Caleb Marchbank (Murray Bushrangers)
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Strengths: Speed, marking, versatility
Weaknesses: Tackling and pressure
Player Comparison: Brian Lake
Top prospects tend to dominate games at junior level. They tend to be the guys you notice and that’s because they have some qualities that make them draftable players. Caleb Marchbank is one of those players that stands out every time you watch him. He is not elite in any one area but he is very good in multiple areas and this makes him one of the best key position players available.
Marchbank has been riddled with injuries over the last year. He played the first two games of last year before spending the next 14 months on the sidelines due to injury. However, in his comeback game against the Eastern Ranges, Marchbank put on a show for the big crowd that came to see the night game.
Marchbank played at both ends of the ground and was in absolutely everything. He cut off dangerous forward thrusts by the Ranges players, spread hard and even kicked a goal. It was just a sign of things to come as he continued to play in this manner throughout the Championships where he was named in the All-Australian team as a defender after his performances for Vic Country.
During the carnival Marchbank stamped himself as one of the most versatile players in the draft and showed that he is one of the best talls. In a draft littered with top end key position prospects, he was arguably the most impressive in the Champs as the likes of Paddy McCartin, Sam Durdin and Hugh Goddard failed to impress as consistently as Marchbank.
His main strength lies in his marking, especially reading the flight of the ball, allowing him to position himself perfectly. He has a good leap and can make contested marks look easy. He averages six marks for Murray, with 1.3 of them contested. He can take them on the lead when playing up forward but he can also take them in defence, drifting back into traffic and sticking his arms up high to pull it down.
Marchbank has a number of athletic attributes which allow him to cover the ground easily. He appears to move smoothly, with a very high work rate that sees him move to contest after contest. He looks exhausted when he comes to the bench but that is only because he works so hard and after missing much of the pre season his fitness base may also be lacking. He has good acceleration and is quite quick for a big guy which allows him to burst away from a defender, or take off from half back and rebound.
With the ball in hand he is good without being great. He makes good decisions with the footy, and his possessions generally hit their target but he doesn’t have a bullet-like boot that can make recruiters and fans salivate. What he does have though is a good footy brain and it helps with his decision making.
It is hard to find faults with Marchbank’s game because he seems to do everything well. He doesn’t lay many tackles and could improve on his defensive pressure, as his closing speed and agility should allow him to put a lot of pressure on the ball carrier.
Few players in the draft have the versatility to play centre half back, centre half forward and on the wing but Marchbank is one of them. You can put him anywhere on the field and he will do the job and be one of the best players on the field. Look for his name to be called out early on draft day.