Being the ‘Great White Hope’ of the oldest footy club in Australia – one that hasn’t tasted premiership success in more than 50 years – comes with a fair bit of pressure, but Jesse Hogan is doing a pretty good job of keeping a level head.
The 20-year-old Melbourne forward has lived up to the hype that began building in October, 2012, more than two years prior to his AFL debut in Round 1 this season.
He’s kicked 29 goals in 14 games so far, and has taken more contested marks (37) than anyone in the competition.
There have been comparisons to Wayne Carey and Jonathan Brown, as well as acclaim from the former-greats themselves, but Hogan is doing his best not to get swept up in the wave of praise heading his way.
“It’s pretty unreal when you hear Wayne Carey and Jonathan Brown talk about you,” Hogan told Channel Seven as part of its Sunday footy coverage.
“But you can’t look too much into it or it’ll do your head in.”
The 195cm Demon is becoming accustomed to the spotlight, and would be well aware that many young Melbourne supporters are getting his number 1 ironed onto the backs of their jumpers. But that doesn’t stop him from feeling like a kid when he runs onto the MCG.
“I’m still getting star-struck running around. They’re players I’ve watched for so long and now I finally get to play on the same ground as them.” – Jesse Hogan
“I’m still getting star-struck running around,” Hogan admitted.
“They’re players I’ve watched for so long and now I finally get to play on the same ground as them.”
Hogan lists Brown, Matthew Pavlich and Nick Riewoldt as his three footy idols. In Round 11, while Riewoldt kicked four goals at one end, Hogan kicked five at the other.
“It is nice to be compared to some of the greats of the game and players I’ve grown up watching and idolising – to be compared to them is just unreal.”
Though Hogan is modest, it’s clear he has high standards. Despite leading the competition in contested marks, he feels as though he’s not as strong in the contest as he’d like to be.
“I want to build my own brand as a footballer. I’m a pretty competitive guy and when I come up against those bigger, smarter, stronger defenders, I’m still getting thrown around a little bit, which is a bit frustrating.”
Though the 195cm, 97kg South Australian wants to build a reputation, he aims to do so by helping the Dees win, rather than by focusing on his own game.
“I don’t look too much into individual awards. I’m just glad to be out there and trying to play my role. As long as ‘Roosy’ is happy with me and keeps playing me every week, then I’m doing my job.”
For now, Hogan’s job is simple. He’s expected to compete and to learn, and is doing just that.
“There’s always something new. 13 games in, I’m really enjoying it and I’m still coming up against teams I haven’t played yet, so every week’s a new challenge and a different opponent.”