Daniel Venables leaves the hype to the experts

Daniel Venables is the Don Deeble sports star nominee for August. Picture Damian Visentini

Daniel Venables is as impressive with his attitude off the field as he is with his football ability on it.

He’s a humble young man even after claiming All-Australian honours at the AFL under-18 national championship and an invitation to the AFL’s draft combine.

Venables has a huge future in the game, touted as a potential first round draft pick later this year. But he’s having nothing to do with the hype.

“I stay away from all that talk, to be honest,” the Taylors Lakes resident says. “You never know what’s going to happen until draft night. I don’t even know if I’ll get picked up, so I’ll wait and see and take it as it comes.”

Venables has let his football do the talking.

He’s a star rotating between midfield and up forward for the Western Jets in the TAC Cup, and his impact was profound in helping Vic Metro become national champions.

The AFL recruiters wanted to see more of Venables, with five or more teams inviting him to test at the draft combine, but an ill-timed foot injury has somewhat dampened that prospect.

Venables is hobbled in a moon boot for six weeks and the remainder of his season is a wipe-out, meaning the physical aspects of testing at the combine won’t be completed.

Any question marks over Venables’ physical capabilities were put to rest while playing for Vic Metro as he burrowed into packs with force and used his strength over the ball as a weapon.

He played his first TAC Cup game at the age of 15, so the recruiters would have enough of a sample to reference before the draft.

Just getting the call-up to the draft combine was a proud moment.

“I guess it was a goal at the start of the year to get invited to it so it’s good that it’s ticked off now and I’m looking forward to it,” Venables says. “I’m not actually going to physically test at the combine, which is disappointing, but I still get to go and do the mental testing and the interviews. Hopefully, I’ve put my best foot forward with my football this season.”

Venables has experience in dealing with AFL clubs. Since the Vic Metro induction this season, a number of them have kept tabs on his progress, including visits to the family home.

With a football club’s network of recruiters and ability to source information about a player without going directly to the player himself, there is no point sugar-coating anything in the conversations. “When they come to your house, you talk to them for about an hour and they want to find out who you are,” Venables says. “As long as you’re honest with them, being yourself and not trying to be anyone else, that’s pretty much it.”

In fact, you can’t do much more in your final year of under-age football than go to the national championships and be rated among the top 18 players at the carnival.

Venables puts his progress down to a hard- work ethic and support network.

His mum and dad are there for him through thick and thin, and he has good sounding boards in Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School links Ken Fletcher and John Nicholis and Western Jets region manager Shane Sexton and coach Torin Baker.

“I know that when you put the hard work in and dedicate yourself, you get the rewards and the footy gods look after you,” Venables said.

“I got a running coach and extra gym sessions.

“I’ve done everything I possibly can [from a playing standpoint].”

Venables was nurtured through his junior years by the Keilor Football Club.

He is immensely proud of his time in the red, white and blue and still regularly watches the club’s senior games in the EDFL on Saturday afternoons when his Jets commitments permit.

“I played at Keilor since under 10s,” he said. “Growing up, it’s always been a strong club and I’m still going to all the senior games now.”

Venables is the latest in a long line of young stars developed by the coaches at Keilor.

He recalls watching in awe the likes of Nick O’Kearney, Jayden Laverde, Corey Ellis, Damian Cavka and Paul Ahern before they landed AFL contracts.

“I remember watching them dominate,” Venables said. “We’re all mates now, so it’s a good culture down there and there’s so many good blokes. You can go down and have a laugh with all your mates when you’re watching the seniors. It’s a good football club and a good family club.”

Venables is the monthly nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star Award.

The award is run by Sunshine Western Region Sports Club and Star Weekly.

Venables will receive $1000 donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club and other prizes to assist in his sporting goals.

The award recognises young athletes in the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at a state and/or national level.