CLUB: Northern Knights / VIC Metro
POSITION: General Defender / Midfield
PICK RANGE: 7-12
- Playmaker – Superb user of the ball out of the back half with ranging kicks
- Leader – A natural leader with a strong understanding of structures and tactics
- Mobility – Superb athleticism for his size
There was little question when Nick Coffield began his bottom age year at the Northern Knights that he was going to be featuring prominently in this year’s draft, with teammates and coaches alike noting his obvious potential.
Deployed across half-back, Coffield played 18 games across the 2016 season, finding himself in the Knights’ best eight times on the way to earning their rising star award. But, despite his encouraging form, he entered 2017 still well under the radar.
After being announced as the Knights captain, and with a string of impressive performances in the TAC Cup, Coffield was selected for the VIC Metro squad at this year’s U18 Championships, and it was here where his draft stocks duly soared. During their ultimately victorious carnival, Coffield shone with both his defensive work on players such as top draft hopeful Darcy Fogarty, and also his offensive ability with his penetration from the backline. His leadership and drive were also very much on display when he was one of the few to step up during Metro’s shock loss to the Allies – ending the game with a high of 29 disposals.
A leader on and off the field, and with technical skills and physicality to match, Coffield provides a very attractive package to club recruiters.
WHY PICK HIM?
As a mobile and versatile 190cm player, Coffield already ticks a number of boxes for recruiters, yet there is plenty more to him that just physical attributes.
When playing behind the ball, Coffield has plenty of AFL traits that clubs will be very keen to develop. He is a strong mark, and his body positioning and how he works his man one on one is superb. Coffield also possesses a neat side step and acceleration that allows him to create separation from his man. His main strength, however, is his ball use and decision making out of the backline. There are fewer more composed players in this year’s draft, and with his knack for creating space for himself, he is able to consistently launch offensive forays with accurate long kicking out of the defensive half.
He has also proven to have developed his ball-winning skills during spells in the midfield this year, gathering 30+ on two occasions and taking his average for the year to 21 – up from 15 last year. His agility and ability to create time for himself in traffic, lends itself well to a central position, and in terms of outside ability at least, he is not dissimilar to Scott Pendlebury in the way he plays.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect to clubs will Coffield’s on field leadership. Even as a bottom ager, Coffield provided direction and assistance to team-mates, understanding not only his role but roles of the team. His leadership and understanding of the team structures almost provides an extra coach on the field, and this is especially evident when his team is under pressure and needs to lift. On more than one occasion this year he has willed his team back into a contest by leading from the front.
THE QUESTION MARKS?
While Coffield’s versatility is certainly a strength, it has become clear during the year that he is by far better suited playing behind the ball. He has shown when moved into the midfield that he can accumulate possessions, but his contested ballwinning is an area that would need development before he could be considered a viable midfield option. He doesn’t seem a natural at the coalface, and relies more on having the ball fed to him by teammates.
With his kicking, Coffield tends to almost prefer going for the more difficult, long option. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it certainly is a major part of what makes him such a dangerous player, there are occasions where an easier option is available that would prove as effective, if not more so. This could simply be a case of him taking the opportunity to showcase his abilities, however, as his decision making when it counts is generally impressive.
In Nick Coffield we have a player that is ready in talent, size and maturity to transition quickly into an AFL player. He has the defensive and offensive traits that suit the modern AFL half-back, and has shown enough scope to suggest that he could transition into a prototype midfielder in time. A natural leader, with a strong grasp of roles and tactics, Coffield has future AFL captain written all over him, and looks to be as safe a top 10 pick as you’ll get.