Ryan Maric celebrates a goal during West Coast's clash with Collingwood in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST Coast forward Ryan Maric has warned mid-season draftees not to put too much pressure on themselves after joining injury-hit clubs halfway through a season, even if they feel an expectation to have a rapid impact.

Clubs across the League are battling high injury numbers, with the possibility that more than 20 new players will realise their AFL dream at Wednesday night's Mid-Season Rookie Draft and earn quick opportunities at senior level.

The talented Maric was recruited mid-season by an injury-riddled West Coast with pick No.1 last year and made his debut 10 days later, playing one match in the WAFL and then 10 of a possible 11 AFL games to close the season.

The 19-year-old forward has settled into his career well in his second season and said his main advice for mid-season draftees was to embrace the opportunity without expecting to transfer their impressive 2024 form to AFL level immediately.

"I got down on myself a little bit, but the way I look back at it I came into a new team as a 19-year-old halfway through the year and you just need to not be so hard on myself," Maric told AFL.com.au.

"In your mind you think you're going to come in and play as well as you're playing in lower levels, but it's obviously not going to happen straight away, so you've just got to chip away at your craft.

"You're not going to be the complete player when you come in, (but) you've got a lot of time to express yourself, so just come in with open arms and be ready to learn and just feel that you're wanted.

"It doesn't really matter what pick you go once you get to a club. If you're at the club you're the same as everyone else, so just come in and be ready to learn and be ready to put your strengths out there."


The Eagles recruited Jai Culley with pick No.1 in the 2022 Mid-Season Rookie Draft, with the midfielder helping Maric understand what to expect once he arrived at the club halfway through the season.

The young Victorian moved in with ruckman Harry Barnett and gravitated to the club's other first-year players, reflecting on the experience as a "very happy time of my life".

"You don't expect to move across the country and away from your family, but it was an awesome time to make new friends and learn in your environment, which I'm loving 12 months on," Maric said.

"I wasn't really on the radar for any clubs at the start of last season, so to get my name called out on the night was a dream come true and I'm forever grateful.

"I just want to give back and show my appreciation, so I try to do that whether it's off the field or on the field."


Maric, who has played nine games this season and shown regular flashes of his skill, particularly when delivering the ball inside 50, said he felt well on track with his career in the AFL 12 months on from last year's mid-season draft.

He has kept an eye on other mid-season recruits, including former Box Hill teammates Ethan Stanley, who played two games with Fremantle last season, and Clay Tucker, who is a developing ruckman with Hawthorn yet to make his debut.

Ryan Maric celebrates West Coast's win over Melbourne in round 10, 2024 with teammates. Picture: AFL Photos

The mid-season draft boasts multiple success stories, including John Noble (Collingwood), Sam Durham (Essendon) and Jai Newcombe (Hawthorn), and Maric's 19 games so far are the best individual return from last year's pool.

"I've got a lot more confidence in myself and I feel like I'm showing signs every week and improving every week," he said.

"It's just about piecing them all together and trying to play a complete game, and play a complete game consistently.

"That's the next step … piecing it all together and being a consistent footballer."

Watch the 2024 AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft LIVE and exclusive on AFL.com.au and the AFL Live Official App from 7pm AEST on Wednesday, May 29. Cal Twomey, Riley Beveridge, Nat Edwards and Sarah Olle brings you all the pics, analysis and drama as even more AFL dreams come true.