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Goodwin lauds Oliver’s second season

Matt Burgan  September 6, 2017 9:55 AM

He’s a contested ball magnet and we love the way he goes about his game

COACH Simon Goodwin says he couldn’t have asked any more from midfielder Clayton Oliver in his second AFL season.

Oliver, who was awarded the 2017 AFL Coaches’ Association best young player of the year and finished seventh overall in this season’s AFLCA player of the year votes, was staggeringly left out of the All-Australian squad of 40.

But Goodwin said he “couldn’t speak any more highly enough of Clayton” this season.

And it’s easy to see why, given the 20-year-old and 35-gamer finished with the most handballs, second most contested possessions, third most clearances, fourth most tackles and fifth most disposals in the competition.

“He’s a contested ball magnet and we love the way he goes about his game,” Goodwin told melbournefc.com.au.

“For a second-year player to change the way that he’s played – and his training habits – shows you what’s capable of someone in one year.

“We’re looking for a few more Clayton Olivers to emerge over the next few years for us.”

Although Oliver’s All-Australian’s omission was perplexing, one player who thoroughly deserved his selection was defender Michael Hibberd, who was outstanding for Melbourne in 2017.

Goodwin said the first-year Demon had been immense since coming across from Essendon.

“Hibbo, coming to the club last year in a trade – to have 12 months out of the game and to come in, in round five, and make All-Australian says a lot about the quality of the person and the quality of the player [he is],” he said.

“What he’s been able to do for the Melbourne footy club [has been excellent].”

Goodwin also praised first-year co-captain Jack Viney for his ability to lead and play under adversity, given he battled a foot injury late in the season.

“Jack Viney’s competitiveness, spirit and his will to want to win and want to lead this footy club, has been outstanding,” he said.

“He’s settled into the co-captaincy role incredibly well.

“Between Nathan [Jones] and himself, he’s had a great impact on our playing group.”

And Goodwin said key forward Jesse Hogan showed genuine resilience in the face of some much-publicised personal and professional battles this year.

“Jesse Hogan had a very indifferent year,” he said.

“The struggles that he had were felt right through the footy club – both on and off the field – but [he showed] resilience to keep coming back and trying to find a way to help the team.

“He loves the Melbourne footy club and he wants this team to be great and his reward will come in the years ahead.”