It's hard to believe that Nathan Wardius had never previously been on a plane until July this year. But it is fair to say the high-flying forward will be racking up plenty of Frequent Flyer points after being picked up by GWS Giants as a Category B rookie in last week's AFL rookie draft. Wardius was informed by Giants officials several weeks ago that he would be selected in the draft with only family and few close friends being privy to the exciting news prior to the draft. "A couple of weeks ago they (Giants officials) came out to the farm and up until that point I had absolutely no clue that this would happen," Wardius said. "But I was told that day that I would definitely be drafted so I've had a couple of weeks to wrap my head around it. "Which was obviously exciting but it was also a massive shock. "I hadn't even been on a plane before this year, so a lot of stuff that is happening at the moment that is all new to me. "Even driving in Sydney traffic the past couple of days in my ute has been an eye-opener. "But I'll settle in and get used to it all and try to make the most of my opportunity." Not only was it a massive shock but it has also been a massive week for Wardius since last Wednesday's rookie draft. Wardius had his first training run with his new teammates on Monday and has moved in with fellow draftees Phoenix Gothard, James Leake, Joe Fonti and Harvey Thomas. They were also presented with their jumpers for next season with Wardius set to wear 42. Yarrawonga's Mark Whiley wore the same number during his 12-match stint with GWS between 2012-14. "On Monday we trained and had a fair run but they pulled us out of a couple of drills just to ease us into the higher intensity and we are not going flat out straight away," Wardius said. "We also got presented with our jumpers which was a huge thrill. "Then on Tuesday we had a half-day session where I worked on a bit of forward craft alongside a session in the gym with a bit of gymnastics which was something different but good. "I'm living with four other players that got drafted and we have got a big five bedroom house and it's good to be with all the other draftees." It has been a whirlwind year for Wardius who raised plenty of eyebrows when he was plucked onto an AFL list from the Hume league in contrast to the traditional path of the Murray Bushrangers in the Talent League. Wardius was initially part of the Giants Academy a couple of years ago until COVID complications saw him leave the program. Many Hume league stalwarts rate Wardius as the most prodigious teenage talent seen in the competition since Adam Schneider was running around for Osborne in the early 2000s. The silky-skilled left footer was on the recruiting radar of O&amp;M clubs this time last year and trained with both North Albury and Lavington over the pre-season. But he resisted the urge to play at the higher standard of O&amp;M this year in preference to having another season with RWW-Giants. The talented teenager burst onto the scene as a 14-year-old in 2019, kicking five goals in his senior debut after stepping up from the Giants' thirds to cover for injuries. Wardius has since gone on to play 49 matches and boot 149 goals at senior level. "I was 18 at the start of the season and wasn't really thinking about playing at any higher standard than the O&amp;M," Wardius said. "But being 18 and obviously physically still being quite skinny, I didn't think I would be able to compete with the bigger bodies you get in the O&amp;M. "So my thinking at the time was to get another 12-months development under the belt in the Hume league and then try my luck in the O&amp;M next year. "I wouldn't change anything. "It was great to have another season with my mates at RWW Giants and all the people I've grown up with. "I rate this season as the most enjoyable of my career so far. "I was still lucky enough to get noticed by GWS Giants and eventually drafted which may be unconventional but I intend to make the most of my opportunity." Talk to RWW Giants insiders and they will tell you that Wardius' form in the Hume league this season was solid rather than spectacular. They cite the fact that Wardius didn't finish top-five in the Giants' best and fairest but boasts a highlight reel that few players in the competition can match. Wardius' athleticism and football smarts is what sets him apart which was on full display throughout the finals series where he booted 15 goals in three finals appearances. He also played two VFL matches with the Giants late in the season and kicked two goals against the premiers in Gold Coast in round 18 to show a glimpse of his talent. But there is also no doubt Wardius will have to add considerable bulk to his frame before making his AFL debut after he didn't weigh much more than most jockeys at the start of the year. "I remember jumping on the scales and being around the 64kg mark earlier in the year," Wardius said. "I weighed myself again the other day and I was 69kg. "So I have put on a bit of weight but that is more through natural development than anything else. "So If you had told me at the start of this year that I would end up on an AFL list I would have laughed at you and didn't think I had any chance, not even in my wildest dreams. "But once I got an opportunity to play VFL and probably my second match, I got a couple of kicks and kicked a couple of goals and gave me a bit of belief that I can do it. "Obviously now being able to train alongside some of the best players in the AFL, is going to be good for my development." Wardius had a farewell with family and friends at the Walbundrie Hotel on Friday night before driving to Sydney over the weekend. His father, Kevin, played in Walbundrie's most recent flag in 1989 before the merger and will now be without his son who worked on the family farm which consists of primarily sheep. "Dad is hoping that the sheep prices increase a bit so that he can off-load some and decrease his workload," Wardius said. "I think Dad will have to get some extra help though because he's about to find out how much I used to do around the place and that I will be hard if not impossible to replace. "I really enjoyed the Walbundrie Pub on Friday night and I was a bit overwhelmed by how many turned up to be honest. "It was good to have my close mates there and see all the people in the community that have watched me growing up and supported me along the way. "I loved catching up with everyone and having a bit of chin wag and saying goodbye. "We are a close-knit community at Walbundrie and I can't thank everyone enough including the football club for their support. "When word first filtered through that I had been drafted my phone went crazy for a few hours with everybody wishing me well which meant a lot to me."