IN the midst of football’s long-awaited return, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020, or are bolting into draft contention. While plenty has changed between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.
Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Sturt prospect James Borlase, an Adelaide Crows NGA hopeful who is also the son of 246-game Port Adelaide champion, Darryl Borlase. The key position utility is arguably best suited to a defensive role, but is versatile enough to also impact up forward. After cutting his teeth in the Reserves, Borlase has also cracked League level in this year’s SANFL competition and recently earned the best afield award in Prince Alfred College’s All Schools Cup Grand Final victory over Henley High. While slightly below true key position height, the 191cm prospect uses his strong frame to compete aerially before delivering soundly via foot.
DOB: July 18, 2002
Position: Key Position Utility
Strengths: Aerial/contested marking, strength, competitiveness, versatility
2020 SANFL League averages: 3 games | 11.0 disposals | 4.3 marks | 1.0 contested mark | 2.3 tackles | 1.0 clearance | 1.3 inside 50s | 2.3 rebound 50s
2019 SANFL Reserves averages: 8 games | 10.8 disposals | 84% efficiency | 4.4 marks | 1.6 tackles | 1.4 rebound 50s
2019 SANFL Under 18s averages: 5 games | 10.8 disposals | 74% efficiency | 3.8 marks | 2.4 tackles | 1.0 inside 50 | 1.2 rebound 50s
PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:
Standing Vertical Jump: 58cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 66cm/74cm
Speed (20m): 3.27 seconds
Agility: 8.78 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.4
By: Ed Pascoe
A worthy winner for best on ground, the talented Crows NGA prospect missed out on father-son qualifications for Port Adelaide and it would frustrate those supporters seeing Borlase playing so well this year. Borlase has had a strong year, earning a senior game for Sturt and also being a strong contributor for PAC, where he has played forward and back. But it was down back where he dominated on this occasion, with his impressive ability to take intercept marks. Borlase was a wall for PAC and he would have had around 10 intercept marks for the game as he read the ball better than anybody and he had the frame to stand strong and take them cleanly.
He also did well on the rebound and despite not being super quick, he still moved the ball on in a timely fashion and often used it well by hand and foot. His second quarter in particular was massive, taking five marks with just about every one of them impressive or contested in some way. His composure and sure hands really helped PAC steady the ship whenever Henley came charging through the middle, and his influence made him a clear choice for best on ground in the end, with Harry Tunkin another strong performer for PAC.
By: Eli Duxson
The key position Borlase returned to the senior side and showed glimpses of why people are so excited about him. The Crows Next Generation Academy prospect split his time between forward and back, although he has been touted as a defender during his time in the pathway programs. As a forward, he presented up the ground well and continued to create contests. His marking looked a little bit inconsistent and he seemed to struggle to find space on leads except for one occasion in the second quarter. After a beautiful delivery, he leant back on the set shot kick from around 40 metres and put it out on the full.
He moved back for the second half and did not get much of a chance to show off his defensive traits in one-on-one contests. He looked to be accountable and found himself on a few different opponents, both taller and shorter than him. He became more attacking in the final quarter; seeming to grow in confidence, clearing the ball, and looking to mark. He reads the flight of the ball well but looked a little tentative with his overhead marking at times. A miskick from a kick-out in the final quarter sent the ball straight back over his head for a goal. His first game back showed he was still a bit rusty, and perhaps he has some development left. There is still a lot to like about him with his versatility and size.
By: Peter Williams
Much like Jed McEntee was not as prolific as the week before when he shone on debut. What stood out was his ability to pick himself up after an early mistake – he dropped an uncontested mark leading to a South goal – to remain composed under pressure coming out of the back 50. Some of his kicks were superb, with one elite kick coming in the third term off the back of a one-on-one intercept mark to hit up McEntee in the middle on that 45-degree angle. He read the ball flight in the final term to take a strong mark 20 metres out from defensive goal, and showed great pressure to force a turnover just moments earlier.
By: Peter Williams
Making his debut at League level, the Adelaide Next-Generation Academy prospect was one of the more impressive players, particularly early in the game. While many debutants might look and hope for an easy first few touches, Borlase held up with a handball under pressure then took a contested intercept mark. He used the ball well and was good in his positioning throughout the game, and while he did not always take every mark he went for, he still racked up quite a few – six in total – and also applied plenty of pressure both through tackling and implied pressure that would have impressed the coaches. In the final term in particular with the game in the balance, Borlase laid a massive tackle, but what was the most impressive fact was he grabbed him once, his opponent almost got free, but Borlase went again and brought him down in a 360-degree tackle. To finish with 14 touches, six marks, three tackles and five rebounds on debut, that was a big tick and Adelaide would have been pleased with his development.
By: Tom Wyman
The potential Crows NGA prospect was named at full-back for the Sturt reserves, having played eight matches at the level last year. At 191cm and 88kg, Borlase is strongly-built and able to hold his own against the bigger bodied forwards – a trait which will certainly help his case for senior selection later in the year.
Against a relatively strong Central Districts outfit, Borlase’s performance was encouraging. He spent considerable time matched-up against athletic 196cm tall forward Leek Alleer. While Alleer possesses serious speed and a high leap, he was largely nullified by the lock-down abilities of Borlase. He took a number of kick-ins as well, a testament his improving skillset.
By: Michael Alvaro
Borlase is in the rare position of being a player whose father played more than 250 games for Port Adelaide, while also being an Adelaide Crows academy member, and he may cost either club a pretty penny at this stage. Drifting across the defensive 50, Borlase took a couple of strong intercept marks in the third term and chased the ball up well at ground level. He is that in-between size – not quite having key-position height but possessing a strong frame – and can play both tall and small roles. While his marking game was strong, Borlase had a couple of less comfortable moments on the ground, getting caught holding the ball on two occasions despite a solid overall game.
Featured Image: James Borlase gets a kick away during the 2019 Under 17 Futures All-Star clash | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos
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