FORMER Horsham Saints footballer Rory Taggert is in line to make his AFL debut on Sunday.
Taggert was included in the Melbourne Demons' 25-man squad for the clash against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
If Taggert, who was drafted at No. 36 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, is chosen in the final 22, he will become the eighth Melbourne player to make their AFL debut this year, joining Matt Jones, Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Viney, Dean Terlich, Dean Kent, Mitch Clisby and Troy Davis.
Melbourne football operations manager Josh Mahoney said Taggert had impressed during his performances for Casey Scorpions in the VFL.
“Rory’s second half of the year has been a big improvement,” he said.
“He’s consistently playing good football at VFL level.”
Before the Mail-Times went to press yesterday, sport journalist JORDAN McARDLE spoke with Taggert about his upcoming VFL finals campaign with the Scorpions:
FORMER Horsham Saints footballer Rory Taggert cannot wait to be a part of his first finals campaign in two seasons.
Taggert has not tasted finals action since North Ballarat Rebels' 2011 TAC Cup season, after he spent the bulk of last year sidelined with shin and back problems.
But the Melbourne Demons-listed player's injury problems seem a thing of the past ahead of tonight's VFL qualifying final between his side Casey Scorpions and Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
Taggert said he looked forward to an exciting battle against the minor premier.
"It will be a tough challenge first up against Geelong," he said.
"We beat them last time we played there earlier this season so hopefully we can repeat the dose."
The 20-year-old midfielder-half forward, who has not played an AFL match since being drafted by the Demons with pick number 36 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, feels he is finally starting to find his feet at senior level. "I look at this as pretty much my first year of senior footy," he said.
"I missed all of last season through injury and I finally feel comfortable at this level.
"I'm really starting to play my role within the team, but it's still been a pretty inconsistent year."
With a contract extension at Melbourne yet to be confirmed, Taggert says now is his chance to prove he's worthy.
"I'm out of contract at the end of this year so playing VFL finals is the closest thing to playing AFL at this stage," he said.
Both sides get the all-important double chance after finishing in the top four.
There will be a number of Wimmera-bred players in action during the first weekend of VFL finals.
Hawthorn defender Kyle Cheney, formerly of Warrack Eagles, will be a feature of Box Hill's September assault.
The Hawks host Williamstown in the second qualifying final at Box Hill City Oval tomorrow.
With Essendon's VFL side cleared to play finals following the Bombers' drug investigations, Ararat's Lauchlan Dalgleish will have a big role to play if his side can get over the line against Werribee in the first elimination final at North Port Oval on Sunday.
Minyip-Murtoa product Clinton Young and former Warrack Eagle Clayton Hinkley could go head-to-head when Collingwood and Port Melbourne battle at North Port Oval in the second elimination final tomorrow.
Young is on his way back from a hamstring injury, which has restricted him to two AFL matches this season, while Hinkley is primed for a senior recall after booting three goals against Coburg reserves at the weekend.