Rookie Tom Sheridan ready for Freo future
Could Tom Sheridan be the next Paul Hasleby?
A natural athlete with clean hands, excellent vision and good disposal, Freo’s first round pick in this year’s draft has some similarities with the 208-game Dockers great.
Both players had a basketball background, which Sheridan said helped in the heat of the midfield battle.
“Basketball has been a sport I’ve played all my life and it definitely helps with your decision-making and team orientation,” he said.
This year Sheridan starred for Calder Cannons in the under-18 TAC Cup competition – playing predominantly on-ball and as a hard-running wingman.
Cannons regional manager Ian Kyte said unlike Hasleby, Sheridan lacked the mature body to play as an AFL inside midfielder straight away.
“He probably needs to put on five or six kilos to play on ball,” he said.
“I expect he’ll be given a taste of AFL footy next year, but probably on a wing or across half-back as a running player.”
Kyte said Sheridan had clearly been drafted by Fremantle with the wide expanses of Pattersons Stadium in mind.
“Tom has elite endurance – in VO2 Max testing of cardiovascular fitness he scored 76. To put that in context, (2011 Tour de France winner) Cadel Evans tests at 82,” he said.
“I remember in a TAC Cup game this year seeing him at half back and then 25 seconds later seeing him make a contest at half forward.
“That is typical of him as he’s extremely hard-working but I still thought ‘How did he do that?’”
Kyte said Sheridan had the skill set to develop into a fine inside midfielder, but predicted that his body shape would be moulded by Fremantle to suit the club’s needs.
“I see Tom as closer to Stephen Hill at the moment – in that he has a light frame but can run all day – but if the Dockers want to bulk him up he can go inside and win his own footy,” he said.
“His clean hands and vision in close, good decision-making and disposal will make him another option in the middle for Freo.”
Fremantle surprised many pundits by taking Sheridan with their first pick, number 16 overall, in Thursday’s draft.
Kyte said he knew Sheridan was in the thoughts of a number of clubs and thought that he would go somewhere between 15 and 30.
“I was a bit surprised he went as early as he did, but Freo were obviously keen on him and I think a bit of gamesmanship came into it,” he said.
“With Tom’s Essendon connections (Sheridan’s father and uncle were on the Bombers’ books), I think Fremantle thought they may take him at pick 19.”
Kyte thinks the Dockers have chosen wisely, and said Sheridan had excellent consistency, character and leadership qualities.
“He enjoys himself, likes a laugh and has a great sense of humour – but he knows where to draw the line,” he said.
“We made him captain at Calder for the last six games this season and he really grew into the role – showing good leadership at training and games.
“He leads from the front, sets a good example and is a very hard worker – and he has the confidence to speak his mind.”
Sheridan’s record in 2011 includes second place in the Cannons’ best-and-fairest, despite missing six games while representing Vic Metro at the under-18 national championships.
He averaged 24.4 touches (9.5 contested), 4.7 tackles, 3.8 clearances and 4 marks a game.
With a maturing midfield group at Fremantle, it is unlikely Sheridan will make the immediate impact Hasleby did in the struggling 2000 Dockers’ side.
But once he has added strength to his light frame the Fremantle hierarchy will hope he will have as long and fruitful career as Hasleby, who earned All-Australian selection in 2003.