Feeling comfortable in the presence of his new teammates aided rookie Ryan Kemp’s debut to remember for Werribee in the Victorian Football League.
With Kemp on board, Werribee notched up a 32-point win over Coburg Lions at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday night.
From the moment he set foot into the Watton Street club, Kemp has been welcomed with open arms by his teammates.
In return, he showed them why the recruiting staff were so keen to lure him to the club, delivering with a superb 14-disposal, four-tackle and three-goal game as a small forward.
Even when Kemp was limited to one night a week training at Werribee, due to the six-hour round trip to his hometown of Horsham, he never felt like an outsider.
“I was still living at Horsham, so when Werribee approached me to come down and train, I was travelling three hours and only doing one night a week,” Kemp said.
“The boys were really good about it and they were rapt for me to debut and really got around me.”
Kemp is not mucking around – he wants to make a serious impact from the get-go for Werribee in the VFL.
The 21-year-old plumber has moved to Point Cook, so now can attend all training sessions.
He looks back on his time with the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup as an opportunity wasted and does not want to make the same mistake with Werribee.
“I was at the Rebels for a year in the TAC Cup, but I only played three games,” he said. “I got an opportunity mid-year with the Rebels and I didn’t really perform, so I got dropped and couldn’t get back into the side.”
Kemp was over the moon to make his Werribee debut. As a mature-aged recruit, he knew he needed to play his part for the side to keep his spot in the team.
“I was rapt after the game,” Kemp said.
“I got my hands on the ball early in the first quarter and got a second goal early, which helps settle you in.”
Kemp was a star with back-to-back premiers Horsham in the Wimmera league last season. He kicked a league-best 79 goals and capped off a wonderful season with a Toohey Medal for league best-and-fairest in a three-way tie.
There was plenty of support from his hometown in the crowd on Saturday night.
“I had my own little cheer squad from back home,” Kemp said. “It was a cracking night – I really enjoyed it.”
Werribee went to 2-0, the boys in black and gold banging on 11 goals to seven after quarter-time to run out comfortable winners.
“We watched a bit of their vision last week and we could see they would be a side that keeps fighting and would want to play rough,” Kemp said.
“We scored seven goals from their turnovers and that was the key. If you defend well, put pressure on them, the goals will come naturally.”
Angus Clarke was the dominant big man on the ground.
The Werribee ruckman had 34 hit-outs, 10 disposals and kicked a goal.
“He just throws himself around and doesn’t have much care for himself,” Kemp said.
Josh Clayton, who played two AFL games for the Brisbane Lions, has played big roles in his first two outings for Werribee. He is averaging 28 disposals across his first two games, a vital factor with the side missing veterans Michael Sodomaco and Michael Barlow this week.
Dane McFarlane rebounded strongly out of defence for Werribee, while Timm House, Bior Maluel, Louis Pinnuck and 23rd player Jake Riccardi were dangerous in attack with two goals each.
Kemp believes Werribee is tracking well.
“Things are looking pretty good, two and zip and top four,” he said.
“I know it’s only early, but it’s a bloody good start.”
Werribee will clash with Geelong Cats at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday from 2pm.
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