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Bullseye: Power hit the mark with second Rising Star nominee

Xavier Duursma is the round six Rising Star - AFL,Rising Star,Port Adelaide Power,Xavier Duursma
Xavier Duursma is the round six Rising Star

PORT ADELAIDE youngster Xavier Duursma has known veteran teammate Travis Boak for just six months, but the former Power skipper has already had a profound influence on the promising midfielder.

Ahead of Boak's 250th game in Port's blockbuster clash with Collingwood at Marvel Stadium on Friday night, Duursma, 18, revealed he quickly came to model himself on the 30-year-old.

"Stevie Motlop is my main mentor but Boaky has been fantastic too. I'm really looking up to him and hopefully I can be like him one day," Duursma told AFL.com.au after earning the round six nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star.

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"He probably trains harder than anyone, he's always the last one off the track, he's always doing extras and ice baths and massages. I model myself on that.

"I always try to prep the best I can, and I try to train as hard as I can every single time. I worked as hard as I could over the pre-season and hopefully it's set me up for the year. It's been working so far."

 

It certainly has, with Duursma – the No.18 pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft – receiving this week's Rising Star nomination for his eye-catching performance in the win over North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

The former Gippsland Power captain and Vic Country representative collected a career-high 24 possessions (including 12 contested) and slotted a goal, after which he unleashed what has already become his trademark bow-and-arrow goal celebration.

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Although some suggested it was in tribute to Caroline Wilson's 'arrow' on Channel Nine's Footy Classified, he confirmed it was inspired by the antics of NBA stars Reggie Jackson and Jamal Murray.

"I've seen them do it and I love it – I reckon it looks pretty cool – so I thought I'd have a crack at it," Duursma said.

 

"I knew that if I did something like that as a young player, some people would probably have a few question marks over it. But I don't care – I'm just going to keep doing it anyway."

To the delight of Power fans, Duursma has launched into the celebration four times this season, while averaging 18 touches over the opening six rounds.

"It's been an awesome experience so far to play every game in a team that has been winning most weeks. It's really exciting and hopefully we can keep it going against Collingwood in primetime on Friday night. You can't ask for a better opportunity to test yourself than that," he said.

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Duursma's father Dean won spots on both Sydney's and Melbourne's lists but didn't play an AFL game, with injury curtailing his career.

His uncle, Jamie Duursma, played 59 games as a key defender for the Swans, Brisbane and Melbourne from 1985-89, including the Demons' 1989 Grand Final loss to Hawthorn.

Xavier has been strongly influenced by both men.

"Dad was a pretty skilful player so I try to take a bit of that from him, while Jamie was a bit of a brute so I try to get some contested stuff from him, even though I'm only skinny at this stage," he said.

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He has also taken inspiration from Port Adelaide's top draftee Connor Rozee, who is one of the favourites for the NAB AFL Rising Star award.

"He's been sensational. Hopefully him and me and a few of the other younger boys can keep it going because it's been a fantastic start for us all," he said.

Duursma said he is yet to enter discussions with the Power about a contract extension, but he's content to stay put.

"I'm loving it here at Port Adelaide and I don't see myself going anywhere else," he said.

No.18 draft pick Xavier Duursma booted a goal in his debut against the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos

That will warm the hearts of Power people, including assistant coach Jarrad Schofield, who is a huge wrap for the damaging ball carrier.

"When you've got young players who have flair and play on instinct you want to allow them to play that way. We are very big on structure and playing your role but to suppress young fellas who play with instinct, that's not my job – we want to use that excitement," Schofield told reporters on Monday.

"Young Duursma, he might have run into trouble a couple of times (against North) but his running power is exceptional for an 18-year-old. He's running 15-16km a game and he's got leg speed, he breaks the lines and we don't want to take that away from him.

"We want to see guys like (Zak) Butters and Rozee dancing around and sidestepping because that energises our game … They are infectious and (with their goal celebrations) it's great to see how much it means to them as well. I know the senior players feed off that."