Darcy Byrne-Jones (Oakleigh Chargers)
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Position: Half-back, midfield
Player Comparison: Corey Enright
Strengths: Contested ball-winning ability, poise in defence
Darcy Byrne-Jones is another player in this year’s draft whose exact draft range remains up in the air. As a third defender/midfielder, he could be taken anywhere between the second round (about pick 30) and the third round (pick 45-50). However, with poise in defence and clean skills, he will be a valuable asset to whichever club selects him.
Byrne-Jones has been in good form for Oakleigh this season. Despite only having been named in the bests once, in his most recent game against the Northern Knights, his influence has been apparent in all games. He is not a huge possession winner, averaging 18.6 disposals over his five games for Oakleigh this season; however, what he lacks in possession-winning ability, he makes up for with poise and class.
Two of Byrne-Jones’ standout attributes – his pressure and poise – were on display in Oakleigh’s previous game against the Northern Knights. In that game, named as the second best player on the ground, Byrne-Jones amassed 23 disposals, five tackles, and six handball receives. He played as a half back for the majority of the game, bar a short period in which he pushed up the ground and kicked his first goal for the season. His poise and class in defence was first-rate: he would calmly and quietly defend his man, sticking to him like glue, and marshalling the Oakleigh defenders.
Despite his lack of pace, he is often Oakleigh’s ‘go to man’ in rebounding out of defence, as evidenced by the high number of handball receives he has averaged this year, including a massive 15 against the Western Jets. The player he is most comparable to is someone like unassuming Geelong defender Corey Enright – Byrne-Jones has the ability to win the ball and set up the play for his teammates, but also sticks tight to his man, and is excellent in a one-on-one situation.
Byrne-Jones had a quiet Championships, collecting only 56 disposals in four games, an average of 14 disposals a game, and only took eight marks. His kicking efficiency was good, at 71.4% accuracy. His failure to perform in the Championships perhaps places a question mark on his ability to perform in big games. However he has shown for Oakleigh that he is a reliable and solid defender, who has the added attribute of winning his own ball. Any club who selects him will be getting an unassuming competitor and defence marshal.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Byrne-Jones was selected by St Kilda to help strengthen their defence and give some versatility down back similar to a small Sam Gilbert. With players such as Jason Blake likely to retire, St Kilda will be looking towards re-injecting their side with some youth. Regardless of which club selects Byrne-Jones he has a fantastic attitude and some neat characteristics which will excite many fans over the next few years.