Aussie cricket great Simon O’Donnell has given an emotional speech as he presented his son James his Bulldogs guernsey before his AFL debut against the Blues on Saturday night.
O’Donnell will make his debut replacing Adam Treloar, who’s out with a hamstring injury.
He was only signed as a category B rookie last month, having spent much of his teens chasing the cricket dream as a fast bowler.
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In presenting his son with his first guernsey, Simon recalled when James came home from his first AFL match simulation after graduating from the club’s VFL program.
“He came home, and he sat down and said ‘I just had the best time’,” he said.
“I said ‘why’? and he said ‘Bont (Marcus Bontempelli) bowled me over twice’.
“He’s the only bloke I’ve ever known who’s come home thinking getting smashed up is a good thing, ‘because I got smashed up by someone that I actually can’t believe I’m on the same sporting field as’.”
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said James has “been unbelievably impressive with everything he’s done”.
“We had our doubts he’d be able to complete a pre-season seeing he hasn’t really played much footy,” Beveridge said.
“It surprised us that everything we threw at him he was able to manage, and we’ve been able to school him in a couple of roles and try to prepare him.”
Simon said James’ debut would be an emotional moment for the whole family.
“James’ sense of team – I know I’m his dad – is quite extraordinary. He wants to do well, but he wants everyone to do well.
“You won’t understand how much he’ll enjoy the journey and what he’s about to do, and you guys have given him the opportunity to do this weekend.”
The Bulldogs take on the Blues at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, where O’Donnell has been named on the bench.
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