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11 days to the draft: Meet gun prospect Toby Nankervis

Draft insider: Meet Toby Nankervis Get up close and personal with draft prospect Toby Nankervis
NANKERVIS was overlooked for last year's NAB AFL Draft, but didn't dwell on the disappointment for too long. He went out of his way to improve where recruiters wanted him to: he became more aggressive, dominated in the ruck, and grew into a pseudo-midfielder who also pushed forward to kick goals in developing his endurance. 

At the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships for Tasmania, Nankervis was named the joint winner of the Harrison Medal, awarded to the best player in division two. He won the ruck position in the All Australian side, and established himself as perhaps the most commanding ruck around. His standout game came against Northern Territory, when he kicked five goals, had 22 possessions and took nine marks. 

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Nankervis' long reach stands out almost as much as his presence. He plays with good character and has a desire to win. Around the ground he pushes his way to the front of packs and takes marks and at ruck contests he throws he frame forward and isn't easily moved (across the championships he averaged 18 hit-outs a game). He has a big left-foot kick and is good when the ball hits the ground, but Nankervis is best when he's leaping, jumping and stretching for the ball. 

To play at AFL level, he will need to improve his endurance. From last year's testing to this year's, Nankervis added a level to his beep test results, but that still has to grow further. His kicking looks good, and he can bang it long, but his efficiency statistics show that can also be an area to refine. 

Because of his ability to find the ball, roam around the ground and take a few marks, Nankervis shares some similarities to Port Adelaide big man Matthew Lobbe. Nankervis is probably more comfortable around goal, though. 

A chance to get into the top 30. Just as likely to be picked anywhere after that, as clubs view rucks slightly differently to other types of players.   

Clubs are looking for prospects who can play the hybrid ruck-forward role, and Nankervis has proved he can. Hugely improved from last year, the burly Nankervis deserves a shot. 

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