It’s been a season of ups and downs for Jaidyn Stephenson, from his exceptional early form, to his wrist injury suffered against Collingwood, his first season in royal blue and white has had it all.
After Monday’s game winning 38-disposal performance against West Coast in Perth though, one thing is for certain - Jaidyn Stephenson is a bona fide, elite potential midfielder.
Against the Eagles, Stephenson set career-highs in disposals (38), marks (10), contested possessions (12), effective disposals (24), contested marks (2), stoppage clearances (4) and score involvements (9).
With the game on the line in the third quarter, he was key in North’s surge to lead at the final break, collecting 14 touches in that term alone.
Averaging 12.4 disposals per game in his time at Collingwood, Stephenson has shown maturity and drive to transition into his new, midfield heavy role and currently averages 19.8 disposals a game in 2021.
Taking his place in the young midfield core of Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Tarryn Thomas, Will Phillips and Tom Powell, Stephenson is a mature head on young shoulders, helping lead this next generation of North stars.
The Herald Sun’s Jay Clark perhaps summed up Stephenson’s performance best, saying he adds a different element to North’s midfield.
“[His] flair is the kind of quality that will not only help give the Roos’ midfield a new edge, but will also put bums on seats,” Clark said.
“He played one of the most brilliant games of his career to help spark his new club to the kind of watershed win that turns corners in rebuilds like theirs.
“It was late in the game and the new Roo was still digging deep to help post a significant win. If nothing, it will help build significant belief after a testing start to the season for North.”
And the scary part is that at just 22 years of age, he’s only going to get better.