Young Western Bulldogs onballer Callum Porter has taken a giant leap forward with his development as a player in the second half of this season.
The 20-year-old, in his second year with the Bulldogs since being selected with pick 74 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, produced arguably his best game of the year in Footscray’s 93-point win over Essendon in the VFL at VU Whitten Oval on Saturday.
Porter was a ball magnet in the centre, racking up 35 disposals, many claimed with his bull-at-a-gate style, seeing him emerge with the ball from heavy traffic.
It was the latest in a string of impressive performances from Porter that have put the Bulldogs AFL selectors on alert.
The Gippsland Power product has been named an emergency in recent weeks, suggesting there is thought to rewarding his strong VFL play with an AFL debut.
But Porter will continue to control what he can control and let the selectors do their job.
“I have been emergency a few times, which is a good position to be in,” Porter said.
“You’re getting spoken about and not too far away.
“But regardless of where I play, whether it’s VFL or AFL, the process for me doesn’t change.
“I’m just focusing on enjoying playing footy, trying to get a win for the team, work hard and enjoy the game.”
What has become apparent is the growing ruck-onballer partnership Porter is building with young Bulldogs ruckman Jordon Sweet.
Sweet had a massive 50 hit-outs, many palmed into the direction of a grateful Porter.
“Me and Jordon have been working together all year,” Porter said.
“That chemistry is always getting better.
“I think this was one of our best performances for the year for both of us.
“He definitely makes us midfielders look good with the work that he does and the dominance that he gets at the stoppage.”
There was so much impressive young talent on show for Footscray in the VFL, which is only going to strengthen the Western Bulldogs AFL team in the coming years.
Rhylee West, who kicked four goals as a midfielder-forward, took his game up another level to be a dominant force.
Lewis Young was incredible defensively, commanding the air with 15 marks and working in a quarterback-style role to set up play with 23 disposals.
Brad Lynch and Buku Khamis were defensively resolute, Laitham Vandermeer excelled in a forward defensive role and Reuben William booted four goals.
Porter’s Altona North housemate Ben Cavarra played his best game for Footscray with 23 disposals and three goals.
The more seasoned players such as Fletcher Roberts, Lin Jong, Lukas Webb and Bailey Williams also had a big impact.
Porter is seeing substantial growth in the Bulldogs pups by the week.
“The club’s in a really good spot at the moment in terms of how healthy our list is and that’s just strengthening all of our sides,” Porter said.
Porter is relishing the chance to work with the premiership stars of the Western Bulldogs on a daily basis.
Josh Dunkley has taken a keen interest in Porter’s development, while Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli have been teaching him the midfield craft.
Porter is champing at the bit to rip into the VFL finals in two weeks’ time with second-on-the-ladder Footscray.
“I’ve never played in a VFL final before, so I’m really excited by what this finals series is going to hold,” he said.