Angus Brayshaw is Fast Becoming Melbourne's Barometer
Angus Brayshaw is one of the AFL’s most promising stars and is a vital reason why Melbourne has vaulted into top-four and premiership contention.
After being taken No. 3 overall, by Melbourne, in the 2014 draft, Brayshaw had an early taste of success. In 2015, he played 21 games in a struggling Melbourne outfit and showed incredible potential. However, four concussions had critics reconsidering if his body could survive the physical pressures of AFL football.
Before the 2018 season, the media suggested the Melbourne midfielder be used as trade bait come the end of the season. These proposals included moving him to Western Australia to join his two brothers. Nevertheless, Brayshaw worked hard throughout the preseason and regained his spot in the senior side for round 4.
Since then, Brayshaw has not looked back and has taken his game to unseen levels. Five games with 30+ disposals have pushed Brayshaw into a starring role in Melbourne’s side. These games included best-on-ground performances against Adelaide and twice against the Western Bulldogs where he gathered 37, 39 and 38 possessions, respectively.
Furthermore, the Demons are yet to lose this year in the five games that Brayshaw has had over 30 disposals.
Brayshaw’s greatest strength is his ability to create time and space for his teammates. He has built the capacity to kick equally well with both feet; this, in combination with excellent decision-making, helps Brayshaw distance teammates from their direct opponents.
Only a few players, such as Steele Sidebottom, can dispose of the ball as effectively on both sides of their body.
His kicking ability has also aided Melbourne when going inside 50. Brayshaw averages 5.6 inside 50’s per game (ranked elite). The success of Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald is directly correlated to Brayshaw’s elite foot skills.
Melbourne's average of 106 points per game highlights how potent forward entries, from players like Brayshaw, can drastically boost a team's scoring potential.
Currently, Brayshaw and Melbourne’s biggest negative is the ability to perform against the top teams.
Critics have noted the Demons’ inability to defeat top-8 teams. Highlighted by losses to Hawthorn, Richmond, Port Adelaide and Collingwood. Against which, Brayshaw only broke 20 disposals against Port.
If Brayshaw can stay healthy for long periods of time, as he has done this season, he will continue to be an influential part of Melbourne’s dominant midfield. He is a necessary piece in balancing the Demons’ brute midfielders, such as Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones and Jack Viney, with a stylish ball user.
For Melbourne to become competitive come finals time, Brayshaw must be able to perform against the stoutest of opponents.