WARRNAMBOOL’S Shaun Ryan hopes the character-building test of returning from a three-year umpiring hiatus holds his form in strong stead in his return to football’s grandest stage.
Ryan retired after officiating the 2011 grand final, but was headhunted by AFL umpires’ boss Haydn Kennedy and convinced to return in 2015 after three years away from the sport.
The former Emmanuel College student was hand-picked for his sixth AFL decider on Tuesday, just three seasons since he was persuaded to return to the elite fold.
Ryan, who cut his teeth as a youngster in the Hampden league, said he felt well prepared after successfully adjudicating an AFL preliminary final last week.
He said he was relishing the chance to step back onto football’s grandest stage.
“I’m really excited. I reckon this one will be the one that takes the cake when I retire,” he told The Standard.
“When I first came back, I had to really focus on getting the body conditioned to the running.
“There were also a lot of rule changes and positional changes for us – with new coaches coming on board – in the three years I had off.
“It was tough, that first year back, bringing yourself up to speed but I’m feeling great now and I’m really looking forward to taking in the week and the match.”
He expected both the Richmond and Adelaide faithful to ensure noise levels were at fever pitch after umpiring through the racket of 94,258 fans in last Saturday’s preliminary final.