Injury may have thwarted Sam Lowson’s quest to join an AFL list in the middle of the 2019 season, but the Coburg forward is hoping his luck changes at the upcoming NAB AFL Draft.
The 24-year-old goalsneak was talked about as the possible first selection in May’s AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft after beginning the Hard Yakka / Totally Workwear VFL season with a competition-high 13 majors in the first four rounds.
However, Lowson suffered a serious ankle injury late in the Lions’ Round 8 loss to Geelong (see below) – just two days before the Mid-Season Draft was held.
Prior to that, the East Ringwood (Eastern FNL) product had taken his game to a new level in his third year at Piranha Park. A tough match-up for opposition backs with his speed and power at 182cm, Lowson had booted 16.13 in seven games and showcased his defensive pressure inside 50.
But when AFL clubs heard he’d need around two months to rehabilitate his lower leg, they suddenly baulked at adding him to their books for the remaining months of the season.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster, really,” Lowson said. “I started off playing some consistent football and was feeling really good about the way everything was going, but then the injury happened.
“I went to turn around and run away from my opponent and my foot slipped, then he tackled me and my leg got caught underneath. I had to have surgery four days later.
“It was a pretty full-on few days with the Mid-Season Draft on the Monday. When the scans came back looking really bad, we had to fill in all the AFL clubs about what had happened.
“I got told the injury had a bit of an impact on me not getting selected, because it was going to be tough for a team to take the chance on me when I might be missing for most of the contract I’d be given. It was pretty deflating.”
Lowson eventually returned to the field in Round 17 and played in Coburg’s final four outings of 2019. He “struggled to get into the game” at first, but soon scored an invite to the Victorian State Combine and then recaptured some of his early-season form in the Lions’ last two matches under outgoing senior coach Leigh Adams.
Good news for Coburg’s Sam Lowson. He got through three quarters in his return from a long lay-off with an ankle injury. He was rusty. But he was pleased to pull up OK. pic.twitter.com/dYx5CEv7Ti
— Paul Amy (@PaulAmy375) July 27, 2019
Lowson said Adams – now a development coach at North Melbourne – had been one of the biggest influences in his emergence as a prospect for selection at November 27-28’s AFL Draft.
“Leigh helped me a lot with understanding what I’m good at and how to use that to really put my name out there,” Lowson said.
“It’s my speed and power around the ball. I’m hard to match up against, because if you put someone small on me then I can normally out-body them, while if you put someone bigger on me, I’m quicker than them… and if you give me the opportunity to chase the ball and tackle, I believe I can do it as well as anyone.
“I want this opportunity (in the AFL) and I’m not mucking around. With Leigh now in the AFL system, he can tell people I’m serious and that if they give me the opportunity then I’ll take it with both hands.”
Lowson hasn’t always been serious about playing football though. He didn’t make a NAB League list as a junior and took the rejection as an indication he wasn’t good enough.
Subsequent years at local level were played mostly for fun, until Lowson put together a strong season and received an invitation to train with Coburg late in 2016. Three VFL campaigns later, he’s a leader among a young list and in the frame to reach the elite level.
“When (Lions General Manager) Seb (Spagnuolo) gave me the call-up to do a pre-season, it took me a while to get into the groove of the professional environment,” Lowson recalled.
“Near the end of my first year, I got told: ‘Look mate, you’ve got the potential; you should seriously switch on.’ After that, I’ve just been growing more confident and I think now I’ve realised I do have the potential to play at AFL level.
“I don’t want to waste my ability.”
* CLICK HERE to see other stories in our 2019 AFL Draft Watch series.