For half-back Carter Michael, his rookie season at the Lions has been anything but normal.
Battling the challenges of a VFL fixture, frequent border closures, lockdowns and a club often split across the country, it’s safe to say it’s been a rather unusual first-year for the 19-year old from Maroochydore.
Despite the challenges, Michael hasn’t let a COVID-19 interrupted season stop him from playing some of his best footy, and putting pen to paper in a new contract extension that will see the rookie stay on at the Lions for another season.
“I’m super stoked to extend for another year,” Michael said.
“I just can’t wait to come back next year and step it up to the next level.
“This season started off really well, us boys got a few wins on the board early on and I was playing some good consistent footy.
“Unfortunately, we hit a bit of a bump due to COVID and we couldn’t play a few games in a row which kinda sucked, but the boys stuck tight and trained well and tried to not let it bother our development too much.”
A Lions Academy product out of Maroochydore, Carter Michael came to the Lions with a booming left foot and rebounding half-back game style that saw him quickly make an impact on the field in his rookie season.
His first four games of the VFL season saw him racking up more than 20 disposals a game, with his Round 5 performance a season best of 32 disposals and 12 marks.
It’s these kinds of performances that AFL List Manager, Dom Ambrogio is looking forward to seeing more of over the next 12 months.
“We’re really excited to see how Carter continues to develop as a player,” said Ambrogio.
“We like what we’ve seen so far with his pace and his run-off half back, and we want to see where he can go with the club given some more time.”
“He’s been a bit unfortunate with the disjointed VFL season, but earlier in the season when the competition was flowing we saw some pretty good form and improvement from him, including a few 30-plus possession games and some good ball use and run and carry.”
And while Michael’s game day performances speak for themselves, it’s his drive to go the extra mile that really caught the attention of Ambrogio and VFL Head Coach, Mitch Hahn.
“It’s been really pleasing to see Carter trying to drive that high standard this season,” Hahn said.
“He’s been working with the senior players, spending a lot of time on his tape, developing his weapon. Even his ability to come and grab a coach and do some extra touch and work on his game, it’s all something that’s been really good to see from him.”
The senior players Hahn mentions are none other than key Lions defenders Harris Andrews, Daniel Rich and Grant Birchall, with Harris taking the role of mentoring the young defender.
“At the start of the year, Harris pulled me aside and said he wanted to be my mentor which I absolutely loved and am still loving,” Michael said.
“Usually after every game me and Harris sit down and watch my vision, watch a bit of his vision as well and look at things I can learn from him in the ones.”
“Even the boys like Richie and Birch, I watch a lot of their vision and try and get tips off them when they play as well.”
“Hopefully all this, combined with a big pre-season means I can come back fitter and stronger next year and give it a good crack.”