AFTER playing his entire junior career as a forward, Corowa-Rutherglen and Murray Bushrangers rising star Ryan Garthwaite has had interest from as many as seven AFL clubs as a defensive prospect ahead of Friday’s national draft.
The 192-centimetre backman has been recognised for his ability to win one-on-one contests, mark the ball strongly overhead, play on tall or small forwards and provide a rebound option from defence.
Garthwaite overcame a number of injuries to show his promise at representative level this year and had a meeting with Carlton last Thursday, proving his hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It's pretty surreal that I could be at a club next weekend,” Garthwaite said.
“It's an amazing feeling and one I'll cherish and won't forget about if it (getting drafted) happens.”
After starting his junior football with Yarrawonga, Garthwaite played two seasons at Lavington before returning home to Corowa to play with the Roos.
It was there that he was recruited to the Murray Bushrangers as a bottom-age player in 2015.
“I thrived on it and as the season went on I kept competing and lifted my whole game and it all went from there,” Garthwaite said.
“I only played my first game in the back line when I started at the Bushies.
“I've learnt my trade in the last two years and made the big swing to the other end of the ground, but I've loved every minute of it.”
Garthwaite got his first taste of senior football with Corowa-Rutherglen as 16-year-old and played three games over two years.
Just two years on, he waits patiently for his chance at the highest level.
“I was pretty happy with both my years (at the Bushrangers), but I wanted to step it up again this year and I was happy that I did that.
“I've just got to cross my fingers until Friday, everyone's hoping, but you don’t always know with the draft,” Garthwaite said.
“I'm happy to go anywhere. It would be great just to get the opportunity in the big time and hopefully make something of it.
“I'm hoping for the best for all the other (Bushrangers) boys as well and hopefully we can all land at a club somewhere.”
After spending four weeks on the sideline with a broken scapula, and undergoing knee surgery at the end of last year, Garthwaite is confident his body is in the best shape it has ever been on the eve of the draft.
Garthwaite added the support from the Corowa community has been more than he could have asked for.
If unsuccessful at the draft, Garthwaite will try his luck in the VFL system, meaning it is very unlikely he will play for Corowa-Rutherglen in the 2017 Ovens and Murray season.