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27 days to the draft: Meet gun prospect Christian Salem

Draft insider: Meet Christian Salem Get up close and personal with draft prospect Christian Salem
THE STRONGLY-built Sandringham Dragons midfielder played for Vic Metro as a bottom-aged player last year, when it won the division one title at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. He has grown as a player since then, though. He was added to the AIS-AFL Academy and then played a key role for his state this year, floating from half-back through the midfield and occasionally pushing forward.

With a piercing left-foot kick and a solid attack on the ball, Salem dominated at TAC Cup level for the Dragons, averaging 23 disposals across his five games.

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STRENGTHS
Salem's game revolves around his hands and feet. He is a beautiful kick over any distance – setting up play down the wing, squeezing a pass through arms and legs, or shooting at goal. His marking is also elite, including over his head or on the lead. He puts his head over the ball when it's there to be won, and can play in a range of positions. For Brighton Grammar at school level, he had a knack of sliding forward and kicking some goals at pivotal moments. His pace is also impressive and at the NAB AFL Draft Combine he ran 2.98 seconds over 20 metres.

Footy's a family affair for Dragons star Salem

WEAKNESSES
Gut running was perceived as something Salem could work on earlier in the season but he went away and did that, which was obvious in his beep test at the combine, when he ran 14.5. It was a big tick in the eyes of recruiters. He is learning to use that in games, too, by demanding the ball more out on the ground.  




PLAYS LIKE
When Salem takes control of a game, there are elements of his style that draw comparisons to Hawthorn premiership captain Luke Hodge. Of similar shape and size, Salem swings on to his left foot and is trusty with the ball. He isn't combative like Hodge but does push through contests and search for possession.   

DRAFT RANGE
A first-round pick who could sneak into the top 10. Salem has a lot of suitors.

BOTTOM LINE
One of the draft bolters of the second half of the season, Salem's traits match up strongly with all of the other-highly rated midfielders.

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Twitter: @AFL_CalTwomey
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs