Dogs' Rising Star nomination a sweet reward

Dogs' Rising Star nomination a sweet reward

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“It’s a really exciting time at the club at the moment.”

The Western Bulldogs’ good fortunes have continued, with Mitch Honeychurch claiming the Rising Star nomination for Round 2.

Playing just his fifth AFL game, the 20-year-old collected 18 disposals, six tackles, four marks, three clearances and a goal in the club’s 19-point win over the Tigers on Saturday.

“He’s a real hard-nut and his defensive pressure when he’s forward is outstanding” – Luke Beveridge

Honeychurch, listed at just 177cm and 68kg, plays a small forward role but is capable of bursts in the midfield. He was taken by the Dogs with pick 60 in the 2013 National Draft.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge praised Honeychurch’s forward pressure on Channel 7’s Talking Footy on Monday night.

“Mitch had some injuries and had some surgery in the off-season, which has actually freed him up a bit.

“He’s a real hard-nut and his defensive pressure when he’s forward is outstanding. We just need to round him off with some finish.”

Honeychurch says he’s enjoying the specialised small forward role.

“My main focus is at the contest,” Honeychurch told AFL.com.au.

“’Bevo’ really likes my pressure and my tackling, so he tries to get me up the ground as much as he can and then work my opponent back over inside 50 and hopefully get on the end of a couple of goals.”

Having played just three AFL matches in 2014, Honeychurch appears set to receive more senior opportunities – particularly given the departures of Adam Cooney, Ryan Griffen, the retirement of Daniel Giansiracusa and the season-ending injury to last year’s best and fairest winner, Tom Liberatore.

“Losing ‘Libba’ was a massive loss, but I think other guys like Mitch Wallis and Marcus Bontempelli have stepped up dramatically” – Honeychurch

“Losing ‘Libba’ was a massive loss, but I think other guys like Mitch Wallis and Marcus Bontempelli have stepped up dramatically,” Honeychurch said.

“‘Wal’s’ going really well and I get in there when I can. ‘Bevo’ likes to mix it up in there – I think about 12 or 13 blokes went through there on the weekend.

“I don’t see myself replacing Libba anytime soon,”

Honeychurch is the sixth Bulldog to claim a Rising Star nomination since 2013, with Nathan Hrovat, Marcus Bontempelli and Jake Stringer receiving nominations last year and Jackson Macrae and Michael Talia getting the nod in 2013.

Fellow midfielder Mitch Wallis was also nominated in 2012.

Speaking to westernbulldogs.com.au after receiving the Rising Star nomination, Honeychurch said, “the mood’s pretty good at the moment. It’s the first time since ’09 that we’ve had a 2-0 start. The vibe will only get better as we get through the week.”

The Western Bulldogs will take on Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium in Tasmania on Sunday.

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