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VFL: Lazzaro building confidence

BTV: VFL RD 10 | Highlights Watch some of the highlights from our VFL Round 10 win over Coburg.

Nino Lazzaro woke up on Sunday morning two weeks back with his VFL debut under his belt. The 19-year-old utility had earned his place and been presented with his playing guernsey by captain Heath Hocking before Essendon ran out to take on Footscray under the Saturday night lights at VU Whitten Oval in round nine.

However, the match ended with unfinished business for debutant and team alike. The Bombers fell by 11 points to end a month-long hot streak. And far from being overwhelmed by the prospects of coping with the VFL standard, Lazzaro says he is now hungry to prove himself.

“I thought I played my role to a decent level,” said Lazzaro, who finished with eight touches and six tackles playing between wing and defence.

“Obviously there’s stuff I could have done a lot better, but hopefully if I get more opportunities I can really improve.”

Although the inevitable butterflies were most definitely present before the ball was bounced, Lazzaro says there was nothing like getting the ball in hand for the first time to help him feel like he was in the flow of the match.

“I got a bit of confidence from that. I felt more like I was part of the game after that.”

Lazzaro met with family and friends in the rooms post-match with celebration and reflection fighting inside him. He concedes that it was “pretty disappointing to have gone down in a game that I think we could have won”, but the big picture is now on improving his game.

“I’m maybe a bit more confident that I can play at this level,” Lazzaro said. “I wasn’t sure if I was able to have an impact and now I feel like I can do that.”

Having trained as a forward during pre-season before playing on the wing in practice matches, Lazzaro added another string to his bow playing as a defender in the fourth quarter against Footscray.

With the VFL breakthrough made, the new Bomber is looking to make the most of his chances in 2018.

“I’d just like to be part of a winning team and hopefully be able to play an important role in that.”