Young Hawk Jai Newcombe had his breakout AFL game on Easter Monday last year.
Today, Newcombe returns to the same stage in a much different position to where he was before the corresponding clash a year ago.
That day was significant for him: a career-high 31 disposals, an upset Hawthorn victory over Geelong, then a richly deserved Rising Star nomination. It was also arguably ruckman Ned Reeves’ coming-out party as an AFL footballer, such was his dominance before suffering a shoulder dislocation.
“That’s when I started to find a bit of form in the midfield, and it’s allowed me from then on to feel comfortable at the level,” Newcombe told The Age.
“It’s pretty important [to have a performance like that early in your career]. Everyone is different in confidence levels, but it definitely goes a long way.”
The 21-year-old amassed at least 21 disposals in 13 of the remaining 17 games last season after his Easter Monday breakout, and only new skipper James Sicily finished ahead of him in the Hawks’ club champion award.