NAB League Player Focus: Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels)

GREATER Western Victoria (GWV) forward Aaron Cadman is a prospect climbing up draft boards in 2022, having made a sensational start to his top-age campaign. The 18-year-old put on some size in preseason to become a genuine key position threat, and has spearheaded the Rebels’ cause with authority.

Averaging over two goals per NAB League game, Cadman was part of the original Vic Country hub, but also earned a call-up to the AFL Academy in May. His strong marking on the lead and consistent goalkicking exploits have put him right in the first round conversation.

His rise will only continue with more outings like his latest, as the 194cm talent booted four goals against Oakleigh Chargers in Round 10 of the NAB League. We put his performance under the Player Focus microscope.

Aaron Cadman

Height: 194cm

Weight: 88kg

DOB: 03-03-2004

Strengths:
Clean hands
Forward craft
Mobility
Scoreboard impact
Strength
Overhead marking
Improvements:
Ground balls
Kicking consistency [reference to execution]
Draft range: Top 20

SEASON SO FAR

Averages: 7 games | 14.4 disposals (11.3 kicks, 3.1 handballs), 5.0 marks, 2.4 tackles, 3.4 inside 50s, 2.6 goals (18 total)

Only twice this season has Cadman been denied multiple scoring shots, and when he’s on song, he’s difficult to stop. The GWV Rebels spearhead kicked off his campaign with 4.3 from 15 disposals and seven marks against Bendigo, before bagging hauls of 3.3 and 5.0 in Rounds 4 and 8 respectively.

In between those outings was an effort of 1.3 against Murray, where Cadman’s marking was at its usual level, but his goalkicking was not. Barring his five-goal haul, Cadman has clunked at least six marks in each game he registers multiple scoring shots, proving hard to get a hold of aerially.

He also earned a call-up to the AFL Academy having turned out for Vic Country a week prior, hitting the scoreboard for his state against the Young Guns but going goalless in the face of even more mature opposition. That all lead to his performance on Saturday, potentially the best of the lot.

2022 NAB League, Round 10
GWV Rebels 13.8 (86) def. Oakleigh Chargers 8.13 (61)

Stats: 20 disposals (16 kicks, 4 handballs), 7 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 goals, 4 behinds

FIRST QUARTER

It only took 47 seconds for Cadman to get on the board, as GWV owned the opening few minutes of the game. From the first centre bounce, partner-in-crime Brady Wright marked and hit Cadman up 40 metres from home. The gun forward did the rest, converting a well struck set shot goal.

In that instance, Cadman showcased his ability to get separation on the lead, catching his opponent off guard on the very first play of the day. His goalkicking routine was sound too, making for an instant impact.

There wasn’t much for Cadman to do in the remaining 20 minutes or so, as Oakleigh hit back with two quick goals and eventually took the lead with the following five scoring shots. 

SECOND QUARTER

It was no coincidence that as Cadman began to get off the chain in term two, GWV took over on the scoreboard with five goals to Oakleigh’s one. The Rebels’ spearhead added 1.3 and a goal assist in the second period, proving prolific on the lead.

Needing few looks to make an impact, Cadman presented strongly inside 50 and in an unselfish play, chipped over the top to Lachlan Charleson for his assist. He went on to have a couple of blunders, but recovered strongly to become an ominous figure in the last 10 minutes of the half.

After dropping an easy mark on the wing and proving a touch scrappy at ground level, Cadman recovered to display his clean hands overhead, before hitting the post with the resultant set shot. He ran riot with that same method and no Oakleigh defender could track his leading patterns.

Cadman marked twice more leading to the top of the 50, converting one set shot from 40 metres and putting another wide from beyond the paint. Taking the ball out in front is clearly his strength and even with the separation he gets from opponents, he should do so every time. He was incredibly effective in term two, especially in the three-minute patch where he added three consecutive scores.

THIRD QUARTER

It took nearly 10 minutes for either side to score in term three, and Cadman only got involved in that past the 20-minute mark. Once again, he registered consecutive scores in quick time, finishing the quarter with another goal and behind to his name.

Prior to that, he presented well up to the wing and even without prime delivery, was able to keep the ball in front of him effectively. Though mobile for his size, Cadman again showed room for improvement in his ground ball game, which was of stark contrast to his aerial marking.

Almost unbelievably, he found himself free once again inside forward 50 for a mark, but badly sprayed his 45-metre set shot – consistency in that area of his game is another facet to iron out. Unfazed, he got his goal less than a minute later, having to improvise amid a goalsquare mix-up with Felix Fogaty and volleying the ball home.

FOURTH QUARTER

While less prolific overall with GWV well ahead of the game, Cadman continued his trend of nabbing a major in each term with a classy snap goal to cap off another strong showing. That ability to follow up and remain a threat away from his work on the lead is important, and something he has in his locker.

Cadman’s claims for first round status grow stronger by the week, and his opening Under 18 National Championships outing with Vic Country will be a good stage for him to show his skills. Likened to fellow left-footer Jeremy Cameron, the 18-year-old has his forward craft down pat and improvement areas which can be easily tidied.

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