OVER the past two seasons, Dane Rampe has quickly established himself as a critical member of the Sydney Swans' backline.
And the 24-year-old still can't believe it.
Rampe grew up in Sydney supporting the Swans and thought his chance at an AFL contract had passed him by before his hometown club came calling via the 2013 Rookie Draft.
He forced his way into the side for last year's round one clash against Greater Western Sydney before spending two rounds in the NEAFL.
Since slotting back into the line-up in round four that season, Rampe has played 45 consecutive games, plenty of them alongside some of his heroes.
"Every day," Rampe told AFL.com.au when asked if he still pinches himself at how his career is unfolding.
"Every day I drive to training, just five minutes down the road, I still have to take a deep breath every now and then and just realise how lucky I am.
"'Goodesy' (Adam Goodes) is still going around and seeing LRT (Lewis Roberts-Thomson) and Ryan O'Keefe in the changerooms, it's incredible.
"I can't believe it."
If Rampe was a basketballer, he might be referred to as a swingman or a 'tweener', a player that isn't quite cut from the typical mould for a guard, forward or centre.
At 188cm and 88kg, he can give the initial impression of being too short to tackle the competition's band of elite power forwards, yet too big to stick with the smaller, quicker goalkickers and their low centre of gravity.
In reality, he can do both, backing his tenacity and spoiling ability to make life difficult for the big guys, while still being quick enough to keep up with the diminutive attackers.
In the Swans' premiership year of 2012, young defender Alex Johnson slotted in superbly alongside Ted Richards, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith et al, playing every game that season.
But a succession of knee injuries means Johnson hasn't played since that Grand Final triumph over Hawthorn, leaving a gaping defensive hole.
Enter Dane Rampe.
"He's been so important for us because of Alex Johnson's injuries," Swans coach John Longmire said.
"He played on (Jack) Riewoldt last week and did a good job on him and he can also play on a (Michael) Walters or a (Hayden) Ballantyne.
"To have that flexibility in a player that can play on the talls and smalls in your back six is really important and he's able to do that.
"He's got genuine speed, he's genuinely hard and can play in a number of different positions.
"He's a really flexible player and has been really consistent, particularly over the last month."
When Rampe speaks, it seems hard for him to wipe the smile off his moustached face.
He was particularly buoyant when the Swans knocked over Fremantle last Saturday, giving them a home preliminary final and the best possible path to another Grand Final.
Rampe was in the line-up when the Swans lost last year's qualifying final to Hawthorn at the MCG, which left them facing a home semi-final against Carlton and then a trip to Perth to face the Dockers.
Defeat at Patersons Stadium that day ended the Swans' season and Rampe is far happier about their predicament 12 months later.
"That was the first thing you think of when the siren goes, just that week off and that relief," he said.
"We did it last year and it hurt, losing that first final in Melbourne.
"The week off means everything, we've got a few players coming back and they've got an extra week of recovery, and it just sets us up.
"It's really exciting."