Tag: muir

2013 Draft Profile: Tom Muir

Tom Muir (Gippsland Power)

Height: 190 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Position: Defender
Player Comparison: Grant Birchall/Tyson Goldsack
Strengths: Superb run-and-carry, versatile, decision-making
Weaknesses: Body strength

The 2013 AFL Draft this season is packed with quality midfield players. The main talk has been about how many midfielders there are to choose from, but there are also many players who can fly under the radar in terms of draft talk, and one of these talented players, is Gippsland Power’s centre half-back, Tom Muir.

Muir was a top age player last season, but after missing out in last year’s draft, was invited back to be one of Gippsland’s over-age players. He played more of a forward role last season, but this season, coach Nick Stevens, decided to throw Muir into the halfback position, and it has paid dividends.

A strength that Muir uses very well to his advantage is his decision making. He knows exactly when to leave his direct opponent to switch over to help out at another marking contest, or when not to, because of the risk of the ball going behind the contest and his opponent gathering it freely. This skill takes some defenders a long time to develop, but Muir has caught onto it quickly and has saved many goals during the course of the season through his decision-making.

Throughout this season, Muir has run the ball out of the defensive 50 for the Power. His run and carry is one of the most important strengths that he has, which helps him create goals for Gippsland. It goes hand in hand with his decision-making, and he knows when to run out of the 50 to either receive the ball, or kick it to a leading player and create space and catch the opponents out of position. His run and carry is a huge reason why Gippsland are competitive in every game they play.

One area that Muir can struggle with now that he is playing more towards the back line is his body use in marking contests. If his opponent is bigger than him body wise, then he can be pushed out of contest. If he was able to work on the way he positions himself for long kicks inside 50 and try and bring the ball to ground as much as he can, he would become one of the most versatile back line players in the TAC Cup, being able to play deep in defence, as well as running the ball out with his speed and kicking skills.

Although playing back line this season, Muir can play in multiple areas of the ground. He is quite tall, so he can play a permanent forward role if Stevens needed a third tall to go with Declan Keilty and Josh Scott, but because of his great stamina and running, he can also play wide out on a wing. He has a large height advantage on many wing men in the TAC Cup, and could easily out mark them and run and deliver into the forward 50.

Although missing out on last seasons draft, Muir has come back to Gippsland as an over-age player, and has shown his skills in many areas. His run and carry is his greatest skill, with his decision-making, and his ability to play across most parts of the ground is another area that shows how versatile he is. Teams that would look for a versatile player like Muir, could be the Lions and Port Adelaide, who lack in tall running halfback players.

2013 Draft Profile: Aaron Heppell

Aaron Heppell (Gippsland Power)

Height: 181 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Heath Shaw
Player Style: Corey Enright
Strengths: Ground contests;  Football IQ; Positioning
Weaknesses: Stamina; Overhead contested marking

Gippsland Power have started the 2013 TAC Cup season with a bang and despite losing their past two games, are still sitting nicely in fifth position on the ladder. Gippsland’s great start was due to their players all playing solid team football, but a standout has been the form of halfback flanker and wingman Aaron Heppell.

The AFL was taken by storm a couple of years ago with another Heppell; Aaron’s older brother Dyson drafted in 2010. The flamboyant Essendon defender went on to win the NAB Rising Star in his rookie season. Aaron has a lot to live up to and at the moment, is playing his best footy for Gippsland lining up most weekends not too dissimilar to Dyson, in the back line. He is able to use his ball winning ability very well, which in turn generates much of Gippsland’s rebounding run and carry, linking up with other running players in Tom Muir and Josh Cashman.

One of Heppell’s strengths is his unique ability to win one-on-one contests when the ball is in dispute. In the recent win over the Western Jets, Heppell’s contests at crucial moments were a huge reason why the Power came away with the win. He was able to beat two opponents deep in the Jets defence and find a teammate, which then resulted in a Gippsland goal late in a close game to seal the win.

His ability to read the play and zone off when required is an asset that Heppell shares with Heath Shaw. Heppell constantly collects possessions zoning off opponents like Shaw does. He is a massive generator of run for the Power and his kicking ability also allows him to play this offensive role. This isn’t to say Heppell isn’t accountable, he just chooses the right moments to go and sets up the Power from the half back line.

An area that Heppell can struggle with is his stamina and running out all four quarters of football. He could play a great first half, but then after halftime disappears in the third quarter, then be able to regain that first half flare and finish off strongly. If Heppell could increase his running capacity, he would be an even more damaging player, having the ability to run off his opponents and also for a full four quarters. His endurance currently would mean he could be an ideal candidate for a sub’s vest at AFL until his stamina increases. In saying that, he probably won’t be playing as much as brother Dyson did in his first year as he will also spend considerable time in the gym.

Another potential question mark over Heppell is his overhead contested marking. He’s brave and reads the play brilliantly, but when one-on-one in the air, Heppell tends to be out muscled. This is another reason why Heppell tends to bring the ball to ground in some circumstances in order to create some magic out of nothing. He excels at beating his opponent on the ground through pace and skill.

Although he has some difficulties with overhead marking and stamina, his ability to win the contested ball on the ground and his football IQ when playing a loose man in defense role definitely out weigh his weaknesses. His Corey Enright style of play would appeal to many AFL clubs, with clubs who lack good contested ball winners and dual position players such as Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda. He is touted to go late in the second round or early third round in the 2013 AFL draft.

Aaron’s Gippsland Power will take on the Northern Knights back home in Morwell on Saturday from 1pm. He missed the Power’s loss to the Murray Bushrangers due to an AC knock that he suffered in the loss against Eastern Ranges. The Power would love to have their back flanker and wing man back as he makes their squad a much more dangerous lineup when he is on the field.

TAC Cup 2013 Statistics:

Games: 6
Goals: 1

Averages:

Disposals: 16.33
Marks: 2.33
Tackles: 4.17
Dream Team Points: 65.67

Jacob Chisari leads list of puzzling Vic Country omissions

Every year the All-Australian team is critiqued by both the media and the fans. At TAC Cup level, this is no different for the Victorian Under 18 squads. Unlike the 40-man All-Australian squad at AFL level, there are two squads representing Victoria: Vic Metro and Vic Country. Each squad is comprised of players from six of the clubs so a total of 80 players are selected between the Victorian sides. Despite this larger proportion of selected players, it appears that puzzling selections and omissions are not limited to the big league.

Vic Country’s squad had the largest amount of question marks surrounding the omissions which included Bendigo onballer Jacob Chisari, Dandenong ruckman Agape Patolo and Gippsland rover Nathaniel Paredes. Throw in Geelong’s Matthew Boag, Bendigo utility Jordan Mangan and Gippsland half back Tom Muir to that list of missing stars and you end up with a number of puzzled fans and coaches. It’s no doubt a tough job to be a selector, but when kids’ AFL careers are on the line, there is very little room for error.

Jacob Chisari is arguably the biggest omission of the Vic Country squad. Having helped drag Bendigo across the line against Oakleigh a few weeks ago, Chisari is your typical in-and-under mid who can also find space on the outside and pump the ball inside 50. He’s currently averaging 26.6 disposals a game putting him inside the top ten of all TAC Cup players. It’s not just his disposal count that leaves question marks regarding his non selection because he posts averages of 4.8 marks and 6.6 tackles (another top ten stat). For all those fantasy players out there, Chisari has averaged 109.2 Dream Team points throughout the season which places him ninth overall and sixth for all Vic Country players. Ironically, of the five above him, three are AIS players (Matt Crouch, Billy Hartung and James Tsitas) and two are over-agers who missed out on selection (Sam Heavyside and Lachlan Cassidy). It’s hard to fathom that someone of Chisari’s ilk missed out on competing in the most crucial tournament for TAC Cup players.

Dandenong’s Agape Patolo at the start of the TAC Cup season was rated as the top ruck prospect for the 2013 draft. He hasn’t disappointed this season, averaging 22 hitouts a game, the second most of any player. Only Eastern’s Dion De Pace is averaging more and ironically, he missed out on Vic Metro selection. Patolo is averaging just 8.33 disposals a match, but that lowly figure is the highest of the top eight rucks. It’s hard to believe that a player with Patolo’s vertical leap could miss out on the Championships. There’s no standout ruck this year like a Grundy or a Kreuzer, but Patolo is rated as high as anyone else around the league and heads were no doubt being scratched at the Stingrays during the week.

Everyone loves a gritty onballer who buries himself under the pack putting his body on the line. Well apparently everyone except the Vic Country selectors who chose not to pick Gippsland’s Nathaniel Paredes despite the nuggety midfielder averaging the third most disposals for the Power. While the Intra Trials showed Paredes was on the border of selection by being a late inclusion for the injured Matt Crouch, it has been puzzling to see the rover miss out despite being statistically superior to a number of his selected team mates. This isn’t to say they haven’t deserved selection themselves, but questionable that Paredes couldn’t be included given he has laid the most tackles of any player in the league while still maintaining a solid 17 disposals per game average. Unlike Chisari and Patolo, Paredes didn’t come with the preseason hype but has busted a gut to perform above expectations and is another worthy selection who missed out.

Geelong Falcons have had great success this season, dominating the competition with a number of players being very eligible draftees. Unfortunately the success may have pushed some of their talented players to the back of the queue given the amount of depth through the midfield. While James Tsitas and Lewis Taylor were away in Europe, Matthew Boag was tearing it up in the Falcons midfield. They returned and Boag moved onto a forward flank, immediately having an impact booting five goals. Despite the performance a fortnight ago, Boag was another omission from the Vic Country squad.

Jordan Mangan a talented key back and relief ruck for the Pioneers, was another one who missed out despite being highly rated around the league. Mangan’s versatility across the ground for Bendigo has been a highlight of his game this season. Another defender, Gippsland’s Tom Muir missed out despite impressive performances for the Power. At the Intra Trials, Muir was sent to full back to play on Geelong’s high leaping Pat McCartin. While Muir is one of the best readers of the play, his main weakness is strength and to be assigned to a  key forward was once again, puzzling. It all but ended his chances of competing for Vic Country this year.

Vic Metro also had a couple of questionable exclusions. Northern Knights’ Jake Kalanj dominated at the Intra Trials but somehow the medium utility didn’t get a guernsey while Mitch Norton (Western), Dion De Pace and Andreas Roth (both Eastern) also missed the cut. Norton will have a chance next year as a bottom-ager this year, but the others could quite easily have been given the nod. Roth in particular is the leading small forward in the competition with Norton second.

State selection for Under 18s would be one of the hardest jobs to have given that players careers are on the line. It is expected that there will always be surprising omissions or additions that others couldn’t see coming, but this year there appears to be a number of  omissions that has left some clubs puzzled. One can only hope that in missing out at Champs will not deteriorate the chances of Jacob Chisari, Agape Patolo, Nathaniel Paredes or Matthew Boag gaining a place on an AFL list for 2014.

Gippsland seek to avenge Grand Final loss

(Photo courtesy of Gippsland Power)

As the siren sounded to end one of the greatest TAC Cup Grand Finals of all time, the Oakleigh Chargers emerged victorious by a point. Oakleigh’s line-up included first round draft picks Jackson Macrae and Kristian Jaksch as well as the talented bottom-ager Jack Billings to celebrate the narrowest of wins. For the losing side, the Gippsland Power, they had the likes of Nick Graham, Tim Membrey and Josh Cashman who were all prominent players that fell agonisingly short of a premiership. This season, Gippsland Power is determined to go that one step further and avenge last year’s harrowing loss.

Gippsland has overhauled its playing list this season, rejuvenating the side with plenty of unfamiliar names in a bid to chase premiership glory. Much of Gippsland’s talent has come from the Traralgon area with only four players hailing from west of Morwell.  History tells us this is hardly surprising with Gippsland’s most talented players recruited from East Gippsland such as Scott Pendlebury (Sale), Dyson Heppell (Leongatha) and Xavier Ellis (Lakes Entrance) who have all forged successful AFL careers.

Gippsland Power midfielder Nathaniel Paredes told of how a concentrated team effort, rather than individual brilliance would help take the Power to back-to-back Grand Finals. “Every player will play a big part if we are to be successful” Paredes said. “Some players will standout such as our top-agers, our captain Josh Cashman, Tom Muir, Josh Scott and Ben Kearns while some of our other players such as Aaron Heppell and Lachie Channing will play a big part in our success this season.”

The Power are the oldest team in the league with four top-agers on their playing list this season, but coach Nick Stevens has said prior success means little in determining who plays each week, guaranteeing everyone a chance to prove their worth. Stevens has placed a large emphasis on players earning their spots which has proven successful thus far.

Gippsland’s first game for the 2013 TAC Cup season showed just how hard Stevens had worked his squad in the off season, defeating the talented Dandenong Stingrays at home in an impressive 23-point win to kick off its season.

Defender Tom Muir provided plenty of run and carry throughout the match, relishing his new role off half back. “My new position at half back, it’s a new start so I am taking everything on board and listening to everything and trying to have an impact from there.” Muir said.

Saturday April 6 had been marked down in the calendar of every Gippsland player the moment they stepped onto the training track for pre-season. It was the day the faced their Grand Final conquerors, something that lingered in the minds of the Power players. Muir admitted feeling confident in the week leading up to the Grand Final rematch against the Oakleigh Chargers. “The intensity was easy to maintain because everyone was up and about from round one with the win.”

Paredes admitted the Grand Final loss was still very prevalent in the minds of the players. “It was very motivating, we all really wanted to get them back for beating us in the Grand Final. It was hard after that loss as we so badly wanted to win it” he said before running out.

Oakleigh traveled to Gippsland in a carbon copy replay of the Grand Final, leaving many spectators with a sense of déjà vu for the crowd who witnessed last year’s frantic final. Gippsland skipped out to an 18-point lead at the first break but the talented Chargers clawed their way back to within five points at the main break. The seesawing battle continued in the second half with Gippsland taking an 11-point lead into the final term.

Unlike last year’s Grand Final, it would be Oakleigh who charged home, inspired by forward Billy Hogan who booted four last quarter goals to lead the Chargers to a narrow five point win. For the second time in just over six months, the Gippsland Power had just fallen short of achieving victory that they craved so badly.

While it was a heart shattering loss for the Power, they see it as just the beginning of a long season. “Although we lost there are heaps of positives from the game and we will improve even more when we play them later in the season. We really owe it to each other to get the win which would be massive for our confidence” Paredes said. Muir agreed, adding that while their structure had improved, they would need to perform longer than two quarters to secure the four points.

Although Gippsland couldn’t get that elusive win over the fancied Oakleigh Chargers, Nick Stevens has his squad looking primed for the rest of the season. If they continue to play the style of football they have been throughout the first two rounds of the season, they are a massive chance and threat to avenge their 2012 Grand Final loss that they so badly want to achieve.