• Going places: Four incredible draft stories
• Draft trumps: Insider access to this year's gun prospects
PART 4Sunday, September 28, 2014 – YESTERDAY, Lachie Weller played for his sixth team this season. He put on the Allies jumper and ran out onto the MCG on AFL Grand Final morning, in the curtain raiser to the Hawthorn-Sydney Swans premiership-decider.
The Allies were made up of the best players from the division two states – Queensland, NSW-ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory – and they played against the Academy team, prospects from around the country eligible for next year's draft.
Weller started quickly and kept going. He showed zip, class and penetration with his kicking and in the second half booted two classy goals that made everyone take notice. After the first, an onlooker in the media box turned and asked, "Who was that?"
He finished with 20 disposals and a tender lower leg, which he's now concerned might stop him from testing at the NAB AFL Draft Combine this week. But he was pleased to get out there and play well, even if it was for another new team (after already representing Queensland, Gold Coast reserves, Gold Coast academy, Southport and the AIS-AFL Academy this season – not to forget pre-season training with the senior Suns side).
"Moving around has definitely made it harder to play consistently through the year, because it's so difficult to know what to take in," he says. "But playing on the 'G on Grand Final day was a pretty special opportunity."
WATCH: Lachie Weller's outing for the Allies at the MCG
The curtain raiser was the first game Weller had played since he ended his season a month ago with Southport. In his final three games for the Sharks he was named among the team's best players, in the most consistent patch of his year.
"I focused on finishing well, because there's obviously a fair wait until the next time I play," he says.
"By the end of my time with Southport my teammates thought I could use the ball well and if I ran past someone for a handball, they wouldn't even think about it, they'd give it to me straight away. There was a game plan to get it in my hands."
The Tasmanian devil withinAfter heading back to the NEAFL following the mid-year NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, Weller was meant to play out the season with Southport. But having skipped one of Queensland's TAC Cup games, he was told to play in its final clash in the competition. That was against the Geelong Falcons, and again Weller received some close attention.
In the second quarter, as he was running to the bench, Weller's opponent ran at him looking for contact. Weller braced himself and lifted his elbow, but connected with the Geelong player's head and put him on the ground. Weller was immediately reported (he later received a reprimand) and had to sit on the bench for a quarter.
While having to watch on was a bit embarrassing, it wasn't such a bad thing. "I loved it," one recruiter said. "I hadn't seen that side of him before. I'd seen him get tagged and not do much about it a few times, and wondered if he had that side to his game. It was good to see he had a bit of 'aggro' there."
Another scout was of the same view: "Lachie's strengths are obvious: he has footy smarts and sees the game unfold. He can play anywhere on the ground and do well. He's a bit of a supermodel. He's got the strut, and that bit of confidence. But that was good to see."
The same thoughts were passed on to Weller. "I had a good response to it," he says. "I haven't stuck up for myself like that before, probably. The recruiters saw another side of me. I've got the 'Gold Coast pretty boy' tag, maybe I need a little bit more of the 'Tasmanian Devil'."
Since his last game with Southport, Weller has spent some time trying to work out why he had the season he did. Why couldn't he play well consistently? Why did he turn up to some games feeling energetic, light on his feet and ready to go, and then a week later be flat and tired and play in the same manner? He looks back to his pre-season as an answer.
Instead of having a break after his 2013 season, he trained with his brother Mav as he tried to win back a spot on an AFL list. Lachie kept going through the summer and hit the season fatigued, not fresh.
"I overloaded in pre-season and probably made it a bigger year than it already was. I didn't have a break and it really caught up with me. I never got on top of it. It was a bit too late in the end," Weller says.
"In hindsight I would definitely have done things differently and had a break. I felt like I had to be really fit before the pre-season started and I just peaked too early."
He travelled to Melbourne after his final game and spent a few days with Mav, who gave him some important advice about his season: "Don't dwell on it".
Mav enjoyed a good first season at St Kilda, playing 16 games and settling into the team's midfield. Lachie has always listened to what Mav's told him, even back when he was a toddler and Mav and older brother Tyson taught him swear words to say to their parents.
Mav Weller in action for the Saints in 2014. Picture: AFL Media
He was also there for Lachie when, at 15, he almost gave up footy for athletics. At that point, Lachie approached Mav for his thoughts. Mav felt he had to tread a careful line: of being supportive, but not overbearing.
"I didn't want him to pursue athletics, but I just wanted him to be happy. I didn't want him to feel pressure from me because I was playing footy, and I made that clear," Mav recalls.
"He asked me where I saw his footy. Having been in the system a bit at that stage, he had some very good things in his game. I said 'I could see you being an absolute jet if you're willing to work hard'.
"I've been really impressed with how he's gone this year. Impressed, but not surprised. Nothing he's done in footy has surprised me. I've been telling people for years he's pretty special because I saw it first-hand with his dedication growing up."
Mav expects to be more nervous than Lachie over the next two months, as the order of this year's draft takes shape and his younger brother's footy future is decided.
Lachie is keeping things settled. He recently picked up a new job as a real estate agent's sales associate, moving on from his role at AFL Queensland. He's been working four or five days a week, cold-calling prospective clients and enjoying the 9-5 lifestyle.
But he's looking forward to an even more stimulating job soon, with the draft getting so close. "It still feels like it's ages away," he says, "but it's getting a bit scary."
Preparing for the next stepSunday, November 2, 2014 – LACHIE Weller is relaxed. He's just come back from a 10-day holiday to Hawaii with his girlfriend, Nicola Hewitt. The pair visited Pearl Harbour, attended a college gridiron game, and hung out at Waikiki beach, surfing, snorkelling and enjoying the sun.
"It was great to get away. I needed to have a proper break this year, and I've come back feeling refreshed," he says.
But Weller couldn't completely disconnect from footy during his trip. He regularly checked the AFL app on his phone for news and also had a daily 15-minute run on the hotel's treadmill, making sure he stayed in shape so he wasn't behind when he got back home to the Gold Coast.
In less than four weeks, Weller is set to do what he has long hoped to: be drafted by an AFL club. He wants to start at that club in good shape. "I'm really excited and I'm ready to start training hard," Weller says.
Lachie Weller looks on during September's NAB AFL Draft Combine. Picture: AFL Media
"I'm not nervous about the draft at all. I feel I'm in a pretty good position, and don't think I've got too much to worry about.
"I don't care where I go; you can't pick and choose where you want to go, because you don't want to get to draft night and be disappointed because you're going somewhere else."
The perfect outsiderWeller has been linked to Richmond (the club he supports), Collingwood and Gold Coast in the first round, but he has no idea where he will end up. He had 13 clubs interview him at last month's NAB AFL Draft Combine, and that made him think that wherever he went, he'd fit in.
Speaking to clubs took up most of his time at the combine, given the leg injury he suffered playing for the Allies on Grand Final day turned out to be a hairline fracture and bone bruising.
He sat in the stands and watched others do what he wished he could: underline their qualities with strong results. But he was encouraged when recruiters said they had seen enough of him do that in the past two years.
Weller (centre) with fellow gun draft prospects Hugh Goddard (l) and Paddy McCartin at September's NAB AFL Draft Combine. Picture: AFL Media
Weller told most clubs he was keen to add more ball-winning to his game, but was enthused when he got feedback they were generally happy with what he had shown already.
"A few said they wanted me to stick to my strengths, and that there's no problems with being an outside player. That was nice to hear," he says.
Weller finds it hard to grasp that his future will be confirmed in a few weeks, when the draft is held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on November 27. It looms as a successful night for his family. Mav recently won a two-year contract extension with the Saints, and so will have his name called later during the draft as an elevated rookie.
Lachie doesn't know yet if he'll be one of the 12 or so players invited to the draft, but if not, he'll watch from home 15 minutes away, with a small gathering of friends and family. The night has been a long time coming.
"Even this time last year I felt like I had to be on a list. I was pumped then about being an AFL player," he says.
"I want to be a one-club player and I'd love to win a premiership. But it's hard to think about that when you don't know what club you're going to.
"I could end up at a really good club that's going to be contending for the Grand Final next year, or I could be at one that's rebuilding.
"Moving doesn't bother me if that happens either; I can go out there and look after myself pretty well. I'm so excited for the next step."
Read part 1: Weller shadows the stars
Part 2: A model prospect
Part 3: A nagging, tagging pain
Read more incredible draft stories: Going places