ON THE RISE - ALLEN CHRISTENSEN
Allen Christensen has been solid on the track so far this pre-season
On the rise: Allen Christensen
At a glance: Although he was drafted back in 2009, Christensen had to wait until 2011 to make his mark at the highest level. He soon emerged as a player to watch, winning a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination and burning off numerous opponents with his pace. His great form took him all the way to the Grand Final, in which he was among Geelong's best players as the Cats beat Collingwood. A premiership player at 20, Christensen was hoping for more of the same in 2012. But a number of injuries slowed his progress somewhat. He struck his first hurdle when he hurt his wrist during the pre-season. After being restricted to running drills for some weeks, he regained fitness in time to play in Geelong's first seven home and away matches, only to suffer another problem, this time a torn calf. He was then knocked out in his comeback game in the VFL. Nevertheless, he still played 17 games and was a vital contributor in most of them.
Plays like: Former Port Adelaide star Peter Burgoyne.
Killer quality: Christensen's pace is perhaps his greatest asset, but his clean hands and kicking skills are also first-class. He's tough as well. "I was playing through a fair bit of pain (in 2012)," he recently told AFL.com.au. "But a lot of players do it, so I don't think my teammates and coaches expected anything less. I think having to play through pain has made stronger mentally. I reckon it's made me a stronger person and a more mature footy player."
Best performance: Christensen started in the sub's vest when the Cats took on the Sydney Swans at the SCG in round 13, 2012, and he watched on as the Swans booted seven goals to one in the first quarter. Geelong was still five goals down by the time Christensen was brought into the game early in the third quarter. He quickly ignited his team, gathering 12 possessions and laying four tackles as the Cats staged a memorable comeback, with the reigning premiers hitting the front before losing by six points after Andrejs Everitt booted a goal for the Swans in the dying seconds.
What they say: "(Despite his injuries) we were still very happy with how he went. He's a very smart player, and he just needs a big pre-season to build his body up and go forward." – Geelong assistant coach James Rahilly
Stats that matter:
Seventh in clearances (47 @ 2.8 per game)
Ninth in handballs (155 @ 9.1 per game)
Ninth in tackles (59 @ 3.5 per game)
Ninth in contested possessions (144 @ 8.5 per game)
12th in goals (8.6)
AFL Fantasy: We may have until prices are officially launched but Christensen is shaping as a $350,000 forward, up from $205,000 at the start of 2012