AFL football is a roller-coaster, but is not meant to be as tense as it has been for Sam Menegola over the past month.

The tension was replaced by relief and happiness yesterday when Fremantle drafted him with their third pick in the rookie draft.

Menegola had at least three clubs interested. He was on West Coast, Fremantle and St Kilda’s shortlists. But there were also nagging doubts because the last month had taught him to take nothing for granted.

“That’s a very hard way to make a living,” he said. “A roller-coaster. I am just relieved that it is over and I am excited that I have got a gig. Now I just have to put my head down and try and play some good footy.”

The story started 12 months ago when Fremantle, the club he had trained with and who intended drafting him with pick 20 in the rookie draft, were pipped by Hawthorn, who took him at pick 19.

At season’s end he was the subject of a failed trade between the Hawks and Saints which ended unhappily when Hawthorn de-listed him.

The Saints, who had offered a late-round draft pick at the trade table to put Menegola on their main list, took Claremont premiership coach Simon McPhee onto their coaching staff and used the pick that was probably meant for Menegola to take Tigers grand-final hero Beau Wilkes at the national draft.

Menegola was bearing no grudges yesterday with the Dockers selection allowing him to stay at home while developing his football.

“It was just relief and excitement at the same time and a little bit of laughter at mum’s reaction,” he said of being drafted. “She didn’t really know whether to laugh or cry so she just found the happy ground in between. It was pretty funny.”

Fremantle list manager Brad Lloyd said the Dockers had been keen on Menegola a year ago.

“He trained here pre-season last year with us and he was outstanding with the way he went about it, worked really hard, fit in well, put his head down and worked hard. It’s a year later, but he’ll slot in well.

“He’s got elite endurance, so on the big open spaces he can really cover the ground. He kicked 40-50 goals at colts level a couple of years ago as that lead-up forward. We think with his engine he can play through the midfield as well. He can play wherever Ross (Lyon) needs him.”

Menegola said his year at Hawthorn had helped him train on his own and at East Fremantle, during his weeks in between clubs.

“I didn’t want to get left behind so I have been doing a lot of running and a lot of gym work – about four or five running sessions a week and about four or five gym sessions focusing on strength and power,” he said.

“I have been trying to replicate an AFL program and all the recovery stuff that comes with the program.

“I have still got a massive amount of learning to go but I certainly learned a lot in that first year and that held me in good stead over the off-season. I have been able to keep myself in shape.”

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