Stephenson a star on the rise

Jaidyn Stephenson applies a tackle. Credit: Ashleigh Wong
Jaidyn Stephenson applies a tackle. Credit: Ashleigh Wong

Sixteen year old Jaidyn Stephenson kicked three goals today against Dandenong; one of the strongest backlines seen in TAC Cup history.

He’s still two years away from the AFL draft, but his last three weeks for the Eastern Ranges has been tremendous.

The 184 centimetre, 69 kilogram half forward has now kicked seven goals in three weeks, all of which have been finals matches.

Stephenson’s most eye-catching skill is his ability to take on the play. Last week, he took a mark about 40 metres out on a tight angle. He lined up for the goal, but ended up selling candy to the man on the mark before sprinting in another 15 metres and finishing perfectly on the run.

He later followed that effort up with an almost identical passage of play on the wing, which set up a goal.

Stephenson is obviously still very raw. At only 69 kilograms, he struggles in contested situations. But he’s already 184 centimetres at 16, which means he may end up as an exciting 190 centimetre tall outside midfielder or half forward.

In the air, Stephenson marks the ball at full stretch. At this stage, he seems to have a bit of James Sicily about him, although Stephenson looks to be more daring.

The Ferntree Gully native has kicked 50 or more goals in a few seasons as a junior. He also captained Victoria as a 12-year old.

He’s not the only exciting young player for the Eastern Ranges. 17-year old Josh Hannon is close to 200 centimetres but he moves like a much smaller man. His kicking and vision is superb, but as with any player of that height, he struggles with consistency.

Dylan Clarke has also come on in leaps and bounds for the Ranges this year, and he has particularly stood up in the finals series.

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