Harrison Wigg (North Adelaide)
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Strengths: Efficiency, vision and awareness, decision making, composure, ball winning, versatility, marking
Weaknesses: Height, light frame, speed
Player comparison: Heath Shaw
If Harrison Wigg’s numbers at the National Championships are anything to go by, it paints an exciting picture for the lucky club that’ll draft him in November.
Wigg, who ran at the highest disposal efficiency at the National Championships, finished with 18.6 disposals at a top line efficiency of 79 per cent, 3.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1.3 clearances and two inside 50s off his six games for the Croweaters. The performances saw him take home not only South Australia’s MVP, but also All Australian honours.
Standing at just 179 centimetres, Wigg is a pint-sized yet tidy player who was utilised as SA’s general in defence over the course of the carnival. He often zoned off and dropped into vacant space, running the ball on the rebound and being assigned kick-in duties.
But in terms of the overall talent, he mustn’t be pigeon-holed as just a defender.
Wigg has an undoubted ability to take intercept marks and let fly, along with super accurate disposal by foot coming out of defensive 50. But what hasn’t been appropriately discussed is Wigg has been spending time in the midfield at colts and reserves level for North Adelaide, both prior and post-Championships.
It’s at that level where his ball-hunting prowess comes to the fore, but it also more importantly highlights his astronomical numbers in a totally different position to that of what was displayed during the Championships. At colts level, Wigg averages 28 disposals at 77 per cent disposal efficiency, 7.2 marks, 2.5 tackles, five clearances, 6.2 inside 50s and 1.7 rebound 50s per game.
Not only does he win it on the inside and out, but his ability to spread to receive possession and use the ball well going inside 50 forms the cornerstone of his game. For a player of his height, the fact he is marking the ball seven times a game on average is another mind-boggling trait that has Wigg incredibly well placed to make a charge at the first round of the draft.
At reserves level Wigg has also shown an ability to collect the ball against bigger bodies. He averages 18 disposals, six marks, 2.5 clearances and three rebound 50s per game at that level, showing that he is more than holding his own.
Added to his high-production numbers, Wigg is considered a dedicated and professional footballer, who spends as much time diligently preparing ahead of a game as he does recovering from one.
Those at North Adelaide have been quick to praise his ability to be coached, given that he not only trains the way he plays, but also strives to get the best out of himself. This has been reflected through his rapid rise in his top-age year.
I’d be quite comfortable in saying Wigg is the best kick of this year’s draft. However, Wigg isn’t a one-trick pony, with other strengths including his endurance, composure, ability to read the play and his marking game.
While he often takes his side’s kick-ins and loves to play as a loose man, there are question marks in regards to how he slots in at AFL level.
Making the transition to a professional AFL life won’t be a problem, but given he doesn’t have line-breaking speed nor height on his side, it could be the difference in how he is viewed in the draft.
At AFL level, he’s likely to ply his trade early in a back pocket or a back flank. In that position, he’s likely to come across the AFL’s better small forwards: defensively speaking, we haven’t seen a whole lot of in terms of whether or not he can apply that lock down role.
As opposed to it being a weakness, it’s more an area that he’s yet to really be trialled in, meaning we cannot make an accurate assessment on whether it is a negative of his game.
In terms of his projected development five years from now, Wigg could very well find himself playing on a wing or an attacking rebounding role in defence, not too dissimilar to a Heath Shaw type.
There are always questions marks on players who are sub-180 centimetres, but history tells us the small blokes are more than adept to making a midfield position their own. The proof already is in the pudding for Wigg, whose numbers speak for themselves.