If Aaron Hall plays less than five games for North Melbourne in 2019 and spends most of the year in the VFL, I won’t be surprised.
However, I’d have an equally similar reaction if Hall proves himself as a key member of the best 22, rotating through the midfield and half forward.
It’s why, out of all the moves North has made during the Trade Period, Hall intrigues me the most.
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Recently Steve Nash was a guest on The Bill Simmons Podcast and in between the mandatory Celtics discussion which is contractually obliged on every episode, there was a fascinating conversation about player development.
Nash’s main focus point was centred around building resilience in young players, and that if they didn’t have it in their makeup by around the age of 21, it’s hard to develop it later in their career.
Let’s take the theory and expand it a step further. Resilience is an intangible, along with things like consistency, mental strength, work ethic, making other players better, and so on. Some players have them, and some don’t.
Those intangibles can be what separates an average player from a good player, a good player from a great player, and a great player from an all-time player.
Aaron Hall is currently a good player, who could be a great player, while having flashes where he looks no more than an average player. Consider the following:
- Four 35+ disposal games in his career – that’s good
- Unwanted at the Gold Coast – that’s bad
- Polled three consecutive three-vote games to start 2016 – that’s good
- Was dropped only six weeks later – that’s bad
- Can play in the midfield, and hit the scoreboard regularly – that’s good
- Defensive side of his game has been non-existent at times – that’s bad
And overall Hall came to North cheap enough that Gold Coast probably threw in a free frogurt.
Nevertheless, you can see the ingredients which could instantly make Hall an important part of a midfield which is crying out for his skill set.
Imagine an in-form Hall working alongside Cunnington and Higgins, Polec on the outside all while being fed the ball repeatedly by Goldstein? That’s the makings of a formidable first string of rotations, before you add the likes of Jacobs, Dumont, Anderson, Ahern and Simpkin. Suddenly that midfield depth is forming.
But – and you knew there was a but coming – can you bank on that when Hall hasn’t been able to consistently produce top-level form for more than a few weeks at a time? At which point, for a player who turns 28 in November, do you have to accept that this is the type of player Hall is?
What I am confident with is that North will use Hall in a much better fashion than the Suns, and accentuate his strengths ala previous recruits; Waite, Higgins, Williams and even Hartung in his brief time at the club.
Hall is quite clearly a targeted recruit from a fair way out, which should mean there’ll be a real clarity in his role and what he’s expected to do. In turn that tends to lead to better performance from players, and it all potentially results in a win-win situation.
He could play a big role in returning North to September, and I’m fascinated to watch how it all unfolds.