2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 16: Day knocking on the door of Rising Star nom

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend spilled back into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 16 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition, and Flynn Perez making his debut for North Melbourne. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Will Day (Hawthorn)
STATS: 21 disposals (15 kicks, 76% efficiency), 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 6 rebound 50s, 452 metres gained

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson may be struggling to find positives out of his side’s 2020 season, but had no trouble in highlighting Day as a beacon of hope after another impressive performance from the youngster. After nine consistent outings in the brown and gold, Day is arguably the most unlucky of the eligible players to not yet receive a Rising Star nomination. He ticked over the 20-disposal mark once again in the Hawks’ loss to St Kilda, providing assured use via foot across half-back and forming a terrific partnership with debutant, Damon Greaves. The pair could form a weaponous partnership for years to come.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
21 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 4 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 4 score involvements

Wednesday night’s Q-Clash marked Anderson’s first taste of Queensland’s AFL rivalry, and while his SUNS weren’t quite up to the task, the 19-year-old again proved his worth at the elite level. Rotating between the outside and inside of midfield, Anderson was able to gain good meterage away from the contest for Gold Coast, pumping the ball forward with his penetrating boot. His work at the coalface came to the fore in a game with plenty of heat, gathering 12 contested possessions across the night. The Oakleigh Chargers product is seriously damaging at his best, but couldn’t quite keep his side in the contest against a well-oiled Brisbane outfit.

Lachlan Ash (GWS)
18 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

Another youngster who kept ticking along despite his side’s loss, Ash has turned into a constant for GWS across half-back. While the speed and pressure of football at AFL level has made it difficult for Ash to run, carry, and penetrate as he did in the Under 18s, the Murray Bushrangers graduate is beginning to bring those strengths to the fore in small glimpses. He again found a good amount of ball down back and used it well when allowed enough time to deliver to an identified target. The experience of high-stakes footy to come will put him in great stead going forward, as GWS clings onto its finals hopes.

Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
11 disposals (72% efficiency), 2 marks, 4 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 rebound 50, 5 score involvements, 2 goal assists

After a promising debut last week, Coleman again showcased his class in patches as Brisbane romped to victory over the SUNS. While he would have already experienced it at NEAFL level, this was the 20-year-old’s first AFL Q-Clash. His ability to impact play going forward was a real asset for Brisbane, as Coleman showed great poise to pull off a couple of goal assists, but spurned the opportunity to boot his first senior goal as he looked to be a touch too unselfish inside 50. Having had to work for his place in the team, Coleman could play a part in Brisbane’s finals tilt this year.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
18 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 2 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 335 metres gained, 4 score involvements

Undeniably one of the top three first-year players in 2020, Serong again proved his consistency with another high-output performance for Fremantle. While he has racked up more of the ball in previous outings, the 19-year-old still made his mark with some terrific work at the contest to generate all-important forward momentum for the Dockers. The next step for Serong will come in refining his ball use under pressure and on the move, something which would go a long way to making him an even more damaging midfielder. He has the stock around him, and will be part of an exciting rebuild out West.

Others in action:

Flynn Perez (North Melbourne)
Josh Morris (Hawthorn)
Brad Close (Geelong)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)
Jake Riccardi (GWS)
Sam Flanders (Gold Coast)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

Featured image: Will Day in action for Hawthorn | Source: Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images

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