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AFL 2017 Round 07 - St Kilda v GWS Giants

Tim Taranto has been a standout for the Giants

All you can do is work as hard as you can to try and earn that respect of the group, so you just rock up, try and be a good bloke, and work your butt off and see where it gets you.

WALKING into Greater Western Sydney headquarters for the first time was a "frightening" experience for teenage hotshot Tim Taranto.

The Sandringham Dragons' TAC Cup premiership star flew up AFL draft boards with a withering finish to the season, and eventually only Essendon's Andrew McGrath was taken before him. 

Not even the confidence boost that came with being the No.2 pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft could spare Taranto from jangling nerves as he faced his new teammates.

"It was pretty daunting … you walk in the doors and there are all these people staring at you, so it's pretty scary," Taranto told

"But after a few weeks, you get comfortable and everything starts to get a bit easier. It's definitely a frightening, but exciting experience at the start. 

"All you can do is work as hard as you can to try and earn that respect of the group, so you just rock up, try and be a good bloke, and work your butt off and see where it gets you."

The early results are promising, especially after he survived a "nightmare" intraclub match-up with running machine Tom Scully. 

Taranto, 19, made an instant AFL debut in round one, has played all bar one match – he was rested in round five – and is the round eight NAB AFL Rising Star nominee. 

The nomination was a long time coming and followed a game where he gathered 21 disposals, including 10 contested, laid five tackles and had six score involvements. 

That hard edge, plus his ability to be equally effective in the midfield as up forward, was what made him such an attractive proposition for GWS. 

Making the match even more memorable was Steve Johnson's last-minute match-winner to pinch a three-point victory over Collingwood at Spotless Stadium.

"It was another really close game for us that we managed to pull out as victors, which was awesome," Taranto said. 

"It was a really high-intensity, contested game – kind of like the Bulldogs game a few weeks before that.

"It was a really gutsy win by us. We had two down pretty early in the game and to lose 'Cogs' (Stephen Coniglio) as well in the last quarter made it really tough, but we pulled through." 

Taranto's support network stretches to the other side of the world, with his father, Phillip, living in Dallas, Texas. 

The Giants young gun's parents separated when he was two years old and his dad returned to the United States. His mother, Jess, raised him in Melbourne.

Taranto, who played junior football for Mordialloc-Braeside, has travelled to the US "15 or 16 times" and retains a close relationship with his father, who was in Adelaide to watch his son's AFL debut and is a GWS international member.

"He gets to watch all the games online and he's definitely learning the game," Taranto said.

"He didn't know what a disposal was before the season started, but I think he's picking up on it pretty quickly. He's loving it."

Taranto still speaks almost daily to his mother, but is becoming increasingly comfortable in the harbour city and at AFL level.

"Finally getting me out of the house is probably good for her. She's been to every game, so I still see her a fair bit and talk to her most days," he said. 

"At first it was pretty hard living out of home and adapting to a new lifestyle and all that, but it's definitely getting a lot easier and I'm really enjoying it now. I'm trying to be a man."