By Peter Blucher
Queenslander Bailey Scott has upstaged some of the cream of the 2018 AFL Draft to win the Round 1 nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star Award.
Making his debut for North Melbourne against Fremantle in front of 40,033 people at Optus Stadium in Perth on Sunday, Scott had 21 possessions, going at 90% disposal efficiency, and kicked an equal team-high two goals in an 82-point loss.
The 18-year-old Gold Coast Suns Academy product, taken as a father/son selection by North in last year’s AFL National Draft, opened brilliantly with an equal game-high 10 possessions in the first quarter and was a solid contributor throughout, playing mainly on the wing.
He was arguably North’s best player in a game in which six Fremantle players took all the votes in the AFL Coach’s Association Player of the Year Award.
Eventually claimed by North at #49 in the National Draft, Scott was chosen ahead of nine players chosen inside the top 10 who also debuted in Round 1 for the Rising Star nomination.
Among those were Carlton’s Sam Walsh, who collected 24 possessions against Richmond, Gold Coast forward Jack Lucosius had 11 possessions against St Kilda and Bulldogs Bailey Smith had eight disposals against Sydney.
But Scott was preferred for the first of what will be 23 nominations for the award.
It was a tough day that left him with bitter-sweet memories. And not just because of the big loss.
Souring his own impressive debut was the season-ending knee injury to good mate and fellow Melbourne University teammate Ed Vickers-Willis.
Scott, studying civil systems and architecture, quickly deflected attention to 22-year-old Vickers-Willis after learning of his Rising Star nomination.
“The biggest thing that got to me was Ed going down. He’s been really good to me and really embraced me. He’s not only made the football club environment comfortable for me but also the university environment,” Scott said.
“To see a good bloke go down, after what he’s been through in previous years, it’s pretty disappointing.”
But pressed to reflect on a debut that had been a career goal for as long as he can remember, Scott said: “It was good to see that I was capable of playing at that level and could play my role for the team.
“Considering the result, that was the only upside for me. The coaches seemed happy with the way I played my role but there’s obviously a bit for everyone to work on. It was a tough weekend,” he said.
Scott, whose father Robert was a 100-game player at North and Geelong and a member of the Roos 1996 premiership side, was among eight family members and friends in Perth for the game.
“They were rapt to see me out there. Dad was happy for me but, coming from a football background, he understands the team side of things and he feels disappointment similar to someone who’s involved with the club,” Scott said.
North coach Brad Scott described his young namesake as a player mature beyond his tender years.
“He just played as we knew he would … He’s got a really bright future in the game. He’s a great role model for other young players because he’s a great preparer. He’s a thorough professional,” Brad Scott said.
Scott is the 25th Queenslander to win a Rising Star nomination since the introduction of the award, known as the ‘Brownlow Medal for rookies’ in 1993.
He is the third Queenslander to be nominated on debut, following Che Cockatoo-Collins in 1994, when at Essendon, and Brad Moran, in 2006, at Adelaide.
His 21 disposals on debut puts him equal sixth on a list of Queensland debutants that is headed by Brisbane champion Michael Voss, who charged onto the AFL scene with 26 possessions in his first game as a 17-year-old in 1992.
The Brisbane Bears’ Darren Carlson also had 26 possessions on debut, ahead of clubmate Steve McLuckie (25) and Hawthorn’s Stephen Lawrence (224).
Lawrence, a Mt.Gravatt product not to be confused with ex-Brisbane and St.Kilda utility Steven Lawrence from Southport, made a stunning introduction to AFL football in 1988 with 24 disposals and five goals.
This was the beginning of a career in which he played 146 games from 1988-98 and was a member of Hawthorn’s 1991 premiership side.
Other Queenslanders with 20+ disposals on debut have been Collingwood’s Josh Smith (23), Brisbane’s David Wearne (21), Moran (21), Cockatoo-Collins (21), North’s Gavin Urquhart (21), Melbourne’s Ricky Petterd (20) and Brisbane’s Jacob Allison (20).
Lawrence’s five goals in the all-time high by a Queenslander on debut, ahead of Jason Dunstall’s three-goal debut for Hawthorn in 1985.
Scott is the fourth two-goal Queensland debutant after Essendon’s Frank Dunell, Collingwood’s Gary Shaw, Brisbane’s Nathan Clarke.
Queensland’s 25 Rising Star nominations have been:-
|QUEENSLAND NOMINEES – AFL RISING STAR AWARD|
|25||2019||1||1||Bailey Scott||North Melb|
|19||2011||7||6||Zac Smith||Gold Coast|
|15||2008||18||9||Gavin Urqhuart||North Melb|
|9||2006||21||21||Brad Moran||North Melb|