As Andrew Brayshaw’s star continues to rise in the AFL, so does the level of attention he receives from opposition players.
After dominant performances in the opening two rounds, Carlton identified the young midfielder as a threat to neutralise. Hawthorn followed suit a week later.
In those two rounds, he averaged 30.5 disposals, five marks, seven score involvements and five tackles. His impact was felt everywhere and is dangerous when given free rein.
When given attention last week, his output was severely reduced. Disposals halved, marks dropping by two and overall, had less influence on the game.
A week later, the young gun received similar attention in the first half as Hawthorn youngster James Worpel almost eliminated him entirely from the game, with only three disposals, one tackle and zero marks.
Tides changed in the second half as the 21-year-old admirably fought back to record a further twelve disposals, four tackles and total 31 pressure acts. He also subdued Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, capping him to 11 possessions after accumulating 27 in the first half.
Post match, Fremantle coach, Justin Longmuir noted Brayshaw’s efforts and commended his resilience.
“He went away from his role when he first got tagged and then once he thought about executing his role for the team, he got himself into the game,” he said.
“Brayshaw went to him [Tom Mitchell] and did a pretty good job on him in the third quarter in particular.
“In the last quarter it was just getting back to what he does best.”
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A tag, in a way, is a form of flattery, especially for a budding, young player. It’s almost a milestone. Longmuir believes the tag is a positive sign and should be welcomed by Brayshaw as he continues to develop his midfield craft.
“He should be wearing it as a badge of honour and it’s a by-product of him being in really good form, so he’s gonna embrace it,” Longmuir said.
“He’s going through a phase now where he’s gonna have to learn to deal with attention and that’s a credit to him, because he started the year really well and teams are identifying him to put time into.
“We could flip him around and put him in different spots but sometimes that unsettles the player. Sometimes the best thing is to just get your hands dirty and play your role.
“Our style of play is based around a system that he [Brayshaw] can still execute when he’s getting tagged.
“We’ll look at ways to educate him on those things, we’ll look at ways we can put him in different spots if that needs to happen. There are plenty of things you can do if you’re getting tagged. It’s just another phase of his development.”
After a poor outing against Carlton last week, the Dockers’ coach praised his midfielders as they significantly lifted this week to defeat the Hawks by 15 points.
“They’ve been itching to get back on the field all week.,” he said.
“They were the ones that got us off to the start. They gave our forwards good supply, they helped lock the ball inside our front half. The work they did as a collective was pleasing.”
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