BROUGHT TO YOU BYNAB

As part of the Road to the Draft podcast series, AFL.com.au will be asking recruiters and list managers about their favourite draft pick throughout their time in scouting.

First up is Scott Clayton, who has joined North Melbourne this year as head of player personnel following a long career in recruiting with Brisbane, the Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and West Coast.

IT IS the brilliant AFL career that might not have started at all if not for a suit and polished shoes.

Brian Lake (then Brian Harris) became one of the AFL's best defenders, playing 197 games with the Western Bulldogs, where he was a two-time Virgin Australia All-Australian, before he crossed to Hawthorn and featured in the club' 2013-15 premierships, including being named the Norm Smith medallist in 2013.

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But Lake wasn't viewed as a star from a long way out. He was pick No.71 in the famous 2001 'Superdraft', and the Bulldogs' fourth choice of that intake.

Scott Clayton, who was the Dogs' recruiting manager, said the Lake pick ranks as a favourite choice in his time in the industry. 

"I think that decision changed his life, and clearly he's had some challenges lately. Deep down he's a beautiful man and had a very, very tough upbringing," Clayton said on the Road to the Draft podcast.

"Needless to say he's been so courageous and brave and I don't think he would have been picked by anyone else.

"The process we went into and the fact we found he had an adenoid medical issue with sleep apnea and just the detail around that and picking him and seeing it change a whole family's life, that's certainly one that always comes to mind."

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Clayton recalled the moment it struck him that Lake, who was drafted to the Whitten Oval from Woodville West Torrens in South Australia, was desperate for a chance at the top level.

"I certainly fell in love with his footy, and saw his sunny side up and his best," he said.

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"But I fell in love with him when he came into a hotel in the lobby for an interview and he turned up in a suit and he'd polished his shoes and it was just so clear that this young man had tried so hard and I'll never forget it.

"I can't think of another [draftee who has done that], to be honest."

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Lake's ability to intercept mark and set up the game from the back half made him one of the leading defenders in the competition throughout his 251-game career, but Clayton said other clubs were put off by his tendency to drift in and out of games.

"He was very inconsistent. I'm loathe to talk about medical stuff but with sleep apnea where you're just continually tired and so after getting some medical advice our doctor couldn't actually believe he was playing an endurance-based sport so he's very brave," Clayton said.

Lake retired after the Hawks' 2015 Grand Final win over West Coast.

Brian Lake after winning his third flag with the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos