At the start of the year, all Jake Lloyd wanted was to play one senior game of football. So just days out from playing in a grand final with the Sydney Swans, it seems his dream has come true – and then some.
“When I got that opportunity in round five, I guess that’s all it was, an opportunity,” he said. “I just wanted to grab it with both hands and I’ve been able to do that.”
Since charging into the senior side in round five, Lloyd has appeared in 16 successive games – only one of which has ended in a Sydney defeat, the round-18 nail-biter against Hawthorn, who the Swans take on in Saturday’s decider.
Playing for a premiership in his first season of senior footy at just 21, Lloyd has given a good name to the talent on offer in the rookie draft, in which he was selected in 2012.
He said seeing West Coast’s Matt Priddis (a rookie in 2006) win the Brownlow Medal on Monday night was testament to a rookie’s ability to shine.
“It was great to see him win that award last night,” Lloyd said. “Even in our side from Saturday there are a lot of guys that have come from other clubs that have been on a rookie list. It certainly shows, if you work hard enough you’ll get there.”
But now he has got there, Lloyd said he was just starting to understand the scale of the grand final experience, describing the media pack at Tuesday’s open training session as “surreal”.
“It’s obviously very exciting, but today it’s sort of the real thing, coming out here with all the media,” he said. “I guess it’s part and parcel with what comes with it, but yesterday was pretty quiet and just a usual day. It’s certainly stepped up today.”
At Tuesday’s fan day, all the attention was on Lance Franklin. And it seems many of the players have been impressed by Buddy’s star quality this season.
“Playing alongside the big dog Buddy Franklin is pretty special,” said Dane Rampe, who was also selected in the 2013 rookie draft. “I get the best seat in the house for most of his goals.”
For Lloyd, too, playing alongside Franklin is a thrill.
“In our semi-final against Fremantle, he pulled a couple of goals from nowhere and it was very exciting for the boys,” he said. “He certainly gets everyone up and about. He’s going to be a special player come Saturday.”
Lloyd has come a long way from the two national drafts in which he was overlooked, but said the hard work was paying off.
“I guess its how hard you really want to work,” he said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I guess I wanted to show them that I belonged here. To be 21 and playing in the grand final, I’m very fortunate, but I’ve certainly worked hard, so it’s a good reward.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.