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26 days to the draft: Luke Partington overcame adversity to star for SA

Draft Trumps: Luke Partington The South Australian has overcome a family tragedy to be one of the draft's best midfield prospects

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FEW WOULD have blamed Luke Partington if he had struggled to lift himself into top form this season after the tragic way his year started.

In February, Partington's father Brian was killed in a mining accident in South Australia. The 47-year-old had been commuting to the Roxby Downs mining region from hometown Tumby Bay since 2008.

Partington, who was in Adelaide at the time, raced back home to be with the rest of his family and stayed there for about a month, struggling to find the motivation to get back into training.

He began by doing some light work at local club Tumby Bay and gradually picked up his fitness, before shifting back to Adelaide with SANFL club Norwood, where he also held a full-time job.

Then he carried on to have an exceptional season, winning All Australian honours for his under-18 championships with South Australia as well as performing at senior level for Norwood in the SANFL. 

Aside from the fact Partington overcame personal circumstances to piece together a strong season in 2015, he has a number of playing qualities as a draft prospect. 

Partington was his state's standout player in the national carnival, averaging 24 disposals in five games and showing his traits as an inside midfielder with burst. He is tough, composed and controlled, but has also added an outside element to his ball winning.

At the NAB AFL Draft Combine, Partington showed he has some breakaway pace – he recorded a 2.96-second 20m sprint – to go with his strong endurance (level 14.1 beep test). His hands are clean, he isn't afraid of putting his head in dangerous spots and can spread quickly into space. 

It isn't much of a worry, but Partington probably doesn't have the standout trick that some other midfielders possess. He can run quick enough, deliver the ball well enough and does most things without fuss, but he's probably not in the top rung for any particular attribute. But add it all up and Partington ticks a lot of boxes as a really solid pick. 

Taylor Adams has carved out an emerging career as an inside ball-winning bull, and although Partington doesn't quite carry the same presence around the stoppages as the Magpies midfielder, there are some easy comparisons between the pair. 

Partington fits in with a number of midfielders as possible second-round picks. He seems likely to be in the mix from about pick 25-40, and looks a dependable player at the next level. 

Partington's senior exposure and form against mature bodies shows he should be able to come into an AFL club and play next year. He's resilient, uncompromising and has a pinch of pace that works in tandem with his ball-winning qualities. Clubs have been rapt with attitude and application this year given his challenges. 

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