This time last year, Toby Nankervis was putting on a brave face at the AFL grand final parade as an emergency for Sydney.
Now, you can’t wipe the smile off his face as he prepares to cap a breakout season by playing in the season decider for Richmond.
The 23-year-old’s decision to request a trade from the Swans to the Tigers last year is fast proving one of the best of his life.
It was reflected in the fact he could sit back and soak up Friday’s festivities, rather than stew over how close he was in 2016.
“It’s difficult being an emergency,” Nankervis said of his grand-final experience.
“You’re involved but not really.
“But you have such a care for the group, so all you want is the best for the team.
“For the boys not to get the job done last year, it’s still pretty disappointing for me.
“It’s awesome to be in this position now; I don’t think anybody really expected it but as a team we always had this belief.”
Nankervis remains close friends with Sam Naismith, the Swans big man who edged ahead of him in a selection showdown last September.
Naismith is among many mates to have sent the Tasmanian, who played 13 AFL games in three seasons at the SCG, a congratulatory message of support this week.
“I speak to Sammy a fair bit. We spent so much time up there together in Sydney and played a lot of footy together,” Nankervis said.
“He’s a terrific mate I’ll have forever.”
Nankervis will battle Adelaide star Sam Jacobs in a pivotal ruck duel that will go a long way to deciding Saturday’s winner.
“I know I’m going to have to be at my best to compete with him,” he said.
“I’m excited more than anything, no doubt the nerves will pick up tonight and tomorrow.”