DRAFT ANALYSIS: "The clear standout ruck in the draft crop with his high endurance base, contested marking and tackling pressure."
Kieren Briggs is an overage ruck who shot into draft contention with one of the highest accolade years by a ruck in recent history. The GWS GIANTS Academy member and Allies representative won both sides’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, ahead of the likes of Nick Blakey, Tarryn Thomas, Bailey Scott and Chayce Jones, however the big man is expected to not be too far behind in draft calculations. Briggs stands out first and foremost because of his sheer brute strength and ability to clunk marks – he averaged 1.5 per game in the National Under 18 Championships. Secondly, his ability to get down and lay fierce tackles after a stoppage is quite impressive, and reminiscent of Brodie Grundy’s second efforts. While he does not accumulate possessions or cover the ground as quickly as Grundy, Briggs can certainly cover ground, seemingly never needing a break. His endurance base is quite high for a ruck, and he spent most of the time in his preferred position, only occasionally dropping forward, but hardly having a break. He is not the most mobile player, but his strengths and work in the ruck will see the GIANTS matching a bid, anticipated to be somewhere in the second round.
- Contested marking
- Ruck work
Briggs has quite a few strengths that would attract clubs to place a bid on the 200cm, 98kg ruck. His body size suggests it, but Briggs monsters his opponents at underage level with his strength, and uses it to impact at ruck stoppages. At throw-ins in particular, Briggs is particularly influential because he can use his frame and smarts to win the hitouts, rather than at ball ups where he may face more athletic rucks. Along with his strength at stoppages, Briggs is also able to outmuscle opponents in one-on-one marking contests, with players who can put it to his advantage, rarely to be let down. He was able to take a number of marks leading out of attack or along the wing and can be that player that teammates look to, in order to take a settling mark.
The next aspect of Briggs’ game that stands out, is his ability to cover ground and lay a ridiculous amount of tackles. In the National Under 18 Championships, Briggs laid an average of 6.3 tackles per game and he makes each tackle count. Once he is able to wrap up an opponent, he lets them feel the full brunt of him tackling them into the ground. He works up and down the field playing both through the middle and up forward and can fulfil the role as the resting ruck inside 50. Briggs is able to play the majority of the match due to what seems to be a remarkable amount of endurance for a ruck, and while he was unable to test at the National Draft Combine, he shows off his impressive tank out on the field from the way he is constantly moving around the ground and covering distance.
Briggs two main areas of his improvement are his speed and agility – which comes as no surprise for a 200cm, 98kg player. He is not the smoothest mover, nor is he able to burst away from stoppages or beat his opponent on a lead, but his strength usually means that once he gets in position and his hands out in front, he is hard to knock one-on-one. He did get experience at North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) level for the GIANTS, and had mixed results. Briggs had 59 hitouts in a game, and in a three-week average after the championships, the GIANTS big man averaged 42.3 hitouts from 14.7 disposals and five tackles. His speed and agility are never going to be high, but clubs will always been keen to work on movement to make rucks as effective as possible in the way they move.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 25-40
Kieren Briggs is the standout pure ruck in the draft class, and is expected to be the first ruck taken in the draft. While Bailey Williams is viewed as a forward/ruck, Briggs is a ruck who can rest forward, and GWS GIANTS will have first opportunity to secure his services through the Academy bidding system. He is strong overhead, covers the ground well and lays a high amount of tackles for a ruck, and these strengths, along with his notable improvement this year, will see plenty of clubs bring his name into consideration in the second round.
Under 18s Championships