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Melbourne Football Club

Midfield depth a focus: Taylor

Also, I think that we need to continue to bolster the midfield and potentially some smaller forwards
Jason Taylor

STOCKING the midfield with further talent is among Melbourne’s aim this trade and draft period, says national recruiting manager Jason Taylor.

Speaking at Etihad Stadium on Thursday, the third of the four-day NAB AFL Draft Combine, Taylor said the club had a few needs this recruiting season.

“The key defensive post, with Jake Lever nominating us, is one area that we’re looking at,” he told

“Also, I think that we need to continue to bolster the midfield and potentially some smaller forwards.

“As a [list management] group, we need to be across the depth of the draft pool, as well as what’s out there in free agency and trade markets.”

With the recent departure of long-serving ruckman Jake Spencer, Taylor said the club would assess its ruck options, but backed in 2016 All-Australian Max Gawn, versatile tall Cam Pedersen, along with youngsters Mitch King and Lochie Filipovic to form the nucleus of the ruck department.

“We’ve got Mitch King, who has been able to get a solid year under his belt after a knee reconstruction and he’s progressing along OK,” he said.

“Lochie Filipovic has had his injuries this year, so they are young lads, but we saw last season with Cam Pedersen that he was able to provide some relief in the ruck for Gawny, when Gawny went down [with a hamstring injury].

“If the players are there, and they’re available, and we feel that we can put them on our list, we’ll look at it, but otherwise we’ll continue with what we’ve got.”

Taylor said Melbourne was rapt with the fact that Adelaide Grand Final player Jake Lever had nominated the red and blue as his preferred destination for 2018 and beyond.

“As a footy club, we’re thrilled that Jake has nominated us and from this point on we’ll work with the Adelaide Football Club to try and facilitate a fair and reasonable deal for both parties,” he said.

“Jake’s got some excellent traits that we hold dear and that’s a reflection of where the club’s heading.

“Jake was with the national academy back in the day, so all clubs would’ve had a fair bit to do with him and followed his progress.”

Taylor said Richmond’s Grand Final win last weekend was another example of strong list management.

“They had 22 guys on the day and their VFL side made the Grand Final as well – they had a list of 44 or 45 that played the game in the right spirit and that’s what we’re looking for. They put pressure on and they played with good character and that’s the key ingredient really,” he said.

“All young fellas develop at different rates. There comes a cut-off point and if they’re not showing the right resilience and the right areas of the game [then they move on].

“But you’ve got to be patient and work as a group and if you’re communicating and thinking you’re heading in the right direction, then it should unfold how you see it.”

Taylor said there was a variety of players on offer this year and that the club had interviewed “about 20 players” on Wednesday at the Combine. 

“It was just interviews from start to finish. The young fellas presented well … and after the physical testing [on Thursday], we’ll have some more interviews take place,” he said.

“We’re pretty impressed with the pool and we think we can get something out of it that can complement the list.”

“The way the year finished off, we’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do. We don’t want to be kicking the heels up now – we want to be digging a bit deeper.”