Xavier Duursma with medical staff during the R3 match between Essendon and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on March 30, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WITH three-and-a-half minutes left on the clock and Essendon clinging on to a five-point lead against St Kilda, Xavier Duursma was caught in a one-on-one near the goalsquare with Ryan Byrnes.

Initially bumped out of position, the Bombers recruit knew he had to somehow get a finger on it. He lunged, punched the ball through and hit the deck with a bang.

The move helped secure the win, but came with a surprising, temporary cost.


Duursma got to his feet clutching his hand, initially waving away a trainer before eventually heading to the bench for the final minutes.

"I saw the ball in the contest on the (opposite) wing, and I knew I had to go. I just put my head down for two or three seconds to try and get some distance, because I knew it was coming deep," Duursma told AFL.com.au after the match.

"I looked up and knew I had to position myself, because there wasn't a hit-up lead, and I managed to get in a good contest and get it over the line.

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"I was very, very glad I got it over the line, but I had probably the worst funny bone hit in my life – I couldn't move my arm for two or three minutes. I was in some strife, so lucky I got the ball over the line."

Duursma will face former side Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Friday night in one of the showpiece matches of Gather Round.

The winger – who grew up in Gippsland in Victoria's east – is now back in his home state, with sister Yasmin having also requested a trade home from the Power to Carlton.

Xavier Duursma in action during Port Adelaide's qualifying final against Brisbane on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Third-born sibling Zane was drafted to North Melbourne last year, while youngest brother Willem is starring in the under-18s with Gippsland Power and is likely to be in the top selections of the 2025 draft.

"It's great to be around family and friends. I'm loving the whole group, they've been really great at making me feel like it's my new home, and I'm enjoying it," the eldest Duursma said.

"I cooked dinner for Yas last night, it's her birthday today (game day), so it was good to see her. It's great for her to be home too, to be back around family – it makes a massive difference in enjoying footy and life and having a good balance in both."

The Duursma family in 2022 (L-R): Susie, Dean, Xavier, Willem, Zane and Yasmin. Picture: Xavier Duursma/Instagram

Duursma said the clash against the Saints was one of the most intense games he has played, especially without suspended spearhead Peter Wright.

"The boys have done really well. I think 'Jonesy' (Harry Jones) did a terrific job, I think Kyle (Langford) did another amazing job, and then (Jake) Stringer – the whole forward line was great," he said.

"We were able to lower our eyes and find targets, and that was a big key there, in being able to lower our eyes, because we know the Saints are really good at getting numbers back. 

"Their pressure was really high early in the game, which caused our entries to be a little more messy, but once we were able to get in front of that pressure, we were able to lower our eyes and slow ourselves down and hit targets."