Leagues: AFL U18 Championships, Coates Talent League Boys
Image Credit: Linda Higginson via The Mercury
POSITION: Tall Forward/Defender
SNAPSHOT: "A strong marking target who has found form at either end of the ground and plays an uncomplicated style of game."
Will Splann is a tall forward who showed some nice strengths in 2021 to put his name on the radar of AFL clubs with his NAB League Boys season. Standing at 195cm and 90kg, the key position utility is a player who has an uncomplicated way of playing football, particularly when up forward. He is clever when inside 50, able to find the space to lead into, and clunk marks with his clean hands. Splann is still finding his consistency within games and from game-to-game, as well as lacking that athleticism which would see him considered much higher given his other traits.
+ Leading patterns
Splann is a strong utility who you know what to expect from in terms of his capabilities, whilst also being aware of his limitations. Starting his season in defence, Splann found plenty of the ball against the Calder Cannons, but at the other end of the season, slotted three goals from 11 touches and six marks against the Murray Bushrangers. Consistently, Splann would embrace the open space inside 50 to lead into and once he had enough space, he had the strength to hold his positioning and take the grab. Though he might not have the speed to burn off opposition defenders, once he gets front position and knowns when to make his lead, he is hard to move, or stop. From a defensive standpoint, he is courageous and is not afraid to put his body on the line, often winning free kicks for being infringed at either end of the ground.
Splann is not a huge accumulator of the football, but it is more closing the gap between his best and worst football. At his best, Splann is a reliable mark and set shot inside 50, though at his worst, he has little impact on the game, such as his one-touch, two-tackle game against Sandringham Dragons in Round 11. Though he is strong with his hands, Splann is definitely more of a positional marker, rather than a grappler, with his ability to get in the spot he wants in the marking contest, and either pull down the grab, or earn the free kick from an infringement. Once grappling begins, Splann is not always as consistent at taking the mark, which is something opponents tried to do, to distract him from having the easy run at it, with a body on him where possible.
Splann's footy smarts are something that have been praised in the past, and that is an area he has over other non-athletic key forwards with the Tasmanian able to get to the right spots and put his body where he needs it to have the highest percentage of marking it, and also have the least complicated leading patterns to force teammates to put it into space. Add in his versatility, and Splann is someone who has enough about him, that clubs will be going through whether or not they can utilise his strengths to maximise his output at the elite level. At Tasmanian State League (TSL) level, he booted five goals in 10 games, with five coming in a best-on-ground performance against Glenorchy, and kicking a goal in every game.
DRAFT RANGE: Rookie
Will Splann is definitely more of a rookie prospect with areas of improvement that like many key position players will see him lower on the boards, but he has shown enough to suggest he has the ability to translate it at a more senior level. He has been able to have a scoreboard presence at TSL level, and whilst there might be question marks over whether or not the AFL defenders who have a mix of speed and strength will be able to cause him issues, Splann is one of only a few key position prospects on the eastern side of the country.
AFL U18 Championships