Adelaide’s Charlie Cameron looms large as a game-breaker, and a potential Norm Smith medallist, in the AFL grand final against Richmond.
The livewire forward has had a breakout year, capped by a sensational five-goal performance against Geelong in last week’s preliminary final.
In the cauldron of finals football, players who can break away from the congestion and create options are more valuable than ever.
Western Bulldogs speedster Jason Johannisen proved as much when he was judged best-afield in last year’s premiership decider after racking up 33 disposals, seven marks and nine inside-50s.
The parallels between the pair are obvious.
Both boast line-breaking speed. Both were rookie-drafted from Western Australia. And both have attracted plenty of attention from rival clubs.
Johannisen flirted with returning home to WA before signing a five-year contract extension with the Bulldogs in July.
Cameron, who grew up in Queensland and has family there, has been courted by Brisbane despite having a year to run on his contract.
It’s yet to be seen whether Cameron can emulate Johannisen’s heroics but forward mentor Eddie Betts reckons the MCG is custom-made for the 23-year-old.
“The big open spaces on the MCG are super Charlie Cameron,” Betts said at Friday’s grand final parade.
“It’s great for him to have a game like he did last week, to go into the grand final with some confidence, knowing that he can play in big games and (against) quality opposition as well.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do and hopefully he tears it up.”
Crows utility Andy Otten said Cameron, like Betts, would relish the chance to steal the spotlight in front of 100,000 fans.
“He’s a freak talent,” Otten said.
“The speed he has at training is scary.
“He loves a big stage and I can’t wait to see him play tomorrow.”
Cameron said he had taken advice from Crows great Andrew McLeod, who won back-to-back Norm Smith medals during Adelaide’s 1997-98 premiership double.
“I don’t mind running, so I guess there’s more space for me to take the game on,” Cameron said.
“Hopefully I can try and do that tomorrow.
“It doesn’t really come around that often so I’m just going to try and enjoy it.
“I’ve spoken to Andrew McLeod… he said just enjoy it and soak it all up because it’ll go pretty quick, so that’s what I’m going to do.”