Watch this space: Names to keep an eye on

AFTER the release of the first edition of our Power Rankings for the year on Monday, we have had a look at a handful of names of players that could make their way up the order by season’s end. For some, injury has halted their progression so far this season, while for others, they have come into the season as roughies and are having strong early form that suggests there could be more to see from that particular prospect. Here are just some more players to watch from all of the Under 18 National Championships states.

Zane Barzen
Tall Forward/Inside Midfielder | Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
29/10/2000 | 193cm | 77kg

One of the classier players out there and a good size at 193cm, the half-forward has plenty of scope and plays predominantly half-forward but pushing into the midfield. Unfortunately an early season injury in the first quarter of the season had him miss a few games, but the talented forward is back and one of those players you enjoy watching play with pinpoint passes and smooth moving through congestion.

Tom Berry
Inside Midfielder | GWV Rebels/Vic Country
01/05/2000 | 185cm | 76kg

The rugged inside midfielder spent the back-end of last year on ice after injury curtailed his year. He started the 2018 season on fire in the first three quarters, before running into a post and missing the next couple of games. In his two games back, Berry has played between the midfield and forward, booting five goals for the season and working his way back into the midfield, winning 37.8 per cent of his possessions in a contest, which is expected to be closer to 50 per cent when fully fit.

Jack Bytel
Inside Midfielder | Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
14/03/2000 | 188cm | 82kg

The big ball winner for Calder has been in hot form early in the season, having the ball on a string throughout his early games. The co-captain has a knack for winning the contested ball and firing out handballs, and is ranked in the top five of the TAC Cup competition for average clearances, notching up 22 for the season thus far.

Matthew Cumming
Key Position Utility | Dandenong Stingrays/Northern Territory
22/07/2000 | 198cm | 99kg

Matthew Cumming has been one of the better performers for Northern Territory in what would be considered a disappointing Under 18 Academy Series for the Thunder. Cumming predominantly plays full-back, but both he and his brother Stephen have the versatility to play in multiple roles. Due to the Academy Series, Cumming has not played many games at TAC Cup level, but has assisted in the ruck as well as playing in defence.

Stephen Cumming
Ruck | Dandenong Stingrays/Northern Territory
22/07/2000 | 199cm | 104kg

Stephen has performed strongly in the ruck, and with both he and Matthew coming from basketball backgrounds, they move well for taller players. He has averaged about 10 hitouts and 10 disposals a game across his three TAC Cup games. Still developing, like his brother the pair are versatile athletic talls and therefore are always ones to watch, particularly at the upcoming National Under 18 Championships.

Xavier Duursma
Balanced Midfielder | Gippsland Power/Vic Country
07/07/2000 | 185cm | 71kg

The lightly framed midfielder is predominantly inside, but can impact on the outside and is a strong leader at Gippsland Power. He has played off a wing a fair chunk this season, but wins his own ball with 44 per cent of his possessions coming in a contest. His best work is done in transition, often winning the ball and side-stepping an opponent and kicking inside 50 to a leading target. Despite missing a game, Duursma is ranked equal fourth for total inside 50s in the TAC Cup competition.

Jarrad Fazioli
Small Forward | Peel Thunder/Western Australia
14/05/2000 | 174cm | 72kg

Impressed at last year’s National Under 18 Championships as a bottom-ager, booting four goals against Vic Country in Western Australia’s victory last year. With small forward’s back in fashion and his ability to also play higher up the ground – he has averaged 18 disposals in the past three weeks – it will be interesting to see how he goes in this year’s championships as a top-ager. Certainly one of the better small forwards in the 2018 draft crop.

Luke Foley
Balanced Midfielder | Subiaco/Western Australia
08/10/1999 | 189cm | 75kg

Western Australia has had its fair share of overagers drafted over the years, not to mention mature agers in last year’s draft. Foley is one player who has stood out in the WAFL Colts this season for Subiaco, racking up at least 28 disposals in three of his four games. Against Claremont in round four, Foley had the ball on a string with 36 disposals, six marks, 13 tackles and two goals in a strong all-round performance. One noticeable fact is that his average disposals has risen from 16.9 in 19 games last season to 27.5 in four games this year.

Caleb Graham
Key Position Forward/Defender | Palm Beach Currumbin/Gold Coast Academy
12/09/2000 | 194cm | 84kg

A bit of a roughie coming into the Under 18 Academy Series, Graham has been one of the better performing Queenslanders throughout the series. He can play at either end, and booted six goals on the weekend to continue his wonderful form as a centre-half back who has become renowned for his intercept marking. At 194cm he is a genuine key position player, and not a beanpole like many at this level, therefore he could be a “one to watch” from the development perspective, particularly for Gold Coast fans.

Brayden Ham
Balanced Midfielder/Forward | Geelong Falcons/Vic Country
25/04/1999 | 181cm | 69kg

Probably the surprise packet of the season has been the overager from the Falcons, having a ripping start to the TAC Cup competition. He has booted nine goals in the past three weeks, and is equal second in score involvements for the year. Of the top 10 players for score involvements, Ham has laid seven more tackles than any of the others.

Chayce Jones
Balanced Midfielder | Launceston/Tasmania
14/01/2000 | 180cm | 74kg

Often overshadowed by Tarryn Thomas’ outstanding performances – and who wouldn’t be? – Jones has been a player to watch throughout the Under 18 Academy Series and is quietly winning plaudits for his consistency through the midfield. While Thomas has done the damage inside the forward 50 arc, Jones has been impressive at winning clearances and moving well through the centre. Expect him to continue to improve throughout the season and will be another to watch for the Allies at the upcoming National Under 18 Championships.

Rylie Morgan
Balanced Midfielder | Claremont/Western Australia
29/03/2000 | 182cm | 81kg

Morgan captained the Western Australian side at the Under 16 National Championships in 2016, and has strung together five consistent games in the WAFL Colts so far this season. Morgan has not registered less than 22 disposals in a match so far this season, and is averaging more than six tackles a game to go with his one goal per game. Given the medium midfielder can win the ball on the inside or out, he is one to track at the upcoming National Under 18 Championships.

Xavier O’Halloran
Inside Midfielder | Western Jets/Vic Metro
11/07/2000 | 186cm | 82kg

Another club captain who makes the list is Western Jets’ Xavier O’Halloran. Big win or heavy loss, O’Halloran has been a ray of consistency this season and has been a huge contributor on the inside. Ranked number one for total inside 50s and total clearances, O’Halloran has won more than have of his possessions in a contest. He is also ranked in the top 20 for score involvements, the highest of any pure midfielder.

Kai Pudney
Outside Midfielder | WWT/South Australia
09/01/2000 | 186cm | 78kg

Started the year on fire in the Under 18s, so progressed into the SANFL Reserves for the past few weeks. The outside midfielder had an elite disposal efficiency of 81 per cent in the opening two rounds of the season, but has not been afforded the same time and space since moving up in grades. However he has played a more contested role, notching up six clearances on debut in the Reserves, and has had disposal counts of 27, 18 and 17 in his matches for the Eagles thus far. Returning to the under 18s last weekend, Pudney had a day out with 34 disposals, eight marks and five rebounds.

James Rowbottom
Inside Midfielder | Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
19/09/2000 | 185cm | 78kg

The big-bodied inside midfielder has been a huge winner for the Oakleigh Chargers in the early part of the TAC Cup season, and has the highest kicking efficiency of the top five clearance winners – at 56.4 per cent. He wins 56 per cent of his possessions in a clearance and is one who will be a player to watch during the APS season and at the National Under 18 Championships.

Matthew Walker
Balanced Midfielder/Forward | Murray Bushrangers/GWS GIANTS Academy
14/02/2000 | 187cm | 76kg

An AFL Academy member who has a good combination of skill and power, Walker is a talented forward who spent time through the midfield in the Under 18 Academy Series for the GWS GIANTS Academy. In his two TAC Cup games earlier in the season, Walker averaged 14.5 disposals, 5.5 tackles and booted two goals in each match. He provides defensive pressure and good goal sense and is another from the Bushrangers to keep an eye on this season.

Luke Valente
Balanced Midfielder | Norwood/South Australia
08/05/2000 | 186cm | 80kg

Played his first game for Norwood Reserves this season a fortnight ago, looking at home with 22 disposals, seven marks and three clearances.  It was always clear he was destined to play against the bigger bodies after monstering his opponents in the opening round of the Under 18s season with 39 disposals, 11 clearances, five inside 50s and a goal. After 20 clearances in two games in the Under 18s, Valente showed off his versatility by drifting back to defence and picking up 17 disposals and four rebounds. One to watch for the National Under 18 Championships.

Rhylee West
Inside Midfielder | Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
12/07/2000 | 180cm | 81kg

You will not see much of the Western Bulldogs father-son prospect at TAC Cup level this season given the St Kevin’s footballer will have APS commitments. His school had the bye in the opening round of the APS season, so with school and Vic Metro commitments, the AFL Academy member will have a busy year ahead of him. He is an inside midfielder who has a few tricks such as strong contested marking ability and loves to lay fierce tackles.

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *