Tag: 2019

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos

Classic Contests: Fletcher, Cannons come up clutch

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the sides played out a thriller in late-2019.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.6 | 7.11 | 8.13 (61)
CALDER CANNONS
2.1 | 4.3 | 6.7 | 9.11 (65)

Draftees in action:

GWV – Jay Rantall (Collingwood)
Calder – Sam Ramsay (Carlton)

There was not much on the line when the Calder Cannons and GWV Rebels faced off late in the 2019 NAB League season, but it would not stop the sides from giving it their all in search of a win. The finals-bound Cannons came in riding high off an undefeated month of action, sitting sixth at 8-5 and level on points with fourth. The Rebels were on a decent run too, winning two of their last three games to improve their record to 4-8, good enough for 14th spot at the time.

Both regions named relatively unexperienced sides for the bout in Ballarat, with all three age brackets represented across the two lineups. Of course, either side still managed to squeeze in a future draftee each, with Collingwood slider Jay Rantall at the heart of GWV’s midfield, while Sam Ramsay played the same role for Calder. Ramsay would be one of four Cannons drafted in 2019, but the only one afield in this clash.

With pride on the line, the hosts looked as if they had a point to prove after what had been a lacklustre season to date, and took the lead at 10 minutes into the first term. Although Calder managed to remain just over a goal adrift at every break, GWV did not relinquish its lead until the final term, while pushing the margin out to 21 points in the second term and 23 in the third.

Inaccuracy would end up costing the Rebels, with their 21 scoring shots to Calder’s 20 still not enough to prize the four points. The Cannon’s late third quarter momentum carried on into the fourth, as Mason Fletcher found the big sticks with just over a minute played, and put his side in front shortly after. Nick Caris snatched the lead back for GWV in quick time, but that advantage would again prove short-lived as Ned Gentile booted the deciding goal with over 10 minutes left to play.

Both sides spurned opportunities to score in the late stages, with the typically windy conditions making life hard for a would-be hero. It meant the Cannons came up trumps at the ideal time, holding on to win by four points and remain in the hunt for an unlikely top three berth.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Fletcher booted 3.3, including two majors in the final term to play a key role, with his goalscoring feat match by teammate, Gentile. The Rebels laid claim to three multiple goalkickers, with Caris, Harry Sharp, and Matty Lloyd all finding the big sticks in a valiant losing effort.

Unsurprisingly, the two eventual draftees led all comers for disposals, with Rantall racking up a game-high 35 touches, while Ramsay trailed closely to notch 33 of his own – along with three behinds. The Rebels had plenty of the ball, with seven players racking up over 20 disposals, including the returning Liam Herbert (23). Among the Cannons youngsters to impress were Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals) and Harrison Andronaco (17, one goal).

Calder would go on to mount a decent finals run, advancing through Wildcard Round and the first week of finals before losing comfortably to Sandringham in the semis – all after narrowly missing out on the top three. GWV improved its position slightly to finish 10th at 6-9, before being bundled out of Wildcard Round by Western.

Rantall was the sole Rebel drafted from the class of 2020, though he could be joined by some teammates on the day in future. Calder’s impressive haul of four included Ramsay, Harrison Jones, and bolters Lachlan Gollant and Francis Evans.

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Callow vs. Cameron Fleeton

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed 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 potential pairing under review has already taken place, with Geelong’s Cameron Fleeton and Tasmania’s Jackson Callow matching up on each other in Round 16 of last year’s NAB League competition. A phenomenal game from Fleeton helped the Falcons take four points back home to Victoria, but the quality between the two and their willing competitiveness points toward plenty more cracking scraps in the future.

Geelong’s co-captain in 2020, Fleeton came on leaps and bounds toward the back end of last season, debuting in Round 8 and missing just one game on route to cementing an important role among his side’s back six. At 190cm, the Geelong West product also often saw himself matched-up against the opposition’s number one forward, who usually had him covered for both height and weight. It mattered little, with Fleeton’s coverage of the defensive 50 as a whole and closing speed on the lead making up the size difference.

Callow has been at the forefront of the 2020 draft class since his outstanding display at the 2018 Under 16 Division 2 national carnival for Tasmania, showing off the brute strength and contested marking that makes him such an exciting prospect to this day. Though his best work is done in the attacking half, Callow has also shown he can pinch hit in the ruck and hold his own when swung into defence. Having run out on AFL Grand Final day for the Under 17 All Star showcase and won a TSL premiership with North Launceston last year, the big Tasmanian is a proven performer on the big stage.

Without further ado, check out 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

Jackson Callow
Tasmania/Allies

DOB: June 11, 2002

Height: 192cm
Weight: 88kg

Position: Key Forward

Cameron Fleeton
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: June 17, 2002

Height: 190cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: General Defender

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS:

Callow:

14 games
13.6 disposals (54% contested)
6 marks
1.4 tackles
2.6 inside 50s
1.7 goals (24)

Fleeton:

9 games
15.8 disposals
3.4 marks
2 tackles
4.7 rebound 50s
1.4 clearances

As mentioned, Fleeton came to prominence at the Under 18 level in the back-end of 2019, hardly missing a beat as he slotted into the Falcons’ lineup. The most impressive aspect of his game was the combination of offence and defence across centre half-back; doing his bit to cut off opposition attacks with intercept marks and one-on-one wins, while also rebounding with poise. It showed in his averages of 3.4 marks and 4.7 rebound 50s, and outliers in Rounds 8 (six disposals) and 18 (seven) dragged that disposal average down to just under 16, despite managing over 20 thrice.

Callow’s marking game is reflected in his average of six per game, getting up to as high as 10 against the Northern Knights mid-way through the season. He also notched eight marks on four occasions, and only dipped below five, twice – one of which being against Fleeton. The bigman’s ability to work up the ground and provide a target also showed with his 13.6 average disposals, with heavy opposition attention close to goal only compounding that kind of work. Held scoreless just twice, Callow was constantly Tasmania’s primary target, and his three hauls of four goals prove that.

BEST GAME:

Callow:

2019 NAB League Rd 3 vs. NT Thunder Academy

19 disposals (14 kicks)
8 marks
2 tackles
3 inside 50s
5 goals, 2 behinds

Fleeton:

2019 NAB League Rd 16 vs. Tasmania

21 disposals (15 kicks)
1 mark
3 tackles
10 rebound 50s

It was difficult to whittle down Callow’s single best game given he managed four goals on three separate occasions, but only once did he manage a handful of majors. His bag of five against the NT Thunder Academy in Round 3 came from a season-high 19 disposals and near-best of eight marks, with no opposition able to combat his strength and aerial threat inside 50. Callow was prominent in almost every game he played, but this one just had to take the cake.

We have judged Fleeton’s job on Callow in Round 16 as his best performance for the Falcons to date, despite falling below season highs for disposals (24) and marks (seven). Geelong struggled for wins in 2019, but the youngster’s blanket job on Tasmania’s spearhead went a long way to ensuring they would pick on up on the road, giving it all the more significance. Fleeton’s shutdown work in the air and offensive threat by foot were top notch, making it a benchmark kind of game for the Falcons skipper.

PREVIOUS MEETING:

2019 NAB League Round 16
Tasmania 6.13 (49) def. by Geelong Falcons 8.8 (56)

Fleeton – 21 disposals (15 kicks), 3 tackles, 1 mark, 10 rebound 50s

vs.

Callow – 8 disposals, 4 marks, 1.1

Callow’s second-lowest disposal and mark hauls came against the lockdown job of Fleeton, who adjusted well to blanket a bigger opponent. The Tasmanian’s frustration showed on a couple of occasions as Fleeton and the Falcons got on top, with Callow’s early aerial threat largely accounted for after quarter time. Fleeton looked to be really trusting his marking and disposal by foot, while Callow was tried a touch further afield as the game wore on. Tough day at the office, but a great physical contest between two young guns.

STRENGTHS:

Callow:

Contested marking
Aggression
Strength
Goal kicking

Fleeton:

Intercept marking
Decision making
Defensive rebound
Defensive versatility

For Callow, it is almost a classic case of if you watch him once, you’ve watched him a thousand times. His strengths are obvious from the get-go, with that trademark contested marking and fearless attack on the ball making him such a special talent. Countless opponents found it near-impossible to stop him in the air without help, and Callow’s aggressive follow-up work at ground level on adds another string to his bow. Tough conditions and heavy attention may have sent some of his scoring attempts wayward at times, but Callow is usually a sound kick for goal.

While Callow often uses his strength to outdo the opposition, Fleeton can engage in a variety of ways to shut down his direct opponent. His reading of the game is sound, allowing him to float in from the back or side of packs, while his closing speed means he is seldom beaten on the lead. Fleeton’s work on the defensive side is matched by his output going the other way too, with sound decision making and execution by foot both features of his game. Those kind of two-way defenders are invaluable, and his versatility allows the Falcons to adjust to a variety of set-ups.

IMPROVEMENTS:

Callow:

Versatility

Fleeton:

Size

Draft analysts often find themselves splitting hairs when attempting to pin-point the improvements to be made in a prospect’s game, and it is no different here. The respective improvements listed are not necessarily complete blights on their games, but rather areas which could help take them to the next level.

While he has been employed down back and can do the ruckwork inside attacking 50, Callow’s ability to have the same impact in those areas than he has up forward could help grow his stock even further. With modern day key position players often made to adjust their roles along the line, it certainly would not hurt. An area that has not been listed and is ironically placed in the strengths category is Callow’s aggression. The bustling bigman has been shown to get frustrated in the face of opposition attention at times, something he will unfortunately need to get used to given his immense talent.

Fleeton was one of the players to get under Callow’s skin, and it could have had a few people worried for him given the difference in size. While his versatility is a terrific plus, Fleeton may find it hard to play a pure key defensive role at just 190cm – a bit of an in-between size. His assets help to make up for it at the junior standard, but a more intercept or rebound heavy role will suit him at the next level. Something not listed is also Fleeton’s willingness to make risky kicks going across his defensive 50 arc. While his skill may see them come off more often than not, it could come unstuck with greater pressure applied.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES:

Callow:

2019 NAB League Round 12 vs. Eastern

Callow looked like having a huge game after he booted three goals within the first half-hour, but was clamped well after the main break with Eastern ensuring he would compete against two or three markers in the air.

He started off by winning a ground ball against his direct opponent deep inside 50 before snapping the first goal of the game, following up with a huge pack mark and set shot goal to highlight a scintillating opening.

He also created Will Peppin’s goal after booting his third, marking deep in the pocket and kicking well inboard. His physicality ensured that direct opponents were more occupied with holding him that getting to the ball, and Callow’s work off the deck was scarily good for a player of his size.

Fleeton:

2019 NAB League Wildcard Round vs. Sandringham

Was quite possibly Geelong’s best player given the heat he took on in a key defensive post. Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot coming out of defence.

Two of his three marks were fantastic too, intercepting strongly in the first term and sticking a one-hander going back in the second to show some courage and athleticism. The bottom-ager was also incredibly composed on the ball, not afraid to take on opponents on the last line and burning one in the second quarter with a good piece of agility after gathering over the back.

Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.

ACCOLADES:

Callow:

2019 Tasmania Devils Best & Fairest runner-up
2019 Tasmania Devils Forward of the Year
2019 TSL Premiership Player
2020 Allies Hub member

Fleeton:

4th in Geelong Falcons 2019 Best & Fairest
2019 Geelong Falcons Most Consistent
2020 Geelong Falcons co-captain
2020 Vic Country Hub member