Player Watch #3 Dylan Stephens

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Kennedy Parker

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Jul 9, 2015
28,125
58,250
Αρκαδία
AFL Club
Sydney
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Sydney Sixers, Gold City Royals


Dylan Stephens
The Sydney Swans used their first pick five since Jarrad McVeigh in 2002 to lock in a talented midfielder from South Australian club Norwood at the 2019 AFL Draft. Dylan Stephens is a prolific ball-winner and creative user of the footy by hand and foot. He played predominantly on a wing in the early matches of the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships before starring on the inside in the final match, gathering 33 disposals in a best-on-ground performance. A penetrating left-footer, he averaged 23.8 disposals and 4.8 tackles across the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships and was rewarded with All Australian honours. He also played some excellent football at senior level with Norwood, averaging 18.2 disposals and 4.6 tackles in 12 matches. Stephens enjoyed a breakout season for the Bloods in 2020 with a memorable AFL debut in Round 6 against Richmond alongside fellow debutant, Chad Warner. Stephens finished the campaign with eight appearances, averaging 12.5 disposals and 3.4 marks per game, while also kicking two goals.

Dylan Stephens
DOB: 08 January 2001
DEBUT: 2020
DRAFT: #5, 2019 National Draft
RECRUITED FROM: Red Cliffs (Vic)/Walkerville (SA)/St Peter's College (SA)/Norwood (SANFL)

 

caesar88

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 26, 2016
24,668
36,677
AFL Club
Sydney
At the risk of sounding cliche, I think the pre-season will be very important for Stephens. It's been well-noted how he has struggled to play with natural confidence when he is in as a depth player. I worry that he will again struggle to cement himself in the team when opportunities come throughout the season. His best bet may be getting in the team from the very start. Pre-season can sort of be a bit of a reset in terms of the pecking order. Last year's pre-season saw Wicks overtake Hayward, and Warner overtake Stephens himself. The same could happen for Stephens if he can put together a solid enough pre-season.

Who he overtakes I'm not sure. If all the rest of the mids also put in good showings, he may need to hope for an injury or two to a mid to get his opening.
 

Kiama Chris

Club Legend
May 10, 2016
2,598
5,665
Kiama
AFL Club
Sydney
At the risk of sounding cliche, I think the pre-season will be very important for Stephens. It's been well-noted how he has struggled to play with natural confidence when he is in as a depth player. I worry that he will again struggle to cement himself in the team when opportunities come throughout the season. His best bet may be getting in the team from the very start. Pre-season can sort of be a bit of a reset in terms of the pecking order. Last year's pre-season saw Wicks overtake Hayward, and Warner overtake Stephens himself. The same could happen for Stephens if he can put together a solid enough pre-season.

Who he overtakes I'm not sure. If all the rest of the mids also put in good showings, he may need to hope for an injury or two to a mid to get his opening.
Be very interested to see where and how he trains. Someone (sorry whoever) suggested he could play as the defensive mid in the setup. The problem I see is that it seems the club sees him as an outside and he sees himself as an inside. If true, that's not good.
 

caesar88

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 26, 2016
24,668
36,677
AFL Club
Sydney
Be very interested to see where and how he trains. Someone (sorry whoever) suggested he could play as the defensive mid in the setup. The problem I see is that it seems the club sees him as an outside and he sees himself as an inside. If true, that's not good.
Yeah he's in a tricky spot. As strange as it sounds, I'd almost say he needs to train in the outside role, as undesirable as it is and perhaps not suited to it he is. Because I don't see him getting any inside minutes next year, and whenever he is on the outside, he's looked lost and struggled to get involved. But the outside is where he's gonna have to make it or break it for the foreseeable future, and I really want him to make it. So as tough as it sounds, he just needs to get better at developing his outside game. I worry that yet another year of training and developing as an inside mid, then being used in an outside role at senior level will do his confidence in once and for all.
 

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Bloods86

Club Legend
Mar 7, 2011
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Adelaide
AFL Club
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Obviously I hope he comes good and you’re right he does have some time.
it’s more the distance he has to go to become even just a regular.
I think his game against the Cats could have been the start of a run, but he got dropped. I'm not sure there's that much distance. He looked very promising in 2020, whereas Warner looked shockingly out of his depth in his couple of games. Amazing what an off season can do.
 

SeanM

All Australian
Oct 17, 2016
703
1,764
AFL Club
Sydney
I think Stephens will end up being a solid first team player eventually.

I feel it took Hayward and Florent 3 years before they looked physically comfortable at AFL level. Where they were not easily pushed around at the contest. Stephens was probably always going to be a longer term prospect.

I think he will benefit from a run of games and a settled role in the team. In 2019 I thought he struggled initially but looked quite good by the end of the season.
 

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