TALENTED forward Paul Curtis will be ready to go for the start of the pre-season as he looks to be selected at next month's NAB AFL Draft after recovering from COVID-19.
The Western Jets prospect recently tested positive to the illness, seeing him spend two weeks in isolation at his family home. Recruiters and clubs were made aware of his case, with interviews with scouts needing to be shuffled.
But after being cleared by health officials to re-enter the community, the 18-year-old will get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination this weekend, will be fully vaccinated by the November 24-25 draft, and says there will be no ill effects on his footy dreams.
"When I first [got diagnosed] it was pretty daunting like, 'Oh, I actually have it?' and then it was kind of the same as the last two months in lockdown and my whole family had to quarantine because of me. It was pretty tough, I'd have to go out and get my food separately and have the bathroom and toilet to myself," he told AFL.com.au.
"I didn't really have symptoms and I wasn't coughing or anything. The only thing is that I lost my smell and taste.
"It is challenging being in the room, you can't do anything besides study so it does get a bit boring. It's quite daunting seeing that it could potentially take you to hospital or something like that, but I got lucky."
As Victoria and New South Wales open up after months of various lockdowns, with Queensland and South Australia to follow, AFL clubs and the League are aware that more COVID-19 cases will hit the industry.
Curtis, who was keen to share an update on his fitness following the diagnosis, has spoken to clubs about how he fared through his time with the illness.
"I was a little worried [about the draft]. A few clubs asked me about it," he said.
"If I'm lucky enough to get picked I'm feeling 100 per cent. I'm getting my first dose so I'm feeling really good."
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It is not the end to his draft season that Curtis would have anticipated, having shown some exciting signs throughout a disrupted draft season.
The 183cm medium forward displayed a real talent around goal for the Jets averaging two goals in the NAB League and then took his talents up a level with six goals in two games for Vic Metro against Vic Country. The left-footer is sharp at ground level and quick to pounce on chances in the air as well, with his crafty play making him a potential top-40 selection.
He said his outings for Vic Metro made him more confident about his draft hopes.
"I was actually quite surprised how I went," he said.
"I feel like I impacted quite a bit in both games and went all right.
"It'd be a dream come true [getting drafted]. Since I was younger and watching the footy on TV I told my dad I wanted to get there. It would be the biggest opportunity and I'd take it with two hands."
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Already there is sporting bloodlines within his family. Curtis is one of five siblings, with his father Australian and his mother from Tonga, where she played netball at national level.
"When she was younger she represented Tonga for the Netball in the Commonwealth Games. She still plays now down at our local club as goal shooter," Curtis said.