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West Coast Eagles

2017 Draft Guns: Luke Davies-Uniacke

2017 Draft Guns: Luke Davies-Uniacke The Dandenong Stingrays' product is one of the best midfielders in the draft pool

A shoulder reconstruction late last year meant that Luke Davies-Uniacke started this season a little behind the eight-ball, but he quickly made inroads to show his wares. 

Davies-Uniacke announced himself as one of the leading players in the pool with an excellent showing for the NAB AFL Academy against the Northern Blues VFL side, when he picked up a team-high 22 disposals and six clearances. 

His season had its up and down moments, but the highs regularly showed his potential, including a blistering start to the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, when he picked up 34 disposals in a best-on-ground game for Vic Country. 

Davies-Uniacke is at his best when he's ripping the ball out of a scrimmage, bolting away and then hitting a teammate with a neat pass. There's not many in this year's pool who were able to stop him when he was in that sort of form.

Here's a tip: get a tape of Dandenong's elimination final win against the Eastern Ranges. That will show you everything you need to know about why Davies-Uniacke is a top prospect. With his side trailing by 50 points at half-time, Davies-Uniacke dragged them over the line in a dominant display that showed all of his qualities.

He gathered 33 disposals (21 contested), six clearances, five inside-50s and kicked an important goal, but also showed his burst of speed and powerful run from congestion to find space. When up and going, Davies-Uniacke has that rare blend of being a stoppage bull but being able to tuck the ball under his arm and go for a run. 

Davies-Uniacke's size (187cm, 86kg) also works in his favour as an appealing prospect. He has the frame to push others out of the way, or lift the ball above his head to get a handball away while being tackled. He has also spent periods deep in attack while out of the midfield, where he has shown he can mark well above his head and be a forward threat.

Davies-Uniacke has a strong all-round game so there are not many glaring chinks in his armour. His kicking is solid without being piercing, but he does need to work on making the most of his chances in attack, because in front of goal he can miss some shots he would be expected to convert.

He has found his run of injuries but remained healthy this year until his 'turf toe' problem flared up, and a knock in the NAB AFL All Stars game on Grand Final morning ruled him out of testing at the following week's NAB AFL Draft Combine.

The players Davies-Uniacke is most likely to be compared to are Sydney midfield duo Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker. There are certainly similarities in their ball-winning abilities, perhaps more so with Kennedy, but Davies-Uniacke has been learning to use his size and marking a little like Parker has become known for. 

Davies-Uniacke has been one of the leading contenders to be the No.1 choice this season. It's very hard to see him getting outside the top-five at the latest.

It's so easy to picture Davies-Uniacke playing good senior football as early as next year. He might be the most ready-made of the bunch to step into the AFL, but will appeal because he has the traits to be the main man of a side's midfield for some time.