JACK Higgins came into the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships with one goal in mind: to prove to everyone what a good player he is.
One game into the national carnival, the 18-year-old can tick that off as achieved.
On Sunday, Higgins pieced together a complete game that highlighted all of his key attributes. The Vic Metro midfielder gathered 30 disposals, seven clearances, two goals, nine marks and six inside-50s to power his team to a 38-point win over WA at Domain Stadium.
The Oakleigh Chargers product sees himself more as a small forward who can play in the midfield than the other way around, but he did most of his damage in the middle in Metro’s 14.12 (96) to 9.4 (58) win to open their championships campaign.
He gathered five clearances and nine disposals in the first term, kicked two goals (and passed off another possible shot to a teammate) in the second quarter to go into half-time with 22 touches, and by the end was the equal leading possession winner on the ground.
Because of Higgins’ stature – the tidy right-footer is 178cm – it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where in the early part of this year’s NAB AFL Draft he will get taken. But his weight of performances, marking ability and capacity to hit the scoreboard means he will be in contention for the top-10.
Higgins wasn’t a lone hand for Metro, though. Hard-running midfield partner Dylan Moore is also on the smaller side but gathered plenty of the ball (30 disposals, one goal) and used it well, while Tigers father-son hopeful Patrick Naish collected 22 touches to show his run.
Cameron Rayner, a strong chance to be the No.1 pick, played through the midfield and across half-forward and influenced the contest whenever he was around it. He finished with 23 disposals and a goal, and showed again his power and strength with six clearances.
Adam Cerra (24 disposals), Nick Coffield (19) and Trent Mynott (21) were others to push their claims for Metro, who will face Vic Country next Saturday at Punt Road Oval. Cerra looks likely to be an early selection, with his poise and composure with the ball a standout trait.
Western Australia’s efficiency around goal kept them in touching distance for longer than might have otherwise been the case, and the gap between the sides was obvious in the inside-50 count: Metro won it by 10 entries.
But WA, following its ‘golden point’ win in extra time last week over South Australia, had some solid performers, with bottom-aged midfielder Tom Joyce leading the way with 23 touches. Callan England gave some good run with 17 disposals, while NAB AFL Academy member Jake Patmore was among WA’s best with 19 disposals.
Key defender Aaron Naughton continued his form with 15 touches and six rebound-50s, while marking forward target Oscar Allen booted two first-term goals and finished with three as his side’s only multiple goalkicker.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2.0 4.0 6.3 9.4 (58)
VIC METRO 2.4 6.9 11.11 14.12 (96)
Western Australia: Allen 3, B. Miller, L.Miller, Frampton, Ameduri, Starcevich, Cameron
Vic Metro: Higgins 2, Landt 2, McLean 2, Moore, Cerra, Rayner, Naish, Coffield, Hayes, Wooller, Taylor
Western Australia: Joyce, Patmore, Allen, Ainsworth, Naughton, England
Vic Metro: Higgins, Moore, Rayner, Cerra, Naish, Coffield