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Out of the Draft: Dan Butler

Out of the draft: Butler Pick 67 in the 2014 National Draft, Dan Butler, speaks about his first year out of the draft.
Daniel Butler of the Rebels celebrates a goal during the TAC Cup 1st Semi Final match between the North Ballarat Rebels and Sandringham Dragons at Visy Park, Melbourne on September 7, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Dan Butler celebrates a goal for the North Ballarat Rebels in 2014

In the countdown to the 2015 National Draft, we discuss the whole draft experience with Richmond’s five 2014 pick-ups. Today, we feature Dan Butler.

The draft lead-up

“I was Year 12 in my draft year, at St Pat’s in Ballarat, just playing footy with the Rebels . . . I just tried to play consistently week in, week out.  And, I was also focusing heavily on my schooling . . . I tried not to worry about it (the draft) as much as I could.  There was a bit of banter going on with the boys at school about where I’d end up, if I would (be drafted).  But I was just going in with the focus that I wasn’t going to get drafted at all, so I could just worry about my exams.  Anything that happened would be a bonus.  A couple of days before the draft I went down to the beach in Lorne, with one of my cousins, and just tried to get away from it.  Had a bit of a surf and then draft day, that morning, we were surfing and talking about it a little bit, but trying to keep away from it.  I just tried to keep it relaxing.  That night I headed home and watched it with mum and dad.  I didn’t really want anyone else over . . . I just thought it was good to watch it with mum and dad.”

Meeting the Tigers

“I didn’t think Tiges would take me . . . I didn’t really think anyone would take me, to be honest.  I had two interviews with them (Richmond) and the first one I got drilled a fair bit.  So I thought I was definitely not coming here.  But I couldn’t be happier here.”

A dream come true

“When my name got read out, it was pretty unbelievable.  It’s something you dream about, and I started crying . . . It was just one of those moments you’ll remember for the rest of your life.  My phone was pretty much going crazy.  I’ve never had so many people text me.  And, within about half an hour, there would have been about 40 people at my house.  It was an unreal experience.”

Early days at Tigerland

“It was pretty surreal.  I just tried to keep calm . . . but it’s pretty hard when you’re seeing these people that you’ve watched on TV, like ‘Cotch’ (Trent Cocthin) and ‘Dusty’ (Dustin Martin) . . . it was pretty unreal meeting them.  And, next minute, you’re training next to them and they’re your teammates.”

Tough Tiger initiation

“I only played six or seven games for the whole year.  I was in rehab. for most of the year, doing a lot of boxing and swimming and stuff like that.  It was pretty hard not being with the main group and being a bit isolated.  But you’ve just got to keep positive that you’ll be back out there as soon as you can . . . There was light at the end of the tunnel.”

Helpful advice to new draftees

“If I had advice to give, it’d probably be just to be patient with your body.  Not everything’s going to happen at once.  You just need to take it step by step, and ask lots of questions to the older boys, because everyone’s here to help . . . All we want to do is just get better.”