AFL Selection – Round 19

Long wait over for Archie.   By Peter Blucher.  

Archie Smith has waited almost three years to get his chance at AFL level, but nothing has been quite like the last seven days.

The Lions rookie ruckman, who will debut against Port Adelaide at the Gabba Saturday night, has been living on a knife’s edge for the last week.

When Smith was elevated to the senior list last Tuesday week it was a clear message that his AFL debut wasn’t too far away.

Normally they go hand in hand. Very rarely will a club elevate a rookie to the senior list unless they are going to play him.

But when Smith was then overlooked for the Round 18 side against Essendon in Melbourne after being included in the match squad for the first time suddenly a cloud hung over his head. What if he was to get injured?

Happily, he got through the Reserves’ NEAFL clash with Southport last Sunday without incident and was told of his Round 19 senior selection by coach Justin Leppitsch ahead of training Thursday morning.

When presented to the playing group for a group congratulations by Leppitsch and asked ‘what do you want to say?’ a gob-smacked Smith, who had been told privately just before the meeting, said: “Nothing. Exciting. Can’t wait. Thanks to everyone who has got me to this point.”

Smith, who has taken massive strides in the NEAFL this year, was named in the first ruck after the Lions elected to rest No.1 ruckman Stefan Martin.

This will suit the 203cm basketball convert, who is more a frontline ruckman who can spend a little time forward than someone who can play big minutes as a key forward and help out in the ruck.

Smith, who will wear jumper number 44, will be the 165th Queenslander to play in the AFL, and the 10th Queensland debutant this year.

This puts season 2016 in equal second spot on the list for most productive years for Queensland talent.

There were also 10 debutants in 2006. They were in order Scott Harding, Rhan Hooper, Wayde Mills, Cheynee Stiller, Luke McGuane, Sam Gilbert, Marty Pask, Courtenay Dempsey, Marcus Allan and Brad Moran.

At the top of the list, skewed a little by the introduction to the AFL of the Gold Coast Suns, was 2011. There were 16 Queensland debutants that year. In order, they were Claye Beams, Charlie Dixon, Zac Smith, Karmichael Hunt, Marc Lock, Alik Magin, Broc McCauley, Bryce Retzlaff, Joey Daye, James Mulligan, Rex Liddy, Joel Wilkinson, Rory Thompson, Lachy Keeffe, Joel Tippett and Tom Hickey.

The 10 Queensland debutants this year in order have been Josh Wagner, Josh Smith, Aliir Aliir, Ben Keays, Jesse Joyce, Corey Wagner, Eric Hipwood,, Matthew Hammelmann, Reuben William and now Smith.

In other Thursday night Queensland selection news ahead of Round 19 of the Toyota AFL premiership:-

  • Zac Smith will slot straight back into the Geelong side to play the Western Bulldogs Friday night at Simonds Stadium after being a late withdrawal due to injury last week.
  • Sam Michael will play his second game for Essendon after being named at centre half back for Sunday’s Adelaide Oval clash with the Adelaide Crows.
  • Hawthorn’s Brendan Whitecross, Sydney’s Aliir Aliir and GWS’s Sam Reid, fighting to lock in a senior spot in the run to the finals, all retained their spots from Round 18 for games against Carlton, Fremantle and Richmond respectively.
  • Corey Wagner is an emergency for Brent Harvey’s record-breaking 427th game for North Melbourne against St.Kilda at Etihad Stadium Saturday night.
  • Adam Oxley is an emergency for Collingwood’s Saturday twilight clash with West Coast at the MCG.
  • Reuben William was ruled out of the Brisbane side with a groin injury. Jono Freeman is among the emergencies.



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