Young Tiger outshines Crow idol in final

Oct 1, 2017 - 8:06 AM Richmond youngster Jack Graham wanted to be just like Adelaide star Rory Sloane when growing up.

In just his fifth AFL game the South Australian, who barracked for the Crows as a kid, would have been forgiven a moment's pause when Damien Hardwick told him to shadow Sloane after half-time in the grand final.

But the 19-year-old didn't hesitate and his ability to keep the Adelaide star to six disposals in the second half was a key factor in the 48-point thumping.

"I didn't want to bash him or anything, I just wanted to push him under a little bit and annoy him. I respect Rory a lot," Graham told reporters on Sunday.

"I modelled my game off him, but whatever Dimma (Hardwick) tells me I have to do.

"I definitely looked up to him. In your draft year you've got to model yourself on someone and I picked Rory.

"He's just a great footballer and is was just a surreal feeling to stand next to him in the middle of a grand final."

Not only did Graham shut his childhood hero down, he hurt him going the other way with three goals.

Graham, selected 53rd overall at last year's draft, didn't make his AFL debut until round 22 after an injury-interrupted start to his AFL career.

Two-time Brownlow Medal winner Chris Judd liked his grand final enough to give him a vote in Norm Smith Medal calculations.

Hardwick singled Graham out for special praise.

"He's a pretty special player, that kid, he did the job on Sloane," the coach said.

"He's just an incredible player - I remember sitting, watching the draft from New York, watching this kid slide back, and I thinking 'Geez, he might be a chance'.

"Then we got him and I was that happy.

"To see this kid come in, he's played five games and he's a premiership player - to be frank, he could have been wearing the Norm Smith as well.

"He was very special (and) he's only going to get better."

Source: AAP

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