THE TOP draft picks of 2021 are revelling in their new-found status as official AFL players, enjoying plenty of media attention from around the country the day after their big night at the NAB AFL Draft.
20 players were selected by clubs in the first night of the draft on Wednesday, and 13 of the Victorian players gathered at Marvel Stadium on Thursday to soak up more of the media spotlight.
Meanwhile over in South Australia, No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis was also doing plenty of media, telling reporters he slept the night in his North Melbourne jumper, which was handed to him - after his name was called - by AFL great and North Melbourne Legend Malcolm Blight.
Father-son gun Nick Daicos - who could have possibly been the No.1 draft pick if he wasn't committed to Collingwood (he was No.4 after the Pies matched Gold Coast's bid) - said he was still buzzing.
"It was beautiful moment to have my name read out and have all my loved ones around me. It still sort of hasn't sunk in [but] hopefully it will over the next few weeks," Daicos said.
He said a lot of the Collingwood players called him during the night - including captain Scott Pendlebury and another father-son Magpie Darcy Moore - to congratulate him and tell him to enjoy the night. "It was really nice and I appreciate it," Daicos said.
Asked why he thought he was ready to make an AFL debut in round one, Daicos responded: "I'm not sure if I am.
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"I will have to train well in the pre-season to hopefully earn my spot ... I haven't played against AFL boys so hopefully I can prove myself in the pre-season and that will be a good indication of where I'm at."
He said there would be plenty of challenges to come now he's at AFL level, but the most significant one was likely to be maintaining the health of his body.
"Us boys haven't played much in the last couple of years so it will be a big change to play 20 games next year," Daicos said.
Meanwhile, new Essendon midfielder Ben Hobbs was still coming to terms with the realisation of his dream of playing for the club he grew up supporting.
Hobbs shed a tear when he was taken by Essendon at pick No.13 in Wednesday night's first round, before being welcomed to the club by stars including Andy McGrath and Zach Merrett.
"It was an incredible moment and I was just praying that the Bombers would pick me up at that pick, and it all worked out and yeah, it got a bit emotional but it's all part of it," he told reporters at Marvel Stadium on Thursday.
"I think when I just saw Heppell and Andy McGrath and Zach Merrett and Dylan Shiel all rock up, Jordan Ridley… I couldn't believe they were all there for me. It was really good."
Hobbs said he "had no idea" that he was in Essendon's thinking after only having a brief mid-year chat with the club.
A powerful inside midfielder, Hobbs said he was keen to bring his contested-ball work and competitiveness to a rapidly improving Essendon engine room.