Young West Aussie Riley Garcia says he is “pumped” to make his AFL debut for the Western Bulldogs in the top of the table clash with Melbourne this weekend.
The Swan Districts junior was given the good news today in front of masked up teammates.
“I’m quite speechless,” Garcia said.
“I have no doubt I wouldn’t be up here if it wasn’t for (Bulldogs medical staff).
“I’m pretty pumped to run out with you boys.
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“Thank you to the coaching staff for having the faith in me.”
Garcia’s journey to the AFL has been a struggle, after fears his draft dreams were over when he tore his ACL in the deciding match of the 2019 Under 18 Championship representing WA.
Luckily for Garcia, he was taken by the Dogs late with pick 62 in the 2019 Draft, but was forced to watch on from the sidelines in his first year as he recovered.
“Just as he was about to get going, the first COVID shutdown hit and he was back to WA to do his rehab solo,” the Bulldogs said.
“He got back to playing footy in the hub but had a setback just before Christmas.”
After overcoming his pre-season knee injury, Garcia has played every game for the Footscray Bulldogs in the VFL this season, averaging more than 23 touches a game.
Garcia said he hoped his family and friends could get to the MCG to see his debut, but that could prove difficult given Victoria’s COVID outbreak.
“To my family back home, I’m not sure if you guys can come… Might have to sneak them over,’ Garcia joked.