While it’d no doubt be tough watching his former teammates out on the training track, Nathan Hrovat couldn’t have been better prepared for his move out of the AFL playing ranks.

After being delisted in August, Hrovat only spent a couple of months away from Arden Street, before proving the perfect candidate for a role in the club’s football operations department. 

The 25-year-old believes understanding the reality of the system was vital in setting himself up for life after footy.

“AFL is great for the top five or ten per cent, but in reality, the rest really battle the anxiety of selection every week; are you playing? Are you not playing? Where do sit? Are you in contract or out of contract?,” Hrovat told Fox Sports.

After being drafted at the age of 18, he played 30 games for the Bulldogs, before adding another 39 to his tally in three seasons at North.

But after just five games in 2019, Hrovat was planning for the future.

“I read the writing on the wall a little bit,” he said.

“I had got to a point where my passion outside of footy had started to grow.

“I made it very clear with my manager that I wasn’t keen to go around again anywhere else. It is tough being a fringe player. I found 2019 particularly tough because I travelled a lot as a travelling emergency, so I’d travel and not play AFL or VFL. It was a really tough year for me by the nature of how it played out.”

Hrovat said committing to a new opportunity at North was an easy choice.

“I’m very grateful for what the system has provided me over the last seven years. I’ve been able to build a really good network and it has provided me this job," he said. 

“I love the club because of the culture that has been built here. It is a great place to be.

“Although it was tough (being delisted), the transition hasn’t been hard at all. I’ve actually embraced and really enjoyed the transition. It wasn’t one where I got delisted and I didn’t know what I wanted to do next.”

Among his new responsibilities, soft cap expenditure, travel budgets, and pre-season training camps … and he’s still making his presence felt on-field too, helping the coaching department where required, and playing for the Roos’ VFL side.

“This is my first actual job — I’ve never had a real job before — I got drafted at 18 straight out of school so this is my first job and I’m absolutely loving it. It is a different stimulation. I’m going home mentally fatigued now, rather than physically,” Hrovat added. 

“It was definitely unexpected. Through the course of the last two years I started building some networks upstairs around what I was interested in and passionate about post footy. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go next, then I caught up with Laura for a coffee and she floated the role and it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I have always been interested in business in sport so to be able to merge the two is where the footy ops has been quite attractive to me. It is a really diverse role and it involves a whole range of not just the footy department, but the entire club.”