'Surreal' truth behind AFL rookie's 'flat' response to draft move

·3-min read
GWS Giants draftee Tanner Bruhn has put his blank expression after being selected down to pure shock. Pictures: Getty Images
GWS Giants draftee Tanner Bruhn has put his blank expression after being selected down to pure shock. Pictures: Getty Images

For most AFL draftees, hearing their name called out by one of the league’s 18 clubs is the culmination of years of hard work in junior or state league.

A dream come true, many might say - although some questioned whether GWS Giants draftee Tanner Bruhn’s dreams were instead a nightmare on Wednesday evening.

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Selected with the 12 pick, Bruhn appeared almost emotionless when hugging family members upon learning he would join the 2019 grand finalists.

His relatively blank expression after learning the big news didn’t go unnoticed, with former player Adam Cooney pondering on SEN whether or not being drafted by an interstate club had dampened some of the excitement for Bruhn.

“The majority of players, you couldn’t wipe the smile off their face and I just thought he may have been a touch flat,” Cooney said.

But fear not Giants fans, Bruhn has since come out to dispel any suggestion he isn’t excited about his burgeoning AFL career, saying he was simply shocked to have made it to the league.

“A few people said that today that there was not much emotion last night from me,” Bruhn said in an interview with the Giants’ media team.

“But that was just me in shock, pure shock. I’m so excited to be heading to the Giants. Couldn’t have picked a better club.

“Just can’t wait to get up there, I’m so happy.”

The former Geelong Falcons player, who has struggled with limited playing time thanks to a 2019 knee injury and the disrupted 2020 season, said he was excited to get stuck into pre-season training.

“Seeing Leon and Stephen’s face when they popped up on the video screen — it was pretty surreal,” Bruhn told AAP.

“I had no idea who was behind the camera but when they were there, I was like, ‘Wow’.

“That’s when it became a bit more real for me that it was happening — so I was over the moon.”

Richmond Tigers continue Rioli legacy

Richmond again have another Maurice Rioli on their AFL list with the Tigers recruiting the son of the 1982 Norm Smith medallist.

Maurice Rioli Jr was selected by Richmond with pick 51 in Wednesday night's AFL draft, matching Essendon's bid for the father-son prospect.

The 18-year-old lands at Punt Rd, 33 years after his famous father played the last of his 118 games for the Tigers.

Rioli Sr was also a champion in the WAFL with South Fremantle so Jr had the option to pick the Tigers or Fremantle.

The Richmond Tigers selected Maurice Rioli Jr with the 51st pick in Wednesday's AFL draft. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
The Richmond Tigers selected Maurice Rioli Jr with the 51st pick in Wednesday's AFL draft. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

But the teenager made no secret of his desire to play for the back-to-back reigning premiers and will join cousin Daniel Rioli at the Tigers.

Daniel is already a three-time premiership player and gave a heartfelt welcome to his new teammate.

"I really wish your dad were here right now to see the moment you're (sic) dream came true but I know he'll be super proud up in the clouds watching you blossom," Daniel wrote on social media.

"You should be very proud of yourself because I know the whole family are, along with everyone that you are very close to. This is a dream come true for me."

Originally from the Tiwi Islands, Rioli Jr has been living in Melbourne, where he won a scholarship at Scotch College.

With AAP

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