MURRAY Bushrangers coach Leon Higgins is ecstatic after seven players were drafted from the TAC Cup club.
Although the number was three short of 2000 when 10 youngsters were picked up, Higgins credited the success to the evenness of the squad which played off in the grand final at Etihad Stadium.
Albury’s Lachlan Tiziani and Corowa-Rutherglen’s Ryan Garthwaite headlined the local names to be selected during Friday night’s AFL national draft in Sydney.
GWS took Tiziani at pick 54, while Richmond made a late play for Garthwaite to snap him up with pick 72.
“It's a fantastic result for the club,” Higgins said.
“The boys really applied themselves and it's great to see them rewarded tonight.”
Higgins was delighted for Tiziani who played as a 19-year-old after being overlooked in last year's draft.
“I'm really happy for him,” Higgins said.
“He's played virtually everywhere for us and kicked a lot of goals for us this year.”
Higgins backed several more youngsters, including Max Lynch and Zach Sproule, to be picked up in Monday's rookie draft.
“A few of the other boys would have been close,” he said.
“We will support them all the way.”
Tiziani was delighted after his name was read out at pick 54 by the GWS Giants.
“I’m over the moon and I can’t wait to get started with the Giants,” he said.
“I was pretty nervous. I was standing up and my legs were like jelly, but when my name got called out there was a sigh of relief.
“All my hard work has paid off.
“I had a meeting with them (GWS), but I wasn’t too sure they would take me.
“I’ve had a heap of players make contact and I spoke to Leon (Cameron). I leave Monday, so it’s all happening very quickly.”
Tiziani was also pleased to see so many of his teammates called out.
“It’s nearly a record for the region, but it just goes to show if you put in the work, you’ll get the rewards,” he added.
Tiziani played a handful of games in the NEAFL for the Giants, but admitted he has never spent any longer than four days in Sydney before.
A further five Bushrangers including Will Brodie (pick nine, Gold Coast), Jy Simpkin (pick 12, North Melbourne), Todd Marshall (pick 16, Port Adelaide), Esava Ratugolea (pick 43, Geelong) and Harry Morrison (pick 74, Hawthorn) are also on AFL lists.
Former Albury junior Will Setterfield, who played for Scots, was drafted by the Giants at pick five and joined at the club by Collingullie’s Harry Perryman, who was taken at pick 14.