Emerging Fremantle defender Heath Chapman has earnt the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination for round eight after another important performance against North Melbourne.
The 20-year-old arrived at Fremantle via pick No.14 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft after impressing for West Perth, where he captained the colts side and won their best and fairest.
The 193cm defender caught the eye of recruiters with his ability to lockdown the opposition's key forward while also displaying his intercepting prowess. The youngster exhibited his elite aerobic capacity as he ran the fastest 2km time trial at the 2020 WA draft combine testing.
He played an integral role across half back in Freo’s 78-point win against North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Friday night, collecting 25 disposals, 12 intercept possessions, five marks and used the ball at 92 per cent efficiency.
He’s averaged 19 disposals, 6.8 intercept possessions, 5.7 marks per game, while using the ball at 86 per cent disposal efficiency in his six games this season.
Hailing from the Joondalup Kinross Junior Football Club, Chapman made his debut in last season's win over the Giants in round two.
Chapman is now in his second season at Fremantle and has established himself as an integral part of Fremantle’s defensive unit, which has currently conceded the least points this season as they have soared to second on the AFL ladder.
This is not the first time the young defender's name has been up in lights this season. In Fremantle's round one win over Adelaide, Chapman produced a remarkable game-saving spoil in the dying seconds to help seal a memorable one-point victory.
As well as earning four coaches’ votes against North Melbourne, he also earned four votes in the RAC Derby against West Coast in round three and eight votes the following round against GWS.
His efforts against North Melbourne came after missing a fortnight of football in the AFL’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Chapman found out the news of the nomination when receiving a phone call from Longmuir on Monday morning. While Longmuir had felt the defender was due for a nomination, he said the humble Chapman wouldn’t be worried that it took until round eight.
“I know Chappy wouldn't be too concerned,” Longmuir said on Saturday on ABC Grandstand.
“Having said that, I think he probably deserves a nomination, he gets enough internal recognition for the work he's doing and he's just quite a humble guy. I don't think it would be worrying him too much.”
Longmuir said Chapman and the 21-year-old Hayden Young have been a vital duo for Fremantle at half back.
“I think that Young and Chapman are such important players for us and they've played less than 20 games each,” Longmuir said.
“For them to come back off two weeks off and be out there with their our best players, it's a sign of their maturity and class and we've got a lot to look forward to with those two.”
Chapman took the nomination in his stride, saying he was focused on delivering again on Sunday when Fremantle head to Metricon Stadium to play the Suns.
“It’s nice to get the recognition and this is something that I can take a bit of confidence from, but really, my focus is on Gold Coast this week,” Chapman said.
“I was lucky enough to have a smooth pre-season and that gave me a good base to launch off. I just want to keep my form going and do my best for the team.
“I aim to do the basics well and make that the foundation of my game. Keep working on my kicking and get better every game.”