Murray Bushrangers dasher Lachlan Ash doesn’t lack confidence – he needs it to execute a trademark style of play that has him in contention to be a high pick at the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.
18-year-old Ash has wowed NAB League watchers and followers of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships this year with his daring runs from defence for both Murray and Vic Country.
He averaged 23 disposals, five marks, three rebound-50s and three inside-50s per game across 10 matches for the Bushrangers in 2019 to illustrate his importance as a link between the back and forward halves.
* Visit the ‘Highlights’ section of the NAB League app to watch Lachlan Ash’s 2019 season highlights.
The 186cm Shepparton (Goulburn Valley FL) junior has speed to burn and the drive to consistently take the game on, setting him apart from other prospects for November 27-28’s AFL Draft.
Ash’s determination to succeed also saw him named a co-captain at Murray and Vic Country as well as earning him NAB League Boys Team of the Year and NAB AFL Under-18 All Australian honours this season.
“The game is moving to a quicker style and I probably suit that more than your average player,” Ash said at the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine, where he finished among the top five NAB League players for the endurance-based Yo-Yo Test.
“I continue to take the game on, no matter what stage it’s at. Whether we’re down by 10 goals or up by 10 goals, I just play the same way, always attacking and trying to make the opposition make as many mistakes as possible.
“It’s just an instinctive thing to run and carry, and I can’t have any fear of stuffing it up.
“I think I’m wise enough to make the right decisions, so I try to play with no regrets at all. If that means I take a couple of bounces and get caught holding the ball, next time I’ll take a bounce and kick it.”
Ash’s confidence on the field is matched by his confidence off it. Earlier this year he placed a note on a mirror at his home reading: ‘Top 20’, indicating his desired place in the draft order.
Ash then reviewed his performances each month throughout the season to identify areas of improvement in his play, with those high standards feeding into a natural leadership style that he said “people seem to follow”.
“With the limited contact hours we have at the Bushrangers, I think you have to be pretty self-driven and disciplined in order to make it,” Ash said. “It comes back on you to do more by yourself.
“I did a monthly review where I reassessed how I was going, because I didn’t think it was a good idea to set a goal in stone and then not achieve it. There was a month this year where my kicking wasn’t great, so I did a fair bit of work on that over a couple of weeks and then it picked up.
“I’d sit down whenever I had a spare moment and watch highlights of the games I’d played for the good and bad things I’d done. I tried to look at a fair bit of negative stuff, because I feel that’s where I improve the most.
“I am tough on myself, but I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in if I wasn’t.”
NAB LEAGUE ‘FAST FIVE’ QUESTIONS
Most influential person on your football at Murray:
“I’ve done a lot of one-on-one work with (assistant coach) Justin McMahon focusing on my kicking, and Shannon Laidlaw was our back-line coach this year, so I had a lot to do with him too.”
Most valuable lesson learned in the NAB League:
“Just to take nothing for granted and always work as hard as possible, because hard work will beat talent in the long run.”
Teammate you’ve most enjoyed sharing the NAB League journey with:
“Big Ben Kelly. We really didn’t know each other before the Bushrangers program, but now we’re life-long mates. He’s very easy-going and always good for a laugh. Also, Jimmy Boyer is just a good bloke and easy to get along with.”
Most difficult NAB League opponent:
“Irving Mosquito (ex-Gippsland Power, now Essendon) kicked two goals on me in a quarter last year and had me in all sorts. From this year, Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) works extremely hard and does all the basics really well.”
Most memorable NAB League moment:
“Just being around the boys before and after training, having a laugh and being in the changeroom environment. I love just going to training and getting to know the boys.”
* CLICK HERE to see other stories in our 2019 AFL Draft Watch series.