Draft Watch: Bendigo’s Joseph Atley

Bendigo Pioneers captain Joseph Atley is hoping to emulate his brother – North Melbourne speedster Shaun Atley – in joining the elite ranks at the 2016 NAB AFL Draft.

But the 186cm Rochester product is hardly a chip off his elder sibling’s block. While 24-year-old Shaun has made a name for himself at the Kangaroos running the ball out of defence, Joe does his best work at the coalface, regularly dishing out handballs to teammates from congestion.

Atley shone at the contests at several levels this year. He was named in the TAC Cup Team of the Year midfield having averaged 22 disposals and six tackles per game in 11 matches for the Pioneers, he represented Vic Country at the NAB AFL U18 Championships averaging 20 disposals, five tackles and four clearances per game across three matches and also made two appearances for Geelong in the VFL.

taccup.com.au talked to Atley at the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine, where he recorded the equal-second-best score in the goalkicking test and finished in the top 10 of the clean hands test.

How have you been selling yourself as a footballer to AFL clubs in interviews at the Combine?

“I love the contest. I pride myself on contested ball. And at the end of the day, I want to win a premiership.”

What is the strangest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?

“I don’t know... But they tell me that I handball too much. I like to think that I’m sharing it more than most people.”

What parts of your game do you know you’d need to work on if you were drafted?

“Probably a little bit of fitness which will come with a good pre-season, and probably a little bit of kicking.”

Which AFL players do you particularly like to watch and model your game on?

“I like (Sydney’s) Luke Parker and (North Melbourne’s) Ben Cunnington.”

How did you handle being captain of Bendigo this year?

“They didn’t put too much responsibility on me. I guess it was just ‘let the footy do the talking’, but every now and then we’d have our meetings. I like to think I’d get along with most people at a club and have good relationships with people.”

How do you think your year turned out relative to your pre-season expectations?

“I probably would have liked to win a few more games (the Pioneers finished with a record of 4-14). I think I was consistent enough but nothing outstanding. I loved playing for Vic Country – I love playing with the better kids around.”

What do you think was your best performance of the year individually?

“Probably the Allies game (for Vic Country at the U18 Championships – 21 disposals, six clearances, four tackles in a loss). My efficiency and use of the ball, clearances and tackling (were highlights).”

Which opponents caught your eye or were particularly difficult to play on this year?

“Probably Andrew McGrath from Sandringham. He’s a pretty smart footballer – he uses blokes as chop-outs around the stoppages. I was playing on him for a few of the stoppages (in Bendigo’s Round 17 loss to the Dragons).”

Talk about why you think your teammates at the Combine are so highly rated.

- Kobe Mutch: “First of all, he’s a good bloke. He gets so much of the footy, gets in the right spots and works hard.”

If you weren’t possibly going to become a full-time footballer, what would you be doing in life in the next few years?

“I’d like to think I’d be a builder or landscaper – something outdoors.”

Who’s your tip for the no.1 NAB AFL Draft pick?

“My tip is (North Ballarat’s) Hugh McCluggage.”


Other Draft Watch profiles:

Josh Begley - Eastern Ranges

Josh Battle - Dandenong Stingrays

Daniel Venables - Western Jets

Alex Witherden - Geelong Falcons

Patrick Kerr - Oakleigh Chargers

Ben Ainsworth - Gippsland Power

Andrew McGrath - Sandringham Dragons

Todd Marshall - Murray Bushrangers 

Patrick Lipinski - Northern Knights 

Hugh McCluggage - North Ballarat Rebels 

Jack Maibaum - Eastern Ranges 

Kobe Mutch - Bendigo Pioneers 

Judah Dundon - Western Jets

Mitch McCarthy - Dandenong Stingrays 

Jordan Ridley - Oakleigh Chargers

Sean Darcy - Geelong Falcons


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