Category: National Championships

Scouting Notes: 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars – Game Two

THE 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars went head-to-head for a second time on Saturday, serving as the final chance for budding WA draft prospects to impress AFL recruiters. Potential top five selection Denver Grainger-Barras was ultra-impressive, leading Team Gold to a mighty turnaround from game one in his side’s 55-point victory. Claremont prospect Max Spyvee won best afield honours, while last weekend’s most valuable player, Joel Western sustained a nasty finger injury. Our scout, Ed Pascoe was on hand to jot down his notes on some of the big performers and familiar names who took the field.

>> POWER RANKINGS: October 2020

TEAM GOLD:

#4 Max Spyvee

Spyvee has been impressive playing for Claremont’s League side this year and he brought that form into his one and only All-Stars appearance, winning a tonne of the ball in the middle. He was one of the main catalysts in Team Gold’s rebound after a disappointing performance last week. Spyvee got involved very early, using the ball quickly and cleanly at stoppages and winning plenty of clearances. While he is slight in stature, he was a constant around the packs, winning the ball easily on the inside and working hard on the outside to follow up a lot of his grunt work. His disposal started to get a bit scrappy after the main break but he got back to his best in the last quarter, with his clean hands around the ball leading to many scoring chains. Spyvee was a worthy winner of the best on ground honours and would have surely caught the eye of the recruiters in his last chance to do so.

#7 Isiah Winder

Winder had a quieter outing on this occasion but still managed to show some of his eye-catching traits, with his kicking inside 50 his main point of difference this week. The talented Pell Thunder prospect will always lower his eyes going inside 50 and any forward leading out would love the ball in his hands. On the flip side, Winder himself provides a great forward target as he leads hard and his hands overhead are also clean. This came into effect with his goal in the second quarter, judging the flight of the ball well inside 50 and slotting the set shot goal with ease. Winder’s composure and smooth movement have been staples of his game this year, but a stronger four-quarter impact will help maximise his skillset going forward.

#13 Joshua Browne

The talented bottom-ager has had a terrific season for East Fremantle, this year graduating from the back flank to the midfield with ease – not too dissimilar to former East Fremantle player, Trent Rivers. He showed both his defensive and offensive traits in this game playing off the wing and at half-back. Browne showed a great mix between his outside run and ability to attack the ground balls to win his own possessions, which helps set him apart. The smooth mover was a hard player to catch on the run and he rarely fumbled chances to win his own ball. Browne would kick a nice set shot goal in the last quarter, drifting forward to mark 30 metres out in front of goal. His best bit of play would come afterwards with a great run, bounce, and a sublime kick into the middle which opened up the game.

#27 Denver Grainger-Barras

What a performance from the top five prospect, who wowed recruiters with his dominant first half display down back before being sent forward where he kicked two goals and showed his potential versatility. Grainger-Barras started the game extremely well, winning plenty of the ball down back and taking some ripper marks, which he does time and time again in every game he plays. His competitiveness and confidence were again on display, throwing himself into every aerial and ground level contest to give Team Black nothing every time the ball was in his area. The second half is what recruiters would have loved more than anything, as not only was he moved forward to show his versatility, but he also played well in a role he has spent little time in over the last two years. His energy brought a lot to the forward mix with some desperate spoils in the forward 50 creating scoring opportunities and his lead-up marking also impressive. His first goal came from a nice mark on the lead and set shot, while the other was a classy snap which showed his bag of tricks. With his athleticism, combativeness, and football talent it is easy to see why the Swan Districts prospect is considered one of the very best players in the 2020 draft pool.

TEAM BLACK:

#20 Matthew Johnson

Once again the talented bottom-age prospect from Subiaco found it all too easy to earn plenty of possessions, with his ability to win the ball all over the ground again coming to the fold. Although handball happy, Johnson rarely wasted a disposal and often stayed composed and confident whenever he had possession. He exploded in the third quarter, winning an absurd amount of the ball which included two nice bits of play; the first saw Johnson sell candy to a player on the mark, while the second was a nice fend-off to show just how confident Johnson is in his ability. The tall 192cm midfielder is firming as first round prospect in the 2021 talent pool and has put himself ahead as Western Australia’s leading prospect going into that draft.

#25 Heath Chapman

It was a quiet game by Chapman’s standards, especially given the rebound defender averaged more than 20 disposals for West Perth this year. Of all things, he certainly wouldn’t have expected a match up with fellow elite backman, Denver Grainger-Barras in the second half, which forced Chapman to play a more defensive game. Chapman was classy with ball in hand with only one blemish in the last quarter. A lot of his possessions put his teammates in good spots with some risky kicks into the middle. Chapman did well to take a goal-saving mark on the goal line in the third quarter, and this outing perhaps a good indicator of his defensive game, with his offensive game more than proven at Colts level this year.

#31 Kalin Lane

Spending a bit less time in the ruck compared to last week, it was great to see Lane spend more time forward to show of a few more tricks. While missing his partner in crime and Claremont teammate, Joel Western for the second half, he did well to form other partnerships with the likes of the Johnson boys, Matthew and Callum. Lane nailed his only goal in the third quarter, coming from a strong outstretched contested mark which has been a real feature for him in the last month. It is an asset which is sure to separate him from other rucks across the states. He had another chance to kick a goal in the pocket but unfortunately kicked into the man on the mark.

#37 Shannon Neale

Neale finally got to capitalise on his chances up forward, as the big 202cm ruck/forward from South Fremantle was his side’s leading goalkicker with three majors which all came in different ways. His first goal came in the second quarter, kicking a nice goal in general play off two steps. His second was from a nice juggled contested mark and set shot conversion, while the last came in the final quarter as Lane got the ball over the back and ran into an open goal. He could have had even more from another two shots on goal, with one snap just missing. Neale didn’t really influence enough in his time in the ruck, so being able to impact forward of centre was important. With his athleticism and size, he will prove a great project for recruiters.

Featured Image: Retrieved from @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars

THE 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars went head-to-head on Saturday, with a bunch of budding AFL Draft prospects boosting their stocks in Game One. Fremantle Next Generation Academy member Joel Western was named best afield as Team Black came up trumps by 55 points. Our scout, Ed Pascoe was on hand to jot down his notes on some of the big performers and familiar names.

>> POWER RANKINGS: October 2020

Team Gold:

#7 Isiah Winder

A classy display from Winder, who was a standout at the WA combine. In this outing, he showed what he couldn’t at the combine – his football smarts and skills. Despite his side not having a great day on the scoreboard, Winder had a lot of say in the scores they did get. He crafted some lovely kicks to advantage going inside 50 and received one of his own, but his set shot would fall short. One of his better bits of play came in the last quarter, having a run at half-back and starting a chain of handballs which showed of his speed and class. He would unfortunately come off the ground late with an injury.

#17 Zane Trew

Trew, along with his fellow midfielders couldn’t really get his side going. While Trew has been a huge disposal winner this year for Swan Districts, he found the going tough. Despite not getting ideal delivery form his rucks, he still managed to get some nice clearances and showed his standout traits with clean hands and creative handballs from stoppages. He was handball happy which he usually does well, but he may look to find a better balance between kicking and handballing, and his kicking could have been tidied up a bit. Nonetheless, Trew’s composure in heavy traffic was impressive, showing nice agility to get around opponents.

#24 Logan Young

Young played a solid game through the midfield, attacking contests hard and using his bigger frame to his advantage to dish out to his running players. A trait that has made Young a well-rounded player is his work-rate around the ground, as he is able to find the ball outside of stoppages unlike most bigger midfielders at junior level. His skills by hand and foot where decent and some of his vision with his kicks inboard where eye-catching. It was great to see Young play so well despite the opposition ruck dominance.

#27 Denver Grainger-Barras

It wasn’t a massive game stats wise by any means from Grainger-Barras, but his impact was always apparent whenever he made a contest. He had an eye-catching play early with a nice spoil, followed by a quick gather of his own spoil to showcase his fantastic agility and nimbleness for a player of 194cm. Another great play was his manic attack to make a contest, running full tilt at the ball and his opponent. Upon gathering, he also laid a nice don’t argue. Some great spoils highlighted his second half but it was an impressive leap and intercept mark in the last quarter which really caught the eye. It has been a fantastic year for Grainger-Barras, who is destined to be taken very high in this year’s draft.

#29 Logan McDonald

McDonald continued his impressive year with another strong performance up forward, finishing with 15-plus disposals and two goals. He was made to wait until the third quarter for his two goals, however, with one from a free kick and the other from a very nice conversion on the boundary from about 45 metres out. McDonald played more of a centre half-forward role, showcasing his impressive endurance and taking many marks on the wing, while also showing great composure with ball in hand. He was well held by Jaiden Hunter close to goal, but it was McDonald’s work-rate up the ground that proved a handful. This was showcased in the last quarter as he took a mark on one wing, passed inside, and worked to the opposite wing to provide another target – although this time it was spoiled. McDonald finished his campaign on a strong note as he made his claims to be the first player taken in this year’s draft.

Team Black:

#1 Joel Western

Fremantle supporters must be thrilled, but also annoyed that Western keeps impressing and improving his standing in this year’s draft, with the small and nippy midfielder doing what he does best – exploding away from stoppages with his elite speed. Western loved the supply he got in the ruck from fellow Claremont player Kalin Lane and he would always make the most of his clearances, bursting away and driving his side forward. Western would also hit the scoreboard with a nice goal on the run, followed by another from a mark and easy set shot conversion. He could have had even more goals if he were a bit more accurate on the run. His size hasn’t worried him and he plays very similarly to emerging Richmond midfielder Shai Bolton, with his clean hands and speed a real worry for opposition midfielders. He was named best on ground which was certainly deserved.

#20 Matthew Johnson

The 2021 prospect continues to further his standings in next year’s draft with another impressive display through the midfield. The tall midfielder again showcased his impressive work around stoppages and his ability to win the ball seamlessly on the outside, while using the ball well by hand and foot. Johnson shows plenty of composure with ball in hand and is never flustered. Another thing he does well is block for his teammates after giving a handball, to further put his teammates in better positions. His best bit of play came in the last quarter where he showed great agility to get around two opponents 30 metres out form goal, before slotting a lovely major on his opposite foot.

#25 Heath Chapman

It was another classy display from Chapman down back, where he showcased his ability to intercept and use the ball well from defence. He took numerous intercept marks and after the one he did drop, he did really well to quickly gather the loose ball by attacking it hard and making sure he made up for his mistake. Chapman’s attacking flair is his best trait but he also showed his strong defensive game as well in the second quarter, punching a nice spoil and then nailing his opponent with a strong tackle near the boundary. Chapman has firmed into top 20 calculations in this year’s draft and this game only helped confirm his talent.

#31 Kalin Lane

A brilliant game from Lane who was the standout ruckman on the ground, giving his midfield first use and particularly forming a good partnership with fellow Claremont Tiger, Joel Western. His competitiveness to go with his hitout work was really impressive, as he took numerous strong marks around the ground and was more than willing to tackle once he had competed in a ruck contest. Perhaps his most eye-catching movement came in the second quarter when he managed to nail the elusive Denver Grainger-Barras with a strong tackle, which would lead to his side kicking a goal.

#37 Shannon Neale

It wasn’t a big day for Neale, who played mostly forward for Team Black with Kalin Lane getting the major ruck duties. Neale did some nice things forward without hitting the scoreboard himself, with a nice smother close to goal and numerous leaps at the ball to kill contests. His best work came when he was able to move into the ruck, where he was more involved with some nice taps and follow up work once the ball hit the ground. He will need to push up the ground more as a forward and really showcase his endurance as a former runner.

Featured Image: The 2020 WA Under 18 All-Stars post-match | Retrieved from: @WAFLOfficial

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2020

THE VERDICT is in after another terrific month of football from the latest crop of budding AFL draftees. Victorian prospects remain starved of action, but the best and brightest from around the nation have been stamping their claims, making for some interesting movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s third Power Rankings edition for 2020, we extend our list out to 25 names, with key adjustments made to our initial July and August analyses. A certain West Australian key forward continues to rise steeply, while the Northern Territory gains a representative in the extended cut. All that, and more in our September Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

August Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

August Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

August Ranking: #9

Last Month: McDonald has been arguably the most consistent key position performer of all the players on this list; at the highest possible level, no less. He now sits second in the WAFL League goalkicking charts, having booted 13 goals across his five August/September outings. He boasts 20 goals in seven games overall, and has not yet failed to kick multiple goals. Even if he is having a quiet patch, McDonald has been able to make an impact and take full toll with what the Perth midfielders deliver his way. He will continue to provide a focal point as the Demons push for finals, with his conversion from range, marking on the lead, and one-on-one work deep inside 50 all excellent for his age.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

August Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another consistent performer, Grainger-Barras is still capable of delivering some ‘wow’ moments. Most recently, he produced a starring second half against McDonald and the Perth Demons, bouncing back from a lacklustre opening half to help Swan Districts power to victory. While he is still quite light for a key position prospect, Grainger-Barras showed he is not afraid to wear contact on that day, leaping for some incredible intercept marks while directly opposed to his State Under 18s teammate. He may get knocked around a touch, but loves a bit of niggle and stands up against mature bodies. Over the past month, the 18-year-old averaged 11.6 disposals and 5.2 marks per his five games, good enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

August Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

August Ranking: #5

Last Month: West Adelaide has managed Thilthorpe over the last two weeks as he nurses a groin complaint, bringing an end to his streak of nine-straight League appearances since Round 1. The bigman had been enjoying some time in a variety of roles; from his usual key forward post, to some added responsibility in the ruck rotation, and even venturing up onto a wing. In his four August outings, Thilthorpe was kept goalless thrice, averaging 11.8 disposals, four marks, and over 12 hitouts to be squeezed just outside of the top five. He still has runs on the board and hopefully gets back into the swing of things to finish off the SANFL season.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

August Ranking: #6

Last Month: Campbell returned to AFL Sydney Premier Division football this past weekend for Pennant Hills, booting a goal in the Demons’ 80-point victory over East Coast. That came after he turned out twice for the Sydney Swans Academy, helping his side claim Academy Series points over the GWS GIANTS Academy on both occasions. He looked a class above in those outings, able to win the ball at will through midfield, while showcasing his versatility and remaining a goalkicking threat going forward.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

August Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the Vics get on the park, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

August Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

August Ranking: #12

Last Month: Jones remains the sole South Australian Under 18 on this list to have turned out at League level for every round this season, as he goes from strength to strength. The Eagles are in the box seat to take out the minor premiership, with the Port Adelaide NGA prospect an established part of the side’s defence in a variety of roles. In his six outings since August 1, Jones has averaged 11.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, and four rebound 50s, returning to his best with 16 touches and eight rebounds against North Adelaide in Round 11. He has consistently been able to intercept, play both tall and small, and rebound effectively against mature bodies, bumping him up to #10.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#11 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

August Ranking: #13

Last Month: After his third and final Colts outing in early-August, O’Driscoll earned a Reserves berth in Round 5, before being immediately promoted to the League side. After a steady debut, O’Driscoll has racked up 20 and 15 disposals over the last fortnight, benefitting from being allowed an extended run through midfield. The 18-year-old has showcased his toughness and hard-running ability at senior level, leaving nothing left in the tank. He works hard for his possessions and is equally as relevant in his defensive duties for the most part. There has been some conjecture about his range, we feel his current form and future scope lands him just outside the top 10.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

August Ranking: #10

Last Month: Davies was set to line up for the Gold Coast SUNS in August’s Academy Series, but suffered an elbow injury which ruled him out of action early in the month. He faces a race against the clock to return in time for Broadbeach’s upcoming QAFL finals campaign, which begins next week for the minor premiers.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

August Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

August Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury, but earned a National Combine invite for September 30.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

August Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Chapman is the only new player inside this month’s top 20, rising all the way up to #16 on the back of some impressive form. From Rounds 3 to 6 in the WAFL Colts, Chapman averaged a remarkable 25.8 disposals and 8.8 marks down back, enough to earn him a League debut this past weekend. The 18-year-old reeled in five marks among his 11 touches, making for a promising start to life at senior level. With the ability to mark and use the ball so efficiently for his size, Chapman is a player with plenty of desirable traits. West Perth is in the finals race, so hopefully Chapman can hold his League spot and impress under post-season pressure.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should Victorian prospects finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

August Ranking: #17

Last Month: Henry ran out for St Joseph’s all the way back in the first week of August, battling both with and against plenty of his Geelong Falcons teammates. The 187cm prospect booted two goals for Joey’s against Geelong College in a more forward-oriented role, and was also named among his side’s best players. He has since been inactive due to fixture cancellations and a lack of NAB League football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

August Ranking: #18

Last Month: Powell was teased with senior selection after amassing a whopping 47 disposals, 10 clearances, and two goals in Round 10, but continues to plug away at Under 18s level. It is there where the prolific midfielder has averaged nearly 36 disposals and nine clearances across his last five games, remaining atop the charts in both areas despite missing out in Round 9. The Double Blues maestro has also added goals to his game, booting seven from midfield in the last month. His numbers stack up as well as anyone in the draft pool, but whether he can maintain that output at senior level obviously remains to be seen.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#19 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

August Ranking: #16

Last Month: Another prospect who has flirted with senior promotion, Trew only really finds himself sliding down a few spots due to others’ promotions. Barring an injury-stricken outing at the start of August, the Swan Districts product has been at his ball winning best. Having returned from his lay-off due to concussion, Trew has averaged 27 disposals across his last three WAFL Colts outings. A senior berth may prove tough to crack given the Swans’ winning effort last time out, with only one more game in any grade possible due as the regular season comes to a close this week – Swan Districts have also not made finals in any competition. He did earn a National Combine invite though, and will have the opportunity to impress in Western Australia’s All-Star fixture pegged for October.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

August Ranking: #19

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

August Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#22 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Another entirely fresh face on our list, Carroll’s name is unearthed due to our expansion to an order of 25. That is not to say that he would not have featured otherwise, with the East Fremantle product a player who has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 188cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: This week will serve as Carroll’s last chance to earn senior selection before finals, though East Fremantle is only really in that frame across the Reserves and Colts grades. He would inevitably come into consideration after an outstanding performance against Claremont in Round 7, collecting 31 disposals and booting two goals as the Sharks knocked off their highly-fancied opponents. In five games over the past month, Carroll has averaged 23.4 disposals to put himself right among the top 20 mix. For us, he remains just outside it for now at #22, but has all the class to move on up.

>> Draft Watch

#23 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australia colours last year.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Poulter earned a call-up to the Eagles’ Reserves side in Round 10, booting a goal on debut and retaining his spot in the latest weekend of action. The League side will be tough to crack given its success this season, but the 190cm prospect will be keen to join fellow top-age gun, Lachlan Jones in the lineup. Prior to his promotion, Poulter averaged a tick under 28 disposals in his four Under 18s outings across August, generating plenty of forward momentum and hitting the scoreboard in two of those games. In that time, Poulter gained a big tick for his consistency and has found the ball in all areas of the ground, highlighting his versatility in production.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#24 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Walker returns to our rankings as we expand the list, and has produced a solid month of football. The Dockers NGA hopeful has averaged bang-on 20 touches and over six marks across five games in August/September, with 74 per cent of his disposals in that time released via foot. These numbers are quite good for a prospect of his type, who pops up rather than accumulates. His marking ability, combined with speed and poise across the ground makes him a dual-pronged defensive outlet with plenty of weapons. While he is able to impact further afield and even find the goals, we feel Walker has showcased his best form at half-back.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 78kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: After a long waiting period since his last NTFL outing in February, Jeffrey returned to action with the Gold Coast SUNS as part of August’s Academy Series. He took part in game two against the Brisbane Lions Academy, and built into the contest well after a steady start. Having initially lined up down back, where he looks a touch more impactful as he drifts across to intercept, Jeffrey was swung forward in the second half and booted a goal. He looked lively with his turn of speed and athleticism, despite some scratchy moments early on.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

It is no secret now that South Australian Brayden Cook is bolting into top 25 calculations, as the South Adelaide wingman/forward continues to impress at Under 18s level. He remains just outside our rankings as others have more runs on the board, but another month of similar form would make him hard to ignore.

Errol Gulden has been in serious form in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with 10 goals in his last three games – including a bag of six – putting him in the mix. West Australians Joel Western (Fremantle NGA) and Isiah Winder have also caught the eye, as the former made his return from injury, while the latter again earned a spot at League level for Peel Thunder.

Of the most unlucky Victorians to miss due to a lack of action, Bailey Laurie has previously featured in our top 20, while Hawthorn NGA prospect and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is also one to consider. Sandringham Dragons bigman Max Heath is a ruck prospect who lingers around the mark, along with Essendon NGA defender Cody Brand. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford also boast top 25 potential.

Back across in South Australia, small forward Corey Durdin made a short lived return from injury this week at SANFL League level, while Luke Edwards got back on the park in the Reserves. Zac Dumesny is still recovering from an ankle complaint, and all three are around the 30-35 range in our eyes.

All four Tasmania Academy hub members earned National Combine invites. Jackson Callow has been unleashed in a slightly different role down back, increasing his stocks of late in the TSL, with Oliver Davis proving consistent, and Patrick Walker continuing to show promising upside across half-back and on the wing.

AFL Draft Watch: Tariek Newchurch (North Adelaide/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is North Adelaide’s Tariek Newchurch, an exciting small forward with electric speed and x-factor in spades. The 181cm prospect is tied to the Adelaide Crows’ Next Generation Academy (NGA), giving supporters of the rebuilding club something to look forward to for years to come. Newchurch returned an impressive bottom-age campaign last year, booting 29 goals in 17 SANFL Under 18s outings, while also earning a Reserves berth. He is currently averaging a goal per game in 2020, having shown glimpses of his match-winning ability up forward. He looms as an outside chance of rising into the top 25 prospects overall.

PLAYER PAGE:

Tariek Newchurch
North Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: July 21, 2002

Height: 181cm
Weight: 73kg

Position: Small Forward

Strengths: Speed, evasiveness, x-factor, goal sense, clean hands
Improvements: Consistency, tackling

2020 SANFL Under 18s averages: 5 games | 15.2 disposals | 3.6 marks | 0.8 tackles | 1.4 clearances | 3.4 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (5)

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing vertical leap: 61cm
Running vertical leap (R/L): 62cm/76cm
Speed (20m): 2.96 seconds
Agility: 8.63 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.1

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2020 SCOUTING NOTES:

SANFL Under 18s Round 7 vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Newchurch was North Adelaide’s other AFL Academy hub member to return to SANFL Under 18s duties, and again showed glimpses of his raw talent. The Adelaide Crows NGA hopeful has terrific agility and evasiveness, and constantly utilised that aspect of his game on Saturday. He was often sighted running hard up the ground to find the ball and create a spark for the Roosters with inboard kicks, while also getting busy close to goal. Newchurch’s ability to collect the ball from forward 50 stoppages at speed was outstanding, and almost earned him a goal on multiple occasions. While the pop in his set shots came under question early on, Newchurch eventually found the big sticks with a nice snap in the second term.

SANFL Under 18s Round 4 vs. WWT Eagles

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a patchy display from the Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful, who looked lively on the ball but could not quite inflict the usual damage – going goalless from his 15 disposals and six marks. Nonetheless, Newchurch was clean in full stride and looked to make things happen with his various twists, turns, and creative passes going forward. He was forced to work up the ground early to find more ball, but had a set shot fall short from 25 metres out once he gained an opportunity inside 50. It didn’t stop the speedy Rooster from linking up well at half-forward, as he gained separation to be the primary marking target as North Adelaide won the centre clearances. Newchurch has a terrific leap and sticky hands on the lead, making it an effective ploy.

SANFL Under 18s Round 3 vs. Glenelg

By: Ed Pascoe

Newchurch had some close company and found it tough to get going in the early stages, pitted against Glenelg’s Hagan Wright. It wasn’t a good day in front of the scoreboard for Newchurch but he was still able to show off his dazzling speed and agility, and make it clear if given an inch, he can potentially take a mile. Newchurch started to come into the game more late in the piece once Wright was moved off him and he had a great bit of play, taking on fellow speedster Nasiah Wanganeen and winning that dual to show just how quick he is. Newchurch finished the game with 14 disposals and two behinds, but the main stat was zero tackles which he would want to improve to become a complete package as a small forward in future.

SANFL Under 18s Round 2 vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect looked ominous whenever the ball was in his vicinity. As draft watchers have come to expect from Newchurch, his skills at ground-level were excellent. The forward’s burst of speed threatened to break the game open on a couple of occasions and his tackle numbers don’t reflect the pressure he inflicted on Norwood defenders.

He was thrown on-ball at stages and showed a willingness to get involved in the play instead of simply camping out in the forward 50. He laid a wonderful tackle to earn a free-kick inside 50 in the second term, but the resultant set shot hit the post. Newchurch showed class and composure when he gathered the ball deep inside 50 and snapped a brilliant goal under duress. While he probably didn’t have the four-quarter impact he would have been after, there’s no denying the talented Newchurch will feature prominently for SA at the upcoming National Championships.

SANFL Under 18s Round 1 vs. West Adelaide

By: Peter Williams

A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques. He took a strong mark despite front-on contact about 40 metres out on a 45-degree angle, but his shot drifted to the left. His ability to get out of trouble was evident in the second term by earning a free kick for being held at half-forward.

The second half was something special though, as Newchurch stepped up to boot three goals, the first of which came eight and a half minutes into the third term. He received the handball and snapped around his body under pressure and then six minutes later kicked another one from a bit further out but with the same technique to sail home. Later in the term he took a great mark on the lead with his hands stretched in front of him, but the shot drifted across the face. His third goal game was the sealer when he lead out inside 50 to take a strong grab and put it straight through the middle. Not only did he finish the game with his execution, but he also applied pressure to opponents inside 50.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

>> 2020 South Australia U18s Squad Prediction
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Charlie Byrne
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Oliver Henry
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

AFL Draft Watch: Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Geelong Falcons prospect Oliver Henry, the brother of promising Cats defender, Jack Henry. The 187cm utility boasts versatility in spades; able to swing up either end of the ground and impact the play both aerially, and at ground level. He plays a touch above his height with a terrific vertical leap, making him the ideal third marking tall up forward, or intercept and rebound type down back.

Henry impressed across 15 NAB League games last year, booting 18 goals – including a haul of five, four, and three goals early in the campaign. In a rare outing for 2020, he booted two goals and was among the best for St Joseph’s College in their outing against Geelong College. At this stage, he is well among the first round calculations.

PLAYER PAGE:

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: July 29, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Medium Utility

Strengths: Marking on the lead, intercepting, vertical leap, versatility
Improvements: Consistency

2019 NAB League averages: 15 games | 10.0 disposals | 4.4 marks | 1.1 tackles | 1.5 inside 50s | 0.8 rebound 50s | 1.2 goals (18)

>> Feature: Oliver Henry
>> Marquee Matchup: Henry vs. Ford

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test – precaution due to tight hamstring.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

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.

NAB League Round 17 vs. Dandenong

By: Peter Williams

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry led long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

NAB League Round 16 vs. Tasmania

By: Michael Alvaro

Had some sort of start to the game, clunking just about everything that came his way in defence with some brave efforts going back with the flight, and others coming in from the side. Henry’s clean hands and reading of the ball in flight were on full show, with his ability to rebound and find short options bringing a calmness to Geelong’s back half. Was arguably the most influential player afield in the first half, just continually attacking the ball in the air and bringing it down. Henry was eventually thrown forward as the Falcons rolled the dice late, but didn’t quite have the same impact. Will be a top prospect next year given his versatility, marking ability, and pedigree.

NAB League Round 7 vs. Murray

By: Peter Williams

A great finisher around goal who works really hard up the ground. He goes on long searching leads and often can win the ball in midfield or even at half-back, before running hard forward doubling back on his opponent to create an outnumber forward of centre. He is strong overhead and is good on the lead, and had a great moment in the opening term, faking a step on the right to kick on the left in board to Tom Richardson leading out. He was a little ambitious at one stage in the third term, crashing through multiple players before getting caught, but finished the term with a soccer off the ground after pushing hard then doubling back once the ball went over his head. Took a great mark late in the game and kicked an easy consolation goal, finishing the match with three majors and strapping across his face from a blood nose.

NAB League Round 6 vs. Sydney Swans Academy

By: Joe Lee

The classy and smooth moving forward was dangerous all day and provided an omnipotent headache for Swans defenders. Played out of the goal square, Henry was often outnumbered in marking contests but managed to at least halve them or win them on multiple occasions. Had 13 touches, five marks and 4.2, the only knock on Henry’s game was missing a couple of easy opportunities earlier on in the piece. Plays taller than his size and was outstanding for Geelong, particularly in the second half which saw him score three of his four goals.

>> MORE GEELONG FALCONS CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Country U18s Squad Prediction
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Charlie Byrne
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

AFL Draft Watch: Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Murray Bushrangers prospect Charlie Byrne, a classy half-back or outside midfielder who is looking to follow in the footsteps of GWS draftee, Lachie Ash. Byrne was part of the Giants’ Academy before his transition to the Bushrangers program, but is set to run out for GWS as part of this year’s Academy Series.

In 2019, Byrne impressed throughout his 16 NAB League outings as an efficient forward runner from defence, who could also push up onto a wing or into the forwardline. His form was good enough to warrant a spot in the Allies squad, despite not cracking through for a berth in the Under 18 championships. As somewhat of a leader in his top-age campaign, Byrne had his sights set on making half-back his own at all levels, while also striving to shift into midfield.

PLAYER PAGE:

Charlie Byrne
Murray Bushrangers/Allies

DOB: October 26, 2002

Height: 183cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: Half-back/outside midfielder

Strengths: Kicking efficiency, outside run, rebounding, versatility
Improvements: Consistency, defensive game

2019 NAB League averages: 16 games | 15.1 disposals | 2.8 marks | 1.7 tackles | 2.1 inside 50s | 2.8 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (5)

>> Q&A: Charlie Byrne

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 55cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 71cm/59cm
Speed (20m): 3.17 seconds
Agility: 8.71 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.8

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

NAB League Round 15 vs. Western

By: Peter Williams

Liked the look of the bottom-ager off half-back, playing the Lachie Ash role to allow Ash to play midfield and forward. He is so clean with his ball use, and positions himself well behind the play. He took a number of great intercept marks, and his left foot was a treat to watch. Whilst he did spend the majority of his time in defence, Byrne kicked a nice goal on the run in the opening term.

NAB League Round 12 vs. Bendigo

By: Michael Alvaro

The bottom-ager’s cool finishing in front of goal proved a game-winner as he calmly slotted two crucial majors. Both came on the back of his work rate from the wing – running well both ways to find the ball in either half of the ground. Byrne’s first goal was also his side’s opener, converting calmly on the wrong side for a left-footer to get the Bushies going in the third. His second came in the final quarter, slotting well on the run as he streamed into 50. That forward drive is what proved most damaging as Byrne worked best in space, receiving on the outside and putting the ball into good areas.

>> MORE MURRAY BUSHRANGERS CONTENT

>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

AFL Draft Watch: Zac Dumesny (South Adelaide/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny, who hit the ground running this year with appearances at SANFL League level across the first six rounds. Standing at 187cm, Dumesny is a utility who can play a touch above his height with terrific reading of the play and marking prowess, while also providing clean skills at ground level. The Panthers product is apt on each line; able to intercept and deliver off half-back, link the arcs on a wing, or provide an outlet up forward. With versatility in spades, Dumesny sits on the precipice of first round calculations.

PLAYER PAGE:

Zac Dumesny
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: April 26, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: Medium Utility

Strengths: Versatility, disposal efficiency, overhead marking, reading the play, clean
Improvements: One-on-one strength, speed

2020 SANFL League averages: 6 games | 13.7 disposals | 5.7 marks | 1.3 tackles | 0.7 clearances | 1.8 inside 50s | 1.3 rebound 50s | 0.5 goals (3)

>> Get to know: Zac Dumesny

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 57cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 67cm/71cm
Speed (20m): 3.17 seconds
Agility: 8.80 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.8

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

SCOUTING NOTES:

2020 SANFL League Round 5 vs. West Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

Dumesny was great for the Panthers, collecting 19 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s, and two rebound 50s. He played predominantly at half-back and on the wing, and at 187cm he is a great size for these positions. Dumesny started the game with a nice intercept mark deep in defence, which was one of many strong marks he took throughout the match. He never juggles his marks, thus making him a difficult player for the opposition to spoil.

In one-on-one contests he always positioned himself well and was never out-marked. Down the wings he linked up with teammates to carry the ball forward and get multiple score involvements. His teammates trust him with ball in hand too, as his kick is extremely reliable and he barely missed a target all day. Dumesny looks at home at League level which is a great sign for him ahead of this year’s AFL Draft.

2020 SANFL League Round 3 vs. Central District

By: Tom Wyman

The utility produced his best performance since making his League debut in Round 1. Throughout the day, Dumesny found himself in acres of space, often taking a mark with no Bulldogs opponent in sight. Able to play a roll in all three zones, Dumesny spent time as the link-man across half-back and along the wing at X Convenience Oval. In the opening term, he found veteran midfielder Joel Cross with a well-placed left-foot kick to his advantage. Shortly after, he took a mark from a short Cross kick and, this time, used his trusty right boot to centre the ball to the hotspot, 35-metres out from goal. He continually showed great footy intelligence to find open space and used the ball with trademark efficiency.

In the second term, Dumesny’s composure was evident when he resisted pulling the trigger on a long kick downfield and chose to handball to an open teammate rather than blaze away. Whilst a couple of his kicks didn’t reach their intended target, his field kicking was largely impressive and helped South retain possession. In the third term he found himself alone inside 50, marked the centring-ball from Beau McCreery, and converted the regulation set-shot from short range. It was another encouraging performance from Dumesny, who appears to have cemented his spot in the South Adelaide League side thanks largely to his clean skills (kicking at 91 per cent efficiency for the season), versatility and smart running. Dumesny finished with 19 disposals, ten marks, a goal and three inside-50s.

2020 SANFL League Round 2 vs. Glenelg

By: Tom Cheesman

Dumesny had a very solid game for the Panthers. He was a standout in the first term, collecting six disposals in the backline and setting up a goal with a beautifully weighted kick into the forward 50. Dumesny was quieter in the second quarter, but moved to a wing for the second half where he found more of the ball and nailed a set shot from 35 metres out. The top-ager was composed with the ball in hand and hit the majority of his targets by foot. He also took a couple of nice intercept marks, which could develop into a feature of his game with more experience at half-back. He finished with 15 disposals, six marks, four rebound 50s and three tackles.

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Did not win a heap of it but was fairly economical with his ball use. He had a quick handball whilst being tackled at half-forward, but was not so lucky when he tried to play on in a similar spot and was run down by Reef McInnes. Managed to hit-up Zavier Maher and Joel Western on the wing coming off half-back with neat passes in the second half as well.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

>> 2020 South Australia U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

Academy Series Player Focus: Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy)

IN continuing our extended Player Focus series, we take a look at a prospect who stood out in the recently commenced Academy Series. A Sydney Derby kicked off the carnival, as the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans academies locked horns over the weekend. Leading Swans prospect Braeden Campbell is the player we put under the microscope, with his trying performance across a range of positions helping Sydney get up by 15 points in a low-scoring slog.

PLAYER PAGE

Braeden Campbell
Swans Academy/Allies

DOB: February 4, 2002
Height: 181cm
Weight: 72kg

Position: Balanced Midfielder/Forward

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

PLAYER FOCUS

After a scintillating performance in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase, Campbell is well known to all keen AFL Draft watchers. The Swans Academy jet is lightning quick, boasts a damaging left-foot kick, and provides great balance through midfield while also doubling as a flanker up either end. He can do it all, and Saturday’s game against the GIANTS was a true test of his skillset.

The soggy conditions were hardly conducive to Campbell’s typical run-and-carry, and forced many similar types to revert to different methods of driving the ball forward. Luckily for Campbell and the Swans, he can win his own ball, and his kicking is among the best in the 2020 draft pool. These factors allowed him to have a consistent impact on the attack.

Starting at the centre bounces, Campbell looked lively early, adjusting well to the step-up from representing Pennant Hills in the AFL Sydney Premier Division. He booted a couple of clearances into Sydney’s attacking 50, and looked dangerous on the break as he gained separation from his direct opponents. While the long bombs didn’t quite come off, Campbell would soon enough find a target with his lovely lateral ball to find an unmanned Pierce Roseby inside forward 50.

After a bright start through the middle, the 181cm prospect began to rotate through the lines and primarily off a wing. A rare turnover via foot came in the second quarter, perhaps for a lack of options forward of centre, and it seemed Campbell was receiving a good bit of opposition attention. A more reserved term and some biff on the half time siren would attest to that.

He returned to his usual self after the main break, and showed he doesn’t need to win a mountain of possessions to have an impact. His five-step burst of speed came in handy when wheeling away from the back of congestion, allowing enough room for Campbell to prop and deliver the ball via foot – both laterally and directly forward. Campbell’s lone goal of the game came in the third term, as his direct opponent failed to follow him to the fall of the ball inside 50, allowing for a relatively straightforward finish on the move. He’s deadly accurate within 50 metres.

Moving on into the final period, and Campbell would return to the centre bounces after some time across half-back and on the outer. He seemed a touch frustrated as he lost out in a couple of hard-fought one-on-ones in general play, but was still finding his way to the ball. His desire for the contest remained, hunting the ball amid heavy congestion and proving clean below his knees on the move.

He missed the chance to cap off his day with another major, spurning a hand-off from just outside the 50-metre arc with the result beyond any doubt. Overall, it was a well-rounded display from Campbell in conditions unsuited to good football. While his outside traits (speed, kick penetration) often catch the eye, this time it was his inside game, and the ability to adapt to that style which helped win the day for Sydney. It was by no means his best performance, but Campbell always seems a class above when on the ball and produced some clean plays amid the messy contest.

Power Rankings: July 2020 | August 2020

>> 2020 Allies Under 18s Squad Prediction
>> Positional Analysis: Key Defenders

Caleb Poulter – The Eagle soaring into first round contention

CALEB POULTER is hard to miss on the footy field. He is the big-bodied midfielder rapidly climbing his way up draft boards on the back of six outstanding SANFL Under 18s outings for Woodville-West Torrens (WWT). While a flowing mullet and rudely bright boots already make him easily identifiable, Poulter’s presence at the contest, overhead marking, and graceful coverage of the ground ensure he is truly unmistakable.

After earning a State Under 16s berth and contributing to the Eagles’ SANFL Under 18s premiership in 2019, the Adrossan junior decided to make the big move over to Henley High School in 2020. It would allow him to bridge the two-hour gap to and from training, the opportunity to consistently play alongside the likes of Bailey Chamberlain, Taj Schofield and roommate Zac Phillips, while also gaining a top-notch Year 12 education to boot.

Fast-forward through an arduous preseason and great bouts of uncertainty, Poulter hit the ground running this year with form that made him impossible to ignore. His Round 1 performance of 34 disposals, seven marks, 10 tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s, and a goal put him on the map with a Torrens University Cup MVP nomination, but his performances since have propelled him into first round calculations. Averaging 24.5 disposals, 6.0 marks, 5.8 tackles, 3.0 clearances, 5.0 inside 50s, and over a goal per game, Poulter is one of the most dynamic and dominant midfielders at the level right now.

Such form has warranted heavy opposition attention, as well as contact with AFL recruiters. But the soaring Eagles prospect is simply looking to find consistency in his game and iron out his areas of improvement. With fellow 2019 premiership Lachlan Jones plying his trade at League level, a rise up the SANFL grades is also on the cards for Poulter in his top-age campaign.

We caught up with the talented 17-year-old during the week to chat all things footy. Below are quotes from the man himself regarding a range of topics; from his journey to this point, dealing with uncertainty, and just why he supports two AFL clubs.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

JUNIOR FOOTY:

“It’s always been footy for me ever since I was growing up. Through AusKick and the juniors I’ve always had a passion for footy, just the competitive side of it. It’s always been footy for me.

“(WWT) Eagles invited me to all their country programs, whether that was Under 14s or Under 15s. It started to become serious in my Under 16s year, obviously playing as a Metro and Country team combined. Then last year for the Under 18s as a bottom-ager, coming into this year as a top-ager, and hopefully playing some senior footy.”

LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

INITIAL FEELINGS:

“It was obviously a surreal feeling. Me and the other boys had trained our asses off since November just to be told we don’t know when footy’s coming back. So it was quite surreal but we used the lockdown period to work on all our improvement areas. For me, it was my contested side of things, so I used that time to get in the gym and get busy so when footy did come back, I’d be ready to go.”

KEEPING CONTACT:

“It’s been pretty quiet with all the (AFL Academy) hub stuff lately. But we always touch base, whether that’s through Zoom or through Tony Bamford just having one-on-one meetings… We just try to stay connected in any way possible just in case there is a national carnival coming up at the end of the year.

“Like I said, it’s sort of quietened down now, but I know when the hub was around we did a lot of wellbeing meetings or group tasks just to benefit the team and make closer friends. Just that bonding side of things was quite big.”

RETURNING TO PLAY:

“I definitely think it’s a huge benefit for us, for myself and the other SA boys that really want to fly up the draft ranks. For Vic Country and Vic Metro not to play, I think recruiters are focussing on WA and SA players more than what they have in previous years. So I’m definitely trying to use that as a opportunity to just perform well and see what happens come the end of the year.”

SEASON 2020

STEPPING UP:

“Obviously in the preseason I worked pretty hard, whether that was out with the Eagles seniors or in the (AFL Academy) hub. I just worked on all my improvement areas and got all of them right. Then I just took some form from the preseason games earlier this year and took it on to this season so it’s been good. Hopefully I can stay consistent.

“I sat down with the senior coaches and we thought I’d just find some form in my own age group before I have the opportunity to hopefully go up and play some two’s or one’s footy. I just want to stay consistent and keep playing my role for the 18s, then hopefully later on in the season I can crack the senior side.”

MOVING SCHOOLS, TO ADELAIDE:

“I’m in Year 12. I moved from the country down to (Adelaide) last year to go to Henley High. All the boys there have been welcoming and they’ve obviously got a great football program so it’s been good so far.

“It was pretty challenging. My old school in the country, I was there until Year 11 and obviously making the move to Adelaide to go to a big school like Henley was quite nerve wracking at first… school has a great bunch of lads and we’re all a tight knit group. The coach likes for us to be tight so it’s been great training with them.

“The team’s led by players like Taj Schofield and Bailey Chamberlain, they’re great footy players and have had a great year so far. They’ve been great leaders for the younger boys coming through.”

ATTRACTING INTEREST:

“I’ve had a few Zoom meetings with AFL recruiters, a fair few clubs lately have been Zooming me. They obviously just want to get to know you as a person I guess, and as a player. They’ve been great, they just tell us if we need to work on anything.”

“I think it was against North (Adelaide) that I got thrown down back because I was getting a fair bit of attention from certain players, so I thought to break the tag the coach would put me in the backline to find a bit of the footy… It’s pretty hard having to have all that attention on me, I’ve had it for the past few weeks ever since my Round 1 performance. I just try to think about the play I guess and play my style of footy and hopefully things will pay off and the ball will come my way.”

PREFERRED POSITION:

“I definitely feel like I can benefit most for the team playing inside mid, then resting forward. But I think a big thing for me is my versatility, coaches like to put me in the backline sometimes and I can even play a bit of outside mid as well. So it’s good to have that versatility but like I said, I like playing inside mid then resting up forward like I have been this year.”

STRENGTHS:

“I’d bring physicality and competitiveness (to an AFL club). I love the hard ball so I think they’re the main two things that I bring, and obviously I’m quite an outgoing type of person so I think my personality would suit well with any bunch of boys. That’s definitely the three things for me and just overall, I’m hard working and never give up. They’re definitely the traits I like to be known by the most.”

TEAMMATES (STATE, SCHOOL, AND SANFL):

“I know there’s a lot of leaders out there like Riley Thilthorpe, playing League out at Westies this year. He’s someone who uses his experience in the hub from previous years to help out the younger boys and just get around them. So he was obviously a leader for us, and then you’ve got people like Luke Edwards and Kaine Baldwin, they were also great leaders. They definitely helped over preseason and in the hubs, it was good.

“(Lachie Jones) has been really good. He had a solid preseason with the senior boys and is fortunate enough to be playing one’s at the moment. He’s having a great year so hopefully he can stay consistent. He’s tied to Port so hopefully they can pick him up later on this year.”

BACK-TO-BACK?:

“I’m extremely excited, i just want to stay consistent and find the footy and obviously just benefit for my team and hopefully we can get a few wins on the board, crack finals and see what happens at the end of the year… going into preseason back-to-back premierships for myself and a few of the other boys was in sight. So hopefully we can work well as a team, all play out roles and see what happens.”

CALEB POULTER, THE PERSON

FAVOURITE AFL TEAM:

“I go for Geelong and Brisbane… My family always grew up going for Geelong so I went to Geelong, then when Brisbane drafted Cam Rayner and some others a few years back I sort of liked the way they play and they have a few young blokes who’re playing a good brand of footy lately.”

“I’m happy to go anywhere. All 18 clubs have a great culture and whatnot. I don’t really care where I end up, as long as I can get on an AFL list. I don’t really have any preferences, just anywhere really.”

ASPIRATIONS:

“Obviously I want to achieve good grades to get a high ATAR. If footy doesn’t work out or just as a plan B, going to uni to do something like human movement or physiotherapy definitely catches my eye.”

“On the field I just want to stay consistent and play a good style of footy and hopefully get drafted at the end of the season. Off the field it’s just to stay on top of my grades, to use my time management to get on top of my school, and then go to training and train hard. They’re the main things for me.”

MENTORS:

“My dad’s been a big support for me. He obviously played a fair bit of footy growing up and was pretty good so he gives me a lot of constructive feedback whenever I need it. And coaches like my 18s Eagles coach and the hub coaches have also been great mentors for my progression over the years as well. That’s definitely got me to where I am today, so I can’t thank them enough.”

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT
>> AFL Draft Watch: Caleb Poulter
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> 2020 SA Under 18s Squad Prediction

WAFL Player Focus: Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts)

IN continuing our extended weekly Player Focus series, we take a look at a West Australian Football League (WAFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 3 of the competition, our eyes were on Swan Districts key defender Denver Grainger-Barras, who was one of his side’s best players in a tough 39-point loss to reigning premier, Subiaco.

PLAYER PAGE

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002
Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key Position Defender

WAFL LEAGUE STATISTICS
Round 3 vs. Subiaco

8 kicks
2 handballs
10 disposals
4 marks
4 tackles
1 inside 50

PLAYER FOCUS:

With fellow draft hopeful Logan McDonald having the bye this week, it was time for Grainger-Barras to put his name in lights. He certainly did that, being named best on ground in Swan Districts’ loss to powerhouse club, Subiaco. It was an impressive aerial display, showing why he is so highly credentialed already.

On top of his League debut coming last year, Grainger-Barras was also awarded the AFL Life Members Scholarship which has been won by some of the greats of the game including Luke Hodge, Joel Selwood, and last years Rising Star winner Sam Walsh. It’s an award that’s been given to eight number one picks and numerous top 10 picks on top of that, including highly rated Docker Hayden Young. With Fremantle holding a top five pick currently, he might be right in the mix there.

Grainger-Barras started each quarter on the bench but whenever he came on he made an impact, and his first few touches of the game weren’t wasteful. He first received a switch kick and next darted a nice low pass down the line, later receiving a handball and quickly switching the kick long to show good, quick thinking.

His next few highlights though may have been his best of the day; with the first deep in the goalsquare where he attacked the loose ball at speed. showing incredible confidence, speed, and agility to also get separation from the opposition and then kick long out of the defensive 50. The next highlight just showed off his pure talent and leap, where he came over the top of two players to take a screamer. Arms outstretched, the footy stuck in is hands, but he would also quickly play on as if the mark was all in a day’s work.

There weren’t as many pure highlights in the second quarter but Grainger-Barras showed despite his light frame, that he could compete well at ground level with plenty of efforts and tackles deep in defence. He did some nice work up the ground as well, winning a free kick in the middle of the ground and naturally playing on as quickly as possible to kick long inside 50, albeit with a fraction too much on the kick for his leading teammate.

One of the better bits of play came when the ball hit ground level on the wing, where he attacked the line of the ball while also kicking over an oncoming opponent and still keeping his feet to gather the loose ball cleanly. He then gave off the quick little handball and in the same motion, laid a nice bump to protect the ball carrier. It was perhaps the best showcase of what coaches will love about him at AFL level as despite his light frame, he was able to compete with senior bodies while making it look effortless and just doing everything you could ask for – from his ability to keep possession and also block for his teammate, to embracing body contact which many young players try to avoid.

The third quarter was where Grainger-Barras really got to show off his elite intercepting ability and it was highlighted in two bits of play very close to each other. He was able to intercept a handball with a one-handed pluck easy as you like, and then banged the ball long out of defence. The kick came back in just as quickly but again, easy as you like, Grainger-Barras was able to take a nice intercept mark in the exact same spot where he intercepted the handball.

His smarts to intercept both times was certainly eye-catching, but instead of again getting sucked into kicking down the line again – which obviously didn’t work the first time – he made a point to think firstly on hitting that switch kick. It showed his smarts and ability to adapt to a situation and learn.

As the game wore on it would seem he had developed a knack of being in the right spot at the right time to foil Subiaco’s attempts at goal, and he would again get in the way with a fantastic intercept mark sitting in front of the only one-on-one contest inside 50. With eyes only on the ball, he was able to take the outstretched mark in the hole. As he had done all day long, Grainger-Barras quickly played on with a kick inboard, understanding the stakes of the game. It would lead to Swan Districts moving the ball end-to-end for a goal.

Unfortunately, he gave away a free kick just on the three quarter time siren which luckily only resulted in a behind, but there was a bit of a scuffle with himself and the opposition and he certainly wasn’t afraid to get involved and get lippy with his older and stronger opponents. Already he has shown he isn’t afraid of a bit of physicality despite his size, and with his ability to intercept at crucial stages, it only adds to his ability to get under the skin of the opposition.

His last quarter was his quietest as he failed to register a disposal. He had a bad moment at around the 16-minute mark where he gave away a push in the back free kick which lead to a goal, which was perhaps his only blemish in the game.

However, he wouldn’t let that get him down as later in the quarter he would spoil a marking contest, showing his impressive leap. Once the ball hit the ground he was quick to compete with multiple tackles and efforts and after that bit of play, it wasn’t hard to see why the coaches named him best on ground as he drove defensive standards all game which is impressive from such a young player.

A lot of attention out of Western Australia has gone to fellow young gun, McDonald but Grainger-Barras reminded everyone that he is very much a top five caliber talent, showing all of the traits that make him such a sought after prospect. The elite intercepting, competitiveness, clean hands and skills, athleticism, and especially the footy smarts were all on show. A game like this can only help him grow in confidence and although his disposal numbers are low, his impact is just so high and we may be looking at a future All-Australian centre half-back in the AFL.

Pic: AFL Media