Greater Western Sydney young gun Zac Williams grew up idolising Eddie Betts.
Come Thursday night’s AFL finals opener at Adelaide Oval, Williams is likely to be tasked with curtailing the small forward who inspired him as a young Indigenous Australian.
Williams still speaks with a giddy sense of reverence when asked about Adelaide star Betts.
Long before he developed into one of the league’s most potent rebounding defenders, Williams was using his trademark pace to hurt opposition sides all over the field.
Betts was an inspiration then, as he is now for the the 22-year-old who grew up in the Riverina town of Narrandera.
“I love watching him. Every chance I get to watch him on TV, I do it,” Williams told AAP.
“I’ve always looked up to him.
“I used to go for Carlton as a young bloke.
“I’ve watched his whole career, watched him do what he does best and kick amazing goals.
“To get the opportunity to play on him … it’s unbelievable.”
GWS coach Leon Cameron has already suggested Williams, who was one of the Giants’ best in their season-opening loss to the Crows, could spend time on Betts.
“We really value Zac Williams’ offensive game but the last six weeks his defence has really gone through the roof,” Cameron said last week, adding Heath Shaw and Aidan Corr were other options.
Williams admitted finding the right balance of attack and defence would be tricky for whoever is responsible for the three-time All Australian forward.
“You always have to be wary of what Eddie Betts is doing. He’s a very classy forward and if you don’t keep an eye on him, he can easily kick a bag,” Williams said.
Williams said lessons learned from retiring teammate Steve Johnson during the past two years would also come in handy.
“As a young backman, he’s given me a few ideas and helped me with ball movement and stuff like that,” he said.
“He’s done a fair bit for me over the last couple of years.”