OSKAR Baker’s road to the AFL hasn’t been easy, but his time in the spotlight is finally here.
The 20-year-old was recruited to Melbourne with pick No.48 in the 2017 National Draft and has had to earn his chance the hard way.
After missing the backend of last season with a severe hamstring injury, Baker has put in enormous amounts of work to earn his senior debut, and earlier this week, Simon Goodwin confirmed his fate.
“He gave me a call on Tuesday night at about seven o’clock so that was pretty exciting, it’s still sinking in,” Baker told Melbourne Media.
“I don’t think it will until I get to the ground tomorrow night, but I’m just so excited.
“It’s been a bit of a long time coming so I just can’t wait to pull on the jersey for the first time.”
While Baker can’t wait to get out onto Optus Stadium and strut his stuff under lights, he admits the big stage is not what he’s used to.
“I reckon I’ve played in front of 5,000 (people) max, so it’ll be a new experience to me, but one I’m really looking forward to,” he said.
“I’ll have a bit of family and friends here as well supporting me so I just can’t wait.”
Since being recruited to the club, Baker has faced plenty of challenges, but he’s grown as a player and hit some strong form in the VFL, preparing him for this opportunity in Round 9.
“At the start of the year – obviously I had some injuries at the backend of last year – so it was just about getting back through rehab then playing some consistent footy,” he said.
“I felt like I’ve done that the last month and to get an opportunity is something I’m just so excited about.
“It’s taken a year and a half, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”
Baker has shone for the Casey Demons on the wing in recent weeks, using his sheer pace to burn off the opposition and hit the scoreboard – a quality he will be hoping to display against the Eagles.
“[I’ll] just try and bring my speed and a bit of flare and hopefully give a bit of run and drive for the team,” he said.
The flashy midfielder will get the chance to make his mark at AFL level when he debuts against West Coast on Friday night.