Following Sunday’s NAB Challenge win over the Brisbane Lions, Jesse Lonergan’s performance drew praise from senior coach Rodney Eade and various sections of the media.
On Monday morning at the SUNS’ recovery session at Kurrawa Beach, it was acting captain Tom Lynch who commended the 21-year-old midfielder for his output against the Lions, crediting his time in the midfield in 2015 as the catalyst behind his best-on-ground performance.
“I think Jesse really relished last year when he played in the midfield and those other boys were out so I think he’s had a bit of confidence there,” Lynch said.
“He’s had a good pre-season, he’s really fit at the moment so he was probably the one that really stood out.”
READ: Lonergan's year of learning paying strong dividends
Selected in the first round of the 2012 AFL Draft with pick No. 13, Lonergan has showed tremendous potential during his time at Carrara.
The Tasmanian played 18 consecutive games last season to establish himself in the senior 22 and ended his 2015 campaign strongly with four hauls of 20+ disposals in his last seven games.
After 23 disposals (16 contested) and 10 clearances against the Lions, Lonergan looks more self-assured in his own ability and Lynch believes with that mindset, his teammate can have a breakout 2016 in an evolving SUNS engine room.
“I think it’s just confidence,” Lynch said.
“We always knew he could play but he got the confidence towards the end of last year that he really belonged and he’s just done all the work pre-season which gives you really good confidence.
“I think that’s the main one, he’s been working really hard and that’s come through early so hopefully he can keep that form going.”
The 2015 best and fairest winner also singled out debutants Callum Ah Chee and Darcy MacPherson for their efforts first-up in SUNS colours.
READ: Pressure makes MacPherson a standout
“I thought (Callum) Ah Chee and (Darcy) MacPherson were really good in their first game as well,” Lynch said.
“They stepped up to the intensity really well, MacPherson had 10 tackles which was great to see from a young guy.”