Young defender Luke Cleary says it was surreal to make his debut against Collingwood on Friday night.

The 20-year-old impressed across the halfback line with 13 disposals and seven marks in his first senior outing.

“It was a pretty surreal moment to be honest, I had all of my mates and my family here, so that was great, but even coming down the race to all the fans and giving them a high-five – it’s stuff you’ve always sort of dreamt of,” Cleary said.


“You think about (playing AFL) your whole life, so to actually be doing it is pretty amazing. I’m a bit lost for words and still coming down from that high, but I’m just absolutely thrilled.”

Cleary said he felt quite comfortable on-field, despite the difference in intensity and speed, and praised a defensive duo for their leadership throughout the game.

“Obviously the time and space you have is much less, and there’s perceived pressure that comes with the crowd – it’s quite different to anything else I’ve experienced,” he said.

“I’m sure I’ll be better for the run if I get another opportunity this week to work on a few things. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity and loved every minute out there.

“Doc (Taylor Duryea) and Alex Keath – both are always talking and are really strong voices down back.

“They’re two that I really look up to with the way they go about it, obviously from a leadership point of view but also just the way they play.”