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Sonic boom: Eagle's rapid rise to cult hero status

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Round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Jack Petruccelle - AFL,West Coast Eagles,Jack Petruccelle,Rising Star
Round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Jack Petruccelle

EVERYTHING Jack Petruccelle does is quick, and his rapid rise to cult hero status at West Coast is no different.  

Only eight games into his career, Petruccelle is already a fan favourite, bringing Optus Stadium crowds to life whenever he gets the ball and tucks it under his arm. 

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The 20-year-old's blistering runs have become so popular he has been nicknamed 'Sonic the Hedgehog', and recently featured in a fan-made video showing him outrunning Usain Bolt, racing cars and greyhounds to the tune of Queen's hit Don't Stop Me Now that went viral. 

"I have seen it, I had a good laugh with my mum watching that. She couldn’t stop laughing, she was in hysterics," Petruccelle said on Tuesday after being named the round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

"None of the players call me that (Sonic). I think it's just a fan thing. I just get 'Petch' from the players." 

 

Petruccelle had a taste of AFL in three games in his debut season last year, but has come on in leaps and bounds after a huge off-season.  

The zippy half-forward eyed retired sharpshooter Mark LeCras' spot and improved his engine to the point where he is staying involved in games for longer.  

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"I was a bit off in that area last year, so that was a big focus of mine," Petruccelle said.

"I'm still not there, but I'm a lot better than I was last year in that space.

"In terms of metres per minute, I was about 115m last year, this year I've been about 130m, and the 2km time trial was a good showing in that in pre-season.

"It's definitely helped me find it (the footy) more."

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Petruccelle's best effort last season was seven disposals and two goals against Port Adelaide in his second game. 

But in 2019 he has gone to another level, and booted 5.2 – including 2.2 to half-time, the Eagles' entire score - from 18 touches as the only shining light in a Good Friday loss to the Power.   

 

In Willie Rioli's absence due to a foot injury, Petruccelle's lightning pace has been a more than handy addition to the forward line, with his coaches encouraging him to take the game on at every opportunity.  

"That's their main instruction to me and it's given me a lot confidence to do so," he said.  

"I wish I couldn't be caught. I've been caught a few times this year. 

"Sometimes when I take it on I know when I'm away, sometimes I'm under a bit more pressure and I do get caught sometimes."

Petruccelle, who ran the fastest 20m sprint (2.87 seconds) during the 2017 NAB AFL Draft Combine, has booted nine goals this year – only one behind club leader Jack Darling – and expected more attention from opponents after his breakout performance. 

"I think so, for sure. I got a couple (of goals) early against Freo in the first quarter and they started putting the body on," he said.

"Teams will notice that and I will get a bit more bodywork so I can't get around them and get out the back."