DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Versatile midfielder who is one of the best natural leaders in the draft pool"
Joel Garner entered the year as a contender for a top five selection, after some promising bottom-age form and a superb National Under 16 Championships two years ago. The talented left footer can play right around the ground, but has had little consistency in 2017. Early in the season, Garner was named as prefect at his school Scotch College, famous for another indigenous student Cyril Rioli. He also drew comparisons to Luke Hodge as such his rebounding and contested work in the National Under 18 Championships. There is plenty of scope for development for Garner and in an AFL environment if he can settle in the one position he will be able to be a fine player of the future, who has some great off-field characteristics.
- Contested ball
Garner’s leadership is top notch, where he was named captain of the Vic Metro team for the National Under 18 Championships. The natural born leader speaks well and is willing to use his voice around the ground, but has shown at all levels he can be an impressive figure for any AFL team.
Garner has a lovely left foot kick which hits the targets on more often than not. Throughout the TAC Cup, Garner played across all three zones (back, midfielder, forward) and his kicking efficiency of 52 per cent did not do him justice. During the National Under 18 Championships, Garner’s kicking off half back was fantastic and in the All Stars game, Garner hit targets nine times out of 10, some exquisite kicking. When he rebounds the ball out of defensive 50, he can use his fine left foot pass with pinpoint accuracy. Able to set the play up from the defensive half of the ground to transition to getting the ball forward.
For Garner to transition into a full time midfielder or become an elite AFL footballer, his endurance will need to improve. At October’s National Draft Combine, Garner was unable to complete the 2km time trial, but recorded a time of 21.1 in the Yo-Yo test.
Throughout the season, Garner has been inconsistent. While he has not been helped playing multiple positions, he has not taken many games by storm. Early in the season Garner begun in the midfield for the Eastern Ranges, collecting 24 disposals against Oakleigh Chargers in Round 2; one of his better games . Then during the National Under 18 Championships, Garner moved to a role across half back, averaging 16 disposals and three rebounds. He played a similar role for Scotch College before moving forward at times later in the year for the Eastern Ranges, bobbing up and booting two goals in their TAC Cup elimination final loss.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 15-35
Garner has some appealing traits and while he may be lacking an elite trait at this stage – his character and leadership is outstanding. If he can find some consistency as a football, playing in a settled position – likely to be across half back, he can develop into a good player at AFL level. Improving his endurance will only just help his great kick and rebounding skills. At this stage he is likely to be selected between the late first round and second round with a number of clubs keen to add a great leader to their mix. He has always been a prestigious talent and once he settles into AFL life will be a valuable prospect for any side.
Under 18s Championships