Draft trumps: Jayden Laverde
The tall goal kicking midfielder is widely tipped to be an early first round pick at the NAB AFL Draft
Essendon fan Jayden Laverde fitting right in at his new club
I'm hoping to prove I am part of this. Hopefully I play a few games next season and I show my worth
JAYDEN Laverde has always been an Essendon supporter and had always wondered how it would be to play for the club that's a short drive from his house in Keilor.
Having been drafted by the Bombers in November, Laverde recently arrived for his first day at the club and was excited for what lay ahead. That was after he found somewhere to sit.
"We had a big team meeting and all the boys were sitting in their certain spots and I was trying to look for my spot, searching around," Laverde told AFL.com.au.
"I just sort of sat on the edge of the step where there was a bit of room. Luckily, I've got my own seat now. You get used to it all quickly and realise that you're meant to be here. I love it and I think I do belong."
Laverde was Essendon's second pick at the NAB AFL Draft (No.20 overall), which was a surprise on the night given many clubs viewed him as a top-five prospect.
But after it became clearer during draft week Collingwood would take half-forward Jordan De Goey at pick five, it appeared more likely Laverde would be available later in the first round.
He was interviewed by Adelaide in the days before the draft while on the Gold Coast, and met with North Melbourne only hours before the draft begun. When the Bombers called Laverde's name, his family at the convention centre erupted in the loudest cheer of the night.
"Coming into the draft I didn't know what was going to happen – if I was going to be picked in the top 10 or not. As it got closer there were a few more rumours going around and you hear more and more things," Laverde said.
"I had a few different things in my mind on the night and I was rapt to end up at the Bombers. It was the best-case scenario for me. I never really thought I'd get to Essendon, and I was so happy with the result. It was grouse."
Now that he's settled in at the Bombers, Laverde has set his sights for his first AFL season.
He and the club's other draftees have gradually been building up their training loads, and are beginning to feel more comfortable with each session.
Laverde wants to improve his strength and endurance, and has already noticed the professional attitude that his new teammates Brendon Goddard, Dyson Heppell and others bring to each session.
Although he can play nearly anywhere on the field, the 189cm Laverde has started training with the midfield group, and feels that's where he'd be able to fit in at the next level, when the opportunity arises.
"I'm hoping to prove I am part of this. Hopefully I play a few games next season and I show my worth. I think I'll be ready, if I can get my fitness up a bit and get out there and play some good footy in the practice matches. Obviously you want to play as many games as you can," the 18-year-old said.
"Everyone's helped me through it in the first couple of weeks. But once you gain some confidence and you aren't so star struck, you get used to what's required pretty quick."