THERE were debuts galore in Round 6 of the AFL, as a number of 2017 draftees stood out and produced some early glimpses of their talent which they showed in under 18 competitions last year. From first round selections to rookie picks, here are some of the top first year player performances from the weekend.
Small forward/inside midfielder Charlie Spargo endured a winning start to his AFL career in the victory over Essendon at Etihad Stadium. The former Murray Bushranger collected four kicks, 14 handballs, four marks, three tackles and kicked two majors. His terrific football smarts, goal sense and work rate were all on show in the Dee’s forward-50. Teaming up with fellow 2017 draftee Bayley Fritsch, the pair look set to spend plenty of time together in the Demons forward line throughout 2018 and seasons to come.
After playing a major role in the Demons first month of the season, Bayley Fritsch was dropped for the round five before returning to the senior side for the Sunday afternoon clash with Essendon. The week off from AFL football certainly did the job, with the Casey Demon draftee booting a career-high three goals, to go with 14 disposals at an impressive 86 per cent efficiency, eight marks (including three contested and three inside 50s) and 435 metres gained. He is shaping as one of the better later pick ups from the 2017 National Draft.
Hawthorn’s James Worpel was also included in the Hawks 22 for the first time on the weekend. The inside midfielder who is renowned for his inside grunt work spent much of the game in the midfield, tallying 13 disposals at 85 per cent efficiency and three tackles. He additionally sent the ball inside 50s on three occasions. Worpel joined fellow inside midfielders Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara in the centre of the ground, who he will no-doubt have learned plenty from over the summer. Expect to see more of the tough, combative contested ball-winner.
The West Australian had 14 disposals, two marks and 14 tackles in Fremantle’s loss to West Coast in his home state. It might have been weird for Eagles fans to see a Banfield in the purple and white, but he showed off his hard nature, winning 10 contested possessions, two inside 50s and a clearance.
Opposed to fellow first-year player Flynn Appleby, Higgins had a memorable first term, finding space to kick a goal from the square and begin his trademark celebrations. He won a free seconds later when he was knocked over by Collingwood defender Lynden Dunn, finishing with a second goal in a minute. He had 13 disposals (nine contested), one mark, two tackles and three inside 50s for the game.
Another solid outing for the number two draft pick from last year, notching up 14 disposals, two marks, four tackles and booting a goal for the Dockers in Fremantle’s narrow Western Derby defeat. Brayshaw has been a consistent performer in his first season, also having two inside 50s in the match.
A late call-up to the Collingwood side for their clash with Richmond at the MCG, the former GWV Rebels defender did not look overawed on the huge occasion in front of a packed house. Appleby’s first touch was a lunging spoil away from fellow youngster Jack Higgins, and his day included a bone-crunching tackle on Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin. Appleby finished with eight disposals (five contested), one mark and three tackles, but his efforts away from the stats sheet were impressive.