Being recognised is an unfamiliar sensation for Fremantle defender Heath Chapman but it’s about to become a whole lot more common.
The second-year Docker has been named the round eight AFL Rising Star nominee, finally acknowledged for a sensational body of work which included a game-saving spoil against Adelaide in round one.
It came as midfielder Andrew Brayshaw shot back into equal-second in the AFL Coaches Association award tally after receiving 10 votes for his 34 disposal effort against North Melbourne.
Chapman wasn’t far behind in Friday’s polling, earning four votes and a Rising Star nomination for his outstanding work in defence throughout the Dockers’ 78-point win.
Collecting 25 disposals, 12 intercept possession and five marks against the Kangaroos, the performance was rated Chapman’s career-best outing by AFL Player Ratings.
The 193cm defender arrived at Fremantle via pick 14 in the 2020 AFL draft and despite a season-ending shoulder injury last year, Chapman has quickly imposed himself across half-back for Fremantle.
“It’s nice to get the recognition but I’ll take some confidence from it into the game against Gold Coast this week,” Chapman told The West Australian.
“As each game goes by, you feel a bit better. After each game, you take a bit of confidence and belief you can play at the level.
“I was lucky to have a smooth pre-season with no hiccups. That gave me a good base to launch off from the start of the season. I’ll try and keep the ball rolling and do my bit for the team.”
Chapman’s season has even prompted calls from club great Matthew Pavlich for the West Perth product to be considered for the 2022 All-Australian side.
But Chapman is as unfazed by the flow of compliments as he is on-field, lauding Fremantle’s tight-knit defensive unit which after round eight is officially the best in the league.
“It’s an exciting place to play. You feel really comfortable with the blokes beside you. Our connection off field as well allows us to trust each other on field,” he said.
“Week by week as an entire group we’re building that connection. Each week we’re seeing what can happen when we do play our brand of footy and structure.”
Collingwood son of a gun Nick Daicos, WA-bred Essendon signing Nic Martin and No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis are the leading contenders to take out the Ron Evans Medal.