2015 Draft Profile: Nick O’Kearney

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Nick O’Kearney (Calder Cannons)

Height: 181 cm
Weight: 71 kg
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Decision making, running power, work rate, ball-winning
Weaknesses: Size, body strength, hurt factor, goal threat
Player comparison: Brent Stanton
First year impact: Medium to long-term prospect

Kicking: Above average
Marking: Average
Endurance: Elite
Speed: Above average

Statistics:
Calder Cannons (TAC Cup) – 13 games, 17.4 kicks, 8.2 handballs, 25.5 disposals, 62 per cent disposal efficiency, 7.1 handball receives, 5.5 marks, 4.3 tackles, 0.4 goals

Vic Metro (under 18 championships) – five games, 15 kicks, 6.2 handballs, 21.2 disposals, 71.8 per cent disposal efficiency, 4.6 marks, 2.8 tackles, 0.4 goals

Back pocket in the All-Australian side, half back flank in the 2015 TAC Cup team of the season, a best and fairest winner at Calder as an underager in 2014. O’Kearney is an extremely well-credentialed young man and one who will go relatively early in the national draft.

Quite simply O’Kearney is a running machine, one that will grind opponents into the turf through endless gut-running, who racks up possessions through sheer hard work. Perhaps the best word to describe him is neat; everything he does is technically correct and concise. His disposal, particularly by hand is balanced, efficient and constructive – though he tends toward the safe option, which is not necessarily a bad thing – and his decision-making is both rapid and almost uniformly correct. Encouragingly for a small-framed young man, his contested ball-winning and inside work has improved since his club champion year, a shift exhibited by his drop in handball receives.

What will concern recruiters perhaps is his lack of so-called ‘hurt factor’. While he is a consummate accumulator and above average disposer of the ball, he is quick without possessing genuinely elite pace and lacks the killer attacking edge to his disposal that will really cut teams apart. He also needs a seriously productive summer on the chicken breasts and in the gym; he struggled with the physicality of his Frankston opponents in his VFL debut, though he earned a respectable 12 possessions and three tackles, and at the moment he lacks the bulk to play an inside/outside game at AFL level.

Despite this, he is a very attractive prospect as genuine possession-getter and someone who will drive a team forward from midfield through his ability to just constantly win the ball. His ability to win consistent 25-plus possession games through hard running and workrate is something that will translate easily enough to the top level, and his comparative lack of size and a perception that he isn’t particularly damaging will mean that he has the potential to slip under the radar of opposing teams. A diligent worker on his game, I have no doubt that his deficiencies won’t remain so for long.

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