The Western Bulldogs have selected Ryan Gardner with pick six in the 2019 NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
A 21-year-old key position player, Gardner has plied his trade for Footscray Bulldogs in the VFL this season.
Standing at 197-centimetres tall, the Tasmanian product has filled a variety of roles at VFL level in 2019.
General Manager of List and Recruiting, Sam Power, said Gardner would be a welcome addition to the AFL list.
“He’s demonstrated he can play at both ends – in his time at Geelong, and even this year he’s played both back and forward. He played mainly as a back coming through the junior ranks, but we’re confident he’ll be able to add at either end of the ground,” Power told media at AFL House after the draft.
“There’s no pressure on him to be ready right now, but he was in the system for three years at Geelong and has been in our VFL system, so he’s physically ready to play at the right time.
“It was one of the needs we identified, and balancing our needs with the talent coming through.
“Given Tom’s (Boyd) retirement as well, we felt it was important to bring a key position onto the list.
“He’s rapt, he’s really excited by getting that second chance, and he’s a really good character which was an important part of the decision making to bring him on board.”
Known for his competitiveness, athleticism and versatility, Gardner has impressed in his appearances for Footscray.
He kicked eight goals in his first three matches this season, and has also spent time in defence and in the ruck.
Prior to that, he spent three years on Geelong’s list without playing an AFL game, after being drafted with pick 59 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft.
He was a durable performer for the Cats at VFL level, playing 52 games between 2016 and 2018.