- December 27, 1999
DRAFT ANALYSIS: "A smooth mover who is efficient by foot and has excellent decision making skills."
After coming extremely close to be drafted in 2017 with interest from several clubs, Matt McGannon returned to Gippsland Power as an overager and has become one of the most consistent ball winners in the competition. With a late December birthday, he is seen in the same vein as a 2000 date of birth prospect by recruiters after being draft eligible by only a few days last year. Whether in the TAC Cup or for Vic Country, McGannon is the player you want with ball in hand as his elite foot skills have been instrumental in starting scoring chains from the back half.
“Moose” started the season on fire, averaging just over 27 disposals in the opening three games of the season, including a 28-disposal, 16-mark effort against Dandenong in Round 1. His shear weight of numbers and extremely high kicking efficiency percentages meant he was a near starter for Vic Country honours and he played well during the opening game of the National Championships against the Allies at Blacktown in difficult conditions. Unfortunately for the second year running, a poorly timed injury curtailed his momentum after a subluxed shoulder early in the game against South Australia prematurely ended his tournament.
McGannon returned to the Power line up in late July and immediately started winning plenty of the footy again, earning a rare consecutive draft combine invite and another opportunity to show the clubs what he has to offer. He finished the season a little slower than he would have liked, averaging 14 disposals from the final four games after winning 21 or more disposals from eight of his first 10 outings, but has certainly shown the footy world how influential he can be with ball in hand.
• Ball use
• Dual sided
• Decision making
• Work rate
McGannon is a player that immediately catches the eye live, due to his elegant and classy kicking style and it is an asset that just cannot be underestimated. For the first few occasions you see him play, you are often left wondering whether he is right or left footed as he is so naturally competent on either side when running out of defence. He again proved to be one of the best users in the pool at the draft combine, finishing third in the kicking test with 25 out of 30 targets hit. While being a great kick is one thing, it is just as important to be a good decision maker and this is an attribute that can be easily forgotten when discussing McGannon. He assesses his options well, stays composed and often chooses a target that will become the most dangerous pathway to goal, whether that is through the corridor or a nicely directed switch across the ground.
His work rate and endurance are also important aspects to his game, as you constantly hear of him giving the GPS a serious workout when on the field. One improvement he was asked to work on for 2018 was to get in dangerous ball winning positions more often to fully utilise those elite execution skills. There is no doubt he has succeeded in doing that this year and it can be put down to his willingness to continue running. He has consistently survived to level 21 in the Yo-yo tests and recently ran a 6 minute, 40 second 2km trial at the National AFL Draft Combine, but most importantly has an appetite to get better physically and is flawless in his approach to recovery.
• Contested ball
• On-field continuity
There is a wide ranging opinion that McGannon preferably needs to raise his contested possession percentages, which is a tad unfair considering the change of role in 2018. Playing a more offensively behind the ball role will naturally see contested numbers drop, but we have already seen evidence during 2017 when he went to more stoppages or played some run with defensive roles. He could have a greater presence physically, but that will come as his body develops.
McGannon has a bit of a laconic, long bounding style that can often be misinterpreted as lacking pace, but he is actually deceptively quick. He often challenges that magic three second mark in the 20 metre sprint and can consistently hold that speed. While it appears he prefers to stay calm with the ball, it would be good to see him take the game on and break the lines more often.
He has also had rotten luck when it comes to injury over the last three years and would love to have a full season on the field. A severely rolled ankle in 2017 came only days after earning his first combine invite and never truly got the opportunity to justify that privilege on the field after returning for the elimination final under done. The early shoulder injury during the Champs again struck at the peak of his form, but thankfully these were just unlucky incidences as opposed to ongoing occurrences.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Third Round onwards
Matt McGannon is a classy, smooth moving defender or midfielder who arguably has the best foot skills available in this year’s draft. Coaches and teammates want the ball in his hands and he rarely lets them down with his execution. He has made that modern day “quarterback” role his own, often being the instigator of a dangerous scoring chain due to excellent decisions and use. Clubs looking for some surety behind the ball could do a lot worse than McGannon, who could become a bargain selection in the second half of the draft.
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