Matt Crouch (North Ballarat Rebels)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Strengths: Vision, strength, contests
Weaknesses: Skills, Lacks athleticism
Despite being sidelined for seven weeks with a broken hand, Matt Crouch’s 2013 TAC Cup season has proven setbacks are no obstacle to his abilities and passion for the game. Surprisingly overlooked in the 2012 GWS Mini Draft, Crouch looks to maintain and build upon his skills and knowledge in order to hopefully achieve success in this year’s draft.
Often touted as one of the best inside midfielders of the competition, Crouch has incredible vision and awareness for the game that allows him to read the ball well before his opponent. This has progressively developed over the years spent in junior football, school football and continues to do so with every round of the TAC Cup. His decision-making – especially in pressure situations – enables him to win clearances and anticipate the opposition’s movements. Consequently, Crouch’s balance is achieved through his defensive game where he his quick around stoppages and monumental in pushing the ball forward.
The North Ballarat Rebels co-captain consistently racks up a high number of disposals; his quick hands are a vital asset of not only his personal game but also that of the team. For Vic Country during round five of the Under 18s Championships, he picked up 27 disposals and had five clearances after returning from injury.
As well, Crouch is no stranger to the hardball get. He is not afraid to throw himself into contests against bigger, able bodies. He has dabbled in sizing himself up against bigger competition, from the AIS-AFL Academy’s game against the European Legion earlier in the year to a stint as VFL club North Ballarat Rooster’s 23rd man in their win against Frankston. With his experience as well as his already established lack of hesitation in going for the contested ball, this will prove advantageous for Crouch in his quest to follow in big brother Brad’s footsteps and be selected to play AFL. It could be this fierce determination that gets him over the line.
It might seem odd that a guy who isn’t an elite kick or an elite athlete could even be considered for the first round, but Matt Crouch is a special player. He has the unique ability to see things that others wouldn’t. His elite vision through traffic helps him feed out handballs to teammates who sometimes aren’t even expecting them such is his ability to find a way out of trouble. The best way to summarise Matt Crouch is to say he doesn’t hurt you with his disposal, he makes others hurt you with theirs.
The versatile midfielder will be a handy asset for any AFL team as an all-round midfielder with significant influence and leadership similar to the likes of Joel Selwood. Being able to switch the play from the inside to the outside and provide much needed brute strength and vision will only add to his list of benefits. What may let him down is his slight lack of athleticism that could weaken his work rate- a factor he will no doubt seek to work on come the AFL national combine in order to provide stiff competition against the relatively even top few potential draftees.