NAB young footballer of the year nominee: Joseph Champness
STORY OF THE SEASON
In his first season in the Hyundai A-League, and in a squad jam-packed with attacking players, Joe Champness might have thought he’d play only sporadically in 2017/18.
Instead he featured in 25 of the Jets’ 27 matches (including 14 starts) and played a major role in their run to their first finals series since 2010/11.
From the time he scored just two minutes after coming off the bench in the opening day 5-1 thrashing of the Mariners, Champness was a genuine Hyundai A-League player and was used without hesitation by Ernie Merrick.
He scored five goals in his debut campaign, including the winner in a tight 1-0 victory over Brisbane Roar in round 21 and a strike against Sydney in the dramatic 2-2 draw early in the New Year.
BY THE NUMBERS
Champness was directly involved in seven goals in the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 regular season (5 goals, 2 assists), two more than any other under-23 player.
He had a shooting accuracy of 75% with 18 of the 24 shots he fired off hitting the target.
Champness was a handful for opposition defenders; in the Jets side, only Caltex Socceroos new recruit Andrew Nabbout was fouled more often.
WHY HE SHOULD WIN
Champness may have been largely unknown six months ago, but he has certainly made a name for himself in the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season.
The young winger earned a Jets contract with his impressive pre-season form and proceeded to show why Ernie Merrick, Joel Griffiths and Lawrie McKinna had placed their faith in him.
He was fearless in attack, running at defenders and chipping in with crucial goals, playing a substantial part in Newcastle’s breakthrough season.