At a glance: From Temora in country NSW, Breust chose AFL over a potential rugby league career, and the decision is paying off. Arriving at the Hawks as a rookie in 2009, the small forward worked hard on his game at Box Hill and earned his first senior game in round eight, 2011. He kicked 30 goals in 17 games that season, finishing runner-up in the club's goalkicking behind Lance Franklin and earning a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination. Promoted to the senior list for 2012, the 22-year-old booted another 45 goals, again fewer only than Franklin. He also lifted his tackles-per-game average to 4.7, forming a strong forward defensive combination with Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo. Further, as the season wore on, Breust became even more valuable to his team with some excellent bursts in the midfield.
Plays like: A big call, but Breust looks a bit like Gary Ablett: low to the ground, evasive, and a regular contributor to the highlights reel. Like Ablett, he has started his career forward but seems suited to a shift into the centre square, provided he can continue to build his tank.
Killer quality: An outstanding reader of play, he has tremendous goal sense. Small forwards are known to have quiet days, but Breust has a knack of nearly always bobbing up. He kicked two or more goals in 12 straight games between rounds eight and 20 this season, and two in every final.
Best performance: It could be said of many Hawthorn players, but Breust's standout game was in the 47-point thrashing of Collingwood in round 17. He booted five goals, proving crucial as the Hawks struggled for the lead in the second quarter and then blew the game open in the third. His dribbling goal from a stoppage deep in the pocket was one of the season's best.
What they say: "He had a terrific year. When you look at his statistics, he was probably one of the leading small forwards in the competition. It wasn't just what he did when he had the ball, in terms of kicking goals and creating goals, but also his pressure. He's got a good tank and good agility and speed, and a good footy brain." – Hawthorn head of coaching and development Chris Fagan
Stats that matter:
Second in goals (45)
Second in goal assists (26 @ 1.1 per game)
Third in marks inside forward 50 (34 @ 1.4 per game)
Fourth in tackles (113 @ 4.7 per game)
Seventh in contested possessions (179 @ 7.5 per game)
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4:19pm Sep 27, 2016