Adam Sambono was a couple of years away from playing organised football when a visit from Lance Franklin changed his life.
Franklin was still at Hawthorn, around 2011 or ’12 when the indigenous star and several teammates visited the community of Nauiyu, or Daly River, about 220km south of Darwin.
The locals took their visitors hunting and Sambono talked to Franklin.
“I was really shocked, meeting a famous person,” Sambono told AAP
“I actually talked to him, asked him about the AFL and he told me a bit about what I could achieve in my future.
“He actually put that in my mind.”
When Sambono met Franklin, the extent of his football experience was local scratch matches.
In 2014, he went to Darwin to try his luck.
This season, Sambono starred for NT Thunder in the NEAFL and won the league’s rising star award.
That led to the 20-year-old’s invitation to the AFL draft combine last week at Etihad Stadium.
“It’s amazing I’m getting this opportunity,” he said.
If he is drafted next month, Sambono will be the first player from Nauiyu to make an AFL list.
Like Franklin, Sambono is indigenous, a forward who boasts impressive speed.
But that’s where the similarities end, with the 188cm Sambono only weighing 69kg.
Sambono laughs when asked about his slight build, saying he is well aware that if he joins an AFL club he will become well-acquainted with the weights room.
But he packs a good leap, finishing in the top 10 for the standing vertical jump at the draft combine.
Former North Melbourne player Matt Campbell is a mentor for Sambono, who admits to nerves about what is happening.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge for me – so different, full-on,” he said about the prospect of joining an AFL club.
But then he watches the AFL grand final and is reminded about why he is doing this.
Daniel Rioli, another Top End indigenous export, helped Richmond end their long premiership drought.
“Watching him in the grand final it’s something special, a Territory boy,” he said.
“A couple of years ago, he was in the same situation I’m in now and he was drafted. It’s something I look up to.
“I rate him as probably a role model for me.”