Sam Naismith says getting a second chance to live out his AFL dream "means everything".
The former Gunnedah Bulldog has been signed by Richmond as a delisted free agent.
It follows a tough five years for the 31-year-old ruckman with persistent knee injuries hampering his career and eventually resulting in him being cut from the Sydney Swans roster after the 2022 season.
"I'm super excited. It was an opportunity that I didn't think was going to happen, and I think my last five years of working really hard to get back to this position is paying off now," Naismith said.
"Everyone that has supported me over the last few years, it's been pretty tough times through that journey and this just validates everything that I've worked hard for during that time.
"The finish line is not done, I'm keen to attack pre-season and meet everyone and I just want to get a game."
The opportunity to revive his career with the Tigers comes after Naismith enjoyed a standout 2023 with Port Melbourne in the VFL.
His first full season since 2017 - he made two appearances for the Swans in 2020 - he averaged 14 disposals and 37 hit-outs across 14 matches, and, most of all, rediscovered his love for the game.
"I think my goalposts changed," Naismith said.
"As soon as the season started, I was super keen to just get back on an AFL list and prove that I'm ready to get back."
"But once I stepped on the field and started playing, I just enjoyed the process. Finding the love for the game again through Port Melbourne, I had so much fun especially with the group there... When you're happy, you play your best footy, and I found solace in that."
On the road back from his third knee reconstruction when he was delisted by the Swans, after getting through a full season he is confident his body is up for the rigours of AFL.
"Doing all the rehab stuff I've learnt a lot of stuff about my body and I'm in a position now where I know what works for me and I'm feeling fit and strong," he said.
Signed to add some ruck depth after the Tigers lost Ivan Soldo to Port Adelaide, Naismith's move to 'Tigerland' will see him reunite with fellow ruckman and former Swans team-mate Toby Nankervis.
"I can't wait to play with Toby. I think we played some of our best footy together when we were in Sydney and I want to wind back the clock to those days," he said.
He also "can't wait" to play regularly at the MCG.
"It's something that being in Sydney, you don't understand the impact that footy has on people," he said.
"We play in Sydney in front of 35,000 but to play in front of 95 (thousand) at the MCG weekly it would be unreal."
"I can't wait to meet everyone and have an impact."
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