K rock Football

Krueger’s unexpected call up

Geelong youngster Nathan Krueger will make his AFL debut on Saturday. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

PERSISTENCE has paid off for Geelong youngster Nathan Krueger, with the versatile big man to make his AFL debut in Saturday’s clash with North Melbourne at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.

The 22-year-old defender is a late inclusion for Irishman Mark O’Connor, with the defender-cum-midfielder sidelined with knee soreness.

He becomes the Cats fourth AFL debutant after Max Holmes, Francis Evans and Sam De Koning.

Despite being named an emergency on Thursday night, Krueger says his call up was “unexpected.”

“It was just waiting on a few boys that are probably on the sore side,” he said.

“We went out to do a Captain’s Run – do the normal thing – an came in, and then all of a sudden it was, “everyone get in”.

“And then it was, “Kreugs, you’re debuting”, and everyone went wild.

“It was a bit of a surprise, which is good. And all the boys got around me, which is even better.”

Kreuger joined Geelong in October 2018 after the Cats gave up a pick in that year’s National Draft in return for one of Carlton’s state league priority selections.

However, the South Australian’s path to an AFL debut hasn’t been a smooth one.

Kreuger returned to Victoria early from the Queensland hub last year for knee surgery, and he’s managed just five games at VFL level this year.

The Victor Harbour product has settled into defence after splitting his time between the backline and forward line in his first couple of years at the Cats.

“I’ve always played that ‘swing’ role in my career – even as a junior – going from forward to back,” Kreuger said.

“So, it wasn’t the biggest thing I had to deal with throughout the year. It was more just, “let’s add this string to the bow”.

“And I actually feel like it’s helped my forward craft playing as a defender because you know what they like and what they don’t like.

“I think that’s why I’ve put in some good performances in the VFL.”

Krueger is out of contract at season’s end but has parked talks on a new deal with the club

“We’ve had the conversation, and I said to ‘Wellsy’ (Geelong list boss Stephen Wells) and the (list management) group, “let’s just wait until the end of the year”,” he said.

“He said that’s a pretty mature thing to do as well.

“I want to get through this year and get what I can out of it, then we’ll make the decision.

“I’m not looking any further than this week, to be honest. I’m just head down, bum up for this game, and I think all the other stuff will take of itself.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

AFL ROUND 20

NORTH MELBOURNE (18th) vs. GEELONG (2nd)

Blundstone Arena – Hobart

Saturday, July 31, 1:15pm