Mzungu on the rapid rise
Some past articles on Tendai Mzungu for your light reading.
Perth coach Andrew Jarman and his predecessor at EFTel Oval, Simon Eastaugh, believe hard-working Demons midfielder Tendai Mzungu can become WA football’s next rags-to-riches story.
The 1997 Norwood premiership teammates said the 24-year-old Perth ball magnet was capable of stepping up from State level to the AFL, and follow a similar career path to that of mature-age Fremantle recruit Michael Barlow.
Despite ranking second in the WAFL for disposals this season with 253 touches at an average of more than 28 a game, Mzungu isn’t getting ahead of himself.
He leads the competition for kicks (181) and has broken free to take 57 marks (ranked eighth), the majority of which have been uncontested in a testament to his hard-running style of game.
Only Claremont’s Luke Blackwell (283 disposals) is ahead of him.
Mzungu has played 61 games in five seasons at Perth and credited his increased mental strength for this year’s eye-catching performances. He will continue to work hard in pursuit of his AFL dream and takes heart from seeing mature-age recruits flourishing on the national stage.
“Getting our first win is the main priority at the moment but it’s definitely a goal of mine to push up to that level,” Mzungu said.
“It’s still early days and it’s not something I’m thinking about too much.
“It’s great for them to get an opportunity and it’s something that I’d love to have myself but if I can just keep playing footy and doing the best I can, that will take care of itself.”
Since taking over from Eastaugh at Perth last season, Jarman has released the robust Mzungu to run through the midfield and the move has clearly paid dividends.
“I think he’s been a standout and there’s no doubt there’ll be AFL clubs looking at his services next year,” Jarman said.
“There’s some duds running around in the AFL competition and he’s a better player than a lot of those blokes that have got AFL contracts. He’s ready to play AFL football now, absolutely. We’ll definitely lose him next year. In terms of the WAFL competition, he’s become an elite midfielder now.”
Eastaugh agreed Mzungu had been a shining light in a dismal 2010 season for the Demons, who remain winless from nine games. They meet fellow battlers Peel Thunder at EFTel Oval today.
“Mzungu has been exceptional for the first half of the season and really when it comes to Perth he’s in the top three players every week,” Eastaugh, now the ruck coach at West Coast, said.
“He’s still a very young player and he, in my assessment, has got a lot to offer even beyond WAFL football. I think he’s taken his game to a whole new level.”
Fremantle squad member Joel Houghton and Bull Creek-Leeming recruit Michael Mather were named to make their league debuts for Perth.
Houghton’s Dockers teammate Jesse Crichton was called into the Thunder side along with Rob Dawson, Justin Giumelli, Blake Piggott and Tom McCulloch.
West Coast teenager Jordan Jones will miss up to six weeks after sustaining a broken ankle playing for Peel against Claremont at Claremont Oval last Saturday.