Saturday, 28 November, 2009

Labrador utility player admits he will feel more like a supporter than a player when he walks into the Brisbane Lions for the first time on Monday.

Retlzaff, a surprise choice by the Lions at No.84 in Thursday night’s NAB AFL National Draft, was still in disbelief yesterday according to the Gold Coast Bulletin and reporter Jake Dew. Especially with the prospect of confronting skipper Jonathan Brown, big-name signing Brendan Fevola and coach Michael Voss.

"I'll feel like a supporter and want to be asking them for an autograph  but they're going to be my teammates and coach," joked Retzlaff.

"I had a call from (Vossy) last night and I'll be keeping the voicemail to show everybody that I had Michael Voss calling me. He just said welcome to the club, congratulations on being picked up but the hard work starts now.

"There are so many great players and former players there and it will be amazing both working and learning from the best, including Vossy."

Earlier, Retzlaff had told the Bulletin’s Nick Smart it was “just unbelievable” to be taken with what turned out to be the last ‘active’ pick in the draft, with only rookie elevations behind him.

“I can't believe it," Retzlaff  said on draft night. “At first I was devastated because I thought the Lions had already used up their last pick. But then I kept watching and they read out my name. It was just great."

The Bulletin reports that Victorian-born Retzlaff, now living at Gilston, moved to the Gold Coast in 1993 and quickly made a mark at Labrador as a seven-year-old running around for the club. He stepped away from the game three seasons ago and instead focused on enjoying life as a teenager, also earning respect around the Coast on the cricket field where he left his mark scoring centuries for Mudgeeraba-Nerang.

But a heart-to-heart with his father Hawk and mother Sharon Redshaw convinced the 195cm forward to give football another shot.

"This time 12 months ago he wasn't playing footy and drinking beers up the back but we said to him he needed to get his mind back on track, you've had your stint of being a teenager so go and do something with your life," revealed Hawk.

"We knew he had what he needed to make it but it goes to show that you don't need a name to make it. He's put a lot of hard work to get here over the last 12 months and this is a great achievement and one we're very proud of."

The return turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life, with the Lions knocking on the door a move that pleased not only him, but girlfriend of three years Zoe Leary, who now has him closer to home and playing for the team she has supported all her life.

"It's awesome he doesn't have to move but even better that he'll be (playing) for the team I've been supporting since I was little," said Zoe. "I'll even have to buy a new jersey with his new number."

Boasting an unmissable tattoo similar to fellow Gold Coast AFL product Dayne Beams, Retzlaff is the first player to be drafted into the AFL from the Labrador Tigers since Michael Osborne, now a senior regular at Hawthorn, was rookie listed by the Hawks in 2000.

But Tigers club development manager Ryan Kogelman, who feels the rookie won't be the last, says Retzlaff deserves every opportunity that comes his way.

"We are absolutely thrilled, to have people born and bred with Labrador in their veins taking this next step is incredible," he told the Bulletin. "We have a great group of kids coming through and we expect in the next few years to hopefully get a few more over the line.

"For someone like Bryce, who always puts the club before himself and has one of the best attitudes for someone his age, it's a terrific achievement and I have little doubt he will develop into a very good centre half-forward or back."


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