Rising Star nomination for Weller. By Peter Blucher.
Lachie Weller has trumped his breakout game of Round 11 to win the Round 12 nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star Award and send an ‘if only’ cry among Gold Coast Suns officials.
Coming off a career-best 22 possessions against Essendon a week earlier, the 20-year-old Fremantle Dockers midfielder replicated his 22 ‘touches’ and raised his performance bar with a career-best four goals against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.
The former Broadbeach and Southport junior is the first Queensland product nominated for the prestigious Rising Star award this year after a homecoming he won’t forget in a hurry.
Although originally from Burnie in Tasmania, Weller moved to the Gold Coast as a 15-year-old after older brother Mav was claimed by the Gold Coast Suns as part of the club’s establishment recruiting concessions.
The younger Weller represented Queensland at U18 level and was a star member of the Suns Academy, but the family didn’t move early enough for him to qualify as a Suns zone selection.
So, instead of a red carpet ride into the AFL via the Suns he was forced into the 2014 AFL National Draft. And instead of playing his football on the east coast of Australia he found himself on the west coast.
Taken at No.13 in the Draft, Weller debuted in Round 18 last year and hasn’t missed a game this season after signing an off-season contract extension that ties him to the club to the end of 2018.
His blistering performance at the Gabba was his first in Queensland and gave him 108 Champion Data ranking points – his first Champion Data ‘ton’.
Also, it continued his steep upward spiral on the stats sheet this season.
Having totalled 43 possessions and one goal in the first four rounds of the season and 64 possessions and one goal in the next four rounds he’s collected 77 possessions and seven goals in the last four rounds.
And although they play largely different roles at least statistically Lachie is starting to challenge 24-year-old Mav, who is a 75-game veteran and a member of the St.Kilda leadership group in his third season with the club.
Lachie’s aggregate stats for 12 games this year are 174 disposals, 63 contested possessions, 9 goals, 43 tackles, 9 clearances, 5 rebound 50’s and 39 inside 50’s.
Mav’s equivalent stats for 12 games are 189 possessions, 76 contested possessions, 12 goals, 46 tackles, 23 clearances, 14 rebound 50’s and 26 inside 50’s.
Weller Jnr is the 22nd Queenslander nominated for the AFL’s Rising Star Award since it was introduced in 1993, and the first from Fremantle.
Others have been Harris Andrews (2015), Claye Beams (2012), Zac Smith (2011), Dayne Beams and Jesse White (2009), Kurt Tippett and Gavin Urquhart (2008), Ricky Petterd, Sam Gilbert and Tom Williams (2007), Andrew Raines, Cheynee Stiller and Brad Moran (2006), Michael Osborne (2003), Nick Riewoldt and Jamie Charman (2002), Robert Copeland (2001), Brett Backwell (1999), Mal Michael (1997), Steven Lawrence (1995) and Che Cockatoo-Collins (1994).
Weller was a Queensland standout in a mixed Round 12 of the Toyota AFL premiership. In other news:-
- Kilda captain and 300-gamer Nick Riewoldt, who missed the clash with Carlton with a knee injury, confirmed he will play a 17th AFL season in 2017.
- Kilda ruckman Tom Hickey continued his outstanding 2016 campaign with 16 possessions, 32 hitouts and a goal. He earned 139 Champion Data points – the sixth best score by a Queenslander this season.
- Sydney Swans’ big man Kurt Tippett, enjoying a career-best season following his switch into the ruck, was ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring tendon problem after a blistering start to the clash with the GWS Giants at Spotless Stadium.
- Richmond ruckman Shaun Hampson had nine possessions, 42 hit-outs and a goal in the Tigers’ hard-fought win over the Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium. This earned him a season-high 122 Champion Data points.
- Gold Coast veteran Jarrod Harbrow had 14 possessions and possibly the first right-foot goal of his career against Richmond.
- Geelong ruckman Zac Smith continued his fine form with 17 possessions and 17 hit-outs to get the better of North Melbourne boom ruckman Todd Goldstein in the Cats’ commanding win.
- North Melbourne youngster Corey Wagner took another step towards fulfilling his football dream by doing absolutely nothing. He was held out of Werribee’s VFL game after a heavy AFL injury toll in the senior clash with Geelong. It is a pointer to a possible Round 13 debut after the ex-Sandgate and Aspley junior was listed as an emergency at selection last week.