Kieran Collins (Dandenong Stingrays)
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 100 kg
Position: Key defender
Player comparison: Daniel Talia
Strengths: One-on-ones, strength, decision making
Weaknesses: Offensive impact, speed
First year impact: High
Kieran Collins is best known as the other tall defender next to number one pick Jacob Weitering, but he is so much more than that.
Ironically, when all is said and done about Weitering and his ability to play up either end and become a dangerous weapon both one-on-one or setting up attacks, not much is spoken of Collins’ ability to do the same.
While granted Collins does not have the precise long boot of Weitering or as much ability to back himself to take on opponents and go for a run, one-on-one he is superb and even showed he has the nous to play as a key forward when required.
Collins’ best trait is his no-nonsense defending, which he does so well because unlike some ‘spoil first’ or ‘mark first’ defenders, Collins reads the situation well and responds accordingly. In other words, if he feels he won’t be able to take it cleanly, he will spoil. If he thinks he will pluck the mark, he will back himself in.
While playing most of the season as a dour defender, shutting down the league’s best forwards, including Josh Schache, he did produce a bit of freedom in the finals series, when he was thrown forward early and took a couple of strong marks and kicked a goal, which would have impressed recruiters.
He also began backing himself a bit more to take the extra few metres and hit up a target long rather than bomb it out of defence, or handball under pressure.
Collins is your typical clubman. He might not win many awards, but he will become a fan favourite because of his determination and consistency to just get the job done.
Collins is likely to become that defender who will strike fear into opposition forwards, possibly even more than his highly fancied teammate Weitering. For everything that Weitering has going for him, Collins seems to be the player you tell “take this player out of the game” and it just happens.
Perhaps that is because of Weitering’s danger and creativity as a loose man or running half-back, but it is certainly because of Collins consistency of getting the job done.
Skill-wise, Collins is reliable for a key defender, without having an elite kick. He also has a big tank for a key defender, but again, was shadowed by the once-in-a-generation key defender in Weitering.
Not overly quick, Collins relies on his ability to read the play and get to contests before his opponents, timing the spoil perfectly. Another trait Collins has is to position himself in front of his opponent to ensure a faster forward cannot get a few metres on him.
At AFL level, Collins is likely to play on the monster forwards and would be suited to a Travis Cloke or Jarryd Roughead, however someone like a Jeremy Cameron could cause him some problems.
While he is unlikely to develop as a forward at AFL level, Collins showed enough, albeit in a quarter of football, that he has enough football smarts to play at full forward.
Most experts have rated Collins around the first round, which is about right, but given Weitering will put on navy blue next season, do not be surprised if a club takes him earlier than expected with only Aaron Francis the other early key defender selection.
A perfect fit for Collins would be someone like a Hawthorn, who are keen to snare another key defender, and Collins is pretty much readymade to go from round one.
While he will likely bide his time in the reserves for a little while, he is the kind of person likely to get a call-up early in his first year because of his dedication and consistency.
If he can continue to work on his offensive game, Collins could become a very solid player and a dour defender who can be relied upon week-in week-out to do a job on the opposition’s best forward.