IT’S ALWAYS a year of firsts when a player enters the AFL system, but Ollie Hollands ticked off more than most. 

In his first year on an AFL list, he managed his first game, first win, first football-related injury, first goal, a Rising Star nomination and played in his first final series. 

It’s still just the beginning for the 19-year-old Wodonga product, who has plenty to look forward to in a promising career after becoming a Blue with pick No.11 less than 12 months ago.

“Coming in, I didn’t really expect to play straight away, but looking back on it, I couldn’t ask for a better first year,” Hollands said. 

“It was good to get the exposure throughout the year and get to play a bit in the finals as well, which was awesome. It was a really enjoyable season and I loved it.”

Hollands looked immediately at home at the highest level, putting his head over the ball and taking on the likes of Tom Lynch and Jeremy Cameron in his first two outings. 

Playing 19 games in his debut season, what was immediately recognisable was Hollands’ elite running and work rate: he was the No.1 player on the ground for distance covered in his first five games, as well as in the preliminary final against Brisbane.

For Hollands, his main focus was to contribute the best he could, and - most importantly - to have fun.


“Coming into the games, there’s a lot of focus about what I can control and a lot of that is definitely going out there and playing my role,” he said. 

“As a young player being out there, a lot of it is just having fun and enjoying it, being able to get out there at such a young age is what I’ve grown up wanting to do.”

A clash with Lance Franklin in the Round 11 clash with Sydney left the 19-year-old with a fractured collarbone, resulting in him having surgery and missing the next eight weeks of senior action.

Ever the optimist, Hollands took the injury in his stride, with his 'first real footy injury' giving the youngster the chance to catch his breath after 11 consecutive games at AFL level to start his career.

Hollands nearly immediate displayed the benefits of his hard work while injured, earning a Rising Star nomination in his third game back against St Kilda in Round 21.


“I definitely didn’t expect it coming: it was a bit of a ‘welcome to the system’ sort of shock,” he said.  

“It was my first ever serious injury – my mindset was just around attacking it and trying to get back as soon as I could, but knowing that I wanted to be back and be better for it and be a better player. I really attacked that six-week period and I feel like coming out of it, I definitely came out feeling stronger and better for it.

“It was nice to come back and know that the body of work that I’d put in was getting recognised and it was nice to be out there playing some good footy.”

After being one of the unlucky few to miss the elimination final against Sydney, Hollands still had the good fortune of having a run in the finals series, activated as sub in the last quarter of the semi final and earning his place as part of Carlton folklore in the process.


Being a part of the picture-perfect chain that saw Blake Acres kick the sealing goal will forever live in Hollands’ mind, relishing the trust his teammates had in him in those dying minutes. 

“The last passage of play happened when ‘Weiters’ kicked it to me, him going for that really gutsy kick gave me confidence to roll,” he said.

“Just to be out there and be a part of what we were building at the Club and get a taste of finals was definitely something I want to be a part of over the next few years.”