A week out from last year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, the midfielder was at a training camp for the New South Wales' team at Coffs' Harbour.
Rain forced the team inside, and on the basketball court Steele went to change direction when his leg slipped the wrong way. He looked down and saw his kneecap pointing sideways, and knew straight away he was in trouble.
Despite being eligible for last year's draft, he knew seven months on the sidelines was likely to mean it wasn't going to happen.
"Within two minutes the dislocation was sorted but I had an operation two weeks later," Steele told AFL.com.au.
"Straight away I thought the year was over and it was time to focus on the next year and get my body right so I do have a good year.
"As soon as I had the operation I was pretty determined to get that right, which I think I've done pretty well."
After being overlooked, Steele's season has been better than that. Playing best as a tall wingman, the 186cm prospect has shown a capacity to move into the middle, win the ball, float forward, take marks and impact the scoreboard.
In the Rams' three-game national carnival, Steele led his division-two winning side for marks, effective kicks, contested possessions, hard ball gets, goals, goal and score assists.
With each game he exceeded his own hopes, and was named as an All Australian.
"I didn't really expect to have such a great year and I'm pretty proud to make that team. In most games I've started forward and worked into the midfield and I think I've been able to show I can play in both positions," he said.
A broken hand late in the season interrupted some momentum, but didn't stop him from showing what he does well: use his size in the air and around the ball, use his sharp and strong hands and do it without a lot of fuss.
This week Steele is one of 12 players from his state attending the NAB AFL Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium. More interest from clubs is another thing that's changed from last year, when he was only sent a handful of questionnaires from recruiters and made the state combine list.
The slow-than-hoped recovery from knee surgery ruled him out of attending and testing then – "It wasn't getting better as quickly as we hoped," he said – and at that point all of his energy was placed in getting drafted as an over-aged player in 2014.
"I did physiotherapy two or three days a week, and my muscle wasn't developing because of the atrophy in the leg," he said.
"I realised I wasn't able to participate at the state combine, and I just wanted to get myself right for this year."
By next week, Steele might know exactly how right he has got things, as a member of the Greater Western Sydney academy.
Living in Canberra makes him part of the club's recruiting zone, and they have the option of nominating him as a priority selection ahead of next Monday's father-son and bidding meeting.
They have yet to notify him of their intentions, but many clubs see him as a top-40 draft selection. If they do nominate him, Steele will enter next week knowing he will join an AFL club, wherever that may be.
If the GIANTS choose not to nominate him, he knows he will have another chance at the NAB AFL Draft on November 27.
"They haven't talked to me at all, really. I went to their presentation night and nobody really said how it will all go, so it will be interesting to see," he said.
"They're pretty quiet about it all. I've been in the GIANTS academy but they've never really shown they had a keen eye for me or not.
"Everyone's been saying I've sort of got two cracks at it, so if nothing happens next week I'll look forward to the draft and see how that goes."