JAMAINE Jones knows how to make a statement on a big stage.
The Heywood-based teenager – one of eight south-west footballers preparing for either the AFL national or state combines – was named best-on-ground in his one appearance for Portland and in his Hampden interleague debut in 2016.
Those eye-catching displays, on top of his consistent form for TAC Cup club North Ballarat Rebels, has sparked AFL interest in the creative small forward.
Rebels coach Gerard FitzGerald, who watched the Hampden league grand final on Saturday, said Jones was an exciting prospect who deserved a chance to test in front of recruiters early next month.
“Jamaine’s ability to play inside and outside and play as a small forward has led to some interest from clubs,” he said.
“He’s a terrific kick of the ball and his leg speed is really starting to catch some eyes.
“Clubs now are really starting to look for players who can still cover the ground but they’re looking for players who can kick the ball and they’re also looking for competitors. He’s good in all those three areas.”
Jones will join former Portland tall Rowan Marshall, now honing his craft as a ruckman-cum-key defender at VFL club North Ballarat Roosters, recently-crowed Koroit premiership utility Jarrod Korewha and former North Warrnambool Eagle Sam McLachlan at the state combine – a camp for players who have piqued interest in at least two clubs.
FitzGerald said Marshall and Korewha had traits needed at the elite level.
“Rowan Marshall, local people will remember as a boy who grew suddenly in his 18th-19th year,” he said.
“He’s now clearly over 200 centimetres but where he impressed this year was he was able to play well as a ruckman but also as a key position player, particularly behind the ball. In his top-age Rebels year he was able to play as a key forward who had ruck year, in the Roosters this year he’s played a fair bit of footy as a key defender.”
FitzGerald said AFL Academy product Korewha, who proved a handy forward option in the Saints’ preliminary and grand final triumphs, was a long-term prospect.
“Tex has been quite interesting because he had a very good 17th year where he really showed some good signs as a player,” he said.
“We used primarily as a tall defender who can provide good run. What we’ve liked in him as the year has progressed is his ability to hit targets. We’re hoping he can get an opportunity, either late in the draft or get an offer of a pre-season that might lead to a rookie (spot) because it’s hard to find boys of that athleticism.”
South Warrnambool jet Hugh McCluggage, three-time Koroit premiership player Willem Drew, Camperdown recruit Cedric Cox and Cobden ruckman Sean Darcy will test at the four-day national combine which will boast the best prospects in the country.