Main content
Melbourne Football Club

Hunt set to debut against Pies

Jayden Hunt calls his mum Watch Jayden Hunt call his mum to tell her he will be debuting against Collingwood

MELBOURNE has named dashing utility Jayden Hunt for his first AFL match, with the recently-turned 21-year-old set to debut against Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday.

Hunt will be the fifth player to debut for Melbourne this year – and the third to play their first AFL game with the red and blue in 2016.

Tomas Bugg and Ben Kennedy, who played with Greater Western Sydney and Collingwood respectively, made their debut for Melbourne against GWS in round one, along with Clayton Oliver, who received the NAB AFL Rising Star after starring in his first AFL game.  

Last round, Queenslander Josh Wagner made his AFL debut against North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena. And now Hunt will become the 1326th player to play an AFL match for Melbourne since 1897.

Hunt found out on Thursday afternoon that he had been selected, after teammate James Harmes and coach Paul Roos hatched a plan to tell him the news.  

“I was actually sitting on the toilet and Harmesy (James Harmes) came in and said ‘Roosy’s looking for you, you’re in a bit of trouble’,” he told Melbourne TV.

“I didn’t know what was up and I went around [to Roos’ office] and Roosy was in with someone else. I was just sitting there nervously and I didn’t know what was up. He called me in and told me I was playing, so I’m pleased and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Hunt said he was determined not to fall for the trap of being ‘in trouble’ when told of his debut.

“He (Roos) has done it a few times [to players]. I’m a bit smarter than some people like ‘Clarry’ (Clayton Oliver), so I saw through it, but I was still very nervous [when I met with Roos] to see what it was all about,” he said with a laugh.  

Hunt then rang his parents – initially he didn’t get through to his mum, and then he tried his dad, who was away in China. Upon a second call to his mum, Hunt got through, with his Mum answering on the golf course.

The conversation – captured on Melbourne TV – was a memorable one for Hunt and his mum.

“I knew she’d be very excited … she’d just finished golf and I couldn’t understand a word she was saying – she was screaming,” he said.

“She was actually with Wattsy’s (Jack Watts) mum, because they play golf together … but she was very excited by it.”

An exciting half-back, winger or half-forward, Hunt said his pace, evasiveness and ability to break the lines were his key attributes.

He said it had been quite a journey to get to this point, after he was selected at No.57 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft.

“I’m a naturally skinny lad and I came to the club at 70kgs, but I’ve added about 13kgs since then, so the weights program is definitely important for someone like me and especially the diet. I’ve had to get my body strong enough for AFL, so that’s super important,” he said.

“It means heaps. It’s been pretty hard the past two years, missing heaps of games. It’s a credit to all of the fitness staff and the physios for getting me on the track, so I’m finally here.

“It’s been a long time in rehab, and it’s good to finally get through a pre-season and get some games strung together, so I’m very excited.”

Hunt conceded he had some doubts about making it at the highest level after injury – predominately a back problem – curtailed much of his 2014-15.

“Midway through last year was the turning point, when I hadn’t done too much from when I was drafted,” he said.

“When I got out of rehab, I had a talk to some of the senior players. They said it was time to step up, otherwise you might not see yourself here in six months.

“I got a good structured program in place with all of the coaches and watched a lot of vision, and since then I’ve come on in leaps and bounds. There were certainly doubts, but I made a promise to myself that I’d give it the biggest crack I’ve got.”

As for how he thinks he’ll feel on game day, Hunt said he’ll “definitely” be a little bit nervous.

“Once the siren goes, I’ll get into game mode and I’ll have a few friends watching, which will be good. Hopefully we can put on a strong performance,” he said.

The moment Jayden Hunt was told by Paul Roos that he will play this week. (Photo: Matthew Goodrope)