Sport / Football

Brunswick rookie to make AFL debut

Francis Evans has been chosen on the interchange for Geelong on Friday night

Francis Evans in action as a junior for the Brunswick Dragons. Photo: Brunswick Football Club.

Staff reporter
Thursday, March 25, 2021

BRUNSWICK Secondary College graduate Francis Evans is set to make his AFL debut tomorrow night after being called up by Geelong to fill a gap left by stars Patrick Dangerfield and Sam Menegola.

The 19-year-old small forward, who learnt the game at the Gillon Oval, has been selected on the interchange for the 2020 runners-up to make his debut in front of a home crowd against the Brisbane Lions.

Evans joins Carlton’s Adam Saad, who did year 12 at BSC in 2013, in the AFL ranks.

Plucked from obscurity as the number 41 pick in the 2019 draft, the 182cm goal sneak finally gets his chance after previously being chosen as an emergency in the 2020 season, but never actually running onto the field.

Evans attended Brunswick Secondary College and booted 21 goals five matches for the Brunswick-NOBS Football Club in 2019 before he was spotted by Geelong recruiting guru Stephen Wells.

An eight-goal performance for Brunswick against the Melbourne High School Old Boys was enough to bring Wells to Gillon Oval to see the prodigy in action.

“We got a whisper that Frank was performing well in the amateur competition,” Wells told the Geelong website.

“We got some vision of that eight-goal game, we didn’t have a person there, but we certainly saw the vision. We went to watch him play and on that day my recollection is that he kicked four, he showed enough to suggest that he was worth following.

“He had a good work ethic, he was classy enough to kick goals when he got the opportunity but he also got possessions all across the front half of the ground and he was a tough kid and showed the things that are the foundation for having a good career.”

Evans is a good overhead mark and a skilful disposer of the ball on both sides of his body.

Francis Evans in his Geelong hoops.

In his final season with Brunswick and still aged just 17, Evans was nominated for the Victorian Amateur Football Association’s Rising Star Award after kicking four goals and winning 26 possessions in just his sixth game of senior football.

He was subsequently selected by the Calder Cannons in the elite state junior football competition but soon afterwards suffered a season ending heel injury after just two matches.

He is a product of the Brunswick Junior Football Club, starting in 2010 as part of the club’s inaugural team.

In his 130 junior games, he won two premierships, a Best & Fairest and the leading goal kicking award five times after kicking over 200 goals in his junior career. He also represented the Yarra Junior Football League in 2017.

He made his senior debut for the Brunswick Football Club in 2018 as a 16-year-old, playing two games late in 2018, and kicking three goals on debut.

Evans was told on Wednesday by phone during a visit home to Brunswick that he would be selected for the round two clash.

He will wear the number 31 on his back and start on the bench tomorrow night at Kardinia Park, where the Cats will seek to atone for last week’s first round loss to 2020 wooden spooners Adelaide.

Speaking to the Cats’ website on Thursday, he said he expected the 24 hours leading up to the match to be nerve-wracking but hoped to have in impact on the scoreboard on Friday night.

“Playing footy for a living is not the hardest job, it’s pretty fun,” he said. “I’m loving it.”