Billy Hartung (Dandenong Stingrays)
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 71 kg
Position: Midfielder/small forward
Player comparison: Dane Swan
Strengths: Speed, endurance, goal sense, ball getting
Weaknesses: Contested ball, attitude
Billy Hartung is arguably the most offensive player in this year’s draft. His hurt factor is as high as anyone’s and he has so many ways to hurt the opposition be it through the middle or on the scoreboard. You’d be forgiven if you mistaked Hartung for a smaller and younger Dane Swan. The way he moves around the field and finds space is so similar to that of the tatooed Magpie it is uncanny. Despite often seen walking or barely getting out of a jog, Hartung has a burst speed that burns off most players in the TAC Cup. In addition to that, Hartung’s endurance is of elite levels which means he can do it all day.
Hartung is arguably the best aerobically balanced athlete in the draft. His combination of speed and endurance is at levels many footballers would never dream of reaching. He once recorded a 17.2 on the beep test – That’s beyond elite and into cyclist and marathon runner territory. Hartung’s ability to roam around the outside of packs and receive the ball before dashing past his opponents is a feature in his game. But his main weakness also lies in this area being the fact that he is also a completely outside player.
Another comparison with Dane Swan, Hartung is not one to go into the packs too often and find the hard ball. Instead he is more content on using his pace and skill to hurt teams on the outside. One way to quell his influence was to get in his face as teams have tried to do before. At times Hartung could get frustrated whether through being tagged or through having a less influential game and makes his feelings known to the players around him. While he gives a sledge as good as he gets, Hartung is exactly the type of player who will get tagged at AFL level and therefore will need to work on that attitude side of his game. It’s not to say he has a poor attitude, more a case of learning to mentally block out taggers or opponents who try and put him off his game.
Despite his obvious contested ball weakness and mental question marks, Hartung doesn’t have too many weaknesses. He’s a flashy player who loves to run and carry along a wing while dancing around a few opponents. At times he can be caught doing a bit too much or expect a bit too much from his teammates and end up in compromising situations, but all in all, Hartung is a neat prospect. After all, his outside game is as good as anyone in the draft and his hurt factor is up there with Jack Billings in terms of scoreboard pressure. If he can show more of a defensive side like he did in quelling superstar James Aish’s influence then he could very well turn out a complete package.
Hartung is easily one of the best prospects in this draft. At the end of last year he was impressing as an bottom-ager alongside Lachie Whitfield at the Dandenong Stingrays and Vic Country. This season he has become the main man in the Stingrays’ midfield, racking up touches at will and booting a couple of goals a game. While he’s missed many TAC Cup games due to the Under 18s Championships and AIS commitments, Hartung has shown enough to suggest several clubs will be interested come draft time.
Billy Hartung is a great outside runner that clubs such as Richmond, Carlton and Melbourne would be keen on. He has shot up the rankings and will go in the first round, probably just outside the top ten. It would not be unrealistic to say he could potentially sneak inside the top ten if his form continues, but one thing’s for sure: Billy Hartung is an exciting prospect for the future.