COLLINGWOOD mature-age recruit Sam Dwyer will make his AFL debut tomorrow, some eight seasons after he was first overlooked in the national draft.
The former South Warrnambool footballer will realise a long-held dream when he runs out on to the ground at Docklands for the Magpies’ season-opener against North Melbourne.
Dwyer, 26, was elevated off the Pies’ rookie list on Thursday as a replacement for injured first-year player Tim Broomhead.
Collingwood named the ex-Port Melbourne best and fairest winner on its extended bench that night and he survived the final cut yesterday afternoon.
Dwyer was drafted to Collingwood via the 2012 rookie draft after eight dominant seasons in the VFL.
He had been on AFL clubs’ radars every year since he was overlooked in the draft as an 18-year-old.
Paul Dwyer, who will travel from Warrnambool for the game, said his son’s hard work had paid off.
“I’m very proud of him. It has been a long journey for him and perseverence is what has got him there,” he said.
“He’s never given up believing in the dream.”
Paul said Dwyer’s first AFL pre-season was an eye-opener but he had fitted in well.
“It has been fairly intense for him. He initially started off slowly because of the broken leg from last year,” he said.
“After Christmas and new year he started full training so he was a little bit behind the others.
“He has adapted and is enjoying it. You couldn’t ask for a better place to go to as far as facilities.”
Dwyer’s older brother Josh, a former Old Collegians player, said he was excited to watch his younger sibling make his AFL debut.
“I think he has the ability, for sure,” he said.
“He is good enough. It depends on the opportunities he will get. Time will tell.
“As long as he gets a few kicks it should be good.”
Collingwood plays North Melbourne in a twilight fixture tomorrow. The game starts at 4.40pm.
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