Melbourne Demons defender Jake Bowey scores second AFL Rising Star nomination
Nine games, nine wins, a premiership, his first goal in round 1 and now a second Rising Star nomination.
Welcome to sweet-kicking Demons defender Jake Bowey’s charmed existence, which probably leaves some of the AFL’s grizzled veterans jealously muttering away to themselves.
The 19-year-old is the antithesis of Melbourne’s decades of struggles and lowlights before the 2021 grand final triumph over the Western Bulldogs ended 57 years of pain.
Bowey is the Demons’ answer to Jack Graham, who played in a premiership in just his fifth AFL game four years earlier.
“It sounds pretty good when you read it out like that,” Bowey said of his already-packed footy resume.
“I’m in a very grateful position, being at Melbourne and surrounded by some unreal players and staff.”
But this isn’t a tale of luck. This latest honour follows his superb 34-disposal effort against Gold Coast on Saturday night.
None of Bowey’s incredible success is by accident, starting with the endless after-school sessions of kick-to-kick with his dad in the street until dark.
A self-confessed over-thinker, the 19-year-old also started speaking to the Demons’ sports psychologists and the club’s defensive coach, Troy Chaplin, about his tendency to beat himself up over skill errors.
“At training I made a couple of mistakes, then I watched vision of myself and my attitude just dropped, my head dropped and I was sort of out of the game for a couple of minutes,” Bowey said.
“I could have just moved on quickly and put it in the past and focused on the next thing but I let them get to me. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve made big strides in that this year.”
Bowey is fiercely competitive and that helped him break into Melbourne’s backline despite privately conceding – a week before he made his AFL debut in round 20 – that he would have to start looking towards 2022.
The external assumption as the rounds passed was that Michael Hibberd and Jayden Hunt would return and knock Bowey out of the side. It never happened.
The teenager’s elite kicking slotted perfectly into the Demons’ defensive structure, alongside other expert ball users in Christian Salem, Steven May and Trent Rivers.
But it’s someone else who still boasts the tag as the best kick at the club, according to Bowey, an avid collector of footy boots.
“Adem Yze,” he said.
“He’s phenomenal how he kicks it. He’s taught me a kick (West Coast forward) Liam Ryan did before a game that went pretty viral.
“It’s like an inside-out banana from the boundary that sort of drifts both ways, so he showed me how to do that and we do it non-stop after training.”
Melbourne has already locked Bowey away until the end of the 2024 season and will hope to do the same soon with another of the club’s rising stars, ruck-forward Luke Jackson.
And just like Bowey’s “practice makes perfect” approach to his kicking, he is determined for his and the Demons’ unblemished record with him in the team to remain that way for some time.
That mindset also helped him set aside the pressure to back up the extraordinary start to his career.
“If you know me really well, you know I’m very competitive and hate losing, so that’s probably fuelled me a lot this year,” Bowey said.
“I haven’t lost yet and I don’t want that streak to end just yet.
“Our environment and culture at the club has come a long way since I joined last year and no-one wants to lose and we train hard and then it sort of comes out in games.”
Originally published as Melbourne Demons defender Jake Bowey scores second AFL Rising Star nomination
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