By Peter Blucher
Sherwood junior Samson Ryan has done what no other player in AFL history has done. He has kicked three goals with his first three kicks – in just his second game.
Adding further potential to one of the great AFL trivia questions, his streak is still alive.
Ryan became just the eleventh player among 13,045 AFL players all-time to go ‘three for three’ when he bagged a hat-trick for Richmond in Saturday’s hard-fought win over the Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval.
He claimed this special place in AFL history because, in his AFL debut in Round 15 2021, the now 22-year-old 206cm forward/ruck went without a kick.
And because he finished with three kicks on Saturday, Ryan has the potential to go ‘four for four’, or more, when he plays next.
It was an altogether different Ryan who, now in his third season at Punt Road, played his second game on Saturday.
This came after an outstanding pre-season and a sizzling cameo in the Tigers’ practice match against Melbourne earlier this month when he came on in the final quarter and took five marks (four contested) and kicked a goal. All after playing three quarters in a VFL practice match earlier in the day.
Drafted by Richmond with pick #40 in the 2020 NAB AFL draft, Ryan was always going to be a long-term prospect. And when he got a surprise call-up to fill in for injured Toby Nankervis, Tom Lynch, Mabior Chol and Callum Coleman-Jones, he looked like a boy playing against men.
He played 55 per cent game time in a 40-point loss to St. Kilda at the MCG for one hit-out, one one-percenter and one free kick against. No kicks.
But on Saturday, 21 months on and having started to grow into his giant frame, he looked just like the outstanding prospect Richmond expected him to be when he joined co-captain Nankervis, Lynch and veteran full forward Jack Riewoldt in a side that travelled to Adelaide for Round 2.
In the first quarter he marked on the lead and kicked accurately from 35m on a 45-degree angle on the right for the Tigers’ second goal, and took a juggling contested mark hard up against the left behind post before snapping across his body for the Tigers’ fourth.
Then, after Adelaide had pulled to within a point in the final quarter Ryan took a mark on the lead and banged it over the goal umpires’ hat from outside 50m for their fifteenth goal and the clincher.
Ryan, who grew up in Pambula on the south coast of NSW, played cricket and football in his hometown before moving to Queensland when he was offered a cricket scholarship at Toowoomba Grammar.
Suddenly under the eyes of Queensland football scouts, he joined the Lions Academy and later represented the Maroons at the Australian U17 Championships in 2018.
He played with the Lions Academy side in 2019 and was named by Aussie Rules Draft Central as the best performed ruck among the five competing Academy sides, averaging 26 hit-outs across five games.
He also won a spot in the combined Allies side at the 2019 Australian U18 Carnival before closing out a busy season with Sherwood in the QAFL and Redland in the NEAFL.
After being overlooked in the 2019 Draft he had intended to play with Canberra in the NEAFL in 2020. But when Covid hit and the NEAFL season was cancelled he returned to Sherwood to play 10 games as the side’s No.1 ruck
Brisbane, having already claimed restricted free agent Joe Daniher, traded for Nakia Cockatoo and snared Academy graduate Carter Michael, had a limited hand in the 2020 Draft.
They took Blake Coleman with their first pick at #24 and had two picks in the 40s, but had no priority access to Ryan because he had not been in Queensland long enough to qualify.
Whether the club had their sights on him is unclear, but before they could do so Richmond took him at #40, leaving the Lions instead to go with Harry Sharp at #43 and Henry Smith at #48.
Ryan is the 299th member of the ‘first kick / first goal’ club and only the third player to ‘qualify’ in his second game behind Hawthorn’s Mark Williams in 2002 and St.Kilda’s Allan Murray in 2003 after he’d gone kickless on debut with Port Adelaide in 2002.
The big Queenslander joins some prominent names among those who went ‘three for three’.
Astonishingly, Clen Denning, a member of the last Fitzroy premiership side in 1944, holds the AFL record of six goals with his first six goals on debut with Carlton in 1935.
Richmond’s Richard Lounder (1989) and West Coast’s Daniel Metropolis (1992) kicked four goals with their first four kicks.
Hawthorn 400-gamer Michael Tuck was the first of seven others to go three for three on debut in 1972 and was followed by North Melbourne’s Ian Fairley (1983), Hawthorn’s Tim Hargreaves and Collingwood’s Damian Houlihan (1994), Geelong’s Marcus Baldwin (2000), Adelaide’s Ben Rutten (2003) and Western Bulldogs Jason Tutt (2011).
Only one player in AFL history kicked his first goal with his first kick in his third game – Port Adelaide’s Fabian deLuca in 2006.
Ryan surpasses ex-Gold Coast Suns forward Charlie Dixon, now at Port Adelaide, as Queensland’s senior member of the ‘first kick/first goal’ club. Dixon kicked two goals with his first two kicks in the Suns’ first game at the Gabba in 2011.
Five other Queenslanders have registered full points with their first kick in the AFL – Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall (1985), Brisbane’s Claye Beams, Gold Coast’s Joey Daye (2011), Brisbane’s Liam Dawson (2015) and Gold Coast’s Jacob Heron (2018).