Top-five draft picks are a valuable commodity, but Melbourne’s newest first-round selection is in good hands.
Clayton Oliver, the bolter from November’s draft, has spent his early days as an AFL player living with teammate Angus Brayshaw, who went through many of the same experiences a year ago.
“he’s a super competitor and we want to play with him because of the way he’s goes about it on the training track” – Angus Brayshaw
On the field, Oliver and Brayshaw’s statistical similarities were uncanny.
Both stand at 187cm and averaged 24 disposals, six clearances and plenty of tackles during the TAC Cup in their draft years.
Brayshaw also averaged 12 contested possessions – two less than Oliver’s 14 – but played in the Under-18 Championships, while Oliver sat out the National Under 18 Championships after missing selection in the Vic Country squad.
Having already spent plenty of time with Oliver, Brayshaw – the third overall pick in the 2014 National Draft – is impressed by his new housemate’s character.
“The thing that stands out for me is his competitiveness. The club wants guys who have a crack and compete for 100 percent of the game. He’s certainly one of those blokes,” Brayshaw told aflplayers.com.au at last week’s AFLPA Induction Camp.
“The guys have already given feedback that he’s a super competitor and we want to play with him because of the way he goes about it on the training track.”
Though their on-field attributes are similar, their paths to the big league were vastly different.
While Brayshaw showed promise from an early age, Oliver’s future wasn’t so certain.
Doubting his opportunities at the Bendigo Pioneers, the Mooroopna product told The Age in November that he switched to the Murray Bushrangers at the start of 2015 with the idea of playing a handful of games and coming back as a 19-year-old and trying his luck in the VFL competition.
“When I came through, I had Nath Jones living around the corner and he looked after me a bit, so they were keen for Clayton to have someone like that.” – Angus Brayshaw
Fast-forward a year and Oliver is a Morrish Medal winner, a highly touted recruit and boarding with a teammate who played 21 games in his debut season.
Brayshaw says the idea of moving the 18-year-old into the family’s spare room was something the club endorsed following his older brother moving out for the army.
“The club were really keen on it as well once I threw the idea up. When I came through, I had Nath Jones living around the corner and he looked after me a bit, so they were keen for Clayton to have someone like that.”
“Obviously I’m no Nathan Jones, but I’ve had the experiences he’s going through and dad [AFL Coaches’ Association CEO Mark Brayshaw] has had a lot of experience in footy as well. We’re just trying to surround him with people who can relate to and guide him along the way, which he hasn’t been exposed to all that much.
“We’re just here to look after him and steer him on the right path.”
Hailing from an area 181km north of Melbourne, Oliver is adapting well to the city life, and the quirks of the Brayshaw household.
“My two younger brothers are really outgoing sort of guys, whereas he’s probably a bit quiet. But he’s come out of his shell recently and we all get along,” Brayshaw said.
“It’d be really different since he’s coming from a country town, and I think he’s an only child as well, so it’d be a completely different experience coming into my household. He’s a great kid and is taking it all in his stride at the moment.
“He eats and sleeps a lot, but so does everyone. He is going through all the things we’ve all been through and he’s doing pretty well so far.”