great to finally be on an AFL list. It’s what I’ve always wished for,” he explained at the AFL/AFL Players’ 2014 Draft Induction Camp earlier this week.

The camp provided Garlett – and more than 100 other draftees – with a chance to learn more about the role the AFL Players’ Association will play throughout his career.

“I had a fair idea about what the ‘PA did, but wasn’t 100 per cent sure about the (finer details),” Garlett admitted.

“One of the main things I took from today was learning how to budget and look after my money. It’s a good thing to learn – I got a lot out of today.”

The 182cm forward/midfielder has learnt plenty, both on and off the field, since being drafted last November.

“Jarryd Roughead and Luke Hodge always give great advice, same with Sam Mitchell, but all the players are equal and give me great advice. There’s a lot to take in from each player, so it’s good.

“As soon as I heard my name called out I just took a deep breath, because I knew a lot was going to be expected of me this year.”

Like all first year players, it took Garlett time to settle in.

“My first day at the Hawks was definitely nerve-wracking but now I’m quite relaxed and it’s a great experience.

“I’ve barracked for Hawthorn since I was a young kid as well, so it was that extra bit more nerve-wracking for me, because I looked up to players like Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge and Cyril Rioli.

“Now being at the same team with them and knowing them as my mates is just great. Hawthorn footy club is a great club to be at.”

While the move across the country will undoubtedly help him improve as a footballer, Garlett is also enjoying the change in lifestyle that’s come with the move.

“It’s a big move for any Perth teenager, but Melbourne’s great – I love it. There’s a lot to do in Melbourne and I wouldn’t want to go back home. I have a host family in Murrumbeena – about 15 minutes away from the club. They’re great. They look after me well.”

Despite a stellar 2013 season in the WAFL – in which he polled 24 votes in the Sandover Medal, kicking 48 goals and averaging 16 possessions per game for Swan Districts – Garlett knows there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“The standards are definitely higher at Hawthorn.”

For the moment his goals are simple – “to get my fitness up and get my groins stronger” – but Garlett is determined to make the most of his chance at Hawthorn.

“Obviously every teenager’s goal is to get a gig in an AFL game, so that’s the same for me as well.”

Garlett’s first chance to take the field for the Hawks may be less than a month away, with Hawthorn scheduled to play Brisbane at Etihad Stadium on Thursday February 13 in just the second match of the NAB Challenge series.