Essendon draftee Rhett Montgomerie has had “a crazy four or five days” after having his AFL dream realised following his rookie draft selection by the Bombers.
“It’s definitely sunk in now that I’m here” the mature age prospect revealed of his AFL opportunity in an exclusive chat with The Inner Sanctum.
Montgomerie played 21 games for Central District in the SANFL this season following some tough times in the lead-up to his eventual selection by the Bombers.
When asked what kept him motivated after missing out in previous drafts Montgomerie said: “along with not getting drafted, I didn’t even make any state teams as a junior at all, no 16s, 17s, 18s”.
“I saw a lot of my mates getting picked up in front of me and it was pretty tough to watch so I guess that gave me the drive and I’m determined just to prove people wrong
“I just love my footy, I always have, so it’s always been my dream so I didn’t give up.”
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At 190cm, Montgomerie played as a key defender this season, using his height to take strong intercept marks.
“At Centrals in SA, I was more playing on the tall forwards but obviously I know when I come here I’m going to be playing on more medium forwards, talls and smalls as well, so definitely going to be looking at a third or fourth tall role in whatever grade that is,” he said of his role in the side.
Speaking on his learnings in the SANFL this season, Montgomerie labelled it “the best comp outside of the AFL” with “a lot of good players”, as he prided himself on being “really professional” and “training really hard with intensity.”
While the 22-year-old did meet with Essendon, he wasn’t expecting to be taken by the club.
“I had a zoom call with them a few weeks out from the draft and thought obviously they are keen, we didn’t really talk ever until the rookie draft in the afternoon and he (Rob Forster-Knight) kind of rang me a bit before and hinted that they might take me,” Montgomerie said.
“I wasn’t fully confident if it would be here.”
Montgomerie said he was excited by Essendon’s successful history of mature-age recruits such as Nic Martin and Massimo D’Ambrosio.
“That definitely excites me that they saw that I was like that and can be beneficial for the club and so those lads have definitely really inspired me,” he said.
When asked which AFL players he bases his game style on, Montgomerie revealed other mature-age prospects such as Tom Stewart and Callum Wilkie were just a few of his inspirations for his game.
“Jordan Ridley here is a great player that I admire a lot, I love the way Shannon Hurn goes about it being a Barossa boy as well, and Jeremy McGovern definitely someone I’ve mainly looked up to the way he reads the play,” he said.
Montgomerie officially began pre-season training on Monday alongside the other Essendon draftees and the entire senior playing group under new coach Brad Scott.
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