Rookie McNiece gets debut in Anzac blockbuster
AFL: Essendon rookie Ben McNiece says he can't wait to run out on to the MCG for his first AFL game on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old, who was picked up by the Bombers as a Category B rookie over summer, was told of his selection for the match last Wednesday and his excitement has grown ever since.
"(It's a) really special moment for myself,” McNiece said.
"(I've) been looking forward to it for a few weeks now and (I'm) just really honoured to make my debut on Anzac Day.”
The small defender said the biggest crowd he had played in front of would have been a few thousand at VFL level, but did not expect to be overwhelmed when he runs out to more than 90,000 screaming fans at the MCG on Tuesday.
"I think I should be right,” he said. "A few of the boys have given me a few pointers here and there so I'll be taking it all in, trying to embrace everything and playing my role for the team.”
The small defender has never visited India but because his mother grew up in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, he was eligible to become a Category B rookie.
His multicultural background meant Essendon could list him outside their primary and rookie lists, effectively a free hit after he had impressed with their VFL side.
Because of his complicated circumstances the Bombers sweated on an AFL ruling but eventually won approval.
Now after being elevated from the rookie list last week, he will join Scott Lucas, Mason Cox and Dean Solomon as Anzac Day debutants.