Sydney Swans Media has chatted to Future Recruiting Coordinator Ross Monaghan about all things scouting, from the make-up of the club’s recruitment team to the depth of footy they consume to what they’re looking for in potential draftees or recruits and more.

Meet the men behind the Swans’ recruitment team

Kinnear Beatson: General Manager – Recruiting and List Strategy

“Kinnear looks after all things to do with the current list and what’s coming up in the future in terms of recruitment.”

Simon Dalrymple: National Recruiting Manager

“Simon’s job is to assess the pool of players for each year’s draft, so the players turning 18 who are available.”

Chris Keane: Senior Recruiting Analyst

“Chris essentially analyses data, looking at GPS data, sifting through statistical data and helping us with player rankings and assessment of players.”

Ross Monaghan: Future Recruiting Coordinator

“Probably 60 per cent of my role is looking at future drafts, so I’m typically one or two drafts ahead. Early in the year I’m looking at 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who are aiming for the 2021 and 2022 drafts. We’ve got a good handle on what’s coming up and try to project one or two years ahead. You can’t always get that 100 per cent right of course, but you get it as right as you can and make sure we have valuable information on prospects coming through, even though they’re still pretty young and things can change a lot. Then later in the year I also assist with looking at the top-age players. We try to find out as much as we can about potential draftees.”

Depth of footy: What’s on the radar?

Monaghan and his three colleagues all watch up to six games a week throughout the entire footy season. This includes AFL games in a search for potential recruits, but more importantly “to continually remind ourselves of what the top level is like and where the players need to get to”. The recruitment team also keep an eye on the AFL Under-18 Championships as it’s “imperative for us to see the best kids in the country go at it”, as well as the NAB League, under-18 footy in Western Australia and South Australia and even school footy.

Through the eye of a recruiter

"There are so many things we’re looking for. Essentially, you’re looking for players to have an outstanding quality, whether it might be their athleticism, their height, their physique. If they’re 200 centimetres you’re interested instantly because there aren’t too many players who are 200 centimetres or above. Some of the taller ones notoriously take a lot longer to develop. They might not be good players at 16, 17, 18, but they might be very good at 25, so we’ve got to try to forecast that, which is not easy. Speed is also an important quality to look out for. The game is getting quicker and quicker all the time so we’re always interested in players with speed. Then there’s players who compete. Obviously it’s a competitive business so you want them to have a desire to compete. Players with good skills, whether it’s clean ball-handling, hitting targets, kicking the ball well off the left and right, players who make good decisions when they get the ball.”

Honing the search as the draft draws closer

“We do a lot of investigating on the players that we’re interested in. We try to find out as much about them as we can: their backgrounds, where they go to school, what their study habits are like, how quickly they learn things, what sort of characters they are. In the event of managing to draft a player, we need to know if they’re going to be a good person when they come to the club, whether they’re going to work as hard as they can to improve over a long time, whether they’re going to be coachable and whether they’re going to fit in with our environment. That narrows down the field a little bit more. Once we have players that we’re pretty keen on, we’re down to a level where we start to put them in an order of where we think they’ll rank in the draft. But then, of course, things can change so dramatically in trade week in terms of which picks we have, and then there’s live trading on draft night, which has changed things completely again. We need to have a good handle on every player available at the draft because we never know how our picks might change throughout the night.”

Hidden gold

"I didn’t see a lot of them play as juniors, but the ones who’ve come off rookie lists or who weren’t rated highly by 17 other clubs, fell down the draft order and only just got picked up are the ones I admire most. Lewis Melican is a prime example. The ones who only just make it onto a list, they’re given an opportunity, they weren’t the best players going around in junior footy and they work their way through to play regular AFL footy. We’ve got to keep an open mind on young guys because if they’re prepared to work hard they might be able to overcome some of the obstacles that might be limiting them. Chad Warner is a good example this year. He didn’t go early in the draft but he’s just a terrific worker. We’re hoping he can make it because his attitude is fantastic and he’s doing everything he possibly can to become a good player. We rookie-listed Brady Rowles last year and he has elite speed and we know he’s going to work hard. The thing to remember is when they come to an AFL club they’re all on the same level. They come in at the same time, and whether it’s Dylan Stephens at pick five or Brady Rowles on the rookie list, they’re all Swans players and they’ve got the same opportunity.”

Watching footy to earn the bucks 

“We enjoy our jobs – there’s no question about it. We enjoy watching our footy and we enjoy reporting on it. It’s a demanding job on your family because you’re travelling a lot, you have to devote a lot of time to it and you become very focussed on what you do. So maintaining that work-life balance is always a challenge because you find yourself getting consumed by your job. But, to be honest, I love my job and actually get more excited about watching an Under-18 Championships game or a NAB League game than I do about watching an AFL game. I enjoy the AFL games because you enjoy the elite talent on display, but for me the real enjoyment comes in identifying talent that you didn’t know existed. The outcome of that is getting genuinely excited when you draft players you’ve been watching for three, four, five years. Then you get excited about seeing them make their AFL debut, and if they can become terrific players for the Swans that’s the icing on the cake.”

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