He’s scheduled to play his first AFL game in Melbourne on Sunday and was raised in NSW but highly rated GWS youngster Jacob Hopper won’t be short of support this weekend.
The 19-year-old midfielder announced himself on the AFL scene with a sensational 32-possession effort on debut against Gold Coast in round eight.
He won a Rising Star nomination and has played the Giants’ past five games, racking up double-digit disposal numbers in each.
Although raised in the NSW Riverina town of Leeton and a former captain of the NSW/ACT Rams, Hopper is no stranger to Victorian venues.
Hopper, who has been selected to face Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, played at the MCG both for the AIS and his school, St Patrick’s College, Ballarat.
The Giants academy product also enhanced his Victorian footy education by playing TAC Cup for North Ballarat Rebels and played in Geelong two weeks ago.
“This will be my first AFL game in Melbourne so I’m looking forward to playing at Etihad,” Hopper told AAP.
“Being in Ballarat for two years, I got a little bit more exposure down in Victoria.”
His time spent studying and playing in that state will ensure Hopper can rely on some support in the crowd come Sunday.
“I think there will be a fair few there, obviously (with) the connection with Ballarat,” he said.
“My brother also lives down in Geelong as well so I think he might be coming down with a couple of his mates.
“It’s good to be able to share these moments with close friends and family.”
Even though he’s only just started his AFL journey and played in a memorable win over cross town rival Sydney last week, Hopper won’t fall in to the trap of taking lowly Essendon lightly.
“Every AFL game you have to come ready to play or you’ll get beaten and Essendon have played some really good footy this year,” Hopper said.
“We’ve prepared well all week and obviously they have got some really good ball winners and some really good runners.
“It’s important that we win the contest and try and get outside of them.”