The St Kilda football Club have added another New Zealander to it’s player list after recruiting 21 year old Rowan Marshall in the National AFL Rookie Draft, following a stellar year at the North Ballarat Roosters.
Born in Taranaki, the versatile key position player established himself in the Victorian Football League in 2016, playing 18 senior games where he was named in North Ballarat’s best players on nine occasions, including four best on ground performances.
Despite winning North Ballarat’s best first-year player in 2015, Marshall was starved of opportunity in his first year at the club.
But in 2016, the 21-year-old benefited greatly from the end of North Melbourne’s alignment with the Roosters, playing 18 games and taking giant steps forward with his development, which eventually culminated in an opportunity at the highest level.
“We really like his character. To persist and make a name for himself through the VFL takes a lot of resilience and drive and he’s certainly shown that. We think he’s really got something to add to the group,” St Kilda recruiter Chris Toce told saints.com.au following the Rookie Draft.
“Rowan has been on the scene for a while now. He played a handful of games for the Roosters last year and then had a full season this year and we really like how he’s developed.”
Before the Saints added the final player to their list for 2017, Toce and the recruiting team at Linen House Centre watched the 200cm tall ruckman play almost every game this season, as well as conducting several interviews in the back end of the season.
“We would have watched Rowan play upwards of 18 times this year – so pretty much every week that he played,” Toce said.
“We interviewed him earlier this year down in Ballarat before training and then again at the state combine. A few weeks ago we went into the home and met mum and dad as well, so it’s been quite an extensive process.”
While he has spent plenty of time in the ruck during his football life to date, Marshall moves around the ground like a midfielder and uses the ball with poise and precision, traits that allow him to play a variety of roles.
With St Kilda well stocked in the ruck department, Toce expects Marshall to develop into a tall forward who has the capacity to play multiple roles where required.
“North Ballarat had big Orren Stephenson in the ruck this year, so he was able to develop some other aspects of his game. He played forward at times, back at times, but we really see an opportunity for Rowan to play forward and develop his craft,” he said.
Marshall now joins fellow Kiwi’s Shane Savage, Joe Baker Thomas and Barclay Miller at the club.