Aaron Christensen (Calder Cannons)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Wing / Forward
Player Comparison: Matthew Richardson (later years)
Strengths: Marking, work rate, agility
Weaknesses: Can be negated easily, light frame
Calder started off the season with no real standout talents, but a good group of core leaders and hard workers who continued to impress across the year. Their top tier all possess clear deficiencies and Aaron Christensen is no different. While he is a fantastic kick, he struggles when he is being paid heavy attention and therefore can go missing in patches during games.
As a tall wing man, Christensen works hard into space to be a link up target all over the ground. His tank is better than most players, so he covers a lot of space and more often than not, he’s used in counter attacks when the ball is turned over. He’s rarely beaten on the lead, as his combination of burst speed and long arms make him too fast for key defenders, but too lanky for smaller defenders and midfielders.
In a contest, he has a great mark and a decent leap on him. However, if it’s one on one, he gets out bodied too easily due to his small frame. Obviously that will come in time, but for the moment, he needs to find a “Plan B” for when his opponent engages in a wrestling contest. Having said that, he averaged nearly four and a half marks per game with just over one of those being contested in each game. Against the Stingrays earlier in the year, four of his six marks were contested.
Christensen is a great kick of the football. His disposal is that of a midfielders rather than a key forward, and he’s agile when the ball hits the deck. He’ll never become a rover because he’s exclusively an outside player, but he doesn’t need to adapt an inside game to make it to the AFL. Against the Jets in the Semi-Finals, Christensen kicked two great running goals from about 45 metres out. His composure when running towards goal is a stand out feature that would be deadly if he becomes a successful AFL player.
When up forward, Christensen is reliable for two goals a game. He’s kicked multiple goals on five occasions this season. However, when he’s the number one target, opposition coaches will double team him so he becomes ineffectual. As soon as defensive pressure is applied, he struggles to break it. As such, he can either be a really damaging offensive target, or alternatively, rarely sighted. When he is shut down, he moves back to the wing and wins more of the ball to increase his confidence.
Ultimately, Christensen would be suited to the wing or a high half forward role, as his work rate would be wasted as a stay-at-home forward. If he was in a side with more class, there’s no doubt he’d be having a phenomenal year. However, his lack of consistency makes him a really speculative pick come draft day. He has the tools to become a solid AFL player, it will just come down to how he adapts at the club that selects him should he be drafted which one would expect he would.