There were plenty of positives to come out of the SUNS’ Round 1 match, and one of those was Darcy Macpherson’s performance.
Macpherson was originally named to play in the forward pocket, but compounding injuries to on-ballers David Swallow and Ben Ainsworth saw that plan tossed out.
Instead, the 174cm small forward was chosen to run through the midfield and consequently recorded a career-high 20 disposals all over the ground.
The 21-year-old told SUNS Media his promotion into the midfield wasn’t a huge surprise given his work with the midfield group during the pre-season.
"Unfortunately those boys went down but it gave me a little opportunity to get more time into the midfield,” Macpherson said.
“Throughout the pre-season I did a bit of education with the coaches and stuff like that, a bit of midfield craft.
“So I felt like when I went in there I was pretty comfortable and the other boys around were really constructive with the way they wanted me to play in there.”
It’s not Macpherson’s first foray into the engine room either.
In the NEAFL he has been asked to play that role in the past and said he felt like he was able to impact games as a midfielder.
“In the AFL it’s a lot bigger step up so you just have to be real pro-active, alert at every stoppage, you can’t switch off at all,” Macpherson said.
“Obviously the bodies are a lot bigger and stronger and they’re a lot smarter as well.”
Despite the role change, Macpherson was still able to bring his trademark pressure and intensity into the midfield.
He recorded a team-high nine tackles and ranked elite in that area as well as pressure acts (25) and ground ball gets (6).
After reviewing his game with his coaches, Macpherson says he is hoping to rotate through the midfield on a more regular basis in 2019.
“I had a chat to the coaches and they’re really happy with how I went on the weekend in the midfield so they’re keen to see me go through there a lot more,” he said.
“Obviously I’m still building some trust in there but hopefully I’m gaining their trust that I can play in the midfield which I know I can.”
“It’s good to add more strings to your bow so playing a small forward role, high forward role and into the midfield, even wing.
“I feel like I can go through those positions and make an impact on game day.”
With Ainsworth set to miss the next 4-6 weeks and Swallow racing the clock to prove his fitness, Macpherson might find himself in a similar role on Sunday against Fremantle.
It will be the club’s first home game of the season at Metricon Stadium with the side eager to make up for the narrow loss to St Kilda in Round 1.