- June 9, 1999
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “The best ruckman in the draft pool who can be a damaging option inside 50”
Sam Hayes jumped into the spotlight in the 2016 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, booting three goals against the Allies in front of a crowd at Etihad Stadium. 12 months later, the Eastern Ranges tall is now a dual Under 18 All-Australian, after averaging 14.5 disposals and 16.8 hitouts in the 2017 carnival. Hayes has shown he can play as a key position forward, but has most of his tricks in the ruck where he is the clear best ruckman in the 2017 AFL Draft pool. Hayes is a strong mark overhead and wins most the hitouts, but will need to improve his running and endurance to become a dominant ruckman at the AFL level.
- Overhead marking
- Ruck work
- Forward craft
Sam Hayes overhead marking is his strength. Hayes averaged 4.6 marks in the TAC Cup and 3.5 in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships this year. He was able to not only mark well around the ground, but inside 50 he provided a target – including having 27 contested marks this season for the Ranges. Hayes reads the flight of the ball well up forward and his height and reach mean that on more occasions than not he will mark the football over his opponent.
Hayes is by far the best ruckman in the draft pool. Averaging 24 hitouts (TAC Cup) and 16.8 hitouts (Under 18 Championships), there weren’t too many games where he was beaten in the hitouts column on the stats sheet. He uses his body well and is able to control the hitzone and win the hitout. He also has a reasonable leap and has shown he can get up and over his opponents if need be.
On Grand Final day in the NAB AFL Under 18 All Stars clash, Hayes played as a pure key position forward – only attending a few centre bounces finishing the day with 14 disposals, four marks, 1.2 on the scoreboard and just three hitouts. In his draft year, Hayes has predominatnely played as a ruck – but his forward craft in the Under 18 Championships last year indicate that it may be a position for him in the future. Some clubs coming into the season thought he would be more of a key position forward than a ruckman, but he has grown into more of a ruck/forward role in 2017.
Hayes’ biggest area for improvement is his running and endurance. His game day GPS data suggests there is work to be done to reach the next level, but there is no doubt in an AFL environment that his running will improve. At the NAB AFL Draft Combine, Hayes came second last in the 2km time trial as one of only two players to reach the eight minute mark. In the Yo-Yo test he also came in last place scoring 19.3. Hayes’ improvement will no doubt come in the State Leagues in his first year of football, but there is no doubt he projects to be the best ruckman from this years draft pool if he can continue to improve in 2018 and onwards.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 15-30
As we’ve seen ruckman in the past slip down the order, there is no doubt Hayes will come into clubs minds with a late first round or second round selection. If he can improve his running, he has the traits to make it as the best ruckman in the 2017 draft pool and like Broadie Grundy did in 2012 – in five years time people could be questioning just why did he slip down so far on draft night. Up forward, he can take marks and kick the goals and it is another set of skills that separate him from other ruckman this season.
NAB League Boys
Under 18s Championships