For Miller Bergman, whose father was drafted to North Melbourne in the 1980s but never played a game, having the Kangaroo on his chest and blue and white stripes on his back is a dream come true.
A lifelong Kangaroos supporter who was drafted to North with pick No.38 last month, Bergman has gone from idolising the likes of Jack Ziebell, Jy Simpkin and Jaidyn Stephenson to rubbing shoulders with them.
While watching from afar last season, he’s part of the revolution of young and exciting players at Arden Street, joining the likes of Ben McKay, Aiden Bonar and fellow draftees Josh Goater and Jackson Archer in locking down the future of the club’s defence.
Bergman says while being a North Melbourne player is incredible, he’s got his eyes firmly set on building his game.
“It’s still pretty surprising to be able to get to work here, and it still doesn’t feel real. I’ll look around the rooms or on the ground and I still can’t believe I’m training with some of these guys,” Bergman told North Media.
“I love being out here with the experienced players and learning from them so I can improve and get better, it’s so good.
“I watched as many North games as possible last year. Obviously we had our ups and downs but I could also see the gradual improvement over the season.
“As a fan I was looking forward to what we could do in the future, but now I’m a part of that future and I can’t wait to contribute my strengths to the group and help build the club.”
One of those strengths is undoubtedly Bergman's aerobic capacity.
Among the best runners in his draft class, he’s a natural half-back flanker who can push up the ground and score goals, but his huge tank allows him to work back and still impact the game defensively.
While it takes time to build the fitness and strength required to play at AFL level, Bergman looks to be a step ahead of some of his peers, winning North’s endurance test last week.
Finishing first ahead of established runners like Jy Simpkin, Lachie Young, Luke McDonald and Todd Goldstein, Bergman’s AFL-standard fitness bodes well for the future.
While his fitness is one of his major strengths, he says it doesn’t necessarily come easy to him.
“I really try to keep up my workrate and consistently run in my own time. Coming into North I really want to build on those strengths,” he said.
“I was pretty surprised when I came in at the top, but I think it shows how hard I’ve worked on keeping fit before getting drafted.
“I think that good level of fitness will transition well to AFL level. If I can keep continuously running during games and keep that workrate high, it’ll help me in the quicker, faster games at AFL level if I earn an opportunity.”
Bergman says he’s already building relationships with people all across the club.
“Nobes (David Noble) is a great coach and we’ve had dinner a couple of times, but he already seems like a friend you can go and talk to. He’s just that type of person who you know can be there for you," Bergman said.
“I’ve also moved in with Ben McKay and Charlie Lazzaro, and they’ve been really helpful with offering guidance out on the track and also at home. They’ve helped push me through and get me used to the environment.
“Lachie Young is another one who’s been good for me so far. It’s been great to learn from him since we play similar positions, and he’s helping me get the most out of training."