AFTER years of waiting, Port Melbourne midfielder Sam Dwyer has finally been given a chance at AFL level.
The speedy 26-year-old was taken by Collingwood with pick 27 in last week's rookie draft and has already joined the Magpies in pre-season training.
It marks the end of a long journey to the top flight for Dwyer, who joined Port Melbourne in 2005.
He has long been regarded as one of the best players in the VFL, and he was in draft contention several times before finally being picked up.
"It was a great feeling," Dwyer said. "When you come out of the under-18s that's your goal and I got there . . . it just took a little longer than I would have liked.
"You do start to doubt as each year passes but that's always the aim, to play as high as you can."
In his eight seasons with the Borough, Dwyer was a premiership player, best and fairest, a state representative and was named in the VFL team of the year three times.
"I've certainly loved my time there and my development has been huge," he said.
"Gary Ayres has been a key factor. He's been a great coach and has helped my footy immensely."
Ayres said the club was thrilled to see him finally be given an AFL opportunity.
"It's a great perseverance story," he said. "The club is so pleased he is now getting a genuine chance.
"He has been a terrific footballer who has grown and matured and from 2008 onwards has become one of the premier players of the competition.
"He wants to get the best out of himself and now he's on an AFL list, which is what these players dream of."