Debut jitters: ‘I had no idea what I was doing’
Watching Lions star Harris Andrews ply his trade as one of the premier key defenders in the AFL, it is hard to believe he ever had any self-doubts.
With his trademark intercept marking and spoiling, Andrews was one of Brisbane's best in the 12-point win over Fremantle at the Gabba on Saturday oozing the class, composure and courage that made him an All-Australian in 2019 and a State of Origin selection earlier this year.
The 23-year-old will play his 100th senior match this Saturday night when the Lions host West Coast. Brisbane teammate and four-time Hawthorn premiership player Grant Birchall will also celebrate a milestone with his 250th AFL appearance.
The Aspley junior is a product of the Brisbane Lions Academy and made his AFL debut in the 79-point loss to Richmond in Round 3, 2015, kicking one goal and collecting nine possessions as a forward and relieving ruckman.
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"I wasn't really too sure what I was doing out there to be perfectly honest. As a forward and chopping out Stef Martin in the ruck … it feels like a long time ago,'' Andrews said.
"But on the other hand, it also feels like it has gone incredibly quickly too.
"As a footy club we've had a lot of change and a lot of growth and I'm happy to have been a part of it. I'm really proud to be playing 100 games for the Lions.
"Last season was a real highlight. Just the overall season and the day we played Geelong up here and Linc McCarthy took that mark was right up there.
"To experience finals, even though the results were not what we wanted, was great considering my first few years were quite tough.''
Andrews is part of a core of players that have grown together along with fellow defender Darcy Gardiner and swingman Dan McStay who brought up their 100-game milestones last season. He said the foundation is there for more success.
"We were getting some big bags kicked on us at the start and there were some dark times but there's been a lot of progression and a lot of good relationships built that will help us chalk up the wins if we keep working hard,'' he said.
"When you get to around that 70 or 80-game mark you see the game a bit better. I felt that way in the last couple of seasons with that bit of experience behind me and I've had some really good leaders at the footy club who helped me develop that."
But ever the team-first man, Andrews said he should not be in the limelight this week.
"It is Birch's 250th too so hopefully that takes a lot of attention away from me. It's an awesome achievement for him,'' he said.
Andrews said while it was a relief to come away with the win over the fast-finishing Dockers, the Lions would have to go up a gear against the Eagles.
"It was a strange game. We started well and then let ourselves down a little bit. But it was good to see we were able to do a few things that we've been working on to finish off games after we lost a couple of close ones last season,'' he said.
"We were able to stand up and stop the bleeding but we'll learn from it and improve. I felt like I was able to get in some good spots early in the game but I can learn from that as well.
"West Coast next week with Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling will be tough so we'll have work to do.''
Originally published as Debut jitters: 'I had no idea what I was doing'