- February 19, 1999
DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Athletic medium forward who has an outstanding leap inside 50 and provides real X-Factor."
Jordan Houlahan is an exhilarating 186cm forward, with the ability to take the big pack mark, as well as getting free and out the back for the easy one. For both South Australia and Sturt in the SANFL Reserves and Under 18s, Houlahan played up forward and was able to consistently find the goals and quite often with a spectacular moment or two thrown in. His key strengths are his aerial ability, slick kicking skills and natural vertical leap which makes him a human highlight reel at either end. He has put together a strong consistent season, and become a second round prospect ahead of November’s National Draft.
- Contested marking
- Kicking skills
Houlahan has the ability to hit the scoreboard by being both a marking target up forward, as well as a mobile roaming threat. He is strong overhead and rarely beaten in the air. With his outstanding 95cm running vertical at the Combine, this AFL Academy player has the leap to not only get into a marking contest, but the “sticky” hands to clutch it when he gets there. His 21.1 in the yo-yo was also strong to demonstrate the repeat sprint leads needed up forward. Earlier in the season when thrust into a midfield role, he collected 28 possessions for Sturt as well. An accurate kick as well (30 from 30 at the Combine in the goal kicking) and an ability to kick more than 50 metres, Houlahan is a real threat in the forward half.
His versatility is an additional strength, with Houlahan showing he can play up forward, in defence or even through the midfield. His kicking was a clear standout in the SANFL, average 70 per cent by foot in his five games in the under 18s and continued that in the reserves recording 69 per cent by foot. In both competitions he averaged a huge 52 per cent of his possessions in close.
As with many forwards, especially the mercurial ones, there can be periods when Houlahan can feel like he has drifted out of the game. So working on a more consistent performance will be crucial, and as he demonstrated in the SANFL Reserves last two finals, when not getting the ball he was able to impact the team positively with seven tackles in each game. This has become a vital ingredient in today’s AFL forward structure so he will fit in well. Houlahan would also need to continue to work on his endurance to provide that further repeat lead up option, coupled with his marking and mobility inside the 50-metre arc.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 20-40
Jordan Houlahan is an tantalising forward prospect with a number of tools in his kit that can provide multiple options to goal for his team. His outstanding leap, willingness to use that to fly into and over the packs and then stick the mark suggest a pretty exciting time for his future team and supporters. He has also shown versatility to play in defence or through the midfield and is among the best kicks in the draft crop. Expect him to be selected somewhere in the second round and given his senior football experience, he would not be too far off playing at the elite level once he has built his endurance and consistency in the state league.
SANFL Under 18s
Under 18s Championships