Nick Hind’s football has progressed rapidly since being a mid-season signing for Essendon’s VFL team last year.
The 181cm 23-year-old played two games for the Bombers late in the 2016 home-and-away season but flourished as a running defender/midfielder in his first full Peter Jackson VFL campaign this year, averaging 18 disposals and four inside-50s per game in 15 matches.
An East Point (Ballarat FL), Clunes (Central Highlands FL), GWV Rebels (TAC Cup) and Maryborough (Maryborough Castlemaine District FL) product, Hind played in Essendon’s elimination-final loss to Footscray and was also named a VFL emergency for May’s State Game against the WAFL.
vfl.com.au spoke to Hind at the recent Victorian State Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium ahead of the 2017 NAB AFL Draft on Friday November 24.
What strengths of yours have you been using to sell yourself to AFL clubs?
- My speed, my ability to break the lines and my agility. Footy’s that type of game now where you need guys to break lines and gain metres, and I feel like I can bring that.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked by AFL club recruiters?
- I was just surprised by how much they wanted to get to know me.
What parts of your game do you know you’ll need to work on if you’re drafted?
- I think my kicking. Being able to break those lines is a strength, but I also need to finish off and sometimes that let me down this year.
Which AFL players do you particularly like to watch and model your game on?
- (Western Bulldogs running defender) Jason Johannisen would be one.
How did you come to be at Essendon?
- I played in an interleague game (last year) for the Ballarat Football League, and Dan Jordan – who was a development coach at Essendon and now the VFL coach – is from Ballarat and knew about me. He put it to Essendon and after that I came in and had a couple of meetings with them and it went from there. I played two games after being a mid-year signing last year.
How would you assess your 2017 season?
- I started off half back and went into the midfield, which is a little bit different for me but I’ve enjoyed it. It definitely wasn’t a goal of mine (to move into the midfield) but once it got floated to me I was happy to go in there. The coaches thought we lacked a bit of speed (in the midfield). I was a little bit slow at the start with defensive transitioning and what it takes to be a midfielder at VFL level, but after that I felt like I adapted well. I thought I had a pretty good year considering I hadn’t played much VFL footy before this year.
What expectations did you have for yourself at the start of the year?
- I didn’t put any boundary on it. I was very new to it all but I just thought I’d go in and leave no stone unturned and what will be will be. I thought that was a good way to go about it.
What do you think was your best individual performance of the season?
- Probably the first game of the year against Sandringham (23 disposals and one goal in a seven-point loss). We lost that day but I felt like I had a pretty good game and I felt I showed a few people at Essendon that I was up to it.
Which opponents caught your eye or were particularly difficult to play on this year?
- Just the entire Richmond midfield. They were strong and big bodies and it was really hard for me to match up against them. I really learnt a lot from the game I played against them (in Round 7).
Who do you think has had the biggest influence on your football in the VFL?
- (New Essendon VFL senior coach) Dan Jordan has been brilliant for me. I classify him as a good mate and he’s really pushed me to where I need to go. I wasn’t surprised at all (he was recently named coach). He’s definitely come a long way in a short period of time and he’s suited perfectly to the role.
Which of your teammates do you think should also be talked about as draft prospects?
- I don’t think there’s another player like Alex Boyse in the VFL. With his athleticism, his height and his pace, he’s a really hard match-up. He’s perfect for an AFL club and I really hope he gets his chance. James Ferry has a ‘never say die’ attitude, he’s rarely beaten in a one-on-one contest as a backman and I feel he could go forward as well. He’s a super competitor and he deserves his shot. Kieran Strachan is an untapped talent. He’s 200cm, can run and is athletic. He’s so raw, but given the opportunity I see why clubs are looking at him.
THE FAST FIVE with Nick Hind
What food could you not live without?
- Chicken and avocado pasta.
If you weren’t possibly about to become a full-time footballer, what would be your dream job?
- Probably a professional cricketer. I’m not very good at cricket, but just to travel the world and be one of the top 11 players of Australia.
What karaoke song would you sing to save your life?
- ‘Can’t Hold Us’ by Macklemore.
Which teammate would you want to be stranded on a desert island with and why?
- Aaron Heppell, because you’d have a good laugh. He’d be able to make a positive out of being stranded on the island.
Which teammate would you not want to be stranded on a desert island with and why?
- Alex Marklew for sure, with his rants and yelling out all the time.