Trent Bianco achieved two childhood dreams on Thursday night.
First, and most importantly, Bianco was drafted by an AFL club. Secondly, but most exhilaratingly, the club in question was his beloved Collingwood.
The promising half-back/midfield prospect, who has been likened to Magpies star Steele Sidebottom, this year captained Oakleigh Chargers to the NAB League premiership and also impressed with Vic Metro in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
Bianco, whose family and most of his friends are also Pies fans, had been expected to be selected inside the top 40 but thought his hopes of joining the Magpies were dashed when they instead selected former basketballer Jay Rantall at No.40.
So, the 18-year-old was ecstatic when he was snapped up by the Magpies at No.45.
"It doesn't feel real at the moment. I dreamed of it growing up, but I never thought it was going to happen," Bianco told reporters on Thursday night.
When he was nine he attended the 2010 Grand Final and Replay, which Collingwood won against St Kilda.
"That's probably the best memory so far, but hopefully (there's) more to come," Bianco said.
The resemblance to Sidebottom seems a good one, with Bianco also a creative, balanced, dual-sided playmaker. He also idolised the Collingwood vice-captain, along with skipper Scott Pendlebury, Brodie Grundy and Adam Treloar.
"I can't wait to hear from (Sidebottom), and I can't wait to meet all the players – all my childhood heroes really," he said.
Bianco is also rapt to have the chance to work alongside friends in fellow Chargers-turned-Magpies Isaac Quaynor and Josh Daicos.
Collingwood's national recruiting manager Derek Hine said he saw "a little bit" of Sidebottom in Bianco, and suggested the youngster already had his hero covered in a key area.
"He's probably a better kick than Steele," Hine said.
"Clearly he'd be in the top three or four users by foot in this year's draft – (that's) where we rate him anyway."
The clincher for the Pies was Bianco's improvement across the season and especially in his performances in the NAB League finals.
"He took his game to another level, particularly the latter two finals where he received a lot of physical treatment. He was able to stay on task and really work well through it, so he's ready to go."
Fellow midfielder Rantall, from South Warrnambool via the Greater Western Victoria Rebels, was also pinching himself just a year after representing Australia at the under-17 basketball World Cup in Argentina with Luke Jackson, the ruckman selected by Melbourne at pick No.3.
"I've got no regrets (about quitting basketball). It's pretty amazing – 18 months ago (Jackson and I) were rooming together in Argentina and now we're pretty much neighbours," Rantall said.
The Pies' other draftee on the night was 190cm East Fremantle defender Trey Ruscoe at No.55.
Like Rantall, Ruscoe has much scope for development given he'd played exclusively as a midfielder/forward until the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships when he was used with telling effect as a key defender in the triumphant Western Australian team.