YOUNG talent continues to turn heads at state league level around the nation, and it has been no different across all three WAFL grades upon the competition’s resumption in 2020. As we roll into Round 5, Draft Central brings to you a new weekly preview format, highlighting some of the best up-and-comers who will be out to impress with each passing game. In our first edition, a couple of key inclusions boost stocks in the Colts grade, while a notable AFL Academy member readies for a Reserves berth.
>> SCROLL for fixtures and League teams
Perth is set to blood another gun youngster at senior level, this time as Nathan O’Driscoll lines up for the Reserves. The Demons take on West Perth on Saturday, with the 187cm prospect named in the back pocket. O’Driscoll is real goer who loves to carry the ball and boasts a penetrating kick, so don’t be surprised to see him feature off half-back, or even through midfield as he usually does at Colts level.
Logan McDonald is also poised to continue his hot start to the season at League level, with the opportunity to again break clear atop the goalkicking charts. The 196cm key forward has cemented his spot in Perth’s first team, and looms as a riser in terms of top 10 AFL Draft calculations. 19-year-old Regan Clarke is in line to return to League action for Perth, while Victorian Matty Lloyd – the younger brother of Sydney’s Jake – will make his fifth appearance for the Falcons.
At couple more top-age spearheads look likely to go head-to-head in a shootout at Colts level, as leading goalkickers Corey Rundle (West Perth, 15 goals) and Harry Quartermaine (Perth, 12 goals) prepare for battle. There will be plenty of talent running around in the competition’s featured game for the week, with versatile defender Heath Chapman among them, while fellow Falcons Michael Mallard and Brady Alvaro have made promising starts to the season. Conor McPartland, who is currently averaging 34 disposals per game, is also one to watch for Perth.
Peel Thunder is a team familiar with trialling youth this year, and this week is again set to be no different as Tyler Nesbitt awaits his potential League debut. After four promising Colts outings, he has been named on the Thunder’s extended bench alongside fellow top-age draft hopeful Isiah Winder. Winder could be back after his one-and-done Round 3 debut, with Ryan Bennell another out to make his second appearance at the top level in 2020. Among those established in the side are over-agers Zach Rankin, Ben Middleton, and Tyrone Thorne.
The Thunder take on Subiaco this weekend, who could field a couple of familiar names in hopes of bouncing back from last week’s loss. Brothers Liam and Wil Hickmott – the sons of former Carlton and Geelong player, Adrian – have both been named on an extended bench for the Lions, with Lachlan Henderson a Colts product who could also make his debut. The younger of the pair, Wil has already played three League games, while Liam will hope to earn his maiden senior cap.
Sandringham Dragons graduate Corey Watts is set to be thrust straight back into the League fold after one week out due to a finger dislocation. He lines up at full back for the Royals, while exciting small Rhai-Arn Cox is a well-known talent who continues to hunt for a senior berth. The Under 16s State vice-captain had been thrown to the wilderness until late last year, and will make his third-consecutive appearance at Reserves level this week. Last year’s Mel Whinnen medalist, Jack Cooley will feature in the two’s for East Perth against his old side.
Mature-age Claremont prospects Jeremy Goddard and Callan England will be out to boost their stocks once again for the Tigers’ League outfit, with Jye Clark among the potential debutants. Talented over-ager Cameron Anderson looks like moving up to the Reserves level having proven himself in the Colts, while Fremantle Next Generation Academy member, Joel Western will make his return from injury in the junior grade. State Academy Hub members Kalin Lane and Jacob van Rooyen have been in ripping form for the reigning Colts premiers, and should prove a handful once again.
The undefeated South Fremantle League side has been impressive over four rounds, but in terms of youth, Swan Districts will be the side to look towards this week when the two sides go head-to-head. Leading prospect Denver Grainger-Barras will look to back up a terrific performance last time out, with his intercept marking and composure working a treat in defence. Nathan Ireland is set to return for his first top level outing in 2020, while Victorian forward Deven Costigan has been named to make his League debut having moved across with mature-age guns Sam Fisher and Frank Anderson.
At Colts level, inside midfielder Zane Trew is likely to make his return from a concussion for the Black Ducks as they continue their search for a maiden win. They’ll have to do so without the smooth moving Jamison Ugle though, as he makes the move up to the Reserves grade.
This week, Draft Central will have eyes on the Perth vs. West Perth, and East Perth vs. Claremont Colts fixtures. Keep an eye out for our scouting notes and weekly wraps early next week.
South Fremantle vs. Swan Districts | Saturday August 15, 2:30pm @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Peel Thunder vs. Subiaco | Saturday August 15, 2:30pm @ David Grays Arena
Perth vs. West Perth | Saturday August 15, 2:30pm @ Mineral Resources Park
East Perth vs. Claremont | Saturday August 15, 3:05pm @ Leederville Oval
South Fremantle vs. Swan Districts | Saturday August 15, 12:00pm @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Perth vs. West Perth | Saturday August 15, 12:00pm @ Mineral Resources Park
East Perth vs. Claremont | Saturday August 15, 12:30pm @ Leederville Oval
South Fremantle vs. Swan Districts | Saturday August 15, 9:30am @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Perth vs. West Perth | Saturday August 15, 9:30am @ Mineral Resources Park
East Perth vs. Claremont | Saturday August 15, 10:00am @ Leederville Oval
Peel Thunder vs. Subiaco | Saturday August 15, 12:00pm @ David Grays Arena
— WAFL (@WAFLOfficial) August 14, 2020
Picture: Michael Willson