Leagues: Under 18s Championships, NAB League Boys
SNAPSHOT: “A prospect with enormous class capable of playing on either side of midfield, and kicking long-range goals.”
Flying somewhat under the radar as a high-end father-son prospect is Jaspa Fletcher. Though his father Adrian also played for Geelong, St Kilda and Fremantle, the top Queenslander talent is exclusively aligned to the Brisbane Lions and will almost certainly end up there come draft night.
Born in Victoria, Fletcher has long had ties with the Lions Academy and led them through three NAB League outings this season, after a single appearance last year. He went on to skipper the Allies squad, turning out for three of four National Championship games and pushing his case as a potential first round selection with All Australian honours.
A foot stress fracture ended up cutting Fletcher’s top-age campaign short, and though others who may feature in a similar draft range gained more exposure, the balanced midfielder showed plenty across the various levels he played in throughout 2022 – including the QAFL seniors with Sherwood.
+ Clean hands
+ Scoreboard impact
- Limited exposure
Fletcher offers enormous class as Queensland's leading draft candidate this year, catching the eye with smooth movement and slick skills. He has been challenged to play on both sides of midfield, offering different attributes to either role and hurting the opposition with his ability to drive the ball forward.
The 18-year-old was the Lions Academy's prime mover during their early-year NAB League campaign, starting on the inside before shifting to the outer where he spent a good amount of time of the Allies. From either post, his ability to approach the 50-metre arc and launch long goals was super impressive and a constant feature of his game.
In a true testament of his balance, Fletcher's best outing for the year came when he spent plenty of time on-ball in the Allies' final game - a 12-point win over Western Australia. He gathered 26 disposals and six clearances on that day, carving up the Black Ducks with his ability to get forward of stoppage speedily and deliver inside 50.
While a goal alluded him, Fletcher's scoreboard impact is usually evident. He booted five goals in three NAB League games, and two in three Allies appearances from the middle of the park. They came at clutch moments and were finished with aplomb, further proving the value of Fletcher's skills.
Speaking of, Fletcher is usually a sound user of the ball overall. He went at 78 per cent disposal efficiency during the champs at a 41 per cent contested rate, displaying a cool head in crises. Clean by hand and penetrative by foot, Fletcher's inside-outside mix is reflected both in his speed-endurance running and disposal.
In terms of improvement areas, Fletcher is generally well-rounded and will likely iron out any deficiencies he currently has. Having been a smaller type throughout his junior career, he is now learning to use his body in contested situations and will continue to build strength.
Though capable at centre bounces, he is not yet an entirely imposing ball winner and instead relies on his touch and turn of speed to escape to the outside, or link-up play with teammates. His ability to accumulate will also improve as he develops that contested craft, having mostly hovered around the low-20s for disposals.
Currently undergoing rehabilitation for stress fractures in his foot, Fletcher missed out on completing the QAFL season with Sherwood or nabbing a VFL berth with the Brisbane Lions, perhaps having less top-age exposure than many of his fellow first round candidates. It's hardly a knock, but somewhat lessens the certainty of his prospects. Although, that should hardly matter given his father-son eligibility.
DRAFT RANGE: 15-30
Brisbane looks like striking gold with its trade and draft haul this year, especially with two fine father-son inclusions. Having already gotten busy to ensure the appropriate draft points will be available, even going into deficit to secure both players is worth it. Fletcher could well yield a bid late in the first round, but the usual bidding effect may result in his name being called in the 20-30 range. He will likely find his spot in the side on a wing.
NAB League Boys
Under 18s Championships