Matthew Hammelmann (Morningside)
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Position: Key forward/back
Strengths: One on one marking, marking on the lead, work rate, work below the knees
Areas for improvement: Not a dominant force, contested marking
Player comparison: Ben Griffiths/Josh Jenkins
Matt Hammelmann is one of Brisbane’s academy selection options. Liam Dawson, Harris Andrews and Matthew Uebergang are others that are on that list and the Lions might also take Josh Clayton and Tyler Roos as father-son selections. It’s hard to predict what the Lions will do, as all of those guys have put their hands up as draftable types. With the Lions taking Jono Freeman last year, it’s raised questions whether the Lions will take another project tall forward.
Hammelmann is a really solid key forward. Against New South Wales he was the dominant forward on the ground, leading repeatedly and to the right spots and finishing with 1.3. Across the three Under 18s Championship games he kicked 7.8, with only inaccuracy preventing him from dominant numbers. He had his best game against Tasmania, taking twelve marks and kicking 4.2 despite kicking a few into the man on the mark.
Hammelmann’s marking is impressive. One-on-one he doesn’t outmuscle his opponents but he does outsmart them, reading the flight of the ball and protecting the drop zone well, then he’ll extend his lanky arms and make it almost impossible for the defender to spoil.
Despite being 197 cm, Hammelmann isn’t a proficient contested mark. While capable of taking big marks on the wings when he has a clear run and jump at it, he doesn’t excel inside 50 where he’s required to have more of a physical presence and straight line the contest. He just doesn’t have a natural feel for the contest.
In an AFL environment Hammelmann is bound to put on some muscle to give him a more physical presence in these situations however he still only projects as an average contested mark at peak. One on one Hammelmann excels. He’s a smart forward with his leads being timed to perfection and in the right areas. He’s able to work his opponent over and create real separation with his burst speed great. Taking the ball at its’ highest point, he’s a one grab player. If his lead isn’t honoured he keeps working hard and repeating his leads until one is.
His work at ground level is really impressive. He picks the ball up off the deck and fires off quick handballs really cleanly. If the ball is spoiled, or he drops the mark, Hammelmann puts in a second effort and looks for teammates streaming towards the goal, rather than trying to go for a low percentage snap. He is selfless and a player who is happy to get his team mates involved, rather than trying to get himself some personal glory.
Hammelmann also offers flexibility. While he excels forward, with his athleticism and size he’s also a very capable key defender. With his wingspan and closing speed he excels in neutralising contests and closing down leads while he superior read of the ball in flight bodes well for defending one on one contests. However in defence he’s limited to a shutdown only role with his offensive game lacking. In the AIS-AFL Academy v Collingwood VFL game earlier in the year Hammelmann was the Academy’s second best from fullback, doing an exceptional job on Corey Gault. Hammelmann offers a prospective club a versatile, high quality key position utility with real athleticism and smarts. If Brisbane manage to secure Hammelmann with their third pick they’ll be getting a bargain.