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Young and the restless

December 31, 2017 6:00 AM

Young: 'I am very humbled' Lewis Young spoke to BulldogsTV to reveal his guernsey number for the 2018 season
A lot has happened in Lewis Young's first 13 months at the Kennel, and what a surreal experience it has been. - Western Bulldogs,Lewis Young

A lot has happened in Lewis Young's first 13 months at the Kennel, and what a surreal experience it has been.

Almost 13 months to the day and 17-year-old Lewis Young shuffles awkwardly at his first press conference, alongside fellow draftee Patrick Lipinski.

It was November 29, four days after the 2016 NAB AFL Draft at VU Whitten Oval in Footscray, and Young’s first day at the Club.

The South Australian teenager waited patiently for four long minutes as question after question was fired at Lipinski standing to his left, but when he did speak, there was a clear calm and poise that belied his years, which looking back on now comes as no surprise.

Fast forward to December 2017 and he’s posing for a Herald Sun photographer in former captain Robert Murphy’s famous No. 2 guernsey alongside teammate Josh Dunkley in the No. 5.

How surreal that must have been.

The Club revealed the numbers of the draftees and the new recruits the day after the photoshoot, including Jackson Trengove, Hayden Crozier and Josh Schache, but it was to Dunkley, and especially Young, that the spotlight fell after he inherited Murphy’s number after just seven career games.

Young scraped into draft eligibility last year by just 11 days, where the Dogs picked him with their third selection (49th overall), making him the youngest player in the competition this season.

Track watchers and Footscray followers would have seen something in the 197cm key back as the year progressed but for most it would have been a case of ‘Lewis who?’ when he was named in side for the Round 17 clash with the Blues at the MCG.

By the final siren, though, everyone knew who the skinny No. 33 in the sleeves was.

Young equalled Chris Grant’s Club record for the most marks on debut with nine grabs, including a posterization of teammate Matthew Suckling, and helped himself to 21 disposals across half back in an impressive display that got the football world talking.

“It was unreal,” he said post-match with all of the enthusiasm of the teenager he was.

“It was the best day of my life, I couldn’t have asked for a better day at the ‘G’.”

Teammate Lachie Hunter, speaking to SEN at the time, said it was ‘one of the better debuts I’ve seen,' and coach Luke Beveridge was equally impressed.

“He did very well didn’t he?” he said after the Dogs’ 20-point win.

But in typical Young style, far from being overcome by the praise, he fronted up to the Gold Coast Suns the following week and added 16 disposals and 10 marks to his career tally.

By the time he turned 19 on December 20 this year, he’d won the Club’s Chris Grant Best First Year Player Award and took a call from the coach offering him the fabled No. 2 on the eve of the 2018 season.

“’Bevo’ (coach Luke Beveridge) rang me the day before pre-season started and said: ‘The No.2 is up for grabs and we’d love you to wear it’. It was terrific to be asked by the coach,” he told the Herald Sun.

“I’m not sure I was surprised, but I was actually quite proud of myself that I had got to a point where they would offer me that number. I was more humbled.”

Much like his big league debut though, don’t think Young feels any additional pressure taking on Murphy’s number; for him it’s about getting to work and improving.

“It’s an honour to take it from Bob, but it’s more about playing good footy in the red, white and blue than what number you’ve got on your back,” he said.

“The pre-season has been really good so far, the coaches are happy, everyone is in good shape and a quick bounce back is hopefully on the cards.”