Players, U18 TAC Cup Squad

Story thanks to the Whittlesea Leader
Photo: Josie Hayden

THERE  are several reasons why Nick Coffield is as an ideal captain for the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup this year, but chief among them is his ability to be an on-field­ coach.

The 17-year-old invests himself wholeheartedly into the club, to the extent where he is looked to not only by teammates, but his coaches as well.

Knights talent manager Rhy Gieschen said Coffield is professional and driven, while being cool, calm and collected on the field.

“One thing we noticed towards­ the end of last year and particularly during practice games, he is always looking to provide on field leadership, setting up, directing, assisting others and bringing others into the game,” Gieschen said.

“The role he plays we expect­ him to do that but he’s taken that to a new level.

“He understands what the coaching group is trying to do and he can be an extra voice.”

Gieschen said the Eltham resident also possessed a characteristic many his age did not.

“He is really direct and honest not only with his own performance but with the rest of the playing group and even myself and the coaches as well,” he said.

“He is so passionate about improving the culture and direction­ we’re trying to head as a club and an organisation.”

Coffield’s versatility has been on show in the opening rounds of the season.

The captain prefers the halfback flank but has already been thrown forward, kicking a matchwinning four goals in Round 1, and has spent time in the midfield.

The 190cm Whitefriars College student, who models himself on Sydney star Dane Rampe, said he was enjoying coach Justin Wenke’s mantra of not anchoring players to certain positions.

Coffield has made a terrific start to the year, averaging more than 20 possessions and five marks a game while booting nine goals.

He has carried on his form from last year, when he won the Michael Mascoulis rising star award, playing every match and named in the best eight times as a bottom-ager.

Coffield said he was “very humbled” to be selected as skipper­.

“I am very grateful to be given the opportunity and hopefully I can do well for the rest of the year,” he said.

“The way I normally approach­ things is through leadership, so I will just do what I normally do and hopefully have a successful year.”

The Knights have displayed improvement in the early stages of the campaign, having won four of their first seven games.

“I reckon it’s been awesome, especially comparing it to last year when wins were a rarity,” Coffield said.

Coffield is joined in the leadership group by Kye Agosta (Diamond Creek), Anthony­ Fable (South Morang), Joel Naylor (Whittlesea), Ethan Penrith (West Preston-Lakeside) and Jamison Shea (Lower Plenty).

Coffield, who played most of his junior football at Eltham­, has already met about a dozen AFL clubs, mostly through Vic Metro.

“It’s a bit daunting at first because you’re watching these teams on the TV and then they come and speak to you and come to your house, but you get used to it,” he said.

Among the feedback he has been given is to improve his tackling and knowing when to drop off his opponent to help as the third man up.

But he has a good contact to call upon if he wants any help — a fellow passionate Western Bulldogs supporter, schoolmate and teammate at both Eltham and the Knights.

“I’m very good mates with Pat Lipinski,” Coffield said of the player the Bulldogs snapped up with the 28th draft pick last year.

“I speak to him a few times a week and he gives me a few tips. He’s a good guy, someone who’s in the system.”

Gieschen said Coffield had further impressed AFL clubs with the way he had managed expectations. “There is always a fair bit of pressure whenever anyone is named captain of a TAC Cup program and invited into the Vic Metro squad,” he said.

“From that angle they’ve been super impressed with his personality traits, character and leadership.”

Coffield is one of many Knights who could be drafted this year and while AFL Academy member Patrick Naish is another obvious candidate, the young gun nominated Penrith, Jack Petruccelle, Marcus Lentini, Max Dreher and Alex Federico as others who could draw the eye of AFL recruiters through the season.



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