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16 days to the draft: Meet Alex Neal-Bullen

Draft trumps: Alex Neal-Bullen The tough South Australian ball winner does his best work in heavy traffic and has already played senior in the SANFL

A STRONG, hard-bodied midfielder with senior experience, Alex Neal-Bullen is a draft prospect with solid credentials. 

Often it's easy to overlook his influence on games: his possessions are largely gathered in and under packs, and he doesn't have the breakaway speed to burst out of a pack. 

But, in his time with Glenelg's senior team and South Australia's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships campaign, Neal-Bullen had a big impact with a calm presence, poise with the ball, and an ability to just keep getting it


Neal-Bullen showed his elite running power at the combine, where he posted the third-best three-kilometre time trial (9:54 minutes) and a level 15.2 beep test.
 

That's a central part of his game, with Neal-Bullen able to get to plenty of stoppages and make an impact when he's there. 

In six games for South Australia during the under-18 championships, the 182cm/77kg prospect averaged 18 disposals and five clearances a game, and he's also an aggressive tackler (averaging four a game). 

Importantly, Neal-Bullen also has senior experience, having performed well for Glenelg. 

In nine games at the SANFL's top level, he averaged 20 disposals and showed his talents as a ball winning and consistent inside midfielder (almost 40 per cent of his disposals in the seniors were contested).


Neal-Bullen doesn't have the out-and-out spread from contests that other midfielders possess, which is probably what pushes him down the order a touch. 

His speed in games is OK without being exceptional, but showed at the combine that it wasn't one of his go-to strengths (he tested 3.12 over 20 metres).

Luke Parker has developed into one of the premier young midfielders in the competition, and Neal-Bullen carries some of the same traits as the emerging Sydney Swans on-baller.

Neal-Bullen bases his game on his quick hands at stoppages and capacity at winning contested disposals.


Neal-Bullen is probably a second or third-round draft prospect.


Levelheaded and a quality leader, Neal-Bullen ticks some important boxes. He'll need to work on a few things, but has the temperament, tenacity and desire to make an impact in the midfield. 



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