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Ross' shock at Friday's late call up

BEN ROSS was calmly watching his teammates complete their pre-game warm-up on Friday night before he unexpectedly got the latest of call ups.

It happened only moments before Ross would head up to the stands to watch his new team take on his old one.

He was standing alongside fellow emergencies Ben McEvoy and Jonathan Simpkin, sharing a joke and signing autographs for fans seated near the fence.

Seconds before his teammates would have jogged past him to head back into the change rooms to put on their playing kits and go through their final warm-up, he got a frantic tap on the shoulder.

One minute he was chilling out, the next he was throwing on his number 21 guernsey, shorts, socks and boots and required to warm-up to face North Melbourne.

Word later filtered in that Bradley Hill was a late withdrawal from the previously unchanged side selected on Thursday night with knee soreness.

But for Ross the circumstances didn’t matter, he had to focus on getting himself prepared physically and mentally to play a game of AFL footy, something he had only done twice before for Hawthorn and 14 times for the Kangaroos.

Fortunately, being an emergency wasn’t a new experience for the 25 year old, who had been in this position a number of times when playing for his old club.

Those experiences, while probably frustrating at the time, helped him be prepared enough to play a game of footy.

“It was about 7.35pm I think – it was very close to game time,” Ross said of when he was told he’d be playing. “’Boydy’ (Hawthorn’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Boyd) grabbed me and said one of the boys is a bit sore.

“I got down into the room and got strapped up and got ready.

“I’d been emergency about 20 times before, not once had this happened though. As an emergency you stay ready – I was lucky that I had prepared well and as if I was going to play.

“It was a matter of getting my mind switched on really quickly.”


Ben Ross runs onto Etihad Stadium.

The night of shock for Ross didn’t end there, however.

He ran onto Etihad Stadium five minutes prior to the first bounce, after his teammates had already entered the arena.

Then, just 10 minutes into the opening term he got the call to remove the green vest as the side’s substitute and head into the field of battle because Brad Sewell had hurt his hamstring.

In just over 30 minutes, Ross went from spectator to sub to the heat of battle against the Roos.

“When ‘Sewelly’ went down I was thrust right into the heat of it. I had to settle down really quickly,” he told hawthornfc.com.au

“I was ready physically – I was hydrated and had the right food into me so I was alright in that sense but a bit jittery early because it all happened so quickly.

“(But) I settled down as the game went on.”

It wasn’t the way Ross wanted to face his old side, the team with which he’d spent three years. Of course, he wanted more time to prepare mentally to face his old mates.

Nevertheless he appreciated the opportunity.

“I was joking around for the last few weeks saying the one game I’d want to play would be against my old side,” he joked.

Ross was a solid performer for the Hawks in the 20-point loss to the Roos, picking up 14 disposals and had a hand in a couple of goals.

Ultimately though, it wasn’t the result of which he dreamed when facing his old team for the first time.