Nic Bourke (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Player comparison: Garrick Ibbotson
Strengths: Positioning, Marking, Playmaking
Weaknesses: Hurt factor
Nic Bourke is another versatile star from the Geelong Falcons side this year and despite some injury setbacks, has bounced back in recent weeks to put his hand up to become a top 40 draft pick. Bourke is the kind of player who can play on the wing or half back but he isn’t afraid to go in and win his own football either. Often because of his ability to read the play and mark overhead, Bourke is used to fill gaps in the Falcons defence and begin a chain of possessions from half back.
Bourke, along with Lewis Taylor, Darcy Gardiner and James Tsitas was a member of the AIS academy who traveled to Europe earlier in the year. Unfortunately for Bourke he was still recovering from injury and it took him some while to return to his best. In his first game back from injury, Bourke collected 17 disposals (10 effective) and eight marks in what was termed by some as “better for the run”. It more of a relief for the Falcons to see him out there and get through the game unscathed.
It took a month for Bourke to suddenly hit the form that saw him make the AIS academy squad with a stellar performance against the Western Jets. He picked up 30 disposals (25 effective), had 12 marks, four tackles and kicked a goal. Given he has only registered six tackles in seven games, it was no doubt a sign of his intent on that day.
While being primarily that outside runner who steadies the back line and finds the best option available, Bourke isn’t afraid to get into contests and and then peel off when a teammate wins the ball under a pack so he can find the next bloke in the cue. Bourke unsurprisingly was elected for Vic Country and he impressed at times but earlier in the Under 18s Championships you could tell he was a guy still coming back from injury. Nonetheless, Bourke has put in some impressive performances of late and with some luck, he could well be a member of a premiership with the way the Falcons are going currently.
He might not receive the wraps or accolades that midfielders Tsitas or Taylor do, but Bourke is the man who sets up a lot of plays and can look for his midfield teammates to do the damage. He doesn’t have the most damaging of possessions but he’s clever and knows when to give it off and when to go. He has plenty to work with and with a larger endurance base could definetely play as a permanent midfielder, particularly on the wing.
Like most draftees, Bourke is likely to start off playing at half back and progress into the midfield after a few seasons. Clubs might even play him off a half forward flank to give him some confidence early in the season. His versatility is why he will be sought out by a number of clubs in November.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Bourke was selected by Greater Western Sydney with their third round selection at Pick 37. This is probably about the range he’ll go but if he continues his good form, he could well go mid-second round to a club contending for the flag. He might not come in and play straight away at AFL level, but he has plenty of potential to go places.