Will Sexton (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Position: Small defender/midfielder
Player comparison: Rory Laird
Strengths: Speed, reading of the play, offensive drive
Weaknesses: Defensive marking, awareness
First year impact: Medium-to-long term prospect
Speed: Above average
Will Sexton is one of those prospects that will divide draft watchers. On one hand, Sexton offers great variety offensively, but on the other, he still has much to learn on the defensive end.
Sexton’s greatest attribute is his burst speed out from a stoppage and ability to just get metres on his opponents before they realise he’s off. However, Sexton does have the tendency to have that tunnel vision and sprint off haphazardly, which if he misjudges the contest, can lead to his opponent heading off the other way.
He’s one of those players that will probably settle into a midfield role more than a half-back. He may start at half-back, but his ability to run off from stoppages will be more effective as a winger, while leaving your man when in dangerous positions in the defensive 50 can be deadly.
If there’s one trademark that Sexton has and nearly every Geelong Falcons fan should be familiar with, is his run down the wing, collect from a stoppage, his teammate provides a block, he receives the one-two handball as he sprints along the boundary line and kicks inside 50 to a leading forward.
When Sexton gets going, it can be poetry in motion. Over short to medium distances, Sexton can really hit-up targets on a reliable basis. Over longer distances, he has a long kick, which is not penetrating as such, but can deliver it inside 50 from the wing. He averages 18 disposals and four marks a game, which is solid for a small defender.
Being a smaller player, Sexton has the tendency to also drift forward and sneak under the opposition player’s radar. He covers the ground well and uses his energy in little bursts. This helps him become an anchorman of sorts, receiving the ball at half back and transitioning it to half forward.
The aspect Sexton needs to improve on the most is his defensive marking and watching his opponent. While Sexton is a dangerous player who can break away from the stoppage, he has a tendency to get caught ball-watching and this can lead to his direct opponent kicking goals on him.
In one-on-one marking contests, Sexton is often against bigger opponents and can often get pushed off too easily. If he doesn’t get pushed off, often he’ll infringe trying to outdo his stronger opponent. In saying this, when tackling his opponents, Sexton puts a fair bit of effort into his crunching tackles, so it is not a lack of strength per say, more so body positioning.
Sexton reads the ball in flight very well and will often come across the contest and spoil as a spare man, similar to Heath Shaw or Josh Gibson. In some matches this year, teams have tried to isolate Sexton and force him to play on an opponent rather than be used as a spare man. Much like Shaw, when he is made accountable, he is not as adept as when he can play the game on his own terms.
As a loose defender, Sexton would make the grade easily. He reads the ball flight, knows when to spoil and provides run and carry for his team, gaining vital meterage. However, with that role used in seldom and the better ball movers often made accountable, Sexton must continue to work on his defensive accountability and technique to fit in. If he can, then being used as that primary ball mover off half-back would be a damaging role he could fill.
Sexton has one of the better attacking games in the TAC Cup. He is also consistent, which is important, but still has much to learn in terms of defensive techniques. He is probably likely to be a rookie prospect, but could well get taken late in the national draft by a side that might take a punt on him.
He will be a medium to long-term prospect, because of his build and the attributes he needs to work on, but overall, Sexton has enough weapons that will make him an attractive prospect to an AFL club.