Toby Nankervis (North Launceston)
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 100 kg
Player Comparison: Mark Jamar
Strengths: Tapwork, strong mark, goal kicker
Weaknesses: Vertical leap
Nankervis basically popped up from nowhere to be the best ruck prospect this year, overtaking the likes of Michael Apeness, Agape Patolo and Jack Leslie. He was overlooked in the draft last year, but he mauled every opponent he played against in the National Championships and stormed onto recruiters’ radars. His form earned him an All Australian spot and he was also the joint winner of the Harrison medal for the best division two player.
Throughout the Championships, Nankervis averaged 21.4 disposals, 18 hit outs, close to eight and a half marks and just over a goal a game. He basically plays as a fourth midfielder in the Dean Cox mould. He moves around the ground extremely well, often combining in chains of handballs. He’s a strong lead up marking target all over the ground and his kicking is reliable enough for him to be a threat when he gets the ball.
Contested marking is certainly Nankervis’ biggest strength. He uses his size to advantage and reads the ball drop well. He doesn’t get tangled up too often with defenders and his hands are very reliable.
Another strength for Nankervis is his tapwork. At Visy Park against Vic Country, he was giving the midfielders silver service and allowing them first use of the ball. He doesn’t have the greatest vertical leap so he’s going to struggle against the more athletic Patrick Ryder or Nic Naitanui types, but against the bigger framed Mumford types, he shouldn’t be outclassed.
Nankervis is offensively minded. He can go forward and fill the hole comfortable. Unlike traditional ruckmen who go forward, Nankervis has the agility and spatial intelligence to be a lead up player. Of course, he can also occupy the goal square and most defenders won’t beat him one on one.
His kicking at goal is fairly accurate, although most shots that he took throughout the National Championships were fairly easy.
Nankervis is the kind of all-round ruckman who may go as high as the second round, considering the lack of tall talent in this draft. Going undrafted last year signals that recruiters had some queries over his game, but this year there seems to be no gaping holes at all. While he could be still considered a project ruckman, he is more ready for AFL than any other ruckman in this draft crop given he has had the extra year to develop.
In the Bound For Glory News Phantom Draft, Nankervis was selected with pick 79 by Adelaide. He would be considered a younger, more talented upgrade on Angus Graham with a much better scope up forward. He would help relieve Jacobs and could very well play that Kurt Tippett role similar to Josh Jenkins where he plays forward and rotates through the ruck.
Given the lack of ruck prospects in this draft, Nankervis could be pounced upon very early with only a handful of others that could be considered able to make it at AFL level. Nankervis is probably most likely to go somewhere in the second to third rounds but could go higher or lower depending on which team deems that they need another ruck that still has years on his side rather than a “gap filler”. Regardless, Nankervis should find a home and will become a very solid player at AFL level.