Dion Prestia had starred through the midfield for TAC Cup team Calder Cannons, before being recruited by fledgling AFL club Gold Coast with its fifth pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2010 national draft. Prestia was a member of the Suns inaugural team in the opening round of the 2011 season and he had a fine 95-game career with them over six seasons, until Richmond secured his valuable services during the 2016 trade period. Five years on, he is a triple Tiger premiership hero and a Jack Dyer Medallist. We rewind to the lead-up to the 2010 national draft, with Prestia providing an evaluation of his own game in a question/answer format, followed by some football expert opinion of him and phantom draft predictions.
What type of player are you?
"Honest, committed, loyal and encouraging team player. Can play inside or outside and can play different positions around the ground."
Which AFL player do you feel you resemble, and why?
"David Rodan . . . has a good kick and uses his speed and agility well to break out of packs and takes on the game."
What are your strengths as a footballer?
"Can play inside/outside, very athletic in all areas, good vision and decision making."
What parts of your game would you like to improve?
"Kick more goals and finish off good work. Have more rebound-50s, pushing harder into defence."
Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far, and why?
"Dad. Driving me to every game and every training session. Also giving me advice on what I can do better and what I do well."
AFL draft expert Kevin Sheehan on Prestia
"Powerful inside midfielder/forward with excellent disposal skills and contested ball-winning ability.
"Averaged 28 disposals in the TAC Cup and represented Vic Metro in the 2010 AFL under-18 championships with an injury curtailing his championships.
"He returned to his best form later in the season with the Cannons."
AFL Draft Info’s Prestia draft profile
"Selling points are his tackle slipping/breaking ability, evasion, pace off the mark, all-round ball-winning ability, both inside and out, defensive pressure and tackling ability, attacking instinct, dual-sided with good kicking depth.
"Clean hands and can be creative with feeds, kicking reliability is decent, hits the scoreboard well for a midfielder.
"Query is his lack of height for a midfielder.
"Despite his height, Prestia has the potential to be a very good AFL midfielder that is capable of playing both inside and outside roles through the midfield with equally good effect.
"He possesses a very mature build and looks to be at his ideal playing weight at a lean body fat.
"Should be ready to go next year and at the right team could play a large chunk, if not close to all of his first season."
Paul Daffey, AFL Media phantom draft: Prestia to Gold Coast at pick 9
"It's been noticeable in junior matches that Prestia clears the heads of leading forwards who underestimate his kicking strength.
"His ability to scoot away from congestion is also obvious.
"Prestia offers pace and drive, inside and outside.
"The only doubt is hamstring injuries, which should be ironed out through more targeted training regimes and the medical facilities at the Suns."
Chris Doerre, ESPN.com.au draft expert’s phantom draft: Prestia to Gold Coast at pick 7
"Very powerful and has great ball-winning ability, pace, agility, strength and a nice, long, penetrating kick.
"It is considered by some that he may have limited scope to improve due to height, but others with similar bodies have made it, so no reason why Prestia won’t.
"Can play inside, outside and whatever role you need him to.
"The good thing about Prestia is that he can help immediately with his ready-made body.
"He has all the attributes to be a very good player."
Jay Clark, Herald Sun phantom draft: Prestia to St Kilda at pick 24
"Leg-speed and foot skills is the clear priority for the Saints and Prestia has both bases covered.
"The powerful midfielder is short, but he can shovel out hard balls and break away from packs with good speed and agility."