Garrett McDonagh (Northern Knights)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Strengths: Powerful left boot, composure, vision, leadership
Player comparison: Matt Suckling
When you think of left footers that come off the half back line, all of them seem to have beautiful kicking styles and a booming leg that can get the ball 50 metres up the field. If those are the requirements at AFL level, then Northern Knights star Garrett McDonagh fits the bill perfectly.
McDonagh’s game style is that of a modern day player across half back. It’s more about him getting the ball forward and looking for team mates in advanced positions, rather then playing a shut down role on his opponent. While McDonagh is accountable for his opposition player, he makes them pay going the other way when he gets his hands on the ball and uses it beautifully with his left boot.
He always seems as though he’s got plenty of time on the ball, he never rushes and is always calm when it comes to picking out a target. He rarely gets tackled and his composure is also reassuring for those around him, as McDonagh doesn’t panic no matter the situation.
Of the 258 disposals McDonagh has managed in the 15 TAC Cup games he’s featured in so far, 190 of them have been kicks. He’s going at 68 per cent by foot, which doesn’t seem too bad at all when most of those kicks are travelling 30+ metres. McDonagh’s 17 touches a game is quite good considering he spends large amounts of time behind the ball, and he’s also managed to kick 12 goals this season, which shows that when given the chance to creep forward, he’s able to hit the scoreboard effectively.
For someone who has the ability to kick the ball as well as the Knights star does, sometimes it can go to waste if the player doesn’t always pick out the best option. McDonagh has great vision of what’s ahead of him on the field, and generally picks out the team mate in the best position, and not always the one that’s just closest to him. His decision making when sending the ball inside 50 is also impressive, always giving his forwards the best chance to out mark the opposition.
Along with fellow Knights backmen Ryan Tester, McDonagh is one of the leaders down back, often relaying messages from the bench to those around him. He’s quite vocal on the field and also gives advice from the bench at times, so even when he’s not in the game he has the ability to organise the defence if they’re caught out of position.
Being left out of the Vic Metro side may have been a blessing in disguise for McDonagh, as he’s been able to show his class consistently at TAC Cup level. He may not be a lock selection at the national draft, but he along with those around him will believe that he’s done enough to make the step up to the AFL next season.