Record-breaking Norwood premiership player James Aish has made a swift impact in the AFL, receiving this week’s Rising Star nomination for his match-winning effort in Brisbane’s first win of the season. round six.
Aish tallied 25 possessions, four tackles and a goal last Friday as the Lions beat St Kilda by three points in Wellington.
The 18-year-old was taken with pick No.7 in last year’s draft and has played all six games of the season to date.
“James is a tremendous young man and his ability to make an immediate impact at AFL level has been impressive,” Lions coach Justin Leppitsch said of the South Australian product.
The Aish story is already a remarkable one – he became the youngest Norwood player in 134 years to debut at league level when he took the field at age 16.
He has since played in two SANFL premierships (2012 and 2013), also receiving Under 18 All-Australian honours in both those years.
His football pedigree is pure class: he is the son of former Norwood midfielder Andrew Aish and the nephew of 1981 Magarey Medallist Michael Aish and the grandson of former skipper Peter Aish.
James is now part of a young Lions group that’s building a new chapter for Brisbane under coach Justin Lepptisch.
Aish (25 touches, eight marks and a goal) stood tall alongside Nick Robertson (18 disposals) and Lewis Taylor (two goals) in the win over Richmond.
Fellow draftees Darcy Gardiner and Tom Cutler also impressed.
Leppitsch admitted he carried on “like an idiot” in the stands savouring the maiden victory but West said their influential youngsters had kept a level head ahead of another timely litmus test this weekend.
“It is great for the young guys to get that experience. It shows we can compete with the good sides,” West said.
“But we have to be consistent.”
To put the Lions’ inexperience into perspective, on Easter Thursday Brisbane fielded a side with 10 players that had yet to play 25 AFL games.
The only two other clubs that have done that in recent years were expansion teams Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.
After some baby steps the Lions’ youngsters are starting to find their feet.
Remarkably Aish, 18, leads the club in total marks and ranks seventh overall in disposals and tackles after six rounds.
But the Lions must lift again this weekend against a Sydney side that may just boast the big four of Adam Goodes, Lance Franklin, Sam Reid and Kurt Tippett for the first time.
– with AAP
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