Despite going down to the Cats on the weekend, Melbourne are on the rise and it’s players like Jayden Hunt that will define their success when the whips are cracking. We saw it in the Grand Final last year when Jason Johannisen’s run and carry led him to a Norm Smith Medal and Jayden Hunt is similar in his ability to turn a game on its head.
Hunt played 19 games in 2016 after being drafted at pick 57 in the 2013 National Draft. More of an impact player, he wasn’t a high disposal winner early on, but didn’t miss a game after coming into the side in round four. Hunt’s line-breaking pace and decent ball-use made him a game changing player whenever he found the footy, but he’s become more consistent in 2017. With Bernie Vince and Christian Salem playing more traditional half back roles, Hunt is able to push up the ground more this year and make his presence felt on a wing.
Hunt is averaging 22 disposals per game – up from 15.6 in his debut season – but crucially he’s also now averaging 17 kicks which makes his drive off half back more effective. He’s quickly becoming Melbourne’s most important link out of defence and Geelong learned that the hard way on the weekend. Hunt gathered 30 disposals, nine marks and a goal in what was a breakout performance.
Hunt also collected 129 Fantasy points on the weekend, another career best. While he only averaged 57 points in his debut season, a small sample size shows he’s going to bump that into the high-70s this year. The 22-year-old seems like he’s been around for a lot more than 20-odd games, but he’s still finding his feet as a footballer and is bound to get better as the season goes on.
It hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Demons in recent years – pun intended – but Hunt seems to enjoy playing at Etihad, averaging 108 from the side’s two games there this year. Hopefully he continues to improve and Melbourne give him license to run because he’s quickly becoming one of the more entertaining players in the competition to watch.