U18s Hammelmann heating up

By Beth Newman

Lining up on West Coast and Collingwood power forward Quinten Lynch was one of the hardest challenges Queensland’s Matt Hammelmann has faced, but it may just have turned out to be the perfect start to his year.

A natural forward, Hammelmann scaled a steep learning curve playing in the back line against Lynch for the AIS-AFL Academy against the Collingwood VFL team at the MCG, but it likely served him well.

“It was a bit confronting at first, trying to compete and get the ball to ground,” he said.

“He’s very aggressive, I can learn a lot from him,” he said.

“Being aggressive is something I need to bring in to my game to go to the next level and I think if I can bring some of his attributes to my game I’ll be a better player.”

In the months since, Hammelmann has built a more commanding presence on the field, sporting a stronger build and greater intensity at the footy, evolving into the state’s form forward.

AFL Queensland Academy and High Performance coach, Adrian Fletcher, said the change in the youngster was obvious.

“His body shape has changed and he’s especially put on a bit in the legs,” he said.

“He really launches himself at the footy.”

On the way to a 4.2 return last weekend in Queensland’s TAC Cup match against North Ballarat, Hammelmann took 10 marks, two of which were contested.

It’s a heady comparison, but his performance was almost reminiscent of Nick Riewoldt, with his high work rate and ability to present up forward, a skill Fletcher says is the trademark of the current-day forward.

“We want to create talls to come at the kicker with confidence,” he said.

“Modern forwards need to get up the ground.”

Former Southport player, Riewoldt, is someone the youngster models himself on.

“His leading patterns and work rates are something I can learn from,”he said.

“I’ve always got Fox Footy on and I always look for similar players to me and try and learn stuff from them.”

Hammelmann’s rapid improvement this season has not been a coincidence, AFL Queensland Academy and High Performance coach, Adrian Fletcher, says.

“He’s intelligent, he works out his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

“He has this ability to analyse those and beat them.”

Fletcher said Hammelmann had emerged as one of the on-field leaders, setting the example for his teammates.

“His belief has really grown through the year,” he said.

“He’s become a leader with his work rate and his effort -through his actions.”

An full-on start to the year, with the Academy tour and pre-season training with the Brisbane Lions, took its toll on the teen’s body, missing a month of football in the lead up to the National Championships.

He looks to have timed his run well, though, starting his return with a four-goal haul on debut for Morningside in the QAFL last month, before kicking seven goals through the state’s three National Championships matches.

That comeback game for the Panthers, a club where he has played since Under 12s, was an opportunity for which Hammelmann was grateful.

“It was good to be picked in a team where I’ve played most of my junior footy,” he said.

“You stay around and watch those senior games (as a kid) so it was good to finally play with them.”

Fletcher said Hammelmann had seemed rejuvenated and refreshed since his return.

“He comes in and goes out and he has a smile on his face,” Fletcher said.

“He’s really enjoying his football and I think he really knows where he’s going.”

Twitter: @bethknewman

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