Main content

Young Blood Ronke in seventh heaven

Young Swan stars with seven stunners Ben Ronke has a night out with seven majors to sink the Hawks

MOST people – including AFL commentators and his own coach – still don't know if his name is pronounced 'Ronk' or 'Ronkey'.

But Ben Ronke, Sydney's latest rookie-list success story, via Calder Cannons and before that amateur side St Bernard's, gave everyone seven great reasons on Friday night to get to know him.

(For the record, it's 'Ronk')

SWANS IN A THRILLER Full match coverage and stats

The 20-year-old took the road less travelled to the AFL before choosing the competition's marquee timeslot, amid one of the game's fiercest rivalries, for his coming-out party.

Ronke's seven-goal haul against Hawthorn – in just his third game after getting his chance as effectively Lance Franklin's replacement in round six – was the ideal tonic on a wintry night at the MCG.

These types of performances always have a back story and his coach John Longmire revealed afterwards he had some initial concerns on the night about the man of the moment.

"I walked out of the coaches' room and he was just about to walk in and I asked him where he was going and he said, 'I don't know how to get out on the ground'," Longmire said.

"It slipped my mind he hadn't actually been here, or played out of these rooms, so I had to guide him to get out on the ground, so I'm glad he found his way when he got out there."

Ronke's was one of the more enjoyable bags, with hardly a straightforward goal in sight.

WATCH: Ronke gets started with number one

He had four of them by quarter-time, becoming only the second Swan this century (thanks to Channel 7 stats whiz Josh Kay) behind Barry Hall to do so.

The first was a wonderful snap; the second a soccer from the goal square – but after expertly putting Taylor Duryea off balance – then the third a great finish on an angle after an underground Josh Kennedy handball.

WATCH: Number two's not far behind

All this despite his early mission appearing to be to shutdown evergreen Hawk Shaun Burgoyne, who he caught holding the ball in a bruising tackle on the tick of the first break.

The boy from Essendon celebrated his subsequent goal from the free kick in trademark style with a double-fist pump.

"(Burgoyne)'s an incredible player – I've got a lot of respect for him, I've watched him for a long time growing up – so I was lucky enough to stay on him," Ronke told 3AW post-match.

"He's a smart footy player, he took me to the ball a couple of times and I tried to utilise that to my favour as much as I could."

WATCH THE FINISH Friday night's last two minutes

The MCG was staging the unlikeliest of shootouts, with the more high-profile Jack Gunston boasting three of his own goals to quarter-time.

But this was Ronke's night – a fact rammed home when he marked just outside 50m, cheekily opted to take on Ben McEvoy, was legged as he burst past, then recovered to slot his fifth on the run.

WATCH: Five down and it's still the first half

By then his 12 pressure acts were two more than anyone else on the field.

And just when we thought Ronke had run out of steam after a goalless third term, admittedly while still adding three tackles to give him eight by the final break (he finished with 10), he bobbed up again.

He snatched a ground ball out of James Sicily's grasp, turned on a six-pence in heavy traffic and blasted through a close-range goal five minutes into the fourth quarter to knot the scores.

WATCH: It's six and it's going down to the wire

The Ronke was back, and still the fairytale had more to give.

Back-to-back Sydney goals had the visitors clinging to a two-point lead and the Swans pumped the ball deep inside 50, only for Ronke – all 182cm of him – to emerge with the ball.

His seventh major was his easiest, but easily his most satisfying, with the kid no-one wanted suddenly the flavour of the night.

WATCH: Seventh heaven gets the Swans home

That theme continued into the rooms, where every microphone available was shoved under Ronke's nose, to try to see if he could explain what had just happened.

"It's a bit surreal," he offered to ABC radio on the fuss about him.

"I just try to answer the questions as best as I can, but it's a great feeling and to get it done with a group of blokes like that – I'm just stoked."

WATCH: Ben Ronke's on-ground interview

Ben Ronke's big night of firsts
First player in VFL/AFL history to kick seven goals and have 10+ tackles At 20 years and 144 days, the youngest Swan to kick seven goals in a game since Silvio Foschini in round four, 1982
The only Swan besides Lance Franklin to kick seven goals since Adam Goodes kicked eight in round 19, 2008 First player to kick seven goals or more at the MCG since Travis Cloke in round 10, 2015
Youngest player from any club to kick seven goals since Jeremy Cameron in 2013 First Swan to kick four first-term goals since Barry Hall in 2002

TAKEN THE FRIDAY FOOTY QUIZ? Get the AFL on Messenger and type 'Start Quiz'

$(document).ready(function(){ document.getElementById("interaction").innerHTML = ''; });