GlenelgGlenelgSmall Defender


Xavier Robins

height: 183cm

weight: 72kg

D.O.B: 02-10-2002

Leagues: SANFL Reserves, SANFL Under 18s

Image Credit: Glenelg FC

Rebound Defender

DRAFT ANALYSIS: “A damaging player off half-back, the speedy left-footer boasts a penetrating kick, reads the play superbly, and can set up play just as well.” – Ed Pascoe

The Glenelg defender missed out on the South Australian (SA) Academy Hub named at the end of 2019, but forced his way into recruiters' minds with standout displays this year playing for Glenelg and school team Sacred Heart alongside bottom-age rebound defender Lewis Rayson. Both proved to be a handful and were catalysts in Glenelg’s strong start to the season, with their run and kicking from half-back impressive. Robins has football in his veins as the son of former Demon and Tiger Haydn Robins and with a play style similar to current Tiger Bachar Houli, it seems he was a born Tiger and would be fitting if he found his way to Richmond at this year's draft. Robins made his Reserves debut in the last home and away game of the year which was great reward for effort, as he came off a 30-disposal game the week before and despite Glenelg missing finals, he was still able to impress one last time playing for Team Hurn in the SA All-Stars game.


  • Kicking
  • Composure
  • Reading the play
  • Production
  • Decision making
  • Speed


  • Contested game/strength
  • Reliance on dominant foot

Coming out of defence, most supporters love having someone dependable who is able to keep composed and spot up targets. There are not many other players in this draft more capable of those two attributes that Robins, the go-to kicker in any side he plays in -whether that is for Glenelg or Sacred Heart. His left foot is a real weapon, able to hit targets with ease whether short, long, easy or tough. Robins has a lot of confidence when he gets the ball and that is evident in the options he goes for, which not many other players would try. Although his kicking is also strong he is also a clean user by hand and does not muck around when gathering a loose ball in defence, able to execute a handball cleanly and quickly.

It is not just his ball use that makes him damaging from defence, it is also his ability to read the play and win a tonne of the ball, averaging almost 27 disposals a game. He does not just rely on kick-outs either, as he is more than capable intercepting the ball and running off into dangerous positions, using his speed and smarts to accumulate down back not unlike Jake Lloyd from the Swans. Although he does not have high marking numbers, he is a capable marker overhead and also a good spoiler, willing to balance his defensive aspects with his attacking mindset.

To go with his football smarts and skill Robins is not a slouch with his athleticism either, coming second at the SA Combine in the 20m sprint with an impressive time of 2.978 seconds, while also coming top five in two leap tests and the 2km time trial. With all those athletic traits to go with his size at 183cm, he should have the tools to match up on every type of small forward at AFL level having the speed, leap and endurance combination needed.

Robins can go in hard when he needs to but his style does favour him playing a more outside role, so it still remains to be seen how he would handle a possible change in position or relevance in a more contested style at the next level. Despite being such a good offensive option he may be forced to play more defensive roles as a defender and that is something he has not really been tested for at Under 18s level, so that may become a query for an AFL club.

As skilful and composed as Robins is, it can come as a detriment. He tends to have a reliance on his left side and on few occasions finds himself in a bit of trouble when a smart player is able to force him onto his right side. Robins will often refuse to use his right foot to get out of trouble and will rather try and take the player on with mixed results. Not every AFL player is good on their opposite foot, but it could really help Robins get out of trouble as you would rather a longer kick out on the full rather than a holding the ball decision inside defensive 50.


There was not much more Robins could have done this year with his production and consistency hard to ignore, not going below 23 disposals all year with two 30-disposal games to boot. Considering how damaging he can be with his disposal, it has made him one of the more impactful players in the SANFL Under 18s this year. Robins does take his fair share of kick-outs which can inflate his numbers, but he is still very valuable with those possessions and does not always pick the safest option. With his comparisons to many good rebound defenders playing AFL, you can see a club lacking in depth for rebound defenders having a long look at Robins.

SANFL Reserves


SANFL Under 18s

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