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23 days to the draft: Meet gun prospect Matt Crouch

Draft insider: Meet Matt Crouch Get up close and personal with draft prospect Matt Crouch
CROUCH grew as a prospect last season, when he was picked for Vic Country's under-18 side and showed his ball-winning traits. He qualified for the Greater Western Sydney mini-draft but did not follow the same path as his brother Brad, who was picked by Adelaide as one of the eligible 17-year-olds the previous year.

Crouch is a big possession-getter at every level he plays. He broke his hand earlier this season, which forced him to miss the first three games of this year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, but he came back to find the footy straight away. Among his prolific games in the TAC Cup, he also played one game in the VFL for North Ballarat, when he gathered 25 disposals. Crouch is a solid kick and has a mature body.  

In seven games for the struggling North Ballarat TAC Cup side, Crouch averaged 37 disposals (16 contested), seven clearances and five tackles. They are numbers that reflect his ability to get the ball and feed it out. The midfielder is a stoppage specialist, with an innate capacity to know where the ball is, to hustle through players and come out the other side with it in his grasp. He makes calm decisions and has the footballer's knack of finding space where there isn't much. Has a touch of aggression, too.

Running. Crouch isn't quick, and nor does he have a strong aerobic base. At this month's combine he ran a 13.7 beep test, and wasn't spectacular in the 20m sprints either. It is a question mark for recruiters given the demands at the top level. But here's the conundrum with Crouch: even though he isn't a terrific runner, he gets so much of the ball, every week and against any opposition.

West Coast's Matt Priddis. Crouch is so good with his hands in tight, contested situations. He can spot a teammate 15 metres away and shoot him the ball, squeezing it through, over or under players coming at him.  

A bracket of more complete midfielders is ranked ahead of him, but Crouch is likely to fit into the late first-round or early-second round zone.  

An interesting case because he is the best at what he's good at, but needs to work hard at his weaknesses. Build up his engine and he is ready to go.   

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