AFL: The Melbourne Demons are taking a more relaxed approach to their preseason camp in Maroochydore.
JESSE Hogan is arguably already among the game’s best tall forwards, while Christian Petracca’s power and poise has given Dees fans great reason to be excited.
But according to Melbourne great Garry Lyon, another young Demon will turn out to be a better player than Hogan, Petracca and all the other young talent currently on the club’s list.
Lyon on Monday nominated bullocking on-baller Clayton Oliver as the player who would eventually supersede the likes of Hogan and Petracca, who are two of the most talented young players in the AFL.
Lyon said the former Murray Bushranger’s work and ability at stoppages should fill Melbourne fans with ample hope for the future.
“They’ve got a great group of youngsters coming through … and there’s a boy called Clayton Oliver who I think is going to be better than all of them,” Lyon told SEN Breakfast.
“Better than (Petracca), better than Hogan and (Angus) Brayshaw and (Jack) Viney.
“He’s untapped. He’s (only) done about half a pre-season.”
Lyon pointed out Oliver’s debut game last year against the GWS Giants, which earned him the Round 1 Rising Star nomination. He won a game-high seven clearances, including five in a first half that Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy described as the best he’d seen from a debutant.
It was a performance that certainly turned Lyon’s head too.
“This guy is so good and clean in tight that I don’t think most people — and I’m not putting him down, but unless you take a particular interest in the kid, you can’t see how good he is.”
Following promising signs in 2016, there’s heightening expectation surrounding the Demons that they could surge into the top eight this year and break a decade-long finals drought.
But Lyon isn’t as bullish about his former club’s short-term prospects, admitting it took “huge steps” in 2016 — the Dees beat contenders like Hawthorn and West Coast — but unexpectedly lost crucial games towards the backend of the season, consequently killing any finals hopes.
It’s why Lyon believes the acquisition of former Hawk Jordan Lewis is crucial, as his off-field presence could help rid the Demons of a “happy and self-satisfied” mindset.
“I don’t really care whether Jordan Lewis gets a kick or not,” Lyon said.
“But if he brings that mentality that Hawthorn had — which was ‘well winning one game is nothing to be excited about’ — if he can bring that in and instil that into the group, then he’ll be worth whatever they’ve had to pay him.”