“Born for success he seemed, with grace to win, with heart to hold, with shining gifts that took all eyes” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
What’s your call on Jack Billings in 2015?
|This article has been penned by an elite Supercoach analyst hand picked from the talent pool of the Jock Reynolds Fantasy Footy Community. He has stood up within our community as a man of fantasy substance, and has displayed the spirit of togetherness, positivity and community that we value significantly.|