AFL draft: West Perth’s Oscar Allen learning to deal with spotlight

Oscar Allen in his debut WAFL league game. Picture: Dan White
Oscar Allen in his debut WAFL league game. Picture: Dan White

WEST Perth AFL draft prospect Oscar Allen has already had to teach himself not to read or listen to everything that’s said about him.

And he’s not even a professional yet.

The 18-year-old Ocean Reef resident has quickly learned what it is like under the intense focus of the WA football microscope.

With so many outlets for football chatter in 2017, particularly via the noise of social media, the utility has been one of the more heavily covered local draft prospects of recent seasons.

Comparisons to stars such as Nick Riewoldt and Nat Fyfe have fuelled the hype after he won the Larke Medal as the best player at the national U18 carnival.

A Jake Stringer comparison has also been thrown in there.

But the level-headed university student realises that’s all it is at the moment – hype.

“If I’m honest, at the start of the year, if I saw my name in the paper or on the news, I got a little bit more excited than I do now and made sure I had a look at it,” he said.

There had been “a couple of instances” where he had read information that was not an accurate reflection of reality.

It’s all a learning curve as a football career in the spotlight beckons.

“I’ve gone through the year and realised not to believe everything you read. I’ve gotten a little bit more mature in that aspect,” he said.

The spotlight can become too much for some young players, as the recent prevalence of home sickness in the AFL indicated.

Allen did not expect it would affect him as it had affected others.

“It’s not something I think about it,” he said.

“I’m pretty fortunate to be in a sports-centred household – my older brother went away to America when he was 18 to play lacrosse.

“So we know a little bit about what it’s like in terms of moving away to play sport.

“If I get the opportunity to play footy anywhere, I won’t feel any home sickness, I’ll just be enjoying and loving the experience.”

Allen admitted he had “really enjoyed” the ride so far, saying he was used to being “quite a busy guy” as a former head boy of St Mark’s Anglican Community School.

This year had built on his love of “being in the midst of everything”.

“My organisation is the biggest thing that has changed,” he said.

“Having to record and make sure I know where I’m supposed to be for all my meetings and making sure I’m meeting all my physical goals in terms of going to physio and stuff like that.”

He could end up at any club, with every AFL side having spoken to the teenager “two or three times”.

Standing at 191cm, he has played forward, back and through the midfield as the archetype of the modern draftee.

When asked of his preferred position, Allen considered himself suited to a third tall forward option at AFL level in the mould of “Jack Gunston”.

He could also play on the third tall down back.

But he hoped, if he was drafted, that he could eventually fill the role of a big-bodied midfielder.

His first WAFL league game for the Falcons this year was a “huge step up” from the national U18s.

“Not as much the work rate and skills of the game, but just the physicality of playing against men who had been there and done that before,” he said.

“And being a young kid, they’re going to try and get in my head… there’s always a bit of lip out there.

“So it was just about being a bit mature and being a little bit smarter in terms of the ways I can run my patterns around the ground.”

He also shared the field with older brother Angus in two reserves games.

Allen confirmed the AFL had invited him to the draft next Friday in Sydney along with fellow top WA prospect Aaron Naughton from Peel.