Tagliabue jumping at AFL dream

Former UNSW/ES ruckman, Sam Tagliabue has continued his amazing upward curve playing with Essendon this year in the VFL.

In 2011 you could find Tagliabue running around with the Bulldogs in the Division Three competition but it didn’t take long for the well-rounded big man to make his mark.

The next year saw Essendon knocking on his door after a break-out year in AFL Sydney where he won the AFL Sydney Rising Star award, a berth in the AFL Sydney Representative Team, the NSW/ACT Representative side and the AFL Sydney Team of the Year, as well as playing a hand in the premiership-winning UNSW/ES side against Balmain.

The now 23-year old was spotted a long way away from where he started his senior football with Temora.

“Essendon actually saw me playing in a Swans Reserves game up in the Gold Coast,” Tagliabue said.

“They saw something there with my height and said that I had the qualities of an AFL ruckman.”

After a halcyon year, 2013 would prove to be a football education for Tagliabue with injuries thwarting the momentum from the previous year.

A philosophical Tagliabue made it clear that it put him in good stead for a solid campaign this season.

“While I couldn’t get much momentum, it gave me the opportunity to understand their game plan and the way they played,” he said.

“In the first few weeks I was cracking in hard and still finding my feet at VFL level.

“Now I am a lot more comfortable in the VFL structure...I have a great relationship with our midfield.

“I have built a lot of trust with them in terms of us playing our role and getting into the right spots.”

Fourteen games later, Tagliabue has gone to war with a number of elite AFL giants such as Quinten Lynch, Ben Hudson, Orren Stephenson, Ty Vickery, Ben McEvoy and Luke Lowden.

“I learnt a lot playing against AFL quality players,” Tagliabue enthused.

“Just their consistency and that they give a contest at every stoppage was a lesson in how competitive I needed to be.”

For all of his progress, Tagliabue was quick to note it couldn’t have been such a ride if it wasn’t for his Sydney club.

“I played under such a good coach in Rhys McAlister, in a tight-knit group,” he said.

“They taught me a love of the game for a guy who hadn’t played much football beforehand.

“Premierships form a bond where we still keep in touch no matter where we are playing.”

With time on his side, don’t be surprised to see Tagliabue becoming a star like good mate, Dane Rampe in the AFL in coming years.


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