Greater Western Sydney’s Tim Taranto, the No.2 draft pick in last year’s National Draft, has enjoyed a fantastic start to his AFL career, playing all but one game in the opening eight rounds of season 2017.
He has averaged 15.9 disposals and 4.4 tackles in his seven games and has earned a rising star nomination.
There is little doubt Taranto will become an important player for the Giants in years to come, but his junior coach, Neil Jenkins, believes the 19-year-old can be as good as Brownlow Medalist, Nat Fyfe.
“He’s definitely got it in him to be as good as Fyfe,” Jenkins said in an interview with Aflplayers.com.au.
“Tim might not reach the same heights as Fyfe, but I think he has the strength, skills, game sense and ability to move forward like Fyfe.
“If Tim stays injury free I think that by the time he’s matured as a 23-year-old he’ll be in the top three or four players in the league.”
Jenkins, who coached Taranto at Mordialloc-Braeside Junior Football Club in Victoria, said his talent was clear to see at a very young age.
“When we had a practice match at the end of Auskick, Tim would dominate to a point where we had to implement special rules to give the other kids a fair run at the ball,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said there was one game in particular that Taranto played growing up that made the coach realise he was made of the right stuff to make it at AFL level.
“We were playing a local team and being flogged by a better side. I figured out the game had gotten away from us, so I asked Tim to tag one of their best players,” he said.
“He ran back out there and wasn’t playing anywhere near his opponent and he refused to speak to me after the game, which was odd for him.
“His mum called me later that night saying that he had been crying since he got home about how upset he was because he didn’t do his job and let the team down.
“He was never a ball hog but he could do it all himself so easily. He learnt what footy was all about that day and from then I knew he could be something really special.”
Taranto was nominated for the 2017 rising star award for his 21-disposal, five tackle game against the Pies over the weekend.