HomeSportNew cult hero ‘Absolutely tore game to shreds

New cult hero ‘Absolutely tore game to shreds

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The 25-year-old wasn’t even on the team’s roster until three weeks ago.The team had taken a gamble on the former Woodville-West Torrens star by offering him a training-only deal and then upgraded him to the club’s rookie list after being blown away by him in pre-season training. The rest of the competition got to see exactly why the club was so keen on the mature-aged recruit when he popped up in the third quarter and almost single-handedly turned the game in St Kilda’s favour. Stream every match of every round of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >He booted two goals as the Saints came from 35 points down to snatch the lead early in the fourth quarter on the back of five unanswered goals. “The game turned on the back of him. He has absolutely torn this game to shreds,” Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon said at three-quarter time. Lyon said after the final siren: “A cult hero was born tonight”.Richmond great Matthew Richardson also said on Channel 7: “They’ve got a new cult figure here”.Veteran football commentator Tim Lane told 3AW: “He is producing a quarter from heaven”.Hayes finished the game as the No. 1 ranked player on the ground, according to Champion Data’s rankings scores, with three goals and 10 marks as a key tall.Jordan De Goey and Patrick Lipinski also had huge games as the Pies held on for a 15.12 (102) to 12.13 (85) win.He started the summer as a part-time concreter, despite tearing up the SANFL last year.When he was selected in the Saints’ team for Round 1 earlier this week, many fans had no idea who he was.Now the Saints’ secret is out. The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph told Fox Footy Saints players knew two weeks ago that Hayes was going to be selected for the season-opener, such was the form he showed in pre-season.Despite Hayes’ impressive performance he is not guaranteed to be selected next week with St Kilda ruckman Paddy Ryder set to return from injury sometime in the next few weeks — likely forcing Hayes out of the team. Hayes had been repeatedly overlooked by AFL clubs as a result of his awkward frame as an undersized ruckman at 1.93m.He finished third in the SANFL’s Magarey Medal and was the best player on the field in the Eagles’ grand final win last year.Hayes could have had a fourth goal in the fourth quarter in one of the most controversial moments to emerge from the match when a potential free-kick wasn’t paid by the umpires.The game was over when Collingwood’s Oliver Henry kicked a goal with less than two minutes to play. It was a sucker punch for Saints fans after Hayes was chopped by a defender during a marking contest up the other end of the field, just 20m out from the goals.Saints fans let out a loud collective “boo” when the umpires overlooked the contact. Had Hayes gone back and kicked a goal it would have been just a five-point game with a few minutes to play.

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