Tag: jayden laverde

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.

2014:

Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Classic Contests: Menadue helps Jets hold off Ranges fightback

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 19 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Western Jets. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2014, when the two sides met for a mid-season clash at Box Hill City Oval.

2014 TAC Cup, Round 10
Sunday June 15, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

EASTERN RANGES 3.1 | 6.3 | 8.5 | 12.9 (81)
WESTERN JETS 4.1 | 9.3 | 12.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Weideman 3, P. Klep 2, S. Lennox 2, B. Hardwick 2, M. Traynor, R. Sheridan-Ferrie, L. Sverns
Western:
B. Coletta 5, L. Spiteri 3, C. Menadue 2, M. Orr, L. Delahey, R. Stuhldreier

BEST:

Eastern: L. Hannon, D. Crocker, J. Collins, J. Healy, M. Traynor, A. Cotte
Western:
B. Myers, C. Menadue, B. Monk, B. Coletta, M. Orr, L. Spiteri

Draftees in action:

Eastern: Blake Hardwick, Sam Weideman
Western: Connor Menadue

Only percentage separated the Western Jets (third) and Eastern Ranges (sixth) before their Round 10 TAC Cup clash in 2014, making for what would be a scintillating contest. Both sides boasted 5-4 records to that point and had accumulated their wins in identical fashion. After dropping their first three games for the season, they would embark on five-game winning runs, before both going down in Round 9. With five teams on five wins creating a logjam among the top eight, premiership points were at a premium.

Plenty of draftees came out of either region throughout the 2013/14 period too, though names like Christian Petracca and Ryan Clarke would miss for Eastern, while Western went in without Liam Duggan, Corey Ellis, Jayden Laverde, and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow. Of the future AFL-listed players to take the field were bottom-agers Blake Hardwick and Sam Weideman for the Ranges, with Connor Menadue the lone prospect in that category for Western.

In a high-scoring opening term, Western found a way to edge ahead with four goals to three, acclimatising well to conditions on the road. The Jets would extend their even one-goal lead out to three at the main break, and it seemed as though they would be able to cruise home as the buffer sat at a very handy 23 points heading into the final change.

But Eastern would not go down without a fight, and managed to produce its best term of football at the death. Four unanswered goals helped the Ranges sneak ahead with under five minutes left to play, and it looked for all hope that they simply had more left in the tank – not to mention all the momentum. In need of a hero, Menadue stepped up for Western to boot his side’s only major for the quarter and save the Jets from heartbreak, as they held on to win by four points.

Menadue’s efforts (31 disposals, six marks, five tackles, 2.3) were good enough only for second-best afield honours behind teammate Billy Myers (29 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles). Brandon Coletta (five goals) and Leigh Spiteri (three) were dangerous inside forward 50 for the winners, combining for over half their total goals.

Skipper Luke Hannon was named Eastern’s best for his 31 disposals and 12 tackles, in front of a debuting Jayden Collins. Weideman showed his high-level potential with three goals, while Hardwick added two in a role much different to what he plays for Hawthorn, and Matthew Traynor found plenty of the ball (26 disposals, one goal).

The Jets would go on to add three more wins to its regular season tally to finish with a positive record (9-8) in sixth, but were bundled out in an elimination final at the hands of Dandenong. Eastern slipped as well, missing out on finals by two games with a 7-10 record to slot in to the unwanted ninth place.

Classic Contests: Jets pip Stingrays in 2014 thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2014 when these two last had a series of thrillers, but the tightest was a three-point win to Western at Shepley Oval.

FOR MORE CLASSIC CONTESTS, HEAD TO OUR CLASSIC CONTESTS PAGE

2014 TAC Cup, Round 5
Saturday April 26, 11.30am
Shepley Oval

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.1 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 2.2 | 3.4 | 4.10 | 7.12 (54)

Draftees in action:

Dandenong – Bailey Dale (Western Bulldogs), Bailey Rice (St Kilda)*, Tom Lamb (West Coast), Jack Lonie (St Kilda), Mitch White (Melbourne), Jacob Weitering (Carlton)*
Western – Jayden Laverde (Essendon), Liam Duggan (West Coast), Connor Menadue (Richmond), Corey Ellis (Richmond), Brenton Payne (St Kilda), Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Carlton)

* – denotes bottom-aged

Two teams deemed to be relatively even heading into the Round 4 contest, the Stingrays had started the season fairly strongly with two wins and one loss, but only marginally with a positive percentage. The Jets were a spot behind the sixth placed Stingrays on the ladder, with one win from four games, but that win was so large they had a higher percentage than their opponents. It came the round before when the Jets smashed Northern Territory to the tune of 122 points, while the Stingrays had bounced back with a 29-point win over Bendigo Pioneers following a loss to Geelong Falcons the week before.

The match was low-scoring throughout and the visiting side to Shepley Oval found themselves seven points up at the first break with two goals to one heading into quarter time. The Stingrays had their fair share of the play in the first half, but could not capitalise, adding just a further three behinds, as Western booted 1.2 in the second term for a 12-point half-time lead.

Neither team could quite find their range in the premiership quarter, as they combined for 3.9, though this time it was the Jets who suffered more. The Stingrays booted 2.3 to keep them in contention as Western failed to land a knockout blow with 1.6 and a nine-point lead that could and should have been more heading into the final break.

The final term saw as many goals kicked as there had been for the first three quarters combined. Dandenong piled on four majors to get right back in the contest, but Western’s three goals was enough to hold on, in a low-scoring thriller, By the final siren, the Jets won 7.12 (54) to 7.9 (51) to leapfrog the Stingrays on the TAC Cup ladder.

Star talent, Liam Duggan had a day out with 33 disposals, five marks, six tackles and one goal, while fellow potential first round prospect Jayden Laverde had 28 disposals, five marks – one contested – and two goals. Richmond’s first round pick that year in Corey Ellis was named among the best for the visitors amassing 26 disposals, two marks, three tackles and 1.3 for the match, while Jackson Volpato (25 disposals, one marks, seven tackles and a goal) was also in the best for the winners.

Other draftees who played for the Jets were Connor Menadue (15 disposals, one mark and three tackles), Brenton Payne (10 disposals, two marks and two tackles) and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (10 disposals, one mark).

For the Stingrays, future Demon Mitch White was named best-on thanks to 19 disposals, four marks and three tackles, not too far ahead of future Dog Bailey Dale (12 disposals, two marks and six tackles). Jake Lovett (21 disposals, three marks and five tackles) and Blake Mullane (22 disposals, one mark, six tackles and a goal) were others named in the Stingrays best.

Other draftees who took the field for the Stingrays included Tom Lamb (17 disposals, two marks and two tackles), Jack Lonie (13 disposals, two tackles) and bottom agers, Bailey Rice (seven disposals, one mark and three tackles) and Jacob Weitering (13 disposals, four marks – one contested – and four tackles).

By the end of the 2014 season, Western Jets would finish percentage ahead of Dandenong Stingrays – ironically in the same spots they were after this game – in sixth and seventh respectively. It would be the Stingrays to have the last laugh though, defeating the Jets by 15 points in the elimination final, then stunning the second placed Geelong Falcons by a whopping 53 points in the semi-final. Their run came to an end with the Stingrays on the opposite side of that scoreline, going down to Calder Cannons by 53 points in the preliminary final.

Photo: VFL

VFL weekly wrap: Port returns home in style

GEELONG, Port Melbourne, Sandringham, and Coburg all won their first games of the season in Round 3 of the Victorian Football League (VFL), as Essendon claimed top spot despite having played a game less than half of the competition.

North Melbourne 5.10 (40) defeated by Essendon 20.14 (134)

The horror start to the season for North Melbourne continued as they were thrashed by the Bombers at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday. While the first term was relatively even, Essendon took full control in the second quarter and never looked back, kicking seven goals to two. Jayden Laverde slammed home six goals from 19 disposals in an encouraging performance, while Trent Mynott racked up 25 disposals and slotted two goals. Dan Robinson continued his good form for the Kangaroos with 29 disposals as Nathan Hrovat chimed in with 28 touches.

Werribee 12.9 (81) defeated by Geelong 12.12 (84)

The double header at Avalon Airport Oval continued with the battle of the west. Geelong managed to sneak home despite a last-quarter comeback by the Tigers, who nearly snatched the win after kicking five goals to one in the final term. Darcy Fort kicked three goals for the Cats while Jake Riccardi managed three for the home side. Werribee’s Tom Gribble notched up 31 disposals and James Parsons won the most footy for Geelong with 26 touches.

Collingwood 11.11 (77) defeated by Northern Blues 11.14 (80)

Josh Fraser again returned to Victoria Park as coach to haunt his old side as the Blues came from behind to defeat arch-rivals, Collingwood. The Magpies had a slight ascendency at every break, however, they couldn’t hold on in the final term as Patrick Kerr’s third goal of the day sealed the four points for the Blues. Matthew Kennedy put a bad week behind him to register 22 disposals, while Rupert Wills and Alex Woodward were on fire for the Pies, with 32 and 31 respectively. Tim Broomhead kicked three goals for the Pies while Daniel Wells managed two.

Port Melbourne 12.17 (89) defeated Box Hill 8.17 (65)

On their return to Adcon Stadium, the Borough stunned last years’ premiers Box Hill to hand the Hawks their first loss of the season. Port Melbourne flew out of the blocks, kicking five goals to one in the opening term, and never looked back. Dylan Conway and Tom O’Sullivan both kicked three goals for the home side, while Ben Jolley recorded 25 disposals and Teia Miles slotted two goals for the Hawks.

Sandringham 14.8 (92) defeated Williamstown 9.14 (68)

A dominant third quarter paved the way for Sandringham’s first win of the season as they defeated the Seagulls at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. The Zebras kicked away towards the end of the first half and continued that form into the second, restricting Williamstown to only one goal in the third term. Hunter Clark was dominant for the home side with 28 disposals and a goal while Durras Seccull, brother of captain Bede, kicked four goals on debut. Adam Marcon had 28 disposals for Williamstown while Nick Rodda and Jaylon Thorpe kicked three goals each.

Coburg 20.18 (138) defeated Frankston 9.9 (63)

What many were expecting to be match of the round turned into a fizzer, as Coburg trounced the Dolphins at Piranha Park. It was once again the third term that did the most damage to Frankston, as the Lions banged home nine goals to two. Peter McEvoy kicked six goals for Coburg while Sam Lowson chimed in with three. Marcus Lentini was the leading ball winner with 28 disposals as Josh Newman continued to lead the Dolphins with 25. Nathan Freeman appeared injured as he only managed the three touches and didn’t spend much time in the midfield.

Bye – Casey, Richmond, Footscray

Photo: VFL.com.au