Category: Eastern Ranges

High stakes training: Vic prospects take the field ahead of draft day

VICTORIAN AFL Draft prospects hit the track one last time before draft day, strutting their stuff at Highgate Reserve in a one-off training session on Wednesday. The meet served as a final chance for recruiters to survey the talent available in this year’s pool, just a week out from draft day on December 9.

Players who earned Draft Combine invites in September were split into two major groups, initially separating those from country and metropolitan regions, before being divided even further into small drill groups of five to seven participants. Among those on display were potential number one picks Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Elijah Hollands, the latter of which participated in a running program amid his recovery from a preseason ACL tear.

Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe was on hand in Craigieburn to recap all the action and give an insight into how things panned out.

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RECAP:

By: Ed Pascoe

A sense of irony came over me walking into Highgate Reserve, the same ground I last got to watch a lot of these young players back on March 15, right before Covid derailed the Victorian football season. It was a Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers trial game on that day and the ground was bustling with keen onlookers, many the same faces I would see today and it was great to see the development of some of these players. One of the big matchups in March was Nikolas Cox vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan which looked to be a clash we would see if the National Championships went ahead. Fast forward a few months and both players have bulked up, looking as sharp as ever in the lead up to the most important time of their lives.

To start the day it was the Vic Metro based players who were split into four training groups with the following participants:

Group A

Ewan Macpherson
Reef McInnes
Bailey Laurie
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips
Conor Stone

Group B

Cody Brand
Nikolas Cox
Josh Eyre
Liam Kolar
Ollie Lord

Group C

Jake Bowey
Josh Clarke
Connor Downie
Max Holmes
Finlay Macrae
Corey Preston

Group D

Matthew Allison
Lachlan Carrigan
Luke Cleary
Eddie Ford
Liam McMahon
Fraser Rosman

Injured Group

Max Heath
Campbell Edwardes

Vic Country players would later take the field and were split into three main groups:

Group A

Cameron Fleeton
Zach Reid
Josh Treacy
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Henry Walsh

Group B

Ryan Angwin
Will Bravo
Jack Ginnivan
Charlie Lazzaro
Zavier Maher
Blake Reid
Harry Sharp

Group C

Dominic Bedendo
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Clayton Gay
Oliver Henry
Seamus Mitchell
Nick Stevens

Injured Group (Laps)

Elijah Hollands
Charlie Ham
Noah Gribble

There were four main drills conducted after a warm-up; with ground balls, marking, kicking, and handballing the respective focus areas. The ground ball drill involved taking half volleys, running towards the loose ball coming from behind them, taking on the bump bag and finally working in pairs to pick the ball up cleanly under pressure from a teammate.

The marking drill was changed slightly as the day went on but the main focuses were receiving a high ball before getting called to a certain colour cone to run to, turn, and then meet at the drop zone of the ball. Contested marking was the final focus, with two players coming from either the back or front to contest a mark. This drill was certainly the most competitive and one of the drills players had the most fun in, with plenty wanting just ‘one more go’.

The kicking and handballing drills were fairly standard with a three-man weave, and a short to long stationary handball among the handball drills. The kicking drills consisted of kicking to a stationary target often 45 degrees to another player, and finally a drill which involved kicking to a leading player which really separated the better kickers on the day – especially in the notoriously windy conditions at Highgate Reserve.

Overall, it was a great day for the players to get a run while bonding with some former teammates and potentially future teammates. It was also a nice little refresher for scouts and recruiters as well, who got to see how some of these players have progressed both in their football and in their body. It is hard to gauge who would be considered the ‘standouts’ from this training session but most players put in the effort required and it was also good to see some really get involved with coaches and looking for advice in certain drills, showing their commitment to getting the best out of themselves.

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Vic Metro

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under -17 showcase games last year. Outsider talent from the Vic Metro regions is next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty of prospects around the mark despite missing a full year of football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft Guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CALDER CANNONS:

Jackson Cardillo | Midfielder/Forward
03/07/2002 | 186cm/78kg

One of the more unlucky players to miss out on a draft combine invite this year, Cardillo has plenty of traits which should appeal to recruiters. With explosive speed, great agility and a penetrating kick, the Calder midfielder showed a good amount of promise across 18 NAB League outings as a bottom-ager.

EASTERN RANGES:

Jack Diedrich | Ruck/Forward
17/09/2002 | 199cm/88kg

A developing ruck/key forward, Diedrich was included in this year’s Vic Metro academy hub on the back of just three NAB League appearances in 2019. The raw 199cm tall has some strength to build and production to lift, but has nice upside as he fares well both in the air and at ground level.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS:

Liam Delahunty | Tall Utility
13/02/2001 | 190cm/90kg

One of the 19-year-olds in contention, Delahunty was set to make the move to Victoria this year to suit up for Northern in the NAB League and North Melbourne in the VFL. He instead turned out again for GWS in the Academy Series, showcasing his athleticism and versatility as a tall defender who can also swing forward.

Lachlan Gawel | Forward/Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm/79kg

Another who missed out last year and was set to switch to Northern, Gawel has the kind of upside recruiters like despite only having a small sample size to show. He has exciting athletic attributes and can make things happen on the ball both up forward and potentially from midfield in future.

Josh Watson | Midfielder
21/10/2002 | 182cm/82kg

A likely type who showed his wares in the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, Watson could have been one to really come on in 2020. He has shown his capacity to find a good amount of ball and get it moving forward with his booming left boot. Having played on the outer, he can also move to the inside of midfield.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

Fraser Elliot | Inside Midfielder
05/07/2002 | 188cm/88kg

While he was squeezed out at the pointy end of the season, Elliot proved an important part of Oakleigh’s premiership midfield with his ability to extract and compete at the coalface. He is a big-bodied type who was forced to adapt in other roles at times, but would have been looking forward to permanent midfield minutes in 2020.

Lochlan Jenkins | Midfielder
23/02/2002 | 178cm/79kg

Another key midfield cog in Oakleigh’s stacked 2019 premiership side, Jenkins is a smaller type who finds plenty of the ball and goes about his business with intent. Along with Elliot, he shone in the absence of Oakleigh’s stars during the mid-part of the season and ended up registering 18 impressive games.

Sam Tucker | Key Defender/Forward
07/01/2002 | 197cm/87kg

A swingman of sorts, Tucker is one who was poised to make a big impact in 2020 with a full NAB League season. He is a solid marker of the ball who can impact at either end of the ground, but looked to be settling nicely into a key defensive role. He is already a nice size for it, too.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS:

Felix Flockart | Ruck/Tall Utility
05/11/2001 | 200cm/79kg

Another 19-year-old prospect, but one who has not gained a massive amount of elite-level exposure. After impressing for Brighton Grammar in last year’s APS season, Flockhart was set to join Sandringham’s NAB League and VFL programs, hoping to continue his steep rate of development as a lean and versatile tall with great upside.

Darby Hipwell | Inside Midfielder
15/08/2002 | 181cm/80kg

Having very narrowly missed the cut for this year’s AFL Academy intake, Hipwell took it in his stride and looked to prove his doubters wrong in 2020. Drawing inspiration from past teammates, the inside midfielder has worked hard on improving his outside game to better complement his contested ball winning ability.

Oscar Lewis | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 192cm/75kg

A bolter from last year’s crop who was set to go around once again, Lewis is a raw type with good potential. At 192cm, he is a prototypical athlete with strong running ability on the outside, whether that be carving off half-back or the wing. He would have looked to improve his production and contested work.

Charlie McKay | Midfielder/Defender
09/08/2002 | 186cm/80kg

McKay loomed as one to watch for Carlton fans in 2020 given his ties to the club as the son of 244-game Blues champion, Andrew. He remains father-son eligible and has some nice traits, including hardness at the ball and his ability to play both through midfield or in defence. Could come into greater contention with a full year in 2021.

WESTERN JETS:

Lucas Failli | Midfielder/Small Forward
14/09/2002 | 170cm/73kg

Failli may be small, but packs a punch as a zippy ball winner who can also impact up forward. His size, smarts and agility bode for more time in attack should he get to the next level, with his defensive work-rate also suitable for that small forward role.

Cody Raak | Tall Defender
08/11/2002 | 191cm/77kg

Another Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect tied to the Western Bulldogs this year, Raak is a developing defender who reads the play well and shows sound composure on the ball. He may be building up to key position size and would prove a handy developmental type for the Bulldogs’ Category B rookie list.

2020 AFLW Draft review: Melbourne Demons

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with Melbourne, a team that made finals for the first time in the Demons’ history last season but have looked to rebuild through the draft.

Melbourne:

#5 – Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#15 – Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#17 – Maggie Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#35 – Megan Fitzsimon (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#41 – Mietta Kendall (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#48 – Isabella Simmons (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Melbourne’s draft hand was perhaps the most unique of the lost, with no two players the same in terms of their role or style. In some cases there might be some cross-overs in roles or styles, but the uniqueness of the haul makes the Demons a real unique group that can fill some important holes around the field.

Picking up Alyssa Bannan at Pick 5, the Demons get a readymade key forward who can also roam through the midfield. Expect her to start deep and cause all sorts of issues for defenders with her athleticism, overhead marking and goal sense. While many tall forwards are out of the contest after the marking contest, Bannan can also play the role of small forward and create something out of nothing from ground level.

Eliza McNamara is a hard-nut through the middle who can play in multiple positions. Traditionally the pocket rocket is an inside midfielder, but spent time on the outside and even up forward at times to increase her versatility. Possessing terrific athletic capabilities and a fierce attack on the ball, McNamara will be a player Dees fans can’t help but like.

Another midfielder brought into the club is Gippsland Power’s Megan Fitzsimon. The balanced midfielder can also play at half-back or half-forward, but has that elite burst and is able to use the ball well going inside 50. She is so balanced and can win the footy and distribute it by hand or foot out of a stoppage and is taller than McNamara. Clean and precise is a way to describe Fitzsimon.

Also likely to front up onball is Maggie Caris, although the 189cm-odd talent will be tapping it down to her teammates. The standout ruck in the AFL Women’s Draft class, Caris is good around the stoppages with clean hands and a strong work rate. She is developing some areas of her game coming from an elite netball background – that she still competes in – but has some unique traits thanks to her size and skillset.

Caris’ junior teammate in Isabella Simmons is not much smaller at 184cm, but instead she is predominantly a half-forward who can push up onto a wing. She might seem like a key position forward at that size, but her mobility and desire to run in transition makes her a perfect role for further up the ground. She is someone who has one of the highest upsides in the draft with very few players of her height able to move the way she does.

Finally, Eastern Ranges’ Mietta Kendall joined the club with the reliable defender having a consistent 2019 and a really strong start to 2020. She loves the contested one-on-ones, able to win the ball in close and distribute out, and can play an anchor role in defence, or even a shutdown role if required. A no-frills player, Kendall is one who you can guarantee will play her role each and every week.

Melbourne fans should be excited by the players the club has brought in, filling quite a number of holes across the field and setting up the red and blue for the future.

2020 AFLW Draft review: Collingwood Magpies

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with Collingwood, a side that reached finals for the first time in its history last year and aimed to target height, as well as speed and class, in this year’s draft.

Collingwood:

#19 – Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#25 – Amelia Velardo (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
#26 – Joanna Lin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#31 – Abbi Moloney (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 – Bella Smith (Norwood/Central Allies)

Collingwood had another fairly big off-season with a number of changes including the departures of Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan, whilst bringing in Aliesha Newman and Abbey Green from Melbourne and North Melbourne respectively. The changes – which included a number of retirements – allowed the Magpies to end up with five picks in the draft. Knowing their father-daughter selection in Tarni Brown was a top 10 pick on value, the Magpies traded back to gain extra value out of matching the bid, and then worked their way into have four more picks in the space of nine selections. This year they had a Vic Metro focus, taking talls Western Jets’ Amelia Velardo and Sandringham Dragons’ Abbi Moloney, while also selecting Oakleigh Chargers’ Joanna Lin. Passing on their last selection, the Pies then went and picked up Bella Smith from Norwood to provide some extra height up either end as the interstate recruit.

Brown was long touted as a prospect to follow in the footsteps of her famous father Gavin, and brothers Callum and Tyler and join the Magpies. With superb athleticism and an ability to shrug tackles, she is clearly one of the standout prospects in the AFL Women’s Draft and represents huge value for Collingwood at Pick 19. She is one who could step right up to play at the top level sooner rather than later.

Another player who has been playing most of their life is Moloney, with the Dragons tall a strong mark and had a great start to the NAB League season booting eight goals in three games. She could have been a father-daughter selection to the Western Bulldogs thanks to father Troy playing with Footscray, but has instead made her way to the Holden Centre. She becomes that additional tall target along with Velardo, who by comparison, has had very little time in the sport. She only started last year when choosing to train with the Western Jets over continuing her basketball career and it paid off with a couple of big games for the Jets in 2020. She played as an undersized ruck but expect her to be a forward/midfielder for the Magpies.

Lin has also been a relative newcomer to the sport, with only a couple of seasons in NAB League after a season at local level. She has come on in leaps and bounds, and uses the ball well and creates run in transition from half-back to the wing and going forward. A player you can trust with ball-in-hand, she adds some more class to the line-up alongside Brown. Finally, Smith’s addition as another tall provides versatility for former and now reunited coach Steve Symonds, who chose the Norwood prodigy as an option to throw either back or forward. She has had an enormous season at centre half-back for the Redlegs which could free up others at Collingwood to go forward, but she can also play as that leading target too.

Collingwood has been able to address its needs out of this draft, with some established football names, as well as some newcomers, and expect them to all set the standard during the off-season.

2020 AFLW Draft review: Club-by-club picks

THE dust has settled on the exciting 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Over the next week we will be delving into each club’s selections and detailing more information about those players who earned places at the elite level. Below we have listed each club’s selections from last night’s draft if you are waking up to check out who your newest stars are.

Adelaide:

#4 – Teah Charlton (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#45 – Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide)
#47 – Ashleigh Woodland (North Adelaide)

Brisbane:

#8 – Zimmorlei Farquharson (Yeronga South Brisbane/Queensland)
#37 – Indy Tahau (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#38 – Ruby Svarc (Essendon VFLW)

Carlton:

#12 – Mimi Hill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#28 – Daisy Walker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#36 – Winnie Laing (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Collingwood:

#19 – Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#25 – Amelia Velardo (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
#26 – Joanna Lin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#31 – Abbi Moloney (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 – Pass

Fremantle:

#14 – Sarah Verrier (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
#30 – Mikayla Morrison (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#46 – Tiah Haynes (Subiaco)

Geelong:

#10 – Darcy Moloney (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#20 – Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#21 – Olivia Barber (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
#27 – Stephanie Williams (Geelong Falcons/Darwin Buffettes)
#39 – Carly Remmos (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 – Annise Bradfield (Southport/Queensland)
#23 – Sarah Perkins (Hawthorn VFLW)
#50 – Maddison Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
#54 – Janet Baird (Palmerston Magpies)
#57 – Lucy Single (Bond University)
#58 – Elizabeth Keaney (Southern Saints VFLW)
#60 – Daisy D’Arcy (Hermit Park/Queensland)
#61 – Wallis Randell (Bond University)

GWS GIANTS:

#9 – Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/ACT)
#29 – Emily Pease (Belconnen Magpies/Eastern Allies)
#42 – Libby Graham (Manly Warringah Wolves)

Melbourne:

#5 – Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#15 – Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#17 – Maggie Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#35 – Megan Fitzsimon (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#41 – Mietta Kendall (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#48 – Isabella Simmons (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

North Melbourne:

#13 – Bella Eddey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 – Alice O’Loughlin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#44 – Georgia Hammond (Darebin Falcons VFLW)
#49 – Brooke Brown (Launceston)
#55 – Amy Smith (Aberfeldie)

Richmond:

#1 – Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#43 – Tessa Lavey (WNBL)
#52 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons/Richmond VFLW)

St Kilda:

#6 – Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
#24 – Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#34 – Renee Saulitis (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#40 – Jacqueline Vogt (Southern Saints VFLW)
#51 – Pass

West Coast:

#3 – Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)
#18 – Shanae Davison (Swan Districts/WA)
#32 – Julie-Anne Norrish (East Fremantle)
#53 – Andrea Gilmore (Claremont)
#56 – Pass
#59 – Pass

Western Bulldogs:

#2 – Jess Fitzgerald (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#11 – Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#16 – Isabelle Pritchard (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Hockey to footy no problem for Kendall

IT is fair to say that Mietta Kendall is a pretty well rounded sports star with the youngster representing Victoria in hockey, attaining her black belt in Karate and also representing the Eastern Ranges. However, it is the latter that Kendall had always been interested in for a long time.

“So I played footy with the boys at school just recess and lunch and stuff. Then Blackburn, my local club, started up a girls team, I was in grade four when they started and I joined in grade five. So that’s how it all kind of started and I just went through the pathways,” Kendall said.

The ability to inject your own flair into the game and the family-like culture are what initially drew Kendall to the sport, along with the fact that she is a dedicated Richmond supporter.

“I’ve always loved it (football), I’ve always been a really strong Richmond supporter. I would go with my dad to the games every week,” she reminisced. “So I guess I’ve just always loved it as a little kid. I love, I suppose, the room in the game to kind of be a bit unique and be your own player to add your own magic and your own touch to the game in whatever way that might be. As well as being able to play in a team that’s really like a family and being amongst that culture that you can’t really find anywhere else.”

Speaking of culture, that is something Kendall particularly loves about the Ranges. Having been there for four years now, Kendall has become a part of the furniture at the club and credits the nurturing environment of the club and strong friendships she has made throughout her time there.

“Definitely our culture, we’re all very much there for one another, we are more of a family than we are a team on and off the field, and that’s been built through our coaches that we’ve had since the start and managers like Jessica Hollands. As well as having good leaders and a really good bunch of girls. It’s not cliquey, it’s not segregated we are all one and I think it is a beautiful thing,” Kendall said.

Playing as a goalkeeper, the switch from hockey to footy was an easy one for Kendall with the Ranges defender explaining she was able to bring those attributes from hockey onto the footy field, especially when it came to reading the play – an area she highlighted as one of her strengths.

“I’m hard going at the ball so that’s definitely one of my strengths. I will follow up on second, third, fourth efforts wherever I can, and my reading the play. And I’ve got quite a long kick that’s usually accurate. I think being able to read the play comes from previously playing hockey, as a goalkeeper and being able to lead the girls as much as I can with direction and communication,” she said.

“I think karate and hockey have both really helped my footy, karate in my strength, hockey in my read of the play,” Kendall said. “I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to play more than just one sport.”

Representing Victoria in hockey for roughly six years, which is no mean feat, Kendall decided with her busy schedule that it was time to forgo the sport and solely focus on her football dreams. It was a big move in the scheme of things, but something she felt she had to do.

“I sort of gave up hockey a little bit I suppose over the last couple of years. I gave that up to focus on footy when things started getting a bit hectic with Vic footy and plus school, there wasn’t really enough time. I think I was getting a little bit bored and playing in goalkeeper, you know, sometimes don’t get a touch,” she said. “You go to footy and you promise to get, you know, 30, roughly touches at club. I think the game of football is very different in the sense of there’s less rules and there’s more freedom, and I love that about it.”

In terms of areas of improvement, Kendall identified elements such as the ability to kick on her “alternate left foot” as a prime focus along with increasing her endurance, groundball gets and short sprints to ensure she is continuously developing and growing her game.

Much like many of her teammates and fellow Victorians gearing up for the Draft Combine it has been an incredibly unconventional year with the NAB League season only lasting three rounds before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation came somewhat of a shock to Kendall who was on her way to training when she found out and was left a bit emotional by the news.

“A few of the girls were there and we had a massive cry. Me and my two best mates El (Eloise Chaston) and Bridget (Deed) we kind of just hung out for a bit and just moped around with each other. We knew it was a sad rough day but we knew there was always going to be opportunities in the future so keep going.”

Initially upset by the news, Kendall found ways to keep motivate noting that her teammates and people at the Ranges provided her with that encouragement to keep pushing.

“So obviously it was super hard and the biggest thing that helped for me is actually having like majority of my team have Strava, and we post our runs and stuff we do, we follow each other, we like each others posts and stuff and keep supporting one another,” she said. “Throughout the year, I think that’s a really good motivation to keep pushing and keep training, as well as coaches and staff checking in on us to see how we’re going.”

With hopes of doing a double degree in education majoring in psychology in 2021, the centre half back has found some silver linings when it comes to the NAB League season being cancelled, able to spend more time focusing on her studies, although she did admit she did some motivation was “lacking now that I have been online learning for so long.”

“Yeah, in a weird way school this year has been a lot harder but a lot easier at the same time because usually I’m juggling driving out to Kilsyth for Eastern training two nights a week, which is about 40 minutes from me in traffic. My time was very precious last year and I didn’t have a lot of it when it came to study. So I think that’s a positive to come out of this year, I’ve been able to really focus on my studies a bit more in such an important year, Year 12,” she said.

When it came to inspirations, it is no surprise her parents came to the forefront of her mind crediting them for the support they have given her over the years.

“My step dad works at the Hawthorn Football Club and is the boxing and tackling coach so he has been a huge support this year. Training me every week, like, two, three times a week to help me out, which has been amazing and then mum is so supportive and always has been. They’ve definitely helped me stay motivated and get through this year to try to be as good as I can for the draft,” she said.

With her parents an inspiration off the footy field, on the footy field it was the likes of four-time premiership captain Luke Hodge and Adelaide Crows AFLW star Chelsea Randall that caught her eye, highlighting the way they lead the troops – something she hopes to include in her game and bring into the AFLW if all goes to plan on Tuesday.

“Their work rate at the ball ability to lead their teammates, and really lead by example is something that I like to try and strive towards in my own game. They’re two of my favourite players of all time.”

Brown becomes the first Collingwood father-daughter pick

A TRIO of Browns are set to grace the Holden Centre in 2021 as the youngest of the Brown siblings, Tarni Brown joins the black and white. Following in her father’s footsteps, Eastern Ranges star and now Collingwood draftee, Brown is the first father-daughter selection in Collingwood’s history – a moment that felt a little surreal for the youngster.

“It didn’t feel quite real at the start,” Brown said. “I trained down there bit last year and early this year so I already had a bit of a feel for it but it just really came true and I got the call and everything so that was pretty cool.”

Brown decided that she needed a change in her sporting life and given that football has been ingrained in her from a young age given the family history, it is no surprise she picked up the oblong-shaped ball. Brown’s father, Gavin Brown is a well-known name amongst footy fans, especially one-eyed Collingwood supporters given his illustrious career with the club that resulted in 254 games and multiple Copeland trophies. Brown’s brothers Callum and Tyler are into their fourth and second seasons respectively with the Pies.

“Well I played basketball my whole life so I didn’t start footy until I was about 14 or 15,” she said. “So it was probably my basketball, dreaming of footy just wanted to try a different sport. And then I ended up liking it, just as much or nearly more than basketball.”

Receiving plenty of pointers along the way from her family, Brown is determined to make her own path and use her own attributes, ones she picked up from years of basketball to have an influence on the footy field.

“Yeah, I definitely reckon being a basketballer helped with my footy and just, my skills of being able to get out of tight situations, so that definitely all came from my basketball,” she said.

A couple of other key on-field attributes are the speed and agility Brown approaches her footy with, constantly on the lookout for opportunities to run freely into open space and create opportunities for her teammates. However, the youngster did make note of a few areas she wants to hone in on prior to the AFLW season commencing.

“Just trying to perfect my kicking. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot recently so I’m just aiming to get that really good so I can make sure I hit my targets properly and also my goal kicking for going into a more elite level,” Brown said.

Elevated to a leader at the Ranges, Brown noted that it was her on-field actions that set the tone, as the typically quiet footballer focused on playing her role and letting others follow, rather than direct the traffic.

“It was pretty cool. I’ve been at Ranges for three years and I was always a pretty quiet player so I was pretty happy to be able to get named a leader, so obviously not for being the loudest player but maybe just for showing different sort of attributes to the girls,” she said.

“I probably try to lead them obviously not so much for my voice but get around like the younger girls and lead them by the way I play, just being a team player, and like, trying to get on. Probably more so in that way.”

Securing that position on Collingwood’s list is just one of many goals that Brown has ahead of the AFLW season as she looks towards running out in the black and white in season 2021.

“My next goal will be to make my debut at Collingwood and then just play the best footy I can and then once I get that, I’ll make some new goals of what I want to do,” she said.

When asked about whether she was nervous to take the next step up to that elite level of football, Brown highlighted that she was more excited for the challenge and was keen to play against some of the best in the business. One player that she noted was Richmond’s Monique Conti, who is renowned for her classy movement, attack on the footy and all-round footy smarts.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous but probably more excited to see how I match up against like older and bigger girls and just see how much improvement I need to get to be at that level,” she said.

“It’d be pretty cool to get the opportunity to play against Monique Conti, she’s the one person who obviously everyone knows how good she is so she’s the one person I’d really like to play against for sure,” Brown said.

Much like many Melburnians it has been a challenging time for Brown, with the youngster not only having to contend with the lockdown but so too the absence of her two brothers and father who were away with their respective AFL clubs up in the Queensland hubs.

“I have my school work to keep me busy obviously my family’s been away, not my mum but my brothers and my dad have all been away so it’s been pretty quiet,” Brown said. “But just studying, going up the oval, kicking with friends and running, trying to stay fit all things like that.”

“For me I find, getting out and going for a run, probably more relaxing than anything. It’s better than just being at home with nothing to do so I prefer to stay busy and go out, go for a kick and things like that.”

“Yeah, it’s very quiet for sure, missing the boys, I’ve got dad back but really missing Cal and Tyler so I’m excited for them to come home,” Brown said. “But they usually have a lot to say at home so that’s different too, but just calling and facetiming them a lot. But excited to get them back.”

For many of the Collingwood faithful the signing of Brown is a momentous occasion with no one prouder than her father, according to the new recruit.

“He said is very proud of, not just me but Cal and Tyler as well, all three of us so he’s pretty happy to have all three of us down there and yeah just obviously proud as well.”

Meagher’s motivation to keep pushing

IT has been an unconventional season of NAB League, with the competition cancelled three games in and subsequently putting a halt to Eastern Ranges captain Olivia Meagher’s top age year and captaincy aspirations.

“I didn’t believe that,” she said. “We were on our way to training and then we got the text saying that it’s cancelled. And we were literally five seconds away from the ground so pretty upsetting.”

“After that and not being able to go back I just missed all the girls, and having the chance to be a captain for a full season and seeing where we ended up towards the end of the season, if we made finals or not. I just couldn’t believe it, just felt really fake and like we were going to go back and then it really hit that it was cancelled and I got really upset,” the Ranges captain said.

Meagher recognised that the cancellation of the season not only affected her but so too her fellow teammates and competitors that were in their top-age year of NAB League, who shared the same hopes of getting drafted.

“You know, me being a top age, kind of just been taken away from me. But everyone (that were) top agers (are) in the same boat I guess, I just had to keep going at home and just like try my best to stay fit and everything else,” Meagher said.

Despite only playing the three games, Meagher highlighted just how excited she was to lead the girls out onto the field and really provide that voice of reason and guidance for the young up and coming prospects in the Ranges squad.

“Awesome being able to run out and lead the girls from the club rooms, it’s just one of the best feelings to turn around and see them all following me,” she said. “Even though there was only three games. They still were different compared to every other season just because I was that top age. I had just a different feeling running out onto the ground, not being a little baby anymore.”

Joining the boys footy team at Upper Gully in Under 10s, Meagher developed her love for the game and while she had a short stint on the netball court, found her way back to the oblong-ball in Under 16s. The Eastern Ranges product has blossomed into an influential leader noting a couple of key attributes when on the footy field, ranging from her body strength to her voice.

“I love to be a leader especially to help guide the girls in footy as well,” she said. “I think I’m a good role model as well, a lot of the younger girls look up to me just because I’ve been playing footy for quite a few years.”

Coming to terms with a cancelled season, a potential forgo of her AFLW dreams and a state-wide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the youngster admits there were moments where she really struggled to find motivation to keep pushing.

“At the start I was thinking that the season was going go going to go back and I had to just keep my fitness up and then when we got the final announcement that it was really cancelled, I did lose a bit of motivation because I thought it was done for the year, there’d be no draft and, you know, it was over,” she said. “But then I got the announcement that the draft combine was coming up and that’s when I was like, pull my head in. I need to, get ready for this.”

Her get up and go mentality was in part due to her three brothers, spurring her on and encouraging when it came to her fitness regime and diet to ensure she was in tip top shape ahead of the Draft Combine.

“My older brothers have helped me out because we all know a lot about nutrition and diet and fitness and all that so they were helping me, telling me the right thing to have, helping me with my running and my fitness and making sure that I always had the Draft Combine testing in mind. So, always thought about it with my actions of what I ate, or what I did in terms of training,” she said.

In terms of balancing her schedule with things such as training and school, Meagher had her hands full. The Year 12 student was rendered to remote learning for most of the term due to the COVID-19 outbreak, while also having to manage her own training load in order to stay ahead of the pack for the upcoming Draft Combine. A difficult feat no doubt.

“Yeah I found it pretty challenging at the start, having to do school from home and then motivate myself to get up, get dressed. And, you know, go for a run or do a workout. It was hard because I just get so drained from sitting in front of a computer screen all day, and then having to get up. That’s one thing I found challenging,” she said.

“It’s a lot more easier to motivate myself now and to get up and just having that Draft Combine testing in the back of my head just kept me going as well, to know that I have a reason to do this and that is something that’s going to come out of it, and not just you know doing it for the sake of staying fit. Yeah, just having a reason to keep pushing,” Meagher said.

Receiving the Draft Combine invite was an incredibly exciting and humbling moment for the tenacious footballer, given the rollercoaster year that 2020 has been. It also proved that her stature was not going to get in the way of her potentially living her dream of getting drafted and playing AFLW.

“I was really honoured to be recognised. I was very nervous as well because there are 80 other girls in it as well. But I just have to believe in myself when it comes to the testing to know that I have been picked for a reason, regardless of what I do get because of lockdown and everyone hasn’t been able to maintain the fitness that they usually do, just to keep in mind that I have been picked for a reason. Like, just hope for the best when it comes to draft day,” Meagher said.

With the draft just around the corner and Meagher counting down the days until her dream potentially becomes a reality, she is not concerned with “what pick, or what club” she lands at, she just has “a dream to go to any AFLW club”.

AFLW U18s to Watch: Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Eastern Ranges’ midfielder Tarni Brown who is tied to Collingwood as a potential father-daughter selection and has some eye-catching traits.

Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Height: 166cm
Position: Balanced Midfielder
Strengths: Footy smarts, speed, agility, vision, tackling

2020 NAB League stats: 2 games | 24.0 disposals | 2.5 marks | 4.5 tackles | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goal

2019 NAB League stats: 10 games | 17.9 disposals | 1.8 marks | 5.0 tackles | 3.3 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goals

The most talked about prospect in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft from a Collingwood perspective is Tarni Brown. The Eastern Ranges small is looking to follow brothers, Callum and Tyler into the elite level, making it three from three siblings playing at a high enough level they can make it to the top. There have been many iconic photos over the year with their dad Gavin and the trio all decked out in their Collingwood gear, and now next year it looks like it will go from supporter gear to playing attire.

Brown is not dissimilar to her brothers in the style she plays, being such an evasive, slippery player with great speed. She can weave in and out of contests, and as a dual-sport player with basketball, is all too familiar with ankle-breakers leaving her opponent committing to one way as she doubles back and leaves them in her dust. Her athleticism as a whole adds to her natural footballing ability.

She certainly has plenty of natural footballing ability, with her football smarts and vision to spot teammates going forward a handy attribute of the midfielder’s game. Often a winger who has moved more inside in 2020, Brown showed she was more than capable around the stoppages, averaging 24 disposals in her two games this year, whilst still hitting the scoreboard.

While her offensive output is terrific, Brown’s defensive output is just as impressive, being a tackling machine averaging almost five tackles in both her 2019 and 2020 seasons. She can hunt the ball or the ball carrier, and she is anticipated to play at half-forward when she reaches the top level, whilst providing that speed through the midfield rotation. Consistency was always the thing for Brown to develop from last year, and this year, albeit off only a couple of showings, gave an indication she was ready to take her game to the next level.

As someone who is unsurprisingly a Collingwood fan, it is rare when all three siblings can be following the career they love under the one roof, but expect that roof to be the Holden Centre.

AFLW U18s to Watch: Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Eastern Ranges’ midfielder Olivia Meagher who was named captain at the Ranges for the 2020 season and always puts in a four-quarter effort.

Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Height: 157cm
Position: Inside Midfielder
Strengths: Tackling, strength, clean hands, leadership, work rate

2020 NAB League stats: 2 games | 21.5 disposals | 2.0 marks | 3.0 tackles | 2.0 inside 50s | 2.0 rebounds

2019 NAB League stats: 7 games | 15.0 disposals | 2.0 marks | 3.1 tackles | 3.4 inside 50s | 0.9 rebounds | 2 goals

A pocket rocket who despite standing at just 157cm, strikes fear into opposition midfielders with her tenacity and ability to just hunt the ball and the ball carrier. Meagher will fly the flag for her teammates and lead by example with her fierce determination to grab the loose ball or bring down an opponent. In our recent Final Siren Podcast with Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald, the Knights’ co-captain described Meagher as “terrifying on-field, but one of the nicest people you’ll meet off it”.

Among her key strengths with her defensive pressure are her clean hands and her work rate, which sees her get knocked over and get straight back up again. Most of her disposals are won at either the coalface or because she has simply outworked her opponent to get to possessions on a wing or half-forward. She is able to spot up targets inside 50 and even hit the scoreboard in 2019.

Named Eastern Ranges captain in 2020, Meagher has that natural leadership ability too that stands out on the field. She is a player that teammates love to play alongside because not only do you know she will provide a four-quarter effort, but she will consistently dig in when the chips are down and continue to fight, which she continued to show this year like at Beaconsfield when the Ranges were losing to Dandenong Stingrays.

At her size, Meagher is the kind of player who will likely play as a pressure player around the ground, but you can imagine if she played as a forward, she would worry opposition defenders as they looked over their shoulders regularly. The fact she has the traits that can lend themselves to multiple positions – her clean hands and defensive pressure – means she is able to slot in wherever needed, which is a great ability to have when chasing your dream at the highest level.