100 AFL GAMES FOR DANIEL PRATT
Friday, 21 May, 2010
North Melbourne defender Daniel Pratt (pictured) will become the 29th Queenslander to play 100 AFL games this weekend.
The 27-year-old former Aspley junior, Northern Eagles senior and Brisbane Lions rookie will post his century for North against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Astonishingly, it will come six years to the day after his AFL debut on 22 May, 2004, for Brisbane against Fremantle at the Gabba in Round 9 of that year.
Pratt will reach triple figures against three other Queensland 100-gamers in the Bulldogs side - Queensland AFL games record-holder Jason Akermanis, Mitch Hahn and the most recent Queensland centurion, Ben Hudson.
But another member of the 100 Club - North teammate David Hale - will miss the occasion with a back injury.
Pratt will post a belated ton after an injury-forced late start to the season and five weeks with North Ballarat in the VFL.
The ever-competitive defender, who was 82nd among 119 Queenslanders to have played AFL football, joins a Maroons 100 Club established when ex-pEssendon and Melbourne defender Ray Smith, formerly of Western Districts and a one-time Brisbane rugby league player with Valleys, played his 100th game in 1976.
Included in his 99 games to date are four finals, 48 wins and a draw, nine goals - all singles - and a career-best 29 possessions against Brisbane at the Gabba in Round 10, 2008.
The full list of Queensland 100-gamers is: Jason Akermanis (323), Marcus Ashcroft (318), Michael Voss (289), Jason Dunstall (269), Gavin Crosisca (246), Mal Michael (238), Max Hudghton (234), Scott McIvor (200), Matthew Kennedy (188), Nick Riewoldt (185), Mitch Hahn (170), Brett Voss (170), Clint Bizzell (163), Che Cockatoo-Collins (160), Stephen Lawrence (146), Robert Copeland (143), Dean McRae (141), Clark Keating (139), Jamie Charman (129), Brad Miller (128), Warren Jones (127), David Hale (124), Michael Osborne (121), Steven Lawrence (120), Frank Dunell (115), Richard Murrie (111), Ben Hudson (110) and Ray Smith (104).
Pratt, a standout Queensland junior, has made the most of what is effectively a third chance at AFL level after being cast aside not once but twice by AFL clubs.
And curiously enough, he’s forged a fine AFL career at his original club.
Judged ‘Most Consistent Player’ for Queensland at U16 and U18 level, and the youngest player on the ground in the Northern Eagles QAFL State League grand final loss to Southport in 2000, he was originally taken by North that year as a third-round draft selection.
Despite some promising senior performances in the 2001 Ansett Cup he spent two years training at Arden Street and playing with the Murray Bushrangers without getting a chance at senior level.
De-listed by the Kangaroos, he was picked up by the Brisbane Lions as a 2003 rookie before winning senior list elevation and an AFL opportunity in mid-2004.
He made his AFL debut for the Lions in Round 9 of 2004 against Fremantle in Perth, but after two further senior games was de-listed at the end of the ’04 season.
The Roos, it seemed, hadn’t forgotten his teenage potential, and at 21 he was thrown a lifeline and a return ticket to Arden Street via the sixth-round of the 2004 National Draft.
This time he turned potential into performance, and since 2005 has developed into a consistent senior player and a club leader.
A hard-at-it, rebounding defender, he played 17 games in the first year of his second stint at North in 2005 before narrowly missing finals selection. In ’06 he cemented his spot and despite missing the last three games of the year finished 10th in the B&F.
He was regarded as one of the club’s most improved players amid suggestions in the 2007 AFL Guide that he would become a backline general for the Roos following the retirement of Glenn Archer.
Season ’07 was his breakout year. Highly regarded for his uncompromising attack on the ball and the man with the ball, and for his poise and decision-making under pressure, he played 25 games, including his first three finals, finished 3rd in the B&F and won a spot in the preliminary 40-man All-Australian squad.
He played 21 games in 2008 and in ’09 was appointed deputy vice-captain of a young and rebuilding side.
But things didn’t quite go according to plan when he missed Rounds 7-10 with a knee injury and was twice dropped to the VFL in the second half of the season to finish the year two games shy of his 100th game.
Now he’s back and determined to extend his career even further.