Sam Durdin (West Adelaide)
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 87 kg
Position: Key position utility
Strengths: Versatility, field kicking, marking, athleticism
Areas of improvement: Imposing himself on a game, football smarts
Player comparison: Jake Carlisle
Sam Durdin is a player you pick up not on what he is right now but what he has the potential to be. Durdin excels in many different areas of football and possesses natural talent most players couldn’t dream of having but unfortunately the parts just haven’t come together yet. He had a lacklustre championships, averaging 10 disposals at 63 per cent efficiency, three marks, two inside 50s, one clearance and one tackle a game. Despite spending considerable time forward he only managed four scoring shots across the six games.
When he played in the ruck during the champs he competed well at the tap but lacked effort following up and didn’t impact the game around the ground. When forward he was leading to the wrong places at the wrong times and at ground level didn’t follow up or have a presence. Down back he was impressive, always keeping his opponent honest however offensively his production was still down. Since the championships, Durdin has been okay in the SANFL reserves averaging nine touches a game while also being defensively sound.
Despite his below par performances this year Durdin is still a top prospect. He’s very slender and raw at only 87 kilograms. Compared to other prospects he’s still got a lot of development to come and that’s what excites. He’s very clean below the knees. Athletically he excels – his agility and turning circle are that of a player four inches smaller and he’s able to create separation offensively and close down leads defensively due to superior acceleration and speed. He’s got a very good wingspan with his ability to read the ball in flight and take the ball at the highest point as good as any while also being able to reach around and spoil when he looks out of the contest.
He’s also an incredibly natural contested mark. With a great vertical leap he’s able to just jump across or through contests and clunk the ball cleanly and effortlessly. His technique is excellent along with his read of the ball in flight and it’s something that will definitely translate to AFL level especially when he puts on some more weight and physically imposes himself.
Another point of difference for Durdin is his foot skills. He’s able to execute high degree of difficulty passes that no 197 cm player should be able to do. Instead of taking the high percentage option like many key defenders do, Durdin is able to act as a genuine rebound option due to his athleticism and incredible skill by foot.
With his footskills, athleticism and marking already excellent Durdin will enter the AFL with a foundation very few players have. He excels in areas that are incredibly difficult to learn hence his draft stocks being so high. The next step for Durdin is to improve his football IQ. Too often he’s in the wrong position to effectively contribute to a passage of play and while forward his leading patterns and positioning render him ineffective.
With his athleticism and cleanness at ground level he’s also got the scope to win more hard ball at ground level however right now he often chooses not to contest at ground level. It will be interesting to see whether Durdin is developed forward or back at AFL level as he’s got the foundation to go either way. What is certain is that Durdin is very much a project; he’s not someone who’s going to impact at AFL level in his first few seasons and needs time to develop both physically and mentally.