Leagues: Coates Talent League Boys
POSITION: Small Forward/Midfielder
SNAPSHOT: "A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele boasts unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal."
One of the most freakishly talented players in this year's draft crop is Josh Rachele, a dynamic midfielder-forward out of the Murray Bushrangers. He has long been a standout among his peers, having taken out the Kevin Sheehan Medal (Division 1 MVP) and Vic Country MVP at the 2019 Under 16 National Championships. He made his NAB League debut soon after and averaged 18 disposals and two goals per his four games as a 16-year-old, before returning with as many outings this season to go with Under 19 Vic Country representation. Rachele comes from an elite soccer background, bringing the quick feet and smiling goal celebrations one would expect, but also a hard edge when rolling through midfield. With a slick turn of speed and sublime skills, the 18-year-old has an awesome highlight reel and bucketloads of potential. He is the best small forward available.
+ Clean hands
- Defensive work rate
Arguably a top five prospect on pure talent, Rachele does plenty of things well. While he expressed a desire for more midfield minutes during preseason, the 18-year-old played mostly forward for Murray and Vic Country, showcasing his range of skills and unbelievably good goal sense. Consistently able to hit the scoreboard, he earned player of the week honours in Round 11 for his six-goal haul against Northern, and was named in the APS and NAB League teams of the year.
Rachele's collection of traits really shine when posted up forward. He brings explosive athletic traits; able to leap high for overhead marks, burn his opponents with pure speed, or weave a web around them. With these factors combined, he is not only a valuable ground level player inside 50, but also a viable target on the lead when working up to half-forward. In all levels of play, he makes things happen.
Along with his athletic power comes finesse, with Rachele's clean hands and ball use also important assets. He collects the ball one-touch in the air and off the deck, and is consistently able to make good decisions by hand and foot. His smarts also come into play here and when around goal, Rachele's finishing is lethal. Whether it be via set shots, snaps, attempts on the run, or efforts from outside 50, the exciting small can slot goals from all angles and on both feet.
Rachele is the type of player whose best form is irresistible, offering game-breaking quality. He has the kind of x-factor which can turn games and his several hauls of multiple goals across many levels of football proves exactly that. Furthermore, he adds a bit of spark in midfield. In an otherwise quiet Challenge Match for Vic Country, Rachele lifted when moved on-ball and looks a different player in there with his contested nous and evasive technique. It is something we haven't seen as much recently, but was a feature of his Under 16 carnival.
A factor which may be holding Rachele back from more midfield time is his consistency, and consistency of effort. He has developed into a player who impacts in spurts, dominating periods of a game rather than the full four quarters. You get the sense he knows just how good he is, and might not seek to prove it with each act. There are games where he simply looks on, but others where he is less energised and raring to break the game open.
Should Rachele build his tank and enhance his two-way effort, he can become an unstoppable small forward/midfielder in the modern game. Aware of some of his defensive deficiencies, he stated in preseason that he wanted to take his tackling inside 50 to the next level. He averaged 3.8 per game in the NAB League this year and is ominous when making a menace of himself, but can work on bringing that intensity for longer periods.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 6-12
Rachele is a player who, at his best, has top five potential. As the leading small forward in this year's cohort, his stocks will be boosted even further and he will likely tempt clubs inside the top 10. Work rate and consistency are essential in the modern game, but can easily be developed in an elite environment. Rachele will be drafted based on what he does so well, and there are plenty of traits which fans will quickly come to enjoy. He's a bums-on-seat type of talent, and one capable of pulling off what others simply cannot.