WHAT started as a "gap year" has turned into a long-term career for Brisbane cult hero Oscar McInerney, with the towering ruckman signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the Lions until 2024.
McInerney has played 56 senior games since being snapped up in the 2017 NAB AFL Rookie Draft via the Casey Scorpions.
His impact has been profound, forming a formidable one-two ruck combination with Stefan Martin over the past three seasons.
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The 26-year-old told AFL.com.au signing the long-term deal was just like being drafted all over again.
"To be given this opportunity to keep the dream alive and play with a bunch of blokes you love and footy club you love, the adrenaline hasn't stopped flowing," he said.
"You come in as a mature-age rookie and think it's most likely going to be a gap year and that you'll zoom back into your normal life.
"Footy is still my hobby, I just love it, whether it's local footy or watching the Academy boys run around, I just love it."
McInerney's remarkable rise continued in 2020, helping Brisbane to a preliminary final and finishing fourth in its best and fairest.
Now with Martin being traded to the Western Bulldogs, McInerney says he's ready to shoulder the responsibility of being the main man at the Gabba.
"I'm forever grateful to Stef for what he did and the support he gave for me," he said.
"The power of work he did year in and year out, I aspired to be like him.
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"There's nothing better for an aspiring ruckman coming into the system to have a player like Stef to follow with his professionalism, gym, nutrition, what he did on the field with his ruck craft, running and being such a great mentor and someone to look up to.
"My philosophy is to not be comfortable with where I'm at, get into work every day and chase the best.
"If I'm doing the work, that's my process. You're never comfortable."