Former Strathmerton young gun Louis Pinnuck made his debut in the VFL on Saturday, taking to the field for the Werribee Tigers in their win against Collingwood’s VFL side.
The Murray Bushrangers recruit returned to his old stomping ground at Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval and was solid in his debut as Werribee’s 23rd man in the 11-point win.
Having grown up on a dairy farm in Strathmerton, the 18-year-old Werribee recruit has done his share of work on the family property and has never been afraid of a bit of hard yakka.
‘‘He always did milking and helped with the hay and tractor work in the holidays and things like that,’’ his mother Paula Hansen said.
Throwing in up to two hours of travel to get to footy training would no doubt prove too much for most teenagers in the same position, but Pinnuck embraced the challenge.
‘‘He was always so keen,’’ said Hansen, who is also the treasurer at Strathmerton Football Netball Club, where her son played his junior football.
‘‘He’s just a really self-motivated kid. We’ve never pushed him to do anything more.
‘‘We even tried to encourage him to have a bit more time out now and then,’’ she said.
Overlooked in last year’s AFL draft despite initial interest from a number of clubs, Pinnuck flirted with the idea of a move to South Australia to try his hand in the SANFL.
But with Werribee having turned the north-east into something of a recruiting zone in recent years, the chance to line up alongside friends and fellow Bushrangers was too good to pass up.
‘‘There was a heap of country blokes here already,’’ Pinnuck said of his decision to commit to the Tigers.
‘‘It just makes it a lot more comfortable. There are a lot of good people here.
‘‘Obviously, it’s a lot closer than Adelaide, but I’ve really enjoyed the people here as well, so that’s probably the biggest thing for me.’’
Along with best friend and now roommate Harry Boyd, who also made the trip south to Avalon Airport Oval after finishing up at the Bushrangers last year, Pinnuck has thrived in his new environment, earning his senior call-up as 23rd man on the back off a three-goal haul running off the wing in a recent game for the club’s development side.
Senior coach John Lamont has been impressed with Pinnuck’s versatility and sees him as being able to play roles both in the midfield and down back.
‘‘He’s asking a lot of the right questions, he competes well, he’s got the ability to absorb pressure, and he generally makes good decisions with the ball when he’s kicking it,’’ Lamont said.
‘‘He’s made a really positive start, and he’s one we identified early who we thought would be an early 23rd player.’’
The game at Wangaratta gave Pinnuck the chance to play in front of friends, family, and former teammates at the Bushrangers’ home base.