Blue skies ahead for Jordan Lynch

Jordan Lynch 1

Jordan Lynch’s still-brief football story is one of perseverance. (PHOTO CREDIT: Eleanor Armstrong)

Jordan Lynch enjoyed his best game for the Northern Blues on Saturday.

The former Eastern Ranges product was named in his side’s best players in what was a physical match against Footscray —  conditions which Lynch thrived in.

It was Lynch’s best game so far in what has so far been a short VFL career — something which has been a trend for Northern’s youngsters in recent weeks.

As the season continues, the faith shown in a young playing group has seen the likes of Alex Federico, Sam Fisher and Ethan Penrith enjoy breakout games in recent weeks.

The hard-hitting Lynch recorded 10 tackles to go with his 10 disposals and goal in the opening quarter on Saturday, which was his first goal at the level.

That combative nature is all too familiar for Northern Blues General Manager Len Villani, whose path has often intertwined with Lynch’s.

“I’ve had a fair bit to do with him in terms of his journey in footy, it started before the Eastern Ranges: he was part of the state under-16s program that I coached in,” Villani said.

“He’s a quality young man and someone I’ve got a heap of time for both on and off the field: he rolls his sleeves up and gets to work and has some genuine power and vertical leap.

“It’s been pleasing to see him get some continuity in his body this year knowing the story in and around him: we’re starting to see just a small part of that, like last weekend.”

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That “story” is one which is scarcely believable, and one which brings into context his injury-interrupted pre-season at the Northern Blues.

It all started at the Under-16s Championships, where an unfortunate run for Lynch began.

“He copped a nasty poke in the eye late in the game against Western Australia, which caused a detached retina. He didn’t play for the rest of the Carnival and was unlucky to miss out on the AFL Academy,” Villani said.

“At the Eastern Ranges the next year, he was going really well before copping a knock at GMHBA Stadium.

“He ultimately came off the ground, which we thought was a knock to the ribs. I ended up getting a phone call at 8pm that night saying he had been rushed into hospital.”

Lynch had ruptured his kidney, and Villani said at one stage it was “touch-and-go”. With two doctors in the room, one voice said to take the kidney out, while the other said to try and intervene.

With 12 kilograms lost and a 12-month prohibition of contact sport, Lynch’s entire bottom-age year was ruled out.

“Our message to him was to get himself right, have a crack at his top-age year and get himself into Vic Metro and see if he could recapture the form he had,” Villani said.

Jordan Lynch for Vic Metro in 2016. (PHOTO CREDIT: Graham Denholm, AFL Media)

Jordan Lynch for Vic Metro in 2016.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Graham Denholm, AFL Media)

“He got himself right, worked his butt off and was just about ready to go before nicking his calf, which ended up putting him back for another two months.”

Despite his limited exposure at any level for over a year, Lynch was selected for the Vic Metro side regardless, with recruiters still aware of what he could produce.

“He faded out towards the end of the year after a scratchy National Carnival and missed out on the draft, which he was disappointed with.”

Lynch was on the mind of Northern Blues recruiters at the end of 2016, but he returned to the Eastern Ranges and enjoyed a consistent season as a 19-year-old.

Finishing fourth in the best-and-fairest behind the likes Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood) and Tom North (Fremantle), Lynch had a genuine impact and VFL exposure in his final TAC Cup season.

“He played some VFL games at Box Hill, and one thing which sticks in the mid was him coming off the back of the square, nailing Jay Kennedy-Harris and just about cutting him in half,” Villani said.

“Nothing’s changed in terms of what you see is what you get.”

Once again, injury would cruel Lynch’s end to the year, missing games due to ITB issues which ultimately interrupted his Northern Blues pre-season.

Lynch has recorded 35 disposals and 29 tackles at VFL level this year, with his tackle-rate something which would come as no surprise to those who have watched him throughout his short career.

Born on January 1 in 1998, Lynch will be out to build on his performance against Footscray and cement his spot in the VFL side as Northern prepares for the final two months of the season.

“We’re looking forward to see what he can produce at the Northern Blues for however long, because he’s a genuine VFL talent,” Villani said.

“It’s about turning that enormous work-rate and appetite for the contest into being a better player with his ability to get more of the footy and impact offensively.

“He’s certainly not going to die wondering and he gives you everything he’s got, which is all you can ask for as a coach, as an administrator or anything else.”