SAM Lonergan said he never gave up his AFL dream as he prepares to restart his career just a few kilometres down the road from where it temporally ended.
Richmond yesterday rebooted Lonergan as an AFL player six weeks after Essendon pulled the plug, with the Tasmanian to trade in his red sash for a yellow one.
The Tigers selected the hard-at-it midfielder from Beauty Point with pick 22 in yesterday's rookie draft.
``I had a little bit of an inkling but in the AFL industry you can never be certain at all, so I was still nervous right up until it happened,'' Lonergan said.
``I didn't think it was over, as I still believe I can play good footy at this level for a number of years.
``I was optimistic, but I was still getting plan B ready just in case.''
The 25-year-old said he was ``very lucky''' to have been given a second chance.
``Eight years into a career, having this hurdle really set things straight again,'' the former Launceston midfielder said.
``You see how your life has panned out and it helps you re-focus on what's important.''
Lonergan, who played 79 games at Essendon after being selected with pick 50 in the 2005 national draft, said the next few weeks would be about earning the trust of his new teammates, including fellow Tasmanian Jack Riewoldt and former teammate Bachar Houli.
``The best way to do that, and it's what I have done for a number of years, is to train hard and put yourself in places that people don't like to venture too often. That's how you get people to respect you,'' he said.
``For me the next three to four months will be about going flat out to gain the respect of my new teammates.
``Everyone loves Richmond. No matter what team you support, everyone loves Richmond and loves to watch them, and it's great to part of that.''
Lonergan admitted there were two dates on his football calender that he will be looking forward to.
The first is the opportunity to come up against his former club, which will be on the May 25 Dreamtime at the G clash.
``I'm looking forward to it, but I don't want to say too much yet,'' he said.
``It will be exciting and will be one day on the calender I highlight.''
The second will be the chance to play against his nephew Jesse, who was drafted to Gold Coast with pick 13 in last month's national draft.
Richmond's only clash with the Suns next year will be on July 13 in Cairns.
``It would be exciting for both of us,'' he said.
``I couldn't be more proud of what he's done after the last 8-10 years of training and football and you get out what you put in. He really deserves everything that comes his way.'
Lonergan could also get to play in his home state, with the Tigers to tackle Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium as part of the NAB Cup on March 9.
``It would be amazing to have the opportunity to play there, but we'll reassess after Christmas where I fit in and go from there,'' he said.