Former AFL player Oliver Hanrahan offers some pivotal advice to the upcoming 2022 draft crop

AFL

Former AFL player Oliver Hanrahan’s draft story is far from common.

Drafted to Hawthorn at the end of 2016, Hanrahan got selected with pick 14 of the Rookie Draft.

Failing to go through the National Draft on November 25, 2016, the crafty forward thought his dream was over.

How wrong he’d be.

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Forced to wait three days for fate to step in, Hanrahan and the Hawks began an exciting relationship.

Although taking two-and-a-half seasons to debut, the-now 24-year-old didn’t let that deter him from what was his ultimate goal.

Hanrahan’s tale is unlike most, as he didn’t partake in the traditional TAC Cup series, which is now known as the NAB League.

This competition is where some of Victoria’s best football talent play for teams within their zone to give themselves the opportunity to play AFL football.

Oliver Hanrahan.jpg

Speaking on his pathway in an exclusive tell-all with The Sporting News, Hanrahan recognised his narrative is different to most but unknowingly acts as inspiration for those in a similar position.

“I didn’t do TAC Cup, just played school footy. You think during the year that guys don’t get drafted from school, you’ve got to go down the right pathway and whole program,” Hanrahan said.

“I kind of looked at it as an advantage because it could give you an edge.

“Because recruiters could go like ‘who’s this guy from school footy that’s playing well and not in the system … why isn’t he in there’?

“I felt maybe if I was in the TAC Cup I could’ve just been another number.”

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Once walking through the doors at Waverley Park, Hanrahan admitted it took some adjusting and getting used to the life of an AFL footballer. 

“You pretty much train for an hour and then there’s six more hours during the day where you’re either doing weights, in meetings, physio, dietician, media stuff,” the 24-year-old said.

“Your day is mainly not actually football, it’s other stuff to help you perform on the field which took me a while to get used to and I didn’t really know how to go about it and early on I was just trying to learn and figure out about it.

“Going in there, I thought it would be a lot of kicking the footy, going out training on the field and hard running. I didn’t quite know about the off-field stuff.

“A lot different to what I thought it would be.”

Asked if he’d do anything different, Hanrahan expressed the need to make an impression from day one, imploring the new draftees to do the same.

“I should’ve pushed myself earlier,” he said.

“I was in such awe of the people around me and I didn’t want to step on their toes.

“If I had my time again, from the first day I got there I would’ve been like ‘hey, I think I can play in the best 22 and compete for a spot’, instead of looking at a Rioli, Puopolo and Breust and saying ‘that’s their spot. I’m happy with that.’

“It would’ve been good to fight for my own spot earlier cause I realised in the second and third year I could crack into the team but I wish I had that realisation earlier.”

Oliver Hanrahan.jpg

Hanrahan was delisted by Hawthorn at the end of 2021 with 29 games under his belt.

Despite impressing in his final year, resulting in 12 matches, the speedster was unable to secure another contract under new coach Sam Mitchell.

Hanrahan played for VFL team Werribee in 2022 and is still being watched by recruiters.

His AFL story is unique to say the least.

However, Hanrahan, alike others, have provided hope for those who aren’t drafted in the conventional way.

The AFL has so many routes to which players can be selected by clubs and all it takes is consistency, hard work and just a bit of luck for it to happen.

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