While Tanner Bruhn has only waited 102 days to make his AFL debut, his journey to get there has been far from a walk in the park.

Tanner's was a name well-known in the Geelong region. His exploits and potential, in both football and cricket, built him a notable reputation from a young age. 

And breaking into teams at a young age is a standard he has set for himself for quite some time.

Whether it be firsts with Geelong Grammar or NAB League as a 16-year-old – round one for the GIANTS was never out of the question.

Andrew Althorpe first met Bruhn in his first year as the Head Coach with Geelong Grammar, but the name wasn’t unfamiliar to him.

“I was aware of who he was and I was pretty excited by the talent that was going to be coming to Grammar,” said Althorpe.

“He showed right from the first game that he was up to the level; showed his competitiveness and a real grit and a real desire for the contest. He was pretty impressive from day one.”

A kid who seemed destined for success in whatever sport he chose to tackle, Bruhn was dealt his first major setback in 2019 when he was sidelined with a serious knee injury.

“It challenged him in a way he had never been challenged,” said Althorpe.

“Up until then he had probably never missed a game of sport. Playing a lot of footy and cricket, I reckon he crammed in every game he could.

“His injury was something that needed to challenge him.

“Other kids are challenged in other ways, through improving skills or fitness, whereas what Tanner was dealt was a way to improve how he goes about the game from a different sense.

“I think it was just part of his journey to learn that side of the game.

“Injuries do happen and you’ve got to learn to how you handle them both mentally and physically.”

Althorpe commended Bruhn for his resilience and for the way he approached his time on the sidelines, noting that he used his time well.

“Whether it was through watching the game and supporting his teammates with both Grammar or the Falcons, or the rehab work he did and getting his gym program right and getting a better understanding of all that.

“I definitely think it’s something that he has gone through that will hold him in better stead and make him a better all-round athlete.”

Bruhn was under Althorpe’s guidance for three years with Geelong Grammar and his former coach was not surprised by his round one inclusion.

“He’s just so determined and I knew as soon as he got in there he was going to be so committed to it and would want to get the most out of it,” he said.

“He really matured a lot throughout the three years at the Grammar. Especially in year 12, his leadership just went to a whole new level and the way he helped develop and support some of his teammates and the time that he gave back to them and to the program.

“It wasn’t just about him being the best player he could be, it was about the players around him being the best they could be too.”

Geelong Grammar produced three draftees in the 2020 draft and also helped carve the path for fellow GIANT Brent Daniels and former GIANT Jye Caldwell.

Caldwell was the captain at Geelong Grammar in Bruhn’s first year. He was one of the many older players that Bruhn would continually try to learn from, whether it be footy specifics or leadership traits.

Bruhn was the GIANTS’ first pick, taken at pick 12 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft.

He's a midfielder who reads the play well, with expectational fundamentals and an ability to win contested ball.

“He could be anything he wants to be,” said Althorpe.

“He will be pretty determined not just as a forward, but I’m sure he is going to want to become a midfielder as well and develop his game through there.

"He will be tagging onto the key mids up there to learn as much about their craft as he can and how they go about it. That’s exactly what he was like at Grammar. He was also trying to learn as much as he could."

Althorpe, who returns to Geelong Grammar for a fourth season this year, said spending time with players like Bruhn makes it all worthwhile.

“He’s just a terrific young man and really determined to get the best out of himself and the people around him,” he said.

“He’s got a great attitude and the people around him just feed off that.”