Portland ruckman on AFL radar

Rowan Marshall is off to the AFL combine. 140330DW46 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Rowan Marshall is off to the AFL combine. 140330DW46 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

AT 198 centimetres Rowan Marshall stands out on the football field.

But the Portland ruckman wants his mobility to grab recruiters’ interest at the AFL combine in October.

Marshall and 95 other hopefuls will use the four-day testing camp at Docklands to enhance their draft credentials.

The list was announced on Monday, with Marshall and Lake Wendouree’s Daniel Butler the only North Ballarat Rebels-listed players to receive a call-up.

For Marshall, an invitation to the combine was another surprise accolade in a break-out season.

The Rebels threw Marshall a TAC Cup lifeline earlier this year, naming him as one of their 19-year-old players.

He grabbed that second chance and has since gone on to represent Vic Country at the AFL under 18 national championships.

Marshall, 18, said the combine, which involves a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, was another opportunity for him to make the most of his junior representative football reprieve. 

“I certainly wasn’t expecting it but when ‘Parto’ (Rebels talent manager Phil Partington) told me last week I was really excited,” he said.

“Now it’s about training really hard until then and then impress recruiters.

“I suppose my strength as a ruckman is my mobility around the ground so I’d like to impress in the agility test.

“Another is my kicking. If you can’t kick now, you can’t play AFL, so hopefully I do well in that test.”

Marshall is a natural right-footer but has worked tirelessly on kicking on his non-preferred left foot — an asset which is crucial at the elite level.

“I am pretty lucky that I have practiced ever since I was young on my left foot so I am lucky I have my left foot that I can use,” he said.

Marshall has earmarked the beep test and three-kilometre runs — both endurance-based tests — as two he’ll focus on in the lead-up to the combine.

“My best in the beep test is 12.9 earlier this year,” he said.

“It is all right (for a tall) but I want to get higher than that to show I have a good endurance base as well.”

The Ballarat-based Marshall said his rise from TAC Cup hopeful to potential AFL draftee was the culmination of hard work and dedication.

If an AFL club selects him via either the national or rookie drafts in November he will follow two former Rebels — Sydney’s Jake Lloyd (Horsham) and Gold Coast’s Louis Herbert (South Warrnambool) — as 19-year-old-listed players to make the grade in the past three seasons.

But Marshall’s focus is on finishing the season strongly and preparing for the combine. “It has been awesome and a lot better than last year,” he said.

“This year I was lucky enough to get a second call-up and since I got that call-up (to the Rebels) I have worked as hard as I can and the results are showing at the moment.

“But I have a fair bit of improvement to do.”

North Ballarat Rebels sit fourth on the TAC Cup ladder with three home-and-away rounds to play.

They are all but assured a finals spot — the competition uses a top eight system — but are yet to cement the double chance.

“It’s a big last three games. We have Tassie this week and then Calder and Oakleigh and they are the top two teams,” Marshall said.


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