Leagues: Under 18s Championships, NAB League Boys
SNAPSHOT: “ A small forward/midfielder with great leadership and football smarts able to impact the game whether that’s creating goals or kicking them.”
One of many talented Oakleigh prospects, Blake Drury has been one to watch as early as Under 16s, sharing the midfield with George Wardlaw and Elijah Tsatas. Amongst that strong group, Drury has been a mainstay in the leadership group, named Oakleigh Under 17s captain last year, and was also a leader for Vic Metro.
Standing at 176cm, Drury has had to find another weapon in his arsenal and has spent a lot of time inside 50 this year moving from a midfield mainstay to show his tricks to recruiters but he has still had the odd change into the middle to great success.
One could say Drury shares some similarities to Jack Higgins who was a ball magnet at 18s level but would find a more permanent home as a crafty small forward at AFL level. Drury will not go as high as Higgins did in the draft, but his attributes should attract clubs as there are many players currently in the AFL influencing games despite their height.
Drury played every game for Vic Metro playing that forward/midfield role and despite playing mostly forward for Oakleigh averaged 18.7 disposals and six marks per game from seven games. He also played for APS premiers Caulfield and represented Vic Metro in the 17s games against Vic Country last year and to see him get a national combine invite was no surprise.
+ Football smarts
+ Clean hands
+ Decision making
Not blessed with the height and athletic traits of many junior footballers in the elite pathways, Drury has outshone them with superior football smarts and running patterns and there is certainly still a place for players like him in modern football. Drury as a forward plays high to give an option up the ground and often uses the ball well going inside 50 but he can also be a threat inside 50 reading the packs just as well.
Drury’s leadership is strong and has had no shortage of other good young leaders around him. He is a well liked teammate and respected by many and he certainly plays as a cool head and hard worker on the field. It is always tough to judge off-field leadership but from what he has shown so far would certainly attract clubs wanting to add strong leadership to their squads.
A lot of small forwards at junior level struggle to find the ball but because of Drury's strong midfield pedigree finding the ball is natural for him as a forward as he knows when to lead and what spots to lead to and once he does he doesn’t slow the game down he often moves the ball quickly and cleanly either by foot or by hand and you can certainly see those midfield traits when he gets up the ground.
Drury's workrate is another strong contributor to his success as it takes more than football smarts sometimes you also need the running patterns to keep making an impact consistently and consistency over quarters has been a strength for Drury. For the high forward role, having the capacity to influence the game with and without the ball consistently is key and a high workrate will always help in this regard and Drury has the aptitude for it.
The modern game often requires versatility and Drury’s move to the forward line has been a huge step in showing what Drury could offer clubs at the next level and multiple times this year he has shone in both roles with a three-goal game in Round 1 against eventual premiers Sandringham and a 31 disposal game in the last round against Bendigo when he even started the game forward but was moved into the middle to help try and turn the tide.
DRAFT RANGE: 30-60
Drury could really shape as a later bargain for clubs who may not be the out and out star that could be taken in the early rounds Drury could outlast many that go before him with his ability to play a crucial role as a forward/midfielder who may not become the biggest ball winner or goal kicker but still offer exactly what a team needs to be a successful unit for years to come.
NAB League Boys
Under 18s Championships