Numbers don’t lie, and consistently raising the bar in career-high statistics is a great barometer for improvement for any young player.
Charlie Lazzaro has improved rapidly over the course of his nine senior games so far, and he broke a number of personal benchmarks against Essendon on Sunday.
Setting new career-highs for marks (4), effective disposals (13) and score involvements (6), Lazzaro used the ball at 93 per cent efficiency and is becoming a threat forward of the football.
North Melbourne midfield coach Jordan Russell says Lazzaro’s high energy personality lends itself well to fast improvement.
“With every first-year player who comes into the system, they don’t know what they don’t know. The longer the weeks and months go they acclimatise to what’s required of them,” Russell told North Media.
“They eventually get a but more familiarity around what the older boys are doing, and Charlie is such an energetic kid, he just latches on to them and learns.
“He’s come on in leaps and bounds in regards to the requirements of the AFL and his body is adjusting to it as well.”
Recently declaring he’s “royal blue and white for life”, the impact North’s fans, history and culture have had on Lazzaro is telling.
You can see his passion for the game and the football club every time he pulls on our famous colours, and it’s a trait that has endeared him to North people everywhere.
Russell says it isn’t just on game day you can see the passion Lazzaro has, not just for the club, but for the game.
“The energy and enthusiasm Charlie exerts day to day is a massive part of why he’s improving, getting better and getting games at such an early stage of his career,” he said.
“He loves being a part of the footy club, he loves being an AFL footballer and he’s really immersed himself in the culture of the boys.
“You can just see the smile on his face every time he gets to the club. He’s loving what he’s doing and it shows in his footy.”
As quickly and as much as he has improved, like any first-year player, Lazzaro is far from the finished product.
Russell says the more he adapts and acclimatises to the pace and precision of the AFL, the better he will become.
“Over the games he’s started to understand the speed and what’s required from an endurance, fitness and concentration point of view,” he said.
“All young players have waves where they’re doing really well and then moments where they don’t do so well, so Charlie has to find that consistency.
“When the pressure rises at AFL level it forces you to be better at your skills and your decisions … those sort of one percenters that you get acclimatised to over the games and the years in the system.
“They’re the things you want your first-year boys to come in and commit to really strongly and continue to put lots of time in to make them real weapons.”