AFTER spending 12 months on the outer of Melbourne’s best 22, it didn’t take Sam Weideman long to settle back into life at the top level.
The 23-year-old, who has now played 32 career games, returned for his side’s Round 6 clash with the Suns – his first outing of the 2020 season.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult process for Weideman to earn a senior recall, but after finally doing so this weekend, he certainly embraced the challenge at GIANTS Stadium.
“It’s just another level,” Weideman told Melbourne Media.
“I think the scratch matches that we’ve been playing probably isn’t the same as AFL level, so it was a bit of a shock early, but I’m just so pumped we got the win – it’s a massive relief.”
Weideman’s inclusion was set to see the Demons field a taller forward line, after averaging just 50 points per game in the opening four matches of the season.
But when Tom McDonald was sidelined early with an eye injury, the load was left on Weideman’s shoulders.
“It was a shame to see Tommy go down,” he said.
“I think I probably got out-marked a little bit too much early on, but I thought I was able to work back in and sort of level contests – that was my role.
“I probably didn’t mark as many as I would’ve hoped, but just [impacting] the contests was most important.”
While the key forward had an impressive night with two goals from his seven disposals, his performance can’t be measured by the numbers alone.
Weideman’s ability to bring his teammates into the game is his greatest strength, and one which helped see the Dees claim a 17-point victory on Saturday night.
“I think the message at half-time was, we’ve got no Tommy, so we probably need that tall representation,” he said.
“So just bring the ball to ground, get our smalls involved, and we got a few goals out of that – it was really pleasing.”
At 195cm, Weideman also has the ability to chop out in the ruck, and although he didn’t spend too much time in the centre, he’s ready to free up his skipper whenever required.
“Maxy [Gawn] was phenomenal tonight,” Weideman said.
“[He] played pretty much a full game in the ruck – I didn’t have to go in there too much.
“Credit to him, he’s a workhorse and he worked so hard tonight.
“I do love going in, getting around the ball, but it wasn’t required.”
It has been a disjointed start to the year for the Dees, one which has brought frustration to the fans at home, and Weideman shares that pain.
But the former No.9 draft pick hopes the win over the Suns can prove to be a turning point in the season.
“Especially not getting the results we’re after as a whole club and probably not giving our supporters reasons to smile,” he said.
“I think to get a win tonight was really pleasing for the group and just to lead our supporters back home who are probably doing it pretty tough, it’s great and hopefully the boys can continue that going forward.”
Watch Weideman’s full post-game interview below.