HE ROCKED up on team photo day with a black eye and you get the feeling that won’t be the only war wound draftee Rory Sloane picks up in his AFL career.

Sloane, 19, was on Adelaide’s radar for more than a year before he was taken with pick number 44 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft.

And he’s continued to impress in his first season at West Lakes.

He completed more pre-season training than any other recruit and made his first appearance during the NAB Cup/Challenge competition.

The teenager played several good games for SANFL side North Adelaide in the pre-season but strained his medial ligament just before the season proper.

“I did my knee just before round one. I missed about six weeks of footy, so that set me back a little bit,” Sloane told afc.com.au.

“It was a bit frustrating at times. I spent a lot of time in rehab, but luckily I had a lot of company in Bird [Brett Burton] who was doing similar things, which made life a little easier.

“It just hurt sitting out, watching footy. I really struggled to watch it.”

Sloane was forced to work his way back through the Roosters’ reserves, but quickly regained his spot in the seniors.

Two weeks ago, he played his best game at SANFL level finishing with 26 possessions and backed up with another 17 touches in defence last weekend.

Sloane worked with mentor Jason Porplyzia to improve his kicking and is now concentrating on adding more run to his game.

But Sloane’s biggest strength is his ability in close.

He’s often at the bottom of packs and thrives on the tough stuff despite standing at just 182cm and weighing 78kg.

“I love that part of football,” Sloane said.

“I played a couple of games for [TAC Cup side] Eastern Ranges in the U18s when I was only 16. I was normally a bit undersized out there, but that didn’t fuss me too much.”

Sloane has also made a name for himself through his outgoing nature.

At last year’s NAB AFL Draft Camp in Canberra, Sloane had a chance encounter with childhood idol, St Kilda champion Robert Harvey.

Instead of being overawed, Sloane simply went up to the Brownlow Medallist, shook his hand and said: 'Harvs, good season'.

Teammate James Sellar said Sloane had brought a lot of enthusiasm and intensity to the club. “If you watch the way Rory goes about footy and his work behind closed doors it’s fantastic,” Sellar said.

“He’s able to get the best out of himself and he’s one of those blokes you want to play with and play for because you know he’s doing everything he can for you, so you want to do everything you can for him.

“He’s certainly someone you’d want to be in the trenches with because you’d trust him with your life.”

Coach Neil Craig said there was still time for Sloane to make his AFL debut this season.

“I would’ve thought that, if Rory hadn’t have had that knee injury earlier in the year, he might’ve played AFL football by now,” Craig said.

“If he continues to perform the way he has been for North Adelaide over the past couple of weeks he’ll push strongly for selection. He’ll be an exciting player for us in the future…our supporters will like Rory Sloane.”