Aaron-Heppell

The Bombers will have a chance to showcase a Heppell in the NAB Challenge, but it won’t be Dyson. His younger brother Aaron Heppell has been plying his trade for Essendon’s VFL side since being overlooked in the 2013 AFL draft, and he hasn’t taken a backwards step since.

The prospect of a NAB Challenge birth is the best possible hope for 19-year-old Heppell, as he is a big game specialist. His 2013 NAB Championships were outstanding, yet he was overshadowed by some of the bigger names. For a player who doesn’t normally kick too many goals, he looked like a natural forward at Ikon Park playing for Vic Country.

The younger Heppell played nine games for the Bombers VFL squad last year, and although he didn’t set the world on fire, his average of 11 possessions and three tackles were enough to highlight his talents.

Heppell is a strong-bodied midfielder who has the ability to play off either a half forward or half back flank. His rising goal sense was highlighted in the 2013 NAB Under 18s Championships, where he kicked a few goals in pressure situations.

He has a wonderful football IQ and reads the play better than most midfielders. He is happy to throw his head over the ball and his work by hand is outstanding. Despite averaging a solid 17 disposals in his final year of TAC Cup, he was overlooked, likely due to his below average kicking.

Indeed his game has improved exponentially over the past three years. His stamina used to be one of his weaknesses, but now he is a workhorse who can run out games. And if the Bombers can fix Joe Daniher’s kicking, then surely something can be done with Heppell’s.

If the Bombers do select Heppell in the NAB Challenge, he would have more to prove than most players. It is his upside, not his family name, that is the biggest drawcard in terms of draftability. His tackling and defensive work is outstanding and his offensive game can only get better. At just 19 years old, he could become anything.