Ryan Angwin wanted to impress his older teammates as much as introduce himself to AFL recruiters, when he made the Gippsland Power side as a small, skinny 16-year-old in 2019.
Angwin – who didn’t turn 18 until a few days after he was drafted last December – thought he had his top-age season last year to grow, develop and show clubs what he could really do.
He tells the story of his draft year in the newest episode of Becoming GIANT, detailing the lessons he learnt from Port Adelaide utility Xavier Duursma, when Duursma went back to their shared home town of Foster during the 2020 season shutdown.
“Having (Duursma) him to grind out the start of the year and understand what he was going through helped me,” said Angwin, whose season with the Power was eventually called off.
“I think what I learnt about myself and the other boys was we were really motivated to get better, even if there was no footy going on through the year.
“I reckon coming into the COVID period I started to focus on my mental strength a lot more. I knew my physical ability and what was coming, but you’ve got to have a strong mind leading into this sort of stuff (AFL football), and obviously when the COVID period hit you had to stay in the moment and not think too far ahead.
“We all sort of had that in our head, just to take it day by day and get the most out of each day as we could, and keep pushing each other to get better."
Angwin made his senior debut for Foster when he was just 15, before stepping into the Power side. It's an opportunity he is extra-relieved, given what happened in 2020, came his way.
He's a player whose attributes and scope grew on the recruiting team more and more while sifting back through vision from two years ago, comparing him to kids who had had more impact than him as bottom-age NAB Leaguers but in some cases were almost a full year older.
“I definitely felt young. I was really undersized compared to everyone. I was skinny and sort of a fragile kid,” Angwin said.
“But having that sort of exposure from Foster, playing in the senior footy comp against grown men, that really helped me.
“When I’m out there on the field I don’t feel like everyone’s bigger and a lot stronger than me, I just feel that if I play my natural game and do what I can do then I can have an impact on the field.
“I was lucky to have GWS realise that as well, and pick me up.”