The Debutant Ball: Which debutants impressed for your club in Round One:

James Rowe celebrates his first goal in the big time in his debut match for Adelaide. Image Source: www.afc.com.au

Adelaide 

Sam Berry

Adelaide’s fourth selection in last year’s draft, the boy from Maffra adapted beautifully to the highest level with his tenacity around the contest critical to the Crows stunning upset victory. 

The leading tackler on the ground with seven, Berry brought the heat to Adelaide’s midfield and didn’t back down from the star-studded midfield of the reigning grand finalists. 

Despite falling out of the game in the latter stages, the youngster would get involved in the Crows slick ball movement and looked to burst away from a stoppage and take the game on when he had possession. 

Said to have blown the coaches away throughout the preseason with his determination and attitude towards the contest, Berry typifies the way Matthew Nicks wants his team to play and should get plenty more opportunities as the season goes on.  

James Rowe

Drafted on the back of being the SANFL’s leading goal kicker in 2020, mercurial small forward James Rowe did not disappoint in his first opportunity on the big stage.

Blessed with incredible football IQ, Rowe consistently found himself in dangerous positions and made excellent decisions with ball in hand.

Pushing up the ground all day, the 21 year old would pick up 16 disposals with his clean hands a particular highlight. 

He would also show his class around the goals with two neat finishes from tight angles proving he has the ability to make the most of his opportunities.

Heralded all summer as an AFL ready prospect that will have an instant impact at the top level, Rowe certainly proved he will be a crucial part of the Crows forward line in 2021. 

Zac Standish

Brisbane

Harry Sharp

Although Brisbane were upset by Sydney on Saturday night, Harry Sharp was a shining light for the Lions, putting in a more than impressive showing on debut. 

Sharp had 11 touches and three tackles, in a serviceable debut. 

The youngster showed glimpses throughout the match, and will no doubt benefit from the early opportunity, as he works to secure a spot going forward, while still completing year 12. 

Thomas Grattan

Carlton

Nil

Collingwood

Oliver Henry

It was a very quiet debut for Oliver Henry against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night, only managing the four disposals across the night.

Henry was lost among the other Pies who played a similar role in the squad but too failed to perform in their side’s 16-point loss.

It’ll be a nerve racking few days for Henry as it would be no surprise if the Pies reconsider his spot in the team for the time being. 

Tricia Mifsud

Essendon

Harrison Jones

it was a night to remember for the boyhood Bomber who finally got his chance to don the sash. The mobile tall went into the game with more than his share of pre-season hype, announcing himself to Bombers fans with impressive showings in both pre-season hitouts.

The most impressive part of Jones’ game was his ability to set up teammates inside forward 50, notching up eight score involvements. He further provided his midfielders with a strong marking target, taking three marks inside 50.

Despite some wayward kicking in front of goal and up the field, Jones showed more than enough to see himself well in line for selection against big victors Port Adelaide in round two.

Nik Cox

Cox began his game on the wing, showing off his impressive athleticism and working hard to cover the ground for the Bombers. With the 200cm key having the ability to play on every line across the ground, coach Ben Rutten is sure to experiment with his best position in the coming weeks.

The top 10 pick from the 2021 draft didn’t find the ball too many times throughout the game, though none of his nine touches were wasteful. Cox gained 256 metres and disposed of the footy at 89% efficiency. His kicking skills were particularly of note.

Three inside 50s and a rebound 50 demonstrated Cox’s ability to run both ways across the ground. He’ll have to work on staying in the game for four quarters if he wants to maintain a consistent spot in Rutten’s best Bombers’ team.

Alex Catalano

Fremantle

Lloyd Meek

He had to wait a while for it but after 3 full seasons without a senior game, Lloyd Meek finally made his AFL debut. Unfortunately for Meek, he had the unenviable task of going up against Max Gawn in his first AFL game. 

While Melbourne won the hit-out battle (40 to 17), Fremantle actually got on top in the clearances (35 to 27), in part due to Meek’s competitiveness in the ruck and at ground level. 

He competed and battled manfully under the tough circumstances, something that earned him the respect of his coach post-match. 

It will be interesting to see what happens when Sean Darcy comes back into the side (who was the traveling emergency on Saturday), but Meek’s efforts and injuries to Rory Lobb and Alex Pearce suggest that there could be a spot for him in the team as well.

Image Source: fremantlefc.com.au

Hamish Spence

Geelong

Nil

Gold Coast

Nil

GWS Giants

Matt Flynn

It was a long wait start to his career, but Matt Flynn took the opportunity given to him with both hands.

Before sustaining a hamstring injury, Braydon Preuss looked set to take on the number one ruck position, however, Flynn’s performance on Sunday against the Saints has provided his side with another viable option for the position.

Named in the Giants’ best, Flynn succeeded in 34 hitouts and topped it off with 18 disposals against the Saints debutant ruckman, Paul Hunter.

Flynn limped off in the third quarter, but shortly returned after fit to continue the rest of the game.

Tanner Bruhn

Following a sparkling AAMI Community Series game against Sydney, Bruhn was handed his AFL debut in Round 1.

It was a quiet start on a wet afternoon at Giants Stadium for Bruhn, collecting 9 disposals.

Although he may not have been as involved in the Giant’s 8-point loss, there is much more to come from the midfielder who was collected with pick 12 in 2020’s Draft as one of the best ball movers.

Some more exposure to game time will be enough for Bruhn to cement his position and be a handy player in and around the stoppages – an area of football the Giants lacked in in 2020.

Tricia Mifsud

Hawthorn

Jacob Koschitzke

After exploding with six goals in the AAMI Series, ‘Kozi’ was held to a solitary behind playing as a key pillar in the forward line for the Hawks. 

The key tall competed hard in the air and at ground level but was matched by the defensive efforts of Jayden Laverde and Aaron Francis. 

However, his competitive nature and defensive instincts saw him bring the ball to ground in contests which will keep Alistair Clarkson happy. 

Tyler Brockman

The small forward produced a livewire display in front of the Hawks faithful and will excite fans for years to come.

Brockman had 11 pressure acts and kicked two goals from his nine touches on the night, including a ripper from the boundary line. 

He should play every game this season for Clarkson’s side and produces a level of excitement that is unmatched in the Hawthorn team while Chad Wingard is sidelined with a hamstring injury. 

Connor Downie

Did somebody say KFC?

While Connor Downie didn’t get onto the ground during his debut game, sitting on the bench as the medical sub, he will sure have a fantastic story to tell when he recounts his career.

Jasper Chellappah

Melbourne

James Jordon

Many expected Jordan to be plugging a Jack Viney-sized hole in the midfield, But after his debut against Fremantle, the youngster may force Simon Goodwin to find him a place in the best 22. 

Jordan collected 15 disposals and kicked a goal in the win, with five tackles and five marks to go with it.

His debut would usually be enough for a Rising Star nomination, if not for Errol Gulden’s performance for Sydney. 

Matt Forrest

North Melbourne

Tom Powell

North Melbourne’s pick 13 joined the exclusive first kick, first goal club in their round one match against Port Adelaide. 

The youngster was a ball magnet midfielder at SANFL Colts level, but played forward and worked hard up the field at Marvel Stadium, picking up nine of his 19 disposals in the defensive half.

Powell provided genuine class in the forward half and should have his spot cemented despite the lackluster performance of his side.

Charlie Lazzaro

North Melbourne’s substitute came on in the fourth quarter, registering only 20 percent game time. he did though manage a disposal to get on the board at AFL level.

While Lazarro may be on the fringe of the Roos’ best 22, he got his opportunity to show what he can do late after teammate Curtis Taylor was concussed during the game. If he can find his way into the 22, Lazarro has the nouse to find the goals, showcased his skills and talent.

 Jasper Chellappah

Port Adelaide

Miles Bergman

After an impressive pre-season, one of Port Adelaide’s first-round draft picks from 2019 made his debut and looked relatively comfortable in Port’s defence.

Bergman had 14 touches, three tackles and three score involvements as Port thumped North Melbourne by 52 points.

Whether he keeps his spot remains to be seen with Hamish Hartlett and Connor Rozee set to return.

Jack Hudson

Richmond

Nil

St Kilda

Tom Highmore

It was an impressive first game for Highmore who played a important role in St Kilda’s win against the Giants

Highmore finished the game with 19 disposals with 7 of those being contested. He also finished the game with 6 intercept marks and remained cool under pressure as the Giants mounted their charge in the second half and nearly pinched the game.

After one game at AFL level, Highmore has already proven that he can be a great asset in the St Kilda midfield. 

Paul Hunter

Ruckman Paul Hunter finally got his chance at AFL level in his first crack in his second stint in the big league. Although didn’t make a massive impact on the game he was able to play his role to get the Saints over the line. 

Going up against fellow debutant Matt Flynn in the ruck, Hunter was able to finish the game with 19 hit-outs and 9 disposals. 

With fellow ruckman Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder out, Hunter will face the challenge of going up against one of the best ruck in the competition in Max Gawn. 

Elly McNerney 

Sydney

Logan McDonald

The latest key forward prospect for the Swans looks at home in their forward line.

The highly rated Logan McDonald showed his class in Sydney’s upset win over the Lions. 

Playing up forward, McDonald booted three goals from 11 disposals and also took five marks. 

His first goal, a booming kick from 50 meters, got the Swans on the board in the first quarter, and they rarely looked back from there. 

Errol Gulden

In one of the most prolific debuts in recent memory, Errol Gulden was a game changer for the Swans. 

Playing as a half-forward, Gulden kicked three goals and set up three more to go along with 19 disposals and 10 marks. 

With his foot skills invaluable, the youngster scarcely put a foot wrong and looks set to stick around for a while for the Swans. 

Braeden Campbell

The quietest of the three debutants for the Swans, Campbell may not have had the headline-grabbing debut of his peers, but looks set to make the half-back line his own. 

Moving into the spot left by Callum Mills, Campbell’s laser precision kick was critical for the Swans moving out of defence. 

He ended up with 12 disposals and had a pair of marks and tackles. Campbell may not have looked the best first up, but with the potential he has, and the potential he showed, watch this space. 

Thomas Grattan

West Coast

Nil

Western Bulldogs

Lachlan McNeil 

Lachlan McNeil was quiet but held his own in his AFL debut against Collingwood, kicking a goal to go alongside his 9 disposals and 2 score involvements.

Of those disposals McNeil had 7 contested possessions, showcasing his ability to win the ball at the coalface and add another layer to a star studded Bulldogs midfield group.

Anthony Scott

After only winning a spot on the Dogs list a little over two weeks ago, Anthony Scott was impressive on debut, collecting 16 disposals and recording 227 metres gained.

He also recorded 5 inside 50s and four intercepts and went at 81% disposal efficiency. The Dogs’ SSP signing looks to be a handy acquisition and another raging success story from their VFL program which has seen a number of players graduate onto the senior list..

Elly McNerny

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