Aiden O'Driscoll during a game for WA and (inset) with older siblings Nathan and Emma. Picture: AFL Photos/Fremantle FC

DRAFT speedster Aiden O'Driscoll still remembers the defining piece of advice he received from a junior coach that has shaped him as a footballer and given him a weapon that is unmatched in this year's class of AFL prospects.  

O'Driscoll, who hails from Northam in WA's Wheatbelt and is the younger brother of Fremantle's Nathan and Emma O'Driscoll, was in year nine when local coach Jason Osborne told him it was time to start using his assets as a player. 

As a smaller footballer who idolises star Sydney wingman Errol Gulden, having an edge over bigger opponents was crucial and Osborne helped unlock the speed that O'Driscoll showcased this year as a player and at the AFL Draft Combine, where he recorded the year's best 20m sprint time (2.87sec). 

"I remember him telling me, 'You're pretty quick, you need to use this more. You need to. It's not good to see you not using it'," O'Driscoll told

"That helped me use that trigger to start using it and it's made me more confident with my own ability and I use it whenever I can on the footy field to my advantage. 

"I love to be able to pass my player, because I know I have the ability to do that, I've just got to use it at the right moment.  


"I also like to follow up contest after contest and I want to keep improving that and I'm ready to put the work in to keep improving that and be a player like Errol Gulden."

Gulden is the AFL player O'Driscoll loves watching and bases his game around, having identified that the Swans' All-Australian is also 175cm tall but has no issue holding his own in an AFL midfield.  

"He's one of my idols. He's so awesome to watch. He's got a great left foot kick and just keeps following up. I didn't realise how small he is and then bang he's my height, but he just dominates," O'Driscoll said. 

Aiden O'Driscoll celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2023 U18 Championships match between Western Australia and South Australia at Optus Stadium on June 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"What I like about him as well is he doesn't mess it up. He's consistent with his disposal and it's really good to watch. 

"With enough work in the gym and running and extras, I reckon I can maybe not have the impact he does, but definitely use my speed like he does and keep following up."

O'Driscoll's elite speed and endurance combination (he also ranked No.6 for the 2km time trial at the Draft Combine) has seen him play some outstanding games this season for Perth's WAFL Colts, while also stepping up for WA at the National Championships with a strong performance against South Australia. 

He has played a mix of wing and small forward roles at those levels, while also slotting into the midfield in school matches with Wesley College, with his GPS numbers showcasing a player with an elite work ethic when at his best. 

Aiden O'Driscoll (centre) with older siblings Nathan and Emma. Picture: Fremantle FC

The teenager also revealed he played out the crucial part of the year with a minor stress fracture in his back, which he is now recovering from before the November 20-21 draft. 

"It started at the end of the PSA (Public Schools' Association) season and towards WAFL finals, but I thought, 'I can't miss this', so I didn't say anything," the 18-year-old said. 

"Perth Demons haven't been part of finals for the past 10 years or something, so it was a big thing and I had to get involved. 

"It wasn't too bad. I'd wake up and it was a bit stiff, so I thought it was normal soreness from games.

"Towards the end of everything and just before the Combine, I went to the physio and said my back's been a little bit sore and I haven't said anything because I wanted to keep playing. 

"I said I still want to do the Combine and get my name heard if I can do well, which would be a really good honour. I just wanted to keep going and get it scanned after that."

Those scans revealed a minor stress fracture and inflammation that required rest, with the youngster now a week away from resuming high-intensity training after keeping active by walking and working on his uncle's canola farm. 

While O'Driscoll comes across now as a confident and natural teenager, he said he hadn't always been that way and was a more introverted character than his older siblings. 

Aiden O'Driscoll in action during the 2023 AFL National Championships U18 match between Vic Country and Western Australia at the WACA on June 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Still, he took it up to Nathan growing up whenever he could before coming out of his shell at boarding school after sensing the opportunities that could be available to him in football and school. 

"Nathan and I were always really close. We would have a kick in the backyard whenever we could and we played basketball a lot against each other," O'Driscoll said. 

"I used to stir him a little bit and he used to bite the bait and come at me and wrestle. He won, but I kept sticking at the chirp. 

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"I was pretty shy when I was young though and I used to have social anxiety pretty bad, but I've grown and will talk to a new person any time and start a conversation, where I never used to do that. 

"Year 10 I started to mature a bit more as I knew I was going to go to this big school and I could have the opportunity to play league footy. I had dreams to be an AFL player, so I took the opportunity that was there."