Brayden Sier has acquired an unusual tag since arriving at Collingwood with pick 32 in the 2015 National Draft.
The Magpies’ first selection was considered a draft bolter and, as bizarre as it sounds, has become known for being relatively unknown.
Sier’s profile was so low on draft night that afl.com.au‘s ‘draft tracker’ didn’t even have a headshot for his profile.
Arriving at one of the AFL’s biggest clubs with little fanfare is a rarity and, in Sier’s case, has sparked curiosity across the football landscape.
So how would the 18-year-old midfielder define himself to those in the unfamiliar camp?
“The trademarks that I want to try and play my footy under would be playing hard and competitive, not leaving anything out there at the end of a game and being satisfied with what I’ve put out on the track,” Sier told aflplayers.com.au at last week’s AFLPA Induction Camp.
“Doing everything 100 per cent and then obviously however much that helps towards the team winning a game is my main goal.”
“Playing against men was a big step. With the route that I’ve come through, I think doing a lot of it myself has grown a bit of resilience.” – Brayden Sier
Contested ball is Sier’s forte. He has “always been a bit bigger” than most of the players he’s battled against in junior age groups and has used his size to his advantage. That power also translates into a penetrating kick.
Currently listed at 190cm and 91kg, his bulky frame is similar to Sydney Swans’ brute Josh Kennedy’s.
While sheer size is an asset, it may have also contributed to his late-bloomer status. It seems the spike in Sier’s development can be linked with an improved capacity to cover the ground, providing a better and much-needed balance between endurance and strength at the coalface.
“I think the running power has come over the last probably year and a half. But that [physicality] has always been my sort of go. Get the ball, drive the legs and look for the first option.”
A rise up the draft pecking order may have surprised the football world, but the football world hasn’t surprised Sier.
“To be honest, it’s what I expected.”
That’s not to say it’s been easy.
“You can’t really prepare yourself for the types of training and the different sorts of activities that you do. I knew it was going to be tough but you just can’t really set yourself for it.”
On the pathway to the AFL industry, Sier certainly took the road less travelled.
The Northern Knights midfielder played just two games in the TAC Cup last season and didn’t attend either the national or state combine. Instead, he predominately plied his trade at Marcellin College, winning the best and fairest award. He also featured in six games for Banyule’s seniors in the Northern Football League, twice being named best afield.
It’s an uncommon avenue to AFL, but Sier believes it has prepared him well for life at Collingwood.
“Playing against men was a big step. With the route that I’ve come through, I think doing a lot of it myself has grown a bit of resilience.
“Doing all the running by myself, not having a team to do a massive pre-season with, that’s probably been the main thing that I’ve had to wrap my head around to get where I am now.”
Much of the flying solo will have changed since assimilating into the Magpies’ nest, of course. Support networks at AFL clubs are far-reaching, offering enough coaches, players and staff to create a full-scale orchestra. Sier identifies the skipper and two other emerging talents as significant helping hands from the playing group in his first few months at the Holden Centre.
“There’s been plenty of good guys who look after you, blokes like obviously Scott Pendlebury.”
“Taylor Adams is one of the younger boys who’s been stepping up into a leadership role. People like Brodie Grundy who are really involved in your footy.
“They take a lot of interest in getting you where you need to be.”