Jacob Blight has had a burning desire to play AFL football for as long as he can remember.

Despite the setbacks along the way, he never wavered from his dream, and did everything possible to turn it into a reality.

Blight’s reward came yesterday, when Richmond called his name out with its first pick and the second overall in the 2024 AFL mid-season rookie draft.

“Trying to make the AFL has always been a life-long dream, ever since I was probably five years old . . . Once you turn 18, that’s when you’re in the pool and eligible to be picked up . . . I definitely had to earn my way and prove what I can do,” the talented 22-year-old key defender said on SEN WA.

“On the night, it happened so quickly. I didn’t really have much indication. I had a brief idea it could be a possibility there, but I didn’t know for sure what was going to happen . . .


“I had a really close friend and family there. A big celebration, but also had a bit of a cry.

“I don’t think people realise the years of hard work and the setbacks and everything that goes into that sort of thing . . .  the battles that you have to overcome.

“There’s a lot went into that day, and it was just surreal, really.”

Blight’s determination to keep his AFL dream alive led to him making a key switch in his playing career at the end of the 2022 season.

He decided to part ways with WAFL club Claremont and search for a new football home.

That proved to be a masterstroke with Blight eventually joining rival WAFL club Peel Thunder, an affiliate of AFL club Fremantle.


Blight had an excellent 2023 season at Peel Thunder as an intercepting key defender, culminating in him gaining selection in the WAFL team of the year.

“I guess when I was at Claremont my career wasn’t progressing the right way, and a change of environment was something I wanted, but also it was pretty much needed as well,” Blight said.

“I was actually looking to go to the VFL and look for a club over there (in Victoria). Long story short, I got in contact with Matt Rosas, who was the GM of Football for Peel at the time and before I knew it, I was signed on with Peel.

“And I trained with Freo over the summer, and that’s what I was looking for – an affiliated team, to train and play alongside AFL-listed players . . .

“If you wanted to play AFL, why not cement yourself with people who are already doing it.

“Even if I’m not necessarily up to the level, at least if I’m with those sort of players on a weekly basis, I’m going to see how they go about it and learn. But also progress my game a lot quicker.

“And I guess that’s what happened to some degree.

“It was a huge risk going to Peel with only limited spots in a league side, but I very much applied myself and worked extremely hard, and I guess earnt the respect.

“I played each week there and just got better from there, and now I’m here.

“It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, that’s for sure.”

While Blight is excited at the prospect of getting to know co-defenders at Richmond in triple premiership trio Dylan Grimes, Nick Vlastuin and Nathan Broad, his main focus initially with the Tigers is to earn respect, both on and off the field.

“I want to be a good teammate and be a good mate to everyone at the Club,” he said.

“I’m very much looking forward to meeting those sort of calibre of players (Grimes, Vlastuin and Broad) and learning how they go about it and the game plan and everything else that comes with it.

“I’m super excited just to be there and more than happy to earn my way in the VFL for the next few weeks.

“If the opportunity were to come (to play in the senior side), I sincerely believe I’ll be more than ready to go.”

And Blight will have no problem singing the famous Tigers theme song after a win, having previously played with the Railway Tigers in Albany, the Pinjarra Tigers in the Peel football league and the Claremont Tigers in the WAFL.

“I’ve been a Tiger for most of my junior career,” he said.

“I’m very familiar with the song and won’t need too much more rehearsing, that’s for sure.”