Former Victor Harbor, South Adelaide Football Club player Nathan Kreuger makes AFL debut with Geelong Cats

Even though there weren't any local footy matches over weekend, Fleurieu footy fans still saw one local in action for a special match at the top level.

Former Victor Harbor Football Club player Nathan Kreuger made his AFL debut for the Geelong Cats against North Melbourne at Hobart's Blundstone Arena on Saturday afternoon, July 31.

The 22-year-old did not know he would make his debut until the day before the match.

"I was named as an emergency during the week, so I didn't really think anything of it. Then we had one of our boys not pull up so well during the week, and it wasn't until the captain's run meeting that Scotty (coach Christ Scott) said, 'You're debuting'," Kreuger told The Times.

"I thought it was pretty funny that I was debuting against the club that I started with at Victor Harbor, the Roos ... I knew all the Roo boys back home would find that very funny as well."

Unfortunately his parents did not get to see him play, but he had a large support crew cheering him on from the stands.

"About 15 of my mates went over and about five or six of my brothers and cousins and other family friends, and my partner as well," he said.

In his draft year at age 18 he was overlooked, which pushed him to work extra-hard at his SANFL club, South Adelaide, throughout his debut year in 2018.

As a 19-year-old, Kreuger was drafted to the Cats in 2018 on a three-year deal - and was soon joined by fellow Great Southern player Jake Tarca.

Hearing he would be making his debut was a sense of relief and excitement at the same time, as he has pushed through multiple knee surgeries to get to where he is now.

"Obviously all of us have been doing a lot of work and I haven't been playing in the AFL, so it was nice to get the recognition," he said.

"I think it was the most I've run in a game so it was not surprising to pull up pretty sore, but it's a good soreness, very worth it."

Although he started his career up forward, Kreuger has found himself in a new role this year and in his debut he played mostly full back and high half back, matching up on North Melbourne's key forward.

"I did sneak forward a few times and almost kicked a goal," he said.

"I started my career as a forward and had success in the VFL, but obviously with the recruit we got this year with Jeremy Cameron, they said, 'We'll try and give you another role to play, which is in the backline'.

"I looked at it as another opportunity to get better and I think I've taken it into my stride pretty well."

Not only was it a milestone for Kreuger - known by his teammates as 'Kreugs' or 'Sonia' - but it was teammate Shaun Higgins' 250th game as well.

"I said to him before the game it was an honour to share this with him ... and he said to me, 'Just go out there and have fun and your natural game will take care of itself', and I feel like it did."

He finished the game with seven disposals, four marks, two tackles, and a 20-point win for the Cats.

Kreuger was the first Great Southern Football League (GSFL) player selected by an AFL club since Goolwa/Port Elliot's Ryan Griffen was chosen by the Western Bulldogs in 2004 at pick number three.

He credited his coaches at both GSFL and SANFL levels for helping him develop into the player he is today, including his senior colts coach at Victor Harbor, Michael Simmons.

"He was the coach that pushed me as a junior and I think some of the lessons I learned from him still stand to this day, which is work hard and get the most out of your training, and celebrate the little things," he said.

He said he missed Victor Harbor life, but also enjoyed the life he had built in Victoria.

"I miss the beaches and family and friends, but I've still got a job to do, which is why I'm here," he said.

"But at the same time I have my partner and my dog, and everything I love here, so it's pretty split.

"I think that's pretty common to miss family and friends, but I'm happy where I am."


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