Brodie backs up all the hype

By Andrew Johnston

THE hype has been around Echuca’s Brodie Kemp for a while.

Already touted as a likely first round draft pick later this year he has been referred to by one pundit as ‘‘arguably the most advanced defender from the 2019 crop’’.

And on one of the biggest stages of his still young career, Kemp showed why he is such hot property, representing the NAB AFL Australia under 18 side in their annual clash against a VFL team — this year it was Melbourne Football Club affiliate side Casey — as a curtain raiser to Melbourne and St Kilda’s round five AFL clash.

The side was made up of the best young players from the AFL’s academy hubs while Casey included a number of Melbourne’s AFL listed players.

Kemp being viewed in the best group of players in the country is nothing new, according to Bendigo Pioneers talent manager Steve Sharp.

‘‘He’s showed his ability to perform at this level since his days in the AFL Goulburn Murray academy,’’ he said.

“Brodie was part of the former level one national academy before the system was changed to the new academy setup, so he has been viewed in the top group all the way through his junior career.”

While potential number one draft picks Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson were dominant ball winners for the side, it was a decision to play Kemp out of position which surprised a few.

Known for his intercept defending as well as his ability to go forward, in this game he was used as a bigger bodied midfielder on the day.

Sharp said this was a move Kemp had been pushing for some time.

“Brodie wanted to find a way to improve his game further,” Sharp said.

“He’s proven how good he can be at either end of the ground already. His form has obviously been incredible as a defender, but we’ve also had two games with Pioneers football where we have swung him forward and he’s won the game for us.

“He’s expressed a desire to add a few more strings to his bow and increase his value as a player and we are happy to see it has delivered results.”

Kemp finished the match with 12 disposals out of the centre, as well as a mark and two tackles.

But his four clearances and one inside 50 were the most positive signs out of the match, with Kemp proving he could match it with the best midfielders in his draft class.

The under 18 side got the chocolates on the day, winning by 23 points.