A dozen AFL Draft Combine invitees hopefuls in action
A DOZEN AFL Draft Combine invitees will run around in respective West Australian Football League (WAFL) and South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Grand Finals, with four of the five games featuring at least one combine invitee. Both the WAFL Colts (six) and SANFL Reserves (four) have multiple players with a top-end talent representative in the two senior grand finals at WAFL level, and only the SANFL League grand final not having a combine invitee.
South Fremantle’s Jesse Motlop is the sole player in a senior League grand final this weekend, when his Bulldogs take on Subiaco for the title. The Bulldogs will head in as underdogs, but will be hoping to flip the scrip, having lost to them in their past two outings. Both times the Lions scored 73 points, though the Bulldogs got them back in Round 5. Motlop has only been held goalless once this season – against Peel Thunder – booting a goal in his last two outings against Subiaco. He will want to bounce back from a quieter preliminary final with just the three touches.
At Reserves level, Subiaco midfielder Matthew Johnson will be looking to roll on with his momentum from his best on ground for Western Australia at the Under 19 Championships, when he plays off for a premiership medallion against Perth. Johnson has been named in the centre where he does his best work, and in his past three reserves games, he has averaged 25 disposals and 7.7 marks, being a ball magnet across the ground. He is yet to play Perth at Reserves level this season, though his form as a whole is as strong as anyone going around.
Colts level is where to find an array of young talent with a total of six AFL Draft Combine representatives running around. Last week’s match-winner for Western Australia, Claremont’s Jacob Van Rooyen returns to the state league, remaining in the forward half at centre half-forward. He will team up with fellow tall Eric Benning inside 50, with Jahmal Stretch the clever rover at their feet. Tough midfielder Angus Sheldrick has had a superb season in 2021 and will look to add a premiership medallion to his collection, named in the centre this week. Their opponents Swan Districts have a couple of representatives in talented tall Rhett Bazzo – named at full-forward – and Bryce Watson who is set to lock horns with Stretch up the other end. Arthur Jones, whilst not a Draft Combine invitee but a state representative, was named on a wing for the Tigers.
Crossing the Nullarbor to South Australia, there might not be a Draft Combine invitee in action at the League level, but there are four running around in the Glenelg-Central District clash at Reserves level. Classy wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera is the one to watch from the Bays, with his superb skill and vision outstanding and he looms as a potential Top 10 pick. For the underdogs, Central District has a trio of AFL Draft Combine representatives hoping to secure the most unlikeliest of flags coming from fifth on the ladder. Evasive small forward Isiah Dudley was sensational last week for the Croweaters in the AFL Under 19s clash, and will be one to watch again this week. Joining him is Shay Linke who got amongst it as well at state level, and will return to the Reserves competition, whilst Luca Whitelum is the other Draft Combine invitee named in the grand final side.
AFL DRAFT COMBINE REPRESENTATIVES IN ACTION:
WAFL League: Subiaco vs. South Fremantle
Jesse Motlop (South)
WAFL Reserves: Perth vs. Subiaco
Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
WAFL Colts: Claremont vs. Swan Districts
Angus Sheldrick, Jacob Van Rooyen, Jahmal Stretch, Eric Benning (Claremont)
Rhett Bazzo, Bryce Watson, (Swan Districts)
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
Shay Linke, Luca Whitelum, Isaiah Dudley (Central)
Image Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL