IN JUST six games, Luke Jackson has made a fair impression at Melbourne.
The first-year player, who was taken with pick No.3 in last year’s National Draft, has swiftly adapted to AFL level, with his athleticism and versatility a big plus for Dees fans.
Despite being hit with an early hamstring injury, his natural ability is certainly promising, and he’s one Melbourne’s development coach Matt Egan is a fan of.
“For a first-year, big man to come in and play is an incredible effort,” he told Melbourne Media.
“Jacko’s obviously still developing with his body and he showed this year, when he had his injury, that he’s still young and the rigors of AFL are pretty tough.
“But he’s shown that he can lead up and present and be strong and kick goals.
“He’s a ruckman of the future, but also a dangerous forward.”
There was much talk of the Demons’ decision to take Jackson with their first selection of last year’s Draft, having not seen a ruckman picked that high since West Coast’s Nic Naitanui in 2008 (pick No.2).
With his athletic ability being likened to that of a midfielder, his unique traits and willingness to follow up his own work were also big factors in the move.
And with such raw talent, it hasn’t taken long for Jackson to prove his worth.
“At the moment, he’s just a natural footballer, who sees it and goes after it,” Egan said.
“You see in his ruck work, he jumps up and gets after the ground ball, because he’s a competitive beast and just wants to win the ground ball.
“He’s a great athlete and that’s why he can cover the ground and get over to the contests.”
Standing at 198cm tall, Jackson made his presence known in every game he featured this year, but his efforts were officially recognised in Round 10.
The 19-year-old was awarded a NAB Rising Star Nomination for his performance against Adelaide, where time up forward saw him kick two majors from eight disposals.
Jackson also recorded five score involvements, three insides 50s and two contested marks, while managing 14 hit-outs of his own in the ruck.
And while development is key, he looks to be an exciting, long-term prospect for the Demon faithful to follow.
“He still needs to learn the forward craft and leading patterns and working in a group of six as a forward, as he’s played most of his footy just in the ruck,” Egan said.
“He’s got a huge future learning the game and can be a balance between ruck and forward, which is a fair skill to have.”
Jackson’s debut season was topped off with a Harold Ball Memorial Trophy at last month’s Best and Fairest – Melbourne’s best first-year player award.