RYAN Maric's transformation from talented footballer to draft prospect has come in many ways. But it can be traced back to a decision that really had little to do with his football.

Only two years ago, Maric, who is shaping as the potential top pick in next week's Mid-Season Rookie Draft, weighed 107kg. Getting drafted was far from his mind when he decided that he needed to be fitter for his own well-being, the kickstart to his emerging story.

Now 83kg, the Gippsland Power prospect is aiming towards an AFL berth.

DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news

"Two years ago I was 107kg sitting at full forward at Drouin so I've got myself fit and had my first pre-season this year," Maric told AFL.com.au.

"I was gaining weight and I got to 100kg and I was like 'What's going on here?' and then I got to 107kg and I thought I have to do something about it just more for my personal health. I'd always had the ability in my footy but I wanted to get fit for myself and it's gone from there.

"My brother Josh probably helped me the most because he got up to 100kg as well and then he got into his dieting. He's doing a personal training course now so he got me started in the gym and started with a diet.

"That's basically how I first started it and ever since then I was like 'I'm losing weight, I'm playing better footy, I can run so much better', and I've worked hard ever since."

Ryan Maric is tackled by Patrick Hughes during the Young Gun Series match against Vic Country U18s at Ikon Park on May 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The hard work is close to paying off. The 193cm goalkicker has had eight clubs interview him ahead of next Wednesday's mid-season draft, with many recruiters viewing him as a standout of the crop who were overlooked last year. But Maric wasn't as much overlooked as simply not in the mix.

He didn't meet with any clubs last year after getting a taste of things during Gippsland's season and only nominated for last year's national draft under the advice of Power talent boss Scott McDougall, who told all prospects even if they were no chance to be picked to sign up so they would qualify for the mid-season draft this year.

Published on

Young tall in the frame for mid-season draft

Ryan Maric, looming as a potential mid-season rookie pick, kicks three goals against Bendigo in the Coates Talent League

Published on

Maric said this year was his first pre-season with the club after entering last season following a long bout with glandular fever, having had a big growth spurt in his teenage years that contributed to his weight.

"As a young kid I was pretty fit, I was pretty small basically playing midfield in my junior years. When I was 15 I had a 30cm growth spurt in a year so I grew quite a bit and then had a couple of lower back issues when I was that age. The doctors basically said your muscles and bones aren't keeping up with how much you're growing," he said.

"That's when I started to gain the weight, when I had those lower back issues."

Ryan Maric in action during during the Young Gun Series match against Vic Country U18s at Ikon Park on May 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

After a strong summer, Maric caught the eye with a four-goal performance in round one against the Murray Bushrangers and backed it up with three goals in round three against Bendigo. Last week he was thrown into defence for the Young Guns game against Vic Country, where his elite kicking skills were used to rebound and he gathered 23 disposals.

On Saturday, he also made his VFL debut with Box Hill, having trained with the Hawks last week. He kicked two goals from 15 disposals, with his penetrating kicking on show.

"That's always been my strength and my main weapon. I've always been a pretty natural kick. I've always been able to kick it from around 50-60m," he said.

"That game against Murray was my most complete game of the year by far. I didn't have much expectation, I just wanted to play a bit better than what I did last year.

"I never really had confidence before that so after that I knew I was good enough to play at this level and it was just getting that consistency. That first game put me in good stead."

Published ago

VFL Showreel, R9: Ryan Maric highlights

Enjoy Ryan Maric's standout VFL performance for the Hawks

Published ago

Maric, who turns 19 in September, works stacking shelves at Woolworths in Drouin and is studying a Bachelor of Sport, Physical and Outdoor Education at university as well. But having had a glimpse of the top level training with the Hawks, he's keen for more.

"We didn't play in the match sim but Will Day was taking the absolute piss in it," Maric said. "In one of the drills before that I got tackled by him so he was probably the standout."