Style: Inside/outside midfielder/HFF
Preferred Foot: Left
> Elite left foot disposal – effective and damaging - one of the best you’ll see in a junior – highly compact economical style – superb balance, strength, power, hurt factor and weighting with short load time
> Very good disposal by hand – efficient, clean good vision and ability to release his hands in a tackle
> Excellent and routinely good decision maker
> Clean, efficient hands and ball control without being freakish
> Excellent football smarts – anticipation/reaction time and positioning in contests is standout – natural inside midfielder
> Consistent ball winner without being a genuine ball magnet – very effective at winning the ball both inside and outside traffic and is a persistent threat as a first dibs inside midfielder at stop plays – quick reaction time and good acceleration – good agility and movement through traffic
> Strong OH mark despite having a significant reach disadvantage for his height and handspan – has the core strength to hold his ground, reads the flight well and has a strong grip
> Goal kicking ability as a midfielder or forward - averaged more than a goal/game at WAFL level (including a bag of 4) – threat at scoring goals from stoppages and can kick goals from beyond 50m with ease
> Versatile – can play as a midfielder (inside or out), high HFF, floating forward or rebounding HBF
> Terrific tackler – pounds opponents into the turf
> Very strongly built and excellent balane – excellent strength through the core and hips - already has an AFL build (may need some refining)
> Highly credentialed (Dual WA U18 rep, Dual AA U18, Dual WAFL premiership player, 2008 WA U18 captain, 2007 WAFL colts TOTY, AFL-AIS scholarship) and has ~1.5 seasons of good WAFL form behind him – definite AFL ready for 2009 R1.
> One-sided – can’t recall ever seeing him use his right foot (however he is strong, composed and balanced enough to get out of most trick situations)
> Poor engine – lacks both testing endurance (low 13 beep tests and poor 3km time trials) and on-field/mental endurance (i.e. not a gut runner - and shows as he struggles with tags)
> On-field pace isn’t as good as testing times suggest (2.95s 20m) – however more than acceptable for AFL (particularly when you add in his ability to anticipate/react to the play before his opponent) – doesn’t have the higher gears to go on piercing 30m+ runs
> Similar to Kerr re: defensive pressure – what he does is high impact, but is somewhat inconsistent with the expected.
> Performed well in 2008 for any other U18 draftees standards but for Rich’s standards was below expectations – was it a decision to ease off in preparation knowing his 2006 and 2007 had got him drafted? Was he hindered by injury (some rumours re: knee issues)? Or no excuses - just stagnating?
Rich is one of the safest and best prospects of this years draft. Comparatively he has less 'potential' improvement in him then many of the other top U18 players, but you can only overlook the sheer all-round quality of his game for so long before you start to become delusional.