AFL Finals injected with Indigenous blood
It’s that time of the year again: AFL finals. As we enter the heart of finals season, NIT reflects on the great Indigenous players in the teams playing this weekend.
West Coast Eagles
Proving himself to be a key asset to the strong performance of the Eagles this year Liam ‘Flyin’ Ryan’ Ryan has made selection for this weekend’s clash against Geelong.
Ryan hails from Geraldton in WA and was recruited to West Coast from the Subiaco WAFL team.
Ryan is known for his high-flying marks and has managed to be nominated for two out of three JLT Mark of the Year nominations for 2019.
Ryan has been open about his mental health struggle in previous years and has credited fellow Eagle, Lewis Jetta as providing the mentorship necessary to spread his wings and fly.
Jetta, also a country boy, started playing football in Bunbury WA before being drafted to the Sydney Swans in 2009.
In 2015, Jetta was traded to West Coast who moved his position from wing or half forward to the backline.
Proving that he is a genuine all-rounder, Jetta has been credited with becoming part of the backbone of the Eagles defence.
With his bright blonde hair, Quinton Narkle is hard to miss on the field for Geelong.
Recruited to Geelong in 2016, Narkle has been plagued with injury, resulting in a late return to the 2019 season.
Nicknamed ‘Sparkle Narkle,’ the young runner has been an outstanding asset for the Geelong team since his comeback in early August.
Teammate Tim Kelly was a mature age recruit at 23, from South Fremantle, WA.
Despite his late start to his AFL career, the on baller has been nominated in the All Australian Team.
Kelly has been absent from training with Geelong, however Coach Chris Scott is saying he will play.
The young up and coming Brandan Parfitt is a defensive midfielder for the Cats.
While Parfitt has spent a lot of time out this season with a back related injury, he is not planning on lying down during the finals.
“I just want to play football and win, and win a Grand Final hopefully,” the young player said.
Brisbane Lions gun Cedric Cox blazed onto the Lions team from the North Ballarat Rebels in 2017.
Cox has been highly speculated to play this weekend but is still in question.
Victorian boy Allen Christensen started his career at Geelong in 2011 before requesting a trade to the Lions in 2015.
Christensen made the Indigenous All-Stars team in 2013.
The veteran forward endured racial slurs mid-way through the season, however had the full support of the Lions to ban the supporter who made the slur.
Christensen has been open about his struggles with gambling in the past and is now an advocate for players seeking help with gambling addictions.
Fellow Lions small forward Charlie Cameron was first picked up by Adelaide Crows in 2014 despite only playing 30-40 games of AFL in his life.
Previously, Cameron had a strong focus on Rugby Union and League prior to playing in the WAFL.
Cameron moved back to Queensland in 2017 after requesting a transfer to Brisbane.
The small forward is frequently tagged on the field to stop the massive impact he frequently has on the game.
Greater Western Sydney
Utility player Zac Williams was picked up by GWS in the 2013 rookie draft.
Williams, who already has strong offensive, has worked hard all season to improve his defence and become a powerhouse for GWS.
Despite never expecting to rack up that many games, Williams will notch his 100th game against Brisbane Lions on the weekend.
“I actually never thought I’d play 50 games, let alone 100,” Williams said.
Acting as a mentor to Williams upon arrival at GWS, Jeremy Finlayson has been an influential player on the team.
Finlayson was a product of the GWS academy, and in 2014 GWS picked Finlayson up in the 85th pick.
Making for a good choice for Greater Western Sydney, Finlayson has been a strong forward for the young team, as one of the leading goal kickers.
NIT wishes all the players luck in this weekend’s AFL semi-finals.
By Caris Duncan