High-pressure small forward Jake Aarts spoke with Richmond Media following the announcement that he would make his AFL debut in Sunday’s match against Melbourne at the MCG. Here’s what Aarts had to say in the exclusive interview . . .
The selection announcement
"Once 'Dimma’ announced it I was a bit speechless and I was just trying to get my thoughts around it. But I calmed down a bit after that . . . All the boys were pretty pumped. It was good just to enjoy that moment with them. It was a good feeling when they all got around me. I was able to settle after that and get into training. I’m pretty calm about it now."
Finally, it’s his time
"I’ve been in the squad a few times and then, for whatever reason, I haven’t got in (to the team). Last night was pretty similar. Everyone was messaging me asking what was going on. I couldn’t really give them an answer . . . So, when Dimma said it today, that’s when all the stress about it has gone."
The transition to Tigerland
"I started playing senior footy at 'Beacy' (Beaconsfield). My coach and one of my mentors, 'Aussie' Jones (ex-St Kilda), was a good mate of mine and he got the coaching role up at Bendigo. Between him and all the boys down there, I didn’t really get a choice; they pushed me to go do it. So I went and played at Bendigo for two years and had a good time there. Unfortunately, the club went under. Fortunate enough, I was on the radar of Richmond VFL. Growing up, I was a Richmond supporter, so it was a no-brainer to come here and play for the Tiges."
Plying his trade at VFL level
"I was playing VFL here for five or six years while I was still working. I’m a 'chippy' . . . I had a few stages where I didn’t think I was going to continue. I think I got to my fourth year and I was questioning what I was doing because it’s pretty hard work training and playing VFL and working at the same time. But something kept me going. I spoke to a lot of different people about what I should do . . . Gut feeling just kept me playing at the highest level I could . . . For some reason I knew I wasn’t that far away. I was fortunate to have a good year, turned out to get a bit of interest from some AFL clubs, and for one of them to be Richmond was pretty special. And for them to call me out in the rookie draft last year was a pretty special moment that I shared with my family and close friends."
"They’re (family) probably more excited than what I am. They’ve been through the whole journey with me. To finally get my opportunity to play with some really good mates, and for the club that I grew up barracking for, it’s pretty special. Unfortunately, there’ll be no-one there. But I’ve played in front of no crowds, so I’ll be used to it. It’s been a big journey and I’m looking forward to it."