Mitchell Hibberd (Tassie Mariners/Clarence)
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Position: Medium Defender/Midfielder
Strengths: Endurance, marking, foot skills, defensive acts, professionalism
Weaknesses: Contested ball-winning, Body size
Player comparison: Jack Crisp
First year impact: Near future
Speed: Above average
Tassie Mariners (TAC Cup): three games, 13.3 kicks, 10.3 handballs, 23.7 disposals, 56 per cent disposal efficiency, 2.7 marks, 5.3 tackles
Tasmania (under 18 championships): three games, 14.7 kicks, 9.3 handballs, 24 disposals, 71 per cent disposal efficiency, 6.3 marks, 1.7 tackles, four inside 50s, 4.7 rebound 50’s
If a club needs a smooth moving tall midfielder and defender look no further than Mitchell Hibberd. Hibberd is a player who has overcome great adversity to put himself into first round contention. Last year he battled through injury preparing himself for this year.
He started his year well by playing good footy for the Tasmanian TAC Cup side. He gave recruiters a glimpse of what he could do as a wingman and as a defender. His drive, run and carry and great foot skills are all traits that added something different to the Tasmanian team.
He also was selected to play for the Allies in the championships. He had some great passages of play and showed his dominance in the air taking multiple contested marks.
At the combine he shone with his beep test finishing only second to WA endurance machine Joshua Schoenfeld with a beep test score of 15.4. He also won the kicking test with a score 24/30 which tests uncontested kicking accuracy.
Hibberd is also the ultimate professional in the way he attacks training and rehab. His work ethic behind the scenes is highly rated by the Tasmanian coaching staff and they have been raving about the fact that he has recovered from an ACL in such a way. This recovery has prepared him mentally and physically for the rigors the life of an AFL player and the training expectations. His work on the training track is great and he has been doing the little things to help give him that edge on game day. This aspect is extremely appealing for recruiters and has put him in good stead coming into the system.
His kicking at its best hits targets lace out on his preferred foot. He also shows outstanding penetration on his kick, something that most players don’t have at this age. He also is a great judge of how to weight the kick allowing him to switch the play and create opportunities for their forwards. His kicking when a full speed can be a little shaky at times but that can improve.
One of the most underrated traits Hibberd has is his ability to take great marks. He is very courageous with how he attacks the football in the air and doesn’t mind throwing his body around to try and take a mark. This contested marking edge also suggests that Hibberd could maybe go forward on occasion and use his football IQ and marking snag a few up forward.
Hibberd has also proven himself as a great defensive prospect. His efforts when not in possession of the ball make him even better as a half back. We see on many occasions that he’s willing to make the extra smother, make a spoil or even run down an opposition player. This trait is quite rare for a player who could easily just focus on the rebounding part of his game. This accountability is a big tick in most recruiters books.
The other problem Hibberd has is his size. At the under 18 championships that didn’t affect him because most players are usually smaller than him but at AFL level he will get a big shock if he thinks he can use his body the same way. His body size also has affected the way he has played by not being able to get more of those contested possessions.
At the next level we could see a classy ball user who can play multiple positions on the ground, but clubs will have to be patient. His body will take time, but If he puts the work he could be anything. Jack Crisp is the player I think he could potentially become and aim to play like as that balanced utility who has a great kick. The bottom line is that any club drafting this lad is going to get a great ball user, a true professional, a hard worker and most importantly a player who is willing to do the team things.