Leagues: Coates Talent League Boys
POSITION: Key Position Utility
SNAPSHOT: “Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.”
After the much talked about prizing of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at pick one in 2020, the Western Bulldogs are set to land another top-end tall talent in Sam Darcy this year. Also out of the Oakleigh Chargers, the 18-year-old shot into top three contention with undeniable form early in his 2021 campaign, showcasing great athleticism and skill for a player of his size. He now measures up at 204cm after a substantial growth spurt, and uses every inch of his reach to prove a dominant aerial player. Growth is a key word for Darcy, who missed out on Vic Metro Under 16 selection, but has improved considerably with outstanding performances for Scotch College, Oakleigh, and Metro's Under 19s throughout a disrupted season. Set to become a third-generation Bulldog, Darcy is giving the red, white and blue army plenty to be excited about.
+ Clean skills
+ Aerial impact
+ Reading the play
Suiting the new age of tall prospects, Darcy is incredibly mobile for his size. While most light-on 204cm players resemble Bambi on ice, the 18-year-old is fluent in his movement and showcases wonderful balance in open play. His timing and reading of the play - whether it be intercepting in defence, presenting up forward, or contesting in the ruck - are nothing short of high level.
Much of what makes Darcy so appealing is his versatility. He came through the pathways like a true chip off the old block, playing the ruck-forward role his father Luke did so well during a 226-game AFL career. In 2021, he was trialled in defence at Oakleigh to rave reviews, but continued his goalkicking ways for Scotch College in the APS competition. Add to that the ability to pinch-hit in the ruck, and Darcy is the complete tall package.
The 'for his size' moniker is tagged on Darcy a fair bit, and it is no different for his skills. He handles the ball so cleanly and at junior level, takes toll with his usual height advantage to pluck many a ball out of mid-air. Just as capable in his disposal, Darcy is noticeably efficient when distributing the ball around the ground and has a sound set shot routine which compounds his scoreboard impact.
While dominant in the air against smaller opponents as a junior, Darcy will likely be tested greatly at the next level, strength-wise. He is still quite lean at 75kg and with the array of athletic 200cm-plus defenders running about, he won't be able to purely rely on his reach to take marks. Much like Ugle-Hagan, he could well be given the time to build into senior football, but already has a sound understanding of how to move effectively.
As the standout tall option in a midfielder's draft, Darcy is one with enormous upside and an exciting skillset. His rate of development over the last couple of years, even without much competitive football, has been a sight to behold and will put him in good stead to play early on in his maiden AFL season, if given the opportunity.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 2-3
Since booting six goals for Vic Metro in a trial game this year, Darcy has been destined for a top three bid. Interested has well and truly cooled at pick one, but both he and Nick Daicos are likely to attract their inevitable bids within the next two selections. Given he is the best tall available, top three honours would not be out of place and the Bulldogs once again will end up with a premium key position prospect. In terms of where he plays at the next level, there looms very stiff competition for spots in the Bulldogs' spine, but Darcy's versatility bodes well for early selection on any of the three lines. Ultimately though, he looks best suited to the ruck-forward role.
Coates Talent League Boys