Vlastuin playing for Richmond in March 2017
|Full name||Nicholas Alexander Leendert Vlastuin|
|Date of birth||19 April 1994|
Northern Knights (TAC Cup)
|Draft||No. 9, 2012 AFL National Draft: Richmond|
Round 5, 2013, Richmond|
vs. Fremantle, at Subiaco Oval
|Height||187 cm (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||87 kg (192 lb)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of the 2018 season.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Nicholas Alexander Leendert Vlastuin (pronounced [flɒs təʊn]; born 19 April 1994) is a professional Australian rules footballer playing for the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). Vlastuin was a premiership player with the club in 2017. He plays as a hybrid defender, adept at playing on tall and small forwards as well as rebounding from defensive 50.
Early life and junior football
Vlastuin spent his formative years living in Melbourne's northern suburbs. He played his junior football at Eltham in the Northern Football League before moving to the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup at the age of 14.
In 2011 Vlastuin represented the premiership winning Victorian Metro side at the Under-18 National championships. He returned to the team in 2012, this time captaining the side to the competition title. He was also named All-Australian for his performances in the tournament. As an Under-18 player Vlastuin was also a member of the AFL-AIS academy; an elite training program for 30 of the country's best young footballers.
Vlastuin made his AFL debut in round 5 of the 2013 AFL season in an away game against Fremantle at Subiaco Oval. In round 7 of the same season he was nominated for the 2013 AFL Rising Star after a 23 possession game against Port Adelaide. He also kicked his first career goal in the match. He would go on to play 18 games in his first season, recording an average of 16.3 disposals and 4.8 marks per game and placing sixth in the Rising Star award. In addition he received the Cosgrove-Jenkins award as the club's best first-year player.
Vlastuin began 2014 in the club's best-22, playing in round one against Carlton. In fact, he played in each of the club's first seven matches before suffering a broken finger in round 9 against Melbourne. He would return to football relatively quickly however, missing just two rounds of AFL action. Between rounds 15 and 18 he was prolific floating forward, kicking a goal in each of the three matches. He finished the season having played 20 matches at AFL level, including a finals series appearance for the second straight season. Vlastuin placed seventh at the club for tackles and ninth for rebound 50s in 2014.
In his third year at the club, Vlastuin managed to play in all 23 possible matches. He recorded double digit possessions in every match in 2015 and finished top-ten at the club for tackles and rebound 50s. He placed sixth in the club's best-and-fairest award, his highest place to date. He was also nominated for the AFLPA's 22 Under 22 team but would fail to make the final team. At season's end he underwent minor hip surgery.
At the beginning of the 2016 season, Vlastuin adopted the #1 guernsey, worn the previous year by retiring former club captain and personal backline mentor, Chris Newman. In an under strength side for the club's first pre-season tournament match he played the role of captain, despite not being a member of the club's leadership group. He played in each of the club's first four matches that season before a leg injury kept him out of action for two matches. Upon his return in round 7 he took on a midfield role, replacing the injured Trent Cotchin. He recorded 16 disposals, six tackles and a goal in the match but did not reprise the role on a regular basis that season. Vlastuin suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the club's round 11 loss to North Melbourne. In addition to missing the remainder of the match he sat out two more games, not returning until after the bye, in a round 14 match against Brisbane Lions. From that point forward he did not miss a match, finishing the season having played 19 games in 2016. He was again nominated to the 22 Under 22 squad that season but would go unselected for the second straight season. He placed ninth in the club's best and fairest count in 2016.
Prior to the 2017 season, Richmond's coaches pegged Vlastuin for a move to a more stoppage focused role. He ceased training with the club's backline specific group and moved into the club's midfield training group. Vlastuin was a key member of Richmond's strong start to the 2017 season, playing in the club's round 1 victory over Carlton. He kicked a goal during the match while his 12 tackles for the match set a career best. Vlastuin suffered a broken nose and concussion in the club's round 3 win over West Coast. He played with the lingering effects of the injury in round 4 before concussion symptoms saw him sit out the club's round 5 match against Melbourne. Vlastuin suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of his side's round 7 match against the Western Bulldogs. Scans later revealed a small scapula fracture with initial estimations suggesting he would miss three to four weeks of play. He ultimately missed more than two months of AFL football, returning to the club's senior side in round 17 following a fortnight of matches in the VFL. He would however return to his previous home in the backline, with his midfield move scuttled by his injury, by previous injuries to key backline personnel and by the emergence of young midfielder Jack Graham. Vlastuin was back to his best in that role, lifting his metres gained average from 20th at the club to third as well as his intercept possession count from 1.8 to 8.3, good for ninth in the whole league. In round 18 he was among the Tigers' best, recording 11 marks and 21 possessions (including 13 intercept possessions) in the club's win over the GWS Giants. He held his form into the finals series, playing a "pivotal" role in Richmond's qualifying final win over Geelong. When Vlastuin and the Tigers won over Greater Western Sydney in the preliminary final, he was lined up to defend Adelaide's Eddie Betts in the grand final. Vlastuin started slow, giving up a goal to Betts early in the first quarter. He turned his performance around however and contributed 16 possessions and six rebound 50s to Richmond's first premiership winning side in 37 years. He played 16 matches that season and finished 2017 as a premiership player.
After playing in round 1 of the 2018 season, Vlastuin suffered a delayed concussion that saw him miss round 2's grand final re-match with Adelaide. After eight rounds Vlastuin ranked second at Richmond for intercept possessions with an average of 7.5 per game.
Vlastuin is contracted to Richmond through the end of the 2019 season.
- Statistics are correct to the end of the 2018 season
|Totals||Averages (per game)|
Honours and achievements
Vlastuin is a second generation Australian of Dutch descent. He is son to mother Cecily and father Chris. Due to a cut on his face that had stitches, Vlastuin was unable to shave for the early part of the 2017 season. He became superstitious and grew out the beard for the remainder of the season, a habit he has kept as of 2018.
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