Harris Andrews happy to be thrown in deep end for Lions
MOST first-year players will have that moment when they are left pinching themselves, figuratively speaking.
For 18-year-old Harris Andrews it came in his fourth game for the Brisbane Lions last week when his team was taking on Carlton at Etihad Stadium.
"There was a point at the weekend when I was marking Juddy for a little bit," he told APN yesterday in reference to Blues champion Chris Judd.
"There was a split second there where I was like 'oh, Juddy's there', but I had to just get my mind back into the game and back on the job."
Andrews experienced another moment he will never forget shortly after, when joining teammates in the clubrooms for a raucous rendition of the club song.
As is now tradition for players having experienced their first win with a club, Andrews was joined in the centre of the circle by Dayne Beams, Mitch Robinson and Allen Christensen and drenched with sports drinks.
"It was unbelievable," he recalled. "It's probably in the top-five happiest moments of my life.
"We've been putting in a lot of hard work. It was good to get some reward for effort."
Having only been drafted in from the Lions' own academy last November, Andrews wasn't expecting his first season to pan out like it has.
Described as a big baby giraffe by coach Justin Leppitsch, the 200cm, 95kg Andrews was seen as a project player.
"I thought I'd be spending the year in the NEAFL," he said, "sort of developing my game, and putting a bit of size on in the gym
"But, I've been getting thrown in there, exposed to the top level, and I've really enjoyed it."
Rapt to be playing for his 'home' club, Andrews was born in Melbourne, but moved to Brisbane when he was six with his family.
He is one of the many big 'Queensland kids' the Lions now have on their list, alongside Jono Freeman (198cm), Jordon Bourke (193cm), Matt Hammelmann (197cm) and Archie Smith (201cm).
Due to injuries to a host of key-position Lions, Andrews made his debut out of necessity in round three.
After predominantly playing forward, and being manned by defenders such as West Coast's Will Schofield and
Richmond's Troy Chaplin, he found himself down back against the Blues.
And when he wasn't standing the likes of Judd, he was taking the strong-marking Levi Casboult.
Andrews is used to playing different roles throughout his junior days with club team Aspley and Queensland representative sides.
He booted 80 goals in the NEAFL under-18s in 2013, before spending more time down back in 2014.
"I only really grew when I was about 15," he said.
"At the end of one season I was playing half-forward, half-back, then I came back the next pre-season and I'd grown a few inches and got to play a key-position role."
He may get the call from Leppitsch to stand Justin Westhoff or Paddy Ryder in the Power forward line when the Lions host Port tomorrow, or go forward and help last week's four-goal hero, Daniel McStay, try and stretch the visitors' defence that will be minus fullback Alipate Carlisle (back).
"Obviously versatility is a big part of the game nowadays. I don't mind … whatever the team needs," he said.
The Lions are hoping to build on their first win by taking it up to the stuttering Power (3-3).
"We've just got to come out and play with a strong intensity like we did last week," Andrews said.