SYDNEY Swans Academy has dominated our 2019 Draft Central Academy Team of the Series, with eight players inside the 24-man squad – one third of the side. While the Swans did not win the overall Division 2 Under 18 Championships, they did show off their depth, and had eight players who made our Team of the Week three or more times. The squad is comprised of 22 players who made our Team of the Week’s at least three times, with two players – Samson Ryan and Corey Joyce – making it twice, but were the top performers of those players with two nominations. Those who also had two nominations and narrowly missed out were Northern Territory’s Beau O’Connell, GWS GIANTS’ Hamish Grant, Brisbane Lions Academy’s Tom Wischnat and Gold Coast SUNS’ Jack Johnston and Hewago Paul Oea, while overage twins Matthew and Stephen Cumming also received two nominations.
Sydney’s representation sees the Swans have three players in defence, with Max Geddes, Jacob Dol and Luke Parks making up the back six, while Sam Thorne slots into midfield, forwards Hamish Ellem and Braeden Campbell sit inside 50, and Errol Gulden – who missed a couple of games – and Aidan Watling – are also in the team. Thorne and Dol were the top representatives for the Swans with four of a possible five nominations.
Gold Coast SUNS Academy won the title, and had four players make the side, with the even spread of players making it difficult to select just a few. Connor Budarick, Ashton Crossley and Josh Gore all easily qualify for the side with four nominations, while Joyce was one of three Suns to receive two, and was named on the bench.
Brisbane Lions Academy had the equal second most nominations of all sides with five, as Tom Griffiths and Will Martyn receiving four nominations, and Noah Cumberland and Bruce Reville having the three. Ryan’s work in the ruck throughout the series, along with his two nominations, was enough to see him fill the starting ruck position. He got the nod ahead of the two Cumming’s whose teammates, Ben Jungfer and Joel Jeffrey both made the side, while O’Connell was the unluckiest not to squeeze into the team.
Jungfer was one of just two players to be nominated every single week, joining GWS GIANTS’ Jeromy Lucas as five-time nominees and thus the pair are co-captains in the hypothetical team. Also in the team are GIANTS’ Thomas Green and Nick Murray who received four nominations apiece, while Liam Delahunty and James Peatling made it in for their three nominations each.