Jack Leslie (Gippsland Power)
Player Comparison: Dean Cox
Strengths: Pace, marking, disposal
Weaknesses: Coordination (below knees), Goal kicking
Jack Leslie’s invite to the draft combine topped off a terrific 2013 for the 198 centimetre Gippsland Power ruckman. Impressive performances in the TAC Cup saw him picked in Vic Country’s team for the Under 18s National Championships, where he competed admirably. Displaying so many of the traits that are essential to a modern day ruckman will make Leslie a topic of discussion for many clubs over the coming month.
At his height, having strong marking ability is crucial if he is to be able to play key position at any stage throughout his career. Despite playing mostly as a ruckman throughout the TAC Cup season, the move to a key position is not beyond Leslie. His speed was highlighted at the draft combine where he finished sixth in the 20-metre sprint with a time of 2.90. Leslie realises his worth as a big man, putting his speed to good use in presenting as a lead up target regularly around the ground.
The ability to win your own ball is becoming increasingly crucial for draftees, however it’s something not so common with ruckman. Leslie definitely possesses this. His efforts to contest for the ball on the ground is also a strength and something unique to separate him from other big men. However, his ability to gather the ball below his knees an area to be improved on.
Leslie plays in somewhat of a similar mould to Dean Cox, with great ruckwork and his ability to move freely around the ground a real strength. He’s a strong mark who should be able to float forward and provide a tall option, however he found the goals hard to come by in 2013 with only two from 13 matches with the Power. That being said, his disposal is impressive for a big man and his inability to hit the scoreboard may have been more about his team’s strong forward line and the dominance of Josh Scott.
At just 87 kilograms, Leslie is your stereotypical light framed ruckman. Competing with the big boys like Ben McEvoy, will require a couple of pre seasons under the belt, but Leslie has real upside to a club in the St Kilda mould who will be looking to rebuild through the draft. Leslie could provide the perfect understudy to Tom Hickey and by the time Nick Riewoldt and co depart the AFL ranks, be primed to step into a key position role.
The lack of quality rucks in the 2013 National Draft means that Leslie is almost certain to get drafted. His impressive draft combine results further enhanced his chances and has shown he has the rare quickness that could see him move like a much smaller player. There’s no doubt many clubs will seriously look at Leslie, with the few areas that he is lacking in easily fixable. If picked up, clubs will be probably be looking at departing with a third round pick, however given the lack of ruck talent in the draft, someone could pounce earlier.