Category: Queensland

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders

DASHING, daring outside midfielders are becoming increasingly important amid the current trend of contested, scrum-like styles of play, able to break the lines and change the course of games in a flash. Among this year’s crop lies a versatile bunch of outside types who can double in different positions, and while not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best outside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier outside midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
174cm | 66kg

Starting small, Bowey kicks off this list as one of the prospects who may sneak into top 20 calculations on draft boards, with plenty of desirable attributes to outweigh his 174cm/66kg frame. The Sandringham Dragons product is hard at it, able to take the ball cleanly and burst through congestion with his high-level speed and agility. He featured in 16 NAB League games last year stationed on his customary wing position, but is quite apt forward of centre and could even utilise his sharp foot skills off half-back.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia
188cm | 79kg

Another in the line of East Fremantle Under 18 prospects is Carroll, who comes in at a good size to compete across a range of positions. The West Australian’s precision kicking makes him damaging on the outside, while courage in the air and intercept marking prowess make him a half-back option. The 188cm prospect can also roll through midfield, but has quality traits on the outer and will more likely find a spot there should state representative duties come calling.

Saxon Crozier
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
189cm | 80kg

Crozier has been one of Queensland’s most highly touted 2020 prospects for a while now, and has cut his teeth as an out-and-out outside midfielder thus far. The tall, rangy Brisbane Academy product has filled out of late and has eyes on securing an inside role, but has arguably shown his best form to date on the wing. Crozier’s running capacity and ability to hurt the opposition when given time and space suit the outside role, and he has also adapted his skills to run off flanks at either end of the ground. He will be a leader among the talented Brisbane crop, and should prove a handy addition to the Allies squad.

>> Q&A

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
185cm | 83kg

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate may have eyes on more minutes on the inside, and boasts the ideal size for it, but is so good running on the outer that we simply had to include him in this list. Downie is set to skipper the Eastern Ranges side which lost in last year’s NAB League decider, with the experience of 14 games and a Vic Metro Under 18 outing under his belt. While he is not overwhelmingly quick, Downie loves to get the ball moving and finishes his line-breaking runs with penetrating left-foot bombs. His skills can be adapted to a half-back role, and he is no stranger to finding the big sticks, either.

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

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies
172cm | 68kg

Search the definition for pocket rocket and a picture of Gulden is what you are likely to find. The nippy Swans Academy hopeful does not let his size get in the way of making a big impact; as his smarts, agility, and ability to chain possessions allow him to carve up the opposition on the outside. While he could also be considered a small or half-forward, Gulden is just as capable of wreaking havoc from the wing and enjoys getting into space. He won the Under 16 Division 2 MVP in 2018, appeared four times for the Allies as a bottom-ager, and has already played senior footy. Look out.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Brodie Lake
Peel Thunder/NT Thunder Academy/Allies
186cm | 70kg

One of the Northern Territory’s brightest draft prospects this year is Lake, a tall midfielder who boasts great versatility and running power. He has twice featured in the Thunder’s Under 16 squad, taking out last year’s MVP award for his service through midfield and in defence. Lake has also plied his trade for Peel Thunder and at senior level for Southern Districts in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), lauded for his coachability, skills, and work rate. He will be one to keep an eye out for come the national carnival, and will be eligible to be taken by Gold Coast given its alignment to the Darwin academy zone.

Carter Michael
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
188cm | 74kg

A second Queenslander on this list, Michael may well find himself lined up on the opposite wing to fellow Brisbane Academy product, Crozier when it comes time to run out for the Allies. The 188cm prospect is a silky mover through traffic who boasts a penetrating left foot kick, and he may well be one to juggle time between inside and outside roles throughout the year, depending on which team he represents. He already has experience on the inside for the Lions at Under 18 level and is a leader among that group, but may be pushed out to the wing for the Allies where he can make an impact with his sharp decision making.

>> Q&A

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia
180cm | 73kg

Powell made an immediate impact upon his return to SANFL Under 18s action last week, collecting 34 disposals in Sturt’s Round 1 win over Central District. The speedy midfielder actually has quite a nice balance of traits given his mix of athleticism and ball winning ability, but may find his way into the South Australian lineup on the outside where his explosive burst will come in handy. It is pleasing to see Powell back on the park after an unlucky run with injuries in 2019, and he should quickly rise in stocks should his form persist.

>> Q&A

Taj Schofield
WWT Eagles/South Australia
178cm | 72kg

The son of Port Adelaide premiership player, Jarrad, Schofield is another South Australian prospect to have battled injury as a bottom-ager, but he is primed to make an impact in 2020. Power fans will be keeping a close eye on the 2020 father-son candidate, who is incredibly classy on the outside with eye-catching agility and short-range kicking. Schofield has been working on his inside craft, too, and featured among the Eagles’ Under 18 centre bounce quartet in Round 1 after starting up forward. The small prospect was named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side, where he represented Western Australia before making the move to SA.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of other prospects who could fit into the outside midfielder category, but are more effective in other roles from out perspective. Among them, the elite trio of Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Braeden Campbell are all players we deem to be of the balanced midfielder variety, along with the likes of Finlay Macrae and Bailey Chamberlain. Corey Durdin is one who would be considered more of an inside type, and we see him as a small forward in the long run in any case.

Speaking of, Sam Conforti will make the same transition for Bendigo, while West Australian pair Ira Jetta and Joel Western can roll through multiple positions, including on the outside, but look more suited to flank or pocket roles. Glenelg small Cooper Horsnell also has eyes on a role further afield, but remains in the small forward category.

There are a raft of defenders who move up the ground well and may, in future, be considered outside midfielders. NAB Leaguers Charlie Byrne and Nick Stevens have the ability to roll further afield, but seem to prefer their half-back posts, while Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Patrick Walker are in a similar boat. Queenslander Tahj Abberley is one who can play just about anywhere but has been billed as a small defender, and we like Ty Sears as a running half-back, too.

In the utility category comes the likes of Zac Dumesny and Campbell Edwardes. Dumesny made his SANFL League debut in 2020 and can operate on the wing or up forward, but looks like developing into a third tall in defence. Edwardes is as versatile as they come and is yet to lock down a specific role despite looking comfortable on the outside.

Of course, anyone else we may have missed could also appear in our previous analysis on inside midfielders.

Positional Analysis: Inside MidfieldersKey Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

Q&A: Jye Lockett (GWV Rebels/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jye Lockett at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

It would only seem fitting that the nephew of Tony Lockett would ply his trade as a budding centre half-forward, and furthermore make the move down to Ballarat as he looks pursue footballing and schooling opportunities. The Queenslander is also part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and represented Queensland at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, booting multiple goals in two of the three games.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

MA: Jye, how’s the day been so far?

JL: “It’s been good to see all the other teams here. Everyone goes out there and competes hard and I guess it gives a good indication of your athletic ability.”

 

Which of the tests are you excelling in or looking to improve on at the moment?

“I didn’t do too bad at the agility (test) but I’d probably like to work on my 20-metre sprint.”

 

How has the transition been coming from Queensland?

“It was good, I moved down just before last year and was in the Under 16s Rebels program. I moved into the 18s this year and it’s going really well.”

 

You enjoyed a pretty successful Under 16 carnival as well playing forward alongside Noah McFadyen, how was that?

“Yes, I love playing with ‘Nug’. He’s a great bloke and I think we work really well together, so that 16s Queensland side was real fun.”

 

Will you continue to represent Queensland and the Allies or transition to Vic Country?

“The plan was this year to play with the Queensland Futures 17s and go through the Allies program in my 18th year, but I’m not too sure about that just yet. I’m focused on this year.”

 

And you’ve come down for school as well?

“Yes, I got a scholarship at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat and have done Year 11 and 12 there.”

 

Who are some of the boys from there and the Rebels you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch – a few of the Academy boys. It’ll be good to play alongside them and learn off all their different skills.”

 

In terms of position, are you looking to move further afield in future?

“Yes. Centre half-forward is obviously the main position but anywhere from half-forward or deep forward, even pushing up the ground into the midfield or up on the wing is probably the next goal.”

 

Do you have any other goals for the year?

“Obviously if I can play really well in those Queensland Under 17 games then get into the Under 18 Academy and Allies (squad) and set myself up really well.”

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Daisy D’Arcy (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is Gold Coast Suns Academy talent, Daisy D’Arcy who showed some really promising signs in her middle-age year last year for Queensland at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, then lit up the track at the state pre-season testing event. However she has a massive decision to make with FOUR – not a typo – sports she has reached state level within a pathway system.

Daisy D’Arcy (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)

Height: 163cm
Position: Utility
Strengths: Footy smarts, skills, decision making, versatility, consistency

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 3 games | 9.3 disposals | 0.7 marks | 2.0 tackles | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goal

So much is spoken about players who have a decision to make as a dual sport athlete at an elite level. Many players come through playing a couple of sports and really dominating and then are forced to give it up. Not many come through and seem to be among the best in their state at three sports let alone four. That is exactly the case with Gold Coast Suns Academy member and Queensland talent, Daisy D’Arcy. The 163cm player has reached state level in not only Australian rules football, but rugby, soccer and cricket as well. From all reports up in Townsville where she resides, D’Arcy has a smorgasbord of options when it comes to what she is capable of following in the future.

Speaking strictly about her footballing ability, D’Arcy is a clever small who can play just about anywhere on the ground. She averaged nine touches, a couple of tackles and a rebound at last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, while booting a goal after outsmarting her opponent. Queensland might not have had the most successful carnival last year – especially compared to the huge one 12 months prior – but D’Arcy was among a heap of young talent coming through. Assuming the 2020 addition gets up, one would expect the talented teenager to have more a role through the midfield after spending time at either end in 2019 given the strength of the Sunshine State’s onball brigade, such as future AFL Women’s players Ellie Hampson and Lily Postlethwaite among others.

When speaking to Draft Central at last year’s championships, the middle-ager spoke of her love for both Australian rules and rugby as her two main sports, though it is clear her entry into the Queensland Academy of Sport for her soccer, and her ability to play in the Townsville Super Sixes competition earlier this year show that she is capable of anything. What she chooses will be interesting, but it is no surprise that her footy smarts, decision making and skills were among some her top traits at last year’s carnival. By her own admission, her greatest strength is reliability, happy to play the team game and play a role. What role that will be, in what code is yet to be seen, but when it comes to sporting talent, D’Arcy is up there with the most versatile at the elite junior level.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders

STRONG, big-bodied, and tall inside midfielders have been in vogue for quite a while, but this year’s crop of engine room operators comes in varied shapes and sizes. Though they may not currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best inside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Sam Berry
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
180cm/81kg

Berry is one of the smaller inside midfielders in terms of height, but one who works incredibly hard and is not afraid to put his head over the ball. The 180cm Gippsland product slotted right into a talented Power engine room pre and post his school football commitments with Melbourne Grammar, proving a match winner on his day with terrific extraction, endurance, and powerful burst from the contest. Berry averaged 17.7 disposals and 4.4 clearances across his 10 NAB League outings, going at a rate of 52 per cent contested possessions while showcasing his two-way work ethic with the all-important addition of 6.5 tackles per game.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies
191cm/84kg

The leading Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospect for 2020 is Davies, a prototypical big-bodied inside midfielder who will fit right in at the elite level given his physical attributes. Davies ran out four times for the SUNS during their NAB League stint, averaging an even 18 disposals and almost four clearances and tackles per game. He was not quite able to break into the 2019 Allies side, but represented Queensland at Under 17 level and was a prime mover in the Under 17 All Stars showcase fixture. If not for his ties to an AFL club already, Davies would perhaps sit even further up draft boards and is set to cost the SUNS a pretty penny in terms of points come draft time.

>> Get to know
>> Marquee Matchup

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies
182cm/75kg

Tasmania’s most promising midfield candidate is Davis, a consistent performer who would have always been among the first Devils on the team sheet during their inaugural full-time NAB League season. He is another who is not tall in comparison to other inside types, but his desire at the contest and ability to get first hands on the ball more than make up for the fact. Davis averaged 22 disposals (53 per cent contested) as Tasmania’s prime mover in 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, accompanied by a whopping 7.8 tackles and 5.4 clearances per outing. With those kind of numbers, he earned a call-up to the Allies side for a single game and will be a key cog in the same side for 2020.

>> Draft Watch

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia
187cm/80kg

One of the more prominent names among the overall 2020 draft crop is Edwards, whose allegiance to the Adelaide Crows as a potential father-son selection remains up in the air. The Glenelg product has already cracked the SANFL Reserve grade, and was a key part of South Australia’s defence throughout the entire 2019 Under 18 National Championships. At 187cm and 80kg, Edwards has remarkably not added a single centimetre to his height since his Under 16 year but remains a readymade body once called upon at senior level. Having been utilised as a general defender who uses the ball efficiently, Edwards is primed to move back into the middle where he can use his big frame and contested prowess to dominate at stoppages.

>> Get to know
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Finn Gorringe
East Fremantle/Western Australia
183cm/77kg

Gorringe is somewhat of a bolter among the top-level ranks, but looks set to slot straight into the West Australian state side in 2020 as a ball winning midfielder. The East Fremantle product impressed across his six WAFL Colts outings for the Sharks in 2019, averaging 15.5 disposals and a tick over four tackles to again fit into the category of those who remain relevant going both ways. A very handy string to Gorringe’s bow is his ability to find the goals as an inside type, managing a goal per game last year in a tick to his versatility.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide/South Australia
184cm/81kg

There is a good amount of South Australian representation on this list, and Kraemer is yet another solidly-built ball winner who is set to shine in 2020. At 184cm and 81kg, the South Adelaide junior has the perfect makeup for his position, but is more than just an inside battler in the sense that he can also play as a defender, and may swing up the other end at SANFL senior level. He may not have cracked last year’s Under 18 state side, but has been a mainstay in the Academy system and was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. Kraemer played every game in the Panthers’ run to last year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final, finishing the season strongly to average 20.2 disposals and five tackles.

>> Get to know

Mani Liddy
Sturt/South Australia
181cm/79kg

One of the more versatile inside midfielders to hit this list is Liddy, who has previously been forced out to the flanks at representative level, but thrived with his ground level presence and ability to get to contests nonetheless. Employed in his more comfortable midfield role at SANFL Under 18 level with Sturt, Liddy averaged just over 25 disposals, 4.2 marks, and 5.5 clearances, but surprisingly went at a higher rate of uncontested possessions. Still, the 181cm prospect is hard at the contest and seldom shies away from it, making him a good option for his state come the national carnival.

Zavier Maher
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

184cm/82kg

Maher is a rare inside type who also possesses terrific athleticism, seeing him feature a touch higher up draft boards when compared to others of a similar build. He is solid at 82kg and has the typical power you come to expect of an inside type, but what sets Maher apart is his combination explosive speed and agility at the stoppages. A true metres-gained kind of midfielder, Maher averaged around three inside 50s and clearances in his six NAB League appearances for Murray in 2019, while also representing Vic Country at Under 17 level. Expect him to break into the heart of this year’s Under 18 side.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
192cm/84kg

McInnes is another whose name will already be well known to keep draft watchers, as the next in line among a talented group of Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was pushed forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ incredible depth through the engine room, but he still managed to have an impact across 12 games en route to becoming a NAB League premiership player. At 192cm, he has the size to transition seamlessly into the elite level, and possesses surprisingly good athleticism in congestion to keep him out of trouble. When utilised as a midfielder for Vic Metro’s Under 17s, McInnes truly showed his worth with a great first half display, but can work on staying in the game more consistently.

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

Jamison Murphy
North Adelaide/South Australia
180cm/85kg

Murphy’s story is one of the more interesting ones across the entire 2020 cohort, as he turned down a promising cricketing career which had already seen him captain Australia as a junior to pursue Australian rules football. He is undoubtedly one of the most solidly built smaller types in this lot, weighing in at 85kg to ensure he can endure the rigours of playing such a position, and enforce his way into the contest. The 180cm North Adelaide product played nine SANFL Under 18 games in 2019, averaging 23.6 disposals and 5.2 tackles, putting in the hard yards as per usual.

>> Get to know

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia
186cm/78kg

An outstanding inside midfielder for 2020 is Trew, potentially the best user of the ball both by hand and foot of this entire group. He comes in at a decent height (186cm) but is not at all bogged down, able to weave through traffic with class and deliver the ball expertly with terrific vision and poise. Trew was a standout for the Black Ducks at Under 16 level, earning All Australian honours, and looks set for a similar projection in this year’s Under 18 crop as one of his state’s prime midfield movers.

>> Draft Diary

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of prospects who you may be itching to point out as deserving for this list, but we think we have them all covered both above and below. Among the most outstanding overall midfield candidates this year are Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Finlay Macrae, all of whom we categorise as balanced midfielders, rather than pure inside types.

Among those who may transition to inside roles but currently thrive elsewhere are Nathan O’Driscoll (wing/half-back), Connor Downie (wing/utility), Archie Perkins (half-forward), Jackson Cardillo (balanced midfielder/forward), Eddie Ford (general forward), Corey Durdin (small forward), and Braeden Campbell (outside midfielder/forward). Elijah Hollands could also be considered, but is again, more of a forward, while the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Lazzaro may continue outside of the midfield realm in future.

Outside of the AFL Academy intake are Bayleigh Welsh and Darby Hipwell, both very viable options, while 19-year-old candidates include Jared Dakin, Darcy Chirgwin, and Jai Newcombe.

Positional Analysis: Key Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

Squad predictions: 2020 Allies Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with carnival likely to take place in October. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the championships come around, but with a few stipulations in place. We began with our Vic Metro, Vic Country, South Australian, and West Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at the potential Allies line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • The inclusion of bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it is limited
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the fifth and final squad prediction, with the Allies’ talent broken down line-by-line. The Allies squad is made up of talent from NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

DEFENCE

FB – Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Peel), Jack Johnston (Gold Coast), Patrick Walker (Tasmania)
HB – Charlie Byrne (Murray), Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast), Sam Collins (Tasmania)

Two Gold Coast Suns Academy members make up the heart of our proposed Allies defence, with genuine talls Jack Johnston (195cm) and Ryan Pickering (199cm) slotting into key position posts. The additions of Brodie Lake and Sam Collins contribute even further to the height and marking power of the defence, with Collins’ intercept and rebound qualities also valuable assets.

Collins’ fellow Tasmanian Patrick Walker should provide similarly astute ball use from defence at a shorter range, while Murray product Charlie Byrne also likes to push further afield and deal damage by foot. The back six should have no trouble competing aerially on the defensive side, while being able to yield an attacking threat on the turnover.


MIDFIELD

C – Saxon Crozier (Brisbane), Oliver Davis (Tasmania), Carter Michael (Brisbane)
FOL – Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast), Alex Davies (Gold Coast), Braeden Campbell (Sydney)

Queenslanders take up four of the six midfield spots in our Allies side, with Brisbane Lions Academy members Saxon Crozier and Carter Michael starting on either wing, while 201cm ruck Thomas Hofert has been tasked with tapping down to Gold Coast Academy teammate Alex Davies at the centre bounces.

There is plenty of grunt in the engine room trio of Davies, Braeden Campbell, and Oliver Davis; with Davies the tallest of the lot (191cm) as that pure big-bodied type, while Davis (182cm) is another extractor who comes in at a similar build to the speedy and versatile Campbell (180cm).

The likes of Crozier and Michael may fancy a run through the middle but seem well suited to the outside, with a number of flankers and depth options in our squad also able to pitch in. Still, we feel this is the best mix, and one which gives the Allies a great chance to compete strongly in the area in which each contest begins.


FORWARD

HF – Errol Gulden (Sydney), Josh Green (GWS), Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder)
FF – Marco Rossmann (Sydney), Jackson Callow (Tasmania), Blake Coleman (Brisbane)

In a similar vein to the defensive mix, this forward six provides good versatility and some great marking power. Jackson Callow is the centrepiece at full forward, a physical key position type who is near-unstoppable with his contested marking, and may well take on ruck duties inside forward 50. Josh Green, brother of GWS draftee Tom, is a 192cm utility who can play up either end. He slots in at centre half-forward for now on account of his aerial ability.

The diminutive but brilliant Errol Gulden comes in on a forward flank but will have eyes on moving up to a wing, with fellow Swans Academy product Marco Rossmann a solid medium type who may also run through the midfield. In the opposite flank to Rossmann is exciting forward Blake Coleman, who along with Northern Territory prospect Joel Jeffrey, provides clean hands and a terrific goal sense. With silver service likely to come from a strong midfield core, this forward mix could do some damage at the national carnival when on song.


INTERCHANGE

INT – Marc Sheather (Sydney), Jared Dakin (Tasmania), Tahj Abberley (Brisbane), Maurice Rioli Jnr (NT Thunder/Oakleigh)

This interchange group is, well, incredibly interchangeable with the group of depth players listed below, but all bring something different to the side. Jared Dakin makes the cut as the only over-ager in the squad given he garnered interest at last year’s draft, and he’ll provide a good ball winning boost.

Tahj Abberley and Maurice Rioli Jnr add some x-factor and smarts at ground level as part of the rotational group. Abberley is likely to play as a small defender but is just as capable up forward or through midfield, while Rioli could well be the genuine small forward that the side is missing. Rounding out the chosen 22 is Marc Sheather, another versatile medium type who can play well above his size at either end given his athleticism.


SQUAD DEPTH

There remains a decent crop of top-agers who narrowly missed the cut, and some bottom-aged talent which will inevitably squeeze into the team minus any stipulations. Among the most unlucky to miss were AFL Academy hub members Rhys Nicholls and Aidan Fyfe, who could both slot in as half-backs or outside types. Kye Pfrengle is another defensive option who will get a look-in, while Jack Briskey and Jack Driscoll are taller types who should also rotate through the same line. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Lui and Ryan Eyers are prospects who may also be thereabouts.

In terms of top-agers outside of the AFL Academy intake, Tasmania’s Isaac Chugg is a terrific athlete, while Devils teammates Will Harper and Jye Menzie are well known to selectors. Sydney’s Pierce Roseby is a tough small who thrived in NSW/ACT colours, as did Max Pescud in the Maroon of Queensland.

Moving on to over-agers, and Tasmanian over-ager Hamish Allan would help the ruck stocks at 206cm, with GIANT-turned-Knight Liam Delahunty another tall who remains among the Under 18 ranks. In terms of Queensland-based 19-year-olds, the likes of forward movers Bruce Reville, Josh Gore, and Hewago Paul Oea have already shown plenty of promise.

Finally, an exciting group of bottom-aged talent is set to cause some selection headaches, lead by Tasmanian gun Sam Banks. He, and Tasmanian teammate Baynen Lowe impressed at Under 16 level enough to warrant NAB League selection in 2019. Queensland Under 16 MVP Austin Harris will also push his case as a small defender, while GIANTS Academy members Sam Stening and Josh Fahey are hard to deny, as is big Queensland forward Noah McFadyen.

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 ALLIES U18s:

Brisbane Lions Academy
Gold Coast SUNS Academy
GWS GIANTS Academy
Sydney Swans Academy
Tasmania Devils

AFL Draft Watch:

Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

Marquee Matchups:

Jackson Callow vs. Cam Fleeton
Braeden Campbell vs. Corey Durdin
Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes
Errol Gulden vs. Jake Bowey

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

>> 2020 UNDER 18 SQUAD PREDICTIONS:

South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Footy’s back – but when and how? State by state information

THERE is plenty of information coming out left, right and centre about the return of the Aussie rules state leagues and when they kick off. Draft Central has compiled the details from each state and listed the starting dates, season details and finals dates where applicable for each of the major states that have made announcements.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The first state to return of the main state leagues across the country, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and SANFL Women’s leagues – including Reserves and Under 18s – all commence from Saturday, June 27. The season will of course be without either of the AFL-aligned clubs in Adelaide or Port Adelaide in the League competition. The first two rounds of the League season were released by the SANFL website, with the remainder of the fixture, and other competition fixtures to be announced soon. The SANFL Women’s season will kick off from where it left off with the remaining six rounds to be completed and the grand final scheduled for the weekend of August 22/23. The SANFL will hold a 14-round regular season with the finals to begin in the first weekend of October and the grand final to take place on the weekend of October 17/18.

QUEENSLAND

Following South Australia, the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) and QAFL Women’s competitions are preparing to kick off again from July 11. The QAFL had not commenced its season prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, so Round 1 will begin on July 11, the first of a nine-round season for the nine sides. Finals begin on the weekend of September 12/13 with a grand final announced for Saturday, September 26. With the first three rounds of the QAFL Women’s in the books, the competition will kick off from where it left off, with Round 4 the first round of matches in that second weekend of July. Like the QAFL, the competition will run simultaneously with another nine rounds (12 all up) with finals to take place on the same dates as the men’s competition.

TASMANIA

Last week, AFL Tasmania announced that the Tasmanian State League (TSL) and TSL Women’s would commence their seasons next month on July 18 pending government approval. All seven clubs in both leagues will take place in a relatively normalised season with neither having started prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. The fixture is yet to be determined, but the aim is for the teams to play each other twice before a two-week finals series with October 18 anticipated to be the latest possible date for a grand final.

VICTORIA

In the most recent update yesterday, AFL Victoria announced a modified Victorian Football League (VFL) season would go ahead. Eight VFL clubs will take part in the seven-round season to commence on August 1: Box Hill, Casey Demons, Coburg, Frankston, Port Melbourne, Sandringham, Werribee and Williamstown. The VFL Women’s competition was however cancelled, with the regular competition to be replaced by a Super Series. The concept involves four teams of 30 players taking part in a round-robin competition with three matches for each team, followed by an All-Stars match of the best talents. The idea behind it is to allow Victorian draft prospects to play competitive matches ahead of the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft later in the year.

The NAB League Girls and NAB League Boys competitions will go ahead with both completing a total six-week season with five regular season rounds and one round of finals. These start on August 22 (boys) and September 5 (girls) with the NAB League Girls results from March counting towards the first three weeks of the six-week season.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The West Australian Football League (WAFL) and WAFL Women’s will both commence on August 1, with a nine-round season announced for the WAFL. It means each of the teams will face off once, and the Colts competition will also start on the same weekend, pending an announcement regarding dates for an AFL Under 18s Championships, which earlier in the year had been earmarked for September (usually held in July). Keeping in line with a regular season, the WAFL Grand Final will take place a week before the AFL Grand Final, some time in mid-October such as the SANFL’s weekend of October 17/18.

The other major winter state league – the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) announced it would not go ahead in season 2020 with only five teams remaining after the Northern Academy sides were forced out due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Q&A: Sophie Ure (Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Sophie Ure at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

TM: Sophie, how did you get into football?

SU: “All my family has been involved in it and I’ve just played it since primary school, so it’s just been a big part of my life.”

 

You didn’t really have a choice?

“Well I was always there. I thought it looked fun so I may as well join in.”

 

What is it that you love about footy?

“Just the people around it. Everyone’s so genuine and nice and everyone’s there for each other, trying to make everyone better.”

 

How are you finding being part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy?

“I’m really enjoying it. Especially over the summer, it’s helping me to keep on improving my fitness. I’m from up North so it’s a bit smaller up there, but it’s still really good – good coaches.”

 

How different is it from your experience up North?

“There’s definitely a lot more boys up there, especially from my region so I’m a bit isolated from the girls in the academy sense but it’s still good to see what you’re up against and see how you can improve just from watching the boys.”

 

How old were you when you started playing?

“(I started at) AusKick when I was about five or six, and then played Under 9s.”

 

So did you play mostly against boys back then?

“Yes. I played with and against boys until I was 14, then I only played women’s in the last two or three years.”

 

How have you found that change?

“Playing with boys definitely helped improve my skills more. I had to be better to actually get a kick, so I feel like when I moved over to women’s, it was a bit less about your skills and more about how hard you can hit.”

 

Is there a particular area you’re looking to improve on this season?

“Probably my tackling and defensive pressure… I’m not the most solid person so I want to try and get a bit more involved with tackling pressure so I have a presence.”

 

And what do you see as your strengths on the field?

“I don’t reckon my kicking is too bad. But I haven’t really compared it to people down here.”

 

Do you have any goals for 2020?

“Just to get as far as I can with my footy, whether that’s just the academy, the Under 18 team, or whatever happens.”

 

How have you been travel-wise over the journey?

“It definitely is a lot balancing all the footy on top of Year 12, but it’s good because I enjoy it, so it’s not a chore.”

 

Do you have any role models or mentors you look up to at the moment?

“My parents have been pretty good, they’ve always encouraged me so I just want to be as positive as them.”

AFL Draft Watch: Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft Watch is Brisbane Lions Academy member Tahj Abberley, a nippy small utility who was an outstanding preseason testing performer. The 179cm prospect ranked among Queensland’s top 10 in all four testing areas, utilising the speed, agility, and endurance he showcased on-field throughout his junior career. Abberley featured in all five of Brisbane’s NAB League outings and represented Queensland at the Under 16 and 17 levels and in 2020, he will be looking to crack into the Allies side while mixing up his usual midfield/forward role to feature off half-back.

PLAYER PAGE:

Tahj Abberley
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies

DOB: April 23, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 70kg

Position: Small utility

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 5 games | 14.4 disposals | 4.0 marks | 2.8 tackles | 1.6 clearances | 1.8 inside 50s | 1.8 rebound 50s | 0.4 goals (2)

Strengths: Speed, agility, smarts, decision making
Improvements: Contested ball

>> GET TO KNOW Tahj Abberley

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 65cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 77cm/82cm
Speed (20m) – 3.02 seconds
Agility – 7.84 seconds
Endurance – 21.1

>> FULL RESULTS:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures vs. NSW/ACT

There’s not much of Abberley, but the Lions Academy product looked unfazed by having to get stuck in. Playing through the midfield and off half-back, Abberley was clean at ground level and smart with his hands out of congestion. His four clearances bode well for more midfield minutes, but Abberley also worked well around the ground to penetrate both arcs

2019 NAB League Round 5 vs. Sandringham

The bottom-ager looked most lively inside 50 during the second half, and was instrumental in Brisbane’s best few minutes of the game. He started up the field on a wing and took a nice overhead mark in the second quarter, backing it up with a courageous effort after half time. Abberley laid a fantastic tackle on the much bigger Corey Watts which went unrewarded, but he managed to snare a goal with a calm dribbled finish out the back.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. NSW/ACT

Abberley was a clever user throughout the game, nipping around with good pace and agility from the midfield, forward. He started well with a goal from a free kick after sharking the ball cleanly but being taken high. His left foot was damaging too with some handy forward 50 entries helping the Maroons to push the pace.

>> MORE BRISBANE LIONS U18s CONTENT

Q&As:

Blake Coleman
Saxon Crozier
Carter Michael

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll

Q&A: Isabella Kotatis (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Isabella Kotatis at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

Q&A:

 

TM: How did you get into footy, Izzy?

IK: “I’ve been playing it since Auskick, when I was younger back in Adelaide. Then we made the change over to Queensland and I’ve been playing ever since.”

 

What is it that you love about football to have kept you in it for so long?

“The interaction with everyone, you make a lot of new friends through it. Just the friendship groups I guess.”

 

What made you start Auskick, have you just always been interested in footy?

“My little brother played it. Me, my sister and my brother all used to do sports together so we all decided to do it.”

 

Has it always been only football for you?

“I’m playing Rugby 7s for school, a bit of touch, and a bit of netball. But mainly just rugby and (football).

 

How do you balance the two?

“It’s a lot busier now since I’ve been part of the academy. There’s barely any time to play rugby for school so I’ve got to try and make days as it’s the same days as the academy training.”

 

And how are you finding being part of the academy?

“Really good. I’m learning more new things than I would if I wasn’t in the academy. With club it’s a lot different compare to the academy, it’s more of a high level.”

 

Do you enjoy that higher level and intensity?

“Yes, I enjoy it a lot.”

 

What would you say are some of your strengths on-field?

“I would say my speed and hunger to get the ball.”

 

On the other side of that, what are you looking to improve on?

“My weaknesses would probably be my defensive area, as I’ve been playing a lot more in the half-back role. Hopefully just improving that to be the best I can be in that area.”

 

How are you finding playing that position?

“Really good, I’ve only just started playing it recently. There’s a lot more things that I could improve on but I’m enjoying it a lot.”

 

What are you hoping to get out of this season?

“Hopefully to be drafted at the end of the year. That’s my goal, but also just to improve my footy a lot.”

 

Has there been a lot of travel for you over the journey?

“Yes. As I said with rugby, football is my number one priority so I’m just trying to balance it out with school and trainings.”

 

How do you manage all the commitments, especially with school?

“I’m in Year 12 this year so it’s a lot harder with everything but somehow I’m managing to do it all.”

 

Do you have any sports stars or idols you’ve looked up to over the years?

“I looked up to (Lance) Buddy Franklin from Hawthorn, but now to the Sydney Swans, because he was my brother’s favourite. If it was to be with the AFLW, I’d probably say Monique Conti.”

 

Why Monique?

“Just her ability to chase the ball and how her speed is really good, with good pressure.”

 

And how has the preseason been for you overall?

“Really good. It’s been a lot harder trying to get fitter throughout the whole season but it’s been good.”