Murray Bushrangers key-position player Jacob Koschitzke is lucky to have produced his best work early in his two TAC Cup seasons, because they’ve both ended early through injury.
The 18-year-old Albury Tigers (Albury Wodonga Junior FL) product debuted in Round 1 of his bottom-age year in 2017 and went on to play 11 games before a hip problem flared.
In 2018, 196cm Koschitzke appeared in 10 TAC Cup matches as co-captain of the Bushrangers – averaging 11 disposals and five marks per game – either side of a successful NAB AFL U18 Championships campaign for the Allies, where he won AFL U18 All Australian honours.
But once again, the season was cut short by the same hip issue suffered the year before. He missed Murray’s final four games and hopes to have shown enough to clubs ahead of the AFL Draft next Thursday and Friday.
“I finished early last year because I had the hip problem, but they didn’t know what it was because it didn’t come up in scans,” Koschitzke said at the recent AFL Draft Combine. “I missed out on playing finals like I did this year and that really burned inside me.
“I just wanted to last the season and go really deep into the finals this year but unfortunately it wasn’t to happen.
“I felt it (hip) come on late in the U18 Championships. I played three more games after that and then I had to finish up. We thought it was the best option to prevent any further damage occurring to the socket and the medical staff at the Bushrangers definitely made the right call.”
Koschitzke played at either end of the ground at times in 2018, capable of kicking five goals across his TAC Cup season as well as keeping opposition key forwards the likes of Ben King (Sandringham Dragons) relatively quiet – as he did when the Allies narrowly lost to King’s Vic Metro in June.
The second-cousin of former St Kilda 200-gamer Justin Koschitzke pointed to his marking ability and reading of the play as his biggest strengths but has understood the need to improve his fitness in the wake of his injury issues.
“I didn’t come into my bottom-age year in the best nick, so I did a lot of hard work in the 2018 pre-season to get my body right,” Koschitzke said. “I wanted to get to the weight and the strength that I thought would give me the best shot of playing AFL football (in 2019).
“Being in such an isolated area with a vast geographic spread of players, we only train once a week at Murray. You can’t just rely on having that one training session; you need to go and do your extra weights sessions and extra running sessions away from the club where no one else sees.
“That’s a big component of the Bushrangers – driving your own destiny.”
THE AFL DRAFT WATCH ‘FAST FIVE’ with Jacob Koschitzke
Why should an AFL club draft you?
“I am pretty competitive, love to win and I just love to play with my mates. I just think I have plenty to offer.”
What is the funniest or weirdest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?
“Essendon asked me if Michael Hurley belted me up in a drill, what would I do – would I go back at him or just go into my shell. I told them I would go back at him, but I don’t know what I would do in the situation.”
Who is your football idol?
“Steven May (Gold Coast/Melbourne). He is aggressive at the contest, is a good defender and he is team first, so I like the way he plays.”
Who will be selected with pick no.1 in the 2018 AFL Draft?
“Probably Jack Lukosius (South Australia). He is a once-in-a-generation type of player. He resembles a lot of (ex-St Kilda champion) Nick Riewoldt.”
Which of your 2018 teammates should also be in draft consideration?
“Ely Smith – he is a tough inside midfielder. Zane Barzen – he is a classy half forward. Laitham Vandermeer – he is a winger/back flanker. Mat Walker – he is an inside midfielder and a half forward.”