Dallas Willsmore (North Ballarat Rebels)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player comparison: Jeremy Howe
Strengths: Overhead marking, agility, flexibility
Weaknesses: Goal kicking
Dallas Willsmore is an undersized key forward who has massive potential at AFL level thanks to his ability to pick the right leads and mark overhead. He may not be the right size to play a full forward role, but Willsmore would be a very dangerous third tall at AFL level given his agility and turning speed that is quite good.
Willsmore has been trialled up the field at times off a half forward flank and occasionally off the wing showing his flexibility around the ground, something clubs would be very keen on having. He has an ok set shot for goal but can work on it, having kicked 9.7 in seven matches this season. In saying this, Willsmore is incredibly crucial to North Ballarat’s structure and the game turned on its head once he went off against the Stingrays at half time with an injury earlier in the year.
In the return bout against the Stingrays, Willsmore was everywhere collecting 28 disposals and having 18 handball receives, a clear second best stand out behind Matt Crouch. If he continues to rack up those kind of figures, he’ll be a valuable commodity around the ground. With great dukes to out-muscle most opponents, Willsmore would be a versatile tall midfielder who could use his slightly larger frame to win the footy. Put him down forward and he’ll likely to be out-muscled by the stronger defenders which is why he will likely start as a half forward flank or third forward who roams up the field to find the football.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Willsmore was selected by Sydney with pick 51 in what would be considered a huge bargain. He will most likely go in the top 40 but given he was somewhat quite at the Under 18s Championships he might slip a little bit further. With Sydney having Kurt Tippett and Sam Reid as its two pillars up forward, Willsmore would play an important third tall role even if he didn’t come on straight away. Similar to Tim Membrey who the Swans drafted last year, Willsmore could play further up the field so they weren’t too top heavy. He could also play that Adam Goodes role around the field with rucking out of the question obviously.
Regardless of the club that drafts Willsmore, the supporters should get very excited about the prospect of having the high-flying forward at the club. Similar to a Jeremy Howe or Adam Tomlinson, Willsmore has more agility than one would think and doesn’t mind going for a hanger when required. While he doesn’t have the weekly highlight reel that Howe has, Willsmore will do more than enough to keep his fans satisfied with his performance.
Willsmore is unlikely to play too many games in 2014 but from 2015 onwards, he should be aiming to cement a spot in an AFL clubs’ best 22 and find himself a position whether that be up forward or across the ground. His versatility and agility will give him an advantage over many players and cause headaches for opposition coaches.