Category: Glenelg

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

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

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

>> Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

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

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

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

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

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

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

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess. He should make the step-up for Oakleigh once again having impressed late last year, while also cracking the Vic Metro line-up.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

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

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

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

SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 5 – Roosters, Panthers and Tigers quartets impress

A TRIO of teams each had four representatives in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Team of the Week in Round 5 as football returned to the state’s elite competition. North Adelaide, South Adelaide and Glenelg all had four representatives in the team, with other winners, West Adelaide and Norwood, as well as Central District having three players. Sturt had two and Woodville-West Torrens the one in what was a really difficult week to select just 24 players.

North Adelaide had a massive 77-point victory and had a plethora of eligible representatives who could have squeezed into the side, however four achieved just that feat. Anne Hatchard was the dominant player over the weekend and earned the captaincy for her ball-winning efforts through the middle. She is joined the team by fellow midfielder Katelyn Pope who was named on a wing, as well as young gun Hannah Ewings at half-forward and Lauren Daniel on the bench.

South Adelaide and Glenelg played out a thriller with both teams having plenty of top-end quality and had one third of the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Week between them. South’s Nikki Gore was a star through the midfield and starts onball with Hatchard, whilst Hannah Munyard – who predominantly played on the wing – managed to win touches all over the ground and due to the strength of the midfield lands at half-back in this team. Also in the back six is another AFL Women’s talent in Lisa Whiteley, whilst competition leading goalkicker Jess Kirk slotted three majors to continue her stranglehold on that award and made the side.

While the Tigers might have lost, they had their fair share of top performers, with three players making the 24-player squad and another making the emergencies. The Tigers have three of the six forward spots with midfielder Ebony Marinoff one pushed out to a flank – though she did rest forward – given the midfield strength. Fellow Crows players Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould are the others to make the starting side. On the bench, Deni Varnhagen makes the side, whilst Soriah Moon narrowly missed out.

Another game had plenty of representatives with Norwood’s victory over Central District. The Redlegs had starting ruck Leah Cutting made the side once more, whilst up and coming midfielder Matilda Zander booked her spot in the tough midfield group. Najwa Allen also made her way onto the team, coming off the bench in this side. For the Bulldogs, they have the bookends in Sarah Allan and Katelyn Rosenzweig up either end, whilst Alicia Butler was also impressive in the loss and makes it into the squad. Fellow Bulldog, Latiah Huynh was close to making the side and earned a spot as one of the emergencies.

West Adelaide also had a trio of players making the 24-player squad, led by Rachelle Martin who starred and earned the vice-captain nod in our side. Also in the team was reliable defenders, Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann who were superb out of the back 50. Fellow young midfielder Abbie Ballard was also named as emergency for the team. Rounding out the team was Sturt young gun Hannah Prenzler at centre half-back, alongside Double Blues co-captain Maya Rigter on the bench, whilst Woodville-West Torrens utility Renee Forth finalises the full squad.

B: Madison Newman (WA) – Sarah Allan (CD) – Lisa Whiteley (SA)
HB: Hannah Munyard (SA) – Hannah Prenzler (ST) – Keeley Kustermann (WA)
C: Matilda Zander (NW) – Rachelle Martin (WA – vc) – Katelyn Pope (NA)
HF: Ebony Marinoff (GL) – Eloise Jones (GL) – Hannah Ewings (NA)
F: Jess Kirk (SA) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Caitlin Gould (GL)
R: Leah Cutting (NW) – Anne Hatchard (NA – c) – Nikki Gore (SA)
INT: Najwa Allen (NW) – Alicia Butler (CD) – Lauren Daniel (NA) – Renee Forth (WWT) – Maya Rigter (ST) – Deni Varnhagen (GL)
EMG: Latiah Huynh (CD) – Abbie Ballard (WA) – Soriah Moon (GL)

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

AS if you needed any reminder, state league football returned this past weekend with all South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades kicking off season 2020. In this year’s first edition of Caught the Eye, we highlight the key performers from each Under 18 side who stood out in the opening round of action. For extended profiles on each player, click on their names highlighted in red, and for our full scouting notes, click here.

>> 2020 SA U18 Squad Prediction

Glenelg vs. Norwood

Xavier Robins
Glenelg | Half-back
2/09/2002 | 182cm | 72kg

Stats: 26 disposals (19 kicks), 6 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 8 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Robins comes from decent pedigree as the son of former Melbourne and Richmond player, Haydn, and could be a dashing defender to keep an eye on. He was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018 and while he is outside of the current academy bubble, could push for state selection if his form continues – especially given a shortage of options in his position.

Cooper Murley
Norwood | Balanced midfielder/forward
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 66kg

Stats: 20 disposals (14 kicks), 4 marks, 3 tackles , 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: While he is quite light-on, there is no doubting Murley’s hunger for the contest. His speed and agility often get him out of trouble anyway, and the bottom-ager pulled off a couple of incredible passes going forward which he placed perfectly between opposition defenders. He earned Under 16 All Australian honours for a reason, and may creep into the Under 18 state squad in an outside role or up forward.

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

Tariek Newchurch
North Adelaide | Forward/Midfielder
21/07/2002 | 181cm | 73kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 4 marks, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Be prepared to hear plenty more about Newchurch, who looms as a potential first round candidate. That may prove a bittersweet statement for Adelaide fans, with the Crows set to claim first dibs on the Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect. His evasiveness and ability to break games open make him an eye-catching prospect, and one who should put together a decent highlight reel by season’s end.

Bailey Chamberlain
West Adelaide | Balanced midfielder
26/06/2002 | 179cm | 70kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain… he was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: It was a hell of a start to the season from Chamberlain, who put in an incredible first half display. His burst from the contest, ability to cover the ground, and aggression make him a well balanced midfield prospect. While he is the Bloods’ primary ball winner through the inside at Under 18 level, expect him to feature a touch more on the outside given his pace and slight frame as he climbs the grades or slots into the state squad.

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles | Midfielder/forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 7 marks, 10 tackles, 7 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Undoubtedly the player of the round across the Under 18 competition, Poulter continues to rise as a bolter in the South Australian field. While he has some filling-out to do, Poulter is the ideal size for a modern day midfielder at over 190cm, and has all the athletic traits to also thrive up forward as many champion midfielders do at the next level. If he continues to return such well-rounded performances as this one, don’t expect to see him remain at the Under 18 level for long.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide | Inside midfielder
3/04/2002 | 185cm | 82kg

Stats: 19 disposals (14 kicks), 6 marks, 9 tackles, 3 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. He played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: The Panthers have such a versatile engine room, and Kraemer is arguably the leader of it given the talented bottom-agers around him. At 185cm, he is built well and does all the tough stuff around the stoppages, remaining relevant going both ways. He played every Under 18 game last year en route to a Grand Final appearance, but should have eyes on climbing the grades in 2020 and slotting into the state side once again.

Central District vs. Sturt

Austin McDonald
Central District | Inside Midfielder
1/01/2004

Stats: 27 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 12 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “(McDonald) was terrific around the stoppages… he was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: It was hard to believe that McDonald is an Under 16 player watching him go about it on the weekend, and bringing it to some of the better Under 18 midfielders in South Australia. His willingness to hunt the ball, extract, and work both ways was impressive, and we will surely see much more of the same over the next couple of years.

Tom Powell
Sturt | Balanced midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 7 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “The Sturt midfielder was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval… akin to fellow on-baller Mani Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Powell was certainly raring to go after missing large chunks on 2019 through injury, and started the season on the right foot. His burst from the contest was on show, as was his ability to accumulate with a game-high 34 disposals. He was on a different level to much of his opposition on the weekend, and while it would be interesting to see him go up against a strong Eagles midfield next week, expect to see Powell make his way up the ranks soon if his form persists.

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

WITH the return of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) comes our usual series of scouting notes, focu\sing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. While a bunch of juniors plied their trade at higher levels in Round 1, we turned our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a heavy focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line.

Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinion of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.

Glenelg vs. Norwood

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#12 Xavier Robins

Robins is the son of former Richmond and Melbourne defender, Haydn, and impressed across the same line for Glenelg on Saturday. The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.

He had a big third term and broke to all the right places inside defensive 50, displaying sharp skills through his kick-in duties and providing a reliable rebounding outlet. He finished with 26 disposals, which included 19 kicks and eight rebound 50s.

#13 Luke Pedlar

Like Robins, Pedlar is a top-aged prospect outside of the current state academy hub, but was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Pedlar showcased his explosive burst out of congestion and desire to hunt the ball, racking up a game-high 28 disposals while also laying six tackles and pumping four clearances forward.

He boasts a penetrating left side but can sure up his short-range game at speed. Pedlar also showed a good work-rate while employed up forward, working well up the ground and using his pace to get back quickly. He capped off a terrific outing with a goal at the start of the fourth term, slamming the ball home on the run.

#22 Lewis Rayson

One of his region’s leading 2021 draft candidates, Rayson assumed his usual role across half-back and even snuck forward to snap through a goal in the final term. The bottom-ager is light-on, but is sure to evade opposition heat while in possession with terrific speed and agility.

At times, Rayson’s willingness to move the ball on and turn defence into attack saw his disposal come undone, but he provided reliable use once he slowed himself down. The 181cm prospect was another to position himself well across the backline, picking up 16 disposals in a solid performance.

#25 Luke Edwards

It was somewhat of a surprise not to see Edwards named at a higher grade to start the season, but he took it all in his stride to be one of Glenelg’s better performers. Another to rotate through the midfield and forwardline, Edwards displayed terrific vision and clean use by hand at the centre bounces, while proving strong in one-on-one contests up forward. He was often first to the ball at stoppages too, an invaluable trait for inside types.

While the Adelaide father-son candidate displayed intelligence by hand, he blazed away with his kicks at times and missed a couple of attempts on goal. His work rate inside forward 50 to find space and manufacture those opportunities was commendable, though, and he also managed to dish off a nice assist to Pedlar in the final term. Edwards finished with impressive statistics of 22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances, and four inside 50s.

#33 Will Schreiber

Another big body to float through the midfield at 190cm, Schreiber arguably looked more comfortable down back where he could better utilise his strength and shrewd reading of the play. He was caught holding the ball on two occasions early in the piece, but adjusted his previous flat-footedness in the second half while adding fends to his stoppage craft.

Schreiber looked to have regained a deal of confidence as the game wore on, winning a couple of nice one-on-one aerial battles and correcting his short-range kicking with more time on the ball in the defensive half. The versatile prospect positioned expertly behind the ball to intercept, and ended up hauling in a team-high seven marks.

#39 Riley Holder

It is easy to forget that Holder is just 190cm with the way he plays, providing that focal point at centre half-forward while also pinch-hitting in the ruck. He took a big pack mark in the first term to set the tone for Glenelg, duly converting the set shot before impressing further with his strength and marking on the lead. Holder had a slightly quieter second half, but was a solid target working up the ground with his strong hands. The utility finished with 1.2 from 13 disposals and six marks (four contested).

Others:

Lucas Schultz worked well in tandem with Holder inside forward 50, booting a game-high four goals from 12 disposals and six marks as another marking option. Jaden Grosser was Glenelg’s other multiple goalkicker, finding the big sticks twice from midfield while also providing hardness at the ball. Hagan Wright and Kye Dean were others to have moments around the contest, with Riley Drum a solid figure in defence and bottom-ager Nasiah Wanganeen classy on the outer.

>> GLENELG TEAM PAGE


Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking. While he grassed a couple of attempts on the fly, Murley pulled off a couple of terrific passes to targets inside 50; the first coming on the end of a 1-2 handball chain to assist Finn Heard‘s goal, and the second a pass which perfectly split multiple Glenelg defenders.

Murley’s lateral vision and smarts around the contest are high-level, boding well for more midfield time despite being a bit light at 66kg. He looked lively inside forward 50 too, particularly in the third term despite not finding the goals himself. The 2019 Under 16 All Australian ended up with 20 disposals and four marks in a promising display.

#9 Alastair Lord

Another bottom-aged small to impress was Lord, who triggered much of Norwood’s forward motion from defence. The 177cm prospect was sound at ground level, sweeping up the loose balls and darting around opponents to find the space to effectively move the ball on. He positioned well to intercept too, proving an apt rebounder with his composed distribution after cutting off opposition forays. Lord finished with 19 disposals, eight marks, and six rebound 50s.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Was Norwood’s designated kicker in defence having been tasked with the kick-in duties, and did well to find targets consistently on a tough day for the Redlegs’ back six. He played somewhat of a sweeper role inside defensive 50, mopping up when needed while spreading well to provide an outlet for his teammates. While Dnistriansky often took the safe option via foot, he was a reliable figure and notched a team-high 25 disposals (22 kicks) to go with nine marks and 10 rebound 50s.

Others:

Michael Cavallaro (22 disposals, eight marks) and Daniel Fairbrother (21 disposals, 10 marks) were others to work hard around the ground for Norwood, while Jack Saunders provided solid presence around the ball with 16 touches, as well as team-highs in tackles (eight) and clearances (seven).

>> NORWOOD TEAM PAGE

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

By: Peter Williams

North Adelaide:

#9 Jamison Murphy

The North Adelaide co-captain was busy from the first bounce until the final siren, winning plenty of touches through the midfield. His best work was done in close, but predominantly it was his vision and use by hand that opened up the game for his teammates. When tackled, Murphy was strong, able to stand up and either shrug off the tackler or get the ball free to a teammate.

Along with his inside work, Murphy’s big first half included setting up goal scoring opportunities for his teammates, and he did all the one percenters required such as blocks or shepherds. In the third term, Murphy took a goal-saving mark on the last line of defence, and then later on was able to win the ball inside 50 and put it into his teammate’s path running inside 50.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

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

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

Others:

Leo Coates had a huge start to the game with a couple of strong marks and a long-range goal (almost two) in the first term. He was quieter after that, but showed signs he has improvement in him. Kallis Freer won a heap of the ball, racking up 27 touches, four marks, three clearances and three tackles to be the Roosters’ number one ball winner on the day. Samuel McTaggert booted a goal off a great crumbing effort and has a great burst of speed. Charlie Dowling and James Willis were very strong around the stoppages.

>> NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE


West Adelaide:

#2 Harvey Bock

A player who really stood out across the ground, Bock was particularly impressive in the defensive 50. His disposal was effective and he covered the ball well in transition. Often attacking the loose ball with vigour, Bock presented as an option to teammates, and seemed to have the smarts to find space and be a kick and a half behind the play for the quick opposition kick forward. He took a terrific drifting intercept mark to stop a forward marking, chopping off the kick inside 50 by reading it so well.

#5 Lachlan De Cesare

He had a huge game for the Bloods and showed some terrific skill around the ground, teaming up well with Chamberlain. De Cesare was able to read the ball well in flight, chopping off a pass going inside 50 and used the ball well coming out of defence. He kept presenting and won a fair chunk of the ball through midfield, giving off some neat handballs and allowing his teammate to clear it. De Cesare has a good centre of gravity to swivel the hips and try and get free when tackled. He just finds space around the ground and does it well.

#6 Bailey Chamberlain

A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain who could have been mistaken for the Energiser Bunny for his ability to cover ground and really cause headaches for opposition. He was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.

At times his kicking was not perfectly executed, but his work by hand was terrific, often winning the ball in tight and freeing up teammates on the outside. What really stood out about Chamberlain was his ability to read the stoppages and often duck around the back of an opponent to win the ball from the ruck tap and exit the stoppage before others were aware he was off and running. His work rate and ability to put on the jets and burst away from an opponent, backing himself in was strong. If he irons out the kicking a bit more, he has a lot of other boxes he has already ticked.

Others:

Dylan White was another big performer in a low-scoring game, kicking three goals from 19 touches, five marks and four tackles to be the dominant forward for the Bloods. The other South Australian hub member Jye Sindeberry played in the game, but had a quieter outing with seven disposals and one mark.

>> WEST ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

By: Ed Pascoe

WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield 

Despite not having his usual output, the Port Adelaide father-son prospect was classy with ball in hand, rarely making a bad decision by hand or foot and keeping composed when in possession. Playing more of an outside role, he showed plenty of signs as to why he is rated one of the better ball users in this year’s draft. It was overall a quiet outing by his standards, finishing the game with 14 disposals, three clearances and four tackles. 

#7 Caleb Poulter 

It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye. 

Poulter showed great agility and clean hands at ground level which was impressive for a 190cm-plus player, but even with his attacking side coming to the fold it was also his defensive game which stood out as he was always prepared to tackle despite looking gassed late in the game, but you couldn’t fault that. Poulter finished the game with 34 disposals, seven clearances, seven marks, 10 tackles, and a goal to be the standout player not just for this game, but for the whole round in general. 

#19 Zac Phillips 

The big ruckman/key forward Phillips looked imposing early, taking a strong mark on the wing and also kicking a lucky goal later in the first quarter, getting over the top and quickly kicking the goal before getting run down. Phillips would add to his tally with some good pressure up forward before getting the rewards with a nice dribble goal. Phillips showed good follow up work in the ruck and his hit outs where often to his teammates’ advantage. He finished the game with 11 disposals, three clearances, two goals, and 24 hit outs. 

#31 Jase Burgoyne  

Another Port Adelaide father-son prospect but for the 2021 draft, Burgoyne was clean and classy down back; showing good agility and composure and often using the ball neatly by hand and foot. Burgoyne showed a good ability to not only create from defence with his skill and class, but also defend well and knew when to get back to man up on an opponent, Burgoyne looks an exciting talent for the 2021 draft and he finished the game with 22 disposals, four marks, and countless rebounds from defence. 

>> WWT EAGLES TEAM PAGE


South Adelaide: 

#9 Jason Horne  

Horne will certainly be in discussions for the pointy end of the 2021 draft as the talented midfielder displayed of plenty of his tricks that make him a complete midfielder. Horne certainly isn’t one-dimensional, showing his ability overhead with one mark in particular in the first quarter, going up with great courage.

His ability to work forward and back is impressive, complementing his attack at the footy at stoppages and his explosiveness with and without the ball to hold him in good stead. He could have had greater output if he was able to convert his opportunities around goal, finishing the game with 21 disposals, three clearances and 10 marks.  

#21 Matthew Roberts  

A talented midfielder who is highly rated for the 2021 draft, Roberts started the game in unfamiliar territory up forward. While he couldn’t quiet have his usual impact in that position, he certainly started to build up his game, getting to move into his favoured midfield position as the game went on.

With his output improving, so did his ability when he did have go back forward, kicking a nice set shot goal late in the gameRoberts finished the game with 21 disposals, four clearances, and a goal in a well-rounded performance. 

#33 Arlo Draper  

Another talented South Adelaide prospect for the 2021 draft, Draper looked all-class up forward with his skill and athleticism on show. Draper kicked the first goal of the game with a nice snap and although he wouldn’t add to the tally, he did set up plenty of other scoring opportunities with his decision making and skills forward of centre.

Playing mostly as a third tall forward, Draper did well to get up the ground and make and impact, and he is the type of player you want with ball in hand with his ability to create and run with the ball. Draper finished the game with 17 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.  

#35 Nicholas Kraemer  

Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. Kraemer played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield. 

Kraemer’s best isolated bit of play came with a strong overhead mark and then a quick long handball forward which almost lead to a good team goal. Kraemer looks set to be a handy addition to the South Australian state side if those games go ahead, finishing with 19 disposals, four clearances, six marks, and nine tackles. 

>> SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

Central District vs. Sturt

By: Tom Wyman

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald 

Barossa Valley junior, McDonald took it right up to the talented Sturt midfield. The 16-year-old was terrific around the stoppages, finishing with 12 clearances and 27 disposals. He was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already. Expect to see him feature prominently for South Australia soon enough.

#15 Lewis Cowham

It was a tough day for Central Districts, but midfielder, Cowham was among his side’s best. He imposed himself early by laying a strong tackle on Mani Liddy which was perhaps unlucky to be called a high free-kick against. He was industrial throughout the contest, particularly with his hands in-tight, finishing with 27 touches. Cowham and teammate, McDonald battled hard and stood-out for the Bulldogs, who were ultimately outclassed by a talented Sturt side. 

>> CENTRAL DISTRICT TEAM PAGE


Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

Carruthers was one of the Double Blues’ best performers on the day. He exhibited excellent composure in the backline and showed flashes of his neat skillset in a well-rounded performance. His marking was also a highlight, with Carruthers positioning himself well to cut off several of the Bulldogs’ forward entries. He concluded the match with 25 disposals, eight marks and six rebound-50s.

#13 Bradley Jefferies 

Jefferies was a strong presence for the Doubles Blues throughout the contest. In a predominantly inside-midfield role, he provided excellent support for Academy Hub duo Liddy and Tom Powell. A highlight was when he nailed a right-foot snap for Sturt’s second major of the match. He finished the game with 24 disposals and seven marks.

#15 Mani Liddy 

Prolific SA Academy Hub member, Liddy was a dominant presence on the inside of the Double Blues’ midfield all day. Tough and relentless at the contest, Liddy started well, winning the ball in the coalface before dishing off a neat handball to William Staples, who nailed the game’s first goal. Later in the first term, he gave another handball to Jordon Cocks who kicked truly.

His neat skills by hand really stood out all day. Even when being tackled by his Bulldogs opponents, he was clean and helped get the ball moving Sturt’s way on numerous occasions. Arguably best-on-ground, Liddy finished with 32 disposals and is firming as a first-choice midfielder for South Australia during the upcoming National Championships.

#18 Tom Powell 

Recruiters will be encouraged to see Powell have some success early on in the season, given his recent battles with injury. The Sturt on-baller was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval, finishing with 34 touches. Akin to fellow-on-baller Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.

While he put together a very strong game, it could have been even better had he converted some of his attempts on goal. Expect to see more of Powell in the Reserves later in the season, as he appeared a cut above Under 18 level against the ‘Dogs. 

#22 Ned Walter 

In his distinctive black helmet, Walter showed strength and skill across the half-back line for Sturt. He almost took a mark-of-the-year contender from a kick-out and his hands overhead were strong across the four quarters. He produced an excellent intercept spoil in the second quarter to break-up a potential Bulldogs inside-50. After a strong outing, Walter has emerged as one to watch in defence. 

#32 Morgan Ferres 

Ferres presented well all game for the Double Blues and was the side’s go-to marking option across half-forward. He took a number of contested grabs and appears to have excellent aerial ability. However, I really liked Ferres’ cleanliness at ground level as well. He dished off several neat handballs to get the Blues going inside-50. Booted a game-high three goals and could have finished with a handful.

James Borlase (Reserves)

The potential Crows NGA prospect was named at full-back for the Sturt reserves, having played eight matches at the level last year. At 191cm and 88kg, Borlase is strongly-built and able to hold his own against the bigger bodied forwards – a trait which will certainly help his case for senior selection later in the year.

Against a relatively strong Central Districts outfit, Borlase’s performance was encouraging. He spent considerable time matched-up against athletic 196cm tall forward Leek Alleer. While Alleer possesses serious speed and a high leap, he was largely nullified by the lock-down abilities of Borlase. He took a number of kick-ins as well, a testament his improving skillset.

Tom Lewis (Reserves)

Returning from an ACL injury which saw him miss the entire 2019 season, Lewis was back to his hard-at-it ways which proved invaluable for SA during its undefeated National Championships in 2018. Viewed by many draft watchers as being unlucky not to be picked up in his first draft eligible year, Lewis was tough at the ball throughout the match.

He attacked every contest with ferocious intent, often smashing into and bouncing-off opponents in-tight. He tackled with vigour, attempting to rip the ball out on several occasions. Expect to see Lewis be given a few games in the reserves before making the step-up to senior football for the Double Blues.

>> STURT TEAM PAGE

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

SANFL weekly wrap Round 1: Tigers hold off Norwood in massive opening round clash

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) returned over the weekend, seeing matches played out between all eight teams across the three divisions, with the competition barring Adelaide and Port Adelaide this season. In the league division, Glenelg just held on for a daring win over Norwood, while North Adelaide came away with a quality win over West Adelaide to kick off the season.

Sturt v. Central District

League: Sturt 8.3 (51) defeated Central District 5.6 (36)

Sturt made a strong start to the season on Saturday, defeating Central by 15 points at the Adelaide Oval. Sturt fielded seven debutants in the clash after Jake Sutcliffe (illness) and Sam Colquhoun (hamstring) were late withdrawals. The new-look side was strong in the clearances from the outset with ruckman Daniel Fahey-Sparks (52 hitouts) providing first use to midfielders James Battersby (26 disposals, 11 clearances), Zane Kirkwood (21 disposals) and youngster Casey Voss (16 disposals, six clearances). The Blues kicked the first five goals of the game, including three from exciting forward Ash Johnson.

Central worked their way back into the game and ended up dominating the disposals 289-234, marks 107-39 and tackles 97-68. Unfortunately for them, the early deficit proved too difficult to come back from, and Sturt were more efficient with the ball inside forward 50. With Sutcliffe, Colquhoun, premiership wingman Steven Slimming (ankle) and former Port Adelaide livewire Aidyn Johnson (suspension) looking to return next week, Sturt coach Nathan Grima will have his hands full at the selection table.

Reserves: Central District 7.11 (53) defeated Sturt 5.9 (39)

Central’s Reserves side started the year with a comfortable victory over Sturt by 14 points. The final score did not reflect the Bulldogs’ dominance in this game, as they led by 32 points at three-quarter-time before Sturt piled on three goals to none in the last term.

Under 18s: Sturt 14.13 (97) defeated Central District 7.6 (48)

Sturt were far too strong in the Under 18s, getting over the line by 49 points at X Convenience Oval. Central kicked just one goal before half time and trailed by 49 points at the main break. AFL Academy Squad members Mani Liddy (33 disposals, 11 clearances) and Tom Powell (33 disposals, seven clearances) were both impressive for the Double Blues, as was Morgan Ferres (15 disposals, three goals). Lewis Cowham and Austin McDonald both worked hard for the Bulldogs.

Woodville-West Torrens v. South Adelaide

League: South Adelaide 11.8 (74) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 10.8 (68)

Debutant Beau McCreery was the hero for South Adelaide, lifting his side over the line against Woodville-West Torrens in a close encounter. When scores were level late in the final term, McCreery ran down former Port Adelaide player Jimmy Toumpas and converted a goal from long range, before showing his speed one minute later to kick another from the goal square. Although Eagles veteran Angus Poole was able to bring the margin back to six points at the 28 minute mark, South were able to hold on.

Dual Magarey Medallist Joel Cross was outstanding for the Panthers, finishing with 34 disposals, 12 clearances and four tackles. Ex-Port Adelaide defender Matthew Broadbent was steady in his first game for the club with 26 disposals, six marks and seven tackles, while potential AFL draftee Zac Dumesny showed promise early in his SANFL League debut. For the Eagles, Jordan Foote collected 21 disposals, seven tackles and five inside 50s, and the Hayes brothers kicked five goals between them in an impressive display. The Eagles will look to bounce back next week against Sturt, while the Panthers will take on the Tigers.

Reserves: Woodville-West Torrens 12.4 (76) defeated South Adelaide 10.8 (68)

Last year’s Reserves grand finalists Woodville-West Torrens got their season off to an ideal start, winning by eight points against the Panthers at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. South led for the majority of the contest but the Eagles ran over the top in the final term.

Under 18s: South Adelaide 10.12 (72) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 9.8 (62)

The Panthers had a nice come from behind win in the under 18s, getting over the line by ten points. Max Clifton had 26 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles for the Panthers, while Nicholas Kraemer was tough at the contest with nine tackles. 191cm midfielder Caleb Poulter kicked off his season in style, racking up an imposing 34 disposals, ten tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s and a goal for the Eagles. He is definitely a prospect to watch in 2020.

North Adelaide v. West Adelaide

League: North Adelaide 15.6 (96) defeated West Adelaide 10.7 (67)

Lewis Hender helped North Adelaide start the season with a bang, kicking seven goals en route to a 29-point victory over the Bloods on Sunday. Hender took nine marks including an early mark of the year contender in the dominant performance. He made the most of some silver service from the Roosters’ experienced midfield made up of former AFL-listed players Harrison Wigg (27 disposals, nine marks), Andrew Moore (25 disposals, seven tackles) and Billy Hartung (19 disposals, four inside 50s). North were prevalent in the clearances (39-32) and tackles (72-53).

While the Bloods were able to regularly get the ball inside forward 50, they did struggle to keep it there as the day went on. Jordon Boyle (27 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s) was a standout in his first game for West, while Dallas Willsmore (25 disposals, 11 marks, six tackles) worked hard all day. Potential number one pick Riley Thilthorpe had ten disposals, five tackles and five hitouts in his first game of the season.

Reserves: West Adelaide 14.2 (86) defeated North Adelaide 7.13 (55)

An accurate West Adelaide outfit proved too good in the Reserves, kicking just two behinds in their 31-point win. Kyle Kirk, Mitch Duval and Austin Forbes were impressive performers for the Bloods and will be pushing for League selection next week.

Under 18s: North Adelaide 8.10 (58) defeated West Adelaide 7.4 (46)

North Adelaide were too good in the Under 18s, defeating the Bloods by 12 points at Prospect Oval. West led for most of the game but North ran over the top in a frantic final term. AFL Academy Squad members Tariek Newchurch (three goals) and Jamison Murphy (26 disposals, four tackles) stood out in their first game of the season, as did Kallis Freer (27 disposals, four marks). Bailey Chamberlain was great for the Bloods with 28 disposals, five tackles and five clearances.

Glenelg v. Norwood

League: Glenelg 11.10 (76) defeated Norwood 10.13 (73)

Glenelg have started their premiership defence on the right foot, defeating Norwood by three points in a thriller at Adelaide Oval. The Redlegs got out to an early lead but the Tigers clawed their way back with an outstanding third term, kicking three goals to zero. This set up a final term with multiple momentum swings and lead changes until reigning Magarey Medallist Luke Partington kicked a long-range set shot to give Glenelg the victory.

Carl Nicholson was arguably best on ground for Glenelg, finishing with 21 disposals, eight inside 50s, six marks and a goal. Defensive recruit Luke Parks was brilliant in his first game for the club with 16 disposals and ten marks, several of which were intercepted. Max Proud was also great in defence with six marks and four tackles, while Liam McBean was his usual dominant-self up forward with four goals. For the Redlegs, Matthew Panos worked hard for his 21 disposals and two goals, former Crow Richard Douglas (20 disposals, seven tackles) played well in his first game since retiring from AFL, and veteran ruckman Sam Baulderstone displayed some brilliant ruck craft amongst his 41 hitouts. Norwood’s defence held up well all day and can consider themselves unlucky not to come out with the two points. They will hope to welcome Ryan Bastinac to the side for next week’s clash against the Roosters, while Glenelg will take on the Panthers in what should be an enthralling matchup.

Reserves: Glenelg 12.7 (79) defeated Norwood 8.9 (57)

Reigning Reserves premiers Norwood fell in their first match of the season to the Tigers by 22 points. It is a major scalp for Glenelg’s Reserves side and should give them great confidence going into next week.

Under 18s: Glenelg 12.12 (84) defeated Norwood 5.10 (40)

Glenelg were also too strong in the Under 18s, defeating Norwood by 44 points. The Redlegs failed to hit the front all game as they struggled to get the ball into their front half, losing the inside 50s 34-53. Potential draftee Luke Edwards collected 22 disposals, five clearances and six tackles for the Tigers, while Luke Pedlar (28 disposals, six tackles, six inside 50s) also impressed. Cooper Murley was the sole AFL Academy Squad member to play for the Redlegs in this game, finishing with 20 disposals and three tackles. Matthew Dnistriansky worked hard for his 25 disposals, ten rebound 50s and nine marks.

For more SANFL news and recaps, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

2020 SANFL season preview: Can the Bays go back-to-back?

LAST year saw a drought-breaking year in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) with Glenelg taking home its first League premiership since 1986. The Tigers were able to bounce back from a loss earlier in the finals series to take out Port Adelaide in the grand final last year. The result also meant seven of the eight non-AFL affiliated clubs have won SANFL titles this turn of the century with only South Adelaide (1964) holding a drought longer than a decade from those sides. We take a look at the eight sides in contention for the 2020 SANFL premiership in order of ladder position last year (minus Adelaide and Port Adelaide).

GLENELG

Finished: Premiers
Wins: 13
Draws: 2
Losses: 3
Best & Fairest: Jesse White
Leading Goalkicker: Liam McBean & Luke Reynolds (53)

The reigning premiers return to the competition as deserving favourites in the new year, as the likes of Margarey Medallist Luke Partington and reigning leading goalkickers, Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds back in the yellow and black.

Over the off-season, the Bays have been able to bring in some young talent including former Crow Jackson Edwards who returns to South Australia, ex-Sydney Academy talent Luke Parks, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels forward, Mitch Martin. Unfortunately young star Kaine Baldwin will miss the season through another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. However, the Tigers have every reason to be buoyant about the season ahead.

After all, their list of ex-AFL talent is quite impressive, with names such as Cory Gregson and Billy Stretch alongside Luke Edwards. Expect the Tigers to be the team to beat in 2020.

STURT

Finished: 4th
Wins: 11
Draws: 0
Losses: 7
Best & Fairest: Sam Colquhoun
Leading Goalkicker: Josh Hone (35)

The Double Blues will be confident of a rise up the ladder in 2020 with a couple of handy pickups including talented high-flyer Jordan Houlahan who returns from the AFL, as well as another ex-Cat and Crow, Dean Gore.

Tom Lewis will provide some extra youth and inside hardness alongside the likes of outside movers, Josh Shute and Mihail Lochowiak who have been impressive in past years. Sam Colquhoun has been a star of the competition of late, and with last year’s leading goalkicker Josh Hone also coming back for 2020, Sturt will be competitive once again.

They have a lost a fair chunk of talent over the off-season including ex-AFL talent Danyle Pearce who opted to retire alongside four others including Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans. The Double Blues will likely need to time to adjust in the season.

NORWOOD

Finished: 5th
Wins: 11
Draws: 7
Losses: 0
Best & Fairest: Brad McKenzie
Leading Goalkicker: Peter Bampton (31)

The experience of the Redlegs after a grand final appearance the year before did not end up helping them get past the first week of finals in 2019. They have some serious big names on their list from best and fairest winner Brad McKenzie, to the likes of form AFL-listed talents Dom Barry, Lewis Johnston and Mitch Grigg.

A 2020 recruit in Daniel Johnston will help add some extra height to the side, and provide some firepower alongside the likes of Matthew Panos and Peter Bampton up forward. The biggest inclusion is former Crow, Richard Douglas, who should immediately be in the top five players across the league, whilst another ex-AFL talent in Ryan Bastinac announced yesterday that he would be joining the Redlegs after initially pulling out of the league due to commitments.

If the inclusions are anything to go by, Norwood will be the biggest threat to Glenelg’s crown and could well go all the way if their players remain fit throughout the season.

SOUTH ADELAIDE

Finished: 6th
Wins: 9
Draws: 2
Losses: 7
Best & Fairest: Joel Cross
Leading Goalkicker: Joel Cross (26)

All eyes will be on the Panthers in season 2020 as they try and crack into the top four on the back of some savvy recruiting. Former AFL talent, Matthew Broadbent will help South Adelaide to try and mount a case to rise up the ladder.

Along with the experienced duo, Canberra’s Tom Highmore and Sydney Swans Academy’s Ky McGrath were both vying for draft selection last year, and will be among those looking to take over from a number of Double Blues stars who have left the club. With Brad Crabb and Nick Liddle both exiting, Mark Noble joining his brother in Victoria and Emmanuel Ira also on the out, the main role of the recruits will be to support Joel Cross with some extra depth through the team.

Cross won both the leading goalkicker and best and fairest award last season, and with a young side that has a number of South Australians coming through the state team, the Panthers would be keen to bring through their next crop of players.

WWT EAGLES

Finished: 7th
Wins: 8
Draws: 0
Losses: 10
Best & Fairest: Jordan Foote
Leading Goalkicker: James Rowe (35)

The Under 18s premiers have now lost their array of young talent to the AFL, with the likes of Kysaiah Pickett, Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg among those who landed on AFL lists last year. They have brought in Kai Pudney and Mitch Mead from Port Adelaide’s SANFL side, whilst the big recruit might be Liam Buxton from Casey Demons.

It will be an interesting season for the Eagles who have some genuine elite talents through the side, including best and fairest winner Jordan Foote – an ex-AFL talent himself – and small forward James Rowe who made the transition to senior footy seamlessly.

They should be among the mid-table log-jam of teams to battle for a top four place, and with the senior experience still on the list after a seventh placed finish last year, they could well get it done whilst other teams are still trying to gel.

CENTRAL DISTRICT

Finished: 8th
Wins: 5
Draws: 0
Losses: 13
Best & Fairest: Jarrod Schiller
Leading Goalkicker: Troy Menzel (33)

One of the potential bigger improvers in season 2020, Central District has acquired the services of a second Menzel brother with Dan joining Troy at the Bulldogs. Troy was huge last season winning the leading goalkicker award and now the double trouble of the goalsneaks will make life difficult for the opposition. The big question mark will be losing the Neagle trio in Jydon, Jaxon and Matthew back to Wodonga.

Through the midfield, the other brother combination in Jarrod and Travis Schiller will be tough to combat again, whilst former Tiger, Ben Nason has crossed from Woodville-West Torrens. The Bulldogs have also brought in some big ball winners from Victoria, with Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild and Dandenong Stingrays’ Jack Toner joining the club along with former Stingrays’ goalsneak Jai Nanscawen for the 2020 season.

Given the talent on the list and two less sides, it would be a near-certainty that the Bulldogs reach the finals.

NORTH ADELAIDE

Finished: 9th
Wins: 4
Draws: 1
Losses: 13
Best & Fairest: Aidan Tropiano
Leading Goalkicker: Lewis Hinder (28)

The ninth placed Roosters have added some extra firepower in 2020 with the recruitment of former Adelaide and Gold Coast ball-winner Harrison Wigg and ex-Hawk and Roo, Billy Hartung. Along with another ex-AFL player in Andrew Moore, and hopefully a full season out of former Port Adelaide goalsneak Jake Neade, and the Roosters will look to rise up the ladder again.

Last year’s reigning premiers were always going to have a tough season after starting on negative points due to the 19th man saga, and losing a number of players to AFL level. They have gained one back in Robbie Young returning to the club. Unlucky overagers not to be drafted last year, Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder are back again and provide some height in the defensive end.

The recruits will need to take over from Aidan Tropiano who has headed west this season. The Roosters will rise up and expect them to contend for finals again.

WEST ADELAIDE

Finished: 10th
Wins: 2
Draws: 0
Losses: 16
Best & Fairest: Logan Hill
Leading Goalkicker: Jono Beech (21)

The only way is up for the Bloods and with a number of solid recruits alongside the potential number one AFL Draft pick, West Adelaide has what it takes to get off the bottom of the ladder. Riley Thilthorpe will be a much talked about name this year and the talented tall will get plenty of time in the League side in 2020.

The Bloods have also recruited a couple of over-agers and former Sydney Swans Academy members Hamish Ellem and Kyle Martin to provide some strength in attack. With Bailey Chamberlain another talented top-age teenager in the line-up, it will take some of the pressure off the likes of 2019 best and fairest winner, Logan Hill, as well as ex-Hawk Dallas Willsmore.

No doubt it will still be a tough year for the senior side with so many huge recruits to a number of other sides, but the youth in the team will give the Bloods great depth and help out across the board. They will need to overcome the losses of Jono Beech and Chris Schmidt this season who were both huge contributors to the team.

Draft Central predictions:

Premiers: Norwood
Runners-Up: Glenelg
Big Improver: North Adelaide

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

Draft Central All-Star Team: Glenelg

GLENELG TIGERS have a talented All-Star team with some elite players to help straighten up the side and make it ultra-competitive. The Tigers have some strong key position players and those with a heap of premiership success which means they already know what it takes to be the best side.

THE TEAM:

The team has a strength in defence, with some stars littered through midfield and up forward, including Blues legend Stephen Kernahan who was named captain of the Tigers after winning out All-Star voting. Whilst the depth is not as high as some other sides, they still have viable options coming off the bench who were able to hold up positions in best 22s at VFL/AFL level for some time.

DEFENCE:

Holding down the key back positions were Chad Cornes and Rod Jameson providing some serious strength there, whilst a number of medium-smalls provide some elite depth. Jameson was named at full-back in Adelaide’s team of the decade, but also kicked 113 goals across nine seasons as he spent some time up forward. Cornes played 239 games with the Power, including the 2004 premiership side. A dual All-Australian, Cornes moved to New South Wales, where he played 16 games for GWS during the club’s infant years. He is also a member of the SANFL Hall of Fame and amassed 50 Brownlow votes across his 15-year career.

Geelong legend Andrew Mackie in the back pocket with three premierships to his name and an All-Australian honour, whilst no-frills utility, Tom Logan assumes a role in the other back pocket. At half-back, Carlton great Andrew McKay played out 244 games and won a club best and fairest in his final season at AFL/VFL level for the Blues. Sliding back to half-back is Bryce Gibbs, the only current player in the back six. He could also play on a wing, but in this scenario has moved back to half-back where he could show class as he did where he won a best and fairest and All-Australian honour. Looking to the bench, Essendon premiership player David Grenvold could come on and provide some support,

MIDFIELD:

The midfield is huge, with Port Adelaide midfielder and tagger Kane Cornes joining his brother in the side. He played 300 games with the Power and was able to accumulate four best and fairests and two All-Australians in his 15 seasons with the club. On the other wing is West Coast’s and former Brisbane midfield Jack Redden who also provides some more recent talent in the side, with 227-game Crow Chris McDermott in the centre. McDermott was the inaugural captain of the Crows, and also named captain of the 1992 All-Australian team as well as a best and fairest and numerous other awards.

Onball, former Richmond and Geelong star Brad Ottens will take the ruck duties and could also switch forward, booting 261 goals and also earning All-Australian honours and three premierships with Geelong. Two players a couple of decades apart combine in the midfield, as Lachie Neale and Tony McGuinness team up. Neale has catapulted into the top players in the competition of late, with 89 Brownlow votes in 159 games, as well as two best and fairest and three Ross Glendinning Medals as a Docker, before adding an All-Australian honour as a Lion. McGuinness played more than 200 games for both Western Bulldogs and Adelaide, earning three All-Australian honours two best and fairest awards and captained Adelaide for two seasons.

Among the players on the bench who could come on and provide further depth to the Tigers midfield are Jordan McMahon (148 games, 46 goals), Jordan Murdoch (122 games, 74 goals), Simon Cox (93 games, 41 goals) and Alex Neal-Bullen (73 games, 57 goals)

FORWARD:

A strong mix of talls and smalls, there is no bigger legend than Kernahan at centre half-forward. He racked up three best and fariests and five All-Australian awards, finishing his career with 738 games from 251 games. His legend lives on as a Glenelg, SANFL and Carlton Hall of Fame member, as well as the Blues’ all-time leading goalkicker. His full-forward teammate is a lot less known, but had bang for his buck. John Fidge was recruited to four VFL/AFL clubs but only played at Melbourne and Brisbane where he combined for 59 games and 92 goals, including regular hauls of four and five majors.

Across the half-forward line is Brisbane premiership talent Craig McRae who played 195 games and booted 232 games on his way to three premierships. On the other flank is Bays legend Tony Hall who played 114 games with Hawthorn and then Adelaide, booting 174 goals and was named All-Australian in 1988, the same year he won the first of two flags – one with each club. In the pockets are Matthew Liptak and Matthew Bode who both predominantly played for the Crows, while Bode also represented Port Adelaide initially. Liptak booted 128 goals in 116 games, also playing as an inside midfielder, while bode booted 96 goals in 108 games with the two clubs. Key position Hawk, Tim O’Brien is a player on the bench who could provide height up forward.

DEPTH:

Small forward Lincoln McCarthy (53 games and 45 goals) and half-back Daniel Bell (66 games and 1 goal) are among a handful of Tigers who could consider themselves unlucky not to gain selection. Adelaide young gun Darcy Fogarty would be expected to qualify for the team if he continues to show promising signs up forward for the Crows, while Will Gould captained the Croweaters at Under 18s level and is someone who could have a bright future after coming through the Glenelg program.

Marquee Matchup: Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focused series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope hail from South and Western Australia respectively, with Glenelg’s Kaine Baldwin and Swan Districts’ Denver Grainger-Barras pitted against one another. Entering the key position department, Baldwin is an strong key forward who is near-unstoppable in the air and covers the ground well, while Grainger-Barras is a versatile defender who can play the lockdown role just as easily as an intercepting or third-up type. Unfortunately, both suffered injuries across their bottom-age year, with Baldwin ruled out after his first outing for 2019 with an ACL injury, and Grainger-Barras requiring shoulder surgery in the back half of the year.

Having both contributed to the spine of the 2018 Under 16 All Australian squad, this looms as a classic key forward versus key defender matchup which will likely take place at some point should the two run out for their respective states in the 2020 Under 18 National Championships. Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: May 30, 2002

Height: 193cm
Weight: 92kg

Position: Key forward

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002

Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Baldwin – 62cm
Grainger-Barras
– 63cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Baldwin – 77cm/71cm
Grainger-Barras
– 78cm/74cm

SPEED (20m)

Baldwin – 3.18 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 3.08 seconds

AGILITY

Baldwin – 8.54 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 8.19 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Baldwin – 20.8
Grainger-Barras
– 20.8

For players who are regarded as key position prospects at the junior level, they are both quite impressive athletically. Keeping in mind that Baldwin’s testing results came at the end of a year-long rehabilitation for his knee injury, he stacks up quite nicely. The aggressive forward returned a very respectable 20.8 yo-yo test score – identical to Grainger-Barras’ effort – which will only get better as he continues to rebuild and improve his tank.

Both athletes’ aerial prowess is reflected in their very even vertical jump scores, able to breach the 70cm mark off both feet off a rolling start, and 60cm standing. Grainger-Barras fared slightly better across the speed and agility tests, posting terrific times for a player of true key position height. Again, considering Baldwin is coming off a long-term knee injury, his agility time of 8.54 seconds is impressive, and the underwhelming 3.18-second 20-metre sprint can be excused as he usually covers the ground well over time and has decent pace off the lead.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

STATISTICS

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL UNDER 16s: 5 games | 21 disposals | 9.6 marks | 1.6 tackles | 4.4 inside 50s | 2.8 goals (14)

Grainger-Barras:

2019 WAFL COLTS: 7 games | 10.1 disposals | 3.7 marks | 2.1 tackles
2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 games | 12 disposals | 7 marks | 2 tackles | 2.5 rebound 50s

It is obviously difficult to compare statistics here given they have been extracted from different years and age levels, with Baldwin’s only game for 2019 cut short and at the SANFL Reserves level. Looking back at his SANFL Under 16 stats, and it is clear that Baldwin is a true centre-half forward, rather than that typically one-dimensional full forward. His ability to move up the ground and impact the play aerially is reflected in his averages of 21 disposals and 9.6 marks, while still maintaining a very good goal average of nearly three per game.

Grainger-Barras is just as capable in the air, but thrives more significantly in the sense that he can play his role so consistently well. He is a true defender’s defender, able to stop the opposition’s best key forward while breaking up the play with his reading of the ball in flight and marking skills. He may not see much of the ball, but typically uses it soundly and can get some rebound going on the back of his efficiency.

BEST GAME

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL Under 16s Rd 7 vs. Central District

29 disposals
11 marks (four contested)
2 tackles
6 inside 50s
4 goals

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

13 disposals
8 marks
1 tackle
1 rebound 50

The contrast may seem stark in terms of pure numbers, but these two performances stack up fairly evenly when put into context. Baldwin’s best game was selected from his 2018 Under 16 campaign, in a massive win where he managed season-highs in disposals (29) and goals (four). He may not have showcased his contested marking as well as in other games but still managed four, and really conveyed his mobility as he impacted up the field. His versatility as a key position player also shone through, able to pinch hit in the ruck at the junior level.

Grainger-Barras may have returned bigger numbers across his WAFL Colts campaign and sole League outing, but this quality performance against good opposition at the Under 18 national carnival was simply too good to overlook. Against elite-level talent above his age grade, the 195cm defender played a terrific role floating across the back half, while also keeping tabs on the likes of Elijah Hollands. His marking game and reading of the play were exceptional, and it was a performance which only solidified his status as one to watch for this year.

STRENGTHS

Baldwin:

Contested marking
Aggression
Strength
Impact
Ground coverage

Grainger-Barras:

Reading the play
Intercept marking
Athleticism
Defensive versatility
Composure

Both players, putting it simply possess the key strength of marking well, but do so in different ways. While Baldwin is able to crash packs and use his strong hands to clunk marks under heavy duress, Grainger-Barras is slightly taller and uses his athleticism to get to an array of contests, moving efficiently to intercept in the air. The reading of the play and intercept marking aspects go hand-in-hand, and also add to his defensive versatility. As already mentioned, the West Australian can play the lockdown defensive role well, but has great composure on the ball and can deliver it well out of danger, with his ability to play as a second or third tall in defence another string to his bow.

Baldwin’s aggression and strength contribute to that key asset of contested marking, with few keen to step in the hole and get in the way of his 91kg frame. His ability to pull of eye-catching moments and have a say further afield play into his high-impact style, with goals a bonus to the overall package he delivers. Of course, ground coverage is something that comes with his ability to venture out as a centre-half forward, and will only improve as he builds that endurance after a long lay-off.

IMPROVEMENTS

Baldwin:

Durability
Unknown versatility

Grainger-Barras:

Endurance
Offensive output

It is perhaps harsh to put durability and endurance as improvements to be made for either player, especially given the parameters surrounding Baldwin. But being able to prove his durability will be key, although recruiters have shown faith in many prospects who suffered long-term injuries during key years of their development. The question of versatility comes from Baldwin’s height, just below true key position size for AFL standards. Given he is working on perhaps even moving into the midfield, gametime will be key to proving his potential in that area.

Grainger-Barras’ offensive output could help him become an even more versatile defensive outlet, with his ball use already at an outstanding level. If he can be let off the chain and showcase those traits more by winning more of the ball across the backline, he could be such a weapon coming out of defence. It seems as if we are clutching at straws and that is often the case with high-end prospects, but there is always room for improvement.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Baldwin:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Michael Alvaro

Baldwin was another who had a greater impact than what his stat-line would suggest. His contested marking overhead was outstanding; both deeper forward in the first half, and higher up the ground as the game wore on. Baldwin found his way into the game in the second term when he booted his lone goal and missed the chance to add another within a minute. He continued on with an assist to Zac Dumesny in the third term before clunking a couple more contested marks to finish the day with seven overall from 15 disposals.

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Peter Williams

Another bottom-age tall who will hold the West Australian side in good stead for next year, he has some neat defensive and offensive attributes. He killed a contest at half-back with a great spoil across the line, and proceeded to be an intercepting defender throughout the game, saving a number of dangerous forward entries by dropping into the hole. Most importantly, he remained composed under pressure and looks like a promising prospect.