GEELONG draftee Cooper Stephens is feeling “a whole mixture of emotions” heading into his first competitive match in nearly 11 months.
The Cats’ first pick (No.16) in last year’s National Draft, Stephens has been named in the team for Saturday night’s Marsh Series clash with Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
The Colac and Geelong Falcons product hasn’t played since suffering a broken leg in NAB League match on April 7 last year.
“I’m pretty nervous, very excited,” Stephens told krockfootball.com.au.
“I can’t wait to play my first game in a while, in the Geelong colours. It’ll be pretty cool.
“I’ll play a variety of positions through the midfield. We’ve got a pretty young group going up, so I think they’ll just chuck us around a little bit and see how we go.”
The 19-year-old admits he didn’t expect to be given a chance to show his wares at AFL level this early in his career.
“Training’s been going well – I’ve just been playing my role,” Stephens said.
“And the coaches have been encouraging, and I’ve been doing a lot of edits with them.
While excited to line-up in the Hoops on Saturday night, Stephens is well aware a call-up for a pre-season match guarantees nothing once the home-and-away season starts.
“It’s very early days, and we’ve got a couple of key players that won’t be playing this week,” he said.
“I have no real expectations after this week. I just want to learn as much as I can and soak up as much knowledge.
“That’s still my expectation and goal for the season. A debut during the season would be nice, but no expectations.”
Stephens will join rookie Brad Close and former Adelaide forward Josh Jenkins in pulling on a Geelong jumper for the first time, while 2018 draftees Ben Jarvis and Jacob Kennerley will be seen in Cats’ AFL jumper for the first time.
“I can’t wait to put on the Hoops with those boys for the first time,” he said.
“We’ve all been training our backsides off during January, so it will be good to get that little reward.
“Closey’s been tearing the track up, so it’s no surprise with him.”