Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Outside Midfielder
SNAPSHOT: "A classy wingman who thrives when both manufacturing and operating in space, while running hard and using the ball well on the uptake."
One of a number of GWV Rebels who added extra depth to the top-end quality this year, Jamieson Ballantyne provided some great outside run and spread for his team. Playing predominantly off a wing, Ballantyne not only found plenty of the ball in transition, but was able to move it on and usually put it into dangerous areas. His composure and vision with ball-in-hand were noticeable, whilst it is just completing the defensive aspects of his game that could build his overall profile.
+ Outside game
- Inside game
Ballantyne was a player who build some terrific mid-season form, with four out of five games being 20-plus disposal efforts in that period. He was able to roam down the wings and provide the run and carry expected of him, though when he was not moving with the ball, he was quick to move it on to teammates who would. The most underrated part of his game is his ability to feign a disposal in order to buy himself more time, and change his mind mid-disposal, which is ultimately one of the more tricky moves to pull off. As an example, he would look to handball one way, then pivot and give it off to a teammate in a better position, or when kicking, look to be disposing of it down the line and then cut across his body.
Ballantyne is able to use his agility to step around opponents like he is in a telephone box. He moves well through stoppages, and is able to grab the ball at ground level and give it off by stepping through a couple of opponents and drawing another to execute by hand to a teammate. Most notably, Ballantyne can also utilise the left side of his body, which is handy when being corralled with the natural right-footer happy to swing onto his left if need be. All these traits allow Ballantyne to be able to have an impact around the ground, and enabled him to win the ball through the stoppage, and also in space, where he would take a lot of uncontested marks.
Uncontested is the key word. Ballantyne is impressive at what he does, but he still has areas to work on. Being a wingman, Ballantyne is not usually a contested ball winner. He wins hard balls when he seizes the opportunity running through a stoppage, but is not a natural inside player, so his contested work and inside game remain areas for growth. Additionally, Ballantyne's tackling and defensive pressure is another area to build on. Aside from one match where he laid four tackles against the Sandringham Dragons in Round 15, he averaged just over a tackle per game, and when you watch him in real time, it is a combination of both being that outside player, and also not quite being able to stick them. Despite these areas of improvement, Ballantyne still has time to build on them for the future.
DRAFT RANGE: Late-Rookie
Pure outside players are often not high draft picks without being elite distributors. Ballantyne is good without being great in the latter, and it is more his intrinsic qualities such as his composure and vision - the lead-up to the disposal - that make him an impressive draft prospect. It is anticipated he has earned an AFL Draft Combine off the back of his good form mid-season and in the run home, and whilst he does have to work more on his inside game and defensive pressure, offers some nice outside traits for a club looking for that type of player.