Tag: gibbons

2013 Draft Profile: Michael Gibbons

Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers)

Height: 175 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player comparison: Ben McGlynn/Matthew Boyd
Strengths: Tackling pressure, ball winning ability, influence
Weaknesses: Disposal

You have to be a very good footballer to get drafted if you are less than 180 cm tall. Even more so if you stand at just 175 cm. Michael Gibbons is just that, a very good footballer. He is a ball magnet who loves to get his hands dirty and get this own ball and is also quite a capable small forward. He has been a standout for the Murray Bushrangers this year, averaging 26.4 disposals this year and being the main ball winner for his side.

Gibbons is small but it doesn’t stop him from racking up possessions. He leads his team for disposals and also lead his state for possessions in the Champs with 130 which ranked him second overall. Despite getting a lot of the ball Gibbons doesn’t always use it effectively, with a very poor kicking efficiency of 50 per cent. This is mainly due to poor decision making and a tendency to float the kicks up to his targets off a couple of steps rather than punching them lower with more purpose. Those higher kicks may come off this year when he has big Max King to kick to in his forward half but they won’t cut the mustard at AFL level.

Gibbons is very slippery and difficult to tackle. He has a strong core and strong legs which help him to hold his ground in tackles. He doesn’t panic when being tackled and usually frees his arms and fires out a handpass. His low centre of gravity certainly helps him when the ball is in dispute, often winning ground balls against taller opponents and rarely going to ground.

At 175 cm Gibbons needs to have more strings to his bow than just being able to get a lot of the ball so he has worked hard on his ability to go forward and its starting to bring results. Gibbons kicked just three goals in the first five TAC Cup games of the year but has kicked seven in his last four games including two games where he kicked multiple goals. His tackling pressure is fantastic and he has shown a lot of potential as a defensive forward which is where I see him starting off at AFL level. He averages almost five tackles per game and never gives his opponent any space, harassing them and chasing them so that defenders can’t waltz out of the backline uncontested. Gibbons is never out of the game and even when he is manning the mark he tries to put pressure on by dancing around and putting his opponent off. Its these little things that catch your eye and impress you because many players are unwilling to do them.

During the championships Gibbons was a star for NSW/ACT and he can count himself extremely unlucky to have missed out on All Australian selection. Gibbons ranked second overall for disposals (130), fifth for contested possessions (47), second for uncontested possessions (83), sixth for clearances (23), eighth for inside 50s (17) and first for tackles (36). His performances in the Champs were superb and he made it difficult for recruiters to ignore him, particularly GWS who have first crack at him as a zone selection similar to how they recruited Zac Williams last year.

As well as he has performed this year, Gibbons is still not looked at as a certainty to be selected. Most of this comes back to his height and in a draft littered with small talents like Lewis Taylor and Mitch Honeychurch, it may be the difference between Gibbons going in the main draft and being rookied. He certainly has the talent to make it but needs to have a strong finish to the season, particularly if the Bushrangers make the finals, to stamp himself as a sure thing come draft day.

Gibbons was selected at Pick 71 in the Bound For Glory News Phantom Draft by Geelong. This was to build on their midfield depth as their midfield stars are close to retirement and go into the midfield and forward rotations with the likes of Allen Christensen, Mitch Duncan and Matthew Stokes. While his limitations are well noted, Gibbons has plenty of potential and is one to watch later in the draft.

Gibbons aims to defy odds

Coming from a non-traditional football playing state has its drawbacks. Very few players are drafted from division two teams like NSW or Queensland, but Murray Bushrangers captain and NSW/ACT Rams vice captain Michael Gibbons is aiming to defy the odds. The prolific midfielder has had a stellar start to the 2013 season, racking up possessions with ease in the first half of the season for the Bushrangers. To add to this, Gibbons had a fantastic game on the weekend for his state, compiling a game high 29 disposals, including nine clearances and laid a monstrous 12 tackles against a highly touted South Australian midfield containing top draft prospects James Aish and Luke Dunstan.

The Rams gained plenty of confidence from the weekend’s game and Gibbons believes the team is a good chance to win their first division two title since 2009. “We have a really good group of players this year. We took it up to SA most of the day just had a 15 lapse in the second where they kicked six goals.”

On a personal level, Gibbons is very modest about his own game, preferring to talk up his teammates. “I was happy with my game but means nothing if I don’t take it into the rest of the carnival. Yeah it’s a great opportunity for division two teams to play against division one teams.” Gibbons feels the team will rely on an even contribution from all players to win on the weekend against Vic Country, but singled out draft hopefuls Jedd Clothier and Lloyd Perris as two players who are likely to impress recruiters this Sunday.

When asked about his own draft chances, Gibbons was quite bullish, “You never know what clubs are looking for. Obviously it’s what I’ve been working towards for a very long time and if I’m good enough I’ll make it I guess.” Despite his reluctance to sing his own praises, Gibbons has a number of draftable qualities like his clearance winning ability, competitiveness and his ability to go forward and be a menace to opposition defences.  His knack for winning clearances is particularly notable given he is only 175cm and 70kg, making his nine clearances against the bigger bodied South Australian midfield all the more impressive.

Despite having his strengths, Gibbons does lack the speed and kicking efficiency that the top picks possess. He doesn’t have any alarming weaknesses to his game but he admits that “I’m not super quick and my field kicking needs to be better.” Recruiters will be nervous with Gibbons’ small stature, especially with the abundance of top players measured at under 180cm in this years draft, however Gibbons doesn’t see size as a problem.

“Size has never worried me, I thought it might have coming into the TAC Cup last year but I still don’t think it has hindered me. Of course in the eyes of the recruiters size is not in my favour, but there is nothing I can do about it.” Instead, Gibbons has been working on polishing other areas of his game to make up for his lack of height. “I’ve been working with Amon Buchanan, our midfield coach at the Rams and he has just given me some advice on how to make it as a small in the AFL. He has just said I need to keep getting a lot of the ball and make every disposal count. I also need to kick goals consistently and add that to my game.”

After the championships finish, Gibbons will go back to the Murray Bushrangers and hope to lead them to the finals on the back of some strong performances to keep him in the mind of recruiters. “We’ve been pretty inconsistent but when we play the kind of footy that we want then we can match it with anyone.” Inconsistency has plagued the Bushrangers this season, as their best footy, including a narrow 18 point loss to the undefeated Geelong Falcons, has been overshadowed by their poor footy too often, with last weekend’s mauling at the hands of Western Jets being a prime example of this.

Gibbons, a keen Hawthorn supporter, models his game on Trent Cotchin and Sam Mitchell. “I try and play as much as possible like Cotchin in regards to his work rate and intensity around the ball. Of course I’m nowhere near his level at the moment but that’s how I would like to be seen. Also someone like Sam Mitchell proving you don’t need to be super athletic to play footy.”

Next year if he is not drafted Gibbons plans to play football at the highest standard he can, whether it be in the VFL, WAFL or SANFL. However Gibbons should be confident of getting his name called out in November, especially with GWS’s ability to pre-select players from their zone of rural NSW and NT. His fate his in his own hands, as a strong finish to the year for the Rams and Bushrangers will ensure he finds his way onto an AFL list.

Statistics:

Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers) averages 27.8 disposals, 10.33 handball receives, 4.2 marks, 3.5 tackles and 97.7 DT points

Bushrangers success to depend on leaders

After a disappointing 40-point loss to the Geelong Falcons in the first Elimination Final last year, the Murray Bushrangers are looking to bounce back this year under the leadership of captain Michael Gibbons and vice-captains Kristian Cary and Nick Holman.

“The loss was really painful for us, especially after we had such a good season. But we worked really hard over the pre-season. It’s a real motivator for this year” Cary said.  “But we have a very good chance this year. We are a much more united group and all the boys trust each other and we have very good team chemistry.” With a number of the teams’ better players remaining on the list from last year, the team looks set to improve on its ten win season in 2012.

One of the main strengths of the Bushrangers squad this year is their leadership. “There are many at the Bushrangers this year such as Michael Gibbons, Jake Sharp, Nick Holman and Kieran Ellis” Cary said. “I am just one of many leaders.” With 18 bottom-aged players and 29 new faces in the squad, that leadership will be crucial to the team’s success this year.

Despite a narrow first round loss to their conquerors last season, the Geelong Falcons, morale is high around the Bushies squad and it showed in their last two victories over the Bendigo Pioneers and North Ballarat Rebels. “We had a lot of first gamers and every team needs a few games under their belt to gel and become a unit. We certainly have a lot of improvement that I think will show over the course of the season,” said Cary before the victory over the Pioneers.

It was the experienced heads at the Bushrangers that helped them get over the line in the scrappy affair with overaged player Jydon Neagle impressing, along with Cary, Sharp, Bryden Squire and captain Gibbons who continued his impressive start to the season with a best on ground performance.

Gibbons, along with livewire small forward Jarman Impey and midfielder Nick Holman rate as the top draft chances according to Cary, who is also a chance at having his name called out in November.  “I certainly hope to be drafted. It is one of my main goals.” Cary lists his strengths as tackling, pressure, speed and attack on the footy, which are all qualities recruiters look for in outside midfielders like Cary.

When pushed on his chances at making the NSW/ACT Rams team this year Cary was confident, “I am hoping they are pretty good. I was on the extended list for the National Carnival last year but didn’t get the opportunity to play.” The carnival is crucial to the draft chances of many players as there are numerous club representatives passing judgement on a player’s every move however Cary remained undaunted, “Everybody says to forget about who is watching but that’s hard. I’ll probably be nervous but I’ll just try and play my best and do my role for the team when the time comes.”

Cary was unable to break into the Bushrangers team last year until players left to play for the Rams or Vic Country. Cary is well aware of the need for depth in the squad and the possibility of players taking their opportunities in the team to cause competition for spots when the representative players return. “Last year I knew that when Nationals started up we would lose a lot of our senior players so I was hoping to get a go then and I just wanted to make sure that when I got in the team I stayed in there.”

The depth of the Bushrangers squad is likely to be the difference between another disappointing finish to the season and a finals place giving players and opportunity to showcase their skills in front of recruiters on the big stage. They are currently sitting fourth after three rounds as they head to the week off before facing the Eastern Ranges in Wangaratta the following week.