ARCHIE Stevens thought he'd be watching Carlton's VFL team from the sidelines.
Instead he ran out in navy blue for the first time after receiving a late call-up on Saturday.
The South Warrnambool export, who signed with the club in March, slotted into the Blues' back line, gathering 14 disposals on debut.
"I was an emergency for the day and South had the bye (in the Hampden league) so I was planning on watching anyway," he told The Standard.
"I got told 'bring your gear along just in case, crazier things have happened', especially over the last couple of years (due to COVID-19).
"About an hour-and-a-half before the game I got told there was a pretty big chance I was in and do what you need to do to get ready.
"I got the all-clear and it was all systems go from there."
The late call-up meant proud parents Natalie and Sam weren't in the stands watching but younger brother George managed to make it to Ikon Park for the second half.
Stevens' focus was on the game and playing his part in the Blues' 17.12 (114) to 9.5 (59) win.
"I played down back and felt comfortable and did what I needed to do," he said.
"To be honest, it wouldn't have mattered how I went. I was just happy to be a part of it and to finally get an opportunity.
"It was a bonus I went all right and I just loved every minute."
Stevens - a small defender now attending university in Melbourne - said he was always working on his craft and thanked Carlton coach Dan O'Keefe and South mentor Mat Battistello for their guidance.
"One of my focusses of late has been my defensive work and positioning because it is something I need to get better at because on the offensive side I think my kicking and ball use is one of my strengths," he said.
"I was also really happy with how I stuck to structure and defended hard."
It was a productive weekend in the state league for the south-west region's exports.
Koroit premiership player Connor Hinkley played against Stevens when he lined up for North Melbourne
Hinkley gathered 12 disposals.
Former Nirranda footballer Scott Carlin - the 2021 Warrnambool and District league J.A Esam Medallist - played for Geelong, gathering 17 disposals in the Cats' 10.6 (66) to 6.18 (54) win against Williamstown.
Ex-Hamilton Kangaroo Lachie Waddell kicked three goals on debut for the Cats, having previously played for VFL rival Port Melbourne.
Another former Roo in Tom Feely (18 disposals) and South Warrnambool export Marcus Herbert (14) also had productive games for Geelong, having strung together multiple matches this season.
Portland's Jamieson Ballantyne got the call up from NAB League club GWV Rebels and played for Footscray, gathering three disposals.
It was Ballantyne's first game for Footscray as he juggles NAB League and VFL in 2022.
He played alongside Koroit premiership player Josh Chatfield (eight disposals).
The forward established his spot on the Bulldogs' line up after joining the club in the pre-season.
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