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Opinion

Meet the 'match-winning diamond in the rough' AFL teams should no longer ignore

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Roar Guru
1st October, 2021
30
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His Aspley Hornets team came last and handed in their VFL licence, but Matt Hammelmann still claimed the Frosty Miller Medal for leading the VFL goal kicking, the only time that has happened in 154 years of the competition.

Booting 42 goals in just ten games, the big Queenslander won yet another goal-kicking medal, having won the QAFL award with the flag-winning Morningside in 2020 and winning back-to-back Ray Hughson Trophies for the Redland Bombers in the NEAFL in 2018-2019.

So why hasn’t he been picked up by an AFL club?

Well, he was, back in 2014 having his childhood dreams come true when he was drafted by his beloved Brisbane Lions after graduating from their academy. He scored 67 goals across 43 games for the Lions reserves and 12 games for the Lions AFL side at just a two-goal return.

Despite standing at 197 centimetres and having a solid frame built for playing out of the goal square, the Morningside prodigy came through the academy and emerging players with Eric Hipwood, who new coach Chris Fagan preferred and Hammelmann was delisted.

Despite the NEAFL being a quality competition populated by listed AFL players, ex-AFL players and potential future AFL players, it was no longer viewed as a recruiting nursery for mature players despite the advent of the supplementary selection period and mid-season rookie draft.

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Hammelmann’s dominant season may finally have attracted the attention of Victorian teams having scored heavily on a regular basis all season, but it is his childhood favourite team who have a hole in their forward set-up that would fit the local super boot like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

Somewhat ironically, it is the ACL injury to his former teammate and rival Hipwood that would give Hammelmann this chance, with Oscar McInerney playing in the ruck and Daniel McStay the only fit tall forward able to partner Joe Daniher.

The Lions have several greenhorn ruck/forwards, but none have a lot of experience and Fagan likes to play an extra tall to chop out and assist in defence, so an experienced backup second tall forward is an identified need.

Currently, the Lions are linked with every tall forward and ruck in the trade market, yet with their salary cap tightness and loaded contract for Daniher the club needs to find a bargain and it could be right in their backyard.

The truncated VFL and NAB League season threw up several interesting over-age players who will come under consideration at the draft, although a dozen of them have already been taken in the mid-season rookie draft, making the rookie drafts in November, March and June all the more interesting.

As for Matthew Hammelmann, should he not attract an AFL deal this off-season, which at 26 does seem increasingly likely, he is too good to be playing outside of the VFL.

Maybe an offer will come from the ladder-topping Southport Sharks, but with 18 AFL clubs looking for a match-winning diamond in the rough, they shouldn’t go past this raw commodity.

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