Player Watch #10: Aaron "Pleur" Francis

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Karnt Of A Human
Aug 1, 2011
AFL Club
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Welcome to Essendon, Aaron Francis!

Credit to Knightmare for the quality write up!
Aaron Francis (SA – UTIL)
Height: 190cm, Weight: 86kg, DOB: 10/08/1997
Recruited from: West Adelaide
Reminds me of: A much more inconsistent Brendon Goddard without the midfield ability
Best position/role: HBF with the ability to also have an impact forward of centre.
Footskills – Francis by foot is elite. He has penetration of 55-60m. And over any distance he can deliver a pass accurately, or finish in front of goal is it from a set shot or general play. Francis with his penetration has the ability to easily kick long with accuracy and kick it 55m to a target looks simple and routine for him. Francis has the ability to deliver low, quick through the air passes, hitting the intended target or get more air on his kicks as required.
Vision – Francis has excellent vision and can find targets long up the field, and the best targets up the field at that. He can also finds players in the loose spaces in more congested areas and hits them lace out so while he has the vision he also has the execution.
Decision making ability – Francis makes excellent decisions with ball in hand. He often will elect to go to the more damaging option but none the less he still when he does will more often than not hit his intended target.
Physical presence/physicality – Francis has a real physical presence to him and plays a very physical and in your face brand of football. Francis tackles aggressively. He’ll bump and crash into players around the ground. Fend off with don’t argues. After a goal or a big mark he’ll let you know about it. And any time someone gets physical with him he’ll get more physical with them. So he is a real intimidator who will not be intimidated himself.
Intercept marking ability and ability to read the flight – Francis is the elite intercept mark in this draft. And it all starts with his superior ability to read the flight of the ball. This allows him to intercept mark after intercept mark down back and also aids him greatly with his ability to take marks in the air and in the 1v1 contests. He reads the flight of the ball early and consistently gets to the drop of the ball and has the willingness to leave his man down back to take the intercept marks.
Marking ability – Francis is a strong mark overhead and takes his marks consistently one grab and he has the ability to take it at or near the highest point. He has the ability to take a mark on the lead. But his real strength starts with his ability to take intercept marks firstly. In the air he is an exceptional mark and can utilise his incredible leaping ability at times. In the 1v1 marking contests he also has the strength to out-position or out-body his opponent for the mark and is also a genuine contested marking threat.
Contested marking ability – Francis has excellent contested marking numbers by position and is strong in the 1v1 contests with his strength and ability to out-position or out-body his opponents and at times he also has the ability to take pack grabs thanks to his strong hands and superior ability to read the drop of the ball.
1v1 ability – Francis has a strong 1v1 game. In the contest he holds his position well and has the ability to take some strong 1v1 marks. When the ball hits the ground Francis also has the ability to outpoint his opponent by either bumping or pushing them in the side in order to win 50/50 ball.
Scoreboard impact – Francis has the ability to hit the scoreboard in a hurry when used forward of centre. He is strong overhead with his relative strengths overhead being not only his superior ability to read the flight, but also his ability to take a grab in the air as well as in the 1v1 contest. Francis at ground level is also good for someone his height and in general play will often physically outpoint others around the ball to enable him to get clean possession. Francis is also an exceptional finisher both from general play and from set shots.
Versatility – Francis has the ability to play back or forward already to a high level. There are also some signs that he could push up into the midfield or perhaps with his athleticism and footskills onto a wing. With Francis particularly back or forward, he exerts his influence and finds a way to do something meaningful towards winning which is one better than just being able to play a secondary position.
Athleticism – Francis is a very high level athlete. He has excellent agility, and not just for someone his height, but generally his agility and movement are both terrific. He has very good pace. He is an excellent leaper. And his endurance is also good. Critically Francis over recent years has improved in each athletic category which is a great sign of further upside to his game.
Rate of improvement – Aaron Francis has developed at a very strong rate in recent years. He has developed physically, athletically and most critically developed as a footballer in terms of his on field level of performance. I anticipate with Francis’ rate of improvement will continue (ongoing) in years to come at a high rate allowing him to develop into one of the most if not the more influential utilities in the competition.
Performances against men – Francis has performed and performed exceptionally well against men at SANFL League level. Given this it appears that Francis has the ability to play at AFL level early season one. And do so to a strong standard from the get go with already a very advanced game looking likely to hold up well at AFL level with his skills, intercept marking and physicality all highly transferrable skills to AFL standard play.
Ability through the midfield – At this stage Francis is someone who can exert his influence on games back or forward, but through the midfield he has yet to develop that same game changing ability and it remains to be seen whether he can at AFL level develop the ability to play through the midfield. He has the size and skillset that suggest he can develop the ability to play through the midfield, and on the occasions when he has received some midfield minutes he has shown that he can at times win some clearances. But we just haven’t seen enough of it and when used through the midfield he has not shown that same level of dominance he shows elsewhere to suggest the midfield is where he likely will play his best footy in the future, with the most likely outcome being that Francis is more a back/forward rather than a midfielder.
Inconsistency – Lack of consistency is the big issue. He can play but he has his games where he takes over with his influence, physical presence and impact, then other games where he doesn’t find as much of the ball and he doesn’t offer that same influence on games. The big key for Francis given this will be reducing that difference between his best and worst games with his games at SANFL League level also quieter than I’d have liked given his talent.
Francis if things go right has the opportunity to develop into one of the better utilities in this draft and has the ability to play 150 games back or forward at the next level if he can improve his inconsistency.
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Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2009
AFL Club
Enjoyed reading about his athleticism.

Will be interesting to see what he develops into. Much more comfortable with this selection than Parish.

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