Cain Tickner (Aspley/Queensland)
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Position: Key position utility
Player comparison: Cale Hooker
Strengths: Agility, endurance, potential
Weaknesses: Strength, Disposal
Cain Tickner is another Brisbane zone selection player from their academy and will be selected with a later pick in the National Draft. He is a very unique tall prospect because he seems to do all the “small man” stuff really well yet at times struggle with the “big man” attributes. For a 194 cm player, Tickner has great athleticism which helps him outwork his opponents more often than not.
Tickner loves to run when he gets the chance and while he’s not overly quick, he has the endurance to run all day and is quite nimble which helps his case. When the ball hits the deck, Tickner is like another small forward and can scoop the ball up quickly and dish off to a teammate in space. This has a number of Brisbane recruiters no doubt licking their lips that a key position player can be so nimble.
Unfortunately being athletic and quick has its downfalls in this case with Tickner often struggling with the parts of the game you’d expect him to excel at. Despite being 91 kg, he isn’t overly strong and needs to use his body better. He will also want to improve his marking which will no doubt come with time when he is challenged by the Lions at training and gets used to competing against competition-hardened bodies. Being a key position player, Tickner doesn’t find a lot of the ball either which isn’t a deal breaker by any means given most guys in his role don’t find it a whole heap.
Tickner has been trialed at both ends and has shown enough promise to suggest he can play as a switch man. He has good defensive skills and has the discipline to cope with being a key defender but obviously being out-muscled or out-played by key forwards is a worry. He would want to learn his trade a third tall who can play on the slightly lighter but more athletic key forwards or start in a pocket and practice his leading and coordination with his teammates.
In terms of disposal, Tickner doesn’t have a damaging kick and wouldn’t be one you’d rely on too often to kick out of defense. In most cases he’ll opt for a handball and may only rack up eight to ten disposals a game, similar to Collingwood’s Simon Prestigiacomo. If he is developed as a back man, he will probably be asked to just beat his man each week and not focus too much on stats. If he can do this, he’ll make it as a player and become a solid role player.
He’s a hard man to try and compare given his rawness but with plenty of potential, Tickner could play the same role as Essendon’s Cale Hooker and take the third tall in defense or occasionally play forward when required. He does have the size to become a real solid key position player, it will just be a case of trying to fill him out and teach him the trade.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Tickner was selected by Brisbane with pick 60. This isn’t a surprise and more than likely this will be the range that Brisbane can get him for. They may elect to let him slip to the rookie draft if no-one bids on him, but more than likely they will take him for a late pick.
Tickner may not have the attributes to be a strong key position player, but he does have plenty of potential and athleticism that would envy many opposition defenders. If he can harness his talent and build up some strength as well as “tall man” ability, he’ll go a fair way in the AFL.