CAMPERDOWN coach Bernard Moloney says AFL recruiters should not have reservations about drafting young talent straight from the Hampden league.
The second-year coach yesterday endorsed mobile forward Sam Gordon as a prospective draftee for AFL clubs wanting to bolster their key position stocks.
Gordon, who is 192cm tall and weighs 92kg, has received an invitation to attend the AFL’s Victorian combine at Etihad Stadium on October 6.
The 19-year-old played seven games with Geelong Falcons in 2011 but AFL clubs overlooked him come draft time.
He remained with the Falcons this season and played six games after recovering from pre-season hip surgery.
But he returned to Camperdown after failing to win Falcons selection mid-season — TAC Cup clubs can only play three of their five 19-year-olds per match
Moloney said AFL clubs should consider drafting Gordon from the Hampden league, despite him not playing in the VFL or — since June — the TAC Cup.
“I think the advantage here is he’s playing against men,” he said.
“People say the Hampden league has slipped over the years.
“I’ve been involved for a long time and I don’t think it has.
“Footy has changed but the standard, the fitness and the work rate of players is as good as it ever was. It all comes down to the hunger of the player who gets asked to go to these (combines).”
Moloney said Gordon had been impressive as a mobile marking target since his return to Camperdown.
“We certainly needed a key marking target up forward and he certainty gave us that,” he said.
Gordon’s draft would come as a surprise, considering recruiters’ reluctance to draft young footballers playing in top country leagues.
Key defender Matt Sully played with North Ballarat Rebels in 2010 and returned to South Warrnambool after AFL clubs also overlooked him.
He enjoyed a career-best season in 2011 at the Roosters but still attracted no interest at the national and rookie drafts.
Gordon said he was frustrated at getting squeezed out of the Falcons’ line-up because of the exposure the competion gives young players. But he said playing senior Hampden league football had improved his game.
“I think personally it’s been good for me to play senior footy, to play against the bigger bodies,” he said yesterday.
“That’s just me, that’s on a personal level.
“Obviously the exposure is important as well.
“You’re not going to get as many recruiters coming to watch the Hampden league as the TAC Cup.
“But I couldn’t be happier I’ve come back to play senior footy.”
Gordon said he was not as confident he would get drafted as he was this time last year when he attended the national combine.
“It’s a pretty big confidence booster for me that there are clubs still interested in me,” he said.
“It spurs you on a bit.
“You want it a bit more and you keep driving to reach the goal of getting drafted.”