At 189cm and rucking against Gold Coast duo Jarrod Witts and Brayden Crossley, Cameron Zurhaar was facing a mammoth task.
In just his ninth game of senior football, Zurhaar threw his hand up to play ruck and assist with the Kangaroos’ rotations.
Unfortunately, Zurhaar suffered an ankle injury during the game that would end his 2018 season but his willingness to create a contest was something that stood out to his coaches.
“I think that says it all,” North Melbourne forward-line coach Leigh Tudor told AFLPlayers.com.au after Zurhaar’s Round 7 Rising Star nomination.
“He was happy to throw his hand up for the team and confident enough in his own ability to play that role.”
Hailing from the East Fremantle Colts in the WAFL, Zurhaar has spent the past three seasons working on his football craft in hope of becoming a mainstay in North Melbourne’s best 22.
Coming into the team as a rookie, Zurhaar was eager to play straight away but spent his time working closely with North Melbourne’s coaching staff.
“He was one of those kids that came in and was eager to impress and hungry to learn,” Tudor said.
“He’s given himself every chance (of being successful) by spending time working on our game plan and how he can fit into our side.”
As a forward endurance wasn’t Zurhaar’s strength but since arriving at North Melbourne he’s worked to build his fitness base and been diligent in his rehabilitation from injury.
Zurhaar left no stone unturned during that time, using his time away from the game to do everything he could to get himself right for Round 1 this year.
“They’re the things that stand out about Cam, his willingness to be a team player,” Tudor said.
“He’s happy to learn the way that North want to play and he does everything he can to give himself that best possible chance to be on the field in the starting 18.”
After starting his season in the VFL, Zurhaar returned to North Melbourne’s senior side in Round 4 but his best performance came against Carlton where he kicked five goals from 12 kicks.
Tudor said it was pleasing to see Zurhaar rewarded for his hard work and resilience but he wasn’t surprised to see his willingness to attack the ball and pressure the opposition in full flight against Carlton.
“It’s always good to see a guy who’s come off the rookie list and shown so much promise to be able to deliver on it.”
AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES IN 2019
Round 7 — Cameron Zurhaar (NMFC)