Darcy Hourigan in action against Vic Metro on Friday
DARCY Hourigan plays footy with a minimum of fuss. He grabs marks, goes back and kicks goals, barges through packs and leads until he has the ball in his hands.
On Friday, the South Australian forward chipped in with three goals in his side's three-point win over Vic Metro
, for a total of 13 goals in South Australia's campaign.
And next Wednesday he will lead his state's forward line against Western Australia at Etihad Stadium, when a win will give South Australia its first NAB AFL Under-18 Championships division one title (it won an under-17 Teal Cup competition in 1995).
Hourigan will deal with that pretty well. The 191cm and 93kg 17-year-old has managed these sorts of things for at least a couple of seasons.
NAB Under-18 Championships hub
When he was 15, Hourigan created history at his SANFL club South Adelaide, becoming the youngest senior player in the club's history.
For Hourigan, then a defender, it came as a surprise.
He had been playing well in the reserves' side but was young and without the experience of others. Not that it overawed him – he didn't have time to let it do that.
"Ronny Fuller (Panthers coach) was happy with how I was playing in the twos as a 15-year-old and I got the go-ahead," Hourigan told AFL.com.au
"I was at school and my phone was going off and I didn't know the number, so at recess I called the number and it was Ronnie, who said I was playing. About 30 minutes later I got another phone call from an unknown number and I thought 'What's going on here?'
"It was actually a television station giving me a buzz and they did a wrap on me. It all happened pretty fast and I had to take it all in pretty quickly."
Hourigan, an AIS-AFL Academy member, showed his consistency against Metro, and was pleased by the way he has been able to translate some form for the Panthers back to under-18 level.
At the start of the year he made a conscious effort to improve his running and second and third efforts, and feels the work paying off.
"The boys hit me up quite well across half-forward and I was pretty happy with the delivery. I could've kicked a couple more (he also kicked three behinds) but we got the win and that's the most important thing," he said.
"Playing back home at SANFL has helped develop me, because I wanted to build up my weight and strength, so I could get to this level and exploit that and become a better player."
"We have a really good forward structure and it's working well for Luke Reynolds, Mitch Harvey and myself."
Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.