An expected Brisbane downpour could scupper Harry Sharp’s chances of a shock AFL debut when the Lions open their season against Sydney on Saturday.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan admitted the 18-year-old’s name would be in the mix along with Rhys Mathieson, Ely Smith, Cameron Ellis-Yolman and Tom Berry when the match committee sat later on Friday to decide who replaces the injured Cameron Rayner to face the Swans.
Even being in the conversation is an incredible feat for the year 12 student, who was taken with pick 43 in last year’s AFL draft after winning the 2000m Australian under-18 steeplechase championship.
Still only able to train with his teammates outside of school hours, Sharp took his chance with an influential performance after Rayner was injured in a trial game against the Gold Coast.
After running a sub-nine-minute 3km time trial in January he’s shown he has the temperament and skill to match his pace across the ground.
“He probably did better than we expected, to be truthful,” Fagan said of Sharp’s effort against the Suns.
“He had quite an impact; he certainly came from a long way back before that game and he’s now put himself in the frame.
“Because he’s been an elite athlete he understands how to train – for an 18-year-old his professionalism is incredible.”
Fagan admitted, though, that forecast rain would play a part in selection, with storms expected at the Gabba on Saturday meaning a bigger body like Mathieson or Ellis-Yolman could be more practical.
“We need to work out the type we want in the game because it might be a bit wet, so we’ll have a think about that this afternoon,” Fagan said.
The coach admitted Thursday’s season opener at the MCG also threw up some surprises as he contends with how to manage the addition of a 23rd man as an injury substitute.
“We’ll probably work that out as we go along; who would have thought that (Carlton’s) Oscar McDonald could come on and make an impact as a big tall forward but he did,” Fagan said.
“Logically you’d think guys that can play a number of positions is the way to go but you may have flexibility within the team to move others around.
“I’m not trying to exploit them (the injury substitute rule) just follow it; the AFL in good faith have brought that sub in so I’d be disappointed if coach’s try to exploit it.”