The drafting of players will always be a hit or miss exercise, and for every success story such as Chris Judd, Joel Selwood, and Trent Cotchin to name just a few of the many, there will always be individuals that for one reason or another have not lived up to expectations.
Given the success of a draftee is never guaranteed, would a club take the extra risk of selecting a player with a higher than usual risk of injury, despite the utter talent he possesses?
This is exactly the scenario that clubs are facing over talented South Australian junior, Troy Menzel.
Menzel, currently playing senior football for Central District in the SANFL, has already been touted as a potential first round draft pick in November‘s National Draft, and is of course the younger brother of Geelong youngster Daniel Menzel.
This is partly the concern, for Daniel has, at the tender age of 21, already been cruelled by severe injuries requiring reconstruction on both his knees.
The first incident occurred in last year’s Qualifying Final against the Hawks, ending any hopes of playing in the Cats’ eventual premiership, while even more worryingly, the second occurred on his good knee in his first comeback match in the VFL back in June.
If his brother’s knee history is anything to go by, this spells bad news for the long term career prospects for young Troy.
Added to the puzzle is the fact that Troy has already suffered the pain of a serious knee injury, and that he elected to have a LARS synthetic knee reconstruction on his right knee as a 16 year-old, as opposed to the conventional knee surgery.
Sadly, it appears he may have suffered another knee injury while playing for Central District in its finals loss to West Adelaide.
AFL recruiters now have a huge dilemma as to where and when to select Menzel in the upcoming draft.
While his potential as a player is clearly evident, the spectre of his and his brother’s knee issues must weigh heavily on their minds.
Is it worth the risk? Will his knee fail again? Is it a genetic curse that the Menzel family have, that ill equips them to cope with the strain of AFL football? These are all questions that will pass the recruiters’ minds at some point.
It would be so much easier for clubs to take the easy option and select a player that has a clean injury record and not be concerned with the past worries of Menzel.
Geelong itself has a tough choice. Given they already have Daniel, would the Cats be tempted to draft Troy?
Normally this would be a no-brainer, but again the injury history may cause Stephen Wells and the Geelong recruiting staff to baulk at the idea.
For a player as talented as Troy Menzel not to get drafted at all would be a harsh fate for the young man, but this is the very real prospect given his knee concerns.
Will any club take the risk? It is not an easy decision, and if Menzel stays injury free, the fortunate club could reap the services of a gifted 200-game player.
For his sake, hopefully a club is willing to invest in his natural ability, and he has a long and distinguished AFL career.
But, as we know with drafting, there are no guarantees.
Come draft day on November 22nd, we will find out for certain.