In the lead-up to the 2012 AFL national draft, the Herald Sun ran an article about one of the best young prospects, Northern Knights midfielder/half-back Nick Vlastuin. The talented teenager would subsequently be drafted by Richmond with its first pick (No. 9 overall), which was the last time the Club had a top-10 selection in the national draft until this year. Here is an edited version of the Herald Sun’s article on the young gun from Eltham . . .

Naturally reserved off the field, Nick Vlastuin’s competitive streak and strong leadership skills come to the fore when he pulls on the boots.

Around the stoppages, the dual under-18 All-Australian brings an unflinching attack on the ball, which makes him one of the most powerful clearance players in the draft pool.

“One of the reasons his peers really gravitate to him is because of his actions on the field,” Knights’ regional manager Peter Kennedy said.

“He’s very courageous, and one of those players that once he crosses the white line, he becomes a competitive beast.

“He really thrives on the contested side of the game, so when it becomes a little bit brutal, you know he's in there winning the contested footy.”

The 187cm midfielder has also acted as a rudder in defence, showing the sacrificial side of his game, helping cover and assist teammates.

His strong frame will probably put him in the frame to play seniors from Round 1 next season, adding to his first-round appeal.

Richmond could take him as early as pick No. 9, while Gold Coast has a strong need for a ready-made inside ball winner at selection No.13.

After finishing his studies last year, Vlastuin, 18, has worked as a lifeguard at a pool this season, allowing him to focus fully on his AFL dream.

Vlastuin said he wanted to develop into the same mould of player as St Kilda midfielder Lenny Hayes and Collingwood's Luke Ball.

“All the recruiters are saying if you can't win a one-on-one (contest), you can’t play AFL; that’s pretty exciting for me,” he said.

“I prefer the way the game is moving to more contested footy, stoppages, body-on-body stuff, because they are my strengths. Hopefully, I get that opportunity.”


Age: 18
Height: 187cm
Weight: 83kg
From: Northern Knights
Position: Midfield/half-back
Predicted draft range: 9-15
Plays like: Brad Sewell