ROUND 1 of the AFL season is always an exciting time for footy fans, and there’s even greater interest this year for South Gippslanders with Leongatha’s newest AFL captains facing off at the MCG.
Hawthorn skipper Jarryd Roughead and Essendon’s Dyson Heppell will do battle at the MCG on Saturday night in front of an expected crowd of 80,000 to 90,000, with many Leongatha locals planning to make the trip to the ‘G.
The match will mark the return for both players, with Roughy recovering from a cancer scare last season to lead the Hawks, while Dyson returns to action after an enforced year off.
Speaking to the Herald Sun on AFL captain’s day on Thursday, Roughy was his usual modest self.
“I don’t think it will be emotional. It is a little bit about me (coming back), but I don’t really want it about that either,” he said.
“It’s round one, Hawthorn versus Essendon, and there’s going to be 80 or 90,000, it’s going to be a pretty big night.”
He was also looking forward to representing his home town.
“Two kids from a small town like that to be in the middle of the ‘G flipping a coin, it will be pretty cool,” he said.
Essendon supporter Ken Fleming will be one of the many Leongatha faithful in the crowd on Saturday night.
He coached Roughy as a junior and saw Dyson progress through the ranks.
He said it was a given that Roughy would play AFL from a young age.
“I didn’t think he’d play in four premierships but I knew he was going to be good,” he said.
“It was the same with Dyson, he was always going to play AFL – he was a standout.
“Even if you don’t follow their clubs, everyone has a fairly big interest in what they’re doing. It’s a pretty big deal to have two players from a country club as captains of AFL sides, especially when they both didn’t play last year.”