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By Matt Turner, Eastern Courier
STURT’S Brad McKenzie hopes a week relaxing with mates will help him take his mind off the biggest day of his football career.
McKenzie, one of SA’s top prospects, is spending the leadup to Thursday’s AFL national draft at schoolies in Encounter Bay to ease his nerves.
In the meantime the 18-year-old midfielder is steering clear of mock drafts, many of which have touted him as a top 50 selection.
“I don’t pay too much attention to them,” McKenzie, of Magill, said.
“I’m spending a few extra days at schoolies with my mates so I’m not sitting at home doing nothing and thinking about it.
“(But) it’s pretty hard not to think about the draft really when it’s so close.
“I might go go-karting or something like that on the day just to get my mind off it.
“I’ll just be watching the draft that night at home with mum and dad ... and see what happens.”
McKenzie’s booming left boot - he regularly launches the ball 60m - and selection in the state under-18 team ensured he was on the radar of AFL clubs early in the season.
Last month he was one of 13 South Australians who attended the national draft combine for physical and skills tests.
“I was pretty nervous there with everyone watching everything you do but it was also pretty good fun,” he says.
Born in the small town of Minnipa on the state’s west coast, McKenzie started playing mini-colts when he was five.
His football progressed when he moved to Adelaide three years later, first with Magill Primary School then the Double Blues’ development squad.
Later he made the under-12 state team.
He has risen through Sturt’s ranks in recent seasons and made his League debut against Port Adelaide in round 20.
“I set a goal at the start of the year to play the highest level I could and I managed to do it,” says McKenzie, who played three League games this season.
“It was a real confidence-booster as well to get that experience and see what it was all about.”
McKenzie spoke with Hawthorn at the beginning of the year and has since been interviewed by more than 10 clubs.
He is prepared for the next phase of his life.
“I’d be happy to go anywhere just to get on a list. It’s been my dream to play AFL since I started footy.”