Two years ago Fergus Greene was dropped from the Sandhurst under-18 team.
On Monday, he’ll shake hands with Luke Beveridge and Bob Murphy and start his AFL career with the reigning premiers the Western Bulldogs.
Greene, who was selected by the Bulldogs with pick 70 of Friday night’s AFL national draft, is a self-confessed “late developer” when it comes to footy.
Despite his family’s strong football links – his father Chris is a Sandhurst great in the BFNL and his uncle Brendan Hartney played with Carlton in the VFL and went on to win the Michelsen Medal in the BFNL twice with the Dragons – footy wasn’t Greene’s number one love when it came to sport.
“Basketball was my favourite sport growing up because I wasn’t that good at footy,’’ Greene said.
“I made one BJFL representative side in the under-14s or 15s, but to be honest I probably shouldn’t have been in it. I wasn’t good enough.
“In my first year of under-18s I played the first game and then was dropped for the next two games. It was a real struggle for me.
“I played the fourth game and hardly got a kick. I thought I was going to get dropped again.
“I played a game on permit for YCW (Loddon Valley Football League) and thought seriously about just playing out there.
“Thankfully, I started to improve and things turned around for me with Sandhurst.”
By the end of the season Greene was a star of the competition. He kicked five goals in the under-18 grand final to guide the Dragons to victory over Gisborne.
Just when his footy career started to gather momentum, a navicular bone injury skittled his 2015 season.
After a long recovery, Greene played four senior games with Sandhurst early in 2016 before a best on ground performance in a school football match for Catholic College changed his destiny.
“I just wanted to get through a year of footy this year after the injuries I had,’’ Greene admitted.
“We (CCB) played a school footy game against Bendigo Senior Secondary College and half the Pioneers team were on the Bendigo Senior team. I played okay and we won.
“After that Sharpy (Bendigo Pioneers talent manager Steve Sharp) and Hendo (then Pioneers coach Brett Henderson) asked me to play with the Pioneers as an over-age player. I jumped at the opportunity because I knew I wouldn’t get that chance again.
“I only played five games, which was disappointing, because injuries held me back. I’m glad I got the chance because I might not have got drafted otherwise.”
It was the final TAC Cup game that Greene played which raised the eyebrows of AFL club recruiters.
He kicked three goals, had 10 possessions and took five marks to be the Pioneers best player against Gippsland.
“After my last game with the Pioneers the Gold Coast got in contact with Mum and Dad,’’ Greene said.
“I had a meeting with them and then the Wednesday after the BFNL grand final I had a meeting with Geelong.
“I had a meeting with the Western Bulldogs after my exams finished.”
Three other clubs also showed interest in the athletic forward, but no promises were made ahead of the national draft.
“It was all pretty intense, but I still thought I wasn’t much of a chance because it wasn’t as if the clubs were having six or seven meetings with me like they do with other players,’’ Greene said.
“On draft night I tried not to get too worked up and kept telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I don’t get picked, but when my name got called out it was just unbelievable.”
Western Bulldogs assistant coach Rohan Smith was the first person from the club to contact Greene.
“I really didn’t know what to say. It must have been a hard conversation for Rohan because I probably wasn’t making much sense,’’ Greene said.
Bulldogs’ players, including another Bendigo product Jake Stringer, have contatcted Greene over the weekend to congratulate him.
“It’s been pretty amazing to get all the messages,’’ he said.
“I can’t wait to get down there and be part of the club.”
He doesn’t have to wait long.
Greene heads to the Whitten Oval on Monday for a tour of the facilities and to collect his Bulldogs apparel.
Pre-season training for the draftees starts on Tuesday. Greene will live with Bulldogs premiership player Josh Dunkley for the first few weeks before moving in with a host family.
“It’s still hard to believe that this is happening,’’ Greene said.
“It’s a great opportunity.”