Sitting in his boss’ office at a Gold Coast carwash, Braydon Preuss watched as his name flashed up on the screen.
Taken by North Melbourne with pick 15 in the 2015 rookie draft, Preuss then nonchalantly returned to washing cars as if nothing had changed.
But those cars would be the last few he ever washed for money.
“I went back to work and washed a couple more cars but I was getting flooded with phone calls,” Preuss told Aflplayers.com.au.
“So the boss let me have the rest of the day off and then I moved to Melbourne the next day.”
The Kangaroos big man had been in the Gold Coast academy for a year and a half after converting from Rugby League in his late teens.
Preuss only picked up AFL because a few mates were playing in his home of Townsville.
“I started playing for a bit of a laugh with my friends. We actually played on a rugby league oval. I quit league when I was 16 or 17 and played AFL more for the social side of it and started taking it a bit more seriously not long after.
“The first session was actually a 3km time trial, so I wasn’t actually going to return to AFL after that.
“I was horrible with kicking when I started out but I slowly learned the skill by kicking the footy with my mates and not so much during actual training sessions — most of it was through kicking with friends.”
Along with the skills of the game, Preuss believes there’s some major differences between Rugby League and AFL.
“Not much is similar between Rugby League and AFL to be honest. I was good for about the first minute of my first game and then was cooked for the rest,” Preuss added.
“The biggest difference would have to be the running and, being a bigger body, I definitely couldn’t run a game out when I started.”
It took a while for the 206cm, 109kg ruckman to become accustomed to the game.
One and a half seasons after being “smashed by a local ruckman in the VFL”, the 21-year-old started to find his feet in the back half of 2016.
Furthering his meteoric rise, Preuss made an unexpected debut in Round 1 of the 2017 season after featuring in the pre-season competition.
He thought Majak Daw would be picked ahead of him and after being dropped and recalled due to Todd Goldstein’s late exclusion from the side for Round 2, the relaxed Queenslander registered 13 touches, five tackles and 45 hitouts, which led to public praise from coach Brad Scott.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Preuss and he’s not quite sure how to feel about it all.
“It’s a weird feeling, I’m living the dream so many others have wanted their whole lives but it wasn’t really mine growing up.
“I definitely wanted to do this and put a lot of effort into doing so in the year leading into getting picked by North Melbourne.
“To be honest, nothing really makes sense. It’s pretty weird playing AFL.”
Still getting used to city life, Preuss is learning each week as he becomes accustomed to life playing at the elite level.
“I don’t really know how to approach it — I’m just trying to keep everything as normal as possible but it’s still weird.
“I try to be a laid-back guy. But when you start playing good footy and work your way into the AFL, you feel a lot happier. It beats washing cars.”