The 186cm, 84kg, 22 year old joined Coburg at the start of the year, and said he felt “pretty excited” to be told he’d made the Senior team.
“It was also a bit of relief after injuring my ankle in the last practice match (earlier this year), and then missing the first six games of the season,” the defender said.
A Tasmanian representative in the under-18 state championships in 2013, Donnelly also received an invite to the National Draft combine in 2015.
Whether he starts off half-back or on the wing, throughout his underage footy he earned a reputation for his hard running and high levels of pace and endurance.
Having played for Kingborough in the Tasmanian State League, and alternating between Southport and Gold Coast Suns in the NEAFL, it could be said that Donnelly is reasonably experienced in state football.
But regardless of the number of state games he has played before, the VFL was a different experience for him.
“I thought I played my role as a defender, however there’s still a lot of room for improvement.” he said.
“It was a physical, contested game against a quality team which is something I’ll have to get used to in the VFL.”
“The transition (to Coburg though) has been easy,” he continued.
“The playing group and staff here have been extremely welcoming in making you feel like part of the club.”
Although the 60-point defeat on Saturday wasn’t the result the Lions were hoping for, Donnelly hopes if he can continue “playing his role as a defender, beating his opponent, and executing his skills” he will be able to keep his spot in the Senior side.
And as for next season, he already knows what will be his main focus.
“My defensive craft, my role in team defence, and skill execution.” Donnelly said when asked.
Before the match, Donnelly was presented with his guernsey by club champion Rob Evans, who played in the 1989 premiership side and was named best-and-fairest in 1985.
Coburg General Manager Sebastian Spagnuolo applauds Donnelly on his resiliency through injuries.
“Stuart has had a stop-start to the season so far with injuries, so for him to earn his opportunity the way he has is a fantastic reward for him.”
“Stuart is another fantastic young man at our club who has a great attitude to his football, and we believe now that he’s had a taste of VFL Senior football should be confident to finishing off the 2017 season as positively as possible for himself and the team.”
Congratulations to Stuart Donnelly, and Hear the Lions Roar!