Shame that Hawk has flown the coop

DAYLE Garlett, Jesse Hogan and Jack Martin were Western Australia's standout players at the 2012 national under-18 championships.

And all three appeared destined to make the jump to the AFL after they were selected in that year's star-studded All-Australian U18 line-up. The team included Victorians Joe Daniher, Lachie Whitfield, Nick Vlastuin and Ollie Wines, South Australians Brodie Grundy and James Aish, and the NT's Jake Neade.

Bottom-aged players Martin and Hogan were snapped up as 17-year-olds later that year by Gold Coast and Melbourne respectively, and had no hesitation in shifting across the country to become professional footballers.

Though not yet out of school and thousands of kilometres from home, the pair thrived last year while playing for their new clubs' reserves - Martin named the Suns' NEAFL Player of the Year, Hogan winning the Casey Scorpions' best and fairest in the VFL.

Now old enough to play in the AFL, both are unfortunately sidelined, midfielder Martin injuring his shoulder in his first senior game for the Suns and key forward Hogan yet to make his Demons debut due to a knee injury, but they will no doubt be determined to fulfil their potential on the big stage.

In contrast, Garlett appears to have no such desire, with the now 20-year-old choosing this week to end his AFL career before it started.

While his ability out on the field has never been questioned, his ability to mature and cope with the demands of AFL football has, and, after the events of this week, with good reason.

While Garlett was initially touted as a top-10 draft pick, clubs wouldn't have a bar of him in 2012 due to his growing reputation as a bad boy.

That was built around being kicked out of the AIS-AFL Academy, missing interviews with recruiters and enjoying a wild night out just before the 2012 national draft.

Receiving the proverbial kick up the backside, Garlett promised to change his ways in 2013, and after enjoying a sensational season in the WAFL with Swans Districts, booting 48 goals from 19 games and finishing 10th in the league best and fairest as a small forward, hoped to receive a second chance.

"I want this more than ever ... I've had dreams of my first game," he said in an interview.

Believing he had turned the corner, it was the reigning premier, and the team he supported, Hawthorn, that took the punt by selecting him in last year's national draft, with players such as skipper Luke Hodge, who he initially bunked with, and indigenous leader Shaun Burgoyne taking the prodigiously talented yet wayward youngster under their wing.

Three goals in an intra-club match, when he combined with the equally mercurial Cyril Rioli, had the Hawks excited.

But, four months into his time at Waverley Park, Garlett has had enough, returning to Perth in search of a more carefree lifestyle, with the Hawks set to release him from his contract.

He simply couldn't cope with what Hawthorn director of football Chris Fagan referred to as "constant" and "relentless" training. Fagan, though, hit the nail on the head when he added "that's what AFL footy is ... it isn't for everyone".

Oh well, at least we'll still have Martin and Hogan to look forward to.

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