MALLEE footballer Dallas Willsmore is one step closer to his dream of playing Australian Rules Football at the highest level after receiving a call-up for October's AFL draft combine.
The North Ballarat Rebels co-captain, from Walpeup-Underbool, is one of four Rebels to receive invitations.
Rebels co-captain Matt Crouch and utilities Louis Herbert and Sam Bennett were also selected among 98 draft hopefuls.
The combine offers players outside the under-18 system to be ranked and assessed by AFL clubs.
Willsmore, 18, is thrilled with the opportunity.
"To get the call-up for the draft combine has been a dream of mine since the start of the year," he said.
"It's a goal I set myself, so it's good to see the hard work has paid off."
North Ballarat Rebels talent manager Phil Partington said he was not surprised the 190-centimetre key forward had caught the eye of selectors.
"He has heaps of natural ability and clubs recognise that," he said.
"Dallas has had an injury-interrupted year. He hurt his knee in the last trial game and missed seven to eight weeks."
Partington said Willsmore went on to perform reasonably well in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships earlier this month.
"Now we have to work very hard to get him to peak fitness for the combine," he said.
"The next few weeks are important for Dallas because it's the last chance selectors will have to watch him play."
Willsmore is hoping to impress during the Rebels' three remaining matches of the TAC Cup competition.
"I've been through some poor performances over the past couple of weeks so I'm just looking to get out there and having a strong finish to the season," Willsmore said.
"I'll keep training on Tuesday and Thursday nights and doing weights.
"After the season finishes I'll be doing strength and conditioning four times a week to get myself in the best condition possible."
Willsmore said he hoped to follow in the footsteps of other Wimmera footballers who attended draft combines before being drafted to AFL clubs, including Kalkee's Tanner Smith, Fremantle, and Harrow-Balmoral's Michael Close, Brisbane Lions.
"I look up to Closey and Tanner and all the boys," he said.
"I've followed their footy and they've been a bit of an inspiration for me.
"To play AFL has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. It means everything to me."
Players invited to the AFL national draft combine have attracted interest from at least four AFL clubs.
The combine will be in Melbourne between October 1 and 4.