On an otherwise bleak Saturday night for Carlton fans, one shining light was the debut of defender Dennis Armfield. It has been compared to the 12 goal debut of John Coleman but we think it may have been even better. So once we heard Dennis wasn’t eligible for the NAB Rising Star Award, we decided to suspend the Play of the Week competition and award the Inaugural Mike and Dan Rising Star award to Dennis Armfield.

CFC TV: Play of the Week

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Dennis, congratulations on a remarkable debut game which has brought back memories of John Coleman’s 12 goal debut for Essendon. Since the AFL has decided you cannot win their Rising Star competition we decided to start our own and you’re the first winner. How does that feel?
That's a big surprise. You don't step out to win awards. I just concentrated on playing good footy but that's a good reward. 

(At this point M&D have to confess we don't actually have anything to award other than our congratulations)

Tough night to make your debut. The Cats seemed intent on making Carlton pay for their loss the previous week. What did you make of the intensity and pace of your first senior game?

To get the top team first up is a great challenge. The best way to learn is to play against the best. Geelong were very quick and their ball use was very clean, much more so than I've faced before. They have big bodied players and they were very intense at the contest.

You really looked like you belonged out there. As well as your 23 disposals, you chased and tackled hard. Is that something you pride yourself on?

I am very defensive-minded, especially coming from a rugby background. I feel that if I can chase a player who is 10 metres away, that'll save one of my teammates to run down the ground or tackle the next bloke. I am not a high possession winner, so that is my game and focus.

How did you make the switch from rugby union to Aussie Rules?

One week when I was 17, I couldn't make it to training for rugby. So I went down to my local footy club, started training there and have played footy since.

(M&D would like to thank WA for not having a strong rugby competition)

The team got blown away in the 3rd quarter. What did you notice being out there as being the difference?

Probably intent more than anything else. Geelong were willing to run both ways and run harder than us. They were very focused on winning every contest. We were a bit shell-shocked and just couldn't match them

Just before half time the signal came from Juddy and the team spent the next 7 minutes sharing the ball around with chip passes and backwards kicks. There were boos from Geelong fans and maybe some Carlton fans, but it did work to the extent that Geelong didn’t score and Carlton got a goal. Was that something you’d been working on all season or was it particular for Geelong?

I suppose we were just trying to slow the tempo of the game. If we could stop their run and keep the ball, we felt we'd get an opportunity to get forward and kick a goal. We planned to use it in patches against Geelong.

Why didn’t we try it in the third quarter avalanche?

That's a tough question. I don't know why, probably because we couldn’t get our hands on the footy *laughs*. It got to a point that there was no use playing a defensive game. We were that far behind we just needed to take our chances and try to kick goals.

You entered the AFL mature age for a draftee, when Carlton recruited you from Swan Districts. What was the story behind Carlton’s interest in you and then how did you feel on draft day?

I didn't expect much to be honest. Carlton did come to Perth for an interview, but I didn't think they were that interested. On the day of the draft, I wasn't even following it. I was on the beach doing a recovery session with Swan Districts. It was a great surprise. I guess I was picked up for my defensive skills.

David Ellard also came from Swan Districts. Did you know him well last year? Did his debut make you more determined to get your break?

Dave played for the Colts team mostly but he did play with the firsts for a few games, so I did know of him. I was happy for him but I am not competitive in that way. I just concentrated on playing good footy to get my opportunity.

What have you noticed as the main differences between being a WAFL player and then a AFL listed player?

The main thing is the intensity away from the club to make sure you are prepared for the next session. In WAFL, you doing the training and have match day but in AFL you have to worry about your diet and getting your body right for the next training session. Also the preparation and the science behind keeping fit.

If Ratts asked you “Dennis, what position would you like me to play you in?” what would be your response?

Half-back flank, that’s what I want.

You’ve played most of the year in the Bullants, which players that we haven’t seen at AFL level this year do you think will get a chance before the end of the season?

There's a few. Joe Anderson will be close and Mark Austin. There'll be a few from left field also including David Ellard who'll get another chance and a few others who are playing good footy.

You remind a few people of David Teague with the blonde hair and the defensive skills. What influence has he had on you this year?

He's been great. He's told me what to do and also what not to do to play AFL footy. We've been concentrating on what it'll take to get me to play for Carlton. Even when I was playing for the Bullants, I was playing the roles that Carlton would want me to play. He and Matty Lappin have been sensational for improving my development and knowledge of the game.

Now we can’t let you go without asking you about your nickname, “Dangles” given to you by Eddie Betts.  Can you give us any idea what it means?

I have no idea. Dangles was Denis Pagan's nickname, I don't know why and because my first name is Dennis, Eddie decided to pass it on to me.

Is there anything you want to divulge about Eddie or any other teammate?

No, I've got no big goss. Joey Anderson is the funniest character at the club. Clinton Benjamin too. The three of them live together and they have the most fun at the club.

Dennis is a determined young man. He wants to make it as a Carlton player and it'll be a brave man to tell him that he won't. As an AFL recruiter, Wayne Hughes will have his hits and misses. After 1 game of AFL footy, its a pretty safe bet that Dennis Armfield will be a win for Wayne.