A week is a long time in football and two weeks can feel like eternity. Just ask Kieran Harper.
9:38am Aug 23, 2015
Forward Kieran Harper says he has the “mental strength” to overcome his latest knee injury setback.
6:30pm May 19, 2015
Junior club: Lilydale
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Draft: #27, 2010 National
Debut: Round 6, 2011 v Port Adelaide
- Explosive pace
- Tackling and pressure
- Fred & Fay Sands + The Rowe Family
- Laura, David & Jill Edmonds
- Chris Guz - Hardware Supply
Part of the Vic Metro side at the 2008 (Under 16’s) and 2010 (Under 18’s) National Championships, Kieran Harper’s draft stocks rose with quality performances on the big stage for junior footballers.
Playing in the forward line, Harper showcased what would become his trademark speed. A four goal haul against Western Australia cemented him as a draftee in 2010.
At the year’s draft camp, Harper led all invitees in the running vertical jump and was near the top in the repeat sprints and standing vertical jump. North Melbourne then selected him with its second pick in the 2010 National Draft.
It was a second successive tricky season for Kieran Harper in 2014.
An ankle injury meant the number 23 had a delayed start to the season, meaning he was unable to get too many miles in his legs.
On his return, Harper resumed in his high half-forward role for Werribee, also pushing slightly further up the ground in an attempt to find form and touch.
As Harper continued to build his match time in the VFL, he was shuffled around in a handful of different roles. He spent some time in the middle before playing a couple of games off half-back.
Unfortunately another ankle problem prematurely ended his 2014. He then had a further cleanout of his ankle following the season, and should resume full training shortly before Christmas.
Mid-season, from Brett Allison
“For Harps it’s about consistency and being able to impact the game for four quarters. We see the brilliant stuff he can do and we know he’s going to be an important player for us going forward.
“The small mid-forward role is not an easy role to play. The ball is directed to the taller forwards most of the time so you’re relying on spilt marks or crumbs on the ground. Then you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time to make it happen.”
End of season review
It was a disappointing second half of the year for Harper as he was unable to break back into the senior side.
A succession of niggling injuries prevented the youngster from putting together a string of consecutive games for Werribee. Contracted until the end of 2015, Harper will look to Utah as the beginning of a big pre-season.
Now with added size to his frame, Harper maintained his trademark explosiveness to feature in the majority of North's highlight packages.
Frequently used as the substitute, he provided an instant spark when he was on the ground. It was typified by his four goals after starting with the green vest in Round 23 against the GWS Giants.
His 25 goals ranked him fourth at the club, behind Brent Harvey, Lindsay Thomas and Drew Petrie.
Coming to the club as a slightly built teenager, the consensus was that Harper would take time to adjust to the physicality of AFL football.
However after making his debut in Round 6, he provided a touch of class, pace and that X-factor while also working hard defensively. He only missed four more games for the rest of the year.
His defensive side was perhaps the most impressive aspect of his first year. He frequently placed emphasis on tackling and running without the ball, a rare commodity with most young players.
- Disposals: 12
- Inside 50's: 5
- Goals: 1
- Time on Ground: 84%
Round 6, 2011 v Port Adelaide
Venue: Etihad Stadium
North Melbourne: 4.5.29, 7.12.54, 13.20.98, 18.25.133
Port Adelaide: 2.4.16, 4.6.30, 8.9.57, 10.13.73