A back injury hasn’t derailed the AFL dream of Calder Cannons co-captain Jack Bytel.

Bytel missed most of this year with the injury, but was still rated among the top players in the country heading into the draft.

When it came to the draft, St Kilda didn’t hesitate to select Bytel as pick 41. He was the second Cannons player selected, after the Western Bulldogs took Rhylee West as a father-son pick.

Bytel was thrilled to have his name read out. He said heading into the draft, he didn’t care what club he went to, as long as he was picked up.

“It’s amazing, I’ve been waiting so long,” he said.

“I’d definitely spoken to them [St Kilda] but it was up in the air and I had no idea where I was going.

“I had about 10 or so mates and some close family around. Everyone was screaming and crying.

“I’m buzzing.”

Among the conversations the Bytel had with the Saints was about the much spoken about back injury.

He said there was no rush to get out onto the field. The injury restricted Bytel to just six games this year, where he averaged 22 disposals and six tackles a game.

During the time on the sidelines, he was always at training and helping out where he could.

“It’s always good to have a good bottom age season. While people say I didn’t have the best year this year, I think it will hold me good stead.

“The support staff have spoken to me and we’re confident of getting the back right. I’ve started jogging, only very slowly.

“There’s no rush to push it. I’ve still got plenty of time.”

Saints captain Jarryn Geary has already been on the phone to Bytel to congratulate him about joining the club.

The Aberfeldie junior doesn’t have long to let the news settle in, with the work to begin next week.

“Jarryn just said to enjoy today with my friends and family and that he’ll see me in a few days,” he said.

“We’ve got a family day at the club on Sunday to get to met everyone and then training starts on Monday. So I’m straight into it.”


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