'Don't like it': AFL legend snaps at 'demeaning' rookie act

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·Sports Reporter
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Tex Wanganeen, son of AFL great Gavin, debuted for Essendon on Saturday night but didn't play a single minute, in a move Bombers great Matthew Lloyd described as slightly unfair. Pictures: Channel 9
Tex Wanganeen, son of AFL great Gavin, debuted for Essendon on Saturday night but didn't play a single minute, in a move Bombers great Matthew Lloyd described as slightly unfair. Pictures: Channel 9

Former AFL great Matthew Lloyd has urged clubs not to make players in line for their first game the medical substitute, arguing it is poor recognition of an otherwise proud moment.

Under current rules, a player named as the medical substitute counts as having played a game, even if they aren't required to take the field.

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This was the case for Essendon rookie Tex Wanganeen, son of club and AFL great Gavin, who technically made his league debut on Saturday night without setting foot on the field for even a second.

It's the second time such a circumstance has emerged already this season, with St Kilda's Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera credited with making his debut against Collingwood despite playing zero minutes of game time.

Coincidentally, the Saints rookie is the nephew of Gavin Wanganeen, with the league great's relatives enduring a luckless start to their respective seasons.

Lloyd, a former teammate of Wanganeen's, said the existing system cheapened the experience of making an AFL debut and urged the league to make a change.

Speaking on the Sunday Footy Show on Channel 9, Lloyd also said club's should only pick rookies when they are ready to start, rather than the half-measure of making them the medical substitute.

“I don’t like it,” Lloyd said.

“When Gavin Wanganeen’s out there presenting (his jumper) to him, his family fly over – all these arrangements, yet the person doesn’t play one second of football.

“It’s such a special moment. We can all talk about our first moment, our first kick, what the experience was like. Ask (Wanganeen) and he won’t be able to say anything.

“I think wait until they’re good enough to be in the 22 to give them their first game and that special occasion, rather than have them sit there for the whole game.

“And then what do you do with him this week? Do you drop him?”

Co-host Tony Jones was in agreement, suggesting it was 'almost demeaning' for the Wanganeen family.

Gavin presented Tex with his jumper prior to the game, only for his son to stay planted on the bench for the entire game.

Bombers bruised after giving up quarter-time lead to Lions

Coach Chris Fagan has hailed an "astonishing" Lachie Neale after the Brisbane gun delivered a star turn to help Brisbane overrun Essendon by 22 points and maintain their unblemished start to the AFL season.

The 2020 Brownlow Medallist was clearly best on ground at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, racking up 41 disposals, two goals and 12 clearances as the Lions kicked away in the second half for a 15.7 (97) to 10.15 (75) victory.

Neale lifted after Essendon took a 22-point lead into quarter-time, helping to drive a run of six unanswered goals that set the Lions on their way.

"It was an astonishing performance, wasn't it?" Fagan told reporters.

"He just lifted and drove us across the line ... it was a special game by him. He's had a very, very good pre-season and he's very determined this year.

"He led from the front and was one of the major reasons why we were able to get a victory."

Neale's phenomenal start to the year comes months after he pondered, then decided against a return to Fremantle, but Fagan played down talks of Brownlow form.

The Bombers coughed up a quarter-time lead to fall to an 0-2 record after Saturday night's loss to Brisbane. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
The Bombers coughed up a quarter-time lead to fall to an 0-2 record after Saturday night's loss to Brisbane. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

"I think Lachie's keener for us to have a great year than he is to win a Brownlow and if those things come his way or any of our other players' way, that's great," he said.

"But it's not what I'm looking for as a coach, to be honest."

Bombers coach Ben Rutten was happy with the response to last week's thumping loss to Geelong but lamented a failure to make the most of their opportunities - both with inefficient goal kicking and in marginal moments throughout the game.

The standout came just before three-quarter time when a slow-moving James Stewart appeared to caress Zac Bailey's snap through for a point..

But on a score review, the key defender was ruled not to have touched the ball at all, which extended Brisbane's lead to 18 at a crucial point.

"That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. If we can put that beyond doubt, that saves a goal," Rutten said

"It's just lots of little moments throughout the game where we think we can be better really quickly at it.

"We created enough opportunities to be able to be right in the game or maybe win the game but we just weren't good enough to be able to take them."

With AAP

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