A JOURNEY that started with the Bendigo Umpires Association in 2011 has reached the AFL for Sam Stagg.
Bendigo's Stagg has been selected on the AFL Umpires panel as a boundary umpire for next year.
"It's really exciting... everyone in the VFL is striving to get to the AFL and I'm no different," Stagg said on Thursday.
"It has taken a lot of hard work, so, hopefully, I can make the most of the opportunity."
Stagg has spent the past six seasons on the VFL Umpires panel, which has included umpiring the past two grand finals.
The 25-year-old has also officiated in the past two AFLW grand finals and was named this year's VFL Boundary Umpire of the Year.
It's really exciting... everyone in the VFL is striving to get to the AFL and I'm no different,Sam Stagg
Stagg has also umpired a VFL Development League and TAC Cup (now NAB League) grand final, as well as this year's AFL Under-18 National Championships as part of the stepping stones to his AFL selection.
Before joining the VFL umpiring group Stagg spent three seasons as a boundary umpire with the BUA, with that stint including umpiring the 2011 Loddon Valley league senior grand final and the 2012 and 2013 Bendigo league senior grand finals.
He was named the VFL's Best First Year Umpire in 2014 and has umpired 86 senior VFL games - his first being a Bendigo Gold v Richmond clash at the QEO late in his debut season.
Stagg moved to Melbourne in June of 2017 to enhance his chances of forging an AFL career, which he now has the opportunity to do so following his selection.
Prior to his move Stagg, who overcame shin splints a year ago and on average clocks up 14 to 18 kms a game, was travelling to and from Melbourne three times a week for training and games with the VFL squad.
"It's great to have made the panel, now I'll be working towards my debut. The thought of running around on the MCG or Marvel Stadium is really exciting," Stagg said.
Stagg joins former Bendigo umpires John Howorth (field) and Tim Lougoon (boundary) on the AFL Umpires panel.
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