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Two days to the draft: Meet Hugh Goddard

Draft trumps: Hugh Goddard The cousin of Essendon Star Brendan Goddard is versatile key position prospect

SINCE he was tipped nearly two years ago as a possible No.1 draft pick, Hugh Goddard has become used to the pressure that comes with his footy. 

More of that has come this year, particularly after a slow start to the season. But after working hard, finding his best position and learning the craft of defence, his campaign gathered some speed toward the end.
 

Goddard goes to school at Melbourne Grammar but played in the TAC Cup with the Geelong Falcons, meaning regular travel down the highway every week. 

He managed to combine his responsibilities with a number of teams to have a solid season, and remains one of the most talked-about taller players in this year's crop. 

The cousin of Essendon star Brendon, Goddard carries some similar personality traits in that he is focused, professional and dedicated in his approach to the game. 


There aren't too many 18-year-old key defenders going around who have Goddard's athletic physique (196cm and 93kg). 

He uses that frame in marking contests, often nudging opponents out of position to hold a contested grab, or floating across a pack to take an intercept mark. He averaged almost seven marks a game at TAC Cup level this year. 

Goddard is competitive, attacks the ball in the air and lunges for it at ground level and has shown an ability to shut down opposition key forwards. 

Although his versatility is also in his favour, it was good for him to settle into a key defensive role later in the season for the Falcons and spend some time in one spot. 


An inconsistent season and championships made it difficult to assess Goddard's standing, but his end to the season was encouraging. 

If he can continue to keep his feet in contests he will be able to advance at the next level, as well as eliminate some fumbles that occasionally creep into his play.

On a quick break his opponent can sometimes get away from him, but his straight-line speed is excellent for a player his size (2.98 seconds over 20 metres at the NAB AFL Draft Combine). Hip surgery as a bottom-aged prospect saw Goddard miss a fair chunk of footy, and he took a while to recoup some of that agility. 

Good in the air and a strong mark, Goddard might end up being a player like Carlton's Lachie Henderson. Goddard's best footy was played this season in defence but he's always going to be the type of player who can swing forward if and when required. 


Started the year seen as a possible top-five prospect but Goddard probably fits in a little later, somewhere in the top 15.


Goddard didn't have the super season he would have hoped for, but he plugged away and it turned for him. It's hard to find versatile key position prospects, so he has strong draft value. 

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