TWELVE months ago, Ricky Petterd wondered if he would ever play footy at the highest level again.
Being cut at the end of last year by perennial cellar dwellar Melbourne had hardly been a good sign for the 25-year-old Queenslander.
"I did still have that burning desire to play football," he told APN this week. "But I did question whether I could ... whether my body would allow me to."
Petterd, drafted in 2006 from Broadbeach, underwent surgery on an achilles last season which restricted him to just four games and brought his overall tally to 54 in six frustrating seasons with a club that was imploding.
"My mind was made up to leave Melbourne well before they told me (of his axing)," he said. "As much as I enjoyed my time there, I knew my time was up."
While hoping a club would give him a second chance, playing in front of 80,000 fans on the game's biggest stage in a final the following season - with Richmond of all teams, as he will do tomorrow - certainly didn't cross his mind.
"I've still have to pinch myself to realise where I'm at ... I feel extremely lucky," he said.
Petterd has been named to play in the Tigers' first final in 12 years - and his first - when they take on arch rival Carlton at the MCG.
"It's crazy. It's something I'm unfamiliar with," he said. "The six years at Melbourne we weren't close (to making finals).
"Just to be around a club finally playing finals, especially a big one like Richmond, and to have that many supporters, the Tiger Army coming out, is just phenomenal."
Petterd said older teammates such as Chris Newman who has played 233 games without a final, have been "preaching to the younger fellas to not just be happy we've made it and make up the numbers".
"There's no ceiling on what we can do," he said. "We want to test some teams and see how far we can make it."
After being rookie-listed by Richmond last December, the versatile Petterd was added to the senior list on the eve of the season.
Though he was hampered early by a calf injury, he has played 11 games, mostly as a rebounding defender though played his best game for the club when picking up 24 disposals across half forward against Essendon last week.
"The body is the best it's been for a long time," he said. "I don't think I've ever been fitter and stronger in my life."
- TERRY MALLINDER
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