For the first time since 2007 the Bendigo Pioneers had four players selected in the AFL national draft.
Pioneers’ 2016 captain Joe Atley was selected by Port Adelaide at pick 32, classy midfielder Kobe Mutch went to Essendon at pick 42, livewire forward Kayle Kirby was picked by Collingwood at selection 50 and Sandhurst product Fergus Greene was the bolter of the draft after being picked by the Western Bulldogs with selection 70.
Atley, from Rochester, had interviews with 15 of the 18 AFL clubs, but it was Port Adelaide who won the services of the inside midfielder.
“Port Adelaide came to my house last Friday and they sounded pretty keen, but you just never know,’’ Atley said.
“You just don’t know how the picks were going to fall, so I didn’t think about it too much.
“We thought for a little while there that I was a chance to join my brother (Shaun at North Melbourne), but I’m very happy to be going to Port Adelaide.
“I’ll give it my all as soon as I get there.”
Atley has similar attributes to one of his new team-mates Ollie Wines.
Mutch, from Broken Hill, was zoned to the GWS Giants, but they failed to match the bid by the Bombers.
That was music to the ears of Mutch, who gets the opportunity to play for the team he supported growing up.
“I was tearing up. I couldn’t believe it,’’ Mutch said.
“The family just went bananas. I was a die hard (Essendon) fan. I absolutely love them. I can’t explain the feeling.
“Dean Solomon was a hero of mine growing up because he was from the same town as me and he went on to have a great career with the Bombers.”
While Atley and Mutch were always expected to be drafted, Kirby was seen as a rough chance and Greene was given little hope by those outside of the Pioneers.
Kirby, from Swan Hill, heads to a Collingwood side that lacks some class inside forward 50.
He showed his class by kicking nine goals in two games for Richmond’s VFL side late in 2016. He also represented Victoria Country at the under-18 national titles.
Greene wasn’t even on the Bendigo Pioneers list at the start of 2016, but his form with Sandhurst and in school football as well as his athletic attributes saw him given a chance at TAC Cup level.
Greene wasn’t invited to the national or state draft combine, but his 15.6 beep test at a rookie state testing sparked the interest of the Western Bulldogs.
Greene could play as a third forward at the next level or his running ability could see the Dogs develop him as a wingman.
For those players that missed out, the AFL rookie draft will be held on Monday.