Author: Michael Alvaro

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2021

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.

Last month:

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.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Nick Daicos fires off a handball

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Image Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

#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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

Ben Hobbs in action for Vic Country

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

#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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

Josh Ward gets a kick away

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> WA U19s Player Focus: Neil Erasmus

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

#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.

Last month:

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.

>> Q&A
>> Feature
>> SANFL League Player Focus

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

#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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus
>> Feature

#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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

Campbell Chesser sets off for Vic Country

#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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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

Snapshot:

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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

Tom Brown looks futher afield

#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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

Last month:

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.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: St Kilda

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with St Kilda.

#4 Ella Friend (Tall Forward/Wing)
30/12/2003 | 175cm
GWV Rebels / Vic Country

Born on December 30, Friend is just two days off being a bottom-ager and should she make her AFLW debut in 2021, will do so at just 17-years-old. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) standout is arguably the best contested marker in the draft pool, with good athleticism and vice-like hands making her a dominant aerial force. At 175cm, she is also quite versatile and swing back at times this season, but was more regularly sighted up forward or on a wing. She is dynamic enough to play both roles at AFLW level, but may start out as a forward fold for Caitlin Greiser as she continues to build her running capacity. Friend already got a taste for that at VFLW level with the Western Bulldogs, nabbing two goals on debut.

ELLA FRIEND CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards
>> NAB League Girls season review: GWV Rebels

#12 Ashleigh Richards (Forward/Midfielder)
22/10/2003 | 167cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

Somewhat of a surprise selection at pick 12, St Kilda ensured its link with the Dandenong region remains strong by selecting 2021 Stingrays co-captain, Richards with its final bid in the National Draft. While capable of rolling through midfield, the 17-year-old promises to add some forward firepower after her feats inside attacking 50 during the season. She booted seven majors in her six NAB League outings and snared four in five VFLW games for Port Melbourne, with her combination of smarts and defensive pressure proving valuable close to goal. Those traits make her a high impact per possession kind of prospect, not needing too many opportunities to deal damage in each appearance. She also offers a good bit of versatility.

ASHLEIGH RICHARDS CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Dandenong Stingrays
>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

UFA: Leah Cutting (Ruck)
14/03/1992 | 185cm
Norwood / South Australia

St Kilda left a spot on its list open after passing with pick 36, before signing South Australian mature-ager Cutting as an undrafted free agent on Friday. The 29-year-old is in her prime and has over 50 games of SANFLW experience under her belt, making her a readymade ruck option who could potentially impact straight away for the Saints. A strong body at 185cm, Cutting is able to fulfil her ruck duties while also offering a target around the ground and following up her work at the stoppages. She earned a draft combine invite this year so was unsurprisingly finally given a shot at the elite level.

Image credit: John Emery

DRAFT SUMMARY:

St Kilda has added some very handy forward and tall depth in this year’s draft, starting with Friend. The GWV Rebels graduate ticks both of the aforementioned boxes and will make the Saints less predictable going forward as another marking target, with potential to roll further afield in future. At ground level, Richards is a handy option who knows how to find the goals and makes every touch count, while Cutting is a readymade choice who provides plenty of strength and experience through the ruck. A happy haul of three overall.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Richmond

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Richmond.

#5 Stella Reid (Medium Utility)
10/09/2003 | 173cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

One of the best and most consistent players of this year’s NAB League season, Reid was snapped up by Richmond with pick five. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player is a utility of sorts; having started out the season at half-back, before spending time on both sides of midfield and eventually capping it off with some fantastic performances up forward. In every third of the ground, Reid proved a natural ball winner who could find it at a good rate and provide line-breaking drive on the outer. Her carry and penetrative kick suit the outside midfielder mould well, but Reid is also a handy marking target up forward at 173cm and finds ways to craft shots on goal out of congestion. The Tigers may employ her as a ‘fix-it’ type of player depending on what the team requires, and have a very versatile talent on their hands – not to mention elite.

STELLA REID CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

#16 Emelia Yassir (Midfielder)
25/09/2003 | 160cm
Calder Cannons / Vic Metro

At 160cm, Yassir may be small but truly packs a punch. The Calder Cannons graduate was a teammate of Reid at Vic Metro and together, the pair add some nice depth to Richmond’s midfield rotation. Yassir has long been one of the top Victorian ball winners and is exceptional with her mix of grit and class at ground level. She cracks in at the coalface and comes away with a zippy turn of speed, while also remaining relevant defensively. Her size and tackling game could see her be developed as a pressure forward before transitioning into midfield, but Yassir is a class act in there and should be sound fold for the likes of Monique Conti, Ellie McKenzie, and the Hosking twins for years to come.

EMELIA YASSIR CONTENT:

>> 2021 Power Rankings: Victorian Pool
>> NAB League Girls season review: Calder Cannons

#48 Meagan Kiely (Midfielder)
15/12/1994 | 168cm
North Melbourne VFLW

If North Melbourne didn’t pounce, another team would and that was exactly what Richmond did by selecting VFLW standout Meagan Kiely at pick 48. The 26-year-old proved one of the best state leaguers going around in 2021 and offers a readymade option for the Tigers’ midfield mix. Kiely’s inside game and work-rate should allow some of her new side’s more flashy midfielders to be released, aiding their ball winning cause in the face of tags and heavy opposition attention. Having lead the VFLW for disposals, kicks, and marks during the regular season, her dominance was simply undeniable. A few of her new teammates would know all about her talent too, given Kiely had 34 disposals and seven marks in her second-last VFLW outing this year – against Richmond’s VFLW affiliate, Port Melbourne.

MEAGAN KIELY CONTENT:

>> 2021 Mature-age team to watch
>> VFLW Player Focus: Meagan Kiely

Meagan Kiely gets a kick away

#50 Ingrid Houtsma (Utility)
20/11/2003 | 176cm
Geelong Falcons / Vic Country

After three Geelong Falcons graduates were taken in the first round, Houtsma became the fourth at pick 50. The 176cm utility can play on each line, but found a home on the wing for large parts of this year’s NAB League season. She is a prospect with high upside and while she may not accumulate the numbers others might, has an impact with each disposal and boasts a promising athletic profile. Houtsma could offer spurts of play similar to current wing revelation Tessa Lavey given said athleticism and aerial ability, but has all the versatility and room for development to be moulded into a player who suits whatever Richmond may need.

INGRID HOUTSMA CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Geelong Falcons

Ingrid Houstma in action for Geelong Falcons

#54 Akec Makur Chuot (Defender)
5/09/1992 | 178cm
Richmond AFLW (Re-Drafted)

DRAFT SUMMARY:

With a couple of early and late picks, Richmond brought in a quartet of fresh faces who provide great depth and versatility not only to the midfield, but potentially all around the ground. Reid was arguably a best available selection at pick five and while Yassir was arguably the same at pick 16, also suited the Tigers’ need for some midfield support. Kiely adds to that as one of the prime mature-agers nationwide, while Houtsma is a high-value late choice who could develop strongly in an elite system. Richmond also re-drafted defender Akec Makur Chuot with their final pick (54) after delisting her at the end of last season.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Melbourne

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Melbourne.

#41 Georgia Campbell (Ruck/Forward)
1/09/2003 | 182cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

Melbourne got an absolute steal in obtaining Campbell all the way back at pick 41 via the competition’s father-daughter rules. The Eastern Ranges ruck-forward, who is the daughter of Adrian, was eligible to nominate for either Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs, but becomes a Dee and adds to the tall stocks of a finals contending team. She came on in leaps and bounds this season to quickly become the leading Victorian ruck prospect, boasting eye-catching athleticism for a player of her 182cm stature. Able to impact in the air and on the ground, Campbell is also versatile enough to do so both as a ruck or key forward, as shown during her representative stint with Vic Metro. Having transitioned into football from other sports, she has plenty of development left too.

GEORGIA CAMPBELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Eastern Ranges

#42 Tahlia Gillard (Ruck/Forward)
12/12/2003 | 190cm
Calder Cannons / Vic Metro

Having known before the fact that they would be getting Campbell, the Demons went tall once more with their second pick immediately after. Gillard has long been one of the most promising Victorian talls, and offers terrific aerial presence at 190cm. While rucking, she uses that size to advantage and has the potential to become a really dominant hitter, while also having the experience of playing at either end of the ground. She rotated forward in 2021 and while some of her disposal execution is a touch raw, the Calder Cannons graduate is difficult to beat in the air. She will likely be developed as a ruck to support Lauren Pearce, given the Dees have just recruited Campbell and Tayla Harris to go with the likes of Eden Zanker and Alyssa Bannan as tall forwards – but there is plenty of dynamism among that lot.

TAHLIA GILLARD CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

Gillard fires away a handball for Calder Cannons

#45 Alison Brown (Utility)
21/09/1997 | 179cm
Casey Demons VFLW

Having already rookied midfielder Eliza West from its VFLW program, Melbourne dipped into the reserves pool once more to select Brown with pick 45. The 23-year-old lands at her third AFLW club after earning the honour of being an inaugural Blue and Saint, and in fact the first player signed to St Kilda’s women’s squad. Brown continued to persevere since, and having established a spot in the Demons’ VFLW defence, has been duly promoted for another crack at the elite level. She offers strong and experienced depth to a largely established squad and will likely be ready to go once called upon.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Melbourne fans were made to wait a long time to witness their club’s first pick, which was always going to be Campbell, but all three selections came in a flurry. Campbell and Gillard add to the Demons’ strong tall stocks, particularly in the ruck-forward rotation and given the competition for spots, may well be afforded a proper amount of time to develop before entering the elite level. Brown rounded out the haul nicely as the mature-ager of the bunch, able to play multiple roles and solidify the defence. She’s a readymade option with plenty of experience under her belt already, which is just what Melbourne needs en route to premiership contention in 2021/22.

Image Credit: Melbourne AFLW via Twitter

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Gold Coast

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Gold Coast.

#1 Charlie Rowbottom (Midfielder/Forward)
22/01/2003 | 178cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Gold Coast said it would cast a line for Victorian talent, and fittingly ended up reeling in one of the top two prospects in the draft pool with pick one. Rowbottom, who is said to love the sun and surf, nominated Queensland and was an easy choice for the Suns to open the draft. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership skipper is a rare talent, a very tall midfielder at 178cm who uses her bull-like power around the ball and can roll forward to take contested marks. Her ability to burst away from congestion, much like her brother James, is eye-catching and makes her a damaging proposition in midfield. She is still working on refining her kicking and conversion, but can boom the ball forward in a flash when everything comes together. She may well start up forward before being eased into the engine room at AFLW level, but ultimately looks ready to go.

CHARLIE ROWBOTTOM CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

#6 Teagan Levi (Midfielder)
14/08/2003 | 169cm
Bond University / Queensland

Another terrific addition to the midfield mix is Levi, the leading Suns Academy graduate in 2021. Like her sister Maddi, she hails from a Rugby 7’s background and will look to juggle both codes going forward, again like her elder sibling. The 17-year-old is an inside midfielder with all the athletic traits you would expect, including strength over the ball and power to pull away from would-be tacklers. She has some more refined traits too, with clean hands and terrific skills making her a contested ball winner with handy points of difference. Like Rowbottom, she looks ready to go and is a class act with one of the more well-rounded skillsets of any draftee around the nation.

TEAGAN LEVI CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Top Performers: AFLWU19s – Queensland vs. Vic Country

Teagan Levi gets a kick away for Queensland

#8 Ashanti Bush (Forward)
18/08/2002 | 162cm
Hawthorn VFLW / Darwin Buffettes / Allies

After missing out last year, Bush became the sole Northern Territory talent drafted in 2021 after a promising year of football at multiple levels. She was a noted goalkicker in the NTFL with Darwin, and went on to link up with Hawthorn in the VFLW after representing the Allies at this year’s Under 19 National Championships. Bush is the kind of forward who plays above her 162cm height and doesn’t need too many opportunities to make an impact, with her smarts and evasion inside 50 making her difficult to beat one-on-one. In a Suns side which went winless with the lowest percentage last season, she promises to add some flair and threat in front of goal.

ASHANTI BUSH CONTENT:

>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Forwards
>> 2021 Top/mature-agers to watch

Ashanti Bush (right) in Allies colours

#30 Giselle Davies (Tall Defender)
17/03/2002 | 180cm
Bond University / Queensland

Another Suns Academy graduate, Davies adds some defensive solidity to the mix and already has multiple links to her new senior side. Davies has been mentored by Suns star Jamie Stanton, who teaches at her high school, and is good friends with 2020 draftee Annise Bradfield, who introduced her to Australian football. The 180cm prospect has plenty of development left, with her defensive acumen and ability to nullify direct opponents already sound, but contested marking and taking on the game areas she is looking to steadily improve.

GISELLE DAVIES CONTENT:

>> Rising Sun Davies learns from the best

DRAFT SUMMARY:

With a clear standout from their own academy always in line to land at Gold Coast, the Suns were able to mix it up with their other two top 10 selections and pick from other regions. Rowbottom was a great get as she nominated Queensland and became available with pick one, while Bush is a raw talent with plenty of upside who can add some much-needed scoring power. Levi was the standout local choice and has plenty about her as a midfielder, while fellow academy graduate Davies is another developmental kind of selection who is progressing well and bolsters the Suns’ key defensive stocks. The Suns’ regeneration will be massively buoyed by their first two picks in particular, they’re both stars in the making.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2021 WAFL Colts: Round 16 weekend wrap

STATE Under 17 talent returned to the WAFL Colts competition in Round 16, contributing to four enthralling fixtures which shook up the race for finals. Three sides are now tied on five wins as they vie for the all-important fifth spot with under a month of regular season action left to play out. Swan Districts remains the team to beat after another impressive victory, while East Perth had the bye, though a select Royals team took on the state’s Under 19 side.

We recap all the action and outstanding performances in our weekly wrap, while also taking a look around the grounds at youngsters who impressed in senior grades.

>> Scouting Notes: WA U19s vs. East Perth

SWAN DISTRICTS 3.2 | 4.9 | 9.10 | 15.14 (104)
PERTH 2.1 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 4.1 (25)

Swan Districts continues to soar atop the WAFL Colts ladder after securing its 10th win of the season, downing Perth by 79 points in a top-versus-bottom clash. The Swans led by just eight points at half time, but kicked away with 11 majors thereafter while keeping the Demons scoreless.

Swans dominated possession with a total 326 disposals to Perth’s 182, headlined by ball winners Ben Hewett and Noah Hannah (both 32 disposals and one goal). Darcy Jones and Elijah Hewett were others to stand up in the win, while Braydon Fawcett and Ethyn Kane both booted a game-high three majors. Ben Weymouth was the lone Demon to tick up over 20 touches with his 23 and 17 tackles, but his side was comfortably outplayed in the second half.

GOALS:

Swans: E. Kane 3, B. Fawcett 3, A. Brock 2, J. Middleton, B. Hewett, A. Cartwright, B. Jones, B. Morris, N. Hannan, M. Watson
Perth: M. Hall 2, T. Henry, R. Seubert

WEST PERTH 2.2 | 6.2 | 7.5 | 13.6 (84)
PEEL THUNDER 2.2 | 5.4 | 8.7 | 10.9 (69)

West Perth continued its ascent back towards the top five with a 15-point win over Peel Thunder, meaning they head the trailing pack in what is becoming a hotly contested finals race. In a tight affair, the final margin was the largest of any break, with the Falcons made to overturn an eight-point deficit at three quarter time.

Versatile bottom-ager Kane Bevan was best afield with 25 disposals and seven marks, supported well by the likes of Luke Reilly and Jack DeMarte. Goalkickers Zarne Robis (three goals) and Saverio Marafioti (two) also had their moments in the win. For Peel, bigman Jackson Broadbent put in a monster effort with 21 touches and 36 hitouts, heading the Thunder’s disposal tally alongside small midfielder Scott Tuia. Cooper Osbourne also snared two majors from his six marks and five scoring shots in attack.

GOALS:

West Perth: Z. Robis 3, S. Marafioti 2, B. Sherwood 2, R. Gallen 2, L. Reilly, D. Dixon, J. DeMarte, J. Scaife
Peel Thunder: C. Osborne 2, B. Offer 2, S. Tuia, J. Klepzig, C. Carbone, H. Thomas, T. Salter, L. Taylor

CLAREMONT 5.1 | 6.3 | 7.6 | 10.7 (67)
EAST FREMANTLE 3.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

Claremont remains in the hunt for top spot after continuing its winning streak via a 15-point triumph over East Fremantle. In what was the only meeting between two top five sides for the weekend, the Tigers led at every break and consistently answered the Sharks’ surges with too much firepower moving forward

Tyreice Brown was terrific for the victors with 19 disposals, six marks and 4.2, while Talon Delacey had a game-high 25 touches and Max Mumme provided plenty of drive with his 24. Dylan Mulligan also took on some added responsibility well, finishing with 24 disposals, 23 hitouts and two goals. Samuel Otto notched a team-high 21 disposals for East Fremantle, followed closely by Luke Yeo (20, eight tackles) as the Sharks slipped down to fifth.

GOALS:

Claremont: T. Brown 4, D. Mulligan 2, C. Bristow 2, C. Jackman, X. Brenton-Reed
East Fremantle: S. Otto 2, K. Mcmillan 2, J. Baverstock, N. Phillips, K. Denney, J. Cripps

SUBIACO 1.1 | 4.5 | 7.6 | 9.10 (64)
SOUTH FREMANTLE 5.3 | 5.4 | 7.7 | 9.11 (65)

Subiaco slipped out of the top five after going down by a single point to South Fremantle in the round’s final fixture. A five-goal to one opening term from the Bulldogs proved crucial, as they were made to hold on amid Subiaco’s charge and only just managed to maintain their one-point lead from three quarter time, to the final siren.

Caleb Stephens again led the way for South with 22 disposals, joined by Tyler Piazzola on that figure, as Chase Bourne snared two goals from his 17 touches. Meanwhile, Jed Kemp racked up 36 disposals for Subi, with Jacob Evitt (25 disposals, five marks) another strong contributor.

GOALS:

Subiaco: L. Collard 3, C. Henderson 2, J. Evitt, D. O’Dea, B. Corderoy, J. Tholstrup
South Fremantle: C. Bourne 2, M. Bropho 2, L. Bloomer, J. Hulten, H. Elphick, C. Stephens, T. Jacques

UP THE GRADES:

While much of Western Australia’s top Under 19 talent donned representative colours this past weekend, there remained a handful of state squad members who instead ran out at League level. All five played in losses, starting with East Fremantle pair Corey Warner and Finn Gorringe. Warner’s level of consistency has been terrific in the senior grade, and he picked up another 15 disposals while also booting his first League goal. Gorringe had it 12 times, continuing his steady form in the top flight.

19-year-old Perth defender Jack Avery played his sixth senior game for the Demons and had his moments with 11 disposals and three marks. South Fremantle and Fremantle NGA small forward Jesse Motlop also popped up in spurts, laying five tackles and booting a goal among his handful of possessions. The state Under 19 squad will play against a select Perth squad this coming weekend, though all of the above players will turn out for their clubs should League selection again come knocking.

Image Credit: Brian Conduit via West Perth FC

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Geelong

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Geelong.

#2 Georgie Prespakis (Midfielder)
13/03/2003 | 168cm
Calder Cannons / Vic Metro

It was no surprise to see Geelong take Prespakis with the first pick in the Victorian pool, with the potentially generational talent near-impossible to deny in pole position. The sister of Maddy will quickly break that tag, with her own talents proving exceptional throughout the junior pathways – starting with her NAB League best and fairest win at 16-years-old in 2019. Prespakis is as well-rounded a midfielder you can find; able to win her own ball at the coalface, use her running capacity to accumulate around the ground, prove effective by hand and penetrative by foot, while also providing her fair share of tackling pressure. She is a star in the making and ready to go at senior level, providing ideal cover for the loss of Liv Purcell among a regenerating Cats midfield.

GEORGIE PRESPAKIS CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> VFLW Player Focus: Georgie Prespakis

Prized pick Georgie Prespakis in action for Vic Metro

#7 Zali Friswell (Midfielder)
30/12/2003 | 165cm
Calder Cannons / Vic Metro

The Cats pulled off one of the surprise picks of the first round by taking Friswell at pick seven, though the selection is a shrewd one in context. A teammate of Prespakis through multiple competitions, the 17-year-old has waxed with her new Cats teammate through the NAB League, VFLW, and AFLW Under 19 National Championships. But let’s get it straight – she is far from just a sweetener in the Prespakis coup. Friswell is a gun midfielder in her own right with elite running capacity and a great balance of traits in the engine room. She was made to play a variety of roles throughout 2021 at either end of the ground, but looks most comfortable around the ball and has the potential to be a very reliable ball winning asset for Geelong.

ZALI FRISWELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Power Rankings: Victorian Pool
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

#9 Gabbi Featherston (Forward/Ruck)
12/11/2003 | 169cm
Geelong Falcons / Vic Country

Geelong seldom misses out on local talent and like usual, snapped up a Falcons graduate among this year’s intake. Having sured up their midfield stocks, Featherston was the player the Cats went for, an exciting player with rare athleticism and enormous upside. Such is the power of Featherston’s leap, she rotated through the ruck for Geelong Falcons and Vic Country this season at just 169cm and more than held her own. She is mostly stationed up forward though, where that same athleticism translates to her potential as a marking target who attacks the aerial ball with vigour and possesses a thumping kick. The 17-year-old is almost certain to capture fans’ imaginations with her style of play, and has great potential to grow into a top player.

GABBI FEATHERSTON CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Forwards
>> NAB League Girls team review: Geelong Falcons

Gabbi Featherston (centre right) competes in the ruck

#15 Annabel Johnson (Midfielder)
6/11/2000 | 167cm
Geelong VFLW

After promoting mature-agers Claudia Gunjaca and Olivia Fuller from their VFLW side, the Cats added another with pick 15 in the form of Johnson. The multi-sport athlete is a relative newcomer to high levels of Australian football but has taken to the code quickly and shown a rapid rate of development over the last couple of years. The 20-year-old needed just one season in Geelong’s VFLW system to prove her worth, with her athletic base and promising state league form on both sides of midfield enough to see her crack the top flight.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Geelong’s draft night ended as quickly as it began, with the Cats on the clock early at pick two and out of action by pick 15. They were smart to pair Prespakis alongside long-time teammate in Friswell with their first two picks, making for a one-two midfield punch which promises to prove more than handy. The Cats always pick local and did so once again in taking on Featherston, adding some dynamism and excitement to a talented crop of midfielders. VFLW product, Johnson was the final cab off the rank, another athletic type who adds a different element to the midfield mix. With four selections within the top 15, the Cats have made good on an opportunity to accelerate their regeneration.

Featured Image: Geelong draftee Zali Friswell dons her new colours | Credit: AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Collingwood

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Collingwood.

#29 Eliza James (Forward/Midfielder)
1/10/2003 | 168cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Collingwood fans were made to wait for their side’s first pick before all three came in a flurry. The Collingwood-Oakleigh link remains strong as premiership Charger, James enters the Magpies’ squad, marking great reward for a terrific few years in the elite talent pathway. With explosive athletic traits, the ability to clunk strong marks and create scoring opportunities, James is a dynamic forward-midfielder who can really hurt the opposition. Competition for spots will likely be pretty tight in the rotation James fits, though she is quite versatile and would benefit from being afforded some time to sharpen her skills and build a more refined finishing touch. Overall, there is plenty of upside in this selection.

ELIZA JAMES CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers
>> Top Performers: 2021 NAB League Girls grand final

#32 Eloise Chaston (General Forward)
23/02/2002 | 169cm
Eastern Ranges / Hawthorn VFLW

The Magpies pulled this pick out of the hat, taking on another versatile forward in Eastern Ranges skipper, Chaston. The 19-year-old also plied her trade for Hawthorn’s VFLW side across six games this season, impressing from the get-go with her smooth movement and overall dynamism. She plays slightly taller than what her 169cm standing suggests, leaning on her athleticism to compete aerially while maintaining an eye-catching ground level game. Chaston spent plenty of time up forward in 2021 but is also capable of rolling further afield. Her selection, especially in context with the other two, suggests Collingwood may be in for a restructure of its forwardline personnel.

Eloise Chaston on the ball for Eastern Ranges

#33 Imogen Barnett (Tall Forward)
11/06/1995 | 176cm
Collingwood VFLW

Rounding out Collingwood’s three-player draft haul was another of their own, in VFLW mature-ager Barnett. The 26-year-old has spearheaded the Magpies’ undefeated reserves side in 2021, booting a competition-high 21 goals across her 15 outings. She has refined her craft over the years to become a reliable and consistent key forward, possessing a sound goalkicking technique and strong hands on the end of her shrewd leads. The Magpies’ forward depth gets even stronger with the addition of Barnett, who is a readymade option familiar with the Magpies’ system and style of play. She has a big job ahead trying to crack Collingwood’s starting forwardline.

Imogen Barnett has a shot on goal for Collingwood VFLW

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Collingwood added some size, strength and dynamism to its forward stocks with three selections between picks 29-33. There is serious upside and scope for development in the likes of James and Chaston, who are versatile enough to fit a few different roles in the front five or further afield. Barnett, the mature-ager of the group, is a known quantity to Magpies staff and players alike and thus provides a reliable depth option. The Magpies now have quite extensive ruck and tall forward listings, having addressed both needs in the trade and draft periods.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Carlton

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Carlton.

#10 Annie Lee (Defender)
28/08/2003 | 169cm
Geelong Falcons / Vic Country

One of the standout prospects from a talent-stacked Geelong Falcons region, Lee proved a ‘best available’ kind of selection for Carlton at pick 10. As was seen on draft night, the 17-year-old is an avid Blues fan which makes this match all the more sweet. Throughout this year’s NAB League season, Lee looked a class above with her reading of the play and composure on the ball in defence, with that class translating well during her time representative level and even VFLW football. The Blues somewhat struggled in transition during last season, so likely valued Lee’s decision making and execution by foot, while her intercept abilities will suit a backline already strong in that department. She may even roam up the ground to a wing given the competition for defensive spots.

ANNIE LEE CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

Annie Lee in action for the Geelong Falcons

#11 Keeley Sherar (Midfielder)
29/11/2003 | 170cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

In need of midfield depth and running power, Carlton pulled off somewhat of a surprise at pick 11 by snapping up Sherar. Another Blues fan, the Eastern Ranges midfielder offers a handy point of difference to her new side’s midfield with her raw athleticism and burst of speed out of congestion. While time to refine her disposal would be ideal, Sherar may have a role to play in her maiden AFLW season alongside a very sturdy Carlton engine room which already features Madison Prespakis, Grace Egan, Lucy McEvoy, and Abbie McKay. With a lot of similar types in that lot, Sherar could be the dynamic turn what Carlton is after around the ball, especially given who the Blues have lost and will be without. Her upside is enormous and her highlight reel, impressive.

KEELEY SHERAR CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Ones to watch: AFLW Draft surprise packets

Brooke Vickers on the ball for Oakleigh Chargers

#23 Brooke Vickers (Wing / Defender)
6/03/2002 | 171cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Adding to the much-needed running power Carlton obtained in this year’s crop, Vickers can tear sides up on the outer but isn’t afraid to crack in and win the hard ball. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player started out the season at half-back, but later found her place on the wing where she was able to join in attacking transitions and deal some serious damage to the opposition with her penetrative kicking. With fellow Chargers graduate Mimi Hill sidelined due to injury, Vickers could prove a like-for-like replacement option or bide her time with a shift back to defence. A popular teammate, ‘Chook’ could well become a fan favourite too if given the opportunity.

BROOKE VICKERS CONTENT:

>> VFLW Player Focus: Brooke Vickers
>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Defenders
>> Ones to watch: AFLW Draft surprise packets

#26 Imogen Milford (Tall Forward)
2/12/1999 | 179cm
Casey Demons VFLW

Carlton said it would target a forward and with its final pick, swooped on a mature-ager in Milford. The 21-year-old is obviously still quite young and has taken some time to develop, but began to really hit her stride in 2021 with 19 goals across 15 VFLW games – the second-highest haul in this year’s competition. At 179cm, she may well prove the readymade key forward option Carlton seeks with Tayla Harris out the door, potentially also allowing more time for the likes of fellow talls Serena Gibbs and Paige Trudgeon to develop their own craft. A handy addition.

IMOGEN MILFORD CONTENT:

>> Top mature-agers to watch
>> Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

DRAFT SUMMARY:

After securing a top talent in Lee with pick 10, Carlton drafted for needs and picked up players with plenty of upside. Their ball movement will be aided by the likes of Lee and Vickers behind the ball, while Sherar could unlock a different element in midfield with her turn of speed and overall dynamism. There is a really positive blend of reliability and upside among those three Victorian youngsters, while the addition of 21-year-old key forward Milford ensures the Blues’ tall stocks are, well, stocked. Two Carlton supporters in the mix sweetens things further, and Blues fans should be excited by what these prospects can offer to the squad both immediately and in the future.

2021 AFLW Draft: Club-by-club wrap

THE 2021 AFL Women’s Draft saw 59 players enter the top flight on Tuesday night, with a mix of the nation’s most promising youth, undeniable state league guns, and some recycled elite level talent making up the selections. We recap the hauls from all 14 clubs, and there still may be more to come yet with Carlton and St Kilda opting to pass their final picks, while Geelong’s Millie Brown has been placed on the inactive list.

Adelaide:

#17 Zoe Prowse (Sturt)
#20 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)
#34 Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide)

Adelaide picked up a three-pronged haul of local talent, spearheaded by another tall in Sturt’s Zoe Prowse. The 177cm ruck has been developing her craft in other positions given the Crows’ strong stocks in said department, but offers great athleticism, aerial ability, and value at their first pick. Three selections later, Adelaide went with a bolter to secure Glenelg prospect Brooke Tonon, a half-back/winger with tenacity and plenty of drive on the outer. Rounding out the crop was Abbie Ballard, a top-age midfielder who remarkably stepped up to skipper West Adelaide in its SANFLW grand final this season, setting the tone with her pressure and contested work.

Brisbane:

#18 Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore)
#35 Bella Smith (Maroochydore)
#46 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)
#53 Luka Yoshida-Martin (University of Queensland)
#58 Lucinda Puller (Bond University)

Brisbane hauled in a handful of Queenslanders to top up its premiership squad, headlined by three players originally out of the Maroochydore Football Club. The Lions featured with the final pick of the first five rounds, starting with Maggie Harmer at number 18. She’s an intercept defender who can roam further afield, where inside midfielder and pick 35 Bella Smith likes to operate. Fellow Lions Academy graduate Mikayla Pauga was next off the board, a forward-midfielder with natural footballing traits. Brisbane then dipped into the mature-age pool by selecting Luka Yoshida-Martin and Lucinda Puller out of the QAFLW. The former was an exciting forward asset in the University of Queensland’s premiership side, while the latter hails from an elite soccer background and typically plays at the other end of the field.

Carlton:

#10 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons)
#11 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges)
#23 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers)
#26 Imogen Milford (Casey VFLW)
#39 Pass

Poised nicely with two close pairs of picks in the first and second rounds, Carlton stuck to its word by targeting the best available talent, some midfield running power, and forward-line depth. Classy Geelong Falcons defender Annie Lee was first up at pick 10, fitting the ‘best available’ description having slipped passed the Cats’ early picks. She’s a great reader of the play, distributor, and avid Blues fan. Another in the latter category is Keeley Sherar, who was snapped up with the very next pick. Her burst out of the stoppages and athletic upside make for some exciting viewing through midfield. A second Vic Metro representative in Brooke Vickers opened Carlton’s second round account, with the forward-running winger potentially an apt replacement for fellow Oakleigh product Mimi Hill while she recovers from injury. Mature-age forward Imogen Milford was taken at pick 26 out of the VFLW, having booted 19 goals in 15 games for Casey. She could be a readymade replacement for Tayla Harris as Serena Gibbs continues to develop.

Collingwood:

#29 Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers)
#32 Eloise Chaston (Eastern Ranges)
#33 Imogen Barnett (Collingwood VFLW)

With three selections poised close together, Collingwood nabbed a dynamic crop of players. Eliza James was first up at pick 29, an Oakleigh premiership player who continues the Magpies’ strong connection with the NAB League region. She’s an athletic midfielder-forward who can take a strong mark and hit the scoreboard. A surprise selection came at pick 32 as Eastern Ranges captain Eloise Chaston was snapped up. She’s another dynamic type up forward who boasts a booming kick and moves smoothly. With the very next pick, Collingwood promoted VFLW product Imogen Barnett to its senior list, after she led the competition’s goalkicking for the undefeated Magpies.

Fremantle:

#14 Amy Franklin (Claremont)
#31 Dana East (Swan Districts)
#38 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
#44 Airlie Runnalls (North Melbourne VFLW)
#52 Jessica Low (Claremont)
#57 Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)

Fremantle brought in an equal-high haul of six players on draft night, including five local talents out of the WAFLW and elite talent pathway. Athletic key position utility Amy Franklin was difficult to pass up at pick 14, serving as a player who can get it done aerially at either end of the ground. Fellow state Under 19s representatives Dana East and Makaela Tuhakaraina were next off the board in the 30s, offering inside ball winning class and incredible speed up forward respectively. The Dockers pulled off a Victorian coup with VFLW product Airlie Runnells landing at pick 44. Fremantle liked the 23-year-old’s running ability having broken down her VFLW footage. Jessica Low (pick 52) and Sarah Wielstra (57) rounded out the selections, dipping back into the local pool. Low can play a variety of positions and finally gets her chance as a senior player, while Wielstra offers some forward-ruck support for Mim Strom.

Geelong:

#2 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
#7 Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons)
#9 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons)
#15 Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW)

It was no surprise to see Georgie Prespakis head to the Cattery at pick two, and the classy midfielder will be joined by fellow Calder Cannons graduate Zali Friswell. Geelong will hope the two can form a strong centre bounce partnership amid its rebuild, with the two already a very familiar combination. The Cats then picked local with their last two picks, dipping into the Falcons and VFLW talent pools. Athletic forward Gabbi Featherston came at pick nine, with her leap and massive upside at 169cm proving too hard to ignore. 20-year-old multi-sport athlete Annabel Johnson was the Cats’ fourth first round selection, again adding to her new side’s midfield depth.

Gold Coast:

#1 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
#6 Teagan Levi (Bond University)
#8 Ashanti Bush (Hawthorn VFLW)
#30 Giselle Davies (Bond University)

All eyes were on Gold Coast with pick one and it was no surprise to see Oakleigh Chargers premiership captain, Charlie Rowbottom selected first. The powerful midfielder-forward is a contested beast at 179cm and is equally damaging bursting away from stoppages as she is taking big grabs inside attacking 50. Local product Teagan Levi joined her sister Maddison at the Suns with pick six, again adding great athleticism and skill to the engine room. A second Suns Academy graduate in Giselle Davies joined at pick 30 to add some key defensive support, but not before Northern Territory native Ashanti Bush was taken at pick eight. Bush is a damaging forward who also plied her trade with Hawthorn in this year’s VFLW.

Greater Western Sydney:

#37 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers)
#49 Jessica Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy)
#55 Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power)
#59 Georgie Fowler (East Coast Eagles)
#60 Casidhe Simmons (UNSW-ES Bulldogs)
#61 Erin Todd (Inner West Magpies)

The GWS GIANTS took the equal most draft selections into the night, and utilised them all, including redrafting Erin Todd with the final selection. The first two picks went as many predicted, with Murray Bushrangers tall and GIANTS Academy member Ally Morphett heading to the club with Pick 37, followed by Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle with the second selection at Pick 49. The pair provide completely different attributes, but make a couple of immediate inclusions in the forward half of the ground. The GIANTS then picked up tackling machine Brodee Mowbray out of the Southern Power, with talented forward Georgie Fowler a big improver in AFL Sydney this year, and former heptathlete Casidhe Simmons being a surprising and unique pick, selected with Pick 60 to round out the large GIANTS’ haul.

Melbourne:

#41 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges)
#42 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
#45 Alison Brown (Casey VFLW)

Melbourne selectors and fans alike had to wait a while for their first pick, but knew what was coming with father-daughter selection Georgia Campbell landing at pick 41. The athletic ruck-forward is an absolute steal at that range, bringing enormous upside and potential to her post. The Dees went tall again with the very next pick, snapping up Campbell’s Vic Metro teammate Tahlia Gillard out of the Calder Cannons. Gillard uses her 189cm frame to advantage in the ruck but is also versatile enough to roll forward and clunk big marks. Rounding out the trio was mature-ager Alison Brown, a player with experience at two different AFLW clubs. Originally a Blue and then a Saint, she comes out of the Demons’ VFLW program where she settled in defence but showed good versatility.

North Melbourne:

#13 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)
#19 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers)
#28 Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs)
#43 Perri King (Tasmania Devils)
#51 Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW)
#56 Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)

The third side to take six selections in the 2021 draft, North Melbourne picked up some absolute bargains and a strong mix of experience and youth. The youth came early with Geelong Falcons midfielder Tess Craven taken at pick 13, a wonderful addition to the Roos’ already strong midfield who can crack in at the coalface, but also works hard to accumulate and make good decisions around the ground. Tara Slender may well be the steal of the draft at pick 19, with the athletic tall able to play at either end or through midfield. She may take some time to settle at senior level, but her best is elite. The Roos finally secured Kim Rennie‘s services at pick 28, having not struck a deal with the Western Bulldogs during trade period. She brings some much-needed key position experience and strength. Perri King and Ella Maurer were the Tasmanians North Melbourne opted for; King is arguably a first round talent with a terrific blend of class and tackling grunt in midfield, while Maurer is another midfielder with promising traits. Collingwood VFLW product Jasmine Ferguson landed between them at pick 51, showcasing the Roos’ intent in gaining mature talent en route to premiership contention.

Richmond:

#5 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)
#16 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons)
#48 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne VFLW)
#50 Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons)
#54 Akec Makur Chuot (Richmond)

Richmond addressed its need for midfield depth with four fresh faces, and the redrafting of defender Akec Makur Chuot. Oakleigh Chargers premiership player Stella Reid came at pick five, with the utility offering consistent ball winning prowess, running power, and scoreboard presence on each line. Fellow Vic Metro representative Emelia Yassir matches the Tigers’ tenacity and is a handy addition at pick 16, providing class at ground level. Richmond then went for a mature-ager in Meagan Kiely with pick 48, who proved too good to overlook after a stellar VFLW campaign with North Melbourne. She’s ready to slot straight into midfield. Geelong Falcons winger Ingrid Houtsma was the last fresh selection at pick 50, brining a good deal of athleticism and versatility to the mix.

St Kilda:

#4 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)
#12 Ashleigh Richards (Dandenong Stingrays)
#36 Pass

St Kilda was in and out of this draft in a flash, taking two first round selections before passing at pick 36. The Saints sured up their forwardline with the selection of Ella Friend, a contested marking phenom out of the GWV Rebels who can also roll up to a wing. She could prove a great fold for Caitlin Greiser at 175cm. At pick 12, Ashleigh Richards keeps the Dandenong-St Kilda link alive as somewhat of a surprise selection, though she has proven herself at every level. The 17-year-old can rotate through midfield from the forwardline and has great footy smarts, as well as her obvious versatility and leadership quality as the Stingrays’ 2021 co-captain.

West Coast:

#3 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco)
#21 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)
#24 Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)
#40 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)
#47 Emily Bennett (Claremont)

West Coast pulled off arguably the night’s first surprise by snapping up Charlotte Thomas with pick three. The AFLW Academy member only played one game this year due to a wrist injury, but had previously shown enormous talent at 175cm with her clean skills and reading of the play. Courtney Rowley was a steal at pick 21, the third of Western Australia’s pool, and is a bundle of energy on both sides of midfield. Tall stocks were next on the agenda as the Eagles took Beth Schilling and Sarah Lakay. Both are athletic, with Schilling more of a key defensive type, while Lakay is a developing forward-ruck. Emily Bennett got her chance at pick 47 after missing out last year, proving hard to deny after a consistent campaign. The rebounding defender capped off a strong haul for the Eagles.

Western Bulldogs:

#22 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers)
#25 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
#27 Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)

Having previously featured heavily at the top end of the draft, the Western Bulldogs got to sit back and watch others select first in the Victorian pool, ending up with three high value picks within the 20s. Two of them were 19th-year talents who came back after being overlooked in 2020, starting with Amanda Ling. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was best afield in her side’s NAB League grand final triumph, and is a tenacious worker on the inside with clean hands and a sound work rate. Elizabeth Snell (pick 27) was the other 2002-born prospect to land at the Kennel, bringing a touch of speed and great character to the midfield-forward rotation. In between those selections, Murray Bushrangers best and fairest Aurora Smith slid to pick 25, proving a high-value choice for the Bulldogs. She balances her game well on both sides of midfield and again has a handy burst of speed, adding to her level of consistency.

Image Credit: Gold Coast SUNS via Twitter