AFL draft picks overcome adversity

Three of the top dozen AFL draft picks have proven they can handle adversity even before the challenge of entering the senior ranks.

Among the first-round picks drafted in Sydney in Friday were Jaidyn Stephenson (No.6, Collingwood), who has a heart condition.

Taken just outside the top ten were Aiden Bonar (Greater Western Sydney, No.11), who has already undergone two reconstructions of his right knee and Darcy Fogarty (no.12, Adelaide), who suffered from a meniscus tear.

Forward-midfielder Stephenson said he had been aware of his condition since he was 16.

“I’m on some medication, but I’ve just got to make sure I take that and also I’m careful with what I put in my own body, which could affect the condition,” Stephenson said.

“But it certainly doesn’t affect my football in any way.”

Stephenson, whose mother and grandparents are Pies’ supporters, said he understood why clubs were diligent in checking about his condition.

“I thought with the heart thing it might scare clubs off,” Stephenson said.

“But I was pretty confident that even if it was at pick 30 or 40 or 50, that someome would take the risk and give me an opportunity and I’d pay therm back.

Both Bonar and Fogarty extracted positives from the setbacks that forced them to spend time out of the game.

“I think it’s made me tougher mentally,” Bonar told AAP.

“I just listen to my body more and follow protocol and go by what my body says.”

With GWS losing Devon Smith and Steve Johnson retiring, Bonar thought there might bean be an opportunity for him to break into the star-studded Giants side in his first season.

“I can play small and tall, so I can definitely fit into that forward position which we’ve lost Devon Smith and a couple of other players,” Bonar said.

Tall utility Fogarty hadn’t been worried his injury could potentially have resulted in him sliding down the draft pecking order.

“It didn’t really faze me, I think it would have been a bit better to play a bit better at the start of the year and set it up a bit,” Fogarty told AAP.

“But I guess I’ve learnt a lot from the injury and learnt how to mange myself now and go through periods of time without playing, so it was all a bit of a learning curve.”

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