Marcus Bontempelli (Northern Knights)
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Position: Midfield/Half Back
Player Comparison: Luke Hodge/David Myers
Strengths: Long kicking, reading the play, ability to rack up the ball
Weaknesses: Predominantly an outside player, consistency
Marcus Bontempelli is an interesting prospect and one of the more polarising players in the draft. Tall, talented midfielders are a rarity this year and recruiters will love Bontempelli’s size and versatility, but there is much more to him than that. His return to TAC Cup recently saw him flourish. He could come back into top 10 calculations with a solid end to the season.
At the start of the year, Bontempelli was being used mainly as a midfielder. In his first game for the Northern Knights, he was able to play both an inside and outside role. His size allows him to win clearances easily at TAC Cup level, particularly because there are many sub-180 cm players this year. On the outside, Bontempelli is a particularly good ball user. The biggest highlight of his game is his ‘100-metre burst’- he can run 40 metres with ball in hand and then roost it 60 metres into the forward line. This makes him particularly dangerous, especially when he has space.
Whilst he does like to run with the ball, he doesn’t possess elite speed. He’s a fairly decent athlete without being exceptional. Having said that, he does have a fairly decent tank so he can get to a lot of contests and therefore wins plenty of the ball. Whilst he has the 30-plus possession games, he can also go missing, particularly if he’s playing off half back. This might be something that is exposed more at AFL level, as he won’t have the strength to play an inside role straight away and he hasn’t proven himself when he goes forward. At this stage he hasn’t found a ‘back up plan’ when he’s getting tagged.
As a half back, I liken him to Luke Hodge. Firstly, his long kicking makes him an offensive threat. Secondly, he reads the play so well when it comes into the defensive 50. He knows where the ball is going and he backs himself to get it whilst always knowing where his man is. He applies plenty of defensive pressure through chasing and tackling. In 2012, he regularly had five or more tackles in TAC Cup games.
Bontempelli’s height and offensive skills make him a potent rebounding half back. When he puts on size, he’ll be able to get the inside ball. Once he builds a more rounded game at AFL level, the opposition better watch out, because he will be the type of player who can do serious damage. If he is to be drafted to Port Adelaide, he offers a different type of midfielder to the ones the Power currently have which is why he’ll no doubt fit in quite well at Alberton.