Why the Hampson hysteria? By Peter Blucher
Shaun Hampson is a much-maligned AFL player who has become a popular whipping boy with a lot of Melbourne media.
But as Richmond insiders say repeatedly, it’s hard to understand why.
Rather, they believe Hampson has been in career-best form this season after cementing the No.1 ruck spot at Richmond at the expense of long-time favorite Ivan Maric
And that despite a double ankle reconstruction last summer after he played just four senior games due to recurring injury problems last year.
Certainly, the numbers suggest the 28-year-old Mt.Gravatt product has never played better despite not being able to train during the off-season until February.
He’s averaged a career-high 32.8 hit-outs per game – fifth highest in the AFL behind Melbourne’s Max Gawn (41.9), North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein (40.1), West Coast’s Nic Naitanui (35.7) and GWS’s Shane Mumford (33.4) – and has started to become of a factor around the ground.
Hampson, partner of Australian supermodel Megan Gale, was drafted at No.17 by Carlton in 2006 and played 63 games with the Blues from 2007-13 before switching to Richmond in 2013.
He’s added had a further 29 games to his career tally with the Tigers, but unless they can miraculously drag themselves back into the finals race in the next eight weeks he’ll have to wait until early next season reach what will be a well-deserved century.
Hampson was among the Queensland standouts in Round 16 of the Toyota AFL premiership, collecting 45 hit-outs in their heart-breaking loss to the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
It is the sixth-highest hit-out tally ever by a Queenslander, pushed down one spot on that list by Tom Hickey’s 46 hit-outs for St.Kilda against Essendon on Sunday.
Hickey heads this list all-time with his 56 hit-outs in Round 1 this year. Then follows Hampson hauls of 52 in 2014 and 51 in Round 11 this year, and Kurt Tippett’s 50, also in Round 11.
Hickey’s 46 hit-outs against the Dogs sees him fifth on the aggregate hit-out list in the AFL this year at 446 behind Gawn (621), Goldstein (562), Adelaide’s Sam Jacobs (489) and Mumford (467).
After a slow start Hickey also had a career-high eight tackles and 13 possessions in the Saints’ narrow win.
In other Queensland Round 16 highlights:-
- Jesse White topped the Champion Data scores with a season-high 113 points in Collingwood’s upset win over GWS. Recalled the expense of Mason Cox, he had 13 possessions, an equal career-high 10 marks, eight hit-outs and kicked 3-2 to make it impossible for coach Nathan Buckley to leave him out this week.
- Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow continued his rich vein of form with 27 possessions, a career-high 12 marks and four tackles. He earned 109 Champion Data points – his second consecutive ‘ton’ – as the Suns beat the Lions in Q-Clash 12.
- Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt also posted a CD century, collecting 105 ranking points for 21 possessions, seven marks, five hit-outs and a goal against Essendon. It was his ninth CD century of the season.
- Sydney’s Aliir Aliir had a breakout third AFL game against Geelong at Geelong, collecting 15 possessions and five marks in his side’s commanding victory (see Aliir feature).
- Josh Smith continued his dream AFL debut season with 23 possessions, a personal-best nine marks and a thumping 55m goal against the Giants in his 11th
- Brisbane’s Eric Hipwood did likewise. He kicked four goals from 10 possessions in just his third AFL game against the Gold Coast. He’s now kicked eight goals in three games.
- Reuben William had 13 possessions and three tackles in an eye-catching debut for the Lions.
- Sam Michael was a tireless worker for Essendon against St.Kilda with nine possessions, 16 hit-outs, five tackles and three clearances.
- Alex Sexton was a valuable contributor to the Suns, bagging 17 possessions and two goals.
In the VFL, Brendan Whitecross continued to push for an AFL recall when best afield for Box Hill against Williamstown, and Braden Preuss had arguably the best game of his career when best afield for Werribee against Port Melbourne. Joel Tippett, too, figured among the best for Werribee. Adam Oxley was among the best for Collingwood against North Ballarat.
In the SANFL, Paul Hunter kicked two goals as the fourth-placed Adelaide Crows upset second-placed Sturt. He’s now kicked 11 goals in nine games this season.
And in the NEAFL, Archie Smith and Ben Keays were third and fourth best for the Lions’ Reserves in their two-point loss to the Suns Reserves.