Wheels’ u-turn pays off

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Noah Wheeler’s three-goal performance came in the most unexpected of circumstances. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rose Zarucky)

IT was an interesting Sunday morning for Noah Wheeler.

As reported on Saturday, the new Blue was scheduled to partake in the Young Guns exhibition match at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. It was a game which would require him to be at the ground at 8am.

Come 7:50am, his phone rang.

The message came through: he would be playing at Ikon Park instead, in the Northern Blues’ Round 5 VFL encounter with North Melbourne.

“I was actually about to pull into the gate at Trevor Barker Oval — it was 10 to eight,” Wheeler said.

“I had to make a u-turn and head back.”

After impressing in the opening three games of the year for Northern as 23rd player, there was no hesitation to call on Wheeler for a spot in the 22 in place of Cameron Polson.

Having to shift his focus from the Young Guns game to a critical VFL match with four points on the line, it was a turn of events which Wheeler didn’t see coming.

“It wasn’t too bad, I tend to not really overthink the game too much before I play it — otherwise I get a little nervous,” he said.

“I just had to focus on the North Melbourne game rather than the Young Guns, it wasn’t too bad.

With the Carlton speedster Polson coming out of the team due to illness, Wheeler was given the nod by the coaching panel — and they would’ve loved his output.

Come the end of the afternoon, Wheeler’s stats sheet read 15 disposals and three goals, with two of those coming in the final term.

“It was nice to finally feel like I had a bit of impact on the game,” he said.

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Noah Wheeler snaps his second goal of the game. (Photo credit: Rose Zarucky)

“It’s definitely a team sport and I wouldn’t have had any of those goals if it wasn’t for my teammates.”

Arriving at the Blues from the Bendigo Pioneers, Wheeler has been a shining light in his first season of VFL football.

Playing all of the opening four games of the year, Wheeler has averaged 12 disposals and a goal a game, spending the majority of his time across half forward with stints in the midfield.

Despite handling his first month with aplomb, the Echuca product said his VFL initiation had “been pretty challenging”.

“Juggling being a third year plumbing apprentice and trying to play VFL footy is pretty difficult,” he said.

“It was pleasing to see my hard work pay off, but the challenge now is definitely to play some consistent footy.”