OUTSTANDING young key forward Jesse Hogan says his 2015 NAB AFL Rising Star victory was a reflection of where the club is heading – rather than his individual performance.
A humble Hogan reflected on his outstanding year and Ron Evans Medal win, when he became the second Demon behind Jared Rivers in 2004 to claim the Rising Star. Melbourne also rounded out the top five this year, when Angus Brayshaw finished fifth in the Rising Star.
“It’s an individual award and you don’t look too much into that. I think it’s more of a reflection of the team and where we’re at with two players in the top five,” Hogan told Dee TV.
“It shows that we’ve got that youth and that we’re developing the right way. You don’t really want to reflect on individual rewards, but at the same time, it’s a team environment and it comes off the back of that.
“I’m just glad that I could have an impact and play my role each week and get a game … and just play my role.
Although it was Hogan’s third season at the club, it was just his second officially on the senior list.
Arriving at Melbourne after being claimed via the GWS trade incentive rule in the 2012 off-season, Hogan spent 2013 playing for Casey, where he booted 39 goals and won the best and fairest with the Scorpions.
His first official year on Melbourne’s list in 2014 proved to be a frustrating one, as he managed two NAB Challenge matches, before missing the entire season – except for two games late in the VFL season – due to a back injury.
Reflecting on his first three years in the AFL system, Hogan said it had been “a rollercoaster” period.
“I don’t think that anyone has had the same start to an AFL career that I’ve had,” he said, referring to the fact that he was tied to an AFL club but not officially on an AFL list.
“When you get to the club, there’s no script. It’s never going to be written out how it’s going to play out and you never know what’s going to happen. That’s the excitement of AFL football and being an AFL footballer.
“It’s been a very interesting journey for me so I’ve learned a lot from it. Not a lot of players have been through what I’ve been through on and off the field, so it’s been good.”
Although his back injury effectively sidelined him in 2014, he never lost faith in his ability to bounce back this year.
“It wasn’t ideal, but I had confidence in myself. We have an elite fitness and strength department and I had a lot of confidence going into the start of the year with my body,” he said.
“Mentally, it was bit tougher missing last year and sitting on the hype that people had been building up and not knowing where I was at.
“I played some pretty poor NAB Challenge games by my standards and then I went into the year not knowing what I was going to do or what I was going to be capable of. It wasn’t ideal but I’ve come out the other side a better player and I’ve learned from the year and learned from that injury. You’ve got to take the positives out of it.”
Still, Hogan said he couldn’t have anticipated how his 2015 would pan out.
“Coming into an AFL season, you have no idea what to expect. You’re playing against some of the stars and idols that you’ve watched for so long and you think twice, ‘am I really out here playing with these players?’” he said.
“Running out on the ‘G for my first home game and getting a win was unbelievable. Then we’d have big losses and you come to the reality that it can close in on you pretty quick.
“You’re always on your toes, especially at a club like Melbourne where we’ve struggled a bit over the past few years. You just never know what you’re going to get, but I’ve really enjoyed it – it’s all part of the adventure.”