AS MOST draft prospects are forced to train by themselves during football's isolation period, Taj Schofield has had the benefit of leaning on his dad, who doubles as an AFL assistant coach.
The Port Adelaide father-son prospect has been keeping up his training and fitness by following the program devised by the national AFL Academy.
But he has also had an ally at home in the coronavirus-enforced layoff with father Jarrad, a Power premiership player and the club's current midfield coach.
"Having him around the house in this uncertain time when we're not training with our teams and just doing our own stuff he's been really helpful," Taj, 17, told AFL.com.au.
"Obviously he knows what he's talking about and he knows what it takes to be an AFL player so here's here to help me and guide me through this time." Schofield started his career at West Coast, headed to the Power and was a key player in its only AFL flag, before then finishing with two seasons at Fremantle.
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At the end of 2018, he rejoined the AFL ranks as the Power's assistant, with his family moving back to Adelaide months later. Like most assistants across the competition, Schofield have been stood down during the AFL's hiatus, but he has been keeping busy at home.
"We're pretty fortunate that we've got a makeshift gym, we have a bike, and obviously Taj has been able to get out and go for a run when he needs to. I've been trying to keep active and doing a bit of cross-training which he's been able to jump into," Schofield said.
"He's testing me with the strengths – I have to work a little bit harder if we have a wrestle. He's probably got me covered."
Foot and ankle injuries impacted the 177cm prospect's season last year, but he had begun his 2020 campaign strongly, performing well as a midfielder in trial games before things were stopped last month.
"He's driven in his own quest to be an AFL footballer and he's always wanted to hopefully fulfil his dream of getting into an AFL club," Schofield said.
"He's continuing to work on his overall speed and endurance and general strength, as all kids going into their draft year would look to improve.
"Unfortunately it's come to a halt but his first two pre-season games in the practice matches were really good playing both inside and outside. He's in a really good space, he's just got to wait a little bit longer to hopefully get back on the park and have a kick."
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His pre-season included a week training with Port Adelaide as part of his AFL Academy placement, where he worked with the forwards group and learnt of young guns Connor Rozee and Zak Butters.
"They were really helpful in getting me into the right positions during match simulation drills," he said.
"It was good training with the Port boys and doing that week of training at the club. That was really cool to rub shoulders with players like Travis Boak and Robbie Gray."
Next year he hopes to join them as teammates. Port has offered no guarantees, particularly with uncertainty surrounding the format of this year's national draft and list sizes, but he has regularly been working with former player Paul Stewart, who heads the club's Academy.
"We get to go in there a little bit and I've been working with Paul Stewart doing some individual stuff and watching vision, craft and development work,” he said.
"Obviously it would be pretty cool to follow in dad's footsteps and play for Port Adelaide, but at the end of the day my main goal is to get drafted and I'll be happy to play anywhere."
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Schofield says there wouldn't be any concerns with the unusual situation of playing at the club while his father is part of the coaching panel.
"If that did happen I feel like we'd both adapt to it and be all right," he said. "When we're at training I'd just treat him as one of the coaches and he'd treat me as one of the players, and when I did that one week experience at the Power it didn't really seem to have any issues."
For now, Jarrad is keeping in regular contact with the Power players, ensuring that once the season resumes they are ready after a strong round one win over Gold Coast.
"There's a lot of uncertainty for a lot of people, and I'm no different," he said. "I'm still staying engaged with the players, individually and as a midfield unit once a week to make sure that not only for myself keeping my head in football, but also for the players because hopefully at some stage we'll get this game of ours up and going and we have to make sure we're ready to go."