It sounds like something out of a TV show – probably because it is.
Winner of reality TV program The Recruit, Matt Eagles, has been named to make his AFL debut at 28 in Brisbane’s clash with Collingwood at the Gabba on Sunday.
An AFL career appeared an eternity away for Eagles when he owned a landscaping business just two years ago.
But a decision to enter season two of Fox8’s The Recruit in 2016 changed his life.
“The dream has come true for him. It’s come true because he’s worked hard,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said.
At 200cm and 99kg, Eagles had all the physical attributes of an AFL player when he was drafted onto the Lions’ rookie list after winning The Recruit.
But Fagan admitted he had his doubts when the dreadlocked Eagles first arrived at the Lions.
“If you had have been at the first training session he turned up to, which was my first training session with the Lions, the number of times he got falconed (ball hit him in the head) and missed kicks and missed handballs, I was thinking ‘this is going to test me out a little bit’,” Fagan said.
“From that day forward he’s continued to improve in all elements- skill, game understanding, diet, fitness, the lot.”
“He’s come a long, long way. It’s a great story.”
Eagles – from Port Lincoln in South Australia – did not start playing AFL until he was a teenager.
That’s not the most unlikely part of his journey.
Besides landscaping, Eagles had also dabbled in mining and dredging work before rolling the dice and entering The Recruit.
“The journey has been a bit of a rollercoaster coming from a different pathway,” Eagles said.
“I’ve loved it and I’d like to take this time to thank everyone involved in the journey – I’m just really proud to put the jumper on.”
Eagles had earned a one year Lions contract extension in late 2017.
Eagles – a ruck-forward – will hope to spark the second last Lions against the Magpies (10th; 3-3 record) after a frustrating 0-6 season start.