Can play anywhere according to his WAFL club
Claremont football manager Darcy Coffey believes “Mr. Fix It” Matt Guelfi ticks every box as a draft prospect.
He’s skillful, tough, wins his own ball, kicks goals, is a strong contested mark for his size and can play almost anywhere – which he proved against men at WAFL senior level this year.
The talented junior track and field athlete is also blessed with that rare blend of pace and endurance.
Guelfi clocked a sub-three second 20m sprint at the WA Combine, before buttering up to record a gut-busting 21.7 in the Yo-Yo test – which would’ve placed him seventh overall at the national Combine.
But Coffey worries that AFL recruiters will overlook the 184cm youngster because he’s not part of the next group of teenagers coming through the ranks.
“I think he’s ahead of plenty of the 18-year-olds, but AFL clubs seem to go to the next batch and put more energy into them, which is a real shame,” Coffey told AFL.com.au.
"I don’t know how many of them could put together a full season of League footy and impact the way he did.
“Everyone knows about him, but whether they will grab him, I’m not sure.”
Guelfi, 20, feels his anxiety rising ahead of next month’s NAB AFL Draft.
He believed he was a chance to make it onto a list after testing at last year’s national Combine, but now reckons he is better placed than ever.
“It’s my third shot at it, so I’m probably more nervous than I’ve ever been,” he said.
"I’ve worked really hard for this.
“I think senior footy helped me a lot this year, showing I can play at that level, and I really wanted to prove I could play multiple positions, which I think I did.”
Guelfi was a regular senior player at Claremont this season, booting 20 goals in 19 games while averaging 15 touches and three tackles.
After being pigeonholed as an inside midfielder, he relished plugging gaps wherever the coach needed him most – even if chopping and changing between roles wasn’t always the best thing for his consistency.
“He’s a victim of his own versatility,” Coffey said.
"At different times he’d be shutting down the other team’s best small forward, playing high half-forward, he played on a wing, he played inside at times.
"He was a bit of a ‘Mr Fix It’. When we needed a goal, or needed to stop someone we’d throw him around.
“It’s pretty high praise for a kid.”
Coping with working full-time and meeting the demands of senior football were also challenges Guelfi had to juggle.
While he enjoys working an apprentice electrician, the dream is to become a professional footballer and Coffey has no doubt the emerging Tiger has what it takes – if an AFL club gives him that chance.
“Guelfi has got big upside. I think he’s got weapons in terms of his kicking and contested marking for a guy his size,” Coffey said.
"He was obviously bitterly disappointed last year to miss out and I can see why, he does everything pretty well spot on.
"The way he plays his footy and goes about it – he’s as hard as a cat’s head - working full-time as a sparky this year I think he’s found that balance difficult at times.
“I think in a full-time environment he would absolutely thrive.”