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Lion Mayes wins Rising Star nod

Ryan Davidson  June 18, 2013 9:00 AM

It's a Mayes thing Brisbane Lion Sam Mayes grabs the NAB Rising Star nomination for round 12

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IT WOULDN'T be hard for young Brisbane Lion Sam Mayes to get carried away by his decorated junior career.

By the age of 18 he had Under-18 All Australian honours, was an AIS-AFL Academy graduate and had made his SANFL senior debut.

The Lions knew they had a prodigious talent when they selected the South Australian with pick eight in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, but what quickly became apparent was his burning desire to improve.

As a forward with deft foot-skills and an uncanny knack of finding space, he wants to add a harder edge to his game.

"I need to develop a bigger body so I can push into the midfield and play an inside role while still having the ability play outside and push forward. I think it's pretty important to be versatile," Mayes told AFL.com.au.

"Since I've moved to Brisbane they've given me the opportunity to train through the midfield, so it's been good."

And the 19-year-old seems well on the way to achieving his goal after an impressive performance in Saturday's loss to Fremantle.

Pitted against AFL's kings of the disputed ball, Mayes racked up 25 possessions (seven contested) and seven marks, earning him the round 12 NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

His coach isn't surprised recognition has come so quickly.

"From day one we’ve been very impressed by Sam's attitude and his approach to his training," Michael Voss said.

"He's a good, level-headed young man. When you keep presenting yourself in that fashion then people start to take notice."

Hailing from Port Pirie, 220km north of Adelaide, Mayes is relishing life in the Sunshine State.

He rents a house off former Lion Josh Drummond with fellow first-year cubs Michael Close, Marco Paparone and Nick Hayes.

The quartet is still awaiting a surprise inspection from the now North Melbourne assistant coach.

"The four of us draftees are all living in a house; it's good fun and we've all become pretty close mates," Mayes said.

Those close bonds have helped Mayes control anxiety attacks, a condition that made him physically ill before his first press conference and training session with the Lions.

"My nerves have settled down a little bit but I still get pretty nervous going into games and doing media. I'm slowly getting better at it, but I think that's just me." he said.

Just eight games into a highly promising AFL career, Mayes isn't getting carried away with his latest accolade.

"The nomination is great but I don't want to get my expectations too high, I just want to train well and keep my spot in the side."