At the upcoming AFL U18 Championships, recruiters will be in full swing identifying which draftees would best fit their club. Hailing from Western Australia, Kyron Hayden is a gun prospect for any AFL club looking to add a big-bodied midfielder to their squad.
At Subiaco he is ranked second for disposals (seventh in the competition as well, with 188 at an average of 24 per game), sixth for marks (35 at an average of 4 per game) and ninth for tackles (18 at an average of 2 per game).
So it is no surprise that he was included in this year’s State 18s Academy for WA.
“It’s a big thing for me. I’ve been in pretty much every state squad but with injury last year I had to miss out, so I was a bit devastated about that. I was really set on coming back this year so it’s really proven me and I’m proud of that,” he says.
By being part of the Academy, Hayden has come under the guidance of past greats Peter Sumich, Glen Jakovich, Ash McGrath, Mark Seaby and Darren Rumble. But it is Rumble who has had the greatest influence on him so far.
“He’s a power athlete, he’s a big boy something that I can sort of relate to, so I try to use a bit of his knowledge in how to develop my game in that sense,” he says.
However Rumble has also helped Hayden out off field. The former six-time Subiaco premiership player helped Hayden find work experience at Aliment, a café in West Leederville.
Hayden is also currently studying health and sports science at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup and believes his work and study commitments help him focus not just on football.
“Definitely, because there’s a lot of pressure and stress to perform at a high level at the carnival, so [it] kind of takes your mind off it and keeps you busy I guess,” he says.
What would excite most recruiters is how he uses his strength and athleticism to dominate on field.
“I find that my size, being a bigger bodied midfielder with a bit of strength, I can hold tackles and be a bit more physical with my opponents,” says Hayden.
He has already drawn comparisons to Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines and Gold Coast’s 2014 best & fairest winner David Swallow, but says he bases his game on one of the game’s rising stars Sam Powell-Pepper.
“I like Ollie Wines’ toughness and strength at the footy. I watch Port, they’re probably my favourite team. My main influence in my football is probably Sammy Powell-Pepper, I like the way he attacks it and I’ve got a similar build and size to him so I try to develop my game along his kind of lines.”
He is currently leading the WAFL Colts Coaches Award with 24 votes, two ahead of Claremont star Callan England.
He has produced best on ground performances against South Fremantle in round one (22 possessions, seven inside 50s, five marks, two tackles and a goal) and against Peel Thunder in round four (23 possessions, five inside 50s and three marks).
However he believes that his performance against West Perth in round three (27 possessions, five tackles, three marks and two inside 50s) was his best.
“I’d probably say my West Perth game, just because I had the hunger to get the football and wanted the win I guess,” he says.
However it is not just this year that Hayden has caught the recruiters’ attention. In 2014 he won the WA State 15s MVP and was named All-Australian.
“They were pretty big actually. They gave me the ability to see how I stood up against other players in the country and it gave me a bit of confidence. Pretty important I guess. I’ve still got the jersey, it’s framed in my room,” he says.
He also finished runner-up to potential top 10 pick Luke Davies-Uniacke for the J.L. Williams Medal (the award given to the fairest and best player at the National 15s Schoolboys Championships).
“It was incredible, it took me by surprise. I didn’t expect it and I’ve met him again at the 16s Carnival. It builds kind of rivalry and competition, a bit of a strive to beat him I guess. It was an incredible moment for me,” he says.
There is no doubt that Hayden is one of WA’s most promising talents and with a strong National Championships, his stocks could be set to soar.