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THERE'S a family rivalry that's fueling Nathan O'Driscoll's ambitions to be drafted this year.

The highly rated West Australian prospect's older sister, Emma O'Driscoll, was drafted by Fremantle last year and played four games in the recent AFLW season for the Dockers before it was cut short by the coronavirus.

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Having played state netball until late in her teenage years, she then crossed to football and has – at the moment – bragging rights as the best player in her family.

"I cop that a lot from my mates," Nathan told AFL.com.au with a laugh.

"She can claim that title now because she's in the AFLW but, hopefully, if I make it to the AFL, then I can get it. It's a bit of extra motivation for me."

O'Driscoll is in a fortunate position compared to many in his draft crop in 2020.

He was able to make an impression on recruiters last year as a bottom-ager, playing three of his state's games in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, which WA won.

The 17-year-old said he was thankful to have exposed form at the level given there were no guarantees of a return this year due to COVID-19.

"Last year I got the opportunity and I was happy with that, but I was mainly preparing myself and getting ready to show what I could do this year and play my best footy," he said.

"Obviously now that I can't play I've got some advantage because I played last year, but others might not get that chance this year."

O'Driscoll's strengths are already known. He's a midfield ball-winner and averaged 25 disposals for Perth's colts side last year. He can also play across half-back, where he reads the play well, and is a fierce tackler.

"I pride myself on that and my contested footy," he said.



The AFL's decision to stop all games until at least May 31 made for some quick changes for O'Driscoll, who is considered one of his state's leading draft hopefuls this year.

He had been living in Perth, working part-time with the father of new Swan Chad Warner's tree cutting business.

But upon the suspension of the season, O'Driscoll swiftly made his way back to Northam, where he grew up and his family still lives.

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Trips to the local oval and a small gym set-up at home have been keeping him busy, with border restrictions meaning he can't make the 90-minute drive back to Perth without a clearance for essential travel.

O'Driscoll is hoping to add to his hometown's recent record of draftees, with Richmond young gun Sydney Stack and Greater Western Sydney speedster Ian Hill graduating to AFL lists in 2018 and Deven Robertson joining Brisbane last year.

O'Driscoll, who has grown five centremetres since last year to stand at 187cm, models his game on Robertson, a hard-at-it midfielder who made his debut for the Lions in round one.

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"When I was in juniors I was always playing against Bobby and Sydney, and Deven and I were on the same team. We'd always have a pretty good rivalry, and I'm pretty close to Dev," he said.

"He's a year older than me so I always looked up to him, and the way he attacks the footy is something I love. He's so courageous, he's not afraid of anything, he goes in head first, and that's what I like about him.

"Last year in the championships I had to stay away from doing that in a way because he was the one that doing it. That's what I learned most from him, to just go in hard. That's the sort of player I want to be."