Darcy Cameron (Claremont)
Height: 203 cm
Weight: 98 kg
Player comparison: Dean Cox
Strengths: Tapwork, athleticism, versatility
The times are changing when it comes to AFL recruiting. The premier ruckman in the draft this year going at pick 65 sounds wrong but it is definitely not a reflection of the immense talent Cameron has.
Ten years ago a prospect like Darcy Cameron would be a top ten selection. In the past 10 years the likes of Matthew Leuenberger, Patrick Ryder, Matthew Kreuzer, Ben McEvoy, Nic Naitanui, Daniel Gorringe and Billy Longer have all been top ten selections. But last year the highly rated Brodie Grundy slid to pick 18 and very few 18 year old ruckmen were taken, signalling a change of approach from recruiters who now prefer to pick more mature ruckmen with later selections since young ruckmen take a few years to develop while higher picks can be used on midfielders who tend to be more AFL ready.
Cameron has very good skills for a ruckman. He hits his short targets on most occasions and knows his limitations so he doesn’t make awful mistakes when trying to weight a 50 metre pass into space to a leading forward, instead choosing to kick long to a contest. By hand he is more than capable of finding targets both in close and longer options.
One of the best aspects of Cameron’s game is his tapwork. I rate Cameron as the best ruckman in the draft and that is mainly due to his excellent ruckwork. He uses his long arms to advantage and stretches out fully to get to the ball before the other ruckman. He places the ball well and can tap to all areas. He appears to make space for the midfielders with his taps, much like good midfielders do with their kicking to forwards, placing the ball where he wants them to run to.
WA State academy manager Raff Guadagino labelled Cameron and fellow WA product Scott Jones as “the best ruckman the WAFL has produced at an Under 18s level since Nic Naitanui”, when speaking to the Courier Mail.
Cameron is quite versatile which is going to benefit him in future years when the AFL caps the number of interchange rotations. Cameron is a ruckman but he can play as a full forward and do a more than serviceable job. He has a size advantage against the key defenders and is strong enough to be able to hold them out in a one on one contest.
His long arms give him a reach advantage and he is capable of taking some very good marks when he stretches out and takes the ball out in front of the backmen. He has been compared to Dean Cox as he has the ability to play well as both a ruckman and a forward, although he lacks the ball winning ability of Cox.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Cameron was taken at pick 65 by Port Adelaide because he provides ruck depth and can develop as a secondary ruck behind Matt Lobbe and to provide another option as a tall forward. While he may not stand out as much as Brody Grundy did last year, the wraps on him by people such as Guadagino are huge.
Cameron will become a very near prospect for any club that is willing to pounce on him and between him and Toby Nankervis, they will fight it out for the top ruck in this draft with the ruck stocks thin for 2013.