Ronke laps up ‘dream’ debut

Debutant Ben Ronke had dreamt of Saturday for “a long time” and it showed when he bagged his first AFL goal in Sydney’s win over Geelong.

The lively forward pounced on a Tom Papley kick sent cartwheeling into an open forward line, banged it through and punched the air in triumph midway through the opening term.

Every one of the other 17 Swans on the ground flocked to him like bees to a honey-filled hive and he said post-match his debut made for “an incredible feeling”.

“I’m still lost for words, I’m in awe,” Ronke said.

“I’ve been really pumped the last few days and the nerves crept in this morning. But as soon as I got out there it was all good.

“I just wanted to get that first kick out of the way and it was lucky enough to go through for a goal. I can’t describe it – it was amazing.

“We knew what we needed to do going into the game and getting it done as a team – there’s no better feeling.”

The 20-year-old was rewarded at the selection table for strong NEAFL form after he had averaged 21 disposals, nine tackles and a goal across the opening two rounds of the season.

He said in the lead-up to the Cats clash it was a “dream come true” to have been thrown his first senior jumper and the Calder Cannons product repaid the faith.

He grabbed a second goal midway through the final quarter to put Sydney within two points when he volleyed a Harry Cunningham handball in a congested goal square.

Ronke complemented his two-goal effort with 15 disposals and seven tackles and his pace and tackling pressure brought plenty to the Swans’ new-look forward line.

Lance Franklin (heel) joined fellow key forward Sam Reid (quad) on the sidelines as the likes of the smaller and speedier Ronke, Papley, Oliver Florent and Will Hayward came to the fore.

Ronke said the Swans were able to rediscover their signature attack at the contest.

“We came out in the first quarter and did exactly what we wanted to do – forced the scrap and played that Swans brand of footy,” Ronke said.

“We did go away from it a little bit in the second quarter which was a bit disappointing.

“But we regrouped at half-time and came out and went back to that high-pressure, high-intensity, aggressive style of footy that the Swans brand of footy is. We knew if we went back to that we could get it done and that’s what happened.”

Ronke’s teammates swamped him like snow after he kicked both goals but the newcomer said they weren’t the only ones who joined him on his special day.

“I had quite a few family members come down,” Ronke said.

“Mum, dad and all the extended family and a few mates came down as well.”

Source: Zachary Gates – www.sydneyswans.com.au