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Will Ashcroft, Marcus Ashcroft, father-son, Brisbane Lions, pick one, GWS, prized pick, journey, Levi Ashcroft

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Proud dad Marcus Ashcroft has opened up on son Will’s journey to get to the AFL and says whatever happens on Monday night, it’s just “the start line”.

Will Ashcroft has been touted the best player in this year’s draft for at least 18 months, but opted to nominate as a Brisbane father-son – given his dad played 318 games for the Bears/Lions, including three premierships.

Ashcroft’s decision to go as a father-son selection appears likely to cost him the prized number one pick, with GWS reportedly set to overlook the midfielder and Brisbane’s looming matching bid.

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“It’s every kid’s dream to be that No.1 pick as a junior,” Will Ashcroft told the Herald Sun.

“But I don’t think it’s the be all and end all. Being at Brisbane is where I want to be.”

Dad Marcus always knew his son had talent, but said it took a moment “four to five years ago” for Will to put his AFL plan in motion.

Vic Metro’s Will Ashcroft poses for a photo after the Best on Field medal during the 2022 U18 Championships match. Picture: Dylan BurnsSource: Getty Images

“You’ve got to have the will to get better every day and the will to work hard. It’s one thing to have talent but if you don’t work at it, it doesn’t automatically just happen,” Ashcroft said on RSN Radio.

“I think four or five years ago, he just committed himself to try to be the best person/footballer he could be and to his credit, he’s continued to do that.

“I have made a conscious effort the last couple of years to take a step back and let him make his own decisions.

“As a dad, you’re always there to support and care – if he wants my advice I’ll give it.

“He’s 18 years of age now, he’s very mature for his age. He’s been very motivated and committed to getting better at what he does.

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“The best I can do is just be there whenever he needs and that’s the role I have played and will continue to play going forward.”

Ashcroft Snr said he’s been impressed with the way Will has been able to “deal” with the pressure that’s come as a highly fancied draftee.

“He’s already got his head in a space to get ready for pre-season training and getting to know his teammates,” Ashcroft Snr said.

“He’s a pretty level-headed young man.

“It’s immense pride. Like any parent with kids, you are always proud of what they do and what they can achieve, but we all know how hard the game is – the game has never been harder.

Father-son prospect Will Ashcroft. Picture: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

“To deal with the pressure over a long period of time, he’s been touted as a high draft pick for over 18 months now, but he’s been able to get on with it, prepare himself and take that in his stride.

“He’s at the point now where he’s got the chance to play AFL footy. He now finally arrives at the start line so it all starts for him again.

“(I’ve got) immense pride in the way he’s gone about it. (I’m) looking forward to him continuing the journey.”

With a second Ashcroft, Levi, now waiting in the wings for an AFL chance in two years’ time, Ashcroft said he would have “a lot of pride” seeing the duo play together at Brisbane.

“Like any set of brothers, they want to win, they want to be the best,” he said.

Three-time Lions premiership player Marcus Ashcroft with sons Will (left) and Levi (right). Picture: Daniel PockettSource: Getty Images

“It’s nice to see them go out and look after each other on the footy field.”

The Lions are still no closer to learning if Ashcroft’s name will be read out as the first draft pick on Monday night, but the club has tallied a draft hand large enough to match any bid on he or fellow father-son selection Jaspa Fletcher.

“(A GWS bid) is out of our control … so that’s going to be up to GWS, the Kangaroos (with picks 2 & 3) and all the other teams with picks in that area,” Lions recruiting manager Stephen Conole said on AFL Draft Radio.

“We were always confident (Ashcroft would nominate as a father-son), but until he signed we weren’t 100 per cent certain.

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“The more you watch Will, the more you are impressed. There was certainly relief from everyone when he wanted to be a Lion.

“I don’t think we’ll put too many expectations on him – I think he’ll give himself every opportunity to have a really strong season.”

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