“So Foles, what does number 256 mean to you?” asks Adam Simpson at the start of a team meeting this morning.
Luke Foley, a beaming smile sweeping across his face, just a few metres from the West Coast Eagles coach knows exactly what it means. He’s about to become the 256th player to represent the club.
The emerging defender will make his debut at Metricon Stadium tomorrow evening against North Melbourne. It’s a big moment for him as he’s presented with his guernsey by mentor and development coach Adrian Hickmott.
His parents – Stephen and Susan – have been streamed into the meeting so they are part of a special moment. It’s a reward for the work that Foley has put in over the last couple of years to get an opportunity at the elite level, but also a reward for the family who supported him through junior football – and life more broadly – to have this opportunity.
Foley, 20, who went to school at Sacred Heart and is a product of the Sorrento-Duncraig Junior Football Club that has also provided champion midfielder Matt Priddis, gun forward Jack Darling and tough midfielder Adam Cockie, was recruited as a wingman, but has settled in as a half-back.
He’s a skilful rebounding defender, who could still multi-task (ala Liam Duggan) and play midfield minutes.
When Foley runs out tomorrow night he will become the eighth club debutant of the season, and remarkably it will mean that all of the club’s draftees in from 2017 and 2018 will have played senior football.
Including Tim Kelly and Jamaine Jones, who had previously played at Geelong, the Eagles have provided Harry Edwards, Nic Reid, Bailey Williams, Xavier O’Neill and Hamish Brayshaw to senior footy.
That number of club first-gamers is second only to the 2018 premiership year – and 2010 when the club ‘won’ it’s only wooden spoon – when nine debutants were granted an opportunity. In each of those seasons, nine players wore the blue and gold for the first time, while eight players also debuted in 2013.
|2017||Jarrod Brander (13)||Round 13, 2018 v Sydney|
|Oscar Allen (21)||Round 16, 2018 v Greater Western Sydney|
|Liam Ryan (26)||Round 1, 2018 v Sydney|
|Brayden Ainsworth (32)||Round 8, 2018 v Greater Western Sydney|
|Jack Petruccelle (38)||Round 6, 2018 v Fremantle|
|Hamish Brayshaw (68)||Round 17, 2020 v St Kilda|
|2018||Xavier O'Neill (28)||Round 13, 2020 v Greater Western Sydney|
|Luke Foley (31)||Round 18, 2020 v North Melbourne|
|Bailey Williams (35)||Round 14, 2020 v Richmond|
|Jarrod Cameron (39)||Round 14, 2019 v Essendon|
|Harry Edwards (rookie 18)||Round 9, 2020 v Geelong|
|Josh Smith (rookie 34, no longer on the list)||Round 2, 2019 v Greater Western Sydney|