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Pagan baffled by Tiger's long wait to get drafted

Marc McGowan  November 8, 2017 12:55 PM

Grand recollections: Lambert Kane Lambert reflects on the 2017 Premiership.

DUAL North Melbourne premiership coach Denis Pagan has spoken of his exasperation at watching Richmond premiership midfielder Kane Lambert repeatedly ignored by AFL clubs.

Pagan, who also coached Carlton, elected to end his 25-year coaching career in 2009 with a year at the helm of TAC Cup side Northern Knights, where he met then-17-year-old Lambert.

Sam Grimley and Dylan Grimes – a Tiger teammate of Lambert's – went on to be drafted at the end of that season, while another Richmond star, Josh Caddy, joined the big league a year later.

But Lambert, 25, had to wait until the 46th pick in the 2014 rookie draft, after winning the Fothergill-Round Medal a season earlier as the VFL's most promising young player.

The former Northern Blues and Williamstown onballer's first two years at AFL level were solid rather than outstanding, but he became one of the Tigers' most valuable players this year.

Lambert averaged 21.5 disposals (7.9 contested), 6.7 score involvements, 4.6 tackles and 4.1 inside 50s in finishing third in Richmond's 2017 best and fairest behind Dustin Martin and Alex Rance.

"I'm just so glad it's all worked out for Kane now. He's a quality kid and he's so popular at Richmond," Pagan told SEN.

"I just think to finish third in the best and fairest, in front of Trent Cotchin – they must rate him highly.

"I was probably lucky, because I was with him every day for 12 months virtually at training and on match days and just saw him in a whole host of scenarios."

Pagan went to the lengths, without success, of contacting clubs himself to urge them to take a punt on Lambert, who sat out of football in 2010 partly in frustration at being overlooked.

"He just won me from day one," Pagan said of Lambert.

"I thought he was a right-footed Anthony Stevens and I couldn't understand why he wasn’t given an opportunity.

"I think he went through six drafts (before) he got his chance and I was so pleased that he had a great year, and finished third in the best and fairest in a premiership for the Tigers.

"It was great to talk to him just the other day and reflect where he came from."

Lambert's breakout campaign earned him a new two-year contract to remain at Punt Rd until the end of 2019 season.