MITCH WINS NAB RISING STAR
ANOTHER of the Western Bulldogs' exciting pups has received a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination, with Mitch Honeychurch taking home the round two gong.
The 20-year-old impressed with his hardness and dash in just his fifth career game, as Luke Beveridge's Dogs overcame Richmond by 19 points at the MCG.
In an all-round performance, Honeychurch collected 18 disposals – nine contested – used the ball at 78 per cent efficiency, laid six tackles, won three clearances and booted 1.1
"I thought my pressure was good, my tackling was good and I got on the end of a couple of kicks," Honeychurch told AFL.com.au.
"My main focus is at the contest. 'Bevo' really likes my pressure and my tackling, so he tries to get me up the ground as much as he can and then work my opponent back over inside 50 and hopefully get on the end of a couple of goals.
"I enjoyed the game, it was my first time on the 'G, which was great."
Listed at 68kg, Honeychurch has bulked up by several kilos over summer to compliment his work at the coalface.
While the 176cm midfielder is better prepared for the physicality of AFL football, he said it has been a team effort to replace the grunt work of Tom Liberatore, who is out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
"Losing 'Libba' was a massive loss, but I think other guys like Mitch Wallis and Marcus Bontempelli have stepped up dramatically," Honeychurch said.
"'Wal's' going really well and I get in there when I can. 'Bevo' likes to mix it up in there – I think about 12 or 13 blokes went through there on the weekend.
"I don't see myself replacing Libba anytime soon," said Honeychurch, who played his junior footy with Vermont in Melbourne's Eastern Football League.
Despite the loss of their 2014 best and fairest winner, the hype surrounding the Bulldogs continues to grow after their undefeated start – and with good reason.
Since 2012, only Greater Western Sydney (13) has had more Rising Star nominees than the Dogs and Adelaide (seven each).
Honeychurch, pick 60 in the 2013 draft, follows in the footsteps of Jake Stringer, Nathan Hrovat, Bontempelli, Michael Talia, Jack Macrae and Wallis – and only Hrovat didn't feature in last Saturday's win over the Tigers.
"We're all improving. It's really exciting at the club at the moment," Honeychurch said.
"The mood's really good and to get two wins on the board in the first two weeks is fantastic.
"But we don't want to get too carried away. It's going to be a really tough contest this weekend down in Tassie against the Hawks."