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Z marks the spot: Rising Roo finds radar when it counts

Superb Jones mark ends in sickening fashion Liam Jones completes a very courageous mark before being knocked out and stretchered off the ground
Cameron Zurhaar celebrates one of his five goals against the Blues - AFL,Rising Star,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Cameron Zurhaar
Cameron Zurhaar celebrates one of his five goals against the Blues

SO MUCH for training form being a predictor of performance.

During goalkicking practice at Arden Street on Thursday, North Melbourne youngster Cameron Zurhaar struggled to kick a running goal despite numerous attempts. 

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Yet three days later Zurhaar tallied a game-high 5.2 – the bulk of his shots being on the run – in a 58-point win over Carlton at Marvel Stadium. 

Zurhaar could easily have bagged seven majors, given his two blemishes were posters. 

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Even so, the 20-year-old and teammate Ben Brown each kicked more goals than Carlton in the first three quarters – they'd scored four apiece to the battling Blues' three. 

For the third-year rookie from East Fremantle, it was also the culmination of a childhood ambition. 

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"As a kid you probably dream about kicking five goals in a winning team, and I'm fortunate that it happened," Zurhaar told AFL.com.au on Monday after receiving the round seven nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award.

"The way the boys played and the way the ball was coming in to the forward line made it a lot easier for us to kick goals." 

 

It was the first time Zurhaar had kicked five goals in a game since his junior days. In his previous 12 AFL games he'd kicked seven goals with a best effort of two, while his best VFL haul is four.

An adaptable, mature-bodied, 189cm forward who prides himself on his aggression and defensive skills, Zurhaar bases his game on the hard-edged approach of teammates Ben Cunnington and Jed Anderson. He also had a significant physical impact against Carlton. 

Late in the third quarter he attacked a marking contest and clashed heads with Blues defender Liam Jones, who was knocked out.

"You never want to see anyone go down like that and get stretchered off. I've watched a replay and I thought it was a fair contest. I just hope he's all right," Zurhaar said. 

The young Kangaroo didn't escape unscathed – he was forced from the field with blood streaming across his face from a cut on his head that required some skin glue. However, he soon returned to kick two more goals.

Although still a little sore, Zurhaar said he had pulled up well and was excited by the prospect of facing top team Geelong at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

He won't surrender his spot easily. After a 2018 season in which played five AFL games and was an emergency eight times before suffering a season-ending broken ankle, Zurhaar has now strung together four AFL games for the first time in his career.

 

"Continuity is a massive thing for young players. Just being able to play consistent games week-in, week-out in the VFL side really helps your development," he said. 

"It's been good to get in the (AFL) side early in the season and play my role and play some good footy."

Last July the No.11 pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft signed a two-year deal to remain on the rookie list this year before graduating to the primary list in 2020.

He is also busy off the field, studying construction management and working towards gaining a real estate licence while still managing to fit in a regular round of golf.

As for his unusual surname, Zurhaar said it is of Dutch origin and is pronounced "Zur-haar" rather than "Za-ha".