GEELONG AFL recruit Darcy Lang says gaining a spot on an AFL list was the best birthday present he could have asked for.
Colac’s Lang turned 18 on the same day that Cats officials selected him with pick 16 in the AFL national draft.
Lang shot into draft contention after a breakout season with the Geelong Falcons in last year’s TAC Cup.
This year he impressed with Vic Country in the national under-18 championships and was one of the Falcons’ most consistent players, finishing third in the team’s best-and-fairest count despite a premature end to his season.
Lang will have a delayed start to pre-season with Geelong as he continues to overcome an ankle injury he sustained in his final game with Vic Country in July.
The son of Colac’s Phil and Vicki Lang said the injury had him concerned his AFL dreams could be over.
“Getting on an AFL list has sort of only seemed like a reality this year so I thought I’d better have a real crack at it,” Lang said.
“Throughout the pre-season I had to make a few sacrifices, and during the season I always worked as hard as I could,” he said.
“When I broke my ankle I was extremely disappointed because I thought that might have been it.
“But once the rehab started and I got walking and running, all the doctor’s reports were good, I started getting a bit of confidence back – so to get to where I am now is just surreal.”
The injury failed to put off Geelong selectors however, with the first-round selection coming as a shock to Lang.
“After hearing my name read out, I had to look at TV about three or four times to make sure it was real,” he said.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to get drafted that early, I thought I’d maybe get picked up in the third round if I was lucky.”
The Trinity College Colac Year 12 graduate had to cancel his schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast this week to join his new Geelong teammates, but Lang said he was excited to begin his new life in the AFL.
“I can’t put it into words, I’m rapt, over the moon, I’d been wanting to do this since I started kicking the footy around the back yard,” he said.
“Getting picked up by the Cats is unreal, I just can’t wait to get down there and listen and learn as much as possible.”
AFL clubs overlooked fellow AFL hopeful and Geelong Falcon Meyrick Buchanan in the draft, but Falcons regional manager Michael Turner predicted he would be a chance in Wednesday’s rookie draft.