For Nathan Kreuger, the moment was worth the wait.
Surrounded by his teammates, Chris Scott finally said the words he’d been waiting to hear for so long early on Friday morning.
“We’re going to start with really good news, Kreugs is going to play his first game.”
It’s not always a moment that Kreuger thought would arrive.
Overlooked as an 18-year-old in the draft, Kreuger had to ply his trade in the SANFL with South Adelaide to catch the eye of the Cats.
He was brought to the club in exchange with Carlton for pick 42 in the 2018 National Draft, with the Blues holding access to pre-listed, state league players.
By his own admission, he wasn’t ready for AFL football. Maturity wasn’t his strong suit.
“If I got picked up in my draft year, I wouldn’t have stayed in the system for very long,” Kreuger says.
“There’s only so many things you can control in your life and I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on my outside life as well as my footy life now.”
“I probably didn’t have it as easy (at that point in my life).”
“To finally get here and do it, even though it’s taken a while, I still believe in myself and what I can do and I can’t wait to get out there and just have fun.”
Kreuger has needed to call upon all that life experience to claw his way to a game in Geelong.
He’s battled his body as well as a list consistently going deep into September to earn himself a game.
“I’ve had three minor surgeries in twelve months, which is not ideal, but I feel like I’m back to 100 per cent strength and ready to go,” he says.
“It’s just a testament to my ability to keep pushing forward and I’m pretty proud of myself to get to this point.”
He’ll take the field as one of Scarlo’s misfits in defence, despite early, eye-catching performances up forward in the hoops.
A big bag of six against Coburg in May 2019 had Cat fans salivating at the prospect of another tall forward prospect.
With the arrivals of Rohan and Cameron, Kreuger knew his best chance to find a game in the senior side would come at the defensive end.
“I’m super excited to be in and play a role with Scarlo and the boys. I know they’re going to help me and look after me too,” he says.
“It’s helped my forward craft to be honest, playing in the backline. I’ve always played that swing role as a junior and as a senior.”
He credits the Cats key pillars at both ends of the ground for his development as well as some key coaching personnel.
“Everyone at the club has been massive for my development. Scarlo has been massive, Shaun Grigg, Shane O’Bree, I wish I could name everyone got those three in particular have been huge for my development,” he says.
“The same with Hawk, Blitz, guys who I will be playing in their positions. Those guys have been massive for my development and I’m super grateful.”
Kreuger can’t wait to step out alongside his backline mentor in Blicavs and take on the Roos.
“Hopefully Blitz doesn’t yell at me too much,” he says with a laugh.
“We’ll keep each other accountable and I’m looking forward to learning from him throughout the game and watching him play as well as get involved too.”