A RAFT of disruptions have impacted the top 2021 AFL Draft prospects over the last month, but through injury and lockdown they have still been able to show their wares through trials and otherwise. While the Under 19 National Championships have been delayed, the top-end of the crop is starting to take shape, but things are incredibly even past the top 15 or so talents. In Draft Central‘s August Power Rankings update, we again list our top 25 prospects along with a bunch of others in the mix. There is a new leader, along with three fresh faces in the top 10 and four previously unranked players who have worked into contention.
Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion of each players’ current ability and potential, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.
#1 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg
July Ranking: #2
Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination.
The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. The Magpies are in for a rare talent.
While Daicos continues to be managed throughout an interrupted season, he is just about undeniable at this point with the level of consistency he has shown when able to play. Having missed out on the Victorian Under 19 trials and not returned for Oakleigh on the weekend, his sole outing during July came for Vic Metro in the Under 19 National Championships opener. With 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals, Daicos was clinical against the best of his peers and is entering the level realms of Matt Rowell and Sam Walsh in terms of output for pick one fancies.
#2 Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg
July Ranking: #1
Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses, whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as consistent scoreboard impact.
Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne retained his crown for our first two rankings updates. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Only 18 in June, Horne boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him well in contention for number one status.
Horne’s SANFL League campaign rolled on with three more outings in South Adelaide colours, seeming to build before a quieter game in his most recent dig. The 18-year-old hit his season-high for disposals (19) for a fourth time in an eye-catching performance against Adelaide, with his averages for the month sitting at 14.7 disposals, 5.3 tackles, and 1.7 clearances per game. While slightly down on most of his season averages in said sample, Horne remains a consistent figure for the Panthers despite their streak of four losses in five games. The glimpses of his best are superb, with the powerful prospect still very much in the pick one frame.
#3 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg
July Ranking: #4
Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.
One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.
Callaghan starts a list of many top prospects who have sustained injuries over the last month, with inflation in his foot leading to some time on the sidelines. The Sandringham Dragons product was due to line up for Vic Metro before his foot flared up, but is on track to return to NAB League action in a couple of weeks as finals get underway.
#4 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg
July Ranking: #3
Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.
They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top five pick on potential and the clear best tall in the draft, with his versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy has impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck in the NAB League, but has also consolidated his eye-catching forward forays at school football level. Bulldogs fans, you have another on the radar.
After dominating the second Victorian trial game in June, plenty was expected of Darcy heading into Vic Metro’s clash with Country. He again played the majority of the game up forward and while he was not overly prolific, still managed to boot two goals via his mix of athleticism and aerial prowess. The highly-touted tall will likely feature for Scotch College as the APS season rounds out, having returned this past weekend.
#5 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg
July Ranking: #10
Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball-winning sense.
The GWV Rebels ball winner has not been able to fully show his wares in 2021 due to injury, but is proving he can break back into top 10 contention with a clean run at it. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety 17-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and has taken full toll upon his return to action.
Hobbs’ excellent form continued with a trio of outstanding performances over the last month. His first dig came against Oakleigh in the NAB League, where he was unsurprisingly one of GWV’s top ball winners in a low-scoring win, before entering the representative grade with Vic Country. He continued to do what he does best with strength around the ball and gut running away from it, standing up against some pretty stiff Metro competition. Upon the NAB League’s return, Hobbs notched up 34 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal as his Rebels went down to top side, Sandringham. He has really accelerated his value though, as one of the prime and most readymade midfielders available.
#6 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg
July Ranking: #15
Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.
Another key position type who rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew will have Melbourne recruiters a little nervous with his performances to date. He now sits inside our current top 20, boasting raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever-improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.
Having been made to watch on for much of June, Andrew’s stocks continue to soar after a couple of impressing showings over the past month. The raw ruckman is looking a very slim chance to end up at Melbourne through NGA bidding, with his value now sitting somewhere around the top 10. He proved as much in an excellent outing for Vic Country, again lighting up the big stage with his athleticism and aerial feats to be one of the more eye-catching players on the day. Andrew also returned for Dandenong on the weekend, managing 17 disposals, four marks and 16 hitouts as he rotated through the ruck.
#7 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg
July Ranking: #9
Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 calculations.
For the second month running, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture, as he continues to improve at a great rate.
While he has been thrown around in a few different roles and proven steady in his form of late, Gibcus’ highlight for the past month came when he lined up on the highly-touted Sam Darcy in Vic Country colours. Playing in his most comfortable key defensive post, the GWV Rebels tall was able to match it with Darcy, a 204cm unit, and quell his marking influence through athleticism and well-timed spoils. The match-up was a handy insight into how the best key forward and back would fare head-to-head, with Gibcus arguably coming out on top. It showed he can lock down when required, adding to his proven intercepting acumen.
#8 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg
July Ranking: #19
Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.
Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot among the 2021 crop’s top 25 places. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward is destined for the same honours as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent this year.
Ward has really accelerated into top 10 contention on the back of some irresistible form, which translated well from NAB League level to the representative stage. He started the month of July with another excellent showing, racking up a game-high 34 disposals and eight tackles in Northern’s loss to Murray on the road, but truly shone as he lead Vic Metro to a thumping win over Country the following week. Ward starred with 29 touches, eight clearances and two classy goals to put himself right up there with the best; showcasing his leadership quality, tenacity at the contest, work-rate away from it, and improving ability to hurt the opposition going forward.
#9 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg
July Ranking: #12
Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching traits both aerially and at ground level.
Another prospect out of Subiaco who played in last year’s WAFL Colts premiership, Erasmus has built on his potential this year having come in as a potential first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 Grand Final, showcasing clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this year, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with scoreboard impact remaining in his back pocket.
Another who has returned from injury with a bang, Erasmus has been prolific of late in West Australian colours. He linked up with the state Under 19s squad for trial games against East Perth and Perth over the last fortnight, hitting the ground running to show no lingering signs of the quad injury which kept him out for a month. The 17-year-old managed figures of 30 and 28 disposals in those digs, showcasing his outstanding level of consistency in finding the ball, and a sound endurance base despite the time off. He finally cracks the top 10 having shown the potential to do so, and with plenty of development left.
#10 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg
July Ranking: #5
Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to kick goals.
One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s absolute best is exceptionally good. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.
Sonsie has been out of action since late-June due to injury, sustaining bone bruising in the second half of Eastern’s Round 9 loss to Sandringham. He was thus ruled out of Vic Metro duties last month, but should soon be in for a return with the Ranges with finals fast-approaching.
#11 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Half-Back/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg
July Ranking: #6
Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.
Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the best technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside of late to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looks poised to return soon and play out a full season in the NAB League.
In what has turned out to be a frustrating season for the highly talented speedster, Sinn is again nursing an injury which he sustained late in his Vic Metro appearance. It came after he finally returned to action with Sandringham, putting in steady performances off half-back and then through midfield across consecutive weeks, before then turning out for Metro. At his best, he looked dangerous with his speed and and forward carry, while continuing to take risks via foot. He is poised to break back into the Dragons’ lineup alongside Callaghan in time for finals.
#12 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg
July Ranking: #7
Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.
A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top 10 of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.
Roberts is yet another top prospect who is currently sidelined, nursing his way back to full health from a syndesmosis injury. He had just cracked the SANFL League grade, but hasn’t played there since Round 7 (late-May), nor has he turned out at College Football level in that time. Once he gets a full week of training under his belt, Roberts will return to the field.
#13 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg
July Ranking: #13
Snapshot: A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.
Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations you’d expect on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.
With the APS competition back underway and winding down, Murray would have been grateful Rachele found some of his best form during the break. At the start of July, he snared six goals from 17 disposals and eight marks in a wonderful performance against Northern, helping the Bushrangers to a 16-point win. The enigmatic talent went on to don Vic Country colours and was a little quiet early on against Vic Metro, before making the most of a midfield move to finish with 20 disposals and a goal. He holds his spot, but certainly has top 10 quality.
#14 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg
July Ranking: #14
Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact when stationed inside attacking 50.
One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in the SANFL Under 18s this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who may feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.
Another victim of the dreaded syndesmosis injury, Draper’s last game was all the way back on June 19. He dropped back down to the Under 18s level and notched season-highs of 31 disposals and 10 clearances in a sizeable South Adelaide win, putting his had up for another promotion to the senior grades. We should see Draper back on the park in time for SA’s scheduled National Championships outings.
#15 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg
July Ranking: #11
Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is one of the premier tall midfielders in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.
Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop coming into the season, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean hands around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.
Johnson has showcased some of his best form over the last month, competing against his peers after gaining some WAFL League exposure. The tall midfielder’s only Colts game for July yielded 26 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles and a goal agains the winless Perth, before a trio of outings for Western Australia’s Under 19 side. Arguably the best of those appearances was his first, against WA’s Under 17s, where Johnson looked the most polished player afield and showed great poise on the ball. If he continues his run and can find his top level more consistently, he could well be in for another senior dig and will certainly be a key part of WA’s Under 19 midfield.
#16 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg
July Ranking: #8
Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.
A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having recently returned from injury.
Chesser returned to the fold having been held back by a knee injury, showing glimpses of his running best with 19 disposals and five inside 50s in Sandringham’s midfield at the start of July. He went on to represent Vic Country and was a little quieter in his familiar wing post, before Victorian lockdown hit once more. Along with Callaghan and Sinn, Chesser is a player the Dragons will hope to regain heading into their NAB League finals campaign.
#17 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg
July Ranking: #17
Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential.
Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing or pinch-hit up forward. He is another who stakes his claim on high upside.
One of the best performed Victorians over the past month, Goater has been able to show off his versatility and athleticism at a greater rate. With a shift to half-back for Calder, the explosive prospect has proven an apt intercept and rebound defender in the NAB League, averaging 30 disposals, nine marks, and six rebound 50s across two outings in July. He is a proven midfield distributor too, having shone on the inside with his clean hands and strong frame while turning out for Vic Metro. He’s one who could well continue to rise towards season’s end.
#18 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg
July Ranking: #24
Snapshot: Wilmot is a tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed and ball use.
Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.
Looking at a glance in the first half of the season, Wilmot certainly garnered attention with his speed and dare, though the last month has brought to light much more substance to the 17-year-old’s game. He had a quiet outing against Murray at the start of July, but was excellent in defence for Vic Metro and was easy to identify on-field with his vocal instruction and encouragement. That side to his game screams leadership quality, with Wilmot barking orders from behind the ball and setting up well to get his intercept game going. He was back to his best again this past weekend, managing 16 disposals and four rebound 50s as the Knights went down to Bendigo, but not for a lack of effort (or voice) on Wilmot’s part.
#19 Jye Amiss
East Perth/Western Australia | Tall Forward
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg
July Ranking: NR
You’ll hear plenty of puns regarding the key forward’s ironic surname but it’s true that Amiss is more hit than, well, miss. The East Perth spearhead has dominated the 2021 WAFL Colts season thus far, booting 41 goals in 10 games with a ridiculously good conversion rate of 80 per cent from his scoring shots. He proved undeniable for selection in a West Australian state squad stacked with key position talent, and doesn’t need a wealth of opportunities to make an impact. With sound overhead marking and an improving ground level game, Amiss is an irresistible threat inside attacking 50. He bolts into our rankings with a debut inside the top 20, but his true test lies ahead at the National Championships.
Amiss has translated his WAFL Colts scoring form to the representative stage, able to find the big sticks with relative ease (albeit less accurately) in a trio of West Australian trial games. Coming in off some ripping form for the Royals, the 18-year-old snared eight goals across those three outings – spread well with two hauls of three and 2.4 in his latest effort. Again, Amiss proved he can make the most of limited looks with plenty of attempts on goal, while steadily working further afield to add strings to his bow. He now looks to be WA’s leading forward option alongside Jack Williams ahead of the upcoming National Championships.
#20 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg
July Ranking: #18
Snapshot: Williams is a versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals up forward, while also rotating through the ruck or even to defence.
One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 24 goals in nine WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.
Like most of the West Australian prospects listed here, Williams had just one WAFL Colts outing in July amid the call-up for Under 19 representative duties. During his Colts dig, Williams spent more time in the ruck and won 18 hitouts to go with his 17 disposals and lone goal, putting up strong numbers with much of the same work we are used to from the 195cm talent. He looked to stamp himself as WA’s best key forward option during the trials, but has some pretty stiff competition in that department. Still, Williams looked ominous in the early stages of his first hit-out against the Under 17s, before quieter outings thereafter. Depending on which WA forward attracts the best opposition defender, Williams could be in for some big National Championships performances.
#21 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg
July Ranking: #16
Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading Northern Academy talent.
Our top-ranked Northern Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is clearly the best prospect out of the Allies crop and a real first round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase.
Fahey returned to action at the start of July in Greater Western Sydney’s one-point VFL triumph over Casey, but hasn’t been sighted at the level since. He managed seven touches on that day and at his best, is a rebounding force out of the back half. The 17-year-old also turned out for local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra First Grade competition and was named among the Tigers’ best players this past weekend. Hopefully with an uninterrupted run towards the back end of the year, including the National Championships, Fahey can show his value.
#22 Tom Brown
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Medium Defender
30/07/2003 | 186cm | 71kg
July Ranking: NR
Snapshot: A dashing half-back with terrific athleticism in the form of speed and a vertical leap, Brown is a bolting talent who you’ll likely miss if you blink.
While Geelong gained access to sister, Millie via father-daughter rules, Tom Brown is ineligible to be drafted by the Cats under the father-son category as his father Paul falls just short of the 100-game qualification. Nonetheless, the Murray Bushrangers prospect has plenty of eye-catching traits which will help him blaze his own trail. A Vic Country Under 16 and now Under 19 representative, Brown is capable of playing on each line but looks to have found a home across half-back, where his dashing style and clean skills shine. An ankle injury kept him out for a large chunk of the season, but he is back now and raring to break into first round contention.
Having returned to the field as the Vic Country runner during June’s trials, Brown finally got back to playing status with some strong showings in July. The rebounding defender was lively in his first game back against Northern in the NAB League, and built steadily into his representative dig against Vic Metro. He ended up with 13 touches and five rebound 50s in the latter game, having showcased terrific aerial ability and plenty of pace on the counter. After another short break, Brown backed that performance up with 12 touches in a tough slog against Calder on the weekend, but has the eye-catching traits to press higher up the board.
#23 Joshua Browne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 185cm | 77kg
July Ranking: #23
Snapshot: An ultra-consistent midfielder who runs hard and finds plenty of the ball, Browne is one of the most in-form midfielders nationwide.
Browne is a player whose form has made him hard to deny for a spot in the top 25, with his ability to win big numbers at a remarkable rate making him one of the most consistent performers in the draft pool at present. He has built on a promising bottom-age campaign with East Fremantle to hit new heights in the WAFL Colts competition, competing with grunt at the contest and running hard to accumulate around the ground in relentless fashion. He is also quite solid defensively on the inside and is the type of player you want on your side, especially among the centre bounce mix.
Having sustained a ridiculously good output throughout the first half of the season, Browne’s run of form came to a halt after his Round 14 WAFL Colts appearance. The ball magnet racked up 33 disposals and a goal against Peel on that day, but picked up a knock and was ruled out of the subsequent West Australian trial games. He still looms as a key member of his state’s midfield mix though, with National Championships and Colts finals still to come.
#24 Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
10/02/2003 | 184cm | 73kg
July Ranking: NR
Snapshot: Butler has wonderfully clean hands and burning pace, traits which have translated well from an initial forward role, to a more recent midfield venture.
Another prospect with ties at the elite level, Butler is the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. He is an exciting player in his own right though, with sharp skills by hand and a terrific turn of speed which serve him well in a creative sense. Having proved himself in the forward half, Butler went on to impress with his clean ball winning ability in midfield before injury struck. He missed out on representing Vic Country as an Under 19 having done so at Under 16 level, but should get a look-in upon his, and the National Championships’ return.
Butler went down with a sternum injury during GWV’s Round 9 NAB League clash with Murray (June 19), and couldn’t quite get up to play in the Victorian trials or national carnival opener. He did get on the park this past weekend though, managed back into competition and finishing with 10 disposals, five tackles and 1.2 with more time in the front half as his Rebels were beaten by Sandringham.
#25 Judson Clarke
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
17/10/2003 | 179cm | 69kg
July Ranking: NR
Snapshot: Clarke is a zippy small forward/midfielder who can light up the game in a flash with his forward run, tricky agility, and eye for goal.
While his exploits were on full show earlier in the year, Clarke stamped his credentials with a breakout performance in the Under 19 Victorian trials, bagging five goals in a starring display. The crafty Dandenong Stingrays product represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and continues to show promising glimpses both in the NAB League and at school footy level. He is nimble in possession with a mix of speed and agility, and looks to make things happen in the front half with creative energy and smarts at the fall of the ball. Clarke often finishes his work with spearing left-foot use, making for an exciting package as far as small prospects go. While he can roll through midfield, the 17-year-old looks most damaging up forward and can cement his spot here with more eye-catching big game showings.
After his massive trial game, Clarke was almost a certainty to line up for Vic Country come championships proper, and did so with a handy outing against Vic Metro. Clarke also turned out for Dandenong pre-champs in Round 11 of the NAB League, and proved a menace with 27 disposals, five marks, and a goal as the Stingrays went down narrowly to Eastern.
IN THE MIX:
State trial games in South and Western Australia have seen a number of players rise into contention, or at least confirm their status as genuine prospects. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera was a standout in the South Australian trial, which was played in horrendous conditions, but did little to diminish his class and poise on the ball. Lewis Rayson was another to show a bit in that game with his run on the outer, while midfielder Hugh Jackson could be around the mark on the back of his tremendous SANFL Under 18s campaign to date. Meanwhile, Cooper Murley, who suffered a collarbone injury last month, was unlucky to be squeezed out.
Over in Western Australia, big-bodied midfielder Kade Dittmar has dominated his state’s trial games, as the likes of Corey Warner and Fremantle NGA product Jesse Motlop rise on the back of their respective League debuts. Luke Polson was the most recent WA Under 19s squad member to crack the senior grade, proving a mobile key position utility who isn’t afraid to run with the ball. Fellow talls Rhett Bazzo and Jacob van Rooyen have also had their moments with the latter even swinging to defence recently, but find themselves out of the 25 this time around.
A bunch of NAB Leaguers continue to knock the door down too, with crafty Vic Metro ball magnets Zac Taylor and Jake Soligo among them. Connor Macdonald fits in a similar category and has been terrific this season, while fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Knevitt has a bunch of traits which may put advance his standing as a big-bodied midfielder. Athletic wing-forward Blake Howes continues to float around the mark, while Sandringham teammates and St Kilda NGA hopefuls Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager have been big improvers over the last few weeks. Collingwood NGA Youseph Dib has also stood up valiantly for Oakleigh this year.