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1:30pm  May 23, 2018

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11:23am  May 23, 2018

Draft Previews – Jonathon O’Rourke

Kristian Pisano  August 8, 2012 9:30 AM

With the season heading towards the close, and the slim, but very hopeful chances of finals football for the Tigers, it’s never too early to turn our heads towards ‘Christmas in November’; the AFL Draft.

The draft is over three months away, but it’s gaining more and more interest each year from the average football fan. It’s exciting, and with finals football approaching in the junior and state leagues, this is normally when the cream rises to the top and we really find out who we want at our club next season.

Richmond is set up nicely for a good draft again in 2012. While still too early to call, the last four drafts at least seem to have had a very good hit-rate, despite the tainted pools with the Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney teams being spoilt for choice.

This year’s draft is exciting in the fact that we’re ‘back to normal’. As the ladder currently stands, Richmond would have picks 9, 28, 30, 50, 68 and 84.

Three picks in the top thirty would be a good result. We’ve heard a lot through the media that this draft is the strongest in quite a few years. I don’t think that’s correct. I think it’s just the fact that the draft is back to normal which makes it seem like this draft stands out. Sure, the top thirty seem to be pretty strong, but after that, in my opinion, it’s fairly diluted. The fact Jaeger O’Meara (Gold Coast) and Brad Crouch (Adelaide) were taken out of the pool in trade week last year doesn’t help either.

In terms of Richmond’s list needs, I immediately think added midfield depth is a must. We’ve seen how the loss of Nathan Foley has impacted the team, and guys like Shane Tuck and Chris Newman (although admittedly he doesn’t play much midfield) aren’t getting any younger. Another key forward or development ruckman could be on the cards with one of the top thirty picks, but to be honest, Brodie Grundy seems to be the only ruckman worth going for, and he’ll be a top five pick. It’s looking like a midfield dominated draft, so if the Tigers decide to load up on midfielders, they’ve chosen the right one.

Over the next few months, I’ll try and throw up some names that could potentially be Richmond players next season from pick nine, mid-rounders to some speculative picks in the 80’s and rookie drafts.

The first player who’s up is Jonathan O’Rourke, and by the looks of things, that top ten pick will most likely be needed.

O’Rourke is a 183cm midfielder from the Calder Cannons in Victoria.

He was hampered by a hamstring injury in 2011, and missed most of the season, only managing four games.

This season, he’s played the eight TAC Cup games for the Calder Cannons to date and played in four games for Vic Metro in the National Championships.

O’Rourke was always considered a top talent, but the hamstring injury meant naturally he slid down the rankings a little bit. That’s all changed through a year of continuity and he’s starting to show why he’s one of the most highly credentialed midfielders in the pool.

O’Rourke is a player that does not have any major weaknesses. In the past two drafts, Richmond’s gone with this type of player in Reece Conca and Brandon Ellis, and O’Rourke pretty much fits this mould.

You could argue O’Rourke is a little more dynamic than those two, as he has a decent turn of speed, but he possesses all the traits the Richmond recruiters have shown that they like in a player.

Those traits I speak of obviously include foot-skills, ability to work hard with and without the ball, attitude, AFL readiness, and just general football awareness. The ‘footballer’ is a back in vogue. ‘Jono’ O’Rourke is all that.

Let’s get on to his game.

He’s predominantly an inside midfielder, but what’s really taken his game to the next level this season has been the outside stuff. In the National Champs, 36% of his total possessions were contested, which highlights my point. We already know he’s a very good inside player.

To put an exclamation mark on what he’s been doing on the outside, is his disposal efficiency. It’s important to keep in mind disposal efficiencies don’t necessarily translate exactly into AFL; they normally get better, due to space, much more defined game plans and quality of the games.

But anyway, it doesn’t matter in O’Rourke’s case. In the National Champs he used the ball above average, going at 76% and in the TAC Cup he’s travelling at 73%. To put it into perspective, some of the better ball users in last year’s draft were Brandon Ellis (76% at Champs, 78% in TAC), Dom Tyson (79% at Champs, 69% in TAC) and Sam Docherty (73% at Champs, 72% in TAC).

Those numbers clearly stack up, and for a big ball winner, it’s even more impressive.

In terms of pure disposal numbers, on face value it looks like he had a down National Champs. He averaged 18.5 disposals, but that was only from an average of 75% game time and due to the shorter quarters in the Champs, it really only equates to about two and half quarters in the AFL in which he played.

In the TAC Cup he’s averaging 23 disposals, but what I find most encouraging is that nine of those possessions are coming from handball receives. Hard running is what O’Rourke is all about.

His work in traffic is great. Sharp hands, clearances and hard ball gets are pretty much all you could ask for when looking at an inside midfielder.

As I said before, there is really nothing in his game you can knock him on. All midfielders need to be able to kick goals these days in the AFL, so that’s maybe one area that could be improved, but even then, his nous around goals is very good, and I distinctly remember a goal he kicked against WA in the final game of the Champs that displayed that.

How about off the park? Well there’s one major positive, he’s a massive Tigers fan.

With a pick that’ll likely be around nine to eleven in the draft for the Tigers, it’s hard to see how O’Rourke will still be on the board, but if he were there at the Tigers pick, I’d have no hesitation in calling his name out as he’s one of my favourite players in the draft.