Teal makes most of limited opportunities

AFTER a self-described “slow grind” of a year, Oakleigh Chargers and Vic Metro defender Luke Teal was pleased with how he was able to make the best of it. Though 2022 could have gone better for the running half-back, he earned a National Draft Combine invite and is in with a solid chance to be picked up in tonight’s AFL Draft.

“It’s a little bit disappointing at times with the injuries that I did have, but I think for the games that was able to get back for, I was able to put my best foot forward in-game and do what I could for the team to play my best and get the win,” Teal said of his 2022 season.

“It was a slow grind, but I had the confidence from my (Oakleigh) coaches as well as much teammates so they just made coming back into the side a lot easier and I had confidence in myself to get back to my best footy and I was able to do that.”

Though one day Teal would like to develop into a midfielder – perhaps on a wing – the athletic, smooth-kicking defender knows he will likely start in his familiar role at the top level should he be picked.

“In the future probably I see myself lining up starting my career as a half-backman but as my career progresses I’d like to get a bit more through the ball through the middle and even on the wing at times,” Teal said. “I think I’d like to develop my game to go through the middle, definitely.”

Though he was limited to just four games at Oakleigh Chargers and one for Vic Metro, Teal still earned an AFL National Draft Combine invite. The defender said he was “pretty excited” after receiving the honour.

“Just with the lack of games this year it’s been good to get invited to the National Combine, so it’s a blessing that I’ve been able to come here and interview and test my physical ability,” Teal said.

Teal is a Hawthorn supporter who has looked up to three-time premiership skipper Luke Hodge growing up, while taking traits from Western Bulldogs defender Bailey Dale.

“[Hodge’s] ability to lead that team through their three-peat and that era was pretty special to watch as a young boy so I think he’s definitely someone I idolise,” he said. “Bailey Dale is a favourite of mine. To watch him and keep a close eye on him just because I like to base a couple of my game aspects off his.”

Teal is looking to gain more continuity in his game next season, getting out on the park consistently, and exposing his elite traits. What he can offer to a club when on the park is clear.

“My capacity to keep running (is my main strength), especially off the half-back line, providing that overlap run all day is something I’d be able to bring in next level as well as obviously my athletic traits,” Teal said. My jumping and my agility I think are key components that I’d be able to bring into an AFL side.”

In less than 12 hours, Teal could potentially be on an AFL list, and if that happens, then the Chargers defender would be overwhelmed with emotion.

“It’s pretty amazing, as I said with the year I’ve had, certainly don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “I’m very blessed to be invited to the combine and be in the position I am after the year I’ve had. It’s awesome that come draft I might be selected so hopefully it all works out.”

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