SAM BUTLER remembers the moment his big brother Dan won his first premiership.
He also remembers the scenes just after the Richmond's 2017 Grand Final victory, when Sam himself – then just 14 years of age – got his own piece of priceless premiership memorabilia.
"You know that photo with Dusty and Dane Swan in the rooms? I'm in the background. I was pretty happy about that one," Sam laughed.
Four years on, Sam has developed into a tough 184cm mid-forward and is on the cusp of making more of his own memories at this month's NAB AFL Draft after an impressive season with the Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
While the two brothers are vastly different players – Sam has grabbed the attention of AFL recruiters as a clean, courageous and no-fuss midfielder who can shift into attack, while Dan is a potent and unrelenting pressure forward – they lean on each other for everything.
Dan, still only 25, has packed a lot into his seven years on an AFL list. He didn't debut in his first two seasons at Richmond, kicked 30 goals and won a premiership when he eventually did, got traded to St Kilda two years later, then made an All-Australian squad in his first season as a Saint.
Sam has been there every step of the way, watching his progress and learning from both the successes and the setbacks. It's left the talented youngster with a unique insight into what life as an AFL footballer will soon be like.
"It has been good, especially watching him get that premiership and then seeing him make the All-Australian squad last year. That was good to see as well, just for him and what it did for his confidence," Sam told AFL.com.au.
"With him getting traded and going to a different club, it gave me more of an insight into what it's like. You know what it was like at the Tigers and now the Saints. It's helped me prepare, if I was to get drafted, for life at an AFL club. I've seen those experiences and you know what the environments are like.
"He's probably been my main mentor. He knows what it's like to take it to the next level and having him there motivates me to get there. Watching him on the MCG, or wherever he plays, it's pretty inspiring. I've always looked up to him as a kid."
Sam has snapped up any opportunities that Dan has been able to help provide throughout his AFL journey, spending three days at St Kilda in April this year in the week after his older brother had kicked three goals to inspire the Saints to a thrilling win over West Coast.
He did weights sessions with the club's 2020 first-round pick, Matthew Allison, absorbing any and every bit of information that St Kilda's experienced group passed on during his time at Moorabbin.
"I went into all of their meetings. The main thing I learnt was just how professional you have to be. It's a new level and it's your life, so you've got to be professional in what you do," Sam said.
"I wasn't allowed to train because I'm not a father-son or an NGA player, but I got to do a weights session with a few of the boys. That was good as well, just to see what their sessions were like.
"I had previously gone to Richmond during Year 10 for work experience as well. When I was there, I pretty much did what I was doing at St Kilda but I washed a few towels and that as well."
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Sam has fans in the top-20 of the draft, while a host of clubs with picks in the early stages of the second round would also be eager for the youngster to slide through the first night on November 24.
The interest comes after a campaign where Champion Data notes that Sam ranked No.1 in the NAB League for contested possessions (9.2 per game), tackles (4.8) and goals (0.8) among all mid-forwards.
Clean on ground level and effective when he pushes forward, Sam's toughness and bravery was epitomised by a courageous contest back in April against the Murray Bushrangers that left him with a cracked sternum.
"I was running through a forward-50 stoppage and got on the end of a loose ball. I chucked it on the boot and a big centre-half back ran straight through me and smashed me in half," Sam said.
"I didn't think anything of it and I wanted to go back on. I just thought I was winded in my chest, because I've had that feeling before. I was going to go back on, but the coach and the doctors ruled me out and said it wasn't worth risking.
"It was definitely pretty frustrating. I thought up until then, I'd played some pretty consistent footy with the Rebels and during school footy. It was pretty annoying, because I was up and firing and then the next minute I wasn't playing for seven or eight weeks.
"I came back against Sandringham and probably played my worst game for the year. I couldn't buy a touch. I'll just blame that one on being rusty from injury."
That rustiness hasn't stopped AFL clubs from registering their interest, nor did his performances in last month's NAB AFL Draft Combine where Sam led all Vic Country prospects for the 20-metre sprint (2.97 seconds) and finished second in the standing vertical jump (71cm) and the running vertical jump (87cm).
In his own words, his showing in the athletic testing events exceeded expectations.
"To be honest, I was hoping it would get cancelled," Sam laughed.
Now, all that's left is for him is to hear his name called on draft night. St Kilda has pick No.9 and if the club passes on him, a match-up with his brother Dan is inevitable. As are the comparisons that are bound to follow.
"I don't mind it," Sam said.
"Obviously, I'm going to get that as his brother. But I just like to put it behind me. I don't read into that stuff too much. If someone is giving me a bit of lip about it, that I'm Dan's brother and I've got a lot to live up to, I don't really care to be honest.
"I've learnt to deal with it over the last few years. When I was a bit younger, it was a bit more annoying. But as I've grown up, I've just learned to cop it and be my own player."