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On this day: Rutten's dream debut

Rutten's record on debut Ben Rutten joined a illustrious club by booting three goals with his first three kicks in the AFL
Ben Rutten started his career as a forward before becoming one of the greatest full-backs in the game's history
Ben Rutten started his career as a forward before becoming one of the greatest full-backs in the game's history

Ben Rutten kicked three goals with his first three kicks in his AFL debut on this day 12 years ago.

Rookie-listed as a forward by Adelaide in 2002, Rutten made his senior debut with the Crows in Round 16 of the following year at Subiaco against Fremantle.

The Sunday afternoon clash between the Dockers and Crows was an important game for both sides hoping to cement a top-eight spot in the closing rounds of the season.

Adelaide flew out of the blocks kicking five of the first six goals of the contest, with the 20-year-old debutant one of the catalysts behind the Crows’ fast start.

Rutten claimed a strong mark on the lead midway through the opening term and coolly converted his set shot from 40m out to add his name to the AFL’s illustrious ‘first kick, first goal’ club.

Only nine other Crows have managed the feat, including captain Taylor Walker, 2008 Club Champion Nathan Bock and current players Patrick Dangerfield, Josh Jenkins and Brodie Martin.

Rutten went on to slot another goal from a set piece in the final minute of the term, helping the visitors to a 22-point lead at quarter-time.

The burly recruit from West Adelaide had just one more kick for the afternoon – another major following a mark – joining only nine other players in the history of the competition who have kicked a hat-trick of goals with their first three kicks.

Rutten’s dream start wasn’t enough to inspire the Crows to victory, however. Adelaide conceded eight goals in the second term to allow Fremantle back into the contest, and eventually succumbed by one point in a thriller in front of over 30,000 fans.

Rutten’s stint inside forward 50 didn’t last long. Almost a year later, playing just his fourth senior game, Rutten was famously switched to full-back by Crows caretaker coach Neil Craig to stand Melbourne legend David Neitz.

The Demons spearhead booted two majors in the first quarter and Rutten admitted he was “waiting for the runner to come out” and move him off the champion forward. But Craig persisted with the matchup, and Neitz failed to add to his tally for the remainder of the game.

‘Truck’ lined up at full-back for the rest of his 229-game career, becoming one of most effective and respected defenders of the modern era.

Rutten notched a grand total of nine goals during his entire AFL career, including a major with his final kick in his AFL swansong against St Kilda last season.


July 20, 2003 – Round 16

ADELAIDE   5.1   7.5   11.11   13.12 (90)
FREMANTLE   2.1   10.4   10.9   13.13 (91)

GOALS: Burton 4, Rutten 3, Burns 3, McLeod 2, Perrie

BEST: Ricciuto, McLeod, Burton, Ladhams, Hart

ATTENDANCE: 31,225 at Subiaco

Ben Rutten – Four handballs, four marks, three kicks, three goals

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs