The wait for Fletcher Roberts’ 50th AFL match has finally ended, and in style at that.
Each week this season, the AFL has announced the ‘upcoming milestones’ – with Roberts caught on 49 matches.
But the key defender played his milestone match on Saturday, with minimal fuss.
A late inclusion for ruckman Tim English, Roberts came in and played his role to perfection as the Bulldogs recorded a 16-point win against the Brisbane Lions at Mars Stadium.
It was his first AFL game since the Bulldogs’ most recent hit-out in Ballarat, in round 19 last season.
“We’re really happy with the win, we played really well as a team,” Roberts told westernbulldogs.com.au after the win.
“I was lucky enough to play my 50th game today, which was pretty exciting and it was good to gel with team again. It’s been a while since I’ve played with boys, and it was good that they welcomed me with warm arms.
“It means a lot to me to be able to play 50 AFL games.
“I treated it like any other game. I came with the mindset to help my teammates out as much as I could, and just prove to them that I can be a good teammate at AFL level.”
Roberts, making his third appearance at AFL level in the past two seasons, certainly didn’t look out of place.
Channelling that team-first mindset, the 25-year-old had nine one-percenters for the match – with only Brisbane’s Harris Andrews (15) and Dogs’ skipper Easton Wood (10) recording more.
He played an important role in a strong performance from the Bulldogs’ back six, keeping the Lions’ dangerous forward line to just 11 goals for the day and helping to restrict the influence of tall targets Eric Hipwood, Dan McStay and Oscar McInerney.
“They had some tall timber,” Roberts said.
“I’ve been doing that (role) in the VFL and just being able to transfer that to the AFL is the next step.
“We pride ourselves on being able to play on a lot of different players, and helping each other out in defence is the main thing.
“That’s the way we try to play and set up, so it was a good sign today.”
Roberts said the mood within the group was one of excitement after back-to-back wins.
“Everyone’s really positive at the moment, we’re playing some pretty good footy,” he said.
“We think we can come up against the best and really to take it to them, which is obviously a good sign, and we’re building some momentum which is great.”