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Tomorrow's Heroes: Flanker hunts footy at all cost

Tomorrow's Heroes: Hunter Clark The smoothing-moving playmaker is destined to become a midfielder at AFL level

THE BUZZ for Hunter Clark started two years ago, as the long-haired half-back flanker starred at under-16s level to announce himself as a likely early pick at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.

Clark's progression continued last year when he played as a bottom-ager for the Dandenong Stingrays and Vic Country, before he took his game up another notch this season transitioning into the midfield.

The likely first-rounder was one of the form players of the pool in the second half of the season, having had a slightly slow start to the year after overcoming some nagging groin injuries. A knee issue prevented Clark from completing all testing at the NAB AFL Draft Combine in October.

He's able to play in a number of roles, for a start. As a half-back, Clark can provide good run and carry, and is comfortable with the ball in his hands to set things up. He's a strong and penetrating kick on both feet – his natural right foot and non-preferred left side.

His move into the midfield this season also highlighted his ball-winning abilities. He averaged 26 disposals in 13 games, with half of his touches won in contested situations. As good as he looks running with the ball and working hard, Clark is just as comfortable going and getting it himself. He is also a fierce tackler – averaging seven a game in the TAC Cup to go with six clearances. 

Clark's most dominant game of the season came against the Sandringham Dragons late in the year when he kicked two goals and seven inside-50s from 29 disposals from the midfield to lead his side to an important win. He has plenty going for him: he's tough, skillful, competitive and courageous.

The 18-year-old showed he can play in the midfield at under-18 level, but there still remains some doubt for clubs on whether he can do that in the AFL, particularly as he didn't get a chance to do it in the under-18 carnival. He doesn't have a huge tank and hasn't recorded elite levels in the beep test, and although he's relatively smooth, he doesn't have that breakaway pace that other players possess.

Clark is unique, and even clubs struggle to think of an apt comparison for him at AFL level given his mix of traits. There's perhaps a bit of Rory Sloane's rugged approach in Clark, who never shirks a contest.

Isn't in the No.1 conversation like he was at the start of the season, but Clark is still in the mix to be a selection inside the first 15 picks.

A versatile, tough, win-at-all-costs player who do his work with a minimum of fuss and fanfare. Clark can look like he's gliding across the field, but he has a fierce mindset.