DRAFT ANALYSIS: "One of the smartest small forwards in the Under 18 competition, possessesing great goal nous and can push into the midfield and win the contested ball."
Much was made over Jack Higgins’ decision to quit school and focus fully on football in his draft year early in the season. However – it did not affect Higgins and he went about his job for the Oakleigh Chargers, supported by family friend Anthony Phillips (Father of Collingwood’s Tom and St Kilda’s Ed). Higgins was the 2017 TAC Cup Morrish Medalist after a superb season in the midfield and up forward for the Oakleigh Chargers. In Round 17, Higgins booted a bag of seven goals against Bendigo Pioneers and was destined for double figures before a shoulder injury saw him head for the bench just before three-quarter time. Higgins begun the season in the midfield, but after the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships – he transformed his game to become a full-time small forward. His full on football approach may mean that he possesses a smaller upside than others in the draft pool, but he could be one of the few ready to go by round 1 in 2018. His speed is an area that could be improved but expect him to fall in the latter half of the first round.
- Goal sense
- Footy IQ
- Quick hands
- Contested marking
Inside 50, Jack Higgins is one of the craftiest players and if you only give him a inch – he will make the most of the opportunity. He can convert set shots for goal and has worked hard on perfecting a “Stevie J” style ’round the corner kick on his right foot. Higgins booted 31 goals in the TAC Cup and six in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, showing at the next level – he can play the role of a small forward.
Not only is Higgins smart around goal, but through traffic and in the midfield, his footy IQ is through the roof. Higgins is a smart footballer and gets to the right spots to win the ball and is able to flick the ball out to a teammate from even the tightest of situations by hand and foot. He is able to find teammates using his good vision and in the contested situations – he uses his quick hands to effectiveness and there aren’t too many other players in a similar vein that can hit the target by hand like him. His quick and clean hands make him a valuable player in the midfield and up forward, helping get the ball moving forward and to a teammate.
Higgins is the best contested marking small forward in the 2017 draft pool and he is able to clunk the contested grabs when isolated inside 50. Higgins averaged just over five marks per game throughout the TAC Cup and showed he was able to be a target up forward, despite his size.
- Hurt factor with disposal
Unlike some of the other small forwards on offer in the AFL, Higgins doesn’t possesses elite speed. With the Richmond’s forward structure in the 2017 Grand Final including Jason Castagna, Daniel Butler & Daniel Rioli – all players who possess elite speed, it could count against Higgins. At the 2017 National AFL Draft Combine, Higgins’ time in the 20 metre sprint was 3.10s – right on the average speed for the entire group of testers. It might be an area that clubs look to improve for the small forward at the next level.
Another potential improvement for Higgins is his hurt factor with ball in hand when playing in the midfield. Whilst he possesses some of the quickest and clean hands in the 2017 draft crop, Higgins’ kicks can often lack hurt factor – going sideways or being short passes to his teammates. In the TAC Cup this year, Higgins opted to pass it short effectively on average three more times per game than kicking it long to a teammate. Higgins’ kicking efficiency of 60 per cent in the TAC Cup and 69 per cent in the National Under 18 Championships was helped at times, by Higgins picking an easy option short or sideways rather than kicking long to a teammate or a contest.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 10-20
Jack Higgins is a strong prospect who knows where the goals are and has the capabilities to move into the midfield. His marking up forward makes him a tough match up, where he possesses a very high ‘Footy IQ’ to win the ball and get to the right positions. He is a player who could easily slot into an AFL team in the early part of 2018.
Under 18s Championships