Category: News

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2021

A RAFT of disruptions have impacted the top 2021 AFL Draft prospects over the last month, but through injury and lockdown they have still been able to show their wares through trials and otherwise. While the Under 19 National Championships have been delayed, the top-end of the crop is starting to take shape, but things are incredibly even past the top 15 or so talents. In Draft Central‘s August Power Rankings update, we again list our top 25 prospects along with a bunch of others in the mix. There is a new leader, along with three fresh faces in the top 10 and four previously unranked players who have worked into contention.

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

#1 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

July Ranking: #2

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. The Magpies are in for a rare talent.

Last month:

While Daicos continues to be managed throughout an interrupted season, he is just about undeniable at this point with the level of consistency he has shown when able to play. Having missed out on the Victorian Under 19 trials and not returned for Oakleigh on the weekend, his sole outing during July came for Vic Metro in the Under 19 National Championships opener. With 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals, Daicos was clinical against the best of his peers and is entering the level realms of Matt Rowell and Sam Walsh in terms of output for pick one fancies.

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

Nick Daicos fires off a handball

#2 Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

July Ranking: #1

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses, whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as consistent scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne retained his crown for our first two rankings updates. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Only 18 in June, Horne boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him well in contention for number one status.

Last month:

Horne’s SANFL League campaign rolled on with three more outings in South Adelaide colours, seeming to build before a quieter game in his most recent dig. The 18-year-old hit his season-high for disposals (19) for a fourth time in an eye-catching performance against Adelaide, with his averages for the month sitting at 14.7 disposals, 5.3 tackles, and 1.7 clearances per game. While slightly down on most of his season averages in said sample, Horne remains a consistent figure for the Panthers despite their streak of four losses in five games. The glimpses of his best are superb, with the powerful prospect still very much in the pick one frame.

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

Image Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

#3 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

July Ranking: #4

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.

Last month:

Callaghan starts a list of many top prospects who have sustained injuries over the last month, with inflation in his foot leading to some time on the sidelines. The Sandringham Dragons product was due to line up for Vic Metro before his foot flared up, but is on track to return to NAB League action in a couple of weeks as finals get underway.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

#4 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg

July Ranking: #3

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top five pick on potential and the clear best tall in the draft, with his versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy has impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck in the NAB League, but has also consolidated his eye-catching forward forays at school football level. Bulldogs fans, you have another on the radar.

Last month:

After dominating the second Victorian trial game in June, plenty was expected of Darcy heading into Vic Metro’s clash with Country. He again played the majority of the game up forward and while he was not overly prolific, still managed to boot two goals via his mix of athleticism and aerial prowess. The highly-touted tall will likely feature for Scotch College as the APS season rounds out, having returned this past weekend.

#5 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

July Ranking: #10

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball-winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner has not been able to fully show his wares in 2021 due to injury, but is proving he can break back into top 10 contention with a clean run at it. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety 17-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and has taken full toll upon his return to action.

Last month:

Hobbs’ excellent form continued with a trio of outstanding performances over the last month. His first dig came against Oakleigh in the NAB League, where he was unsurprisingly one of GWV’s top ball winners in a low-scoring win, before entering the representative grade with Vic Country. He continued to do what he does best with strength around the ball and gut running away from it, standing up against some pretty stiff Metro competition. Upon the NAB League’s return, Hobbs notched up 34 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal as his Rebels went down to top side, Sandringham. He has really accelerated his value though, as one of the prime and most readymade midfielders available.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

Ben Hobbs in action for Vic Country

#6 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

July Ranking: #15

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position type who rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew will have Melbourne recruiters a little nervous with his performances to date. He now sits inside our current top 20, boasting raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever-improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Last month:

Having been made to watch on for much of June, Andrew’s stocks continue to soar after a couple of impressing showings over the past month. The raw ruckman is looking a very slim chance to end up at Melbourne through NGA bidding, with his value now sitting somewhere around the top 10. He proved as much in an excellent outing for Vic Country, again lighting up the big stage with his athleticism and aerial feats to be one of the more eye-catching players on the day. Andrew also returned for Dandenong on the weekend, managing 17 disposals, four marks and 16 hitouts as he rotated through the ruck.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

#7 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

July Ranking: #9

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 calculations.

For the second month running, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture, as he continues to improve at a great rate.

Last month:

While he has been thrown around in a few different roles and proven steady in his form of late, Gibcus’ highlight for the past month came when he lined up on the highly-touted Sam Darcy in Vic Country colours. Playing in his most comfortable key defensive post, the GWV Rebels tall was able to match it with Darcy, a 204cm unit, and quell his marking influence through athleticism and well-timed spoils. The match-up was a handy insight into how the best key forward and back would fare head-to-head, with Gibcus arguably coming out on top. It showed he can lock down when required, adding to his proven intercepting acumen.

#8 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg

July Ranking: #19

Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.

Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot among the 2021 crop’s top 25 places. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward is destined for the same honours as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent this year.

Last month:

Ward has really accelerated into top 10 contention on the back of some irresistible form, which translated well from NAB League level to the representative stage. He started the month of July with another excellent showing, racking up a game-high 34 disposals and eight tackles in Northern’s loss to Murray on the road, but truly shone as he lead Vic Metro to a thumping win over Country the following week. Ward starred with 29 touches, eight clearances and two classy goals to put himself right up there with the best; showcasing his leadership quality, tenacity at the contest, work-rate away from it, and improving ability to hurt the opposition going forward.

Josh Ward gets a kick away

#9 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

July Ranking: #12

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching traits both aerially and at ground level.

Another prospect out of Subiaco who played in last year’s WAFL Colts premiership, Erasmus has built on his potential this year having come in as a potential first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 Grand Final, showcasing clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this year, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with scoreboard impact remaining in his back pocket.

Last month:

Another who has returned from injury with a bang, Erasmus has been prolific of late in West Australian colours. He linked up with the state Under 19s squad for trial games against East Perth and Perth over the last fortnight, hitting the ground running to show no lingering signs of the quad injury which kept him out for a month. The 17-year-old managed figures of 30 and 28 disposals in those digs, showcasing his outstanding level of consistency in finding the ball, and a sound endurance base despite the time off. He finally cracks the top 10 having shown the potential to do so, and with plenty of development left.

>> WA U19s Player Focus: Neil Erasmus

#10 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

July Ranking: #5

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to kick goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s absolute best is exceptionally good. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Last month:

Sonsie has been out of action since late-June due to injury, sustaining bone bruising in the second half of Eastern’s Round 9 loss to Sandringham. He was thus ruled out of Vic Metro duties last month, but should soon be in for a return with the Ranges with finals fast-approaching.

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

#11 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Half-Back/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

July Ranking: #6

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the best technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside of late to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looks poised to return soon and play out a full season in the NAB League.

Last month:

In what has turned out to be a frustrating season for the highly talented speedster, Sinn is again nursing an injury which he sustained late in his Vic Metro appearance. It came after he finally returned to action with Sandringham, putting in steady performances off half-back and then through midfield across consecutive weeks, before then turning out for Metro. At his best, he looked dangerous with his speed and and forward carry, while continuing to take risks via foot. He is poised to break back into the Dragons’ lineup alongside Callaghan in time for finals.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

#12 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

July Ranking: #7

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top 10 of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Last month:

Roberts is yet another top prospect who is currently sidelined, nursing his way back to full health from a syndesmosis injury. He had just cracked the SANFL League grade, but hasn’t played there since Round 7 (late-May), nor has he turned out at College Football level in that time. Once he gets a full week of training under his belt, Roberts will return to the field.

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

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

#13 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

July Ranking: #13

Snapshot: A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations you’d expect on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Last month:

With the APS competition back underway and winding down, Murray would have been grateful Rachele found some of his best form during the break. At the start of July, he snared six goals from 17 disposals and eight marks in a wonderful performance against Northern, helping the Bushrangers to a 16-point win. The enigmatic talent went on to don Vic Country colours and was a little quiet early on against Vic Metro, before making the most of a midfield move to finish with 20 disposals and a goal. He holds his spot, but certainly has top 10 quality.

#14 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

July Ranking: #14

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact when stationed inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in the SANFL Under 18s this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who may feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Last month:

Another victim of the dreaded syndesmosis injury, Draper’s last game was all the way back on June 19. He dropped back down to the Under 18s level and notched season-highs of 31 disposals and 10 clearances in a sizeable South Adelaide win, putting his had up for another promotion to the senior grades. We should see Draper back on the park in time for SA’s scheduled National Championships outings.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus
>> Feature

#15 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

July Ranking: #11

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is one of the premier tall midfielders in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop coming into the season, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean hands around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Last month:

Johnson has showcased some of his best form over the last month, competing against his peers after gaining some WAFL League exposure. The tall midfielder’s only Colts game for July yielded 26 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles and a goal agains the winless Perth, before a trio of outings for Western Australia’s Under 19 side. Arguably the best of those appearances was his first, against WA’s Under 17s, where Johnson looked the most polished player afield and showed great poise on the ball. If he continues his run and can find his top level more consistently, he could well be in for another senior dig and will certainly be a key part of WA’s Under 19 midfield.

#16 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

July Ranking: #8

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having recently returned from injury.

Last month:

Chesser returned to the fold having been held back by a knee injury, showing glimpses of his running best with 19 disposals and five inside 50s in Sandringham’s midfield at the start of July. He went on to represent Vic Country and was a little quieter in his familiar wing post, before Victorian lockdown hit once more. Along with Callaghan and Sinn, Chesser is a player the Dragons will hope to regain heading into their NAB League finals campaign.

Campbell Chesser sets off for Vic Country

#17 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

July Ranking: #17

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing or pinch-hit up forward. He is another who stakes his claim on high upside.

Last month:

One of the best performed Victorians over the past month, Goater has been able to show off his versatility and athleticism at a greater rate. With a shift to half-back for Calder, the explosive prospect has proven an apt intercept and rebound defender in the NAB League, averaging 30 disposals, nine marks, and six rebound 50s across two outings in July. He is a proven midfield distributor too, having shone on the inside with his clean hands and strong frame while turning out for Vic Metro. He’s one who could well continue to rise towards season’s end.

#18 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg

July Ranking: #24

Snapshot: Wilmot is a tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed and ball use.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Last month:

Looking at a glance in the first half of the season, Wilmot certainly garnered attention with his speed and dare, though the last month has brought to light much more substance to the 17-year-old’s game. He had a quiet outing against Murray at the start of July, but was excellent in defence for Vic Metro and was easy to identify on-field with his vocal instruction and encouragement. That side to his game screams leadership quality, with Wilmot barking orders from behind the ball and setting up well to get his intercept game going. He was back to his best again this past weekend, managing 16 disposals and four rebound 50s as the Knights went down to Bendigo, but not for a lack of effort (or voice) on Wilmot’s part.

#19 Jye Amiss
East Perth/Western Australia | Tall Forward
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg 

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot:

You’ll hear plenty of puns regarding the key forward’s ironic surname but it’s true that Amiss is more hit than, well, miss. The East Perth spearhead has dominated the 2021 WAFL Colts season thus far, booting 41 goals in 10 games with a ridiculously good conversion rate of 80 per cent from his scoring shots. He proved undeniable for selection in a West Australian state squad stacked with key position talent, and doesn’t need a wealth of opportunities to make an impact. With sound overhead marking and an improving ground level game, Amiss is an irresistible threat inside attacking 50. He bolts into our rankings with a debut inside the top 20, but his true test lies ahead at the National Championships.

Last month:

Amiss has translated his WAFL Colts scoring form to the representative stage, able to find the big sticks with relative ease (albeit less accurately) in a trio of West Australian trial games. Coming in off some ripping form for the Royals, the 18-year-old snared eight goals across those three outings – spread well with two hauls of three and 2.4 in his latest effort. Again, Amiss proved he can make the most of limited looks with plenty of attempts on goal, while steadily working further afield to add strings to his bow. He now looks to be WA’s leading forward option alongside Jack Williams ahead of the upcoming National Championships.

#20 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

July Ranking: #18

Snapshot: Williams is a versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals up forward, while also rotating through the ruck or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 24 goals in nine WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

Like most of the West Australian prospects listed here, Williams had just one WAFL Colts outing in July amid the call-up for Under 19 representative duties. During his Colts dig, Williams spent more time in the ruck and won 18 hitouts to go with his 17 disposals and lone goal, putting up strong numbers with much of the same work we are used to from the 195cm talent. He looked to stamp himself as WA’s best key forward option during the trials, but has some pretty stiff competition in that department. Still, Williams looked ominous in the early stages of his first hit-out against the Under 17s, before quieter outings thereafter. Depending on which WA forward attracts the best opposition defender, Williams could be in for some big National Championships performances.

#21 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

July Ranking: #16

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading Northern Academy talent.

Our top-ranked Northern Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is clearly the best prospect out of the Allies crop and a real first round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase.

Last month:

Fahey returned to action at the start of July in Greater Western Sydney’s one-point VFL triumph over Casey, but hasn’t been sighted at the level since. He managed seven touches on that day and at his best, is a rebounding force out of the back half. The 17-year-old also turned out for local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra First Grade competition and was named among the Tigers’ best players this past weekend. Hopefully with an uninterrupted run towards the back end of the year, including the National Championships, Fahey can show his value.

#22 Tom Brown
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Medium Defender
30/07/2003 | 186cm | 71kg

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A dashing half-back with terrific athleticism in the form of speed and a vertical leap, Brown is a bolting talent who you’ll likely miss if you blink.

While Geelong gained access to sister, Millie via father-daughter rules, Tom Brown is ineligible to be drafted by the Cats under the father-son category as his father Paul falls just short of the 100-game qualification. Nonetheless, the Murray Bushrangers prospect has plenty of eye-catching traits which will help him blaze his own trail. A Vic Country Under 16 and now Under 19 representative, Brown is capable of playing on each line but looks to have found a home across half-back, where his dashing style and clean skills shine. An ankle injury kept him out for a large chunk of the season, but he is back now and raring to break into first round contention.

Last month:

Having returned to the field as the Vic Country runner during June’s trials, Brown finally got back to playing status with some strong showings in July. The rebounding defender was lively in his first game back against Northern in the NAB League, and built steadily into his representative dig against Vic Metro. He ended up with 13 touches and five rebound 50s in the latter game, having showcased terrific aerial ability and plenty of pace on the counter. After another short break, Brown backed that performance up with 12 touches in a tough slog against Calder on the weekend, but has the eye-catching traits to press higher up the board.

Tom Brown looks futher afield

#23 Joshua Browne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 185cm | 77kg

July Ranking: #23

Snapshot: An ultra-consistent midfielder who runs hard and finds plenty of the ball, Browne is one of the most in-form midfielders nationwide.

Browne is a player whose form has made him hard to deny for a spot in the top 25, with his ability to win big numbers at a remarkable rate making him one of the most consistent performers in the draft pool at present. He has built on a promising bottom-age campaign with East Fremantle to hit new heights in the WAFL Colts competition, competing with grunt at the contest and running hard to accumulate around the ground in relentless fashion. He is also quite solid defensively on the inside and is the type of player you want on your side, especially among the centre bounce mix.

Last month:

Having sustained a ridiculously good output throughout the first half of the season, Browne’s run of form came to a halt after his Round 14 WAFL Colts appearance. The ball magnet racked up 33 disposals and a goal against Peel on that day, but picked up a knock and was ruled out of the subsequent West Australian trial games. He still looms as a key member of his state’s midfield mix though, with National Championships and Colts finals still to come.

#24 Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
10/02/2003 | 184cm | 73kg

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot: Butler has wonderfully clean hands and burning pace, traits which have translated well from an initial forward role, to a more recent midfield venture.

Another prospect with ties at the elite level, Butler is the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. He is an exciting player in his own right though, with sharp skills by hand and a terrific turn of speed which serve him well in a creative sense. Having proved himself in the forward half, Butler went on to impress with his clean ball winning ability in midfield before injury struck. He missed out on representing Vic Country as an Under 19 having done so at Under 16 level, but should get a look-in upon his, and the National Championships’ return.

Last month:

Butler went down with a sternum injury during GWV’s Round 9 NAB League clash with Murray (June 19), and couldn’t quite get up to play in the Victorian trials or national carnival opener. He did get on the park this past weekend though, managed back into competition and finishing with 10 disposals, five tackles and 1.2 with more time in the front half as his Rebels were beaten by Sandringham.

#25 Judson Clarke
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
17/10/2003 | 179cm | 69kg

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot: Clarke is a zippy small forward/midfielder who can light up the game in a flash with his forward run, tricky agility, and eye for goal.

While his exploits were on full show earlier in the year, Clarke stamped his credentials with a breakout performance in the Under 19 Victorian trials, bagging five goals in a starring display. The crafty Dandenong Stingrays product represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and continues to show promising glimpses both in the NAB League and at school footy level. He is nimble in possession with a mix of speed and agility, and looks to make things happen in the front half with creative energy and smarts at the fall of the ball. Clarke often finishes his work with spearing left-foot use, making for an exciting package as far as small prospects go. While he can roll through midfield, the 17-year-old looks most damaging up forward and can cement his spot here with more eye-catching big game showings.

Last month:

After his massive trial game, Clarke was almost a certainty to line up for Vic Country come championships proper, and did so with a handy outing against Vic Metro. Clarke also turned out for Dandenong pre-champs in Round 11 of the NAB League, and proved a menace with 27 disposals, five marks, and a goal as the Stingrays went down narrowly to Eastern.

IN THE MIX:

State trial games in South and Western Australia have seen a number of players rise into contention, or at least confirm their status as genuine prospects. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera was a standout in the South Australian trial, which was played in horrendous conditions, but did little to diminish his class and poise on the ball. Lewis Rayson was another to show a bit in that game with his run on the outer, while midfielder Hugh Jackson could be around the mark on the back of his tremendous SANFL Under 18s campaign to date. Meanwhile, Cooper Murley, who suffered a collarbone injury last month, was unlucky to be squeezed out.

Over in Western Australia, big-bodied midfielder Kade Dittmar has dominated his state’s trial games, as the likes of Corey Warner and Fremantle NGA product Jesse Motlop rise on the back of their respective League debuts. Luke Polson was the most recent WA Under 19s squad member to crack the senior grade, proving a mobile key position utility who isn’t afraid to run with the ball. Fellow talls Rhett Bazzo and Jacob van Rooyen have also had their moments with the latter even swinging to defence recently, but find themselves out of the 25 this time around.

A bunch of NAB Leaguers continue to knock the door down too, with crafty Vic Metro ball magnets Zac Taylor and Jake Soligo among them. Connor Macdonald fits in a similar category and has been terrific this season, while fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Knevitt has a bunch of traits which may put advance his standing as a big-bodied midfielder. Athletic wing-forward Blake Howes continues to float around the mark, while Sandringham teammates and St Kilda NGA hopefuls Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager have been big improvers over the last few weeks. Collingwood NGA Youseph Dib has also stood up valiantly for Oakleigh this year.

AFLW Draft: 10 Top-agers to watch in 2022

EVERY year there are some unlucky players who missed out on being picked up in the AFL Women’s Draft. The good news is, there is always another year, and with the likes of Abbie Ballard, Ashanti Bush, Dana East, Ella Maurer, Elizabeth Snell and Amanda Ling among those all being selected across the nation, there is more reason than ever to suggest that just because a player misses out on the first chance of being drafted, the dream is far from over. Here are 10 top-agers to watch in 2022 with their draft summary, and what they might need to do to take their game to the next level.

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender

A really smart player who knows the game well and reads the play behind the ball, Anthony was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age talent last year. She showed why through an outstanding yet interrupted season, copping a couple of concussions – including in Vic Country’s win over South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – to still perform at a high level. She won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and proved through her actions to be an incredibly courageous player. Whilst standing at 166cm, Anthony is not afraid to go up in the marking contest and bring the ball down, and when she does have ball-in-hand, her kicking is outstanding. A talent who teammates can trust with ball-in-hand, and she has spent time up forward as well at times, kicking a goal in the Stingrays’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in finals. Without a doubt the biggest surprise not to be picked up, but a big preseason behind her and Anthony could prove a lot of people wrong in 2022.

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
07/01/2003 | 175cm
Tall Defender/Wing

The running defender has some seriously eye-catching traits with her combination of acceleration and power making her hard to slow down when she is up and about. A traditional half-back, Dojiok can read the ball in flight with ease and float across contests to intercept, or drop into the hole when a high ball comes into defence. She knows where to stand when the play is headed towards her and her metres gained are massive compared to a lot of her contemporaries. She is often a get-and-go player, always looking to move on the ball, and whilst her kicking at times needs sharpening up, her development over the past few years at the Rebels has certainly improved and makes her one of the better intercept defenders going around. While it was a bit of a surprise to see Dojiok still on the board at the end of the draft, her areas to continue to improve are still there, and an extra year in the Under 19s could do her wonders.

Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 162cm
Medium Utility

There might not be much of Hewett at 162cm, but the talented utility can play anywhere on the field. She knows how to win the ball inside or outside, reads it well in the air or ground level, and whilst she does her best work in close, can play as an outside player too. There are questions over where she will slot in at AFLW level, and she does have to learn to find the ball more often, but that is only because she can do so much damage with ball-in-hand, be it winning it in close and distributing it to the outside, using it in transition, or finding it close to goal and hitting the scoreboard. Hewett was unlucky not to be picked up, but perhaps being able to solidify a position in 2022 and raising her accumulation will put her in a better position.

Grace Matser (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
03/01/2003 | 186cm
Ruck

If we are talking about points of difference, then Gippsland Power ruck Matser certainly has that in a ruck. Standing at 186cm, Matser is an early 2003 birth, but has been involved in the Power program since the V/Line Cup days, even as a developing tall back then. What really makes Matser stand out compared to other rucks is her footy IQ and her kicking. Being a left footer, Matser uses the ball well around the ground, so is a player that teammates are happy to give the ball to and dispose of, with her ball drop, technique and delivery inside 50 quite impressive. When watching Matser at stoppages, she always gets to the right position, and whether or not she wins the tap, she has made life difficult for her opponent. The area of improvement for Matser is her overhead marking, mostly because she does everything right – positioning, timing the ball drop and protecting the zone – but needs to hold onto the grabs. Around the ground in play, Matser is as influential as any ruck, and when she can clunk those grabs, will become a more influential key position tall at either end. Like many talls, having an extra year in the system will help her develop her marking and become a more complete player.

Grace Mulvahil (Southern Districts/Northern Territory)
18/04/2003 | 172cm
Medium Defender/Utility

The Northern Territory talent has been a junior star in the NTFL Women’s competition, becoming the second youngest player to win the best on ground in the senior grand final last year. She also won the Rising Star award, and has been touted as a talent to watch for many years. Still developing and constantly getting better, Mulvahil’s standout trait is her kicking, able to pinpoint passes around the ground both under pressure and when in space. Her acceleration off the mark, and evasion makes her hard to stop, with a high work rate to boot. Standing at 172cm, Mulvahil is a good size to play as a half-back or even push up to the wing, but knows where the goals are too if thrown forward. She averaged the 10.5 disposals, 2.0 marks and 3.5 tackles at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, holding her own against stronger opponents and providing great run for the Allies. Mulvahil has all the ability to become a really strong player at a high level, it is about building her game and potentially playing as much as she can, potentially in the SANFL Women’s or QAFL Women’s.

Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/07/2003 | 153cm
Small Forward/Midfielder

A really impressive small midfielder, Schaap might be the smallest one going around at 153cm, but she packs a punch and has some unbelievable traits. Her best trait is her clean hands, rarely making a fumble at ground level and able to dish off to teammates in order to create goal-scoring opportunities. As a forward, Schaap slotted eight goals in nine games, often finding space where few could to snap around her body in big moments. She also slotted three goals in her three Vic Country games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and laid plenty of tackles along the way. Her defensive pressure is right up there with her other key strengths, though it is hard to look past her ball-winning skills, composure and goal sense, and is a perfect pressure forward who can push up into the midfield. Along with Anthony she was the next most unlucky one not to be picked up from the Victorian pool, but no doubt will go back and continue to get better and be a quality Under 19s player next season, and get more VFLW games under her belt too.

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
18/02/2003 | 178cm
Tall Utility

A versatile tall with terrific athleticism, Schirmer is capable in all thirds of the ground, Starting as a forward throughout her bottom-age years, Schirmer proved she could be damaging around goal be it winning possession in the air or at ground level. Over the past 12 months, Schirmer pushed into the midfield, predominantly on the wing, but also won plenty of contested ball in close. Being able to win the hard or loose ball, Schirmer then went into defence late in the year for South Adelaide where she showcased her breakneck acceleration and was able to create fast ball movement in transition. Expect her to be more of a forward to start with at the top level, but she certainly has potential to become a midfielder long-term. One of only two AFLW Academy members not to be picked up, it was a surprise given her rapid development, but with the expansion of the AFLW and Port Adelaide set to come in very soon, Schirmer – along with the abundance of South Australian talent capable of stepping up to the next level – will be in the Power’s sights.

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
12/10/2003 | 163cm
Medium Forward/Medium Defender

When you watch Reilly for the first time, you do a double-take at the listed 163cm height, because whilst she might be smaller than her opponents, quite often she is able to either leap higher than them, read the ball better than them, or clunk grabs better than them. Her one-on-one ability is quite impressive as is her overhead strength. Couple these traits with her powerful kicking, and Reilly has enough about her to suggest she could play at either end, which she has done this season at WAFL Women’s level for East Fremantle. Primarily a forward though, Reilly has great aggression at the ball and does not take a backwards step, almost having the chance to win the game for Western Australia against Vic Metro after the siren, and whilst that did not work out, Reilly still had a solid carnival, booting two goals and averaging 11.3 disposals, 2.0 marks, 1.7 inside 50s, 2.0 rebound 50s and kicking a couple of majors in an all-round effort. Ironing out some consistency and building her endurance further could be the key for Reilly who was not too far off in her draft-eligible year. Only turning 18 in October, Reilly is one who can stand up and have a big 2022 and put her hand up to be drafted like a number of mature-age WAFL Women’s players did this season.

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)
04/11/2003 | 168cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Venning is a player who enjoyed a terrific season, not only standing out for West Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s, and representing South Australia at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, but picking up a host of accolades along the way. Venning won All-Australian honours as well as the West Adelaide best and fairest – claiming the latter ahead of teammate and league best and fairest winner Lauren Young – to be one of the more consistent players all season. Her inside game and defensive pressure is superb, and whilst still working on her kicking, Venning has improved over the past couple of years, and has a great balance of athleticism between endurance, speed and agility to impress at the top level. Similar to Schirmer, Venning was more the victim of such a strong draft pool, and with Port Adelaide on the horizon, it seems a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ to get to the elite level. Another year of developing the areas of her game to improve and Venning could be more potent with ball-in-hand in 12 months time.

Jemima Woods (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
28/05/2003 | 174cm
Tall Forward/Utility

The talented tall forward has come on in leaps and bounds this season, developing her game to play further up the ground in season 2021, and even pinch-hitting in the ruck. At 174cm she is able to compete well one-on-one with a high work rate and clever leading patterns to find the ball inside 50 thanks to her athleticism. More often than not though, Woods has found herself being the first target in the forward half, then looking for options inside 50, with more than three inside 50s per game to go with her four goals from eight matches. Averaging almost 12 touches per game at NAB League Girls level, Woods burst onto the VFLW scene with three goals on debut for the Western Bulldogs, and whilst the going has been tougher since, still has some great upside for the future. Definitely the raw talent in the group, but Woods could be a promising top-age talent next season, and spending more time in a VFLW program like she did for a few games with the Bulldogs, will further fast-track her growth.

State leagues wrap: Victorian footy returns as TSL produced trio of beltings

WHILST South Australia took another week off from its state league action, most of the other major state leagues took place, with the Victorian Football League (VFL) joining the respective leagues in Tasmania and Western Australia. Though it was not without some controversy, with a snap lockdown in south east Queensland impacting the QAFL, and even calling off one VFL game based in the state at quarter time.

New South Wales/Queensland/Victoria (VFL):

It was a fitting return to action in the VFL for the 2021 season, with two games postponed and a third also called off after just one quarter of action. Gold Coast Suns were leading Southport Sharks 1.2 (8) to 1.0 (6) when the players were told to stop due to the state lockdown, while Aspley’s clash with Essendon, and Brisbane Lions’ match with Sydney Swans were also put on the back burner. It was ironically the complete opposite of the previous week when only Queensland games could be played and Victorian matches were postponed.

Of those games underway, it was hard to go past the thriller that was Coburg and Williamstown at Piranha Park on Sunday. In what was an entertaining contest, a six goals to one third term in favour of the Seagulls had the visitors up by 24 points at the final break, and seemingly home. Coburg had other ideas, as the Lions roared home to kick the next six goals and hit the front to lead by nine points with 10 minutes remaining. The Seagulls dug deep and kicked the last two goals of the game – after only kicking one behind in the first 18 minutes of the quarter – to steal the lead in a memorable last quarter. Mitch Hibberd continued his terrific form with another 35 disposals, nine more than any other player on the field. Nick Mellington (26 disposals and a goal) and Teia Miles (25 disposals and seven marks) were also lively, while ex-Bomber Noah Gown kicked 2.1 from 16 disposals and six marks in a promising display, one of four Seagulls to kick multiple goals. For the Lions, Charlie Thompson kicked 2.2 from 20 touches and three marks, as some former Northern Knights dominated the disposals. Marcus Lentini (25 disposals), Luke Bunker (24) and Tom McKenzie (23) all had some big days out.

Most of the other games were fairly big wins to the victors, with four of the remaining six games decided by 30 points or more. North Melbourne’s recent form continued with a 17-point win over last placed Port Melbourne, getting up 11.11 (77) to 8.12 (60). Harry Jones racked up 31 disposals and kicked a goal, as Charlie Lazzaro (26 disposals, five tackles and a goal) did his chances of a recall no harm. Chris Jansen (31 disposals, six marks and four tackles) and the ever-reliable Eli Templeton (30 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and 2.2) suffered leather poisoning as the Borough came close to a second win, but not quite close enough. Richmond also posted a 16-point victory over Frankston as the Dolphins form of late continues to slide after their fast start to the season. Patrick Naish had a game-high 32 disposals, as well as five marks, six tackles and a goal, with Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (29 disposals, five marks), Riley Collier-Dawkins (26 disposals, three tackles) and Will Martyn (26 disposals, nine marks and five tackles) all letting the Tigers’ selection committee know they are ready to step up. Nathan Freeman (31 disposals, nine marks) and Josh Newman (30 disposals, six marks and eight tackles) were again the best for the Bayside team.

In other results, the Western Bulldogs just somehow found a way to win, conceding six goals to zero in the opening quarter against Casey Demons, to kick 16 of the next 20 majors and storm to a 37-point win to remain undefeated in the 2021 season. Rhylee West (27 disposals, nine tackles and three goals) and Ben Cavarra (21 disposals, six tackles and three goals) both dominated, while Dees’ veteran Nathan Jones kicked 1.3 from 29 disposals, four marks and four tackles. In a similar comeback, Box Hill Hawks were held goalless in the opening term against a red-hot Collingwood outfit, and after hitting the front to lead by seven points at the final break, Box Hill piled on 9.2 to 0.0 to run away with an eye-opening 63-point win and remain in the top four. Fergus Greene, Emerson Jeka and Jackson Callow all combined for 11.6 and 19 marks, while Tom Wilson tried hard for the Magpies with 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal.

Meanwhile Carlton leapfrogged Sandringham with its fourth win of the season, defeating the Zebras by 39 points at Sandringham, as James Parsons and Sam Petrevski-Seton lit it up with 30 touches each, and Lachie Fogarty laid 12 tackles to go with 27 disposals and six marks, though three behinds, Jack Bytel (28 disposals, seven marks and 11 tackles) was the best for the Zebras. In the other match, Werribee took home the points on the road against Northern Bullants, with an 8.5 to 1.1 final term to reverse a 16-point deficit at the final break to turn it into a five-goal victory. Tom Gribble (36 disposals, six marks and nine tackles) and Matt Hanson (32 disposals, three marks, five tackles and a goal) were lively as Hudson Garoni booted 3.6 from 19 touches and 10 marks up forward for the winners. Will Mitchell had 31 touches and eight tackles for the Bullants, with eight more touches than any other teammate, while Paul Ahern slotted 4.1.

Tasmania (TSL):

There was nothing close about the Tasmania State League (TSL) action in Round 18, as the three winners completely dismantled their opposition. With the sides missing a number of their young up-and-comers due to the Tasmania Devils Under 19s and Under 17s exhibition clash on Sunday, it was up to the more experienced players to get it done. Third placed Clarence had the bye, but the other top four sides – Launceston, North Launceston and Tigers – showed no mercy in their victories, combining for a mind-boggling 275 points.

The “close” game of the weekend was the Battle of the Bombers, with North Launceston triumphing 18.7 (125) to 6.5 (41). In what was a fairly comprehensive first three quarters, the home side led by 31 points at the main break, having missed their chances in the third, before piling on a whopping 10.5 to 2.0 in the last quarter to run away with the 64-point victory. Brad Cox-Goodyer slammed home five majors, with Zach Burt and Jack Avent slotting three goals apiece, while Jay Foon and Judah Edmunds were also named among the best. Allen Christensen was the sole multiple goalkicker for Lauderdale, working hard all game, as Josh McGuinness and Luke Paton were also named among the best.

In a top-against-bottom clash with Launceston heading in 13-1 and North Hobart 1-13, it was never expected to be much of a contest, but few could have predicted the 121-point shellacking that the Blues handed out. Keeping the Demons to just one goal in the first three quarters – whilst booting 18 majors from 32 scoring shots – Launceston led by 114 points, though to North Hobart’s credit the Demons rallied in the last to only concede three more goals and kick two themselves for a 21.18 (144) to 3.5 (23) final scoreline. Jake Hinds kicked five goals in a best on ground performance, but what made the game so unique was the fact that the Blues only had four multiple goal kickers, and 14 individual goalkickers. Alex Wright, Cody Thorp and Fletcher Seymour were deemed the best in a strong performance. Jack McCulloch and Bailey Walker were the best for the Demons in a performance they would rather forget.

The game predicted to be the closest of the round turned into a fizzer, as fourth placed Tigers trounced sixth placed Glenorchy at Twin Ovals to the tune of 90 points. The Kingborough-based outfit piled on 12 goals to four in the first half, and then 11 goals to four in the second half, to fall short of bringing up the ton. Will Campbell and Max Collidge both slotted four goals apiece to be among the best on the ground, with Marcus Gardner (one goal) and ex-Carlton player Sam Duigan (three) also lively. Callen Daly (three goals) and Brayden Webb (two) were the multiple goalkickers for the Magpies, with Harrison Gunther (one) named best-on in the losing side.

Western Australia (WAFL):

In Western Australia, Subiaco took full advantage of a Claremont loss to go outright top on the WAFL ladder, as West Coast grabbed its fourth win of the season with victory in the bottom two clash against Perth, and East Perth leapfrogged Peel Thunder with the unlikely win over the Tigers in Round 17 of the League competition.

East Perth’s seven-point upset over Claremont was the biggest result of the round, as they nervously held on in the lat term after leading by 15 points at the final break, to record a 12.6 (78) to 10.11 (71) victory. Jackson Ramsay had 31 disposals, eight tackles and two goals, and the Royals player was only bettered by Claremont ball magnet Jye Bolton (41 disposals, five marks, eight inside 50s and three tackles). Former Carlton talents Rohan Kerr (22 disposals, eight marks and one goal) and Angus Schumacher (26 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) were lively for the Royals, as Bailey Rogers (29 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two goals) and Ben Edwards (27 disposals, four tackles, seven inside 50s and one goal) were important for the Tigers.

West Perth put up a fight against ladder leaders Subiaco, but conceded six gaols to two in the opening half to trailed by 30 points at half-time. They tried to fight back in the second half, but ultimately could not get over the line, going down by 20 points, 10.12 (72) to 8.4 (52). Greg Clark had a team-high 29 disposals for the Lions, as Harrison Marsh (28 disposals, seven mars, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was Nick Martin (21 disposals, 10 marks, three inside 50s and two goals). Shane Nelson tried to haul his team across the line with a match-high 34 disposals, as well as four marks and seven tackles, as former Roo and Cat, Aaron Black had 26 touches, four marks and seven tackles.

Meanwhile other top three side South Fremantle showed no mercy in a dominant 116-point thrashing of Peel Thunder. The Bulldogs slammed home a ridiculous 13.2 to 1.2 in the first half to lead by 72 points at the main break. They still managed nine goals after half-time, getting up 22.9 (141) to 3.7 (25). Haiden Schloithe (42 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s, three tackles and two goals) unsurprisingly led the way for the Bulldogs, as Jacob Dragovich and Tom Blechynden both had 30 touches. Ex-AFL talents Mason Shaw and Blake Schlensog shared in five goals apiece, as well as 30 disposals and 17 marks. Tyrone Thorne was one of the shining lights for Peel Thunder, picking up 25 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s and a goal.

In the remaining two games, East Fremantle won a low-scoring slot against Swan Districts to the tune of seven points, while West Coast dominated Perth by 56 points in a rare big victory for the AFL-aligned club. The Sharks kept their finals hopes alive with the win over the fifth placed Swans, moving to within 12 points of finals, but not able to make a mistake on the run home. Luke English (25 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Luke Strnadica (19 disposals, seven marks, 39 hitouts and three inside 50s) were impressive for the Sharks. Sam Fisher (27 disposals, three marks, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Jesse Turner (26 disposals, four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) topped the charts for the Swans. Alex Witherden (40 disposals, 11 marks and seven inside 50s) suffered leather poisoning in the Eagles big win, with Jarrod Brander (33 disposals, 13 marks, two tackles and thee inside 50s) also putting his hand up for a recall. Jack Avery (26 disposals, 11 marks and three tackles) was the top disposal winner for the Bombers.

Picture credit: AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: WA Under 19s vs. Perth

WESTERN Australia’s Under 19 squad completed its third-consecutive dig ahead of this year’s National Championships, comfortably accounting for a select Perth side, 13.17 (95) to 1.6 (12) on Saturday. The Black Ducks continued their ominous form with its midfield again proving difficult to contain, including leading WA prospects Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson. Squad members Jesse Motlop, Corey Warner, and Jack Avery were among those to miss once again due to League commitments, along with debutant Luke Polson. There were some impressive performances nonetheless, which we narrow down to in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

WA U19s 4.2 | 7.3 | 10.7 | 13.17 (95)
PERTH 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS:

WA U19s: E. Benning 3, J. Amiss 2, E. Curley 2, A. Sheldrick 2, K. Dittmar, N. Erasmus, E. Regan, J. Stretch
Perth: J Wilson

Previous WA Trials:
>> WA U19s vs. East Perth
>> WA U19s vs. WA U17s

WA UNDER 19s:

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder

The powerful Claremont midfielder started the game like a house on fire, winning plenty of the ball (10 disposals) in the first quarter. He was strong in the contests with his ability to win the hard ball a real feature, helping to release the runners out into space. Although Sheldrick’s in and under work was strong, he also showed his ability to break away with a very good long range goal in the last quarter, taking the game on and kicking from 50m on his favoured left foot. Sheldrick would find the goals again, working inside 50 to take a mark and nailing the set shot from 45m in the second quarter. He continued to attack the contest hard in the second half but would not replicate his previous ball winning feats, where he found the ball with ease on the outside and inside. Sheldrick continues to push his draft credentials, finishing the game with 19 disposals, six marks, five clearances and two goals.

#21 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco)
2/12/2003 | 188cm/80kg | Midfielder

After a best on ground performance last week, the Subiaco midfielder was again at his ball winning best and although his skills were not quiet as sharp as last week, he was still very effective. With a few tackles and shots at goal early on, you could see Erasmus was wanting to get involved a lot quicker than he did last week and although his first shot went out on the full, his second attempt was much better – working into space inside 50 and converting the simple set shot. The main concern with Erasmus’ kicking was on his non-preferred side and although on occasion he showed great composure to give himself time, he often had enough time to go on his preferred more often than not, and can further try to to get as much impact out of his disposal as possible. Erasmus finished with a game-high 28 disposals despite spending the last quarter forward, where he still easily managed to find the ball, and with that also finished with eight marks, seven tackles and one goal.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

It was another solid game from the tall Subiaco midfielder, with Johnson a consistent four-quarter performer who showed plenty of class and composure with ball in hand. Johnson was steady in the first half, winning eight disposals, but it was his second half and especially his third quarter that really caught the eye. His first goal assist was inside 50 where he showed great composure and agility to get around one opponent, before using a short burst of speed to get away from another and hand off to Dittmar who finished well. His second great effort came on the wing, recovering from a marking contest to gather cleanly and side step an opponent with good composure, then hitting a beautiful pass inside 50 to Benning. Johnson finished the game with 19 disposals, six inside 50s and six marks as he continues to impress as a potential first round draft prospect.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

The talented key forward form East Perth once again kicked multiple goals in what could have been an even bigger haul if his set shot kicking was as reliable as it has been all year, missing some very gettable attempts. Amiss impressed early with the first goal of the game coming from a lovely banana set shot hard on the boundary. Getting the opportunity was well done as he was the one to pressure the turnover to give him the set shot. He was able to kick the hardest of the day, yet missed some gettable goals late in the game, finishing with four behinds. His second goal was in open play, quickly kicking another banana in the fourth quarter, but what impressed in his game was his work without the ball – often playing one-on-two and competing well in the air, before applying pressure at ground level with a holding the ball tackle late in the last term. Amiss finished the game with 13 disposals, four marks and kicked 2.4.

Featured Image: (L-R) West Australian draft prospects Matthew Johnson, Jacob van Rooyen, Rhett Bazzo, and Jack Williams | Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

AFLW draftees: How they fared in VFLW Preliminary Final

GEELONG advanced through to the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final with an impressive victory over Essendon in the preliminary final. In that game, there were seven recently drafted players who will step up to AFL Women’s level next season and we took a look at how they performed. All notes are the opinion of the writer.

ESSENDON:

#24 Tahlia Gillard

Stats: 5 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 16 hitouts, 1 clearance, 3 rebounds

The towering ruck/forward predominantly provided a target inside 50, and then rotated through the ruck with Simone Nalder. On a number of occasions, Gillard showed her height through a one-on-one marking contest, able to stand over her opponents and pull down marks by snatching it over the top. She had a couple of shots from those marks inside 50, for one behind and one falling short. There was a moment she would probably like to forget where she dropped a chest mark inside defensive 50 which resulted in a tackle, subsequent throw against, set shot and goal in the third term, but Gillard kept pushing hard throughout the four quarters.

#40 Emelia Yassir

Stats: 6 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 clearance

Was a predominant handballer given a lack of space in the hot finals atmosphere, she showed good strength in the second term to rip the ball from a contest close to the line and show quick hands to dish it off well. She earned a free kick from Darcy Moloney in midfield at one stage to begin a team move in transition and set up a scoring chance in that quarter for Alana Barba to kick a behind.

#43 Georgie Prespakis

Stats: 17 disposals, 12 tackles, 7 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

One of the best on the ground, and gave Cats fans some bittersweet feelings. Along with Georgia Nanscawen and Ruby Svarc, Prespakis was the key resistance for the Cats, racking up game-highs in tackles (12), clearances (seven) and inside 50s (four) to not only win it at the coalface, but drive it forward for goal-scoring opportunities. When the Bombers needed a response late in the first term, Prespakis was the one to give it with a clever snap around her body to get her side on the board. Her fierce tackling was a standout of her game, and she was able to move through clearances well, extracting it out and down the field for her teammates on the outside.

#47 Zali Friswell

Stats: 4 disposals, 1 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50

Played forward and worked really hard, but once again was not in her most dominant position – onball. One passage of play which showcased Friswell’s athleticism was her gut running through the middle in the second term, and put it long inside 50 for Barba to run onto and kick the Bombers’ second goal. Whilst not able to hold some of her marking opportunities, Friswell kept presenting, though did only finish with the four touches in what was a tough day for Bomber forwards.

GEELONG:

#13 Olivia Fuller

Stats: 14 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 35 hitouts, 2 clearances, 3 inside 50s

The standout ruck on the ground amassing 35 hitouts, but it was Fuller’s spread around the field that caught the eye. She was strong overhead and was able to provide a target at both half-forward and half-back, taking a strong intercept mark early in the match and pumping it forward. At ground level, Fuller laid a number of strong tackles to be a dominant defensive player.

#42 Annabel Johnson

Stats: 16 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

After a slower start, Johnson got busier as the game progressed and found more of the ball around the ground. Aside from a rushed kick – after a nice spin out of trouble – on the wing which went out of bounds, Johnson hit the scoreboard with a monster goal from just inside 50. It was a terrific set shot and ignited her game and her second half was quite productive. Johnson was neat with ball-in-hand off half-back and then even did the defensive running well, marking on the goal line to stop a Barba snap from going through.

#60 Claudia Gunjaca

Stats: 19 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 1 hitout, 2 clearances, 6 inside 50s

An eye-catching performance and one of the Cats’ best on the day, Gunjaca started forward and was strong with her leading and aggressive at the ball carrier. Her aerial work matched her ground intensity, and she picked up a fair amount of disposals (19), marks (four) and tackles (five), and most importantly, was able to put plenty of passes inside 50 (six). She was great at reading the ball in flight, taking back-to-back intercept marks at half-forward in the first term. On a couple of occasions, Gunjaca also spun out of trouble to kick the ball forward and moved well in traffic.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Western Bulldogs

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

#22 Amanda Ling (Inside Midfielder)
09/07/2002 | 161cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

After missing out on being drafted last year, Ling put together an ultra-consistent season for the Oakleigh Chargers, racking up the ball consistently and being a force through the midfield. In a team littered with stars, Ling stood out when it counted most, winning the best on ground medal in the Chargers’ premiership win over Geelong Falcons. Also impressing at VFLW level, Ling has the athleticism and hardness, as well as high-level endurance to step straight into the AFLW midfield if required.

AMANDA LING CONTENT:

>> Ling praises team effort in best on ground performance

>> Bond credits “focused” team in NAB League Girls Grand Final win

#25 Aurora Smith (Wing)
13/12/2003 | 165cm
Murray Bushrangers / Vic Country

Another ultra-consistent performer, Smith produced an outstanding year, winning Murray Bushrangers’ best and fairest and being one of the most dominant wings in the NAB League Girls competition. That led her to step up to the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for Vic Country where she had outstanding games against South Australia and Queensland to earn All-Australian honours. With pace to burn, a clean user by hand or foot, and one who can go inside if required, Smith is a talent who has come on in leaps and bounds and is predicted to make even more strides now she is at the elite level.

AURORA SMITH CONTENT:

>> 2021 Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool: June 2021

#27 Elizabeth Snell (Inside Midfielder/Forward)
14/03/2002 | 165cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

A second top-age player who missed out last year, the Western Bulldogs were attracted to her hardness at the contest, and athleticism around the ground. Able to play midfield or forward, Snell has terrific acceleration and defensive pressure, with high-volume tackles. Able to accumulate the ball well, Snell won the Bendigo Pioneers’ best and fairest off just five games in 2021, and was a standout each time she took the field. Stepping up to the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for Vic Country, and VFLW for Essendon, Snell did not look out of place, and earned her spot on the Bulldogs’ list with their last pick in the AFLW Draft.

ELIZABETH SNELL CONTENT:

>> VFLW Player Focus: Elizabeth Snell (Essendon)

>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft Victorian top-age talents

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Western Bulldogs addressed their need for speed and defensive pressure, with all three players able to run with the ball in transition. Ling and Snell provide the inside hardness, whilst Smith is the outside runner who can evade opponents easily like the others. Having all represented Victoria and played at VFLW level already, the trio are capable of slotting in against senior opposition and Ling and Snell having the extra year of NAB League Girls football has them particularly set to impress.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: West Coast

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

#3 Charlotte Thomas (Tall Utility)
05/09/2003 | 175cm
Subiaco / Western Australia

Despite only playing the one game before succumbing to a wrist injury that curtailed her 2021 season, Thomas showed how highly she was rated by West Australian claubs by being the first from her state to be called out on draft night. A tall utility who primarily plays forward, Thomas is a smart user who hits targets and makes the right decisions with ball-in-hand. She might not have played much this season, but as a member of the AFLW Academy, Thomas has been an eye-catching player for many years, and one who stands out for her ability to impact a game wthrough her ball use and composure. Expect her to be right to go ahead of the 2022 AFL Women’s season and the Eagles will be thrilled to have her on board.

charlie thomas CONTENT:

>> Thomas well supported during injured season

#21 Courtney Rowley (Balanced Midfielder)
24/09/2003 | 167cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

Class personified, Rowley is an unbelievable talent with ball-in-hand, and complements Thomas as the two best ball users in Western Australia heading to the Eagles. Rowley can hit targets over multiple distances and has clean hands on the inside, as well as being able to play off flanks at both ends. After a successful AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships campaign, Rowley was named in the All-Australian team. Her high-level defensive pressure matches that of her offensive ability, and is something that makes her such a successful and driven player, and one who is ultra-competitive at all levels.

COURTNEY ROWLEY CONTENT:

>> Rowley’s “crazy” ride only getting started

>> Peel prepares for 2021 after “whirlwind season”

#24 Beth Schilling (Key Defender/Ruck)
01/12/2003 | 178cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

An athletic tall who can roll through the ruck or stand as a key defensive option, Schilling has been a big mover for Peel Thunder this season, playing in a premiership. An eye-catcher at both WAFLW and AFLW Under 19 Championships level, Schilling was able to purely play as a key defender for the Allies, where she averaged almost five rebound 50s per game to go with her 12.3 disposals and two marks. Her competitive nature and presence in the air and at ground level is noticeable, and once she increases her endurance, Schilling will be able to impact for even loner periods of play.

BETH SCHILLING CONTENT:

>> Schilling follows brothers into footy, rises to challenges

#40 Sarah Lakay (Ruck)
20/02/2003 | 186cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

An athletic ruck who has come from a basketball background, Lakay teamed up with Schilling for her state and will look to do so again in the blue and gold. Another tall looking to build her endurance, Lakay has an elite vertical leap, which she showcased at the recent AFL Women’s Draft Combine, smashing the previous record in the vertical jumps. Her strength overhead, competitive nature and defensive pressure at ground level make her a danger to opposition sides, able to recover quickly after a ruck stoppage to be like a fifth midfielder. Lakay has clean hands and has already come along in leaps and bounds, something she will continue to do at the elite level.

SARAH LAKAY CONTENT:

>> Fast learning Lakay takes her game to new heights

>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

#47 Emily Bennett (Medium Defender)
26/12/2002 | 170cm
Claremont / Western Australia

A natural footballer, Bennett provides great hardness and one-on-one contests each and every time she goes near the ball. Though not just a negating player, Bennett can lock down on opponents and beat them in the air or for the hard ball at ground level, then run off and provide drive out of defence. Bennett is a strong kick of the ball and good at intercept the play with clean hands and composure with ball-in-hand. Her overhead marking is a strength, and whilst she hopes to continue improving her endurance, she is a player who coaches can rely on to get the job done each week.

EMILY BENNETT CONTENT:

>> Bennett enjoying season after “difficult” 2020 season

>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

DRAFT SUMMARY:

West Coast was able to target height and athleticism, as well as skilful ball users, with its five selections. Thomas, Rowley and Bennett all use the ball superbly, and are highly competitive players. Lakay and Schilling are also defensively-minded, and have terrific athleticism, able to impact in the air or at ground level. They can play multiple roles like Rowley and Thomas, and it will give the Eagles great versatility going forward.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: St Kilda

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

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

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

ELLA FRIEND CONTENT:

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

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

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

ASHLEIGH RICHARDS CONTENT:

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

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

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

Image credit: John Emery

DRAFT SUMMARY:

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

Roberts rises up the ranks with skills, smarts, and composure

SOUTH Adelaide teenager Matty Roberts likens his best traits to that of Western Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli, and appears set to be among the first handful of midfielders selected in November’s National AFL Draft.

A consistently prolific ball-winner with clean skills and a high work rate, Roberts’ ability to hit the scoreboard has set him apart from those around him in recent years.

“I would say I’m skilful, smart, composed and have the ability to go forward and impact the scoreboard,” Roberts said. “I look at Marcus Bontempelli to model my game off, I’m not as tall as him but I feel we have similar attributes, such as being a left footer, a good ball user and decision maker and being able to impact up forward.”

Roberts, who has boarded at Adelaide’s St. Peter’s College since Year 10 but lives on a farm between Langhorne Creek and Strathalbyn, reinforced his first round credentials by averaging 32 disposals, 7.7 tackles and 1.7 goals in three Under 18 matches earlier in the year.

“I’ve really enjoyed my season so far,” he said. “It was really good to spend the full pre-season with the senior squad at South and then start the season really strongly in the Under 18s and school football at St. Peters.”

He didn’t stay at the Under 18 level for long and bypassed the Reserves entirely en route to making his SANFL league debut in Round 6, where he gathered 14 disposals and kicked a goal alongside fellow gun teenager Jason Horne.

“I loved being able to play up in the seniors,” he said. “It was really good to play alongside the senior boys that I’ve looked up to at South from when I was coming through the ranks, so that was really good experience. I found the speed definitely quicker, but as long as you were clean and made your decisions quickly I found it fine.

“I learnt a lot from Bryce Gibbs and Joel Cross regarding where to run and set up and how to use you body to give yourself the best chance to get the ball and use it well,” said Roberts, who turns 18 on July 31.

Image credit: Nick Hook Photography

While the ascent was steep, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the consistent midfielder, who has spent the past two months nursing a syndesmosis injury sustained whilst playing college football.

“I hurt my right ankle in a school game against Rostrevor,” he said. “It got stuck underneath in a tackle and rolled over inwards. But I’ve been back running now for around four weeks and have been doing change of direction (drills) for about three weeks.

“I’ve been trying to build my fitness back up over that time. I was hoping to be back playing this weekend but due to (South Australia’s) lockdown I’m hoping to be back next week, as I need to do a full week of full training before I get back to playing. So that will make it 10 weeks since (sustaining) the injury.”

Roberts is a natural sportsman, who is just as comfortable on the cricket field as he is on the golf course.

“I like to play pretty much all sports but my main get away from footy would be to go out and play golf,” he said. “I’ve had some pretty competitive matches with my dad, brother and mates. But I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and mates, going away with family up the river with the boat or heading down to the beach,” he said.

2021 is an important year for Roberts who, like many draft hopefuls, has had to juggle footballing commitments with Year 12 studies.

“Sometimes it gets a bit tricky, especially at the start of the year as I had cricket finishing up and footy getting underway, but I did a Year 12 subject last year so this year I’ve only got four subjects, so I have more free lessons,” he said. “I try to do most of my homework in those free lessons so after school I’m free to focus on footy or the gym. I feel like I’ve managed things pretty well so far this year.”

Along with his obligations to South Adelaide and St. Peters, Roberts also spent a week rubbing shoulders with the AFL Academy squad in April. While the elite Under 19 group was beaten handily in their showcase outing, Roberts says he learned plenty from the overall experience.

“It was really good to spend time with the best players in the country and see what kinds of things the other players do to get themselves ready for games, how they recover and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “The game (against Geelong’s VFL side) was not too bad, but we lost by 130 points which was the biggest loss I’ve been a part of. I learned you just have to be clean, make good decisions, always talk as a team to help each other out and just hit the easy kicks,” said Roberts.

Heading into the second half of the season, with the National Championships approaching, Roberts highlighted South Adelaide teammates Jason Horne and Arlo Draper, Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne, smooth-moving utility Nasiah Wanganeen and North Adelaide ball magnet Hugh Jackson as the South Australians to watch. He also made mention of potential bolter Isaac Birt, who Roberts said has “worked really hard and has been really consistent” in his role on the wing.

Featured Image: Matthew Roberts gets a kick away during the 2021 SANFL Under 18s season | Credit: Nick Hook Photography

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Richmond

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

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

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

STELLA REID CONTENT:

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

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

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

EMELIA YASSIR CONTENT:

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

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

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

MEAGAN KIELY CONTENT:

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

Meagan Kiely gets a kick away

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

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

INGRID HOUTSMA CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Geelong Falcons

Ingrid Houstma in action for Geelong Falcons

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

DRAFT SUMMARY:

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