AFL Rising Star Round 16: Massimo D’Ambrosio alcohol delivery, key change

Massimo D’Ambrosio was working as an alcohol supplier six weeks ago. Now he’s earned a Rising Star nomination. He explains his meteoric rise.

Six weeks ago, Massimo D’Ambrosio was still a part-time alcohol supplier, while juggling a construction course at the university and playing VFL football in front of a few hundred fans at the weekend.

He’s now a full-time AFL footballer, who played for Essendon in front of 43,163 fans at the MCG last Saturday to earn an NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in his third senior game.

D’Ambrosio describes the past six weeks as a “crazy” time, with his college course on hiatus and his part-time job blown out the window after being selected as a Pick 3 in the midseason AFL rookie draft.

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But the 19-year-old has made it through this year with a fresh mindset.

Bogged down by his tendency to push himself too hard last season, D’Ambrosio has changed the tune to bring the fun back into his football.

It was a strategy first discussed with Western Jets coach Robbie Chancellor after D’Ambrosio missed selection in last year’s draft, and has since produced significant results.

“I had my exit interview with a couple of my coaches and they were looking for things I could do better to try and put myself in a position where I could play AFL football and get all that,” said D’Ambrosio.

“I had a lot of self-esteem that I still have now, just not as much. Now it’s more about having fun and the expectation is to just smile and get everyone else on their feet. It’s something I’ve been working on and hopefully you can just move on with it.”

D’Ambrosio, a recovering halfback, has averaged 17.3 disposals and 4.3 points in his first three AFL games.

His promotion nomination came after 23 departures and six points in a win over Sydney.

“It’s definitely a step up from the VFL level,” he said.

“The game has more speed and all the little structural things you learn. But the backline group really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes around the club and what it takes to be an AFL footballer.

D’Ambrosio is currently only under contract until the end of the year but is doing his best to continue his career.

“If I could play every game from here until the end of the year that would be great,” he said.

“But I just want to keep improving and get better game by game.”

Originally published as AFL Rising Star: Massimo D’Ambrosio on finding his way to Essendon AFL Rising Star Round 16: Massimo D’Ambrosio alcohol delivery, key change

Nate Jones

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