Entering his second season in the AFL, Chad Warner set a personal goal of wanting to have “as big of an impact” as he could. The young midfielder starred in his 13 games on the field, earning a NAB Rising Star nomination, before injury impacted his season.
Reflecting on the year that saw the 20 year old kick eight goals (back to back 2-goal efforts in Adelaide and Richmond in Rounds 3 and 4 respectively) and polling his first Brownlow Medal vote in just his sixth game of his career, Warner was incredibly pleased with his 2021 campaign.
He averaged 16.6 disposals, 6.9 contested possessions, 3.7 tackles and 2.5 clearances on average during his 13 games in 2021.
“I was very happy with my 2021 season and very happy with how it went. We obviously had a great start to the year and it was just great to be a part of that, which was such a fun atmosphere,” Warner said.
“For me, I played the first twelve and unfortunately had a stress fracture in the fibula so I was out for a about 8 weeks.
“I was able to get back and would have loved to have gone deep into the finals but unfortunately, sometimes that’s just the way it is.”
Many would view Warner’s Round 3 performance against Richmond at the MCG as the highlight of his season.
The midfielder was rewarded with the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination after collecting 20 disposals, taking five marks, laying five tackles and kicking two goals in the Swans 45-point win.
In just his fifth AFL game, the young Swan amassed 417 metres gained against the reigning premiers from a career-high 20 disposals. His highlight reel included an impressive 45-metre goal in the second quarter after he exploded from the centre square to goal on the run.
He joined teammates Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell as Sydney back-to-back-to-back nominations to start 2021, the first time one club has received three nominations in a row during the home-and-away season.
But rather than the individual accolade, Warner’s personal highlight was the season opener.
Heading into the 2021 season with a “point to prove” and early adversity shown against the young squad, Warner said the 31-point victory over Brisbane at the Gabba was his highlight and a great way to start the year.
“The Round One victory in Brisbane was probably the highlight,” Warner said.
“The way that we came in, with externals thinking we were going to lose, but we knew what we had to do.
“That Brisbane win was probably the highlight, just knowing that we could do it and coming out to prove everyone wrong.”
“The Rising Star nomination, was personally great for me to get the recognition for some of the hard work and that was a great day at the MCG as well,” he added.
Warner is just 15 games into his AFL career.
The 39th pick in the 2019 AFL Draft, now two years into his AFL career, Warner continues to learn and develop alongside the experienced midfield bulls in Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker.
He show his insatiable appetite for the contest and aggression when he attacks the ball and opponents.
It is this same aggression and appetite that continues to drive the young star.
“From an individual standpoint, I wanted to come in and play as many games as I could this year and have as big as an impact as I could,” Warner said.
“I think I managed to do that, up until my injury, and hopefully I can continue to do that next year and onwards
“Next year, I just want to stay fit, play as many games as I can, have a big impact and hopefully continue on what I did this year which will hold me in good stead.”