Michael Apeness (Eastern Ranges)
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 101 kg
Player comparison: Tom Bellchambers
Strengths: Marking, versatility, tap work
Weaknesses: Influence across four quarters
The rise of Michael Apeness was one of the only positives to come out of the Tom Boyd injury, as he had to step up for both Eastern and Vic Metro once Boyd went down. Apeness was able to be that big key forward and provide a target for his midfielders which has enabled him to be noticed by recruiters.
As well as being a forward target, Apeness has also been a pretty handy ruckman this season. He had the most hitouts of any player in the National Championships with 95 over the five matches, including 33 to go along with 15 disposals in the game against NSW/ACT. Apeness also booted five goals during the Championships, and was one of only two Metro players to feature in all five games, which just goes to show how important he was to the team.
Apeness also had to fill the role of Tom Boyd for the Eastern Ranges and has done this well over the course of the season. His body size is similar to Boyd’s which enables him to use his strength in one on one situations to put himself in the best position to take the mark. He is also a very good contested mark of the ball and very strong overhead. Drifting into the forward line has also improved his goalkicking, as he’s chipped in with 15 goals so far this season.
As there aren’t many quality ruckmen in this year’s draft pool, this gives Apeness another advantage over potential draftees. His tap work is sensational, and generally always gives his teammates the best chance to get the footy. He’s quite a smart ruckmen too, often not only tapping it straight to the on-ballers, but sometimes even knocking it into space for them to run in to. Apeness is also very competent at ground level. He’s not afraid to jump on the ball, even going in for second and third efforts to win the ball for his team, which some ruckmen don’t do and if the opposition have the ball, he’s also a very strong tackler.
Even though this season for Apeness has been all about improvements, one of his biggest weaknesses is still his influence over a game. He often goes missing for long periods of the game here and there, but there’s no doubt that with an AFL season under his belt, he’ll be able to eradicate that from his game.
In the Bound For Glory News Phantom Draft, Apeness was selected at pick 57 by St.Kilda. As the Saints don’t have too many quality talls, Apeness could be a long term prospect in the forward line to complement current young guns Spencer White and Tom Lee. However, if the Saints do decide that they will take Tom Boyd with what looks to be the number three pick, there’s a good chance that Apeness may end up elsewhere.
As he currently has a body ready for AFL football, Michael Apeness could find himself playing a few games in 2014. Versatility is key in this league, especially with the sub rule as it makes teams think about playing two specialist ruckmen. Apeness is very good in the ruck and up forward, allowing him to play both positions when called upon, which gives him a very good chance of hearing his name being called out come draft night.