‘No one could touch him’

Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt was named as the Round 3 Rising Star nominee following his 23 touches and a goal in the win against the Demons. Former Port Adelaide player Marlon Motlop played alongside Parfitt at North Adelaide in the SANFL and shared his thoughts, exclusively to

It’s always great to see any young footballer do well at the elite level, particularly when you know the demands of the game and how hard it is to get drafted and consistently get a game.

But when you have someone from your footy club who you are connected to closely after seeing him training and developing for two years, it’s a lot more exciting.

That’s the case with Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt, who was named the Rising Star nominee for Round 3.

We both had similar upbringings in Darwin and moved away for football. It’s really satisfying to see him do well. The most exciting thing with Brandan is there is so much upside to his game and if he keeps doing what he’s doing now at 19 years old, imagine what he can do if everything falls into place and he stays fit.

I first remember Brandan as a really young kid running around the ovals in Darwin kicking the footy with that group of kids who are always at every game.

It was around the time I was making my league debut in Darwin and the same time Brandan’s father was finishing up his career as a footballer.

Brandan’s old man was heavily involved in football there and was a good player himself. He was pretty big and tough — he was well more than six foot tall and was a good running defender.

But it wasn’t until years later when I had the chance to experience Brandan as a player and get to know him a lot better as a person.

A few years ago, Brandan moved to South Australia because his mother and sister began studying there. He joined North Adelaide in the SANFL — the club I still play with today — and I was stoked to have another Darwin face at the club.

He was quiet and shy when he arrived but it would’ve helped having other Darwin lads around such as myself and Joey Anderson, who’s an ex-Carlton player. It’s handy having familiar faces there to help settle in.

It took a bit of time for the rest of the playing group to get to know Brandan but as soon as the footy came out and they saw how he conducted himself on the training track, because he works pretty hard for a young kid, a lot of blokes would’ve been surprised at how mature he was in that regard.

The first thing that strikes you on the field or at training is his ability to seem like he has so much time and composure with ball in hand.

To see that talent specifically in a teenager was pretty special. You like to think that any young kid with some serious talent will get drafted, but as we know, that doesn’t always happen. There was already a bit of hype around Brandan so it made sense to try and reduce the amount of pressure on him and help him enjoy his football, and the process of developing within our club’s program.

But once the balls came out and you saw him on the track, it was easy to see how comfortable he was at SANFL level and how that could translate to an AFL club given his age and abilities if everything went right for him.

His first game for North Adelaide was stock-standard Brandan — he seemed to have more time with the ball than anyone else on the ground. He was still very young but he was so composed and his ability to apply pressure was something that really stood out. His tackling and intensity while chasing caused a lot of headaches for the opposition.

He came in as a small forward and was in the side to create turnovers and get onto a couple of goals and he played that role to perfection. His want to chase and harass and create for us was as good as I’ve seen.

Last year, he suffered a few injuries but had something like 38 disposals in his first game back, so I went and watched his clips from that game and it was seriously like no one could touch him.

Every time he had the footy, he had time and even when there was no space between him and an opponent they just couldn’t get a hand on him — it was special to watch.

I expected him to develop during the two years we had him at North Adelaide. What he did at training and during games but also as a person around the club showed how much he developed by the time he walked out of the club’s doors.

The big thing around the club was how much respect he had for those around him. He is a really good, down to earth kid and that probably extends back to his family in Darwin.

If you ask anyone at North Adelaide about what he is like as a person, they would say he’s really well-mannered and respected by the playing group and to top it off he is an outstanding young footballer as well.

Once he gets comfortable, He loves a joke and loves to pay you out. He doesn’t mind throwing a bit of banter around, which is always great to have around.

It’ll be interesting to see how he goes at Geelong once he becomes comfortable, I know Steven Motlop loves to get involved in the banter around the club, so it’ll be great to see those two together after a while.

Brandan is also the second Rising Star nominee in as many weeks that has an affiliation with North Adelaide. Ryan Burton received last week’s nomination and he played through the junior and senior program at the Roosters before being drafted by the Hawks.

The club puts a lot of time into their juniors. I know the football managers put a lot of time into developing the younger talent. Every week we put another couple of lads from the under-18s program to train with the senior team throughout the season.

Brandan has had a lot of significant influences to get him this far and it’s a credit to them all for what he’s become and, from my point of view, it’s especially satisfying knowing someone who shares a similar pathway get a chance to really excel in the AFL.


Round 1 — Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide)
Round 2 — Ryan Burton (Hawthorn)
Round 3 — Brandan Parfitt (Geelong)