In a massive coup, the Deniliquin Rams have signed former AFL ruckman Ivan Maric for a one-off appearance.
The 200cm cult hero Maric, 33, will line-up for the Rams when they host Tongala for round nine of the Murray League on Saturday.
Maric started his AFL career at Adelaide, taken at pick 40 in the 2004 AFL Draft.
The ruckman made his senior debut in round six of the 2006 AFL season, playing 77 games with the Crows before making the move to Richmond at the end of 2011.
The move paid dividends for Maric, making an immediate impact at the club, coming third in the Tigers’ 2012 best-and-fairest.
Maric became a popular figure during his time at Richmond, mainly due to his mullet, with Tigers fans adoring the big man right up until his retirement during the 2017 season, finishing his career after 157 AFL games.
Rams co-coach Troy Bartlett said it was a friendship between Maric and Deniliquin AFL footballer Sam Lloyd — the pair played alongside each other at Richmond — that made this possible.
‘‘I know Sam Lloyd was the main person involved in organising this,’’ he said.
‘‘It has been something that has been floated around for some time.
‘‘We tried to get it done last year, however, things didn’t work out.
‘‘Ivan had, and still has, coaching commitments at Richmond as the ruck coach, so he wasn’t able to last year.
‘‘The weekend against Tonny is the only one that works out this year and luckily for us he’s keen to play.
‘‘For the club, I think it is generating a fair bit of excitement and I also think the players are really looking forward to it.
‘‘When I spoke to Ivan he said he is very keen to have an impact on the day.
‘‘He asked about some structures and set-ups which we do. He should be aware of these because we had some guidance from Sam Lloyd.’’
Maric lining up for the Rams will be paired with a corporate event, where the ruckman, recently retired 2017 premiership Tiger Shaun Grigg and Lloyd on hand for a Q&A.
The corporate function will be upstairs at the Rams’ clubrooms from 1pm, with a $60 cost for tickets, which can be bought at the bar on the day.
The function will run until the end of the seniors match, which will be followed by the 200 club $1000 draw downstairs in the clubrooms.
A dinner will also be organised, which will then be followed by another Q&A session, with Lloyd acting as MC, with the night finishing off with a fundraising auction.
Rams president Clint Free said he was extremely thankful for the help Lloyd had given to organise the event.
‘‘For Sam Lloyd to have done what he’s done just goes to show how loyal he is to his home club,’’ he said.
‘‘A lot of players make it to the AFL and lose touch with their home club, but Sam stays very involved.
‘‘We know there are plenty of Richmond supporters around, so we want to encourage them all to come along and spend some time with Ivan, Shaun and Sam, for a good day out.’’