Queensland Under 18 rep Sam Copland is the round 12 QAFL rising star nominee.
The week in the reserves has inspired the Western Magpies’ forward’s two goal, best on ground performance.
The 17-year-old says it was the wakeup call he needed.
“The coach chucked me back in the twos for a week to get my confidence up,” Copland said.
“I have struggled all season to play like I used to, but I took the reserves game with both hands and played my guts out. I think it was what I needed.
“The coach just wanted me to start performing at the level I am capable off.”
The Magpies are having a strong season, currently sitting in third position, and Copland believes they can go all the way.
“The coach didn’t say much about the win and he went straight onto next week,” Copland said.
“We can’t let our focus slip from the task at hand which is getting as far as we can this season.”
The youngster’s talent hasn’t gone unrecognised and he’s been rewarded with a spot in the Queensland under 18 side.
Playing at a higher level has improved his footy IQ.
“It developed some smarts about my game, especially with my running,” he said.
“I no longer just run around aimlessly and I can now play at a higher intensity.”
In his second season of senior footy the teenager says he is finally starting to adjust.
“At the start it was tough. This season I have managed to put on a bit of weight which has helped me a lot, especially with my aerial game,” he said.
“It helps to put on some muscle, and have some wits about you, when you play senior footy.”
Living in Toowoomba he journeys to Brisbane for training, and games every week.
Travelling doesn’t faze him as he has been doing it for three, to four years.
“I got my licence this year so it has taken time to get confident driving on my own. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy my footy,” he said.
The young prospect is in the leadership group of the Brisbane Lions academy and says he likes to lead by example.
“Being a captain one day would be nice, however I don’t really think of myself as a leader,” he said.
“For me it’s about getting around your mates and having a good time and being serious when you need to.”
Despite aspirations of playing in the AFL, he is staying grounded in his pursuit of consistency.
“At the moment I’m just focusing on staying in form and working with the team to win a premiership,” he said.
“I have two jobs so that helps me escape from footy. I like catching up with friends and playing a bit of basketball every now and then.”
The value of family is not lost on Sam who says his parents have been extremely supportive.
“My dad has a bit of footy knowledge and I ask him for advice,” he said.
“My parents have never pushed me to do anything and have always encouraged me to play at a level I enjoy.”
The Western Magpies will be looking to continue their winning form when they host Sandgate on Saturday at 2pm.