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Recruiters gain unique insight into Academy players

Callum Twomey  January 19, 2016 7:11 AM

Victoria draft hopeful Jarrod Berry speaks with Brisbane Lions recruiting manager Stephen Conole

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It provides clubs with a really unique insight into the players

RECRUITERS were given an unprecedented insight into the top prospects of this year's draft with a special briefing while on the NAB AFL Academy's training camp in America, as the League aims to grow its structured development plans for the players this year.

The 11 clubs who sent scouts on the two-week trip this week spent nearly two hours on Friday discussing the squad of 34 players with head coach Brenton Sanderson detailing the strengths and weaknesses and plans for each prospect.

Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne and St Kilda are represented on the trip, and the clubs viewed the first-time meeting with Sanderson as an extremely beneficial element of the camp.

"It was an invaluable insight to be able to access the coaches, medical staff, individual development plans and key stakeholders in the players' development at one time," Magpies list manager Derek Hine said.

"It provides clubs with a really unique insight into the players."

Sanderson presented the Academy's recently updated individual development plans (IDPs) for each player, where the former Adelaide coach has listed key statistical and fitness testing for each player against averages at the NAB AFL Draft Combine over the past 16 years.

He has also rated each player in a number of categories – including skill sets, how they win the ball, and their resilience – and given the players an overall ranking out of 100.

The comprehensive IDPs include a structure of each player's upcoming season and when they will be playing for which teams, with many players splitting duties across their Academy, state, club and school sides.

Sanderson said the catch-up with the clubs while in the US was an opportunity to give all of the travelling recruiters a guide to how the Academy sees each player heading into their draft year.  

"The IDPs measure where players are at the start of the season with their technical skills, their decision-making and if they are a contested ball-winner or not, and they're the sort of things we can work with state academies and local clubs to ensure they're getting plenty of skill acquisition to improve those areas," Sanderson said.

"Having been in this job for 12 months I've gotten to know the guys well and seen them mature emotionally and physically, so to share all of that information this week with the clubs who have been good enough to come on the tour was great.

"The clubs have been given access to the players, they've had lunch with them, they've sat next to them on the bus, so for them it's a really great opportunity to see what the players are like off the field as well.

"Like all of us, they're going to monitor them really closely over the next 10 months."

The Academy squad will continue to train at the IMG Academy centre in Bradenton, Florida, until Wednesday before heading to Los Angeles on Thursday for four days to finish the tour. 

St Kilda list manager Tony Elshaug interviews Northern Territory prospect Brandan Parfitt