Hawthorn will unveil its second debutant for the season with youngster James Worpel set to play his first game for the club against St Kilda on Saturday night.
A few years younger than Hawthorn’s last debutant, David Mirra, but you would not know that from looking at his size. Worpel, 19, has a big frame that appears ready made for AFL football.
The youngster thrives in the coalface, with his ability to win clearances and lay crunching tackles being his strong suit. He can also hit the scoreboard while up forward, adding another string to his bow.
Worpel, affectionately known as ‘Worpedo’ to some teammates, has fought hard for his spot throughout the pre-season and in the VFL. The strong bodied midfielder impressed in his first game for Box Hill, booting two majors from 16 touches in Round 1.
Remarkably, the 19-year-old then copped a tag the next week in just his second VFL match but still managed to collect 18 disposals.
The Bannockburn local, who is the second youngest in a family of 11, was close to clinching his debut last weekend but just missed out, held over as an emergency for the Hawks’ match against North Melbourne.
Now the 185cm, 85kg midfielder gets his chance to cement a spot in the Hawthorn side.
"I'm super excited," Worpel said after hearing the news.
"Growing up I always wanted to play AFL footy, so this weekend is the lucky weekend I guess.
"Hopefully I can do my job and go alright."
Hailing from Geelong Falcons, Worpel was drafted with Pick No.45 in the 2017 National Draft, Hawthorn’s first selection. He was considered by some football pundits as a slider and a potential draft steal at that pick.
He captained Geelong Falcons to premiership glory in last year’s TAC Cup competition and was co-captain of Vic Country in the National Championships.
He received All-Australian honours in the carnival amongst the best in last year’s draft crop, averaging 19.8 disposals, 9.5 contested possessions, 8.3 tackles and a goal a game.
He was one of the TAC Cup’s most established inside ball-winners in 2017 as well, racking up 21.4 touches, 10.6 contested possessions and 6.8 tackles per game for the Falcons.