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Post-premiership rewind: Nank turns GF rejection into stunning triumph

Grand recollections: Nankervis Toby Nankervis reflects on the 2017 Premiership.

Relive the Tigers’ 2017 premiership through the re-running of articles richmondfc.com.au published in the glory days following the tremendous Grand Final triumph.

TWELVE months ago, Toby Nankervis was a broken man watching the Western Bulldogs claim a memorable premiership over Sydney, his own Grand Final dream dashed when he was dropped a fortnight earlier.

Nankervis played a key role in the Swans' semi-final victory over Adelaide last year in the absence of the injured Kurt Tippett, but when his higher-profile teammate returned a week later, the understudy lost his spot for the preliminary final, and never played for the Bloods again.

An emergency for last year's Grand Final, the big man made the tough decision to leave Sydney in search of regular senior opportunities, with Tippett, Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair the Swans' preferred ruckmen. The move was a massive win for both the player and his new club.

The 23-year-old played 24 of a possible 25 games for the season in yellow and black and saved one of his best for the decider, with his 18 possessions and 28 hit-outs in a tough battle against Adelaide's Sam Jacobs helping the Tigers win the crucial clearance battle.

Nankervis said Saturday's triumph is something he never thought possible this time last year.

"I was pretty gutted to not get a game, I knew I could play AFL footy but I just wasn't getting the opportunity," he said.

"To leave the Swans was so hard but it's all worth it now.

"I spoke to a few clubs (at the end of last season) but I really got along with 'Dimma' (Damien Hardwick) from the start.

"He came across as someone who really cared about my family and about me enjoying my footy.

"That’s why I play footy, because I enjoy it, and I probably wasn't getting that at Sydney at the back end of last year.

"This year I've enjoyed my footy, I've improved so much I think, and I've got so much improvement left, but I'm going to enjoy the next couple of weeks."

Like most of Richmond's now famous premiership 22, Nankervis was mobbed in the change rooms to celebrate the club's first flag since 1980, and his close-knit family was first in the queue.

The boy from North Launceston beamed with pride when he spoke about the contribution his family has made to his footy life, and plenty made the trip north to cheer him on at the MCG.

"When I was down and out last year they were there for me and I'm so glad I can share this feeling with them, because they've been with me all the way," he said.

"I had about 10 or 15 (family members) come over, and particularly my mum and dad, my brother and my girlfriend, the support they've shown me is unbelievable."