Consistency the key for Hopper

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 2: Jacob Hopper of NSW ACT in action during the 2015 AFL Under 18 match between NSW/ACT and Queensland at Simonds Stadium, Geelong, Australia on July 2, 2015. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)

Strong performances in 2015 have seen Jacob Hopper emerge as a genuine contender for a selection in the top ten of the National Draft.

The 18-year-old credits his injury-free season with his impressive form for the NSW/ACT RAMS as well as the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup.

“It’s been nice to string some consistent game time together this season,” Hopper said.

“I haven’t been able to do that much the last few years so to stay out there has been good.”

Hopper has undergone two knee surgeries as well as one on his hand in recent years.

“I’ve felt really good this season. I made sure to do all the rehab so the injuries I have had wouldn’t be an issue in the future.”

A combative, inside midfielder Hopper led the disposal count for his NSW/ACT RAMS side in all three matches at the Under 18 National Championships, including an impressive 33 touches in their narrow loss to Tasmania.

“At the start of the year I set myself some goals and one of them was to be All-Australian at the National Championships and I was able to do that as well as tick a few more boxes.”

188cm Hopper also performed well in the TAC Cup, finding himself among the best players in all but one of his 12 games for the Rebels, booting 26 goals along the way.

“I try to focus on the inside, contested stuff and then when it gets out to use it well. This year especially I’ve tried to impact on the scoreboard a bit more when down forward.”

Originally from Leeton in the Riverina Hopper played for the Leeton-Whitton Crows before moving to Ballarat in 2014 to attend St. Patricks College for Year 11 and 12.

“St. Pats has a good relationship with the North Ballarat Rebels TAC Cup system so I moved to Ballarat to finish school.”

Hopper recently captained his school’s first XVIII to their sixth consecutive Herald Sun Shield, a prestigious knockout competition for Victorian schools.

Despite his impressive season Hopper has identified weaknesses in some aspects of his game.

“My overall running ability can still improve. I can work on my speed and my fitness.”

“The big goal is obviously to be on an AFL list next year so it’s been good to stay out on the track and give myself the best chance at doing that.”