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Vlastuin’s Draft flashback

Vlastuin's 2012 Draft memories Nick Vlastuin reflects on his experience of being drafted to Richmond.
Nick Vlastuin is announced as the number 9 draft pick for Richmond during the 2012 NAB AFL Draft at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Nick Vlastuin is announced as the number 9 draft pick for Richmond during the 2012 NAB AFL Draft at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)

Rising Richmond star Nick Vlastuin has spoken candidly of the emotions he felt in the lead-up to, and aftermath of, last year’s AFL National Draft.

Vlastuin was taken by the Tigers with their first pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2012 Draft, and he proceeded to have a significant impact in his debut season of league football, playing 18 games (including the elimination final against Carlton), averaging 16.3 disposals and 4.8 marks per match, finishing sixth in the competition’s Rising Star award, and winning the Club’s Cosgrove-Jenkins award (best first-year player).

The talented teenager outlined his path to Tigerland in a ‘Roar Vision’ exclusive.

“The weeks leading up to the Draft went really slowly.  You’re just counting down the days with your family and friends, and then going for a couple of extra runs with your mates,” Vlastuin said.

“I had a little idea where I’d end up.  My manager called me a couple of days out, but it’s still so open and anyone could have read my name out, I suppose.  I was just hoping to stay in Melbourne, so I got pretty lucky.

“About a week before the Draft, I had a meeting with Richmond.  I came in, met the coaches, and they showed me around the facility, but they didn’t really say too much.  They just asked a couple of questions.

“On the actual night (of the National Draft), the first 10 picks they do really slowly, because you have to go up on stage and talk to the coach for a bit, so it took a while.  Nerves were just running high, and you knew all the cameras were out the back waiting, if you did get your (club) jumper.  It was just a slow, taxing time.”

Vlastuin described the emotion when Richmond’s Recruiting Manager Francis Jackson read his name out, at pick 9, as ‘definitely relief, and a lot of excitement as well’.

“Dimma (Damien Hardwick) was up on stage with the jumper, then I walked past my mate Aidan Corr, who also wanted to come to Richmond, and gave him a nudge.  It was really exciting,” he said.

“Straight after I got my jumper from Dimma, we went out the back and there were probably three or four stations set up, with five cameras each, and a lot of radio.  So we did that for probably half an hour, but you didn’t get to enjoy it because you were just really nervous about doing media then.  After that, I got to go back out and sit with my family.”

At the completion of the Draft, Vlastuin and his family went to dinner with the Richmond contingent.

“It was just exciting.  I didn’t take my jumper off and I didn’t want to do anything wrong.  Dimma tried to get me to have a beer, but I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

The first time Vlastuin met his new teammates, was at Tullamarine Airport, en route to Cairns for the Tigers’ pre-season camp, just a few days after the 2012 Draft.

“I tried to stick around with the people I knew like ‘Brando’ (Brandon Ellis) and all the other ‘first-years’, of course,” he said.

“It was hard getting to know everyone’s name and learning stuff.  I’m kind of a shy person anyway, so I stuck to myself and just tried to train hard and earn a little bit of respect before I said too much.

“I got roomed with ‘Cotch’ (Trent Cotchin) the whole camp, so that was pretty cool.  I learned a few things off him . . . just tried to talk to him, but was probably too nervous to say too much.”

Vlastuin was pleased with how his debut season of AFL football panned out.

“I was definitely happy with my first year.  I was a bit nervous at the start, when I was emergency for four games, but it was good to crack into the side, and then play the (elimination) final at the MCG.  That was unreal,” he said.

And, what advice does Vlastuin have for the next batch of Tiger draftees, who will be chosen this evening, in the 2013 National Draft at the Gold Coast Convention Centre?

“The best bit of advice I could give to a draftee, is just train hard, do all your talking out on the track, and respect the older boys,” he said.