When Luke Davies-Uniacke’s name was read out as the fourth selection in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, the pressure of a fan base was placed on his shoulders.
North Melbourne’s first top first top five pick since Ben Cunnington, time has flown to the extent that ‘LDU’ plays his 50th career game this weekend.
After just seven games in his first season, Davies-Uniacke has hardly missed a trick in becoming one of North’s go-to midfielders in the years since, forming a brutal on-ball partnership with Jy Simpkin.
Simpkin says seeing Davies-Uniacke blossom into the classy player he’s become has been a brilliant sight for everyone at the club.
“He’s in his fourth year now, and we always knew he had that potential to become the player he’s become today,” Simpkin told North Media.
“As we’ve seen this year he’s torn games apart. I just can’t wait for him to play another 50, 100 games and just watch his progression even more.
“He was always that powerful, explosive bloke who broke out of packs and gave don’t argues … it’s awesome to see him bringing it out at AFL level now.
“He really can be one of the best players in the competition.”
There have been few members of North’s list better placed to see Davies-Uniacke’s off-field progression than Luke McDonald.
With the pair wearing numbers 9 and 11, their lockers are separated by just one player - Ben Cunnington ... they even share the same manager.
McDonald says the off-field growth and maturity of Davies-Uniacke has been a major factor in his development on it.
“He’s always been pretty quiet but this year in particular he’s been a lot louder, and he’s a great teammate,” McDonald said.
“He’s very funny and I get on really well with him … he’s really come out of his shell this year and he just looks so comfortable and so happy.
“Obviously it’s been a tough year for him off the field, but as an older teammate I’m so so proud of how fair he’s come this year.
“He’s got some amazing attributes and it’s just been awesome to see him get it all together this year, especially in the back half.
“The drive through tackles, I think we’re seeing his kicking skills come through a lot more. Just the confidence that he knows he can rip up the game of AFL footy.”