Subiaco recruit Jai Jackson is back in love with footy after last year’s draft heartbreak. The Chapman Valley product admits it was a tough pill to swallow when he was the only member of WA’s 16-player national combine contingent to not have his name read out in the national or rookie drafts. The tough inside midfielder, who was a vital cog in WA’s drought-breaking national under-18s title, averaging 14 possessions and five tackles, took a break from the sport to do some labouring work up north before returning to Perth early in the season. He started training with East Fremantle before deciding a fresh start at Subi was best, joining the WAFL powerhouse earlier this month. WATCH JACKSON’S HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE “It was a pretty hard to swallow, being the only one to head over to Melbourne (for the combine) to not get drafted,” Jackson said. “It took a little bit of time but eventually I came to terms with it, I had a bit of a mental break from footy and went back up north to work. “I started to miss it when came back round two and trained with East then moved to Subi.” His relationship with talent manager Kristian Dicton and the club’s proven track record of getting mature-agers drafted, like Matt Priddis, Sam Menegola, Liam Baker and Liam Ryan, were the big factors behind joining Subiaco. “I’ve got a good relationship with Dicko (Subiaco talent manager Kristian Dicton) through the country colts and he coached me a bit up in Geraldton so that was one of the main reasons I ended up at Subi,” Jackson said. “I just needed a change and a new challenge and I thought Subi would be a good place for that so hopefully I can work my way into the league side, if not this year then hopefully next year. “I’ve been here three weeks now and everyone has been supportive, I’m definitely back in love with footy again and it’s good to be back out there playing.” Jackson made his Subi colts debut in Saturday’s big win over Peel Thunder in Mandurah, amassing 21 possessions and booting two goals across half-forward after playing the previous week in the reserves. The 19-year-old, who has been likened to Richmond premiership player Josh Caddy, hopes to move into the engine room once he builds some match fitness after recently joining the senior midfield group. Off the field, Jackson recently started his probation for a plumbing apprenticeship and is feeling settled in Perth. He hasn’t given up on his AFL dreams but knows he’s coming from a long way back this year. “Getting drafted and playing league footy are definitely still the goals but both a probably long shots at the moment considering I had a break,” Jackson said. The Lions’ colts clash against Leederville Oval co-tenants East Perth will be streamed live and exclusive on thewest.com.au from 9.30am on Saturday.