First-round draft bolter Phoenix Gothard has spoken for the first time since becoming a GWS Giant.
Gothard's early selection at Pick 12 provided arguably the biggest surprise of the 2023 Draft's opening stanza, as the electric Murray Bushrangers forward was expected by most to be taken either late in first-round proceedings or early in the second.
However, after striking a trade-back deal with the Adelaide Crows - who took standout West Australian Daniel Curtin at No. 8 - GWS pounced on Gothard just outside the top ten.
"Unreal, [it's] a moment I've cherished forever and I've wanted to come my whole life," Gothard told the media after having his name called by GWS.
"Obviously I didn't even turn up with a [club] t-shirt tonight, so to have that experience with my mates, and Connor (O'Sullivan) as well, who got drafted the pick before me, has been unreal. It's been amazing."
Gothard, an Albury native who grew up with now-Geelong defender O'Sullivan, discussed landing in Western Sydney on draft night.
"Yeah, I suppose it's a great thing, I was open to move anywhere, but to be here, it's (GWS) an awesome club," he said.
"They're on a great move at the moment, and they look like they're moving forward pretty well, [they've] got a young list as well, it's pretty promising and I'm super keen.
The livewire goalsneak was also quizzed on the Giants' level of interest in him pre-draft.
"I suppose [they did], yeah, had a little interest here and there and had a few interviews as well, which felt amazing," he continued.
"I [was part of] the Giants Academy when I was a young kid as well, so I've sort of gone through the system a little bit, so there's sort of a little link there."
The youngster also detailed his bond with this year's Allies, who went on to win their maiden Championships in 2023.
"It was amazing, we obviously gelled super well, super tightly as a group instantly," said Gothard.
"I didn't know many of the boys initially, but we were able to gel super quickly. I suppose the main thing I took from them was the professionalism and the need for continuous improvement outside of the team, and the squad played some pretty good footy, so to continuously improve and prove a point to your teammates and the side as well was probably the main thing I learned."
After Gothard, the Giants selected Tasmanian utility James Leake - whom they were heavily linked with pre-draft - with Pick 17, culminating in a satisfying opening-night haul for GWS.
Gothard, as well as Leake, will acquaint themselves with their new Giants teammates when the club's incoming rookies commence their pre-season program.