Is Matthew Hammelmann a forward or a defender?
Right now even he probably doesn’t know, and he definitely doesn’t care.
All that matters to the 198cm 21-year-old is that he’s back in the Brisbane Lions side for Round 9 of the Toyota AFL premiership.
Hammelmann, who played the last nine games of last season at senior level, will begin phase two of his AFL career when the battling Lions host an angry Adelaide Crows side at the Gabba Saturday night.
He was rewarded for a string of good form in the NEAL, highlighted by a Player of the Round five-goal haul against Redland last week.
Hammelmann, promoted from the rookie list this week to replace long-term injury Mitch Robinson, was included as the Lions left out No.2 draft pick Laurence Schache amid ongoing speculation about his playing future.
This suggests he will be used forward as the bottom-of-the-ladder Lions, on a seven-game losing streak, face the ladder-leading Crows, who have surprisingly dropped two in a row after a barnstorming six wins on the trot to open the season.
If Hammelmann plays forward it will complete a full circle for the Lions Academy graduate out of Brisbane Grammar School.
Hammelmann, who played First XI cricket as a fast bowler at Grammar alongside new Australian Test star Matt Renshaw, was claimed by the Lions in the 2015 rookie draft as a marking forward.
But he broke into the senior side in 2016 as a tall defender, and did enough to earn a two-year contract extension.
In the 2017 AFL Guide it says of the quietly-spoken Hammelmann: “ … with his good speed and leap, showed he has a future in the back half”.
But of late he’s been playing well up forward in the NEAFL, and unless the star-studded Adelaide forward gets hold of the young Brisbane defence Saturday night Hammelmann is expected to play forward in the AFL side.
With skipper Dayne Beams listed to return from injury against the Crows a season-high eight Queenslanders will play for the Lions this week. And a ninth – Archie Smith – is in the emergencies.
In the other big Queensland selection news for Round 9, Brendan Whitecross has been recalled to an injury-decimated Hawthorn side to take on Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday.
It will be the injury-plagued utility’s second game of the season and the 99th of his career.
Kurt Tippett, whose 2017 season has been hugely disrupted by injury, will play his third game of the year for Sydney in the crunch game against St.Kilda at Etihad on Saturday.
Aliir Aliir, omitted in Round 7 after he slept in and missed training, has again missed out. He is in the emergencies.
Sam Reid has been given another strong vote of confidence by the GWS selectors, holding his spot for Saturday’s Sydney clash with Richmond despite being ko’d early last week.
Josh Wagner, finding his feet after an injury-disrupted start to 2017, is expected to play his third game of the season for Melbourne against North at the MCG on Sunday after he was named on an extended bench squad.
By Peter Blucher