Top draft prospect Jake Waterman knows better than most how quickly his AFL dream could be snatched away.
Waterman – the son of two-time West Coast premiership player Chris Waterman – is one of 81 players vying for the attention of recruiters at the national combine ahead of next month’s draft.
But weighing heavily on the 18-year-old’s mind is the wretched fate of older brother Alec, who was delisted by West Coast last month after failing to crack into the senior side.
An inside midfielder who showed plenty of potential, Alec was taken by the Eagles as a father-son pick in 2014 but was struck down with glandular fever the following year and never managed to fully recover.
For Waterman, it was a reminder of the importance of not wasting his opportunity to become an AFL footballer.
“(Alec) has gone through a lot recently and it’s been pretty sad and hard for the family to see him go down like that,” he said.
“That’s what was sort of going through my mind when it was all happening, just to not go through the motions and stuff like that and make sure I get the best out of myself, because it can end as quick as that.”
Waterman says the family still holds out hope Alec can put his health issues behind him and find his way back onto an AFL list.
“He’s still really young, so anything can happen,” Waterman said.
“He’s got what it takes. He’s a gun player. Hopefully the best is ahead of him.”
Still growing at 191cm, Waterman has shown promise in the forward line but also likes to push up the ground and win his own footy.
The Claremont product is a strong chance of following in his older brother’s footsteps and joining the Eagles as a father-son pick but is open to playing elsewhere.
“There’s pros and cons to every situation,” he said.
“I’d love to play for the Eagles or for any other club. There’s so many opportunities out there and I don’t want to make a decision and be thinking ‘what if’ or something like that. I want to go in with the right decision and be 100 per cent confident in it.”