Jacob Chisari (Bendigo Pioneers)
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Player position: Midfielder
Player comparison: Lenny Hayes
Strengths: Stoppages, Leadership, Endurance
Jacob Chisari is your typical no-nonsense footballer who goes out, wins the hard ball and runs all day. He has limitations, particularly disposal wise, but his work ethic and leadership will never come into question. He has helped captain the Bendigo Pioneers this year and while they haven’t had the season they were hoping for, Chisari has led from the front, being in the best nearly every week.
Chisari has played a total of 15 matches for the Pioneers and on 13 occasions he was named in the top five players. While some might argue there isn’t a lot of competition at the Pioneers, he has had a sensational season that is yet to be rewarded. If you’re looking for a flashy outside runner who will pirouette gracefully and dispose of the ball while mid-air, then Chisari isn’t the guy you’re after. If however, you’re after a tough, inside midfielder who bleeds for his club and wins the contested footy, then he is the perfect footballer.
Chisari spends nearly all of his time in the midfield such is his endurance gut-running. Playing his inside role would be tolling on anybody, but Chisari has a no-fuss approach to the way he goes about his footy and that’s what his coaching staff and teammates have loved about him. Chisari not only leads by example, but is also able to communicate incredibly well to his teammates. Against the last-placed Rebels, the Pioneers were down at three quarter time and Pioneers coach David Newett was coming onto the field to question the work ethic of the playing group. As he approached he noticed that someone was already reading them the riot act; Jacob Chisari.
Newett and the coaching staff were so impressed by Chisari’s actions, they were able to approach the huddle and discuss the fourth quarter, knowing the first three had already been outlined by the captain. Chisari is the kind of footballer who wins plaudits from everywhere. He knows he has limitations, but he gets the best out of himself and plays to his strengths. It is also worth noting he won the Bendigo Best and Fairest last season as an bottom-ager ahead of Ollie Wines and Jake Stringer, albeit with those guys missing some games due to other commitments.
Chisari’s main limitation which will have AFL clubs question his draftability is his disposal. Of his 232 kicks, only 139 have been effective which means he is running at about 60 per cent by foot. This is below average for an inside midfielder and while a lot of those are no doubt clearing helicopters out of stoppages, Chisari’s penetration can also be a worry at times. Occasionally he might float the ball a bit in the air to try and get distance which gives the opposition time to spoil against his teammates that he’s delivering the ball to. His disposal is one of the only concerns that recruiters would have over him despite being on the small side for a midfielder.
In terms of stoppages, Chisari is one of the first blokes you’d want in there winning the football. He doesn’t play for free kicks; he doesn’t take the easy option; he doesn’t sit by and let his teammates win the football. He just has the basic attitude of “see ball, win ball” and that’s how he goes about it. He averages over five tackles a game so if he doesn’t win the ball, you can be pretty safe in knowing his opponent may not have it for much longer either.
Chisari reminds me of Lenny Hayes from St Kilda. Hayes has overcome the few little weaknesses in his game to become a champion. Do St Kilda fans want Hayes running on the outside and delivering inside 50 over a Nick Dal Santo or previously Brendon Goddard? No because Hayes isn’t the greatest kick in the world. He’s brought it up to a very solid level, but he’s no slick ball user. What he does do well, is have the vision and hands to deliver it out of a contest and hand it to the better ball users. Chisari is no different and that is why he has enough about him to suggest with time and effort he can truly become a very handy AFL player.