Leagues: NAB League Boys
SNAPSHOT: “One of the best athletes in the draft who knows how to use it on a footy field, Goater is an explosive midfielder who can escape congestion unlike any other prospect in the draft pool.”
Josh Goater could be anything. The 190cm, 79kg midfielder has spent time all over the ground this year at numerous different levels, but has been mostly played in the midfield where he can use his speed and clean hands to win clearances and exit out of stoppages with relative ease. Goater got to play one game with Essendon VFL alongside Calder Cannons teammate Zac Taylor, snagging a goal and showcasing his athleticism as a Will Hayward style of forward, while also playing at both ends at senior level with local club Sunbury during the NAB League break.
+ Vertical Leap
+ Clean hands
Goater wasn’t a star player when Vic Metro won the Under 16 championships back in 2019, playing of half-back, but still showcased his nice athleticism and remained a player to watch coming into the year. Goater blitzed the pre-season testing which came of no surprise, but what did pleasantly surprise was Goater’s addition to the Calder Cannons' engine room. With height and power from stoppages becoming a key feature of the best midfielders in the AFL like Patrick Dangerfield and Christian Petracca, its no wonder Goater was unleashed into the midfield this year. Goater averaged 24 disposals in the NAB League, spending most of his time in the middle and then in defence in the last few rounds, averaging an impressive nine marks per game in his last three outings.
Goater’s athleticism is a key part of his game and that exact trait was proven in the pre-season testing, as he came equal first for the vertical jump (80cm) and running vertical jump (96), and sixth for the 20m sprint (2.92 seconds). Speed and vertical leap often go hand in hand, with power through the legs a key factor and that’s certainly what Goater uses in his game - able to jump on heads as showcased with a nice mark against Western Jets in Round 9. His speed and agility from stoppages is perhaps the best of any draftee in the draft pool, proving impossible to stop once he grabs the ball cleanly and starts to move from congestion.
Goater is still rather light despite his power so there is plenty of room for growth, especially in the upper body. Unlike most taller midfielders, he doesn’t rely on strength and height to win his own ball at stoppages. Goater’s upside is enormous not just because of his athletic profile, but also his versatility, looking dangerous in many different roles this year. Up forward, Goater is a marking threat with his leap and clean hands overhead, and dexterity at ground level. As a defender, he is a high production play maker averaging almost 30 disposals in the last three games of NAB League action. It’s his midfield craft which looks most exciting though, with his athletic traits, vision, clean hands and ability to win his own ball at the coalface all valuable commodities in modern AFL.
Perhaps the one area that is holding Goater back from being a top 10 lock is his kicking in the midfield, with a lot of his great work escaping a contest being undone with a poor kick when he is unable to settle. His kicking while playing in defence is much better when he has more time to execute and can see the play ahead of him a lot better, so perhaps with more experience the mistakes by foot in midfield can be improved. The other area to improve is his endurance, which is lower than a lot of the bigger ball winners in the NAB League such as Ben Hobbs and Josh Ward. It affects his ability to get to as many contests as possible, often jogging in general play instead of running hard to present an option or get back to take marks in defence or up forward. Given his marking ability, he could be getting so much more value out of his midfield time by notching intercept marks around the ground and also pushing forward like the best AFL midfielders do.
DRAFT RANGE: First Round
Goater has the tools to become one of the best players to come out of the 2021 draft crop and if his kicking was cleaner and running capacity higher, there is no doubt he could be a top five pick. With the best players in the modern game possessing height, athleticism and flair, this holds Goater in good stead as he possesses all of these exciting traits. Goater likely features somewhere in the first round and even if he cannot improve his running capacity to a high level and become that midfielder clubs crave, he should at least become an exciting half-back or half-forward prospect with his mix of athleticism and footballing talent.