Nick Naitanui (Swan Districts/WA) – Draft Profile

Height: 200.9cm
Weight: 93.9kg
Style: Mobile inside ruckman/stop gap KP utility
Preferred Foot: Right
Potential: 8.5-10/10


> Jaw-dropping explosive athleticism – astounding vertical jump, elite acceleration/pace and good agility for his size – most importantly he makes complete use of it – contesting ruck duels, exploding away from/through traffic, taking high grabs etc.
> Aerial presence – has height, reach and vertical jump - 200+cm with long arms – hands OH are on the improve and is a good spoiler
> Very clean hands off the deck – amazing for his height
> Incredible X-factor and game-breaking ability – freakish and has the ability to influence games in ways never seen before in a ruckman/tall utility – seems to be developing a knack of bobbing up and doing something special at the right time too (i.e. several occasions during the WAFL season, most notably his late final quarter effort against Peel in the do or die final H&A game, where he kicked a goal, set up another and took a crucial, but also spectacular grab in the dying seconds)
> Ruckwork – has improved throughout the course of the season to a point where it is a strength – wins a large chunk of taps (due to aerial presence) and his distribution to advantage of his midfielders has got better and better
> Versatility – can play (and has played) just about any key or non-key position on the ground.
> Defensive work-ethic, competitive streak and tackling – amazing 2nd efforts, chasing, tackling, smothering, spoiling – you name it, he does it and with terrific intensity – regularly chases down and tackles players from behind and with rugby-like level of collision impact, high hurt factor and seriously team lifting.
> Ball winning ability at stoppages – as good as the best inside midfielders in this draft with his ability to contest and win the ball at ground level in stoppages
> Excellent vision and decision making by hand and in traffic – creative, quick and instinctive with consistently good hurt factor/power/impact
> Marketability – big, tall Fijian powerhouse with dreadlocked hair, completely unique playing style and amazing athleticism, all equates to a very tantalising prospect for marketers
> Very well physically developed for 200+cm player despite somewhat narrow frame - already close to 95kg
> BIG upside - tall, athletic, powerful, incredibly physical and instinctive, as well as having taken up the game slightly later than most other kids – has shown a lot already – unknown levels of improvement – anywhere from good to amazing.
> Highly credentialed (2x WA U18 rep, 2x AA ruckman, AIS scholarship, R/U in the 2007 WAFL colts B&F, WAFL colts TOTY 2007) and very good 2008 form behind him (both WAFL and U18 championships) – AFL ready


> Poor kicking technique – one-sided (right foot), probably average-slightly below kick for his size, but technically needs a lot of refining – too much hang time, not enough penetration, too mechanical – drops the ball too close to him and needs to get better arm extension particularly
> Poor vision and decision making by foot – slow, not good at spotting up/finding targets – too focused on getting boot to ball - often caught when shaping up to kick – lacks confidence
> Poor reading of the play/positioning/attack work rate – runs to terrible areas (dead part of the ground) – doesn’t demand the footy outside of contests - stems from a lack of confidence in his kicking? Lack of endurance?


> First played footy at 11 with Midvale FC
> Only started taking the game seriously 1.5 years ago i.e. realised he could make a career out of it)
> Rapid improvement from 2006 U16 Nationals where he was a very skinny raw athlete


There’s never been a player remotely like Naitanui since the conception of the AFL draft and possibly ever. While he’s the ultimate project player - a breath-taking range of attributes for a ruckman/tall utility but still raw in a football sense - he’s more ready for AFL than most give credit for. As I said before he could end up anywhere from good to amazing X-factor – his ceiling is as high as reaching all time legend status – where he’ll end up along the spectrum, I can’t say with any confidence. One thing’s for sure he’s a completely unique footballer and is sure to provide many exciting moments for football fans in the future.

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