Warners Bay mentor and Black Diamond AFL representative assistant coach Marty Reiman reckons it was “the best mark I’ve seen in Newcastle”.
Others on social media have issued a mock warning to “Newcastle Air Traffic Control”.
Whatever way you look at it, Jack Hardman’s grab on the weekend was an absolute “specky” and will give the 18-year-old plenty of confidence leading into his senior representative debut on Saturday.
Hardman was one of eight rookies selected in the competition’s 23-man squad, officially announced on Monday, to tackle Canberra at Manuka Oval and Black Diamond AFL head coach Rowan Bilkey said the magic moment came at just the right time.
“It was a fair statement,” Bilkey said.
“He [Hardman] is a super exciting kid. I saw him play against Singleton a couple of weeks ago and he’s just got that X-factor. He’s got pace to burn and his skills are silky.
“Now it will be interesting to see how he goes against some real, quality opposition … where he’s not going to have as much time and space and to see what he can do.
“That grab on the weekend was terrific and when I saw it [the replay] pop up on Facebook I was like, ‘geez I’m glad we’ve got him in the side’.”
Early in the second quarter, deep inside opposition territory and already leading by 30 points, Hardman climbs over a Nelson Bay defender in spectacular fashion to catch the incoming ball with both arms outstretched above his own head.
The Bulldogs forward will now be joined by fellow first timers Jack Lennon, Nick Tomlinson (Cardiff), Pat Murphy (Gosford), Tim Oosterhoff (Killarney Vale), Andrew Last (Nelson Bay), Brandon Thomas (Terrigal Avoca) and clubmate Lincoln Stewart (Warners Bay).
Some changes have been forced with the unavailability of regulars such as Cardiff captain Simon O’Brien, Hawks defender Zac Metcalfe and three-time Elliott Davey Medal winner James Webster from Terrigal Avoca.
“As with every year there’s a couple of players we’d like to have in the side who are either unavailable or injured, but it gives someone else an opportunity to step into that role,” Bilkey said.
“When we first threw names up on a whiteboard there were 35 and it’s been tough trying to whittle it down. All of them are absolutely justified in being picked.”
The squad will train at Feighan Park on Tuesday night and Adelaide Street Oval on Thursday night before travelling to the nation’s capital on Friday afternoon.
BDAFL SQUAD: Marcus DeLeur, Nick Tomlinson, Jack Lennon, Tom Yensch (Cardiff); Pat Murphy (Gosford); Josh Mifsud, Tim Oosterhoff, Scott Reed (Killarney Vale); Andrew Last, Jayden Rymer, Chris Eddy (Nelson Bay); Conor Haswell, Macaulay O’Malley (Newcastle City); Alex Mitchell, Andrew Scott (Singleton); Corey Billins, Corbin Bond, Sam Ellis, Jack Grimmond, Brandon Thomas (Terrigal Avoca); Jack Hardman, Matt Spinks, Lincoln Stewart (Warners Bay).