Leagues: SANFL Reserves, SANFL Under 18s
Image Credit: Glenelg FC
POSITION: Inside Midfielder/Forward
SNAPSHOT: “Stagg is a strongly-build inside bull who catches the eye with his raw power and explosiveness, and is also a noted goalkicker when used across half-forward.”
Hugh Stagg enjoyed a wonderful 2021 season at club level, leading the Glenelg Under 18s to the minor premiership before falling short in the Grand Final. Stagg proved vital to the Tigers' engine room dominance throughout the season, with his brute strength and explosiveness adding a point of difference to the on-ball rotation. In 14 matches, he averaged 24.1 disposals, 3.4 marks, four tackles, 4.4 clearances, six inside 50s and 1.7 goals per game to easily win the McCallum-Tomkins Medal as the Under 18 competition's best and fairest player. He finished an impressive nine votes clear of North Adelaide's Hugh Jackson in second place, polling votes in 10 of his 14 matches, including eight best afield efforts. Stagg thoroughly deserved his call-up to the Reserves during the middle of the year and looked comfortable at the level, averaging 16 possessions and booting five goals in four games. The PHOS Camden product also earned state Under 19 selection, turning out multiple times for South Australian and fulfilling his usual midfield-forward rotation.
+ Contested ball
+ Scoreboard impact
- Foot skills
Stagg's contested ball winning is up there with the best among South Australian draft hopefuls. He was dominant at times in the middle for Glenelg, with his ability to extract the ball at will and burst away from congestion a real highlight of his game. He isn't the modern-day tall midfielder, standing at 180cm, but at 79kg is much more developed than many of the opponents he faced in the SANFL Under 18 competition. Stagg's strong frame gives him the upper hand around contested, with his bull-like tendencies standing out against slimmer prospects, particularly at stoppages. He accumulated the ball on a consistent basis for the Tigers, managing over 20 disposals in all-but three Under 18 matches - an impressive feat considering he spent plenty of time up forward. His Round 4 effort against Sturt (28 disposals, three goals and 13 inside 50s), Round 16 dig over Central District (36 disposals, eight clearances, nine inside 50s and a goal), and Round 17 performance against fellow finalist West Adelaide (19 disposals, seven tackles and four goals) were some of his most impressive returns.
The Tigers' excellent midfield depth allowed Stagg to spent considerable time at half-forward. He was a regular goalkicker, playing in attack alongside strong-marking key position forwards Corey Brougham and Jack Harding. Stagg hit the scoreboard in every game, managing three hauls of three majors and four goals against the Bloods. He often pushed up the ground and looked to provide an option on the flanks, but was quick to work back and become a marking option. When isolated one-on-one inside 50, Stagg regularly used his physical advantage to out-body his opponent and take the mark. Stagg also played the high half-forward role at state level, pushing up the ground and looking to put his strength and burst of speed to good use before doubling-back to impact the contest closer to goal. His ability to consistently hit the scoreboard at club and state level has been impressive and gives coaching staff the flexibility to rotate him as necessary.
Stagg's leadership has been a noted component of his game for a number of years. Last year he was named skipper of the Immanuel College first XVIII and this season, Stagg was given the nod to lead the Bays' Under 18s ahead of state vice-captain Lewis Rayson and former-Sacred Heart College skipper Darcy Gluyas. A lead-by-example type, his ability to perform to a high level week-in-week-out with Glenelg and lead the side to on-field success is a testament to his character. His contested ball winning and attack on the football often set the tone early for Glenelg.
As is the case with many bash-and-crash style players, Stagg's disposal by foot can be wayward and erratic at times. Whilst he has shown he is certainly capable of hitting targets around the ground and in front of goal, Stagg lacks a touch of polish. He sometimes blazes away and could lower his eyes to spot up shorter targets more often, needing that bit of composure to steady and better execute his skills. With those extra couple of steps or the presence of mind to remain composed, Stagg's finishing and scoreboard impact could be even more profound.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Late/Rookie
Hugh Stagg has accomplished plenty in 2021. The runaway winner of the SANFL Under 18 best and fairest, he captured the attention of draft watchers with his ability to rip the ball from a contest and accelerate away with explosive speed. A natural goalkicker, he has shown an ability to find the big sticks across half-forward and provide a genuine impact when thrown on-ball. Stagg's leadership is highly regarded, captaining sides at both school and club level across the past two years. Although his kicking and composure can let him down at times, Stagg possesses natural power and explosiveness which cannot be taught. Stagg may come into consideration in the latter stages of the national or rookie drafts, as a physically-developed talent who could play a number of roles at the next level.
SANFL Under 18s