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Is this the best debut season ever?

Jaeger O'Meara has had a ripping year. Source: Keith McInnes

Is Jager O’Meara having the best first season ever? Source: Keith McInnes

Are we witnessing the best first year from a youngster in the AFL ever? Gold Coast’s Jaeger O’Meara has taken the football world by storm this year and is currently the hot favourite to take out the AFL’s Rising Star Award. The midfielder is fresh off another top performance after gathering 25 disposals and a goal in his side’s win over the Western Bulldogs.

At the age of 19, he already possesses many of the attributes that make a champion player. He’s almost the prototype modern footballer; his athleticism is outstanding and he has the ability to burn off opponents, which bodes well for the future when he is likely to cop harsher tags. He is tough and has a team-first attitude, chasing relentlessly and blocking for his other midfielders. He is exquisitely skilled and his strong physique allows him to be just as damaging as an inside midfielder, extracting the ball from the bottom of packs.

O’Meara’s talent has always been unquestionable. After an impressive 2011 season in the WAFL and with Western Australia’s U18 side he was selected by Gold Coast with the first pick in the AFL Mini-Draft. Unable to play AFL due to his age, O’Meara spent the season with Gold Coast’s NEAFL side before undergoing groin surgery midway through the year.

Now in the AFL system, O’Meara has perhaps exceeded the lofty expectations many of the football world had on him. He is averaging over 20 disposals and a goal per game but his true influence on the Suns side is immeasurable. O’Meara has been the catalyst for many of Gold Coast’s wins so far this season, forming a damaging midfield duo with the game’s current greatest Gary Ablett. While Ablett is likely to have many year’s left as the game’s top player, many wonder whether that mantle will be passed on to O’Meara eventually.

If he continues his form for the rest of the season it will almost certainly be one of the most impressive debut seasons from a young player. It draws resemblance to Chris Judd’s 2002 year where he burst onto the scene for West Coast. Judd brought a new dimension to the midfield with his ability to use his explosive speed to emerge from stoppages and deliver the ball forward. In more recent times, Joel Selwood had a dream first season with Geelong playing a role in the Cats’ premiership breakthrough. However, those two players had more experience and support around them while O’Meara is working with a young side with slighter bodies.

One thing we know is for certain: the Gold Coast Suns have got a potential superstar of the game in Jaeger O’Meara.

By Jackson Clark

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