This didn’t look good for Ben Long.
Fremantle 2019 pick No. 8, Caleb Serong, is set to make his AFL debut in round four against the Gold Coast Suns.
Serong, who played against Gold Coast’s Matt Rowell in school football last year, feels confident in his first game after seeing what his fellow first-year player was able to do in his first three AFL games.
“Matt’s a great player,” Serong told the Fremantle website. “He just attacks the contest and works so hard offensively and defensively.
“I guess, what he’s been able to do for the first couple of weeks, it does give me a lot of confidence as I have played against him a couple of times. It’s always a great challenge so I’m looking forward to playing against him on the weekend.”
Noah Anderson was also a part of the Carey side with Rowell, who Serong will also face again on AFL debut this Saturday.
Serong and co-captains Rowell and Anderson led their respective school teams, Geelong Grammar and Carey Grammar, the last time they faced each other back in 2019. In that game it was Rowell’s turn for the post-game captain’s speech, with he and Serong complimenting one another’s individual performance.
While they won’t be making captain speeches post-game on Saturday night, the youngsters will be hoping for much of the same praise from each other after their games.
Rowell and Anderson took the chocolates in that match, winning by 58 points.
Serong will be eager to come into the Fremantle side and get a win first up for the club, coach Justin Longmuir and himself.
Teammate Luke Ryan praised Serong during the week, saying that “he looks like he’s played 100 games already”.
“He’s been outstanding and during our match sim, he’s reminded me of Lachie Neale,” the defender told the club website.
Serong started his footballing journey in country Victoria in Warragul, where he progressed through the state underage levels early in his junior career as a cricketer and footballer.
After under-15s he decided that footy was his path forward and focused more on the game, but he continued his cricket when he arrived at Geelong Grammar as a football-cricket scholarship student.
Serong played a vital role in the cricketing first XI, taking a remarkable 28 wickets for the season in his AFL draft year.
As described by Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir, “There’s not much not to like about him. He’s a competitive animal and loves to bash and crash. His strength is his effort around the ball”.
It was no different on the cricketing field, where Serong competed hard and dominated with bat and ball.
“As you can probably see, I can’t wipe the smile off my face, I can’t wait,” Serong said ahead of his debut.
“(Longmuir) said to bring my strengths, just to approach the contest like I have at training, to work really hard.
“He said I’d been training well, so to take that out into game day and back my strengths.”
You can learn more about Serong’s sporting journey from a 10-minute documentary I made last year called Chasing a Dream.