Height: 199 cm
Weight: 96 kg
Position: Key forward
Strengths: Marking, endurance, good at ground level for his size.
First year impact: May play 10-15 games
Player comparison: Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)
Kicking: Above average
Endurance: Above average
Schache is one of two players being thrown around as a potential number one pick and is clearly the best key forward prospect in this year’s draft. He has a number of attributes which will have recruiters licking their lips and has few weaknesses.
From the moment Schache burst onto the scene, just days after his sixteenth birthday, kicking four goals in his second TAC Cup game for the Bushrangers, it was clear that he was going to be an excellent prospect. His marking has been his biggest strength throughout his junior career, pulling down two contested marks on this day against bigger and stronger opponents, while his endurance and ability to pick up the ball cleanly below his knees were qualities that stood out as being better than the rest of the key forward pack.
His marking is fantastic, as he uses his massive arms to reach up and take the ball at its highest point. This makes it near on impossible for a defender to spoil the ball or stop him from marking the ball without impeding him, as fellow top prospect Aaron Francis found out at the national championships. His ability to continually reach higher than his opponent more than cancels out his lack of speed while he is very good at positioning his 96 kg frame in a way that protects the drop of the ball and allows him to take marks with relative ease.
Part of what makes Schache a good forward is that when he gets an opportunity to kick a goal he almost always delivers. He has a really relaxed set shot goal kicking style and as a result he tends to kick goals than he misses. Even from an angle or from distance his uncomplicated action tends to get the job done.
One of my early knocks on Schache was that he was lazy and had a poor workrate, which didn’t make sense considering his excellent endurance. However I’ve come to realise that he was not lazy but being the number one target, and a very good one at that, tended to get the ball kicked to him first time without needing to extend himself on multiple leads. Now he has shown an ability to outrun his opponent, working hard inside 50 to burn off his opponent.
While he is able to continue running, Schache is not very fast. He is quite slow off the mark and if it wasn’t for his big frame he would struggle against most defenders. He also has quite a large turning circle, indicating that his agility is not quite up to scratch. This could be because of his size and perhaps it isn’t a massive problem considering other big bodied forwards in the AFL don’t tend to have top level speed but it does stand out as his most glaring weakness.
Schache is very good at ground level for his size. It is rare to see such a big man with the ability to pick up half volleys off his bootlaces and fire out handballs all in one fluent motion but Schache can do that. He also has quite good vision and decision making skills. Many big forwards are quite selfish and would wheel around and kick for goal but Schache tends to look for a better option and has the foot skills to hit his targets. While it isn’t a strength of his, he is a neat enough kick to get by and it certainly isn’t a weakness by AFL standards.
Schache has proved this year to be the best key forward in the draft and has silenced doubters with his performances over the year. He is likely to land at a club looking for youth and particularly talls and as a result he could have a Joe Daniher like impact, getting a handful of games in his first year and likely making a reasonable fist of it as a centre half forward or full forward.