With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.
Points: 40 (eliminated in elimination final)
Players Drafted: (4)
- Charlie Spargo (Melbourne)
- Ben Paton (St Kilda)
- Harrison Jones (Hawthorn)
- Doulton Langlands (St Kilda)
Much like the GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers had a huge 2016 draft with double figure players drafted to clubs. In 2017 that number dropped to four, which is still quite a solid effort. Charlie Spargo‘s injury did not wreck his draft hopes, picked up by Melbourne, while Ben Paton was selected by St Kilda, later joined by fellow Bushranger Doulton Langlands. In back-to-back Bushranger picks, Harrison Jones landed at Hawthorn as a rookie just prior to Langlands’ selection.
Among those unlucky not to be drafted are key position player Jordon Butts, Laitham Vandermeer, Angus Hicks, Jy Lane, Alex Paech, Isaac Wallace, Thomas Boyd and Nick Richards all of whom showed some promising signs throughout the year.
On the field, the Bushrangers started strongly, but faded away closer to finals as TAC Cup clubs gained full-strength line-ups. The Bushrangers won the majority of their games early and locked in a finals spot, before just being outplayed in the run home. They never disgraced themselves, always up for a fight, showing what they were capable of in the first quarter of the elimination final against Sandringham Dragons.
Next year the Bushrangers will have another handful of good prospects who could make the AFL grade, led by Zane Barzen who is a great combination of strength and skill. The Bushrangers sides are always well drilled and never far from finals action so expect them to be thereabouts when the whips are cracking next year.
Murray Bushrangers have a few top prospects who have stood out in their bottom-age year. Zane Barzen is a fantastic big-bodied midfielder who played predominantly forward in 2017, while switch-man Hudson Garoni and beanpole Mark Marriott are others that impressed this year.
Zane Barzen (Murray Bushrangers) 191cm | 76kg | Outside Midfielder/Tall Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (13) 13.9 disposals | 5.1 marks | 1.9 tackles | 2.9 inside 50s | 1.5 goals | 64% KE | 68% DE | 37% CP
One of the top prospects in the 2018 draft crop, Barzen is silky and rarely makes a mistake. His vision and decision making is top notch and playing predominantly forward he influenced games, averaging 1.5 goals per match. In 2017 expect him to play more midfield, and we will see his statistics rise. He is already strong in the air and a classy mover, so expect his name to be one that is constantly brought up.
Hudson Garoni (Murray Bushrangers) 193cm | 92kg | Key Position Utility
2017 TAC Cup: (14) 13.8 disposals | 4.3 marks | 2.4 tackles | 1.9 inside 50s | 1.1 rebounds | 1.1 goals | 46% KE | 55% DE | 42% CP
Another Bushranger who has good versatility is Hudson Garoni. He actually has a readymade frame at 193cm and 92kg which was pre-season last year so expect it to have increased since then. He can play back or forward and wins a decent amount of ball for a key position player. He has the potential to play through the middle or higher up the ground, indicated by averaging almost two inside 50s per game.
Mark Marriott (Murray Bushrangers) 200cm | 86kg | Ruckman
2017 TAC Cup: (12) 10 disposals | 2 marks | 3.8 tackles | 22.9 hitouts | 1.3 clearances | 1.2 inside 50s | 39% KE | 59% DE | 54% CP
Marriott is a beanpole ruck who has built his strength as the season went on this year. He played the 12 games and averaged 22.9 hitouts which is no mean feat for a bottom-age ruck. While there are areas of his game to work on, given his size and influence in the ruck contests, he will be one that clubs keep a close eye on in 2018.
Others to keep an eye on:
Kyle Clarke (Murray Bushrangers) 174cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (18) 13.5 disposals | 3.4 marks | 3.8 tackles | 1.7 clearances | 57% KE | 62% DE | 42% CP
Ben Kelly (Murray Bushrangers) 199cm | 88kg | Ruckman
2017 TAC Cup: (8) 7.9 disposals | 0.9 marks | 1.3 tackles | 15.9 hitouts | 1.9 clearances | 70% KE | 78% DE | 58% CP
Murray Bushrangers are the side that traditionally you know what you are going to get – a competitive effort and when they are firing, they look as good as any side in the competition. With a number of top talls and the likes of Barzen and Clarke running through the midfield, the Bushrangers will be favoured to reach finals again and they have the cattle and the tenacity to go far.