Category: Queensland

Rising Sun Davies learns from the best

NOT everyone gets the chance to talk footy with AFLW stars in between classes at school, but Gold Coast Academy prospect Giselle Davies is taking plenty of learnings out of that exact opportunity. The 18-year-old tall defender attends Southport State High School, where current Suns midfielder Jamie Stanton teaches.

While the two are quite different players, Davies says the mentorship of Stanton has been a valuable peek behind the curtain of what it takes to cut the AFLW grade.

“(Stanton) has been a teacher at my school for a few years now so I’ve definitely looked up to her,” Davies said. “I’m always talking to her about her games on the weekend and how she went. Obviously I watch a lot of her play and even though we don’t really play similar positions it’s good to have a mentor who you can talk to.”

The link is one of Davies’ many ties to the senior-listed Suns, having also come up through Gold Coast’s academy and initially being introduced to Australian football by a certain 2020 draftee.

“I started playing footy a few years ago, my best friend Annise Bradfield got me down to play,” she said. “I was playing heaps of touch football (and) netball, I went to a footy session and it was just a perfect mix of both of those sports. I loved it from there.

“I have loved every single part of playing with the Gold Coast Under 19s Academy. We did heaps of work in the off-season after last year – pre-season training in the heat, gym, running, just loving it.

“I’m really grateful that we have the academy that looks after us so well. There’s all this new talent coming through the pathway, it’s just amazing that they really give you a perspective on what you could have and what you’re working towards.”

Through her work in the pathway and form for Bond University in this year’s QAFLW season, Davies was also selected for Queensland representative honours in 2021. While the Maroons’ Under 19 squad went down by 54 points against Vic Country in their sole carnival outing, Davies took plenty away from what was “the highest level of footy [she’s] ever played.”

“It was probably the best weekend I’ve ever had,” she said. “Just playing with a bunch of girls that you don’t usually play with, people who want to be there and played as hard as they could. Despite the loss, it was such a good game of footy to be a part of and see the different ways that Vic play their game and how I can improve mine. It was really good.”

At 180cm, Davies is aware of her strengths and areas for improvement, with her decision making by foot already sound and her ability to utilise said size on the incline. Clunking more contested marks and having the confidence to take the game on are among the next steps to take, by her own assessment.

She is one of many Queensland talent hoping to end up on an AFLW list in just a few days, with the 2021 draft set to go down on Tuesday, July 27.

Draft hopeful Harmer looks to find “the best of both worlds”

IN the air and on the ground. Intercept marking combined with run-and-carry. That’s the kind of impact Maroochydore prospect Maggie Harmer aims to make across half-back. The versatile talent is in line to become one of the first Brisbane Lions Academy products called out on draft night, and has a pair of senior defenders to look up to.

Come July 27, Kate Lutkins and Nat Grider could go from idols to teammates for Harmer, who is hoping to harness their respective strengths in order to get “the best of both worlds” as a player.

“Kate has such a good intercept mark and Nat has also got that run-and-carry which is really good, so it’s the best of both worlds between them,” Harmer said.

With the long-term goal of simply improving as a player in mind, the 18-year-old recognises her strengths, but also her areas for improvement.

“Across half-back, (my strengths are) reading the play and taking intercept marks when the opposition is looking for those forward 50 entries and trying to cut off those long kicks,” Harmer said.

“I’m more of an (aerial) player, so my ground balls are always something I’ve wanted to work on, just clean pick-ups. Also my one-on-one contests, holding my own up against those bigger girls.”

Harmer has earned a raft of opportunities since being introduced to Australian football in her final years of primary school, culminating in AFLW Academy honours, Under 19 All Australian selection, and the opportunity to represent her state throughout 2021.

Harmer kicks Queensland forward during this year’s National Championships

Above all else, Harmer says the opportunity to test her skills and be challenged by the nation’s best talent provided some valuable tests and lessons.

“I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a flogging (against Vic Country),” she said. “But the score didn’t really represent the contest.

“(AFLW Academy training) is big challenge because it’s another step to what we’re used to at club training and even academy. But I think it really pushes you to be the best player you can be and try to keep up with those older girls that are playing at such a high level.”

In their only National Championships dig for 2021, Queensland’s Under 19s went down to Vic Country by 54 points down in Melbourne, but Harmer was able to showcase some of her best traits with 15 disposals, five marks and five tackles.

Her ability to turn attack into defence with that aforementioned intercept game, as well as positive forward running makes Harmer a productive type. Queensland talent manager Mark Browning also gave a glowing review, boding well not just for draft night, but for her impact on the game in years to come.

“She’s probably the one that excites me the most when she trains,” Browning said. “It hasn’t quite transpired to games yet, but I think she’s got the most natural running out of all of them.”

Smith taking things “week by week”

POWERFUL prospect Bella Smith has proven herself as one of Queensland’s top draft chances in 2021, but is taking a steady mindset into next week’s big day. The Maroochydore midfielder has been aligned with the Brisbane Lions Academy and there are plenty of former ‘Roos to look towards for inspiration in the same pathway.

“At this point in time I’m just taking everything week by week and just trying to play well in my QAFL games,” Smith said during the season. “But the end goal is definitely to get drafted.”

As a member of this year’s AFLW Academy intake, Smith has picked up plenty of elite standards along the way and got the chance to meet up with her fellow academy members earlier in the year. Queensland’s Under 19 Championships clash with Vic Country also served as a handy “experience”, with Smith notching 14 disposals and five marks despite her side’s 54-point loss.

“It was an interesting game,” she said. “I was very excited for it all, but at the end of the day they were definitely a better side than us. It was still a great experience and good to see friends that we’ve known from the (AFLW) Academy as well.

“(The Academy) is awesome. It’s such a good experience to get around girls that are like-minded. We got to catch up all together not too long ago down in Melbourne.”

At that point in time, Smith had hoped the national academy would be able to play their then-postponed game together, though it never came to fruition. Instead, she honed her craft back home with Maroochydore in a QAFLW campaign which yielded a finals win.

Described by Queensland Talent Manager Mark Browning as a “very, very tough inside mid (who) loves the contest”, Smith says strength and power are her go-to traits. While she is a terrific handler and distributor on the inside, she is still working on her outside game and improving the all-important fundamentals of kicking.

“(I’m looking to improve on) everything really,” Smith said. ” But I’ve been working a lot on my kicking. I’ve been doing work outside of training with Enhanced Football, he’s been helping me over the season on my kicking.”

Cracking the next level would mark another great chapter in Smith’s footballing story, which began at eight years old when she topped up for her brother’s local side.

The likes of Belle Dawes and Lily Postlethwaite have already stepped up from Maroochydore to the Brisbane Lions’ AFLW squad, can Smith be the next Roo to bounce to the bigtime?

State Leagues wrap: COVID chaos and big boilovers

WHILE Victoria has descended into COVID chaos once more, state leagues rolled on in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia with a bunch of intriguing results produced. While it was largely business as usual in the SANFL, there was a major boilover in the TSL, while the WAFL top five is firming as three teams continue to battle for top spot. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

South Australia (SANFL):

While Round 16 proceedings are currently under a COVID cloud, Round 15 went ahead without a hitch in the SANFL. There were two clashes between top five teams this past weekend, as ladder position counted for plenty with every higher-ranked side picking up full points across the five-game round.

At the top of the tree, Glenelg extended its perfect run to 14 games with an 18-point win over South Adelaide, who have now in lost three of their last four outings. A three-goal to nil opening term proved the difference, as the Bays put away another finals candidate. Matthew Snook (29 disposals, one goal), Luke Partington (26 and one), and Chris Curran (24 and one) were all prominent in yellow and black, while Bryce Gibbs managed 27 touches, 14 tackles and a goal in his 50th League match, fittingly against his old side.

Saturday’s other top five clash saw reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens power past Norwood, winning by 36 points on the back of a second half surge. The Eagles piled on nine of the last 10 goals after trailing at the main break, flexing their muscle forward of centre. James Tsitas and Mitch Grigg led the disposal count for either side with 29 touches apiece, while Tyson Stengle‘s two goals at the end of term three helped the Eagles push ahead.

Port Adelaide and Sturt remain in the hunt for finals after respective wins against the bottom two sides, though both came by a mere 13 points. The Magpies did enough to get past a plucky West Adelaide on Sunday, remaining one game out of the top five, while the Double Blues bettered Central District in a low-scoring slog to sit two games off the pace. North Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, downing Adelaide by 54 points to strengthen its standing in third.

Tasmania (TSL):

Clarence has shaken up the TSL top four frame, defeating North Launceston by two points in a major boilover. The Roos led by a single point at half time and after extending the margin to eight come the final break, were made to reclaim the ascendancy via Colin Garland‘s boot at the death.

The result sees Clarence close to within a game of its weekend rival, as the Northern Bombers suffer rare consecutive losses in what was meant to be a celebration for player-coach Brad Cox-Goodyer‘s 200th game.

Brandon Leary booted four goals for the victors in a losing effort for the Northern Bombers, while Garland finished with three and James Holmes was named best afield.

Meanwhile, league leader Launceston escaped a similar scare against Tigers, snaring three goals to nil in the final term to sneak home by 13 points. The Blues trailed at every break after the hosts got the jump, but clawed their way back and pounced at the ideal time.

Fletcher Seymour and Cody Thorp (two goals) were among the victors’ best, while Luke Graham booted a game-high three majors for Tigers as Zach Adams claimed full votes.

In the weekend’s sole non-top four clash, Lauderdale powered past Glenorchy on the back of a 13-goal second half, saluting to the tune of 81 points. Leading a brigade of nine individual goalkickers for the Bombers was Edward Stanley (five), while Tyler Martin (four) and Allen Christensen (three) compounded their side’s scoreboard dominance.

Western Australia (WAFL):

East Perth inflicted the sole ladder change after Round 15 of the WAFL League season, jumping Perth in eight after its nine-point road win over the Demons. Former Carlton-listed pair Rohan Kerr (41 disposals, 10 marks) and Angus Schumacher (33 disposals, two goals) were prominent for the Royals, who held off Perth’s final term surge after leading by an even five goals at three quarter time.

A three-way tie for points from first to third remains after Claremont, Subiaco, and South Fremantle all claimed their ninth wins for the season. Subiaco still leads the way on percentage having defeated West Coast by 20 points, with 10 of the Lions 12 goals coming at one end of Leederville Oval.

Claremont isn’t far behind after downing Peel Thunder by nine points on Sunday, while South Fremantle’s 36-point win over Swan Districts proved a definitive result between finals contenders. Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Jesse Motlop debut for the Bulldogs, booting two goals from 13 touches.

West Perth came away as the round’s other winner after scraping past East Fremantle by five points, overcoming a half time deficit and near-costly inaccuracy to remain clean in fourth. The Falcons were served typically well by Aaron Black (38 disposals, nine marks), as Tyler Keitel and Lachlan Bailey booted four goals for their respective sides.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

Victoria’s recently-extended five-day lockdown saw Round 14 of the VFL scrapped, with the competition currently running on a week-by-week scheduling basis. Victorian teams which travelled to Queensland also had their official fixtures cancelled, though Essendon and North Melbourne combined their reserves to face Brisbane in a scratch match on Saturday. Returning Roos tall Charlie Comben impressed with four goals in that hit-out.

The VFL Women’s finals series has also been impacted, but the VFL says it remains committed to awarding a premier with just the preliminary and grand finals left to play.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton via SANFL

Draft Central announces release of first ever AFLW Draft Guide

IN an AFL Women’s Draft first, Draft Central is excited to announce its inaugural AFL Women’s Draft Guide set to be released next week.

After three successful editions of Draft Central‘s AFL Draft Guide over the past few years, the team has expanded to include an 80-page guide focused purely on the AFL Women’s Draft. The guide features profiles of every AFLW Draft Combine invite, as well as plenty of others who are in contention, ahead of the draft on Tuesday, July 27.

Draft Central‘s AFLW Draft Guide features player vitals, profile, key stats and links to further information on each of the key draft prospects in what is a must-have guide for any AFL Women’s Draft enthusiast.

The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft Guide features:

  • 54 full page profiles
  • More than 100 total AFLW Draft profiles of players yet to be on an AFLW list
  • Profiles include key numbers, fun facts and detailed profiles to get to know the potential draftees

The next batch of AFL Women’s stars will make their way to the elite level in the next fortnight, and having followed them along their journey over the years, Draft Central is releasing the FREE and downloadable draft guide.

Like the AFL Draft Guide, the AFLW Draft Guide will require just an email to download the guide, with the option of becoming a free subscriber for monthly updates.Those already subscribed to Draft Central and receive the AFL Draft Guide will automatically receive the AFLW Draft Guide.

Stay tuned to Draft Central for the official release date early next week, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our YouTube channel for more content.

State Leagues wrap: Youngsters press claims for senior call-ups

A BUNCH of up-and-coming talents pressed their claims for senior selection across the state leagues this past weekend, with finals time drawing closer in the top tier. The West Australian Football League (WAFL) made its return after a week away due to lockdown, while it was business as usual around the nation with just over a month of home-and-away action left to play out. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

The Battle of Bell Street headlined Round 13’s action in the VFL, with the Northern Bullants holding on to win by a single point against traditional local rival, Coburg. Players did justice to the resumption of this long-standing rivalry, though the Lions’ last ditch surge was not enough to snatch victory at Piranha Park. Bullants big man Daniel Hughes took home the inaugural Harold Martin Medal as best afield, having finished with 18 disposals and 35 hitouts.

While the Bullants picked up their third-consecutive win, Footscray avoided a major boilover to remain undefeated in 2021, defeating Sydney by seven points on the back of a six-goal final term. The Bulldogs twice trailed by as many as six goals throughout the contest, but did enough to power past the plucky Swans outfit. Patrick Lipinski‘s claims for a recall remain strong after 36 disposals and a goal, while tall Sydney pair Logan McDonald (14 marks, four goals) and Patrick McCartin (27 disposals, 11 marks) dominated the airways.

Collingwood and Geelong remain fixed in the top eight after earning their own closely contested victories, downing 2019 grand finalists Richmond and Williamstown respectively. The Cats lead at every break in their 12-point triumph, while senior-listed midfielder Charlie Constable (30 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continuing his ominous form, while young forwards Jack Ginnivan (four goals) and Noah Cumberland (five) were sensational in the Magpies’ five-point salute on enemy territory.

While Port Melbourne was thumped by 95 points in Frankston on Friday, the Borough’s home deck was used on Saturday to field the clash between Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and Gold Coast. The Giants, who had a handy mix of AFL-listed players and academy products, ran out 40-point winners with Zach Sproule (five goals), Matt De Boer (35 disposals, three goals), and senior skipper Stephen Coniglio (36 disposals, eight tackles) proving a class above.

Casey and Sandringham were the other Victorian sides to register premiership points in Round 13, while Southport returned to the fray with a resounding 109-point romping of Brisbane. The result sees the Sharks sit a win clear in second, still an equal amount of points away from current frontrunner Footscray. The Round 14 fixture has also been announced, with both Sydney teams having the bye while Queensland travel is set to resume for a trio of Victorian clubs.

South Australia (SANFL):

Ladder position counted for plenty in Round 14 of the SANFL, as all of the top five sides registered wins against their bottom five counterparts. The handful of fixtures took part on a super Saturday of state league action, which did little to really shake up the order of things ranking-wise.

Reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens opened proceedings with a 19-point win over the bottom-placed West Adelaide, despite managing just nine goals from 30 scoring shots. Westies tidied up the margin with three final term consolation goals, but the Eagles’ scoring power was all too much in the end. Jack Hayes had a day to remember for the victors, clunking 20 marks (seven contested) and booting two goals, while prolific small forward Tyson Stengle managed 3.4 from eight touches.

Competition frontrunner Glenelg pushed its undefeated streak out to 13 games with a 30-point win over Sturt, kicking away in a five-goal to one third term. Bays spearhead Liam McBean booted six goals in a commanding display, as Lachie Wilsdon snared eight in North Adelaide’s 48-point salute over Central District. The likes of Harrison Wigg (42 disposals, nine clearances), Samuel McInerney (24 disposals, five goals), and Campbell Combe (29 disposals, two goals) were among the Roosters’ other outstanding individual performers.

North’s win opened up a gap to Port Adelaide in sixth, after the Magpies went down to Norwood by 36 points. The usual suspects were amongst it for the Redlegs, with Mitch Grigg (31 disposals, seven clearances, one goal), Richard Douglas (30 disposals, eight clearances), and Brad McKenzie (24 disposals, two goals) all in the thick of things. South Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, with pick one contender Jason Horne (19 disposals, one goal) again catching plenty of eyes as his Panthers got the better of Adelaide.

Tasmania (TSL):

Launceston took out a crucial TSL top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, downing North Launceston by 53 points to strength its spot as the league leader. The Blues now boast a two-game gap to their closest rival, and consolidated their latest victory with five goals to nil in the final quarter. Brayden Pitcher booted six majors to spearhead the Blues’ win, Jake Hinds and competition stalwart Jay Blackberry took out votes as the best two players afield.

Fellow top four sides Tigers and Clarence also picked up wins against the bottom two teams, in North Hobart and Lauderdale respectively. The Tigers accelerated during a five-goal second term to end up 40-point victors on the road, while Colin Garland snared another bag of six goals as his Roos wrapped up a 49-point win on home turf. Both sides remain locked on 32 points, with Clarence ahead in third by 0.23 per cent.

Western Australia (WAFL):

The WAFL returned after last week’s lockdown with crowds enjoying five fixtures across a stacked Saturday of state league football. The home sides won out in four of those games, while Subiaco shot back to the top of the table as the race for minor premiership honours heats up.

Claremont’s one-point loss to South Fremantle opened the door for Subiaco to reclaim top spot on percentage, though all three teams now sit level on eight wins with a two-pronged chasing pack ready to pounce at just one game adrift. The top five looks relatively set, with a three-game gap now opened up between Swan Districts in fifth and Peel Thunder in sixth.

Swans scraped past the ever-improving West Coast by two points to remain in the hunt with West Perth, as the Falcons had a much easier time defeating East Perth by 30 points. Geelong champion Harry Taylor returned to East Fremantle and booted four goals as Corey Warner, the brother of Chad made his League debut, but their efforts were not enough to help overcome the Thunder in a 26-point loss.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

AFL Women’s Academy member Mikayla Pauga admits she is in a unique situation. The 18-year-old moved to Bond University for the start of the year to continue her studies, and therefore resides on the heart of the Gold Coast. Despite being around plenty of Gold Coast Suns, Pauga is a Brisbane Lions Academy member and one who has enjoyed coming through the program.

“It’s been pretty good I’ve recently moved to the Gold Coast, so it’s been a bit of an odd experience being in the Gold Coast region but playing for the Lions but I think it’s been really good,” she said.

Compared to many other aspiring footballers, Pauga describes her footballing journey as “quite short”. She first tasted it playing in high school and decided to take it up more seriously at Maroochydore, where she played for a couple of years in the seniors. There, she caught the eye of the Queensland talent pathway, not only running around for the Lions, but being selected in the AFLW Academy. With the move to university, Pauga had to switch Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s clubs from the Roos to the Sharkettes.

Ahead of a clash against her former teammates at her old stomping ground at Maroochydore, Pauga said she was excited and a little nervous, but told Draft Central it was great to catch up with some former teammates pre-game.

“I’m actually kind of excited, I haven’t seen the girls since probably Round 1, so getting to play with them again, will be a bit harder because they know how I play and I know them well, but excited for the clash today,” she said.

Pauga’s journey has not only involved making the switch south from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, but she had to overcome two separate spinal fractures and also had surgery to insert plates into her hand and wrist. The injuries did not deter the pocket rocket who came back bigger and stronger than ever.

“It was a bit difficult, I had two quite similar injuries six months apart so it was just working that fitness back up and the mindset mentality back was a bit hard, but I feel like I’ve come a long way since then so it doesn’t really bother me now,” she said.

Pauga can play high or deep forward, or roll through the midfield, but admitted she hopes to increase her fitness to play more minutes up the ground, and also continue developing her overall game.

“I think I play like a small forward, so I’m close to the ground and pick up the crumbs a little bit and just little explosion plays I’d say,” she said. “I’d like to be able to run around a little more, and just reading the play.”

Over the journey, Pauga identified a former teammate and now Brisbane Lions youngster as a player she has looked up to as an inspiration and role model.

“I would say one of my role models, which would be a bit weird as I played with her for a few years, would be Lily Postlethwaite,” Pauga said. “Just seeing her journey, how hard she’s worked through the years and obviously she’s had her fair share of injuries doing her ACL this year, but yeah just seeing how hard she works and just because you have an injury doesn’t mean you can’t keep going.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft approaching, Pauga has her sights set on reaching the elite level, but also has some long-term goals to go with her more immediate future.

“Short-term would probably be drafted, and the draft is really close, they’ve pushed it a lot earlier this year, so definitely working towards that,” she said. “And just helping build the club reputation and the AFL Women’s in general.”

2021 Under 19 AFLW All-Australian team announced

THE NAB AFL Women’s Under 19 Championship All-Australian Team has just been announced with a number of talented players making the cut after exceptional performances throughout the Championships.

There is a strong mix of talent from across the country but it is Victoria once again that holds the monopoly with a combined 11 players named in the team. There are six players hailing from Vic Country and five from Vic Metro, a testament to the strength of the Victorian developmental pathways despite a wealth of players missing last year due to the COVID-19 enforced lockdown.

Western Australia is also well represented with three player named, with youngster Ella Roberts leading the pack and well and truly making a name for herself despite only being the ripe age of 16-years-old. She also took out the 2021 NAB Player of the Championships Medal given her star power and impressive performance against Vic Metro where she suffered leather poisoning racking up 31 touches, six inside 50s and two goals. South Australia and the Allies also have three representatives apiece while Queensland managed the two.

It is no surprise to see the likes of Georgie Prespakis, Charlie Rowbottom, Maggie Harmer, Teagan Levi, Jess Doyle, Courtney Rowley, Zoe Prowse, Tahlia Gillard and Tara Slender named in the side given they are all 2020-21 AFLW Academy members. All nine players showcased their wares throughout the tournament, putting their best foot forward and doing no harm to their AFLW Draft potential in the process.

Chloe Leonard is the only top-ager named in the 18-player squad while there are a number of bottom-agers with the likes of Roberts, Lauren Young, Cynthia Hamilton and Paige Scott who made their way into the team, despite not being eligible for the draft this year. Although on the younger side, Hamilton took home the MVP award for the Allies highlighting the bright future the youngster has and her sheer dominance throughout the Championships.

AA Team:

B: Chloe Leonard – Isadora McLeay – Jaide Anthony
HB: Maggie Harmer – Lauren Young – Annie Lee
C: Aurora Smith – Teagan Levi – Courtney Rowley
HF: Jess Doyle – Ella Roberts – Stella Reid
F: Paige Scott – Cynthia Hamilton – Georgia Campbell
R: Zoe Prowse – Charlie Rowbottom – Georgie Prespakis
INT: Makaela Tuhakaraina – Tahlia Gillard – Tara Slender – Zoe Venning

State Leagues wrap: Finals-bound sides make moves

THERE is a new leader in the Victorian Football League (VFL) and some rising challengers in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) after full rounds of highly entertaining action over the weekend. The top of the tree looks settled down in the Tasmanian State League (TSL), while West Australian fans will have to wait another week for more West Australian Football League (WAFL) action after a lockdown-enforced bye.

We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

A mixed bag of results saw margins stretched from one to 75 points in Round 12 of the VFL, with eight games played across Friday evening to Sunday night. Geelong opened proceedings with a comprehensive win over Essendon, thumping the Bombers by that round-high margin on home turf. The Cats kicked away early with 11 goals to two in the first half, as Charlie Constable again helped himself to over 40 disposals and Darcy Lang booted five majors. They are finding their groove.

Box Hill was another big winner in Round 12, and got things started on Saturday by feasting on a Gold Coast side littered with top-ups. Six goals to Fergus Greene meant he outgunned the five-goal Suns all on his own, as his Hawks saluted to the tune of 72 points at Box Hill City Oval. They move ahead of Casey in third after the Demons suffered a shock loss to GWS Giants – another team filled with top-ups and academy talent. Giants skipper Stephen Coniglio made his return via the reserves, while Matt de Boer responded well to his axing to claim 25 disposals, and Demon Sam Weideman booted three goals in his claim for a senior recall.

Standalone sides Coburg and Northern Bullants both secured wins over aligned opponents on Saturday afternoon, marking successful hitouts at their respective home venues. The Lions toppled Carlton by 37 points on the back of a seven-goal final term, as Marcus Lentini (39 disposals) and Sam Lowson (four goals) starred, while the Bullants held off Richmond to win by 13 points, with skipper Tom Wilson (31 disposals) leading the way.

Footscray became the new ladder leader on Sunday, ending North Melbourne’s winning run with an 11-point victory at Whitten Oval. The Bulldogs kicked six of their 10 goals in the second term to stream ahead after trailing at quarter time, and never looked back. Frankston and Collingwood also secured wins to retain their spots in the top eight by percentage alone. Jack Ginnivan could soon be in for a debut after booting four goals in the Magpies’ win over Sandringham, while Nathan Freeman (45 disposals) got back to his usual output as the Dolphins downed Sydney.

Six sides enjoyed bye rounds this past weekend, including all three Queensland teams – Aspley, Brisbane Lions, and Southport. Port Melbourne, Werribee, and Williamstown were the Victorian clubs able to put their feet up in Round 12, recharging for the weekend ahead.

South Australia (SANFL):

Woodville-West Torrens proved the big winner in Round 13 of the SANFL, moving clear of South Adelaide in second spot with a 36-point win on Saturday. The Eagles put through six goals to one after half time in a clinical effort, with former AFL-listed pair Tyson Stengle (five) and Troy Menzel (four) combining for nine majors. The top five could soon be in for a shake-up too, with Sturt and Port Adelaide knocking on the door after respective Round 12 wins.

The Double Blues beat fourth-placed Norwood in a low-scoring slog on Friday night, putting them within a game of the finals places. Port remains level on points with fifth after snapping its three-game losing run to get past Central District, with senior-listed youngster Zak Butters (21 disposals, two goals) making a positive return to action through the reserves side.

It was business as usual for the undefeated Glenelg, who picked up a 12th victory on the back of its eight-goal final term blitz. The Bays trailed at every break but flicked the switch when it mattered most, soaring past Adelaide to win by 15 points. North Adelaide was also victorious on Saturday, proving 44 points better than West Adelaide to maintain its top five standing. The Roosters were served by some big performers, namely Campbell Combe, Harrison Wigg (both 39 disposals) and Keenan Ramsey (five goals).

Tasmania (TSL):

North Launceston showed no signs of letting up in its quest to reign back ladder leader, Launceston, after thumping Glenorchy by 105 points to open Round 14 of the TSL. The Northern Bombers overwhelmed their opponents in the front half with 33 total scoring shots to 13, headlined by their 12-goal to one second half. Zach Burt and Brandon Leary both snared four majors in the win as two of their side’s 10 individual goalkickers.

Despite the result, Launceston remains clear out in front after 14 rounds, having accounted for Lauderdale to the tune of 38 points. The contest was effectively over by three quarter time, as the Blues led by 75 points with just one major score in the Bombers’ account. With that in mind, Launceston’s foot came off the gas and Lauderdale poured on eight goals in the final term to restore some respectability to the scoreboard. Leading the charge was Josh McGuinness, who booted seven of his side’s nine goals, while Cody Thorpe snared three for the Blues to be named best afield.

Clarence rounded out the weekend’s action with a 55-point win over North Hobart, feasting on the cellar dweller to move level on points with third-placed Tigers, who had the bye. Colin Garland spearheaded the Roos’ victory with six goals, as his side kicked away strongly to add seven majors in the final term. Tigers return next week against the Demons, while Glenorchy gets a rest in Round 15.

Western Australia (WAFL):

Western Australia’s lockdown enforced a bye round this week in the WAFL, even cancelling out the women’s grand final – which has since been rescheduled for Sunday. All WAFL and WAFLW clubs were allowed to resume training as of July 3 with restrictions still in place and set to be eased today. All three men’s grades are scheduled to resume this coming weekend for Round 14, with five games fixed on Saturday July 10.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2021

THE Draft Central July Power Rankings have been locked in after an interrupted, but nonetheless productive month of football around the nation. Two fresh faces feature among the top five as a new number one contender arises, while another two previously unranked players have thrust their way into the overall list of 25 on the back of undeniable form. We profile the full array of prospects in our latest edition, taking you through each players’ last month and the factors behind their moves. Also highlighted are some other names potentially around the mark.

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

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

June 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 retains his crown in our second rankings edition for the year. 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 recently 18, 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 awarded with number one status in our eyes.

Last month:

Horne has continued on his merry way at SANFL League level, with his consistent output displayed across the last month of action. Despite three of his four outings in that time being losses, Horne played above his season averages to produce numbers of 16 disposals, 4.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 2.3 clearances, and 0.5 goals per game. Given he is so entrenched in the top three spots, it is easy to look past his development and sustained success, but the pick one contender is in as good a form as ever currently.

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

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

June 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 deeply 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. Daicos is banging down Horne’s door and may well break through as he continues to put runs on the board, in dominant fashion.

Last month:

Daicos only played one game throughout June, but it was a ripper. The Oakleigh Chargers captain got some decent attention in his side’s loss to the Northern Knights, but still managed to rack up 37 disposals and kick a goal. He was perhaps not as damaging as he could have been with his disposal, but most qualms on his season thus far are essentially nit-picks, and exemplary of the quality he is judged at. His average of 35.8 disposals remains a league high, but he did not have the chance to add to it last week after again being managed. He also missed out on Vic Metro trial duties.

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

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

June Ranking: #15

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:

Darcy shot into top three calculations with a brilliant few games in June, most significantly his six-goal during the Victorian Under 19 trials. The Bulldogs father-son prospect was swung forward as he has done during the school football season and was near-impossible to stop. He had a 10cm height advantage on most opponents but took full toll to dominate aerially, while also showing great athleticism and football smarts across the attacking arc. During his one outing for Oakleigh, Darcy started in defence and was similarly assured with his clean intercept marking, before rolling through the ruck and eventually finding the goals up forward. He has solidified his status as the best tall available, and may challenge the previously untouchable top two.

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

June Ranking: #11

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:

The top five trigger has been pulled on Callaghan after even more undeniable performances, who was arguably best afield during his two NAB League appearances in June and impressive when suiting up for Vic Metro. He continued his transition to the inside with Sandringham, producing 31 and 28 disposals in his most recent outings and looking ominous in the process. Callaghan was shifted back out to the wing in between those games for the Victorian Under 19 trials, warming to the contest and showing some of his best traits, despite not racking up the usual numbers.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

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

June Ranking: #3

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:

Another to have only played once during June, Sonsie is currently on the road to recovery after suffering bone bruising in his last appearance for Eastern. The injury was sustained during the final quarter against Sandringham and Sonsie was quiet to that point by his lofty standards, managing 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Luckily the knock wasn’t any worse, though Sonsie also missed out on the Vic Metro trial games and is facing a few more weeks on the sidelines.

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

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

June Ranking: #5

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:

Sinn was eased back from a hamstring strain in June, turning out twice for the Sandringham Dragons and proving steady in his output. The Dragons co-captain started at half-back in his first outing, finishing on 13 touches in a big win against Oakleigh, before raising that slightly in 15 and five inside 50s against Tasmania last week. He spent more time in the midfield during that game and advanced the ball well, in a promising sign for his run towards the National Championships.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

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

June Ranking: #4

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 currently sidelined with a syndesmosis injury, set for another couple of months out of action due to the injury sustained during a school football hitout. He had played two League games for South Adelaide to that point, but will have to wait to further prove his credentials.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

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

June Ranking: #6

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 is another who only recently made his return from injury, coming back from work on his meniscus. The dashing midfielder was thrust into a formidable Sandringham Dragons midfield mix having played his earlier games on a wing, finishing with 19 disposals and five inside 50s as his side defeated Tasmania.

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

June Ranking: #10

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:

The high-marking defender has had a stead sort of month, playing at both ends of the ground and even through the ruck. When stationed down back, Gibcus performed his usual feats in the air, and is slowly getting back to his best in terms of his distribution by foot. GWV threw him in the ruck against Geelong Falcons to help boost his output, and he has since had a few stints up forward both in the NAB League and Under 19 trials.

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

June Ranking: #17

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:

After enduring an injury-interrupted start to the season, Hobbs returned with a bang to thrust himself back into top 10 contention. The bull-like midfielder helped himself to 34 touches and two goals in his first NAB League outing since Round 3, before starring for Vic Country in the Under 19 trials. His willingness to hunt the ball, tackle, and then move forward to kick goals means he impacts consistently, and hopefully he can do so with an extended run.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

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

June Ranking: #7

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:

After a three-game stint at League level, Johnson has dropped back down to the Colts competition and as expected, found much more of the ball. He notched 30 disposals and six tackles in his second game back, before a 16-touch effort in his latest outing. With good skills on the inside and a growing frame, Johnson should be dominant against his peers.

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

June Ranking: #14

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching athletic 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 great speed and 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:

Erasmus hasn’t returned to the WAFL grades since his Round 7 outing, which consolidated the exciting midfielder’s consistent start to the year. He has been going along strong in the PSA as skipper at Hale though, making him difficult to look past among the top 15 as he continues to sharpen his disposal.

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

June Ranking: #8

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:

While Rachele is certainly mercurial at his best, we haven’t always seen that level of form in 2021. He has essentially remained a permanent forward while turning out for the Murray Bushrangers and played the same role in his Vic Country trial outing. Rachele is finding the goals though, with a round-high six majors in his latest NAB League appearance an indicator that his best is worthy of top 10 status – if he can find it.

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

June Ranking: #20

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:

Draper is said to be sparking a bidding war between the two Adelaide clubs, which could push his value into the top 10. He started June off in the SANFL Reserves, breaking through for two games after scintillating Under 18s form. He averaged 16.5 disposals in those outings, before making a splash on his junior return with 31 touches, seven inside 50s and a goal in South’s win against Sturt. He is set for an extended stint on the sidelines having suffered a syndesmosis injury.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus

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

June Ranking: #21

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:

Andrew was set to add to his exciting opening rounds with a return to NAB League action, but unfortunately fell to injury early in his outing against Bendigo. Having gone down in a heavy contest, Andrew hasn’t been sighted on-field since and also missed the Under 19 trials.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

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

June Ranking: #12

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:

Another who has had some time away, Fahey did not take part in the Giants Academy’s NAB League stint, but made his third appearance for the Giants’ VFL last week. He was understandably quiet with seven disposals in his first outing at the level since Round 5 (May).

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

June Ranking: #19

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:

Goater remains in the mix after some really consistent form for the Calder Cannons, as well as a strong showing in the Vic Metro trial game. As a permanent fixture in midfield, the big-bodied prospect showcased his strong ball winning ability and clean hands, playing the role of extractor and distributor perfectly. He ticked over 30 touches in his latest appearance for Calder and uses the ball efficiently, suiting his side’s kick-mark style.

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

June Ranking: #9

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 23 goals in eight 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:

Williams’ goalkicking record at Colts level speaks for itself, and the East Fremantle tall continues to find the big sticks consistently. He booted two majors in each of his last two outings, but was really impressive in his latest dig with 22 disposals, eight marks and 21 hitouts to continue his aerial dominance. With such a strong group of key forwards at Western Australia’s disposal, Williams’ form will have to be constant if he is to retain focal point status at representative level. He does have the added string to his bow of versatility, with a ruck chop-out proving useful at various times this season.

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

June Ranking: NR

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 been one of the form players of the draft pool since our last edition, seeing him soar into the top 20 and look quite comfortable there. It all started with an outstanding 34-disposal effort in Northern’s win over Oakleigh, where he matched Daicos around the contest and was super productive with his ball use. Ward carried that form into the Vic Metro trial game as captain, showcasing more of his outside ability with transitional run and time in the forward half. He capped off a brilliant month of football by racking up another 35 touches and laying nine tackles as the Knights went down to Murray last week.

#20 Jacob Van Rooyen
Claremont/Western Australia | Tall Forward
16/04/2003 | 194cm | 88kg

June Ranking: #13

Snapshot: Van Rooyen is a tall forward who presents well with strong hands overhead and a booming kick, but has also shown potential to move further afield.

Pegged as Western Australia’s best draft prospect and potentially the leading tall coming into the year, Van Rooyen continues to impress in 2021. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in 2020’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis has halted his progress a touch, but Van Rooyen started out the season at League level and was difficult to deny for a return after showing great form in the WAFL Colts.

Last month:

Having been managed back into some form and full-time minutes via the Colts, Van Rooyen returned to the senior WAFL grade last week. He managed a combined 10 goals in his three Colts outings beforehand, but only snared one from six touches and four marks upon cracking into the League set-up for his fourth cap. With an uninterrupted run up forward and potentially some better midfield form, Van Rooyen could once again climb the order.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

#21 Cooper Murley
Norwood/South Australia | Midfielder
20/06/2003 | 178cm | 70kg

June Ranking: #18

Snapshot: A stylish forward runner, Murley holds his own on both sides of the contest and loves to break into attack with speed and slick ball use on the fly.

Murley is an exciting player in full flight, able to break forward quickly with gut running and terrific speed from midfield. He dominated the SANFL Under 18s competition last year and was part of Norwood’s premiership-winning team, showcasing his undeniable talent and upside. In 2021, his progress has been halted by injury, though the 18-year-old has already earned a Reserves berth and remains one of South Australia’s brightest prospects. Having returned from injury last month, he could well be one to rise up the board with a consistent run of form and even more senior exposure.

Last month:

Murley is another who has battled injury in 2021, but is now finding his feet having gotten back on the park. He returned via the Reserves grade but has since found form back in the Under 18s, notching two games of over 30 disposals and two goals in the last three weeks. As was the case at times last season, Murley seems a class above his peers but the true test will be how he can adapt should he be thrust back into the senior grades. If he keeps his form up, a promotion seems inevitable.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus: Cooper Murley

#22 Rhett Bazzo
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Tall Defender/Forward
17/10/2003 | 195cm | 81kg

June Ranking: #16

Snapshot: A key defender who has adjusted to a forward role in 2021, Bazzo is fantastic in his aerial judgement and clean with ball in hand.

Another of Western Australia’s many promising key position prospects, Bazzo made his name as a defender but has since shifted forward. As he did in the AFL Academy showcase, the Swan Districts product may well revert back to that defence post during state representative duties, but looks just as suited to playing an attacking role with his sound marking and use of the ball. He is another who claimed Under 16 All Australian honours in 2019, making him a well known quantity and one with plenty of class. Bazzo has shown just that in four WAFL Colts games to this point, while also turning out for Guildford Grammar in the PSA Football competition.

Last month:

Mixing his time between PSA football and the WAFL Colts, Bazzo continues to be utilised at either end of the ground. He didn’t have much to do in his lone Colts outing for the month, managing 10 disposals, two marks and eight tackles in Swan Districts’ 80-point Round 12 win over Subiaco. It was his fourth Colts appearance for 2021 and it is becoming evident that Bazzo looks most suited to his intercept marking role down back, where he is likely to be stationed for Western Australia at the Under 19 National Championships.

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

June 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:

Browne’s sensational WAFL Colts form continued into June, as the reliable midfielder found plenty of the ball and even hit the scoreboard in some big efforts. Two of his last three outings for East Fremantle yielded 38 disposals, with his latest appearance also seeing Browne end up with three goals to his name against Perth. His output is undeniable and more dominant performances like that of Round 11 will only put his stocks in good stead around this even range.

#24 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights | Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg

June Ranking: #25

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:

Wilmot continued his exciting form with a strong start to his month, turning out for Northern and notching 22 touches in his usual defensive post, as the Knights toppled Oakleigh. He was able to utilise his running power, speed, and sharp ball use in the trial games too, lining up across half-back and even rolling up to a wing for Vic Metro. He continues to showcase handy points of difference for a player of his size and position, essentially holding his place in our count.

#25 Blake Howes
Sandringham Dragons | Forward/Wing
7/04/2003 | 190cm/79kg

June Ranking: NR

Snapshot: One of the best athletes available in this year’s draft, Howes boasts a terrific aerial game but also competes well at ground level and shows promising versatility.

Rounding out the top 25 is another new name in the mix, but one who should be well known to keen draft watchers. Howes was an All Australian at Under 16 level, plying his trade as a high-marking forward with wonderful athleticism and clean hands. While he started the year off in that usual forward post, Howes has since shown his versatility with a shift to the wing and is a classic high-ceiling type of prospect. He was included in this year’s initial AFL Academy intake and continues to back up that selection with form fitting of his potential as a mainstay in the Sandringham Dragons’ side.

Last month:

A name which has hovered around the mark, Howes makes his Power Rankings debut on the back of some really promising displays over the last month. Since moving up to a wing for Sandringham Dragons, Howes has played the position well by getting his hands on the ball more while still showcasing his marking prowess. In finding more possessions, Howes has also proven his ground level prowess. He very nearly had a blinder on the weekend, managing 24 disposals and nine marks against Tasmania, but just falling short on the end product with four behinds. At 190cm, his athleticism and versatility will excite many watchers.

IN THE MIX:

The two to fall out of the rankings since last month’s edition are Glenelg midfielder-defender Lewis Rayson and tall Northern Knights midfielder Ned Long. Rayson continues to tick along with more midfield minutes in the SANFL Under 18s, while Long has not been sighted at NAB League level in the last month and did not feature in the Victorian trials.

West Australian goalkicking ace Jye Amiss is becoming increasingly hard to deny. The East Perth spearhead is the leading WAFL Colts goalkicking charts with 37 in nine games, proving a dead-eye with his set shot conversions and difficult to stop when stationed one-on-one inside 50. His latest outing yielded a bag of seven majors, and he doesn’t need too many opportunities to make an impact.

After snaring five goals for Vic Country during last month’s trials, Dandenong midfielder-forward Judson Clarke is climbing draft boards. His mix of pace and skill catches the eye, with his current form pointing towards top 25 potential. Sam Butler, the brother of St Kilda’s Dan is another in that boat, but was recently injured having made a successful transition into midfield. GWV teammate Sam Breuer has also done so, only from defence, showing good speed and intent around the ball.

The likes of Zac Taylor and Lachlan Rankin are clever footballers who also enjoyed solid trial games to go with their NAB League form, so too Connor Macdonald. Back over in South Australia, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera could be another to watch after breaking through for his League debut, having strung together some form at the Reserves level.