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Jaeger wows them early

Ryan Davidson  April 30, 2013 8:42 AM

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Jaeger O'Meara is the round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee

You often hear young players compared to the greats of the game after just a handful of senior matches.

These comparisons can lead to undue pressure on a developing body and mind.

So spare a though for round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee, Gold Coast midfielder Jaeger O'Meara, who was hailed as the next Chris Judd by besotted recruiters when he kicked four goals as a 16 year old in his WAFL debut.

"I don't worry about all the hype, I don't read the papers, I just worry about footy and how the coaches want me to play," O'Meara told AFL.com.au after his rising star nomination.

"The rising star nomination is recognition for playing good footy and I'm happy to get it."

But it's not hard to see why the football world is so excited by the smooth moving 19-year-old, who gathered 25 possessions, laid four tackles and kicked two goals in the win over Greater Western Sydney. He also had a game high 11 clearances.

"I've probably been a bit inconsistent to start off the season, but my last two games have been good," he said.

"I have some great mates at the Giants and I wanted to play some good footy against them."

One of those Giants he's particularly close to is fellow West Australian Stephen Coniglio.

The two became firm friends during their time with the WA under-18 squad and both share the weight of expectation that comes with being a highly rated junior.

"We actually caught up for a cup of tea the night before the game and then lined up against each other at the first bounce and I was lucky enough to get the first kick on him, which he wasn't too happy about." O'Meara laughed.

The pair could have been teammates after the Giants hatched an audacious plan to snare O'Meara, a player they had to trade as part of their establishment concessions in the 2011 mini-draft.

The AFL quickly knocked the plan on the head and the country's most eagerly sought-after 17-year-old was eventually traded to the elated Suns.

"Coming a year early really helped me focus on my development as a footballer," he said.

"I've been able to just concentrate on getting my body ready and have definitely benefited from being exposed to an elite environment."

Whereas his age didn't allow him to play senior footy in 2012, a groin injury restricted his output while playing in the reserves.

But with those injury concerns, and two pre-seasons now behind him, O'Meara is relishing being part of a midfield brigade lead by skipper Gary Ablett.

"Gary is a great role model and I'm picking his brain day in, day out because he's one of the best players in the AFL, even one of the best of all time," he said

Living with teammates David Swallow, Danny Stanley and Luke Russell in a self described "bachelor pad", the boy from country Western Australia is loving life on the Gold Coast.

"I'm definitely enjoying it because it's not a big footy environment like Perth or Melbourne," he said

"I just want to keep improving and hopefully get some team success."