Humphrey primed for ‘Dusty’ role at Hardwick’s Suns

Murray Wenzel |

Bailey Humphrey has been assigned a Gold Coast role similar to that of Richmond star Dustin Martin.
Bailey Humphrey has been assigned a Gold Coast role similar to that of Richmond star Dustin Martin.

Bailey Humphrey blushes at the comparison but won’t shirk the task after new coach Damien Hardwick afforded him a Dustin Martin-type licence at the Suns.

The 19-year-old will enter his second AFL season in far greater shape after injuries in the previous off-season, although that didn’t stop him lighting it up with 11 goals in a 19-game rookie campaign.

Many of those majors were spectacular and his ability to win contested possessions with his “see ball, get ball” approach quickly showed the Victorian would be a point of difference at Carrara.

Bailey Humphrey (centre) wins the ball for Gold Coast.
Humphrey’s “see ball, get ball” approach has made him a firm favourite at Gold Coast. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Hardwick has seen enough since arriving to suggest the teenager has more in common with his former Richmond star Martin than two first-names and a heavily tattooed arm.

“Go out and play to my strengths; hunt the ball, go up the ground, play deeper, go through stoppages for my midfield minutes,” Humphrey told AAP of Hardwick’s assignment.

“It’s a similar role to Dusty. I’m not anywhere near the player he is, but hopefully I can play to a high standard (Hardwick’s) happy with.

“It don’t reckon it’s hype; he has a fair bit of confidence in me which is good. I’ll take that every day of the week.

“Coming in, you don’t know what you’re going to get; new coach, don’t know if he’s going to like you.

“But he seems to like me a fair bit.”

Dustin Martin in action for Richmond in the AFL.
Damien Hardwick hopes Bailey Humphrey can play a role similar to his star Tiger Dustin Martin (l). (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Sam Flanders also came on late last season as a midfield threat, while Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Touk Miller and Ben Ainsworth are all capable of breaking games open.

The Suns axed Stuart Dew midway through last season and have backed three-time premiership coach Hardwick to take the side to finals for the first time – they’ve finished no better than 12th – in their 14th AFL season.

“We’ve shown it in patches the last couple of years,” Humphrey said. 

“This year we want to show it consistently, and finals at the end of the year – we’re hoping for that.

“We’re a big running team, we’ll play with high energy and really fast, it’s going to be good.”