Kennedy shines at NAB AFL Draft Combine
By Callum Twomey
THIS year’s NAB AFL Draft Combine was pushed over a weekend because of the later start to the season, with the key events crammed into two big days on Saturday and Sunday.
Clubs place varying levels of importance on the testing at the combine, and also use it as a final chance to see the players’ personalities amongst their peers, their ability to interact in a group and who competes under difficult circumstances.
Other clubs bring along their coaches, introducing them to the prospects for what is often the first time. Alan Richardson, Paul Roos, Brad Scott and Brendon Bolton were among the senior coaches in attendance this week.
So after a smattering of results and leading performers, here are some answers to the key questions to emerge out of the combine.
Who did well?
Matthew Kennedy wasn’t sure how he would test at the combine after nursing a knee injury for three months towards the back of the year, but the midfielder had a very good few days. The taller on-baller recorded a 14.12 beep test, and was among the best performed in the jumping tests, a trait evident in his game with his overhead marking prominent. Kennedy will go to Greater Western Sydney as an academy pick but every other club would like him.
How did the early picks fare?
Plenty of them didn’t test at all, as tends to be the case with the prospects who are certain draftees. Injury ruled out Josh Schache (toe), Jacob Hopper (groin) and Callum Mills (hamstring), while Aaron Francis’ long season kept him out of the action.
What does it mean for how the first round might look?
That might depend on who ends up with the picks, with many expected to be shuffled in a frenzied trade period. But we know plenty of the names who will be right at the top: Weitering, Schache, Mills, Hopper, Parish, Kennedy, Curnow and Weideman. Bids seem most likely to come for Mills in the first four or five picks and for Hopper and Kennedy about the same spot. But should GWS acquire Collingwood’s pick seven as part of the Adam Treloar deal (they already hold No.8), there’s a chance the Giants could get through their first two picks before a bid on Kennedy comes. That would be the dream result for GWS under the new bidding system.
Apart from Hopper and Kennedy, the Giants might also be able to secure a couple of other academy picks. Lachlan Tiziani is a possibility. He won the running vertical jump test, leaping 97cm.