Luke Dunstan (Woodville-West Torrens)
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Sam Mitchell, Scott Pendlebury
Strengths: Endurance, leadership, ball-winning ability, contested disposal/possession
Weaknesses: Opposite foot disposal
Like Dom Sheed, Luke Dunstan is another player who is difficult to place in this year’s draft. His elite kicking and endurance ability could see him chosen anywhere between pick 10 to 20, depending on the needs of other clubs before him. We’ve chosen him at pick eight here as he will be a perfect fit for West Coast. His ability to amass a heap of disposals, combined with the ferocity of his tackling and contested ball-winning ability, makes him a standout prospect this year.
However, perhaps Dunstan’s biggest strength is his leadership ability. He was made captain of the South Australia under-18 Championship squad this season, and was an integral member of the AFL-AIS Academy. On the AIS trip to Europe, Dunstan was touted as a future leader, as he was, according to the AFL’s Cal Twomey, one player who would always bring his teammates back into line, and ensure everyone was working their hardest. For a young player to come to a club with this leadership ability already under his belt is a massive benefit, and is something the Eagles would also benefit from in their young midfield.
When he plays as a midfielder, Dunstan is prolific, racking up both uncontested and contested possessions. Throughout the Championships, he averaged 22 disposals, and earned South Australian MVP honours, along with teammate Matt Scharenberg. One of Dunstan’s big strengths is his ability to play as a half-forward. He performs exceptionally well in this role, being an excellent overhead mark, and is an accurate kick for goal. This versatility is yet another string to his bow, and another added benefit for an Eagles team sorely lacking in tall half-forwards, especially given the injuries to Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski this season.
Given his leadership nous, Dunstan seems set to walk straight into AFL next year. His endurance is good enough that he can play as a midfielder most of the time, although most clubs would benefit from playing him as a part-time half-forward to help his development. Playing in the SANFL this year with Woodville-West Torrens has ensured he has a body ready for AFL football, thus further enhancing his claim to play in round one.
The one knock on Dunstan is his kicking ability on his non-preferred right foot. In today’s AFL environment, where precise kicking is so highly valued, clubs will be looking to work on this weakness to ensure Dunstan is a precise kick on both feet. However, previous drafts have shown that players with this weakness have quickly improved once coming to AFL clubs, so Dunstan’s weakness should not be a liability for clubs.
Dunstan’s many skills and attributes should see him thrive in the AFL environment, and he would be an excellent addition to any club. His talent is such that he could make an impact in his first year, and should not take long to develop into a top-flight talent. If he slips past pick 12 in the draft, he will be an absolute steal.