MISSING Allies selection by a whisker last year stuck in the back of Luke Fellows' mind as he willed himself through tough pre-season runs.
Pushing himself to the limit alongside fellow Turvey Park product Patrick Voss, picked up by Essendon in November's pre-season draft, that work has been rewarded.
The 19-year-old is one of five Riverina products chosen for the Allies, who will begin their national championships campaign against South Australia in Adelaide on Sunday.
Luke Lawrence (MCUE), Nick Madden (Osborne), Angus Curry (Turvey Park) and Harry Rowston (Griffith) have also been chosen as one of the Riverina's best representations in years.
Nineteen-year-old Fellows' GPS data in NAB League games for GWS Giants Academy has already been noted by some AFL scouts.
He has been one of Turvey Park's best in the Riverina League since last year, and has made the wing position his own at the Giants.
Fellows has also been elevated into the leadership group and is far more confident in his ability to be a key player.
"After just missing out last year, the work I did over the off season and in the early games this, year, it was really good to get the reward for effort," Fellows said.
"Berna (Giants Academy coach Cameron Bernasconi) said it (Allie selection last year) was really close. He said if I put the work in and play well in the early games, I should be right there this year.
"It definitely got that drive going. Another year of experience and playing that wing role, that has definitely helped."
Watching Voss' rise to the Essendon system has only added more fuel to the fire for Fellows to realise his AFL dream.
"I've always trained hard over the off season and pre season," he said.
"Myself, and Patrick Voss would do a program from Zocc (Turvey Park coach Michael Mazzocchi), we'd push each other hard throughout the pre season and the competitiveness between us really brought that out.
"We'd do two or three sprint sessions during the week, and Sunday arvos we'd do that bigger run for aerobatic capacity and to build that tank for games."
The Riverina players made the final 23-player squad after performing well at a training camp and a 'north v south' practice match in Sydney last weekend.
Lawrence said being competitive with each other in the Giants system, but also enjoying each other's company, had helped them progress.
The 18-year-old said he had focused more on achieving his Allies goal after an off season pep talk from Bernasconi.
"He said I could (make it) if I put my mind to it and knuckled down," Lawrence said.
"I just trained a lot harder, worked a lot harder in the gym and made sure I wasn't injured as much.
"It wasn't anything harsh, we've got a good relationship and we respect each other, I've just wanted it a lot more this year than last year.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.