Hugh Curnow (Northern Knights)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Andrew Mackie
Strengths: Composure, rebound from defence, athleticism
The first thing you notice about Hugh Curnow is his composure under pressure. He seems to exude confidence around the ground, and as a result has no qualms about using his pace to run through the midfield. His versatility is also a strength – he tends to play at halfback, but can also go forward and kick goals, or play for stints in the midfield.
Although Curnow doesn’t rack up the possessions, he has the ability to win his own ball as a defender. He averages 16 disposals, three marks and three tackles a game. His ability to rebound out of defence is shown in the fact that he averages 5.4 handball receives a game – his teammates clearly look to him to use the ball and hit up a teammate down the field.
His versatility is a key asset, especially in today’s AFL system, where ‘swing men’ are highly valued for the flexibility and adaptability they provide to a team. Curnow’s ability to go forward and kick goals will be a huge asset at AFL level. He has kicked at least one goal in all bar two games this season (in one of these games he played primarily as a defender for the duration of the match), including a haul of 3.2 that saw him named in the best in Northern Knights’ game against Murray Bushrangers.
Curnow’s confidence in defence is on display throughout games. This was particularly the case in the Northern Knights’ most recent game against the Oakleigh Chargers. In that game, Oakleigh made all the play in the first quarter, and the ball stayed in their forward half for the majority of the quarter. Curnow played as a rebounding defender on Oakleigh’s third tall, and proved a solid hand in defence, frequently intercepting the ball and launching a counter attack out of defence.
Perhaps his biggest weakness is his tendency to fade in and out of games. Often, if the ball isn’t in his vicinity, Curnow will just wait for the ball to come to him, rather than positioning himself well, or knowing where the ball is likely to be kicked. Given Curnow has the versatility and defence nous to be a reliable player, clubs should not overlook him for this flaw. It is one that many Under-18 players possess, and should be ironed out soon after being drafted to an AFL club.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Curnow was drafted by North Melbourne with pick 62. Given North Melbourne’s offensive drive, Curnow would fit in well and not only provide plenty of run and carry but also remain disciplined and stick by his opponent. As mentioned he loves to kick a goal and was ultra impressive at the start of the year with his goal kicking prowess which no doubt would have stuck in recruiters’ minds.
If Curnow can finish off the finals series with a couple of good performances, he should be able to expect his name read out on draft day. He is highly underrated by many and should be able to find a home at an AFL club who is looking for a handy swing man.
(Photo courtesy of News Ltd.)