After three years waiting for his opportunity, Daniel Nielson’s moment finally came against Fremantle on Sunday.
Shinboner 1002 was presented with his playing jumper by Brad Scott before the game, a memory he’ll cherish forever.
“It was so special. It was just amazing to get that opportunity and his (Scott’s) words were so kind,” Nielson told NMFC.com.au.
“I thank Brad and everyone at the club for giving me that opportunity, the chance to be out there with all the boys and have my chance out there to show what I’ve got.”
But it wasn’t all plain sailing on game day.
“I put on some upbeat music (on the way to the game) thinking that would help, then started getting really nervous. I thought I’ve got to chuck on something slow … I put on something really slow and mellow and actually started to calm down a bit,” Nielson revealed.
“When I got to the ground I actually felt pretty good.”
The debutant slotted straight into North’s defensive setup, and quickly bounced back from an early nervous moment.
“I took a good mark, but then put the kick a bit too high, so there was a bit of nerves in the first quarter,” Nielson admitted.
“Once the first quarter was done and dusted, I sort of started getting in the game a little bit more and felt a bit more comfortable.”
Nielson finished the match with an impressive 15 disposals and four marks in his first AFL game, having come a long way since he was drafted in 2014.
He underwent a knee reconstruction in his first season at Arden Street, and niggling injuries along the way have meant he’s had to bide his time for an opportunity.
A big month at Werribee finally led to a call-up on Wednesday night.
“It’s been a long road and I’ve had a lot of injuries and niggles. It sucks being in rehab that long, but you’ve got to persevere through it,” Nielson said.
“I’ve had a lot of support from everyone at the club. They gave me the extension after I did my knee in my first year. I’ve had a lot of support from all my teammates all along too.”