Reality is yet to set in for Calder Cannons’ Noah Balta, who is now a Richmond footballer after being selected by the reigning AFL premier in Friday night’s AFL national draft.
One of the X-factors in the draft with his ability to play multiple positions, Balta didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called out.
The Tigers used their third selection, pick 25 to select him.
“It’s crazy,” Balta said on Sunday.
“I had the family over and it was pretty good to have everyone over.
“A few interstate clubs had some picks around that stage and I was a bit shakey. Richmond called my name out and I chucked my arms in the air.”
Balta knew the Tigers were interested, having spoken with them a couple of times, but his selection still came as a shock.
“I was getting text messages from all the players saying welcome to Tigerland,” he said.
“They’ve been really welcoming already.
“I don’t know if I’ll get a game straight away, but they’ll know when I’m ready.”
Among Balta’s new teammates is Alex Rance, a man many people compare Balta’s game to.
Balta sees himself as a defender, but has shown he can play in the ruck and up forward.
“Alex’s work rate is one of his best traits,” Balta said. “That’s something you can learn. I’ll look to be competitive at training with him. If I go forward, there’s Jack [Riewoldt], who is another good person to learn off.”
Balta said playing football had been his dream ever since he picked up the ball.
“I played soccer when I was seven and eight,” he said. “I then played football and won a premiership, was best on ground in the grand final and second in the league best and fairest.
“I was only middle of the table with soccer, so I stuck with football.”
Balta is the latest Cannons player to be drafted to the Tigers in recent years. Ivan Maric, who this year retired from AFL, is one former Cannon that Balta has got to know in recent years.
Cannons’ region manager Ian Kyte said the club was thrilled for Balta.
Balta was the only Cannons player who was expected to be selected in the national draft.
Kyte said the club had been hopeful that Mitchell Podhajski would be a late pick, but that didn’t eventuate.
He said they still believed Podhajski was a good chance to be picked in the rookie draft, which was held on Monday.
For all the details on Monday’s rookie draft, go to www.starweekly.com.au