Category: Marquee Matchups

Marquee Matchups: Oliver Davis vs. Zane Trew

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place as the class of 2020 eventually takes the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Tasmania’s Oliver Davis and Swan Districts’ Zane Trew – make up two of the most promising inside midfielders in this year’s cohort. Both are incredibly tough and consistent, able to prise the ball out at stoppages and set their sides on the front foot from midfield. Ironically, they lined up on the same side during last year’s fixture between Australia’s Under 17s and New Zealand, both impressing through the engine room rotation. In 2020, they will inevitably meet during the proposed Under 18 National Championships, with Davis a leader among the Allies group, and Trew an important cog for Western Australia.

Davis enjoyed a stellar, largely uninterrupted run for his state in its inaugural full-time NAB League campaign, running out 13 times for an average of 22 disposals. He also broke through for a maiden Allies Under 18 appearance, picking up 10 touches against Vic Country on home turf. On the other hand, Trew suffered some bad luck on the injury front to be restricted to just three WAFL Colts games, but impressed in each. He also missed WA’s Under 18 campaign as a result, but is as professional as any current prospect and should be raring to go this year.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 182cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight:
78kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

ATHLETIC PROFILES

2019 PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS

STANDING VERTICAL JUMP

Davis – 56cm
Trew – 60cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Davis – 71cm/68cm
Trew – 76cm/73cm

SPEED (20m)

Davis – 3.11 seconds
Trew – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Davis – 8.29 seconds
Trew – 8.66 seconds

ENDURANCE (YO-YO)

Davis – 20.3
Trew – 20.8

Strength is one key athletic area which is difficult to measure in these tests, but both manage to show it on-field. In these parameters, their respective results match up to those typical of inside midfielders; boasting agility good enough to see them slip out of congestion, power in their legs which translates to the solid jumping results, and not an overly large helping of speed. The two broke dead-even over 20 metres, and will look to improve their explosive burst over the course of 2020. Trew’s yo-yo test score of 20.8 is understandable considering the amount of time he spent on the sidelines in 2019, but both players should look to really boost that number to better suit their position at the next level.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Davis:

2019 NAB League

13 games | 22.0 disposals | 2.4 marks | 7.8 tackles | 5.4 clearances | 5.1 inside 50s | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1)

Trew:

2019 WAFL Colts

3 games | 29 disposals | 2.3 marks | 7 tackles | 2.3 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

It is quite tough to take a hell of a lot away from numbers over such a wide gap in games, but the similarities are evident between these two players in the data provided.

Davis was a figure of consistency as a bottom-ager, moving through midfield as the Devils’ primary ball winner and main contested asset. His 22-disposal average can attest to that, along with averages of 7.8 tackles, 5.4 clearances, and 5.1 inside 50s. It goes to show that a lot of his possessions come at the coalface, with long kicks his outlet of choice.

Trew is a touch different in the sense that he extracts more significantly via hand, but his ball winning ability is just as prominent as he boasts a higher average across three games – largely thanks to a 40-disposal performance which we will get to later. The West Australian’s numbers stack up well across the board, and display the same contested strength as Davis.

BEST GAME

Davis:

2019 NAB League Round 8 vs. Dandenong

33 disposals
7 marks
3 tackles
5 clearances
9 inside 50s

Trew:

2019 WAFL Colts Round 3 vs. Perth

40 disposals
(24 handballs)
4 marks
10 tackles
4 inside 50s

Both prospects put their accumulative value on full show in our chosen performances, racking up game-high numbers and respective personal-bests for 2019 in terms of disposals.

Davis’ big outing came in tight a loss to Dandenong, which boasted the likes of Hayden Young and Mitchell Riordan in its midfield. Davis’ work rate came to the fore against stiff opposition, digging in to collect 33 disposals; split between his contested work (five clearances), and ever-improving spread away from it (seven marks). He pumped the ball inside attacking 50 nine times, too, showcasing that kick-first approach.

A handball-happy Trew also enjoyed a day out, but stands a level above Davis here in the sense that it came in a win, and he also managed to crack the 40-disposal mark. This was Trew’s final WAFL Colts game for the year, and was a display which had been building after efforts of 21 and 26 disposals. His two-way work rate came to the fore with 10 tackles, and that undeniable strength at the contest helped him flick out plenty of passes from the middle via hand.

STRENGTHS

Davis:

Contested ball/clearances
Consistency
Toughness
Tackling
Agility

Trew:

Contested ball/extraction
Releasing handballs
Strength
Tackling
Poise

While there are some obvious similarities across the strengths of either player, the subtle differences in their respective styles can also be observed.

The distinction of clearances on Davis’ side, to extraction for Trew in terms of contested ball is quite deliberate. While Trew is a terrific clearance player himself, he has been shown more significantly to use his strength and awareness to release handballs to teammates on the run, rather than simply look for meterage. On the other hand, Davis has largely taken the quick entry approach in similar situations, able to use his agility to make small openings and pump the ball forward via foot at the first opportunity. He seems to be finding a better balance in his short-range kicks and handball outlets as time goes on.

Both players are incredibly tough going both ways, and remain just as relevant in their defensive duties as they are going forward. Tackling is listed as a strength on either side, and rightly so as the two love to dig in with averages of over seven tackles each per game. But those slight differences in agility against strength, and first options by foot or hand are the things which set these two prospects apart.

IMPROVEMENTS

Davis:

Speed
Blazing away

Trew:

Breakaway speed

The improvements slapped next to the names of inside midfielders almost feel pre-set at times, and while these two may be working on some of those typical areas, they are more advanced than most overall.

Both will inevitably be working on their speed to achieve that eye-catching burst from congestion, despite not being punishably slow at this point in time. For Trew, it is listed as breakaway speed as he tends to stand up in tackles a touch more than Davis, and could benefit from translating his strength in different ways.

Davis has the agility to keep out of trouble, but often throws the ball straight on his boot in traffic. As mentioned, he seems to be improving in that area, and is quite capable of hitting up shorter options with time going inside 50. On the flip-side, Trew is a highly skilled disposer by foot and could be even more damaging if he utilised that asset a touch more – it is just a matter of finding balance.

Something which is not listed for either player, but will make them more complete prospects is the factor of scoreboard impact. Both managed just a goal apiece last year and while Trew has the penetration to find the goals from range, could always do so more often as Davis would hope to.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Davis:

2019 NAB League Round 11 vs. Northern

Responded well to being left out of the Allies’ 23, bouncing back to his usual ball-winning ways as a constant at the stoppages. Provides a good mix of competitiveness going both ways, finding the ball constantly but also tackling hard without it. He did show some burst and a willingness to kick forward on occasion – like with his centre clearance in the final term – and has the potential to be more effective in use. Was the skipper for the day as a bottom-ager, so has some pretty impressive traits already and is quite obviously talented.

Trew:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Metro

There’s a lot to like about the Swan Districts product as a solidly built midfielder. Starting at the opening centre bounce, Trew’s first big play was a releasing handball forward which opened up play, followed by a composed kick across the 50 that highlighted his rare vision. Later in the game, his overhead marking came into play as he floated between the 50 arcs, contesting hard in the air. Trew’s aggression also came to the fore as he was not afraid to get stuck in and lay some hard tackles.

Marquee Matchups: Eddie Ford vs. Oliver Henry

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Western Jets’ Eddie Ford and Geelong Falcons’ Oliver Henry – are two high-flying prospects who have already lined up on opposing sides at NAB League level, as well as in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase fixture. While neither player was able to break through for a representative Under 18 berth in 2019, both ran out for Under 17 digs in the ‘Big V’ after also representing their regions in the 2018 Under 16 National Championships.

Western’s Ford is a forward/midfielder with plenty of x-factor, able to break games open with his scoreboard impact and knack for taking big marks. Henry is similarly gifted in the air, but is more of a swingman having rotated from end-to-end for the Falcons last year. He is likely to spend a touch more time up forward in 2020, and will be a key part of Geelong’s talented squad after 15 NAB League outings last year. Ford managed one more appearance for the Jets as a bottom-ager, and will be a focal point as he looks to develop his midfield craft.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro

DOB: June 21, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: General forward/midfielder

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: June 29, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: General forward/defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

There is no recent testing data to feed off from either player due to precautionary preseason management; with Ford sitting out testing on account of a persistent knee niggle, while Henry took the safe route with his tight left hamstring.

However, it only really takes a couple of glimpses of both prospects on-field to recognise their athletic values. Both possess terrific vertical leaps, helping Henry to play above his size up either end, and allowing Ford to take eye-catching hangers in full flight. Ford is perhaps a touch quicker off the mark, and both players are quite agile in general play given their relatively lean builds. Endurance is an area which remains to be seen on either side, especially given their interrupted preseasons and the extended break.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Ford:

16 games
14.1 disposals
3.7 marks
1.4 tackles
1.5 clearances
1.9 inside 50s
0.4 goals (7)

Henry:

15 games
10.0 disposals
4.4 marks
1.1 tackles
1.5 inside 50s
0.8 rebound 50s
1.2 goals (18)

The closeness in this pair’s 2019 statistics is quite satisfying, each running out for a virtually identical amount of games and returning very similar numbers. The small differences can also be attributed to their respective roles; as Ford was able to run through midfield and pump forward some clearances while adding to those inside 50 numbers, while Henry penetrated both arcs in his swingman duties and provided slightly better marking numbers due to his intercept marking ability in defence. His role as somewhat of a third leading tall up forward also contributed to that, allowing the Geelong product to hit the scoreboard more often with over a goal per game. Ford booted goals in six seperate games, including two with multiples, while Henry managed multiples in five of his seven scoring games.

BEST GAME

Ford:

2019 NAB League Round 7 vs. Dandenong

20 disposals
10 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50
2 goals

Henry:

2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Dandenong

11 disposals (10 kicks)
7 marks
1 inside 50
5 goals
3 behinds

Our selections make it seem as if Dandenong were whipping boys in 2019, but it is purely a coincidence that both players performed well against the Stingrays. Ford found the ideal balance between his midfield and forward craft, shifting through the engine room at times while spreading well around the ground and making his impact felt when forward of centre. His efforts were in vein given Western’s big loss, as were Henry’s in Geelong’s draw with the Stingrays. The Falcon’s seven marks as a forward target showcased that ability to play above his size, with eight of his 11 disposals also ending in scores. Henry did have higher disposal games, primarily in the backline, but we feel this performance better exemplifies the role he can play at the next level.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 NAB League Round 8
Western Jets 7.8 (50) def. Geelong Falcons 2.10 (22)

Ford:

12 disposals
4 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50

Henry:

8 disposals (7 kicks)
6 marks
3 tackles
2 inside 50s

In what was hardly a memorable early-season clash between Geelong and Western, these two bottom-aged guns were kept relatively quiet. Still, they were able to show flashes of their best form, with Ford nearing his overall disposal average and finding space on the outer, while Henry was a viable marking option for the Falcons. Neither player was able to find the big sticks, and it is quiet understandable as Geelong managed just two majors to Western’s seven.

STRENGTHS

Ford:

Vertical leap
Clean hands
Overhead marking
X-factor
Impact

Henry:

Marking on the lead
Intercepting
Vertical leap
Versatility
Composure

If you weren’t already aware, both of these players are terrific markers of the ball. While vertical leap is a listed strength on either side, Ford and Henry use it in slightly different ways. While Ford can pull off those explosive pack marks, Henry uses his leap to intercept while sitting in the defensive hole, or to get extension on the lead as a forward. Henry’s dual-purpose marking ability makes him an ultimate utility, which is exactly why versatility is also listed as one of his assets. Ford’s knack for hauling in those mercurial grabs gives him a touch of x-factor, which is also seen in his ability to impact the scoreboard and break games open in quick time. Another string to Henry’s bow is his composure, usually a sure disposer by foot who fared well while the Falcons were under enormous pressure in 2019. Both players only need a few touches to truly damage the opposition, with their combination of athleticism and freakish skills setting them apart.

IMPROVEMENTS

Ford:

Consistency/accumulation

Henry:

Playing to size

Pin-pointing improvements for such high-level players is often an exercise in splitting hairs, but we continue to give it a crack. Neither of the listed areas are necessarily knocks on the players, but more so little adjustments which could be made along the path to becoming more complete prospects.

With Ford eying off more time in the midfield, he will need to up his accumulative value and become a more consistent figure in games. While stats aren’t everything and his ability to tear games apart in small bursts works up forward, imagine what impact he could have with more of the ball.

For Henry, while quashing his versatility would be silly, having him lock down or show greater strength in one specific role sometimes makes a prospect easier to recruit, as you know exactly what kind of player to mould at the next level. Given he can play like a key position outlet at just 187cm among juniors, he can perhaps work on better playing to his size in harnessing that ground ball game to excel in the AFL system.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Ford:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kick a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through.

It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

Henry:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The talented Geelong Falcon who is the younger brother of rising Cats’ defender Jack Henry showed plenty of his talent in what was a hard day for the Team Dal Santo forwards. He was still able to catch the eye; he hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a quality intercept mark in the goal square showing his speed and quick decision making.

Henry was strong overhead and clean at ground level but he also did the what was required defensively as well with some good tackles and smothers, he looks to be one of the most dangerous forward prospects in the 2020 draft.

Marquee Matchups: Elijah Hollands vs. Nathan O’Driscoll

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Murray’s Elijah Hollands and Perth’s Nathan O’Driscoll – have already gone head-to-head, matching up in representative action at Under 16 and Under 18 level, while also playing on opposing sides during last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star fixture. Both are among their state’s leading draft prospects for 2020, with Hollands in the conversation for number one pick honours before suffering a season-ending knee injury, while O’Driscoll has the all-round game to push for first round selection.

Hollands, who was one of the few bottom-agers to feature in all four national carnival opportunities, last year also cracked the Bushrangers’ Under 18 side as a 16-year-old. He played three times in 2018 and backed it up with another four outings in 2019, averaging nearly 17 disposals and over a goal per game in the NAB League in between his school football commitments with Caulfield Grammar. Having already graduated from school, Hollands was primed to feature full-time for Murray in his usual midfield/forward role, hoping to showcase his match-winning abilities.

O’Driscoll was another bottom-aged prospect to make an early break into the Under 18 state squad, running out three times for the Black Ducks across last year’s carnival. Playing mostly as a running half-back/wingman, the Perth product averaged 16 disposals and 6.7 tackles as he adjusted seamlessly to the step-up in competition. O’Driscoll was also a mainstay in the Demons’ Colts side, averaging over 25 disposals in his seven appearances in more of a midfield-oriented role. Both he and Hollands were set to see more midfield minutes in 2020, but could well have also met in a half-back/half-forward duel in this year’s National Championships.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: April 25, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Forward/balanced midfielder

Nathan O’Driscoll
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: May 17, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Hollands – 47cm
O’Driscoll
– 67cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Hollands – 60cm/59cm
O’Driscoll
– 86cm/80cm

SPEED (20m)

Hollands – 3.05 seconds
O’Driscoll
– 2.99 seconds

AGILITY

Hollands – 8.87 seconds
O’Driscoll
– 8.46 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Hollands – 21.2
O’Driscoll
– 21.8

Note: Hollands’ results derive from 2019 preseason testing.

Obviously these results are essentially incomparable given all of Hollands’ scores come from his bottom-aged preseason, but O’Driscoll’s efforts from earlier this year give a good insight into his overall athletic package. Both are powerful and well-built athletes, with O’Driscoll proving as much in his near-elite results across the board; posting terrific running vertical jump scores, a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint, very serviceable agility time of 8.46 seconds, and a high-end yo-yo test score of 21.8.

O’Driscoll’s rare combination of speed and endurance is exactly what AFL recruiters yearn for, while his explosive capabilities prove he is well equipped to keep up with the speed and rigours of senior football. While his 2019 results may not speak to it as such, Hollands is not lost on the same attributes, boasting a similarly high-level speed and endurance base. His vertical jumping results are entirely unflattering and thus far from indicative of how he plays. Hollands would arguably feature right up there with O’Driscoll at this point in time if not for his knee injury, but that remains to be seen.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Hollands:

2019 NAB League: 4 games | 17.0 disposals | 5.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (4)

2019 Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 13.5 disposals | 2.3 marks | 5.5 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 5.3 inside 50s | 0.5 goals (2)

O’Driscoll:

2019 WAFL Colts: 7 games | 25.1 disposals | 4 marks | 7.6 tackles | 0 goals

2019 Under 18 National Championships: 3 games | 16 disposals | 1.7 marks | 6.7 tackles | 3 clearances | 2.6 inside 50s

The slight differences in roles across these two prospects are evident in their 2019 statistics, with O’Driscoll showing a higher output in terms of disposals and tackles, while Hollands has the edge in forward 50 penetration and scoreboard impact. It is much easier to find the ball across half-back, but O’Driscoll is exceptional at it with his contested work and intercept marking abilities, while also being able to showcase his ball winning prowess with a touch more midfield time than Hollands – particularly at WAFL Colts level.

In a much more forward or outside oriented role, Hollands managed to find space well and work almost as a centre half-forward at times with his marking strength. His two-way work rate is also evident in his tackling numbers, while that all-important ability to find the goals shines through across all levels. Hollands may see less of the ball, but creates high-impact plays forward of centre. That is not to say O’Driscoll cannot do the same, with his kick penetration particularly damaging on the rebound.

BEST GAME

Hollands:

2019 NAB League Round 1 vs. Gippsland

15 disposals (12 kicks)
10 marks
3 tackles
4 inside 50s
1 goal, 3 behinds

O’Driscoll:

2019 WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. South Fremantle

28 disposals (14 kicks)
7 marks
12 tackles
10 inside 50s

Our chosen game for both players may seem odd given they returned outings with more disposals or goals respectively, but we feel these were their most balanced performances.

Hollands began his 2019 season strongly against good opposition and while his 1.3 may have proven costly in a three-point loss to Gippsland, he was dangerous as ever. The Bushrangers’ 15 disposals were thereabouts with his career average across all levels, but his impact came in his ability to provide an aerial presence (10 marks) and cover the ground well from half-forward with four inside 50s, while also heading back towards goal effectively to put four scores on the board.

O’Driscoll’s chosen game stood out despite having cracked the 30-disposal mark in a seperate outing, and had another level of value given it came in a winning effort. This was a monster performance from the Demons gun, picking up 28 disposals from midfield and pumping the ball forward relentlessly with 10 inside 50s, while remaining relevant around the ground with seven marks, and on the defensive side with 12 tackles. All of O’Driscoll’s damaging traits and work rate were on show in this fixture, and may be a pointer of what’s to come should he be let off the chain through the engine room more often.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 Under 18 National Championships
Vic Country 6.10 (46) def. by Western Australia 7.9 (51)

Hollands:

14 disposals
2 marks
7 tackles
1 clearance
4 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

O’Driscoll:

21 disposals
4 marks
6 tackles
1 clearance
4 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

This was of course the game made famous by Regan Clarke‘s match-winning goal for the Black Ducks, and Hayden Young‘s elite switching kick which put him on the map (if he wasn’t there already). Employed off half-back, O’Driscoll arguably fared the better of the two, showing great dash on the outside and delivering the ball forward with aplomb. Hollands, who was manned at times by Denver Grainger-Barras, still managed to make a menace of himself up forward with a touch more ground level play, but failed to find the big sticks in this outing.

STRENGTHS

Hollands:

Overhead marking
Scoreboard impact
Athleticism
Versatility

O’Driscoll:

Contested ball
Kick penetration
Two-way impact
Explosiveness

It will be difficult to adjust these strengths for Hollands across the year despite being billed for more time in a different role, but O’Driscoll’s four traits listed below translate well across both his half-back and midfield assignments. While Hollands’ overhead marking and scoreboard impact hint at a very forward-oriented mindset, he is just as capable as O’Driscoll on the defensive end when need be, with the mix of speed and smarts from both players aiding such efforts.

Hollands’ athleticism and strong build bode for more time in the engine room, and O’Driscoll has arguably better proven his worth in said position with his ability to hunt the ball and really burst away from stoppages. Hollands thrives on being able to position well and outclass his direct opponents, while O’Driscoll uses the same attribute when stationed in defence to intercept aerially. Hollands is more of an attacking threat in that sense, using his clean hands to burrow through at ground level, while also marking in dangerous areas.

Both players are also great kicks of the ball and while Hollands can sure up his kicking for goal at times, is usually a sure bet in terms of length and accuracy. O’Driscoll’s pins are absolute weapons in terms of penetrative ability, and make him a two-way asset in any position.

IMPROVEMENTS

Hollands:

Consistency/accumulation
Post-injury durability

O’Driscoll:

Short/long-range kicking balance

Part of Hollands’ improvements are listed by no fault of his own, with the question of durability and endurance often attributed to those who suffer severe knee injuries. A preseason at the elite level should cover that issue, with his work-rate and professionalism usually no issue. In terms of moving seamlessly into a more permanent midfield role, he’ll need to up his numbers and find the ball more consistently. O’Driscoll is a difficult one to list improvements for given his well-roundedness both athletically and skills-wise, but finding a balance in his short and long-range kicking options will be key to his effectiveness going forward. He sometimes blasts the ball forward from midfield, but is such a great target-finder when allowed more time.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Hollands:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a very near-complete performance from the Team Brown captain, who booted two classy goals in his time between the midfield and forward line. His work rate in the engine room was top notch, digging in to win the ball himself and tackling hard going the other way with the opposition breaking.

Hollands also impacted the centre bounces from his starting position on the wing early on, proving clean and composed when the footy was hot. His first goal was a typical one, propping after he collected the loose ball and snapping home. The second was a show-stopper, slamming the ball through the big sticks from 55m out off a couple of steps. Is one of the leading prospects at this early stage, and narrowly missed out on best afield honours.

O’Driscoll:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Spread well to win the ball in all thirds of the ground and found plenty of it, particularly early. He took a strong mark at half-forward in the first term and then won a lot of his touches at half-back as the game turned against his side. He would play the defensive side of the wing to mop up and kick long, providing a release option for his side going forward.

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Cardillo vs. Archie Perkins

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Calder’s Jackson Cardillo and Sandringham’s Archie Perkins – ironically already played alongside one another at representative level in 2019, and are set to do so again this year as part of Vic Metro’s Under 18 side. But it is at NAB League level where we may see these two line up on opposing sides, with Cardillo already a mainstay in the Cannons’ side, while Perkins is again set to don the Dragon in between school football commitments with Brighton Grammar.

Both are tremendous athletes who ply their trade in a mix of midfield and forward time, able to use their explosiveness in different facets of the game to catch the eye. Having spent the majority of their time inside forward 50 throughout 2019, the two movers of virtually identical size will now look to develop in more prominent midfield roles across all levels. With that being the case, Cardillo and Perkins would well oppose each other at centre bounces during the NAB League, or join each other on the opposite side of the centre and half-forward lines during the national carnival.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Jackson Cardillo
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

DOB: July 3, 2002

Height: 185cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: March 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Cardillo – 66cm
Perkins
– 70cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Cardillo – 76cm/82cm
Perkins
– 92cm/84cm

SPEED (20m)

Cardillo – 2.88 seconds
Perkins
– 2.94 seconds

AGILITY

Cardillo – 8.15 seconds
Perkins
– 8.24 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Cardillo – 20.2
Perkins
– 20.8

These are some of the more outstanding numbers from the Victorian preseason testing day, with both prospects so well matched across each area. Perkins clearly thrives in the jumps, producing massive efforts standing and off either side – something which also shines through on-field. Cardillo certainly does not lag in those areas, but his ground-level prowess is highlighted in very slightly quicker scores in the speed and agility tests. Perkins, a terrific mover across the ground and on the spread boasts a better endurance score, but that is not entirely reflective of Cardillo’s tireless work at the contest.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Cardillo:

18 games
13.2 disposals
2.1 marks
3.8 tackles
2.6 clearances
2.6 inside 50s
0.6 goals (11)

Perkins:

6 games
14.2 disposals
4.2 marks
1.8 tackles
1.3 clearances
3.2 inside 50s
1.7 goals (10)

There is obviously a much smaller sample size to work with on Perkins’ size in terms of NAB League output, but the similarities between the pair are still evident in their 2019 numbers. Both players achieved similar disposal outputs, but it is Cardillo’s ground ball nous (3.8 tackles, 2.6 clearances) and Perkins’ aerial superiority (4.2 marks) which set them apart from one another.

The ability for Perkins to be a weapon going forward is also clear in his greater inside 50 (3.2) and goal (1.7) averages, with his impact hardly waning when used forward of the ball. On the other hand, Cardillo’s tackling pressure and hardness at the ball helps him thrive up forward, with his accumulative impact evident while running through midfield.

Overall, the pair returned very solid numbers as bottom-agers, particularly given they were both moved around the ground and had talented top-aged teammates to content with.

BEST GAME

Cardillo:

2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Dandenong

27 disposals
5 marks
9 tackles
8 clearances
3 inside 50s
1 goal

Perkins:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. Geelong

20 disposals (16 kicks)
5 marks
4 tackles
1 clearance
5 inside 50s
5 behinds

Cardillo’s season-high effort of 27 disposals stands well clear as his best game from a midfield standpoint, thriving on the inside and remaining relevant going both ways. It was the only game in which Cardillo managed to tick over 20 touches, on top of achieving a season-high in tackles with nine to prove his defensive worth. His ability to hunt the ball was also evident as he slammed forward eight clearances and three inside 50s, providing that all-important metres-gained element.

Speaking of, Perkins is one of the most damaging metres-gained midfielder/forwards in the entire 2020 draft crop, and proved as much in his 20-disposal performance against Geelong. Unlike in Cardillo’s best game, Perkins and his Dragons teammates went perilously close to losing in this encounter, scraping over the line by two points as the player in question booted five behinds. Had he been more accurate in the Ballarat conditions, Perkins’ game would have gone to another level given his outstanding marking efforts and penetration (16 kicks, five inside 50s) from half-forward.

Cardillo’s dual two-goal efforts could well have earned a shout here, but he only managed a combined 27 disposals in those outings, while his 19 disposals and one goal against Eastern in Round 17 made for another outstanding candidate. Perkins, too was well-versed against good opposition, booting three goals against premier, Oakleigh in Round 17, with his 16 disposals and two goals against the Sydney Swans Academy another performance near the mark.

PREVIOUS OUTING

2019 Under 17 Futures, Vic Metro vs. Queensland

Cardillo:

18 disposals
1 mark
2 clearances
1 rebound 50
1 goal

Perkins:

21 disposals
2 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
5 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

As mentioned, Cardillo and Perkins are already familiar with each other, but as teammates rather than foes. The two ran out for the Vic Metro Under 17s in 2019, both returning decent numbers as part of the midfield-forward rotation. Perkins was arguably the better on the day, bossing the half-forward line early while later pumping the ball towards goal amid greater midfield time. Cardillo was utilised a touch more on the outside when running further afield, while also assuming his usual secondary role inside forward 50. With efforts around the 20-disposal mark, both players were among Metro’s most influential and versatile.

STRENGTHS

Cardillo:

Explosive speed
Kick penetration
Stoppage presence
Versatility

Perkins:

Explosiveness
Vertical leap
Athleticism
Impact/damage

There are a few slight differences in either player’s listed strengths, despite their very similar makeups. The distinction of Cardillo’s ‘explosive speed’ to Perkins’ ‘explosiveness’ is deliberate, intended to hint that the latter is a more powerful overall package, while the former thrives slightly more in the specific area of speed. Perkins’ other strengths – vertical leap and athleticism – add to that case, though Cardillo is certainly no slouch across the board either.

While Perkins is as damaging as they come with his combination of forward penetration from high up the ground and scoreboard impact, Cardillo provides meterage in his long kicks, mostly from stoppage situations as he bursts away with that five-step speed and delivers the ball forward. The added trait of stoppage presence attributed to Cardillo is largely credit to his two-way work rate, with his attitude towards ball winning matched by a strong tenacity for tackling.

Cardillo’s nod for versatility applies to both players, but may be slightly more applicable to Cardillo at the next level, with his ground-ball presence and tackling pressure incredibly transferable to medium-small forward roles. On the other hand, Perkins is more of a dynamic, aerial threat who can have a greater say around the ground, providing a target while creating forward movement from almost nothing.

IMPROVEMENTS

Cardillo:

Disposal consistency

Perkins:

Accumulation

Picking out improvements for players with high ceilings is usually a relatively simple task, with such players typically quite raw and mistake-prone. But both of these prospects are pretty well polished, with only a couple of areas left to sharpen and help them become better overall footballers. Cardillo’s disposal consistency is something that can be fine-tuned, with his penetration no issue, but shorter options on the move and under pressure sometimes overlooked or missed. Though Perkins is so well suited to the outside, the suggested upping of midfield time means he can increase his ball winning rate, while not losing any of that damage or scoreboard impact he is already known for.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Cardillo:

Round 14 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks.

His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on.

Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and ability to break tackles.

Perkins:

2019 NAB League Round 17 vs. Oakleigh

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going.

Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals.

His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

FINAL WORD

The thing which makes this matchup so intriguing is how closely the pair is matched across their physical attributes. A single centimetre separates them, and they are two of the most remarkable Under 18 prospects across the country in terms of athletic ability across each department. Explosive midfield types are always a joy to watch, with those bursts from congestion often the most replayed moments on highlight reels. Both players may well be capable of producing as much at the elite level, and have the added asset of being able to impact the game up forward. Perkins may feature slightly ahead on draft boards, but both players are sure to provide eye-catching moments once back on the park as two of Vic Metro’s most promising hopefuls.

Marquee Matchup: Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focused series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope hail from South and Western Australia respectively, with Glenelg’s Kaine Baldwin and Swan Districts’ Denver Grainger-Barras pitted against one another. Entering the key position department, Baldwin is an strong key forward who is near-unstoppable in the air and covers the ground well, while Grainger-Barras is a versatile defender who can play the lockdown role just as easily as an intercepting or third-up type. Unfortunately, both suffered injuries across their bottom-age year, with Baldwin ruled out after his first outing for 2019 with an ACL injury, and Grainger-Barras requiring shoulder surgery in the back half of the year.

Having both contributed to the spine of the 2018 Under 16 All Australian squad, this looms as a classic key forward versus key defender matchup which will likely take place at some point should the two run out for their respective states in the 2020 Under 18 National Championships. Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: May 30, 2002

Height: 193cm
Weight: 92kg

Position: Key forward

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002

Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Baldwin – 62cm
Grainger-Barras
– 63cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Baldwin – 77cm/71cm
Grainger-Barras
– 78cm/74cm

SPEED (20m)

Baldwin – 3.18 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 3.08 seconds

AGILITY

Baldwin – 8.54 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 8.19 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Baldwin – 20.8
Grainger-Barras
– 20.8

For players who are regarded as key position prospects at the junior level, they are both quite impressive athletically. Keeping in mind that Baldwin’s testing results came at the end of a year-long rehabilitation for his knee injury, he stacks up quite nicely. The aggressive forward returned a very respectable 20.8 yo-yo test score – identical to Grainger-Barras’ effort – which will only get better as he continues to rebuild and improve his tank.

Both athletes’ aerial prowess is reflected in their very even vertical jump scores, able to breach the 70cm mark off both feet off a rolling start, and 60cm standing. Grainger-Barras fared slightly better across the speed and agility tests, posting terrific times for a player of true key position height. Again, considering Baldwin is coming off a long-term knee injury, his agility time of 8.54 seconds is impressive, and the underwhelming 3.18-second 20-metre sprint can be excused as he usually covers the ground well over time and has decent pace off the lead.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

STATISTICS

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL UNDER 16s: 5 games | 21 disposals | 9.6 marks | 1.6 tackles | 4.4 inside 50s | 2.8 goals (14)

Grainger-Barras:

2019 WAFL COLTS: 7 games | 10.1 disposals | 3.7 marks | 2.1 tackles
2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 games | 12 disposals | 7 marks | 2 tackles | 2.5 rebound 50s

It is obviously difficult to compare statistics here given they have been extracted from different years and age levels, with Baldwin’s only game for 2019 cut short and at the SANFL Reserves level. Looking back at his SANFL Under 16 stats, and it is clear that Baldwin is a true centre-half forward, rather than that typically one-dimensional full forward. His ability to move up the ground and impact the play aerially is reflected in his averages of 21 disposals and 9.6 marks, while still maintaining a very good goal average of nearly three per game.

Grainger-Barras is just as capable in the air, but thrives more significantly in the sense that he can play his role so consistently well. He is a true defender’s defender, able to stop the opposition’s best key forward while breaking up the play with his reading of the ball in flight and marking skills. He may not see much of the ball, but typically uses it soundly and can get some rebound going on the back of his efficiency.

BEST GAME

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL Under 16s Rd 7 vs. Central District

29 disposals
11 marks (four contested)
2 tackles
6 inside 50s
4 goals

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

13 disposals
8 marks
1 tackle
1 rebound 50

The contrast may seem stark in terms of pure numbers, but these two performances stack up fairly evenly when put into context. Baldwin’s best game was selected from his 2018 Under 16 campaign, in a massive win where he managed season-highs in disposals (29) and goals (four). He may not have showcased his contested marking as well as in other games but still managed four, and really conveyed his mobility as he impacted up the field. His versatility as a key position player also shone through, able to pinch hit in the ruck at the junior level.

Grainger-Barras may have returned bigger numbers across his WAFL Colts campaign and sole League outing, but this quality performance against good opposition at the Under 18 national carnival was simply too good to overlook. Against elite-level talent above his age grade, the 195cm defender played a terrific role floating across the back half, while also keeping tabs on the likes of Elijah Hollands. His marking game and reading of the play were exceptional, and it was a performance which only solidified his status as one to watch for this year.

STRENGTHS

Baldwin:

Contested marking
Aggression
Strength
Impact
Ground coverage

Grainger-Barras:

Reading the play
Intercept marking
Athleticism
Defensive versatility
Composure

Both players, putting it simply possess the key strength of marking well, but do so in different ways. While Baldwin is able to crash packs and use his strong hands to clunk marks under heavy duress, Grainger-Barras is slightly taller and uses his athleticism to get to an array of contests, moving efficiently to intercept in the air. The reading of the play and intercept marking aspects go hand-in-hand, and also add to his defensive versatility. As already mentioned, the West Australian can play the lockdown defensive role well, but has great composure on the ball and can deliver it well out of danger, with his ability to play as a second or third tall in defence another string to his bow.

Baldwin’s aggression and strength contribute to that key asset of contested marking, with few keen to step in the hole and get in the way of his 91kg frame. His ability to pull of eye-catching moments and have a say further afield play into his high-impact style, with goals a bonus to the overall package he delivers. Of course, ground coverage is something that comes with his ability to venture out as a centre-half forward, and will only improve as he builds that endurance after a long lay-off.

IMPROVEMENTS

Baldwin:

Durability
Unknown versatility

Grainger-Barras:

Endurance
Offensive output

It is perhaps harsh to put durability and endurance as improvements to be made for either player, especially given the parameters surrounding Baldwin. But being able to prove his durability will be key, although recruiters have shown faith in many prospects who suffered long-term injuries during key years of their development. The question of versatility comes from Baldwin’s height, just below true key position size for AFL standards. Given he is working on perhaps even moving into the midfield, gametime will be key to proving his potential in that area.

Grainger-Barras’ offensive output could help him become an even more versatile defensive outlet, with his ball use already at an outstanding level. If he can be let off the chain and showcase those traits more by winning more of the ball across the backline, he could be such a weapon coming out of defence. It seems as if we are clutching at straws and that is often the case with high-end prospects, but there is always room for improvement.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Baldwin:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Michael Alvaro

Baldwin was another who had a greater impact than what his stat-line would suggest. His contested marking overhead was outstanding; both deeper forward in the first half, and higher up the ground as the game wore on. Baldwin found his way into the game in the second term when he booted his lone goal and missed the chance to add another within a minute. He continued on with an assist to Zac Dumesny in the third term before clunking a couple more contested marks to finish the day with seven overall from 15 disposals.

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Peter Williams

Another bottom-age tall who will hold the West Australian side in good stead for next year, he has some neat defensive and offensive attributes. He killed a contest at half-back with a great spoil across the line, and proceeded to be an intercepting defender throughout the game, saving a number of dangerous forward entries by dropping into the hole. Most importantly, he remained composed under pressure and looks like a promising prospect.

Marquee Matchups: Connor Downie vs. Luke Edwards

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope ironically played together twice last year; for the Australian Under 17 side in April, and in September’s Under 17 Futures showcase fixture. 2020 Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie and Glenelg’s Luke Edwards are those two players, having progressed through similar journeys despite hailing from different states. Both prospects are also already aligned to AFL clubs, with Downie a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, and Edwards eligible to nominate as an Adelaide father-son candidate.

Downie was an integral figure in Eastern’s run to last year’s NAB League grand final, proving a reliable and versatile member of the squad. He was also one of the rare bottom-agers to feature for Vic Metro in the 2019 National Championships, running out for his sole appearance against Vic Country to open the carnival. Having played mostly on a wing and off flanks at either end, Downie’s solid build and forward-driving attributes see him poised for more inside midfield minutes throughout 2020.

Edwards is a player in a similar boat, but instead looks to make a return to the engine room having been employed as a rebounding defender in last year’s Under 18 championships for South Australia. Remarkably, Edwards has not put on any height since his Under 16 campaign in 2018, but remains a big-bodied type through midfield at 187cm and 80kg. The son of Crows great, Tyson broke through to SANFL Reserves level for Glenelg as a bottom-ager and may well make the step up to League football as a top-ager when SANFL competitions return in June.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

DOB: May 31, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 83kg

Position: Outside midfielder/utility

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: January 12, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Downie – 64cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Downie – 78cm/63cm

SPEED (20m)

Downie – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Downie – 8.48 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Downie – 20.7

Note: Edwards did not participate in the scheduled South Australian preseason testing day.

Attempting to compare these two athletically via preseason testing data is obviously a fruitless task given Edwards did not participate in South Australia’s combine, but we can still extract something out of Downie’s results. The Victorian’s power off one side shows in the 15cm gap in his running vertical jumps, and he definitely uses that leap to compete in the air, while also boasting a penetrating left foot kick. Downie’s time of 3.11 second across 20 metres is not exactly flattering, but his constant forward movement and overlapping runs to chain handballs better show his ability to gain meterage in quick time. Additionally, a decent agility test time of 8.48 seconds allows Downie to evade opponents and is an area Edwards also thrives in through midfield.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Downie:

NAB League: 14 games | 16.4 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.6 inside 50s |  3.8 rebound 50s | 9 goals

Under 18 National Championships: 1 game | 9 disposals | 4 marks | 2 inside 50s | 2 rebound 50s

Edwards:

SANFL U18s: 8 games | 22.5 disposals | 4.4 marks | 5.8 tackles | 5.1 clearances | 4.6 inside 50s | 1 goal

Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 18.8 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.75 rebound 50s | 1.5 inside 50s

Downie may have been the slightly more capped player as far as these statistics go, but was able to showcase some of his best traits on the outside. His NAB League average of 16.4 disposals is a decent output for a bottom-ager, but his ability to impact along the line really comes to the fore in his combination of 3.8 rebound 50s and nine goals for the season.

Edwards’ more inside oriented role shines through in his SANFL Under 18 numbers, reflecting a dominant stoppage game going both ways with 5.1 average clearances, 4.6 inside 50s, and 5.8 tackles. His overall disposal output is also greater, and his slightly bigger frame has something to do with that at Under 18 level.

In terms of their National Championships form, Edwards proved his worth as a consistent contributor across all four games, while Downie could only crack one outing in the stacked Vic Metro side. Again, Edwards’ overall output is more significant, but this time in a different role across half-back as he upped his intercept/rebounding game and maintained similar tackling numbers.

It would have been handy to see the pair go at it when Vic Metro met South Australia, but we will have to wait until this year’s carnival – should one go ahead.

BEST GAME

Downie:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. GWV

23 disposals (14 kicks)
2 marks
3 clearances
7 inside 50s
2 rebound 50
3 goals

Edwards:

2019 SANFL U18s Round 14 vs. North Adelaide

32 disposals (22 kicks)
7 marks
10 tackles
9 clearances
9 inside 50s
1 goal

You will be hard-pressed to find a more complete midfield game that Edwards’ display in Glenelg’s Round 14 loss to North Adelaide; the prime mover won plenty of his own ball (32 disposals) both at the stoppages (nine clearances) and on the spread (seven marks), while staying relevant defensively (10 tackles) and impacting the play going forward (nine inside 50s, one goal). It is the kind of game which makes you think a permanent midfield move is a no-brainer for Edwards, and shows how far developed he is for his age.

Downie’s chosen game came in as one-sided a game as you’re likely to see, with Eastern holding its opponent to a total of five behinds while piling on 18.8 (116) in tricky Ballarat conditions. Downie was a key exponent of the onslaught, collecting a disposal tally two touches shy of his season-best, while impacting the play up either end and at the stoppages. His three goals were sweeteners, showcasing his penetrating kick from range as well as his underrated overhead marking in the face of a howling breeze.

STRENGTHS

Downie:

Versatility
Leadership
Kick penetration
Efficiency

Edwards:

Versatility
Contested ball
Reading the play
Efficiency

Conveniently enough, the two share a pair of identical strengths. The first listed for either player is versatility, something they will both be itching to further showcase in expanded roles should the action return in 2020. Edwards has gone from playing permanent midfield, to shifting to defence, to now being poised as a midfielder once again. Meanwhile, Downie is a damaging proposition all the way along the line from half-back, to half-forward, and potentially inside the engine room.

The other shared trait here is their efficiency, with Downie a safe bet on his left side, while Edwards is ruthless on his right. Downie seems to have a touch more penetration and loves to go long, but Edwards is a touch more accustomed to finding the best option and hardly making a mistake. Edwards’ disposal efficiency of 90 per cent, albeit with a much lower output, only proves his case as a poised user of the ball. Downie may waver a touch more, but can cut teams up with his metres gained and put the ball in more dangerous areas.

As captain of the Eastern region, Downie also gets a tick for leadership, and he could be in contention for the same honours at representative level given his experience there already.  Edwards’ remaining strengths tie into different roles on-field, with his contested game suited to midfield minutes, while reading of the play comes down to his defensive duties. Edwards’ frame also helps in one-on-one defensive situations too, adding to that intercept and rebound style from the back half.

IMPROVEMENTS

Downie:

Inside craft
Explosive speed

Edwards:

Explosive speed
Contested marking

The two again have similar improvements to make, and are ordered in terms of importance. Downie’s inside craft will need a lift if he is to spend more time at the centre bounces, with his chaining and penetrative style on the outside currently more suited to his skillset. He has the frame and class to make the move, but isn’t quite there off bottom-age form. Part of that will be adding an element of explosive speed, which is not currently reflected in his 3.11-second 20-metre sprint time. He covers the ground well over time, but needs that burst at the stoppages.

Similarly, Edwards has been working on that five-step burst in congestion to get away from would-be tacklers, with the pressure at the next level too much for pure strength to repeatedly handle. He can get away with being caught slightly in traffic against juniors, but will be brought down in those situations upon entering the elite system. Another area Edwards said he would like to work on during preseason is his contested marking, being able to crash packs and be an even more damaging interceptor.

Of course, it is often difficult and perhaps harsh to split hairs when looking for areas of improvement, but even the best prospects have room to grow to become more complete players.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Downie:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

Gave a glimpse into his role for next year with a mix of time between his usual wing/half-back position, and in the midfield. Downie’s willingness to get on his bike at every opportunity and move the ball forward was a feature, fitting the metres-gained role well on the outside. He would often dish off on the move and continue his run to get it back, ending his plays with a long kick forward on his customary left side. He may well continue his shift towards a more inside role and has the size to do so, but arguably looked more damaging on the outer as he has done all year.

Edwards:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great poise in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself. His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game. His smart handballs out of congestion were terrific in the second half, especially at centre bounces, and he would benefit from spending more time there.

FINAL WORD

Both of these talents have been highly-touted for a good amount of time, and rightly so. Edwards has the obvious and added pressure of being a father-son prospect identified from a young age, but has performed well in his own right and may even blaze his own trail by nominating for the open draft. Similarly, Downie is already linked to a club but should end up following through with the tie and will cost the Hawks a decent amount of draft points.

Lacking in a couple of athletic areas may see the two slide down the order, but Edwards is one who could be right up there should he stamp his claim as an inside midfielder. Downie’s versatility is a massive plus, as is his impact on the outside. While it would be tempting to see him also grow into an inside role, it seems his best traits fit the wing, or a half-back flank in particular.

Marquee Matchups: Jake Bowey vs. Errol Gulden

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope again comes from the small department, with crafty Sandringham wingman Jake Bowey matching up against the equally clever Sydney Swans Academy product, Errol Gulden. Both players measure up at under 175cm and thrive on the outside, but are more than capable of having a big say on the sway of games. They met during last year’s Under 17 All Stars Grand Final curtain raiser, and will likely directly oppose each other during this year’s Under 18 National Championships, should it go ahead. Both also featured for their respective state sides at Under 16 and 17 level as key players in either squad.

Bowey became a mainstay for Sandringham in the NAB League in 2019 despite the Dragons boasting a wealth of high-level top-agers, running out 16 times for an average of 15.8 disposals and 2.8 inside 50s. Gulden’s resume is also impressive to this point, having taken out the Under 16 Division 2 MVP award for NSW/ACT and setting the NAB League alight across just three games to average 27.3 disposals, eight inside 50s and over a goal per game. Gulden has already broken into the Under 18 Allies side, too playing all four games during last year’s carnival.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: September 12, 2002

Height: 174cm
Weight: 65kg

Position: Outside midfielder

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 172cm
Weight: 68kg

Position: Outside midfielder/half-forward

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Bowey – 66cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Bowey – 71cm/88cm

SPEED (20m)

Bowey – 2.95 seconds

AGILITY

Bowey – 8.07 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Bowey – 20.8

Note: Gulden did not participate in the scheduled NSW/ACT preseason testing day.

While we cannot compare the two in terms of their preseason testing results given the lack of data on Gulden’s end, we can quite clearly observe the incredible athletic ability of Bowey. The diminutive Sandringham product has all the traits that smalls require as a minimum at the next level, posting elite scores for speed and agility, while also adding the surprise element of his vertical leap.

Bowey has said himself that he is working on his repeat power running and overall endurance, but stacks up well in all departments against any Under 18 athlete. As far as the eye test goes for Gulden, he would run very close to the kind of scores Bowey produced for speed and agility, while his ability to constantly stay in the game is credit to his endurance. It will be interesting to see how the two compare come combine testing later in the year.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Bowey:

16 games
15.8 disposals
63.9% uncontested possessions
3.6 marks
3.1 tackles
1.7 clearances
2.8 inside 50s
0.9 rebound 50s
0.4 goals (6)

Gulden:

3 games
27.3 disposals
63.9% uncontested possessions
6.0 marks
2.0 tackles
2.0 clearances
8 inside 50s
2.6 rebound 50s
1.3 goals (4)

Obviously it is difficult to put the statistics of Bowey, who played 16 games in a squad with superior depth, next to Gulden’s three-game cameo, though the saving grace is that the data comes from the same competition. Gulden was exceptional across those three outings, but should one pick out Bowey’s best three games, the numbers gap tightens.

One thing that does match up, identically, is the pair’s uncontested possession rate. It only proves how much they rely on running the outside areas, with 63.9 per cent of their possessions coming outside of a contest. Gulden’s unbelievable disposal average, which includes a high of 33, outlines his superior tank and ability to accumulate in those areas, while Bowey tends to find more of his own ball and participate a touch less in possession chains.

Both players have shown a terrific tendency to penetrate both arcs too, particularly the forward 50, while hitting the scoreboard to good effect. Those added strings to their bows allow recruiters to see value in their versatility, given their size would often limit them to small forward or defender roles at the next level. But given the trail a player like Caleb Daniel has blazed, there is no reason why these two cannot follow a similar path.

BEST GAME

Bowey:

2019 NAB League Rd 15 vs. Tasmania

22 disposals (16 kicks)
68% uncontested possessions
5 marks
3 tackles
4 clearances
5 inside 50s
4 rebound 50s
1 goal

Gulden:

2019 NAB League Rd 2 vs. Tasmania

33 disposals (24 kicks)
62.5% uncontested possessions
6 marks
3 tackles
2 clearances
8 inside 50s
4 rebound 50s
2 goals

There is no denying Gulden had an absolute blinder in our chosen game, and he has achieved similar feats all the way through his junior career. He is near-unstoppable at full flight and proved as much in his NAB League debut, racking up 33 touches and booting two goals as an absolute menace to the Devils’ defence. His six marks, numerous clearances, and breaches of either arc show the diversity of Gulden’s possessions and the utterly dominant hold he can have on games.

It seems the pair shared the similar trait of beating up on Tasmania in 2019, with one of Bowey’s standout performances also coming against the Devils. The Dragons won comfortably and had boasted a strong lineup, but Bowey managed to stamp his mark with a balanced game. His 22 disposals were one shy of his season-high effort of 23, and Bowey was remarkably consistent with his ball winning numbers. In this outing, Bowey tore up the outside while also pitching in at stoppages with his clean hands and burst away from congestion. A lone major was the cherry on top.

STRENGTHS

Bowey:

Speed/agility
Vertical leap
Decision making
Execution at speed
Clean hands

Gulden:

Speed/agility
Smarts
Vision
Impact
Accumulation

Given the similarities in their stature and best traits, there is obviously going to be a crossover in the pair’s listed strengths. Most notably, they do things at speed; with Bowey’s disposal execution, clean hands, and agile moves through traffic his best features, while Gulden racks up the ball and can hit targets others would not even attempt to, credit to his vision and crafty skills.

Obviously the testing justifies Bowey’s listings of speed, agility, and vertical leap, but Gulden’s agility and endurance are also up there with the best. Bowey’s decision making at full pace makes him a standout, while Gulden’s high footy IQ allows him to pull off the improbable and break the game open in a different way to your typically quick small.

It has already been noted that both players also work best on the outside, with Bowey owning the wings and able to hit targets off the flanks, while Gulden has a greater accumulative quality and work rate up the field to go with shrewd choices around goal. That ability to rack up big numbers is what sets Gulden apart, though Bowey’s bursting speed is also a highly desirable trait.

IMPROVEMENTS

Bowey:

Finishing
Inside game/size

Gulden:

Inside game
Decision making consistency

One of Bowey’s improvements comes straight from the man himself, telling Draft Central during preseason that he has been working on his finishing and goalkicking. That aside, working on his inside game would make him a more complete player, and he could well attend the centre bounces at Under 18 level with his ability to burst through congestion and break away from opponents in quick time. He is arguably more suited to transitioning to an inside role than Gulden, but lacks the size to do so at the next level even if he is also improving his repeat running ability.

Gulden faces the similar query of size at well under 180cm, though he obviously plays to his strengths and truly suits the role of a small. His inside game and contested work are areas which can grow, with much of Gulden’s game based around accumulating on the outside via handball receives, or finding space with his work rate. While Gulden can often pull off some remarkable plays, he sometimes bites off more than he can chew and would be better served playing the percentages. Though, you would not want to totally thwart his creative natural instincts.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Bowey:

Under 17 Futures All Stars
By: Peter Williams

One of Team Brown’s best players on the day with his run and neat kicking skills throughout. His day started with some great running power and vision to get the ball into the hands of Eddie Ford for an early goal, and then produced a lovely kick at full speed through the middle to Blake Coleman.

He used the ball well time and time again, winning a fair bit of it on the wing and half-back, but also setting up plays going forward, including a late game interception at half-forward and tight kick into Ford in the pocket. His hands in close and ability to find space, as well as his footy IQ is great. Even took a very nice high mark early in the fourth term and played on straight away to keep the ball moving.

Gulden:

Under 17 Futures All Stars
By: Peter Williams

His side’s best despite the loss, and the Sydney Swans fans would be pumped to see both him and Campbell playing well on the MCG. After a quieter first term by his standards often opposed to Ford at stoppages, he really got going and was crucial in getting his side back into the contest in the second term.

Kicked the easiest of goals over the back in the second term running into the square with space behind him, and looked composed in his movements in close. He sidesteps opponents with ease and gets his hands free time and time again, showing good core strength to stand up in tackles. Just a really clean player who when he gets going adds that touch of class to any side and is hard to stop.

FINAL WORD

This pair makes up two of a decent batch of sub-180cm prospects for the 2020 AFL draft who possess the skills and traits to break the barriers often put up by their size. Bowey’s athleticism, and speed in particular sets him apart from Gulden, though the Swans Academy member is more equipped in racking up high disposal counts on the back of his tank.

Bowey seems a more viable inside option given his athletic traits, though his value on the outside is high with that mix of speed and efficiency making him a damaging player going forward. His traits are easily transferrable to an attacking half-back flank, or crafty small forward role. Gulden looks so lively as a high half-forward due to his creativity, though you would not want to take the accumulation aspect out of his game. As a highly-touted junior, he will cost the Swans some decent value come draft time and he has already shown his aptitude at senior level with NEAFL experience under his belt.

Marquee Matchups: Joshua Clarke vs. Bailey Laurie

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

Our next matchup takes place on the outer, with flying flankers/wingmen Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges) and Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers) put under the spotlight. Of course, the pair will likely be teammates for Vic Metro should a national carnival go ahead, but have already faced off twice in the NAB League – including in the grand final, no less. Both were prominent as bottom-agers in the 2019 season decider, with Clarke assuming his usual role off half-back, while Laurie ran riot at half-forward.

Clarke’s 18 underage games are testament to his ability, as he quickly became a key member of the highly successful Eastern side credit to his damaging work moving forward from the back. Laurie managed seven outings in Oakleigh’s premiership side last year, mixing his time between Chargers duties and APS school football at Caulfield Grammar. A popular teammate, Laurie ranks as elite for his agility and is a livewire in the forward half who harnesses his phenomenal creativity.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Joshua Clarke
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

DOB: March 5, 2002

Height: 180cm
Weight: 71kg

Position: Half-back/wing

Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: March 24, 2002

Height: 178cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Forward/outside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Clarke – 48cm*
Laurie – 58cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Clarke – 66cm/56cm*
Laurie – 63cm/74cm

SPEED (20m)

Clarke – 3.10 seconds*
Laurie – 3.19 seconds

AGILITY

Clarke – 8.24 seconds*
Laurie – 7.97 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Clarke – 20.4*
Laurie – 20.5

* – 2019 testing data

Inevitably, it is impossible to compare testing results from the two athletes given only one of them tested this year, however, Clarke did participate in 2019 to give us some data to work with. The pair ranks very highly in agility, with Laurie’s sub-eight second effort landing him in the competition’s top 10. Speed is the area which seems to set the two apart, though Clarke’s 20m time of 3.10 seconds in 2019 is far from flattering to the pace he is able to build at full flight.

The pair fared similarly in terms of endurance albeit if the score are a touch low, and Clarke’s preseason injury interruptions would have made building on the 20.4 score difficult. As smaller players, their power and explosiveness seems to lack in the jumping tests, though they may rarely need to compete in the air given their nous at ground level.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Clarke:

18 games
16.1 disposals (68.7% UP)
1.9 marks
1.5 tackles
1 clearance
3.1 inside 50s
2.3 rebound 50s
0.2 goals (4)

Laurie:

7 games
15.3 disposals (63.7% UP)
3.1 marks
3.6 tackles
2.6 inside 50s
1.9 rebound 50s
0.9 goals (6)

Obviously it is difficult to compare the figures of two players who have very different appearance numbers, but a factor that is somewhat alleviated given they occurred in the same competition.

Something that is immediately evident across both stat-lines is the uncontested possession rates, with both athletes rating at above 63 per cent. For Laurie in particular, it displays his knack of finding space and getting busy on the outside, and his average of 3.1 marks is credit to his leap and ability to find space.

The rebound and inside-50 numbers for both player are also solid, but stand out more glaringly for Clarke given half-backs typically rack up more rebounds. His greater average of inside 50s highlights his ability to break the lines coming out of defence as a real metres-gained asset, getting on the end of handball receives and putting the ball into goal-threatening areas.

That aspect of Clarke’s game means he is also able to find the goals from further afield, while Laurie is seldom far away from the big sticks either and can create chances from nothing. Having put up solid numbers as bottom-agers, it would have been great to see more of their development in 2020.

BEST GAME

Clarke:

2019 NAB League Round 4 vs. Brisbane Lions Academy
Eastern 13.8 (86) def Brisbane 12.3 (75)

21 disposals
3 marks
2 tackles
5 inside 50s
5 rebound 50s
1 goal

Laurie:

2019 NAB League Grand Final vs. Eastern
Oakleigh 12.17 (89) def. Eastern 5.6 (36)

17 disposals
5 marks
4 tackles
6 inside 50s
2 goals
2 behinds

While there may well have been other appearances right in the mix to be chosen for either player, we feel they best showcased their most significant traits in these games.

Coincidentally, Laurie’s chosen best game is also the pair’s previous meeting, beating out his season-high 19 disposals against Calder, and one of his other two-goal efforts – Round 19 against Gippsland. On the biggest of stages, the elusive forward took the game by storm, setting the base for Oakleigh’s triumph with some eye-catching moments early on. Laurie crucially found the goals, but also brought others into the contest and broke it open with his ability to burst out of congestion.

Clarke also had a good batch of games to choose from, but his 21 disposals and one goal up in Queensland against the Lions Academy was a memorable one. We could well have opted for his 22 disposals and one goal in the grand final, or four other showings of over 20 touches across his 18 games. Against the Lions, Clarke had a similarly profound impact and kicked a crucial goal on the run to lift his side in the tight contest. That is somewhat a trademark of Clarke, as is his ability to penetrate either arc. It was all on show in this game, a top effort.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 NAB LEAGUE GRAND FINAL
Oakleigh Chargers 12.17 (89) def. Eastern Ranges 5.6 (36)

Clarke:

22 disposals (15 kicks)
2 clearances
7 rebound 50s
1 goal

Laurie:

17 disposals
5 marks
4 tackles
6 inside 50s
2 goals
2 behinds

You already know about Laurie’s efforts in the grand final given we judged it as his best game, but Clarke was also one of his side’s best players in a losing effort. He managed to collect his second-best disposal tally for the year (22), while also finding the scoreboard in typical fashion on the run from range, and providing plenty of rebound from defensive 50. Clarke’s two clearances and weight of rebound 50s reflect how much pressure the Ranges defence was under, which he held up well in, however tallies of zero marks and tackles reflect Clarke’s reliance on the uncontested and attacking game.

STRENGTHS

Clarke:

Speed
Rebound
Run-and-carry
Kick penetration

Laurie:

Agility/evasion
Creativity
Impact
Finding space

The speed-versus-agility battle comes to the fore in either players’ strengths, with Laurie obviously excelling with sideways movement, while Clarke is able to hit the gas moving forward. Laurie’s evasion can be particularly eye-catching, with his ability to side-step and sneak into improbable pockets of space nothing short of elite.

Finding space also transfers to how busy Laurie gets, proving a pest to opposition defenders as a slippery customer. His creativity with ball in hand also works to break games open, able to hit short-range targets with good vision and execution to thus give him the added – and highly desirable – trait of having a high impact per possession.

Clarke’s best assets all tie into one another, with his speed, carries, and kick penetration essential to any rebounding half-back/wingman. He can prove equally evasive in congestion and once he breaks free, good luck catching him. Clarke is not afraid to carry the ball forward, but also gains serious meterage with his sweet left-foot kicks. Accustomed to booting goals from range, Clarke is a multi-faceted threat in a typically one-dimensional position.

IMPROVEMENTS

Clarke:

Contested ball
Defensive game

Player:

Contested ball
Consistent impact

Laurie’s listed improvement of contested ball is a difficult one to attribute, as he is quite good at weaving through congestion but tended to find more of the ball on the outside or in space up forward. Given his clear ability to move into the centre bounces, Laurie can also work on having a more consistent impact throughout the four quarters, while also accumulating bigger numbers. That aspect was evident even in his best game, where he was electric early but faded away in the latter stages. It may be a product of his forward role in 2019, but can always be worked on.

For Clarke, contested ball is also listed as an improvement given his largely outside game and uncontested possession rate of 68.7 per cent. It ties into the need to improve his defensive game, which Clarke alluded to in preseason himself, adding the defensive attributes to match that attacking flair off the half-back line. A key indicator of improvement will be building on his 2019 tackle average of 1.5, with defensive pressure an in-vogue and required trait for structures at the AFL level.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Clarke:

2019 NAB League Boys Grand Final
By: Ed Pascoe

In what turned out to be a dirty day for Eastern, a shining light was the game from young dashing defender Joshua Clarke, who did everything he could to get his team over the line with his dash and dare from the back half. Clarke had some eye-catching moments, using his speed to take the game on and get away from any would-be tacklers. He had a huge second quarter highlighted by a fantastic goal on the run on a hard angle and distance while also under pressure.

Laurie:

2019 NAB League Grand Final
By: Peter Williams

Has his moments where he can break a game open, kicking a couple of goals either side of half-time and really making his presence felt. The bottom-age forward is a metres-gained player and while he missed a couple of opportunities with two behinds, he still amassed 17 disposals, five marks, four tackles and crucially had six inside 50s, constantly applying pressure on the Ranges.

FINAL WORD

The two may be a touch separate in terms of draft range at this point, with Laurie’s agility, damage, and game-breaking abilities forward of centre making him a desirable option. That should not detract from Clarke’s impressive resume and range of traits, though half-backs and outside types are often put into the dime-a-dozen category. But Clarke’s speed and the improvements that can come from his game are exciting, and he can be just as much of a game changer. The pair would make for a dangerous combination up either end in the Metro side, would have again met in the NAB League this year. Laurie may be set for more midfield time, at 178cm, his best position at the next level with likely be up forward. If both players can harness the contested game sharpen their overall games, they will have little trouble in finding a place at the elite level.

Marquee Matchups: Braeden Campbell vs. Corey Durdin

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

Our next matchup features two small midfielder/forwards who have already faced-off twice in representative colours. The two in question are of course Sydney Swans Academy product Braeden Campbell, and Central District’s Corey Durdin, who both featured prominently in last year’s Under 17 All Star showcase, after also clashing during the 2019 Under 18 National Championships. Both are smaller than the modern day midfielder but pack a punch, possessing a number of traits which more than make up for the size difference.

Campbell, who earned best afield honours in the All Star clash, is the Swans’ leading academy prospect for 2020 having already played thrice for the Allies and featured four times during the NAB League Northern Academies series. His pace to break the lines and penetrating left boot caught the eye on numerous occasions over the last two seasons, while his ability to play both inside and outside is also desirable.

South Australian Durdin has long been a highly-touted prospect too, especially after earning the Kevin Sheehan Medal as Under 16 Division 1 MVP in 2018. The diminutive inside type has also spent a lot of time inside forward 50, and fared well there in his three-game spell at SANFL League level for the Bulldogs. His combination of toughness and smarts makes him a reliable figure in any side he runs out for.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies

DOB: February 2, 2002

Height: 180.5cm
Weight: 72.2kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

Corey Durdin
Central District/South Australia

DOB: April 14, 2002

Height: 172.1cm
Weight: 74.1kg

Position: Small forward/inside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Campbell – 61cm
Durdin – 67cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Campbell – 74cm/77cm
Durdin – 76cm/81cm

SPEED (20m)

Campbell – 2.95 seconds
Durdin – 3.15 seconds

AGILITY

Campbell – 8.56 seconds
Durdin – 8.74 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Campbell – 20.6
Durdin – 20.6

The sum of who comes out on top in the testing results only provides a dead heat; with Campbell winning out for speed and agility, while Durdin edged the standing and running jumps, and the two both managed 20.6 in the endurance test.

The data plays into the slightly different methods of either player though, with Campbell’s speed and agility allowing him to burst away from or weave around opponents in congestion, while Durdin tends to use his strength a touch more at the junior level with slightly more power in the short, explosive movements. The South Australian’s footy smarts are also a key asset, something which is immeasurable here.

Campbell ranked very highly in the 20m sprint across the nation, with his agility score also quite impressive. The pair also fared well in the jumps, showcasing that fast-twitch power they possess, and the ability to compete at all levels despite a size gap at times.

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Campbell:

2019 NAB League
(Sydney Swans Academy)

4 games
15.8 disposals (51.6% cont poss)
3 marks
7 tackles
1.5 clearances
5 inside 50s
1.5 rebound 50s
2 goals (8)

2019 Under 18 National Championships
(Allies)

3 games
12 disposals
1.7 marks
1.7 tackles
1.3 clearances
1.6 inside 50s
1.3 rebound 50s

Durdin:

2019 SANFL U18s
(Central District)

6 games
21.5 disposals (76% efficiency)
4.2 marks
4 tackles
5.3 clearances
6.7 inside 50s
1 rebound 50
0.2 goals (1)

2019 Under 18 National Championships
(South Australia)

3 games
7.3 disposals
0.7 marks
4 tackles
1.3 clearances
1.6 inside 50s
1.3 goals (4)

It is always great when you can garner statistics of a similar sample size and level, which is often difficult when comparing prospects from different states. While Durdin did have experience at senior levels, it would be far more fair and scientific to compare his Under 18 efforts against that of Campbell, particularly given their respective roles were more consistent.

Playing an inside/outside mix through midfield and off the half-forward flank, Campbell proved his proficiency and penetration in breaking the lines during the Academy Series. His ability to get the ball forward either through carries or booting it long shows in his inside 50 rate, while a two-goal-per-game ratio also bodes well for a forward role – which is perhaps where Campbell will get a start at the next level.

Durdin played predominantly through the midfield as an inside ball winner at SANFL Under 18 level, dominating the clearances while also spreading well to impact around the ground. He even beat out Campbell in terms of inside 50s, but lagged in terms of scoreboard impact given his limited time forward of centre.

That factor almost took a full 180 during the national carnival, as Durdin featured primarily as a ground level small forward, thriving with his forward pressure and smarts around goal. His disposal output was slashed heavily though, something which Campbell managed to keep relatively consistent. Campbell’s role was largely on the outside for the Allies, using his run to gain metres and penetrate either arc.

BEST GAME

Campbell:

2019 NAB League vs. Sandringham

13 disposals (53.8% contested)
2 marks
4 tackles
1 clearance
3 inside 50s
4 goals

Durdin:

2019 SANFL League vs. Norwood

12 disposals (10 kicks)
5 marks
1 tackle
1 inside 50
3 goals
2 behinds

The stats may not necessarily flatter on either side here, but context and impact is what justifies these games as the best. Campbell’s 13 disposals and four goals as a bottom-ager came in a home win against the highly-fancied, albeit undermanned Sandringham Dragons. Up against the likes of Archie Perkins and Darby Hipwell, Campbell excelled with his trademark forward movement and lethal finishing.

Durdin’s feat is made more remarkable given it came at the top level of South Australian football, and it provides a glimpse into what role the diminutive prospect will play in future. As that permanent small forward, Durdin managed to create five shots on goal, booting three from his 12 disposals. The figure of just one tackle does not do justice to his usual work rate, though he may continue to feature deep within the arc.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

South Australia 9.12 (66) def. Allies 7.7 (49)

Campbell:

11 disposals (50% cont poss)
1 mark
3 tackles
2 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

Durdin:

7 disposals (50% cont poss)
1 mark
5 tackles
2 clearances
1 inside 50
1 goal

This was not necessarily the best showing from either player, but they were still both able to show glimpses of their usual selves. Both maintained a 50 per cent contested possession rate despite seeing less of the ball, and returned similar outputs across the board. Though Durdin finished with less disposals, he fared well on the defensive end, while Campbell had typically impactful touches on the outside.

The two may not find themselves directly opposed to one another, but are capable of producing similar impact.

STRENGTHS

Campbell:

Speed
Penetration
Run-and-carry
Impact per possession

Durdin:

Smarts
Versatility
Toughness
Ball winning

While these two hold many similarities, the differences in their games come to the fore when pin-pointing their respective strengths. Campbell’s ability to work the outside is credit to his speed and willingness to carry the ball, which is often finished off with a damaging kick forward. He may not possess the ball winning capabilities of Durdin, but arguably has a greater impact with each of his touches, getting into dangerous areas or contributing to the scoreboard.

Durdin is much more of a natural footballer, with his football IQ up forward and pure knack for finding the ball while in midfield key strengths. The South Australian’s toughness has also allowed him to thrive as an inside midfielder, while doubling to aid his transition into senior football. Durdin’s versatility is another asset listed her, with his top skills transferrable to a position different to what he will likely be utilised in at the next level.

IMPROVEMENTS

Campbell:

Accumulation

Durdin:

Size
Speed

While speed is an area of strength for Campbell, it looks like an area for improvement for Durdin. His 3.15-second 20 metre sprint time is sub-par for a prospect who will look to push his case as a small forward, while his size is a factor which limits him from being able to continue as a pure inside midfielder. It must be said though, Durdin’s preseason time is not entirely indicative of his usual burst on-field.

In a similar vein, Durdin’s strength in finding the ball is something Campbell can work on. While he is capable of breaching the 20-disposal mark, he often hovers in the teens and hardly gets into the 30-realm. Improving in these areas would merely help these prospects become more complete players, but should not detract from their relatively well-rounded games.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

Campbell:

By: Peter Williams

Deservingly Best on Ground and it was easy to see why. He rarely wasted it and his left foot was a treat. On a day where the skill level was hit and miss, Campbell seemed to turn everything he touched to gold with his three majors from 14 disposals. The Sydney Swans Academy member had a couple of early touches then got his team on the board running out of a stoppage and launching from 40m on the left to sail it home. He kicked a second early in the third with a lovely left foot snap on the boundary, then made it two in a short space of time with a ripping goal from 55m on the run. At times he did a bit too much, such as being pinged for holding the ball by Henry Walsh in the second term, but his dare and run was something to admire and by taking on the game, he set up scoring opportunities to Reef McInnes and Joel Jeffrey late in the game, and even had a chance himself with a snap which bounced towards goal but was kept in, only for teammates to finish off the job with a major.

Durdin:

By: Peter Williams

The pocket rocket had some highlight plays to suggest he can be a damaging player when he is on, and generally used it pretty well despite not racking up a heap of it. He has that great burst of speed that can burn off opponents and showed it early running down the middle but unfortunately only had a one-on-three option to kick to, which he did pretty well to put it to his teammate’s advantage to at least nullify the contest. He almost kicked a dribbler goal late in the first term but just missed, then made up for it with a great outside-of-the-boot goal two minutes into the second term. Was quieter in the second half as Team Brown controlled possession in the front half, but the forward still had a lovely straight kick down the middle, and had a scoring chance in the final term but it hit the woodwork.

ACCOLADES

Campbell:

NSW/ACT Under 16 representative
NSW/ACT Under 17 representative
Allies Under 18 representative
2019 Under 17 All Star best afield

Durdin:

South Australia Under 16 representative
Under 16 National Championships Division 1 MVP
South Australia Under 18 representative

Marquee Matchups: Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

A couple of academy hopefuls make up our next pair under review, with Cairns native Alex Davies tied to the Gold Coast SUNS, while Reef McInnes is the latest Oakleigh Charger connected to Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy (NGA). The two are virtually identical in size and have already played in opposing sides thrice across three different competitions, providing a decent data sample to this point. Neither player was able to participate in preseason testing due to injury niggles, but are raring to go should they be called upon.

Davies has long been one of Queensland’s hottest draft prospects, and is certainly now the SUNS’ most prominent academy member. The 191cm inside midfielder provides a big body at the stoppages, dominating the clearance stakes with his clean hands, strength, and poise in congestion. He has often been Queensland’s best player during representative duties to date, earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level and impressing last year in the Under 17 competition. Experience in the NAB League also bodes well for Davies, as he helped the SUNS take out the Academy Series in 2019.

His adversary, McInnes has plenty of similar attributes as an inside midfielder, but was forced to play up forward for Oakleigh for much of 2019 given the Chargers’ phenomenal midfield crop. The 192cm mover managed to take full advantage of his limited time in the engine room though, showcasing his ability to find plenty of ball as he also does for Scotch College in school football. McInnes also possesses terrific athleticism for his size, allowing him to come away cleanly from stoppage situations and get his side moving forward. Having played in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, he is also well versed in big games.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Alex Davies
Gold Coast/Allies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy

DOB: March 18, 2002

Height: 191.2cm
Weight: 84.6kg

Position: Inside midfielder

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Collingwood NGA

DOB: December 12, 2002

Height: 192.1cm
Weight: 83.8kg

Position: Inside midfielder/forward

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Davies:

4 games
18 disposals (49.3% contested possessions)
2.8 marks
3.5 tackles
3.8 clearances
2.8 inside 50s
1.3 rebound 50s
0.3 goals (1)

McInnes:

12 games
14.7 disposals (36% contested possessions)
3.9 marks
3.1 tackles
1.6 clearances
1.6 inside 50s
1.6 rebound 50s
0.5 goals (6)

There is often only so much you can read into statistics, and this is somewhat the case with either player here. While Davies’ sample size in the NAB League is three-times smaller than McInnes’, his key stats arguably better reflect his overall game as an inside type. The Queenslander’s 49 per cent contested ball rate, 3.8 clearances, and 3.5 tackles are indicative of his stoppage dominance, while his average of 2.8 inside 50s come from long roosts out of congestion. Over half (9.8) of Davies’ disposals across the four games were handballs though, further reflecting his distributive role.

McInnes’ key stats over 12 games are products of his varying roles in the competition as a bottom-ager, having been pushed out to the flanks given Oakleigh’s stacked squad. Still, McInnes managed three games of over 23 disposals with a high of 29 when utilised through midfield, and made good of his chances in the side nonetheless. McInnes’ deceptive athleticism also comes through in his average 3.9 marks and low contested possession rate, as he showed he could gain separation from his direct opponent in the forward half, while also proving strong one-on-one inside 50. From midfield, McInnes’ accumulation on the spread has arguably proven superior.

BEST GAME

Davies:

NAB League Rd 4 vs. Oakleigh

16 disposals
5 marks
6 tackles
1 clearance
3 inside 50s
1 goal

McInnes:

NAB League Rd 13 vs. Geelong

29 disposals
5 marks
7 tackles
4 clearances
5 inside 50s
2 goals

Either players’ best games display similar upside in their efforts, with two-way work rate, the ability to find the ball, and scoreboard impact all evident across the two performances. Davies’ disposal count may be a touch low at 16, but his well-rounded outing against McInnes and Oakleigh in last year’s NAB League beat out his two 22-disposal efforts. He worked around the ground well to notch six marks, while using his physical presence to also have a say on the defensive side of the stoppages.

McInnes had a blinder against Geelong during the middle of the season, racking up big numbers throughout a rare midfield berth. A game-high 29 touches featured four clearances, five inside 50s, and two goals, with the Chargers’ defensive work also notable as he laid seven tackles. McInnes’ 28 disposals against Western in his next NAB League appearance was a close second, but his goals against Geelong showcase the versatility in his game. Again, the accumulation factor looks good for McInnes in these instances.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

2019 NAB League Rd 4
Gold Coast 14.11 (95) def. Oakleigh 3.6 (24) @ Southport

Davies:

16 disposals
5 marks
6 tackles
3 inside 50s
1 goal

McInnes:

13 disposals
3 marks
1 clearance
3 rebound 50s

2019 Under 17 Futures
Vic Metro 10.11 (71) def. Queensland 6.7 (43) @ Ikon Park

Davies:

15 disposals
3 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
1 inside 50

McInnes:

24 disposals
3 marks
9 tackles
6 clearances
4 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

The ledger after these two meetings looks reasonably square, with Davies having a greater say in their NAB League clash, while McInnes managed to get one back in their representative hitout. It is also worth noting that the pair also faced off in the Under 17s All Star fixture, with both prospects returning terrific performances.

Arguably the best game to look at is the Under 17 carnival clash, where McInnes’ Metro side trumped Davies’ Queenslanders on home turf. Reason being, both players were utilised in their natural inside midfield positions on that day and were easily in their sides’ best handful of players. Though he had nine less disposals, Davies nearly matched McInnes for clearances, but the Victorian was on a tear early with his impact around the ground.

Ironically, the game also worked to somewhat highlight their respective improvements to be made, which will be touched on further down the line.

STRENGTHS

Davies:

Contested ball
Clean hands
Distribution
Poise

McInnes:

Contested ball
Versatility
Strength
Agility

Given their similar position and ilk, the strengths of either player match up well. Both are fantastic in the contested ball stakes, able to use their size at the stoppages to burrow in and gain first use. But where Davies is superior with his clean hands and quick distribution, McInnes thrives with his repeated digs and ability to break away from congestion with either strength or agility.

Davies can be that clearance-first, or distributing midfielder – balancing his disposal by food and hand – while McInnes’ balance comes through in the sense that he can provide more of an outside presence to go with that ball-winning dominance.

IMPROVEMENTS

Davies:

Impact outside of the contest

McInnes:

Four-quarter consistency

As two high-end prospects with ideal athletic profiles and talent to boot, improvements are sometimes difficult to nail down. But there are a couple of areas to sharpen for either player, aimed at making them more complete midfielders.

Davies has said himself that getting to repeated contests and being on the move is an area he is improving on, with that impact outside of the contested situations theoretically allowing him to find more of the ball. While Davies is usually assured in possession, he can also blaze away at stoppages under pressure when a handball option does not present.

McInnes’ improvement comes from a desire to impact for four quarters, with his best football not always consistent throughout each game. Even in one of his best showings – against Queensland last year – McInnes started like a house on fire but faded towards the latter stages. Three NAB League outings of under 10 disposals also pertain to this point, and building a better tank through midfield could be a solution.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Davies:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early.

He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners.

He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

McInnes:

2019 Under 17 All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

Starting in midfield, McInnes proved he was more than an inside workhorse with his poise on the ball and sound decision making when hemmed in.

He has that surprising agility at times – much like GWS Academy product Tom Green and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps – which helps to get him out of trouble on top of his strength in the tackle.

The Collingwood NGA hopeful went on to become influential up forward, finding separation on the lead and almost pulling in some strong marks.

It proved a shrewd move, as McInnes booted two goals; the first coming from a 50m penalty, and the second shortly after with a classy snap from the tightest of angles.

ACCOLADES

Davies:

2018 Under 16 All Australian
2019 Queensland Under 17 representative
2019 Australian Under 17 representative
2019 Under 17 All Star

McInnes:

2018 Vic Metro Under 16 representative
2019 Vic Metro Under 17 representative
2019 NAB League premiership player
2019 Under 17 All Star

FINAL WORD

There is not much to separate these two, who present as some of the finest inside midfield candidates for the 2020 AFL Draft. Both should come at a decent cost to their respective aligned clubs, though that often also works to push them down the pecking order come draft night.

McInnes’ work somewhat out of position to this point has been a blessing in disguise, adding versatility and a greater ability to impact around the ground to his well-rounded midfield game.

Davies is one of this year’s best contested ball winners though, and is rarely beaten in those stakes. While he can always work on adding strings to his bow, specialists are often hard to come by and many have been impressed by his kicking on the outer nonetheless.

We can only hope these two are able to get on the park this year to battle it out once again, potentially as direct opponents during either the NAB League or National Championships.

Gold Coast and Collingwood fans, rejoice.

Features:

For more on these two draft prospects, follow the links below.

Get to know Alex Davies
Reef McInnes Q&A

 

Marquee Matchups:

For more Marquee Matchups, follow the links below.

Sam Berry vs. Zavier Maher
Jackson Callow vs. Cameron Fleeton
Nikolas Cox vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan