- March 26, 1999
DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Hunter Clark is one of the top inside midfield prospects and shows clean hands and is composed around the stoppages"
Two years ago, recruiters had Hunter Clark pegged for a top five pick. Come this year’s draft, it is unlikely that he will be selected as early as we once thought, but it is not something to completely rule out. Clark became a valuable inside and outside midfielder this season, having previously played as rebounding defender. He provided quick and precise passage through the midfield, often during some messy and congested football. He is a technically gifted player and possesses great smarts for the game, which is much of what sets good footballers apart from great footballers. He often succeeds in situations where many of his mates and opponents displayed difficulties. Shown time and time again through his clever passing and all-round decision making. Much of all these factors emerged greatly during the second half of his season, which raises his prospects as we approach the draft. The crafty midfielder definitely has a lot of skill and potential, much of which I believed is still unhatched, that will make him a strong pick and a valuable AFL player.
- Clean hands
Much of what makes Clark an effective player comes down to his composure. Often difficult to tackle to the ground, Clark doesn’t let the opposition rattle him even when they’re trying to knock him down. Through taking this time to steady himself, he is able to find the best target and put the ball right where it needs to be. Clark is an outstandingly adaptable footballer, having started in the back-line, later moving in and out through the midfield, and even at times proving himself dangerous in the forward line. His ability to change depending on the situation makes him unpredictable to his opposition.
Technically, Clark is outstanding. Of course, you expect anyone playing at this level to know the basics, but his clean hands along the ground and in the air, as well as his sharp, low kicking keep him a level above a lot of other players. A lot of it comes back to his composure, which many other players lack, this is why Clark often sets himself apart from the rest of the playing list. One of his best traits is his ability to accelerate out of the stoppages and launch goals from beyond 50, similar to Adam Treloar’s style of play.
- Kicking consistency
- Outside game
All players have something to improve on, whether great or small. In Clark’s case, much of his issues come down to his consistency in his game and in particular kicking. Some weeks are better than others, and while I would not say he ever under-performs, other weeks are more outstanding than others. Following that, Clark also occasionally gives the impression that there’s another level to his game that could go to and we are seeing just glimpses of what he could be capable of in the future.
Clark could also iron out his outside game, because he is a superb inside midfielder, but his kicking on the outside and outside work can still improve. He has shown he is capable of playing off a half-back flank, which is where he might start before progressing into the midfield.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 10-20
Clark is worth a look leading up to this year’s draft, and should picked in the first round. He has a lot more to give and through some careful guidance and development can become a player to watch in the AFL. He plays outstanding football and has a careful eye for smart play. Clark sets himself a part through his composure, taking his time with the ball and breaking free from tackles and through a congestive midfield. He won’t take much to bring up to full AFL standard but he needs to be willing to work on that consistency and outside game further.
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