NAKIACockatoo's journey to the AFL ended this week with a taxi fare about seventimes higher than any of his peers faced when they arrived in Queensland forthe NAB AFL Draft.
Thenew Geelong midfielder was only invited to Thursday night's draft two weeksago, which made booking direct flights from his hometown of Darwin to the GoldCoast tricky.
Sothe 18-year-old and his mother Natasha, step-father Peter and one-month oldbrother Michael flew into Brisbane on Wednesday instead, and then caught a cabthe rest of the way.
Itcost $308 – a far cry from what the other potential draftees who were invitedhad to pay when they travelled from Coolangatta Airport to Broadbeach, wherethe draft was held.
Howeverit was worth the extra travel - and the taxi bill was taken care of - when hewas snapped up by the Cats with pick No.10 overall.
Itwas a surprise to Cockatoo, who thought may have been headed to West Coast withthe next pick.
Heonly spoke to the Cats once this year – in London, during the AIS-AFL Academytour of Europe in April – and even that was only during the "speeddating" process the players had with the club recruiters.
Thenthere was the complication of the surgery on the fifth metatarsal on his rightfoot he faced when he got home, after the injury flared a second time inFebruary during pre-season in his native Northern Territory.
"Iwas all clear to play in two scratch match games against the Remote All Stars,and that's when I did it again," Cockatoo told AFL.com.au.
"Itwas the same thing, the same spot. I was just shattered.
"Thistime I had surgery straight away after the Europe trip with the AIS [Academy],I had it on April the 22nd and ever since then it's been awesome."
Cockatoofirst had a problem with the foot during the 2013 NAB AFL Under 18Championships.
Itfelt good the week before after some initial soreness but flared up in thefirst match.
"Ipretty much played through the nationals with a broken foot – afterwards Ifound out I had a stress fracture," he said.
"Theygot me in a boot for eight weeks because we didn't want to get surgery justyet, we wanted to let it heal by itself and slowly build up to training."
Afterthis year's procedure he played just one game – for an all-star team as thecurtain raiser on Grand Final day – but Cockatoo's foot is now fine.
He'salready been welcomed to Geelong via a text from captain Joel Selwood, who was themost recent Cats to be drafted inside the top 10, in 2006.
Andhe's looking forward to swapping the hot climate of Darwin for the chillywinters of the Victorian surf coast in the coming weeks, if it means he getshis chance to play at the highest level.
"I'vebeen saying it all day and yesterday but I really just can't wait to get downand meet all the boys," he said.
"Itstill feels like I'm dreaming. I'm just so stoked to be able to go to Geelong.
"Butthe boys have been saying I better bring some pretty warm clothes."