IF former rugby league star Israel Folau's move to the AFL achieves nothing else, at least it has made it easier for teenagers like Agape Patolo to make their way into the sport.
As a child growing up in Endeavour Hills Patolo, then a small, fast-stepping rugby union full-back, didn't harbour any dreams to try Aussie rules football until his rugby coach asked him to fill in at Dandenong Saints junior football club.
"My coach's son played for the Saints and he told me to come down and help out; I got a kick and then loved the sport from there," Patolo said.
From that first tentative game Patolo has risen into Hallam Senior College's Australian Rules Academy program, Southern Football League senior football with Clayton and in the past few weeks, TAC Cup football with Dandenong Stingrays.
The now 196 centimetre, 97 kilogram ruckman is a raw prospect for AFL clubs, but his physical traits and impressive ruck work have big league scouts already sizing the 17 year old up for the 2013 AFL draft.
While his athleticism, strength and leap all fit naturally into the sport, Patolo admits he still lags behind in endurance and game understanding. But in the past two years Patolo has made massive strides after making a major commitment to the sport moving from Dandenong High School to Hallam to join the school's elite academy, which has produced several AFL draftees, most recently Richmond rookie Piva Wright.
"It has taught me a lot," Patolo said.
"I didn't really know the terminology like a 'fat side' kick and that stuff.
"The terminology in football is much different, it was hard to understand what my coach was saying sometimes.
"Some words are similar to rugby like overlap but they meant different things in footy; it's pretty confusing."
Patolo has also made a name for himself at the Stingrays, culminating in his debut game against Western Jets late last month in which he was named in the best players.
The TAC Cup involves the best teenage footballers in Victoria and is considered the foremost pathway to AFL clubs.
Patolo said the move of former rugby league star Folau to Aussie rules had helped him make the transition.
The two players share a Samoan heritage and rugby background although Folau made his name in the National Rugby League.
"His story is really similar to my situation and I've always looked up to him," Patolo said.
Patolo said that aside from improving his endurance, he also had to change his tackling techniques and improve his ground awareness.
He admitted that in his first few junior games he made a few high tackles, ones which would have been acceptable in rugby but not Aussie rules.
"It's much different tackling because players aren't running front on like in rugby," he said.
"There were a few 'misunderstandings' with high tackles but I've changed my tackling technique.
"I hope I can make it. It's going to be hard but I aspire to be an AFL player one day."
Patolo has also hinted he has the capacity to become a much faster runner, something AFL clubs covet, as he possessed good speed before he began to grow.
"I wasn't that big when I played rugby but I had more speed," he said. "As my fitness improves I think my speed will come back."
Patolo credited the help of Hallam Senior College and Clayton Football Club senior coach Ben McGee and Dandenong Stingrays coach Graeme Yeats and Stingrays development manager Mark Wheeler for his improvement.
McGee has also pushed Patolo into senior football this season with the young ruckman playing senior matches for the Clays when not in the Stingrays side.
"Mentally getting ready for a seniors game is much different," he said. "The players have bigger bodies and you have limited space to move in.
"The physical level is much more intense, overall it's quite a challenge."
While working hard on his footy, Patolo is also putting in the hard yards in his year 12 classes and hopes to study teaching next year.