Leagues: AFL U18 Championships, Coates Talent League Boys
SNAPSHOT: “Arguably the best defensive forward in the crop, Konstanty manically applies pressure inside 50, creating opportunities for himself and teammates when the opposition makes mistakes.”
Having kicked four goals for Vic Country in an Under 17s match in 2021, it’s not surprising that Jacob Konstanty was a prospect with eyes on him from the very start of the year. He took a little bit of time to get going in 2022, but a switch from the midfield back to his usual small forward role saw him flourish.
Whilst Konstanty isn’t always a massive goal kicker each week, it could be argued he creates more goals than most with his forward half pressure, manically chasing down opposition defenders in an effort to create opportunities for himself or his teammates in the forward half. With an average of 5.8 tackles from his 14 NAB League games, his effort in this regard is consistent.
In his top-age campaign, Konstanty popped up as a dangerous asset throughout Vic Country’s 3-1 National Championships run, while helping Gippsland to a minor premiership and preliminary final berth en route to his richly deserved National Combine invite. Not bad for a soccer convert who was picked out of Drouin’s reserves.
+ Clean hands
+ Work rate
Whilst not a traditional small goal kicking forward, Konstanty presents as a prospect who fits well into the pressure forward prototype which is in vogue at the top level, with his NAB League season total of 81 tackles the second highest in the competition. He started the year in the midfield with mixed results early on, but started to flourish with a move to a more permanent forward role, showing off the same defensive work rate he did in the centre of the field, but also proving himself as a solid playmaker and scoring option himself. He continued on with this when representing Vic Country at the National Championships, getting himself a bag of three goals against the Allies, but arguably impressing most with his work rate and pressure game again, with his efforts allowing other teammates to score more heavily.
There’s a lot of impressive aspects to Konstanty’s game, but the area where he truly sets himself apart from other forward prospects is his tackling in the front half. For a player of his size, Konstanty’s ability to stick tackles on bigger opponents is quite admirable, able to pull down key position sized players just as easily as he can run down those closer to his own size. On the occasions that Konstanty can’t quite make it to apply a tackle, his efforts in pressuring opponents and forcing them towards the boundary are just as valuable, forcing mistakes by the opposition with his intensity.
With a lot being said about Konstanty’s pressure through the season, it’d be easy to think he was lacking in his scoreboard impact, but that’s not the case. Konstanty has only been held from hitting the scoreboard in one of his appearances this year, often following up on his own pressure work to manage this, he’s also showed some deft forward craft and footy smarts on his way to goal, with his front and centre work at a high level, but also showing a few times his smarts when positioning well to receive the footy out the back of a pack.
It helps his front and centre work, as well as his general crumbing ability, that Konstanty is clean below his knees at speed, rarely fumbling regardless of conditions. This cleanliness was also an asset when he was playing in the midfield, using his speed well to run onto loose balls from stoppages or packs and cleanly taking the footy, getting into space to send it forward.
With selection at the draft looking more likely than not, Konstanty would still benefit from improving some aspects of his game. Whilst he has consistently hit the scoreboard through the year, Konstanty does have a tendency to fade in and out of games at times. Naturally hitting the scoreboard often is promising, but Konstanty does still have some work to do on his conversion in front of the sticks.
DRAFT RANGE: 15-30
There will be plenty of clubs keen on Konstanty early in the piece, perhaps even within the first round. His craft as a clean and clever small forward is still developing, and he sets himself apart with menacing tackling pressure which is so invaluable to team structure at the top level. Should he slip past the top 15, don’t expect him to stay on the board much longer.
AFL U18 Championships