AFL. Local lad Ryan Gardner secured draft pick number 59 to AFL club, Geelong Cats in Tuesday night’s 2015 NAB AFL Draft.
The 18-year-old Burnie Dockers Football Club defender was Geelong’s first draftee and the fourth and final Tasmanian boy to be called up.
Starting out with Smithton’s Auskick program 10 years ago, Gardner went on to feature with local clubs Scotchtown, Trowutta and Redpa before moving on to the Burnie Dockers in the Tasmanian State League two years ago.
From there Gardner quickly gained momentum, catching the attention of favourable AFL recruiters and clubs particularly with his performances with the Tasmanian Mariners side, and at the AFL Grand Final curtain raiser with the Allies team.
Geelong assistant coach, James Rahilly called upon the defender in Tuesday night’s draft impressed by his tall, strong build, agility and fast movement after clocking 2.96 seconds during a 20-metre sprint.
Family and friends quickly took to social media upon hearing the news to express their congratulations to the young star in the making.
Gardner follows Tasmanian boys Kieran Lovell (draft number 22) of Tigers Football Club to AFL club Hawthorn, Mitch Hibberd (33) of Clarence Football Club to North Melbourne and Mackenzie Willis (52) of Tigers Football Club to the Gold Coast Suns.
Gardner will join Western Australia’s Sam Menegola (66), Queensland’s Wylie Buzza (69) and South Australia’s Matthew Hayball (70) at Geelong.