Max Hayes (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Position: Key Forward
Player comparison: Jack Watts
Strengths: Marking, positioning, goal kicking
Weaknesses: Consistency, versatility
Max Hayes is one player that will be very interesting to watch transition at AFL level. He has the right characteristics to become a really good player but at times his consistency can be frustrating. If he can play a full four-quarter match and then try and get a few of those strung together, Hayes could be a real value pick around the second round.
In the opening round of the TAC Cup season, Hayes booted four goals against the Western Jets and looked lively in conditions that didn’t particularly suit key forwards. He looked in ominous form and like he was on the verge of putting his hand up as an alternative selection for clubs that were out of Tom Boyd contention.
Unfortunately for Hayes, his school football and somewhat underwhelming performances this season have left a few question marks surrounding him. When playing for Vic Metro, Hayes had the chance to step up when Boyd went down and stamp himself as a first round selection being the main target inside 50. He struggled, barely having an impact particularly against South Australia at Simonds Stadium where his only goal came after the siren when the match was lost.
When Sandringham has its finest midfielders in Josh Kelly, Christian Salem and Karl Amon, Hayes is a dangerous prospect because the ball is being delivered on a silver platter. While he’s not a super quick forward, his athleticism will see him break even with most defenders in that regard. Much like his athleticism, his strength isn’t excessive, but he marks above his head strongly making life difficult for his opponents.
This leads to a belief that if Hayes has good delivery, he will more than likely develop into a really good player. This could be said about all forwards, but there are some who can perform in lower sides with poorer delivery. It also leads to another belief that Hayes could be a confidence player much like a Travis Cloke who if he can kick a goal or two early is in for a good day, otherwise he could be nullified.
Hayes draws comparisons with Jack Watts because he seems like the kind of player that will bring so much hope, probably excessive amounts, that if he doesn’t perform his supporter base and critics might start circling. In saying that, Hayes is likely to be a second to third-round pick so he may not come under the same pressure as the number one pick.
If Hayes can get picked up by a club that has quality midfielders, he can really flourish because his game will be built around confidence and having the knowledge he is relied upon to convert. His penetrating kick which can see him score from outside 50 will also be something that is looked fondly upon by recruiters.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Hayes was plucked by Carlton due to their need of having another key forward with Jarrad Waite continually out and rucks such as Shaun Hampson not performing or Sam Rowe still developing. At this stage of the draft, it will likely be a key forwards area once the quality midfielders are gone and recruiters will be picking on preference between the likes of Darcy Hourigan, Mitch Harvey, Cameron McCarthy, Luke Reynolds, Dallas Willsmore and Hayes.
Regardless of what order they will be selected in, Hayes is likely to give supporters a lot of hope that he can be a key forward for the future and will be one to watch over the next few years as he bulks up and begins to assimilate into the club culture of whichever club pounces first.