A SOUTH Warrnambool export will make his AFL debut in one of the biggest games on the game's calendar.
Jay Rantall will run out for Collingwood against Essendon at the MCG on Anzac Day.
The second-year Magpie thrust his name into selection calculations with a 25-disposal best-on-ground effort in the VFL last weekend.
Proud dad Tim Rantall told The Standard the family was planning its trip down the highway.
Tim, wife Lia and youngest son Wil, along with Jay's grandmother Jean, will be among a host of friends and family watching on from the grandstand.
Tim expects more to be "glued to the TV" at home.
The Rantalls found out the good news at 3pm on Thursday.
"Everything is going crazy," Tim said.
"It's been a whirlwind. People are starting to knock on the door and bring beer in (to say congratulations).
"It will be a nice, exciting time the next couple of days and hopefully he enjoys every bit of it."
Tim said the family was thrilled for Jay.
"Anzac Day is awesome. It's certainly a massive day on the football calendar that gets sold out every year," he said.
"There will be a sense of relief getting his first game and a sense of excitement getting his first game.
"Last year was a pretty tough year for his training with COVID and the limitations they had.
"It was good last week for him to get back for his first full game of footy - he hasn't played a full game of footy for 19 months really."
Tim said Jay, known for his commitment to training, was studying at Deakin University.
"He probably overworked at times last year and now he's found a good balance between footy, study and life," he said.
"He needed that distraction from footy and it's been really good for him. It's balanced his life a bit more."
The Rantalls have watched Jay's progression with pride.
"It's probably Jay's normal stuff (that helped earn a debut) - his desire, the way he devotes himself, gets the best out of his body and his ability to train and recover," Tim said.
"You keep hearing he's a very solid, great trainer at the club so it's just about getting his knowledge up now."
Jay, 19, was told of his debut in front of his Collingwood teammates on Thursday.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said the midfielder with elite endurance deserved his chance.
"When I have observed you the past four to six weeks, I just see a kid who has a smile on his face, who is more settled in his own skin and we're seeing that translate into your training and playing performances," he said.
"It is well earned. Your strengths are going to be important for us.
"You get up and down the ground insistently and you'll do it for four quarters."
Jay arrived at Collingwood via pick 40 in the 2019 AFL draft after a standout season for NAB League club GWV Rebels.
He committed himself to football after representing Australia at the FIBA under 17 world cup.
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