Damien Cavka (Calder Cannons)
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Strengths: Finding the ball, endurance, hitting the scoreboard
Areas of improvement: Field kicking
Player comparison: Brent Stanton
Damien Cavka is a really solid prospect who could blossom into a consistent weapon at AFL level. He is a goal kicker, a volume tackler and one of the hardest workers. He is likened to Brent Stanton in the way that he runs hard all over the field to create an option and take plenty of marks around the ground. Stanton hits the scoreboard, has elite endurance and is your prototype workhorse; Cavka is much of the same.
It was hard to determine Cavka’s draft stock through the National Championships. Beforehand, he was one of three or four Calder midfielders looking to bolt into the second round. He had stats that were really underrated.
He averaged 17.5 disposals running at 71 per cent efficiency. He wasn’t bad, but he had two games where he used it really well and two games where he was average. What is really intriguing and shouldn’t be overlooked though are these far more impressive stats – 4.5 marks per game, 6.5 tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s per game. Cavka also averaged 0.5 goals per game. For a guy who hasn’t been talked about much, it’s the consistency, ability to do it all and be damaging is exactly why recruiters will take him as a mid to late second rounder, and potentially end up with a gem on their hands.
At TAC Cup level, Cavka has been putting up extraordinary numbers. He was named in the bests five times in seven games, kicked nine goals including a haul of three, and two games with two goals. His average of 22 disposals has included a very solid kicking efficiency of 66 per cent. However over a two-week stretch, only 15 of his 33 kicks hit the target – a dismal 45 per cent. Cavka prefers to kick and he’s often part of chains around the ground where he takes an uncontested mark and then spots up a short range target. For a player who doesn’t take too many risks or have many contested disposals, 66 per cent kicking efficiency isn’t fantastic.
Cavka has shown a real strong endurance base and willingness to work both ways. He averages 6.5 handball receives, just under seven marks and close to four tackles per game. He works hard without the ball and that persistence and endurance base could easily get him a game at most AFL clubs as a tagger who can hurt you going the other way.
He has a few areas he needs to work on, as did Stanton when he started. But if he can continue his natural progression and improve his field kicking, then there’s no reason he can’t become a very handy player at AFL level.