Melbourne coach Paul Roos says the much-hyped Jesse Hogan would have likely vied with fellow powerhouse forward Tom Boyd for the No.1 spot in this year’s national draft.
Hogan was drafted as an underage player in the 2012 “mini-draft” by Melbourne, making him ineligible to play in the AFL in 2013.
But he showed in the pre-season NAB Cup and in the VFL for the Demons’ affiliate Casey, where he kicked 39 goals in 14 games, that he was ready to forge an immediate impact at the top level next year.
“To have a guy of his stature that’s been involved in the footy club for 12 months and been playing in the VFL, where he played particularly well, I think he gets a jump on a the draft picks from this year,” Roos said.
“He wants to earn his spot in the side and that’s what he needs to do.”
Hogan is set to draw immediate comparisons with Boyd, who is all but certain to go to Greater Western Sydney with pick No.1 in Thursday’s national draft.
“Where would (Hogan) be in this year? Pick one, pick two, that’s what I’m hearing but that’s irrelevant for us as a footy club,” said Roos.
“He’s a hard trainer, he works hard and has got the respect of the players, so hopefully he’s there round one next year. If he is, it’ll be because he’s trained really well and has played well through the pre-season and he hasn’t just relied on that natural talent.”
The 195cm, 18-year-old has been compared to Matthew Pavlich and Jonathan Brown.
Meanwhile, Melbourne unveiled a new major sponsor as the club welcomed back its full list for day one of pre-season training. Chief executive Peter Jackson said the club’s “management restructure” included a $1 million grant and $450,000 from the AFL in matched club fundraising.
“That all went into 2013 to restructuring the club, we haven’t got any change out of that, it all went in paying out contracts and undertaking a management restructure,” Jackson said.
“The reality is, we haven’t got anything from them for 2014, it was a one-off grant as we’re back on our own again.”
The Demons say they have closed the chapter on one of their worst seasons, and could look forward to better financial health alongside an improved on-field performance.
“2013’s been pretty awful, we know about that… we think we’ve got a good base going forward, something this club certainly didn’t have at the start of last year,” Jackson said.
“We’ll be back in the black in my view in 2014.”
Senior coach Mark Neeld was sacked midway through the season, while stand-in coach Neil Craig also departed for Essendon at the end of a campaign where the Demons won just two matches.
Automotive Holdings Group (AHG) was unveiled as the club’s new major partner and will don the front and back of the Demons’ guernseys until 2016.
Details of the partnership were not disclosed but Jackson said the partnership was “substantial for the Melbourne football club” but not as big as some AFL heavyweights’ commercial partnerships.
“We’ve undergone a hell of a lot of change… and it’s a great sign of support by AHG that they would come and support the Melbourne Football Club and believe in the journey that we are going on,” Jackson said.
The key part of that change, new coach Roos, said he was unlikely to be making any more additions to the coaching staff this late in the club’s 2014 preparation.
Roos’ tenure is linked to nurturing a new long-term coach for the club, who would move into the top job after two or three seasons.
Roos denied it was disappointing that the club had yet to find a senior assistant coach, pointing to the recent St Kilda appointment as a sign that filling vacancies wasn’t easy.
“It was something we talked about but it was never going to be the absolute priority,” Roos said.
“We’ve got plenty of time to do that, what we’ve found in the process… when you look at (Alan) Richardson, coaches are really reluctant to put their names up now because if they get knocked back a couple of times they’re seen to be a bit scarred.”
Premiers Hawthorn, meanwhile, announced a $3.2 million net operating profit, up on 2012’s profit of $2.02. The Hawks finished the year with 63.353 members.