Matt Scharenberg (Glenelg)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player comparison: Brendon Goddard/Ben Reid
Strengths: Decision making, overhead marking, positioning, versatility
Weaknesses: Unknown in terms of tagging, not elite in any one category
Matt Scharenberg is one of the most interesting prospects in a number of years. If players were selected by ability and not needs, Scharenberg probably wouldn’t be number one. He’s not got the elite foot skills of a James Aish or Josh Kelly, the huge frame of a Tom Boyd or the elite athleticism of a Billy Hartung. What Scharenberg does offer is a unique skill set that has seen him shoot up the rankings.
In a draft year where most players are under six foot, Scharenberg, along with Marcus Bontempelli, are the exceptions to the rule. Before the Under 18s Championships, Scharenberg was rated as a first round pick, potentially as high as five. An impressive Championships saw him rally into contention for the number one selection by Greater Western Sydney.
With GWS announcing the number one pick is on the table, one can only assume that a club trading for it will select Eastern Ranges Tom Boyd rather than Scharenberg. If this occurs I can see Scharenberg slipping as low as fifth potentially due to the teams following the Giants’ selection electing to go for other players. Likewise, if GWS could get a top five pick with a player in exchange for their first pick, they could very well still end up with Scharenberg.
Matt Scharenberg’s greatest assest is his versatility in the Brendon Goddard mould where he can play back, forward or across the midfield. During the Under 18s Championships, Scharenberg primarily played off half back while spending time in the middle. His 190cm frame gives him an advantage over what otherwise is a much smaller draft crop this year.
Scharenberg is strong overhead, reads the play well and positions himself accordingly. He plays that loose man or offensive half back role very well. Unfortunately like Sam Colquhoun last year, clubs weren’t able to see how Scharenberg deals with a tag and if he potentially becomes like a Grant Birchall or Heath Shaw who have struggled in the past while having a defensive forward on them. One would imagine that if he was struggling to find the ball, he would be pushed into the midfield or down forward, showcasing his fantastic versatility.
In terms of style while down back, Matt Scharenberg reminds me of Ben Reid because he has a reasonably long, penetrating kick compared to other draftees and while his kicking isn’t elite, it is more than sound. Scharenberg also has good athleticism and strength without being elite which is why he is such as interesting selection. Scharenberg is considered a player that doesn’t have that ‘elite’ feature of his game like everyone else, however he would score well across the board. It’s hard to judge whether positioning or reading the play can be called ‘elite’ but those characteristics would be his greatest assets.
GWS coach Kevin Sheedy said last month that the Giants should target a midfielder in the mould of a Josh Kennedy – a tall, strong player that can become quite versatile. Of those players competing for the number one selection, one can only come to the conclusion that Scharenberg is that player. It wouldn’t be a shock given GWS already have an array of silky midfielders and gut runners so the other players in contention for the pick are not ahead of Scharenberg on the needs chart.
If Scharenberg lands himself at GWS, he will probably see a fair amount of game time in 2014 given his size and is more ready than most youngsters coming through the system. With Leon Cameron coaching next season, it would be expected that Scharenberg could start as that half back creator who rebounds the opposition attack and then moves up into the midfield to find plenty of the ball.
While the likes of James Aish and Tom Boyd will be considered at the first pick, the Giants should go for Scharenberg if they are keen to gain a unique skill set and someone who can provide something different as well as much needed versatility.