1. He fills the Ben McKay-shaped hole on North Melbourne’s list
The departure of 71-gamer and 202cm key defender Ben McKay to Essendon left a sizeable gap in the Kangaroos' list, but the addition of Dawson is a promising step on the path to filling it. While still a raw prospect, Dawson stands two metres tall and has a captivating aerial presence when playing his role behind the ball. A high-flying grab for Vic Country during an under-18 National Championships game against the Allies highlighted just how well he can command the skies.
2. He’s an elite interceptor who can also lock down
Dawson's intercept marking is a clear standout of his game. A solid leap, paired with his play-reading ability and strong hands, makes him incredibly tough in one-on-one situations, which he demonstrated throughout his four games for Vic Country this year. And not only can he control the airways, but if the ball hits the deck his bodywork always keeps him in the play, making him an ideal lockdown back.
3. He's the club's second South Gippsland recruit in this draft
Dawson's hails from Leongatha in Victoria's east, 30 minutes down the South Gippsland Highway from No.4 pick Zane Duursma's hometown in Foster. A proud Leongatha Parrot, Dawson played a starring role in the South Gippsland club's premiership this season, holding Moe's most dangerous forward to just one goal in the preliminary final. He'll look forward to reuniting with Duursma at Arden St, having already played with his new teammate at junior level at Gippsland Power in the Coates Talent League.
4. He spent his junior years outmuscling older opponents
Dawson's late December birthday made him only just eligible for this year's draft - another thing he shares with ex-Roo Ben McKay, whose birthday is Christmas Eve. As one of the draft pool's youngest players, he's consistently had to prove his worth against older, more developed opponents at the junior level, so it's perhaps no surprise he's highly regarded for his ferocious attack on the ball. Dawson himself is still developing in a very literal sense. He grew 20cm in the past two years, maintaining his ability at ground level while piling on size and strength.
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5. He started life as a forward
Before he shifted into defence midway through this year's U18 champs, Dawson split the first half of his year playing either in the ruck or the forward arc. As a forward, he combines mobility with aerial strength to present a dangerous target. But while he impressed with three goals in trials for Vic Country, it was as a physical and miserly defender that he really lifted his game to a new level.