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Sydney Swans to unleash second debutant this year

Sydney will unleash a second player from its 2021 draft class against Richmond at the SCG on Friday night, with midfielder Matt Roberts to make his AFL debut.

The 18-year-old South Australian, who was a South Adelaide teammate of No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, earned his senior call-up with consistently strong performances at second-tier level.

Roberts is averaging 25 disposals, nine contested possessions, four clearances, four inside 50s and five score involvements in the VFL this year since being the No.34 selection in last year’s draft.

Another ball-winner, James Rowbottom, is due back from suspension for the Tigers clash but veteran Josh Kennedy is set for a length stint on the sidelines because of a serious hamstring setback.

Swans v North Melbourne
Camera IconMatt Roberts had a taste of AFL football in the Community Series during the pre-season. Phil Hillyard Credit: Supplied

Roberts was the Swans’ second pick behind Angus Sheldrick, who played in the first two rounds of the season but is sidelined with a knee injury.

The hard-working on-baller boasts an accurate left boot and can also be effective up forward, where he may start his AFL career.

Speaking to Fox Footy on draft night, Roberts was thrilled to be heading to the Harbour City.

“I am lost for words and am over the moon to be given an opportunity and so grateful for it,” Roberts said.

South Adelaide footballers Jason Horne, Matthew Roberts and Arlo Draper together in their full playing gear, with a footy etc. They could be SA's top 3 draft picks this year.
Camera IconBefore getting his AFL opportunity with Sydney, Matt Roberts plied his football trade for South Adelaide in the SANFL. Tom Huntley Credit: News Corp Australia

“It’s going to be good fun (moving states) and I am looking forward to getting there and getting stuck into it.”

Like North Melbourne-bound Horne-Francis, Roberts played in South Adelaide’s senior finals last season, including kicking two goals and laying six tackles in the club’s preliminary final loss.

AFL talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan was impressed with Roberts’ representative efforts for South Australia, calling him the state’s best player in those games.

“He’s your safe bet, the left footer,” Sheehan said.

“He’s a bit like a Luke Dunstan, another boy from South Australia. He’s a strongly built, contested-ball winner.”

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