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The challenge facing Brayshaw and his Demons

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In 2005 Nick Dal Santo, in his fifth season, finished third in the Brownlow Medal and St Kilda made the preliminary final. He had turned 21 at the beginning of the year.

By midway through 2008 coach Ross Lyon, in his second season at the Saints, dropped Dal Santo and teammate Stephen Milne for their lack of defensive intent. Lyon said the decision "brought integrity to the selection process and everyone understood that you really had to stand up in the areas that we wanted to".

Angus Brayshaw is one of many Demons who are still very much a work in progress.Credit:AAP

By 2009 the hugely talented Dal Santo – once named by Kevin Sheedy as the next Ian Stewart – was playing in an epic grand final against Geelong. The following year it was two grand finals against Collingwood. After crossing to North Melbourne in 2014, he featured in another two prelims.

In 2018 the equally talented Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw became just the second player to place in the Brownlow before the age of 23 since Dal Santo and West Coast's Daniel Kerr in 2005. (Not counting Richmond's Trent Cotchin's second placing in 2012, which was changed to him sharing the honour with Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell after Bomber Jobe Watson was stripped of the medal.)

Brayshaw's team also made the preliminary final.

Sound familiar so far?

This season, Brayshaw, now 23, has earned just three coaches' votes in six rounds. He is nowhere near being dropped but his defensive effort with six minutes remaining in the second quarter on Anzac Day eve — when he watched Richmond's Jack Riewoldt wander into goal rather than attempting to apply pressure — was wretched.

Like many of Melbourne's so-called stars—and a bunch of other prospects who have played between 60 and 70 games—his game is only partly developed.

But that didn't stop the expectations on the Demons and the youngster from soaring in a frenzied series of pre-season predictions (myself included) that........

© The Age