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THERE'S a fair chance you've already heard of Jacob Hopper. If you've read anything related to the new father-son and academy bidding system this year, Hopper's name is almost certain to have been linked.

Hopper is among a handful of highly touted prospects tied to northern academy clubs, with the New South Wales product set to join Greater Western Sydney at the NAB AFL Draft.

The 18-year-old moved from Leeton in NSW to Victoria last year to board at St Patrick's College in Ballarat, and has played for the North Ballarat Rebels the past two seasons.

He has always been athletic, growing up a keen swimmer and competing at national level before turning his attention solely to football.

We're told everything at the top level starts with the simple goal of winning the ball, so Hopper already ticks that off. The midfielder averaged 23 disposals in 12 TAC Cup games this year, and more than half of those touches were won in contested situations. He recorded nearly seven clearances a game and also averaged five tackles. 

But his capacity to influence a game stretches beyond that. Hopper is a bull: he digs into contests, rips the ball out and opponents can't stop him. He's a terrific and strong mark overhead, and also a really nice finisher around goal.

In his first game of the season for the Rebels he kicked four goals from 27 disposals and showed his class, and it was a sign of things to come. Playing mainly as a midfielder he booted 26 goals this season for the Rebels.

The 186cm prospect is a natural leader who plays in a way that drags others along behind him. He also sets himself high standards and likes to test himself against the best. He enjoyed playing for the Rams in the division two championships, but would have loved the challenge of coming up against the division one teams.

To be frank, there's not a whole lot of concerns with Hopper. He won't be the type of player who has the burst of speed to break out of a stoppage, zig zag through traffic and then spot up a leading forward. That's not really his go, so if you're looking for the outside, flashy player you won't find it with him.

He endured some injury concerns in the years leading up to 2015 that ruled him out of large chunks of games, including a nagging knee problem that he shed at the start of this season, but he has shown an ability to play through pain.

Late in the TAC Cup season he played through a groin injury and nearly dragged his team over the line in the preliminary final. He missed the NAB AFL Draft Combine with the complaint a couple of weeks later. It's minor and should be fine by the start of the pre-season.

Hopper's ability to break through tackles, lift his arms in the air and feed off a handball under pressure makes him look like Sydney Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy at times. Like Kennedy, Hopper is a taller midfielder who can mark well above his head and also hit the scoreboard.

Hopper should attract a bid in the opening five to eight selections, which would force the Giants to match with their first pick (No.10 overall). The live bidding on draft night means nothing is guaranteed, but it's a good bet Hopper will be at GWS next year.

Ready to play and ready to lead, Hopper has captain material written all over him. It's easy to see Hopper becoming a long-term player and leader at AFL level, because he has an innate desire to be successful. Rugged but with a good dose of polish, the teenager is always in the thick of the action.