With only six picks left in the 2016 AFL draft, Corowa-Rutherglen’s Ryan Garthwaite had every reason to be feeling tense.
The 18-year-old Murray Bushrangers talent thought his chance of landing at an AFL club had come and gone until Richmond gave him the opportunity of a lifetime with pick 72.
Garthwaite becomes the first player from the Ovens and Murray club to head to the top level since David Teague, who played in the Roos’ premiership side in 2000, was taken by North Melbourne at the rookie draft later that year.
“Words can't explain how excited I am,” Garthwaite said.
“It was a very long night, but to finally get my name read out was a dream come true.
“It will take a while to sink in, it doesn't feel like I'm an AFL player, but I am.”
Garthwaite met with Richmond last Wednesday, but admitted he was never certain to land at Punt Road.
“They didn't say a lot, but they sounded confident,” he said.
“Every time a pick come on with a team I had a meeting with I was bit confident and they finally read my name out and I was stoked.
“I had my family and my girlfriend around to watch it and as soon as my name got read out it just went off.
“My mate and his girlfriend came around as well so it was a good night.”
Having made the transition from forward to defender during his two years with the Bushrangers in the TAC Cup, the youngster is excited for the opportunity to train and one day play alongside All-Australian defender Alex Rance.
Garthwaite, who officially moved to Melbourne on Sunday and started training with his new teammates on Monday morning, was glad to end up in Victoria to make his mark.
“It's closer to home than Sydney and I couldn't get a better club than the Tigers,” he said.
“I had about 50 texts from the players I had to get back to and about 100 missed messages.”
With the joy also came some disappointment for Garthwaite, who was upset not to see his good friend and fellow Murray Bushranger Zach Sproule gain selection on Friday night.
“Fingers crossed he gets picked up in the rookie draft, he deserves it,” Garthwaite said.
Garthwaite extended thanks to the Corowa community and the surrounding area, as well as his family, for helping him achieve his dream.
“The support has been outstanding and I couldn't have asked for any more,” he said.
All 18 AFL clubs must have their 2017 playing lists completely finalised by Wednesday following their final opportunity to add to them during Monday’s pre-season and rookie drafts.