Sam Heavyside (Bendigo Pioneers)
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 72 kgs
Player Comparison: Josh P. Kennedy (Sydney)
Strengths: Overhead marking, stoppages, one on one contests, pressure
Weaknesses: Efficiency, injuries
Sam Heavyside is just the type of player a club like Bendigo needs in its current situation. Sitting 11th on the ladder with just three wins and six losses to their name, the return of Heavyside to the Pioneers line up in 2013 is proving to be a success not only for the club, but the chances of Heavyside’s name being called out in this years AFL draft.
After winning the club’s best and fairest as a bottom aged player in 2011, Heavyside was attracting plenty of interest from AFL clubs as being a top draft pick the following year along with former team mate Oliver Wines. It was Heavyside however that captured all the headlines early from the AFL media following a stunning debut season and beginning to the 2012 TAC Cup campaign. A Victorian Country jersey in the Under 18’s Championships looked a certainty in 2012 before the cruel injury of a broken foot struck causing the promising young midfielder to miss the remainder of the season. Along with his hopes of representing Vic Country, Heavyside’s AFL dream could have been over.
Unfortunately that was not the last of the injuries for Heavyside as he suffered another set back in pre season meaning he would miss the opening three rounds of this years TAC Cup campaign. Once returning to the field, the resilient nature of the 18 year old saw him bounce back stronger than ever with two best on ground performances from his first two games back in the Blue & Gold. In his second match of the season, Heavyside was dominant in Bendigo’s 14 point win over reigning premiers Oakleigh Chargers collecting 29 disposals, applying 8 tackles and taking 5 marks on his way to maximum votes in the TAC cup Coaches award. It was during this match where Heavyside showed just how polished his stoppage work skills are by helping himself to 10 clearences and setting up multiple scoring shots for the Pioneers. His ability to burst through the pack and come out with the ball under his wing is remarkably similar to Sydney’s clearance king Josh Kennedy.
Just like Kennedy, Heavyside is a consistent ball magnet who has the ability to pop up on various occasions and collect 40+ disposals as he did last weekend at home against the Calder Cannons in a match winning performance. Following former Bendigo Pioneers star Oliver Wines’ immediate success at Port Adelaide this season, there will be plenty of attention given to midfielders with the contested football ability similar to Wines and Heavyside at this years AFL draft. Heavyside’s abilty to go forward and impact on the score board will also attract many AFL clubs this November.
For a player of his size, Heavyside is a very strong overhead mark, especially in one on one contests. Bendigo Pioneers coach David Newett describes Heavyside as “not just a one trick pony” after praising his one on one skills. “He just wins his one on one contests. Sometimes you think ‘how is he going to win this?’ He just goes in hard and doesn’t let his size impact on the contest”. Newett was also quick to praise the 18 year old’s skills when Bendigo are not in possession of the ball. Heavyside’s pressure is outstanding averaging 7.1 tackles per match including 11 against ladder leaders Geelong Falcons. With a tackle average similar to AFL stars Kieren Jack & Scott Selwood, Heavyside’s pressure is up there with the best in the competition not only at TAC Cup level, but at AFL level too.
It is hard to fault Heavyside’s game, but just like all rising stars of the future, no one is perfect and it is hard to expect any 18 year old player to be perfect. Heavyside has developed well, however remains injury prone and a risk to some AFL clubs. Like Former team mate Jake Stringer and South Australian Troy Menzel, Heavyside will have to put any injury setbacks behind him if he is a chance of being selected high in this years draft. Skillfully, Heavyside has been let down at times during this season by his disposal efficiency mostly by handball resulting in turn overs. However the fact that he can rack up an average of 28.4 disposals per match means that perfecting this side of his game will not take too long and heavily out weighs the low efficiency rate.
In the Bound For Glory Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Heavyside was selected by GWS to compliment the fantastic group of midfielders that the Giants are already stockpiling. Heavyside joins teammate Isaiah Miller at the Giants who was taken earlier in the draft and will no doubt become a fan favourite with the way he goes about it.