Rising Star: Docker makes his mark

LUKE Ryan’s former Maribyrnong Park coach was glad – in a way – about the rookie Docker’s one-match ban last month for a drinking indiscretion. 

Robbie Castello, also the ex-captain of Werribee’s VFL team, was disappointed his uber-talented, one-time protégé had found trouble in his first season as an AFL footballer. 

Ryan already had a reputation as “a bit of a lad” who enjoyed a big night out with his mates. Some AFL clubs even dodged him because of that, and recruiters constantly rang his Coburg VFL coach Peter German last year asking whether they could trust him. 

But there’s something Castello and German knew about the 21-year-old, that others missed – and what Fremantle looks set to benefit from for the next decade or more. 

Hidden behind the off-field problems was a hardworking kid always keen to rectify his missteps, which, in reality, were never serious. 

Castello believes the suspension setback – for drinking alcohol with teammate Brennan Cox after the Western Derby, only six days before the next game – happening early in Ryan’s AFL career will be a blessing in disguise.

Ryan told AFL.com.au it was just a coincidence he had produced his two best performances in the fortnight since returning to senior level, but he has certainly paid the Dockers back. 

There were 25 disposals and 14 marks against Greater Western Sydney, before an extraordinary 28-possession, 16-mark showing at Gold Coast’s expense on Saturday night. Nine of his marks were intercepts – one short of the record – and his effort was rewarded with the round 20 NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.