“Born for success he seemed, with grace to win, with heart to hold, with shining gifts that took all eyes” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

HJ MitchellI’ve had the good fortune of witnessing firsthand the football development of Jack Billings since his beginnings in Under 9s. The kid was born with football smarts and the magical ability of knowing where the ball is going before it gets there. Combine these ethereal gifts with silky foot-skills, speed and being above average overhead, it’s little wonder he was pick 3 in last year’s National Draft.

Time and again, I’ve watched Jack win games from his own efforts – once kicking 6 goals in the last quarter to win a game by 4 points. The bigger the moment, the better he plays.

With an interrupted preseason, I expected St Kilda to ‘manage’ Jack this year but a run of injuries with the list gave Jack the opportunity to gain valuable experience at the elite level. Although still needing a bit more size and increasing his tank, he didn’t look out of place.

Jack played 16 games (2 with the vest) in his first AFL season before a premature end with a hamstring injury in Round 20. He scored 101 Supercoach points in his first full game in the Rd 5 11 point win over Essendon and 132 Supercoach points in the Rd 14 33 point loss to West Coast.

Estimated 2015 Price: $328,200
Predicted 2015 Position: FWD
Games last season: 16
Average last season: 61.1
100+ games last season: 2
Sub 80 games last season: 13
Price range last season: $207K – $315K
Missed games last season: 3 games rounds 21-23 with hamstring and 4 games rounds 2-4 & round 10 in VFL
Significant history: Drafted at pick 3 in the 2013 national draft
Under 18 All Australian 2012 & 2013
Ranked 2nd amongst 2014 rising stars in goal assists per game
Ranked 2nd amongst 2014 rising stars in inside 50s per game

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Some interesting comparisons of players in their first AFL year:

Scott Pendlebury – pick 5 in 2005 national draft, 1st AFL season: 2006
9 games for Average 58 Supercoach points

Marc Murphy – pick 1 in 2005 national draft, 1st AFL season: 2006
16 games for Average 71 Supercoach points

Patrick Dangerfield – pick 10 in 2007 national draft, 1st AFL season: 2009 (2 games in 2008)
21 games for Average 63 Supercoach points

Jack Ziebell – pick 9 in 2008 national draft, 1st AFL season: 2009
10 games for Average 61 Supercoach points

Andrew Gaff  – pick 4 in 2010 national draft, 1st AFL season: 2011
17 games for Average 63.6 Supercoach points

Chad Wingard – pick 6 in 2011 national draft, 1st AFL season: 2012
19 games for Average 51.7 Supercoach points

Jack’s first AFL season will have given him a great deal of confidence. He’d be the first to acknowledge a lack of consistency but in an inconsistent team struggling to put a balanced group on the park each week, that was to be expected. He now knows himself what is required and he has the intelligence, gifts and desire to rapidly improve.

RISK FACTOR

Playing in a young, developing team means consistency can be elusive and opportunities become variable.

I don’t subscribe to the uniformity of the ‘second year blues’ theory. There are just as many players who continue to progress as those who seem to succumb to it.

Vest candidacy should not be an issue in his second year but the risk of injury whilst his body develops has to be acknowledged.

The retention of his DPP will also have a bearing on his Supercoach relevancy in 2015.

SELECTION PURPOSE

The potential is unquestionably there. With DPP and continued improvement, Jack could be an innovative F6 selection providing cover option in the midfield when required.

THE GOOD

  • He’s already shown he can rack up +100 Supercoach scores.
  • A full preseason will definitely help his physical development.
  • He can kick goals, provide goal assists and inside 50s.
  • Whether he is a wunderkind or a building star, one thing is for certain – pure gold never tarnishes.

THE DOWNSIDE

I reckon the downside is more about the team than the player. The Saints are clearly in a development phase and are not expected to provide stiff or consistent competition in 2015. They’ve resigned 19 of their younger players through their Future Fest campaign and have four live picks in the National Draft. Opportunities in the forward half next season for the Saints is going to depend on increased improvement and consistency.

THE VERDICT

Jack Billings is definitely on my watchlist. When you take into account his 19 games in his first AFL season came after limited game time in his last TAC year (2013) with a knee injury and an interrupted 2014 preseason with a quad injury, his season stats are even more impressive. This preseason he gets to build his tank and his body. I’ll be closely watching his output in the praccie matches and the whole team’s development. If the Saints have the season like I think they will, Jack Billings could well be an excellent POD and cash generator leading up the bye.

Watch

What’s your call on Jack Billings in 2015?

HJ_Mitch

Twitter: @HJ_Mitch

 

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39 Comments

Chicko · 26/11/2014 at 06:00

Welcome HJ – bang! What an eloquent and articulate opening – outstanding stuff! I like Jack, and I’m with you on the second year blues, look at Heppell as another example of a kid has kept on building since his debut. Billings is awkwardly priced but his DPP is attractive. Also a watch for mine. Well done mate, terrific openin article!

throttlefinger · 26/11/2014 at 06:33

Mr. Mitchell, welcome aboard! Ripper of a piece, my Twitter friend. Anything $300K and under will be considered, especially when he has the level of talent you so smoothly detailed. Right now a watchlist candidate but your article is going to make me keep a close eye on him preseason and first two rounds to see how he comes out. May be a nice corrective.

Barwick's Soilders · 26/11/2014 at 07:05

HJ welcome and what an opening article, wasn’t even close to being considered but must say I am putting him on my watch list right now. I love the 1st year comparisons, great research mate.

Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 07:44

Cracking piece HJ. Super tallent that’s for sure. Very awkwardly priced. Worth a place on the watch list though. DPP is always worth consideration.

    throttlefinger · 26/11/2014 at 08:50

    Yeah, the price is a tad rough, Pieman. If he were in the Garlett range of $265K, I'd lock him in. $300K may be asking a bit much. At least from the jump.

      Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 08:58

      Think I’d be a bit keener on Jack Martin if he gets FWD status at that price range throts. Jgar is an option as well. So many options!

        throttlefinger · 26/11/2014 at 09:02

        Great point, Pieman. Martin for sure. You can tell he's going to be someone special. This year I can see him being much better (yet far from where everyone thought he was going to ascend).

        Jaegar has those knee issues so can't see him being as relevant.

          Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 09:49

          Hope he fills out a bit in summer. If he does I’m very keen. Jaegers knees have put me off picking him. Shame because he was right in the mix.

            throttlefinger · 26/11/2014 at 09:57

            Given Martin's approach to the game, sure we will see if he's filled out and gotten stronger during preseason. Feel he might be a year away from being very SC relevant. He's a big "maybe" as of now.

              Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 12:59

              It will be a ballsy pick throts. But I will be making 2-3 for sure. You can always correct them.

General Soreness · 26/11/2014 at 09:06

Must have been rewarding watching the kid go from juniors through the ranks and make the AFL. Kid can certainly play and I love the way he goes about it. Real awkward price but those looking to go 7/3's and the like will need these types. On the watchlist now as a result of the ripping article (geez this list is getting long) preseason will tell but price is likely to keep him consigned to a watchlist.

Sarah · 26/11/2014 at 09:19

Great write up! I definitely like the kid and how he plays, think I'll put him on the backburner for another year or two before he gets considered for my SC team. Just don't like where St Kilda are at at the moment, their more a team to pick rookies from than midpricers or guns in my opinion. Will be happy to be proven wrong by Billings though!

    Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 09:52

    Spot on Sarah. Those 2 picks in the early 20’s could prove to be SC gold in 2015.

      Sarah · 26/11/2014 at 09:55

      Hoping the pick up a couple of mid/fwd or mid/defs with those picks and not KPP. That's the dream outcome for us SC players!!

        Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 13:03

        Can we also ask they pick ready made guys ready for rnd 1. We are not asking too much are we Sarah.

          Sarah · 26/11/2014 at 13:50

          It's better to ask for too much than not enough!!

            Itchy Nuts Pieman · 26/11/2014 at 14:13

            My ex wife's lawyer shares exactly the same philosphy Sarah.

@TG_Footy_Tragic · 26/11/2014 at 10:58

welcome aboard HJ!

Super piece to start off with, I'm a little put off by the price tag – but he's definitely got potential.

If anything, he's a corrective. the first 2 games will help us determine if he has anything to offer.

phil · 26/11/2014 at 13:03

Great piece on debut!!!! He wasnt on the watchlist, but sure is now……i can see either this guy or Jack Martin being the 2015 Jack Macrae, but these guys have DPP!!!!

    Seaford Scouse · 26/11/2014 at 17:35

    Good call on the Jack Mac comparison phil, I had him from r1 and proved very beneficial. Would be very happy if Mr Billings came out and delivered the same. Interesting point as well in counter-balance to the fact that a poor team, (which the doggies clearly were last year), don’t produce good younger players with SC relevant scores and a nice fattening stepping stone to a premium.

    Thanks HJ had not considered him before but on the WL now, great insight into his early years as well, 6 goals in the last quarter to win by 4 points is, on its own, SC nirvana, (is that 110 points?!). Going to check those 2nd year averages now as well. Cheers mate great off the bat write-up!

General Soreness · 26/11/2014 at 15:22

As a side note I am curious about the origin of the initials HJ, I am presuming that it is a concatenation of two names as opposed to a request or pastime.

    jockreynolds · 26/11/2014 at 21:04

    Haa you're a belter General

@HJ_Mitch · 26/11/2014 at 16:37

Dear JR community gentlemen and Sarah,
My apologies for the delayed reply – I had to fly to Sydney at sparrow fart this morning and only just arrived home. Thank you all for your kind words and constructive comments on my minor missive that sits squarely at the feet of literary SC giants.
In response to your presumption, General, you are correct that the bichain of initials do refer to my first and middle name, although some have irresponsibly suggested (yes, Crouching, I'm referring to you) they are a reference to a recreational pursuit involving one hand and a lubricant.
Initials can be manipulated by some. My next attempt on a SC Report will be on Luke McDonald – another wonderful young AFL player I've been involved with in his formative years. I recently learned some refer to him as LMD, which I innocently assumed meant 'Lean, Mean Defender.' Needless to say I was somewhat stunned to learn that Generation Y & Z regard LMD as internet and SMS slang for 'lick my d**k!!'

    jockreynolds · 26/11/2014 at 21:04

    Great to have you here HJ. Dont know about you mate but this SMS talk does my bloody head in. Kid told me to YOLO the other day. Had to go and google it to find out what it meant. Unreal

Dools · 26/11/2014 at 16:43

Nice review on a player off my RADAR
I think he could be useful as a stop gap if he maintains his DPP But his Price I think will be in the $340 K bracket and that for me is the turn off. Unless ST Kilda have a new more SC friendly point scoring role for him.
I will watch the pre season for Billings to see his metal / role at this stage 5/95 against
Thanks for the review Mitch, adds to my knowledge base on him. Future player but not for me this season.

Seaford Scouse · 26/11/2014 at 18:05

2nd yr comparisons on the above; (from footywire)

Player Y1 games/avg Y2 games/avg

Pendles 9/56.8 20/88.6

Murphy 13/70.5 22/80.1

Danger 2/19.5 19/62.6

Ziebs 10/60.4 14/62.3

Gaphne 14/61.1 22/90.4

Chad Vader 19/51.7 22/98.6

So the question is if he’s not a Murphy or Ziebs then there could be some incredible value with the boy Billings. Thanks again HJ do not think I would have considered him without your insight, another one to the WL! Has Jock said one of these a day? The only thing that’s going to be bigger than my WL at this rate is my ‘research labs’ recycle bin!

    @HJ_Mitch · 26/11/2014 at 18:18

    Great input and insight, Seaford! The Billings I know has improved his craft every year so I'm eagerly anticipating his pre-season output next year. Someone who gets a 132 in SC points in his 10th game in a solid loss tells me to watch his development carefully.

      Seaford Scouse · 01/12/2014 at 20:02

      Couldn’t agree more HJ might have to fill my esky up for a bit of a mobile reccie research session or 5 down the road here in sensational Seaford!

      I don’t suppose you have any insight on young Blake Acres do you, think he looks v.promising and should be nicely priced if they go with ultra premium prices on the 1st round Draft picks again this year?

    jockreynolds · 26/11/2014 at 21:01

    Great to hear from ya Scouserrr!!! Are you the same Scousseerrr I'm thinking you are old mate?

      Seaford Scouse · 01/12/2014 at 19:47

      The one and only me ol’ mate Jock!

      Didn’t think you blokes would be up and running so early in the year, the Mighty Tigers on Seaford Road are still nursing their end of season hangovers 🙂

      I’m still nursing my Chad Wingard over Robbie Gray pick and don’t get me started on my GF premium apocalypse!!!

      Need to nurse those wounds frequently and heavily so due a catch up in the ‘research labs’ at the JRFC clubhouse 😉

    WombatsFC · 27/11/2014 at 00:45

    Scouse you are an unadulterated, undiluted, 100% organic miracle!
    6 hours before I read the article that posed the question, you posted the answer.

    Do you frequent any gambling forums?

      Seaford Scouse · 01/12/2014 at 19:52

      Cheers Wombats!

      Too committed to my SC addiction to frequent any other alluring haunts outside of this fantastic community,, unless Jock is running one of his famous sweeps at the JRFC clubhouse!

lostlarrikin · 26/11/2014 at 20:43

Solid work there HJ!
Love the 1st yr comparisons.
Liking his potential, esp if they go tall with pick 1.
Probably corrective for mine.

jockreynolds · 26/11/2014 at 21:00

Mitch you sly fox – he was that far off my radar this time yesterday it wasn't funny. While I won't say the front of the trouser is under a huge amount of strain yet, you have certainly argued the case for The Method brilliantly mate. I was beside myself with pleasure watching the young blokes we unleashed last year – not just Billings and Dunstan, there's a whole pack of them.

Also rapt to hear we'll likely go with the McCartin lad ahead of Petracca at the draft table tomorrow – watch his wreak havock in four or five years time!

No for me on Billings – but what a top write up!

    @HJ_Mitch · 26/11/2014 at 21:54

    Thanks, Jock, for your kind words. I have swelled with pride! I'm sure the swelling of your trousers at this time of the year is not a priority (as long as it's not the back of your trousers), I suspect Jack Billings will give you more than a twitch next season.
    My inner Saints mail also is indicating that we will go with the Roughead-esque McCartin as first pick.
    Tomorrow night is going to be another important stepping stone for the Saints!!

      throttlefinger · 26/11/2014 at 23:11

      HJ, it's a true pleasure having you to dispense wisdom on Jock's SC kingdom. Hope your Saints' pick is more of a stone than a pebble to getting the wood taste out of your mouth.

WombatsFC · 27/11/2014 at 00:40

Good one HJ, thanks.

General Soreness · 15/12/2014 at 10:23

Confirmed FWD only $379K

mark · 23/10/2015 at 18:46

Looking for article how to encourage kids to play this game. Any recommendation?

Comments are closed.