Clayton Oliver (Murray Bushrangers)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Position: Inside midfielder
Player comparison: Patrick Cripps
Strengths: Contested work, ball winning ability, overhead marking, scoreboard impact
Weaknesses: Running ability, body shape
First year impact: Rising star nominee
Kicking: Above average
Marking: Above average
The big bolter in the 2015 draft is Murray Bushranger midfielder Clayton Oliver. Despite missing the pre-season with an injury, Oliver was able to play 16 games in the TAC Cup enabling him to win the Morrish Medal for the best player in the competition.
Oliver is a contested ball hard nut and plays in a similar mould to Patrick Cripps. He plays as an inside midfielder for the Bushrangers, however he missed the final cut of the Vic Country under 18 squad. Despite this, he never gave up his dream of being drafted, applying his trade at Richmond’s VFL team where he was able to average 14.5 disposals in the two games he played.
Oliver is an aggressive midfielder who propels the ball forward with his long boot. He averaged 24 disposals (14 contested) at an efficiency of 70% in his 16 games this year. Oliver is strong at the stoppages, as evident by him averaging six clearances per game making him one of the stronger inside midfielders in the draft. Another strength is his handballing in stoppages which allows for him to clear the ball from the contest, helping his team to move forward. Oliver also averaged six tackles per game for Murray and is a fierce competitor in the centre of the ground. He can also go forward and hit the scoreboard, kicking 20 goals in the TAC Cup this season, and was equal first scoring a perfect 30 out of 30 in the goal kicking test at the combine.
However, Oliver’s aggressive approach can sometimes cost him, going in too hard and tackling opposition players high, resulting in some free kicks against. However his nine tackles in the semi final for Murray did nearly single handedly get them over the line against eventual premiers Oakleigh.
Question marks have also arisen over Oliver’s endurance and body size. He ran a 10:45 three-kilometre time trial at the combine, a score he will be looking to improve. He doesn’t have elite pace, but he moves well, evident from his 8.11 second agility test, ranked third at the national combine. However, Oliver’s lack of conditioning may be down to the fact he missed the preseason and played senior football for Mooroopna as a 16-year-old against mature bodies. If he can enter an AFL environment and complete a preseason, he’s body size and endurance will improve.
With Oliver’s rapid development, expect him to feature in the top 10 on draft night with Melbourne, Essendon and Carlton all keen to have his services in 2016.