Dragon doing things differently
Sandringham Dragons half back Andrew Tashevski-Beckwith has had to learn how to do things differently during his time in the TAC Cup.
The 18-year-old missed all but one game of Sandringham’s 2014 season due in part to snapping a finger tendon while playing school football for Melbourne Grammar.
But this year, Tashevski-Beckwith has played almost every match he can – either in the TAC Cup, APS competition or NAB AFL U18 Championships – missing just one match for his school through soreness.
There was a lesson to be learnt when an injury to one finger could impact a season of football so profoundly.
“I was tackling and I had my fist clenched with the opponent’s jumper in my hand, but then he pulled away and I was still holding on – it forced the tendon back in my finger and snapped it,” Tashevski-Beckwith said.
“That tackle was with my fingers, so now I’m a lot more conscious of what can happen and I always tackle with my body or more than just my fingers.”
The extra time on the field this year has allowed 183cm Tashevski-Beckwith to demonstrate his ability as an attacking half back flanker.
He’s averaging over 18 disposals and four tackles per game in seven matches for the Dragons, and averaged 12 disposals at 80 per cent efficiency in two games for Vic Metro at the U18 Championships.
But to play as a damaging defender at the highest underage levels, Tashevski-Beckwith has had to change his game up since trialling for a junior local league representative team several years ago.
“I remember I kicked eight goals in each of the two trial matches as a forward but I didn’t get picked because I couldn’t kick properly – I had a two-handed ball drop,” he said.
“I spent about three or four years on my kicking and now I’m a lot stronger with it, and I just play as a half-back flanker setting up play.”
As an Essendon supporter, Tashevski-Beckwith has enjoyed watching Michael Hibberd drive the Bombers forward from defence in recent years.
However, the main goal is to emulate Hawthorn champion Sam Mitchell – who has spent time across half back in recent seasons – and his rare ability to kick equally well with both feet.
“My main strength for my game is being able to kick on both feet,” Tashevski-Beckwith said.
“I want to be like Sam Mitchell; I’ve got a long way to go, but I watch a lot of Hawthorn games and I just try to watch what he does.”
Tashevski-Beckwith will have a chance to test his kicking boot – or boots – at October’s Victorian AFL State Combine.
But, also like Mitchell, he hopes to develop his running ability and move into the midfield at times, something coach Jeremy Barnard has allowed him to do occasionally at Sandringham in 2015.
While his midfield craft may still be a work in progress, Andrew Tashevski-Beckwith has already shown the ability to successfully learn how to do things differently on the football field.