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Charman sizes up rucks

Sam Lord  December 28, 2012 11:46 AM

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Ruckman Billy Longer is an exciting prospect for the Lions

Realistically, it takes almost five years for a ruckman to learn his trade.

In his heyday, former Premiership ruckman Jamie Charman was one of the most imposing big men in the AFL competition.

Now as the Club’s part-time ruck coach – a role he balances with additional responsibilities as Business Development Executive – Charman is helping develop the next generation of Lions ruckmen.

The off-season departure of Ben Hudson has made Charman’s knowledge even more valuable, considering none of the Club’s current ruck stocks have played 100 or more AFL games.

Matthew Leuenberger has played more games (69) than any other current Lions ruckman, but a severe Achilles strain kept him sidelined for the majority of 2012.

Charman says that while Leuenberger seems the obvious choice as the first ruck option, it will depend on how he recovers from a lengthy period out of the game.

“He’s starting to make some good progress now – he’s back running – and we expect him to ramp that up after Christmas,” Charman told lions.com.au.

“But we have to be patient with Leuey because it was a reasonably severe injury he suffered last season.”

The recruitment of Stefan Martin from Melbourne during the recent trade period has given the Club another versatile and seasoned ruck option for 2013.

Part of Martin’s appeal is that he can also be used effectively as a key position forward or defender.

“I think Stefan has been a really good addition,” Charman said.

“He’s certainly one that we want to bulk up a little bit, and he’s already put on a couple of kilos since coming to the Club.”

“He runs really well, and is up there with Leuey in terms of his running capacity.”

Also waiting in the wings is 19 year-old Billy Longer, who was drafted to the Lions with their first round selection (Pick No.8 overall) at the 2011 AFL National Draft.

As is the case with most teenage ruckmen, Longer is expected to take time to develop, before being thrust regularly into arguably the most physically demanding position on the field. 

“Billy is a work in progress,” Charman said.

“He’s still learning the game and 2013 will only be his second year. Realistically, it takes almost five years for a ruckman to learn his trade.”

“Obviously we expect big things from Billy, but we have to be patient with him and keep developing him as a ruckman, and also as a key forward.”