U18 TAC Cup Squad

The Northern Knights congratulate all of our players that were selected in the 2017 AFL Drafts.

Nicholas Coffield, Patrick Naish and Jack Petruccelle from the 2017 Knights Class were all handed a wonderful opportunity to join the elite ranks of the AFL.

Northern Knights Captain, Nicholas Coffield was the first to be selected with the St Kilda Football Club taking him with selection #8. Exciting playmaker Patrick Naish was selected with the #34 pick after the Richmond Football Club matched the selection made by St Kilda under father-son eligibility. Jack Petruccelle was drafted to West Coast with pick #38, whilst 2014 Knights Best and Fairest Winner Sam Switkowski was rewarded with a spot on an AFL list after a great year in the VFL with Box Hill.

At Monday’s Rookie Draft, 2016 Northern Knights Best & Fairest winner Lachlan Murphy earned a spot on Adelaide’s AFL list, after a standout year with their SANFL team.

Overall, Northern Knights Talent Manager Rhy Gieschen is delighted with the results.

“Everyone at the Knights is really thrilled for the players who have been given an opportunity to live their dream at AFL Level. It’s not just a proud and life changing moment for the players, but for their families also and we wish them every success in their future AFL endeavours. It is a testament to not only the hard work of the players themselves and the support networks around them, but also to all of the Northern Knights Coaches, High Performance Staff, Medical Staff, and everyone involved in the club who make the program such a quality environment which allows these players to come in and get the absolute best out of themselves.” Gieschen said.

“It’s also critical to recognise the time and effort that everyone at local club level have put into the development of these young men. We have a fantastic network of coaches and volunteers in the Northern Region who love the game and put so much time into working with all of the players at their clubs, it’s good to see them recognised with these success stories.”

“The players are the first to recognise that the support networks around them, starting with their families and also their friends, school teachers and mentors have all played a huge role in their journey’s. No doubt there are a lot of proud people in the North who are smiling when their names were read out tonight.”

Nicholas Coffield Player Profile:

Coffield is a creative 190cm defender / midfielder. After being the only player in 2016 to play every game, Coffield won the 2016 Michael Mascoulis Award, given to the most promising Bottom Age Player in the squad.

After being awarded the captaincy for the 2017 season, he became instrumental to the club’s successes on the field. In the Round 1 clash against the Western Jets, after playing the majority of the game in defence, Coffield was pushed forward during the third quarter and kicked four goals in a match winning performance. Coffield would continue to accumulate the football playing a variety of roles throughout the season, including as both an inside and outside midfielder as well as a third tall defender. Other Notable performances during 2017 include his 24 disposal, 6 mark defensive display against the Calder Cannons in Round 15, as well as amassing 32 disposals against the Bendigo Pioneers in Round 5.

Vice-Captain of the Championship U18 Vic Metro Squad, Coffield’s best performance of the National Championship came against the Allies. He was named as an U18 All-Australian for his performances across the carnival.

To cap off the year, Coffield was named in the TAC Cup Team of the Year, and finished second in the Northern Knights Brent Harvey Best & Fairest count. Coffield has been a member of every Northern Knights squad.

Coffield possesses elite speed, finishing in the Top 5 for the 20 metre sprint at the National Combine, and has the capability to evade traffic with clever footwork.

Gieschen believes Coffield’s drive and determination to succeed was the key to his outstanding year.

“Tonight caps off an unbelievable year for Nick. Everything he has accomplished has been on the back of extremely hard work over his journey and dedication to improve. With his mix of speed, agility, his efficiency by hand and foot and his amazing ability to make the right decision almost every single time he is a serious talent and AFL prospect. He is as composed with ball in hand as any 17-18 year old in Australia. As Captain of our club he did a fantastic job this year and is a match winner who showed on multiple occasions he wants the ball in his hands in the big moments. Everyone at the Knights has no doubt he will be an extremely consistent AFL player and potentially a future leader of St Kilda with his natural leadership qualities.” Gieschen said.

Patrick Naish Player Profile:

Naish is a silky outside midfielder, capable playing as a small forward or a half back. He kicks the ball with great penetration, whilst often dashing away from opponents with acceleration.

A member of the AFL Academy for the past two years, Naish has been present in every Northern Knights Squad, despite limited participation over the last two years with Private School Football and Vic Metro commitments.

Naish’s best game of his top-age Knights year came in the club’s win in Wangaratta against the Murray Bushrangers, where he collected 25 disposals, kicked 3 goals and provided excellent drive all over the ground for the club.

At the National Championships, Naish had key performances in Vic Metro’s wins against Western Australia and against Vic Country, a game in which he kicked two important goals at critical stages of the game. Naish was awarded with a place in the TAC Cup Team of the Year and received U18 All Australian honours for his performances across the carnival.

Gieschen believed that Naish’s ability to handle the father-son expectations is a testament to his character.

“Patrick has carried a huge weight of expectation for him throughout his whole football career. The way he has handled himself this year and just gone about his work has been extremely admirable. To be a potential father/son pick at the biggest club in Australia and to deal with that pressure and have the year that he has should not go unnoticed. The most admirable thing about Pat’s year is the way he went about working on his deficiencies in his game. He was extremely diligent in the off-season in the gym, with his running, and with his 1% work outside of normal club hours which saw him take his game to the next level. His ability to run with the ball in hand and deliver by foot is A Grade. He has a unique ability to mark the ball overhead and read the play. He has so many quality AFL Attributes that all clubs love.”

“We all have no doubt that Patrick will get the absolute best out of himself. He loves the game it has been his dream since a young age to end up at Richmond so he will leave no stone unturned to teach his full potential.”

Jack Petruccelle Player Profile:

Jack Petruccelle is one of the fastest players to ever grace the TAC Cup. A freakish athlete, He tested 2.82 seconds in the 20 metre sprint at the 2017 TAC Cup Fitness Testing Day in March this year. He backed this up with a 2.87 at the National Draft Combine in October.

After joining the Knights through Trial in mid-2016 as a bottom ager, he switched his focus to football from state-level Basketball commitments. He would debut for the Northern Knights against the Oakleigh Chargers as a 23rd player, kicking three goals as a half forward in less than 50% game time.

Gieschen says he knew there was something different about Petruccelle after that game.

“Jack is a special talent. To take the risk that he did to make the transition from Basketball to Football and the ease in which he did so was almost scary. After that Oakleigh game we knew we had someone pretty special on our hands.”

Petruccelle continued to impress in 2017 playing a key role either as a half forward or a midfielder, capable of taking a contested mark with his strong vertical leap. Major performances include his five goal effort against the Gippsland Power in Round 8, and a 27 disposal game against the eventual premiers Geelong Falcons.

He was also a member of the successful Vic Metro Squad, playing in three of the four National Championship games, including kicking a fantastic goal on the run against South Australia.

“He has done some things on a football field that not many others would be capable of this year and we look forward to seeing him take his game to the next level at West Coast. He is similar to the Charlie Cameron type that can put enormous pressure on opposition when they’ve got the ball, and then explode away from opponents with ball in hand, but then also climb on their backs and take amazing marks. No doubt Eagles fans will have some fun along the way watching some of the X-Factor that Jack will bring to the club in future years to come.”

Former Northern Knights Best and Fairest winner Sam Switkowski was also selected to join the Fremantle Dockers after plying his trade in the VFL with the Box Hill Hawks. Another former Best and Fairest winner Lachlan Murphy, earned a spot on Adelaide’s AFL list, after a standout year with their SANFL team.

Gieschen believes that persistence has paid off for both players.

I’m delighted that Adelaide has given ‘Murph’ a chance with their AFL side. He was disappointed to miss out last year and he’s shown great resilience this year to get himself selected to AFL level. He’s a super competitive player and I’m sure he’ll leave no stone unturned as he trains with the main squad”

“I hope most of our top age players who have missed out on this year’s draft, carry that same drive that Lachie has in the future and not give up on the AFL dream.

In total for 2017, the Northern Knights had five players selected across both drafts, including three players from the 2017 class.