Tag: 2020 afl academy

AFL Draft Watch: Alex Davies (Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Gold Coast SUNS Academy product Alex Davies, a big-bodied inside midfielder who looms as Queensland’s most promising 2020 prospect. Solidly built at 191cm and 85kg, Davies is a terrific extractor at the stoppages and finds the ball at will, setting the tone from midfield. He represented the Maroons at Under 16 and 17 level, but will now be looking to become the centrepiece of the Allies’ engine room as a top-ager. His four NAB League outings as a bottom-ager also put him in good stead, and he could cost the SUNS first round points value come draft time.

PLAYER PAGE:

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies

DOB: March 18, 2002

Height: 191cm
Weight: 85kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Strengths: Contested ball, clean hands, distribution, poise
Improvements: Outside impact

2019 NAB League stats: 4 games, 18 disposals (49.3% contested possessions), 2.8 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.8 clearances, 2.8 inside 50s, 1.3 rebound 50s, 0.3 goals (1)

>> Q&A: Alex Davies
>> Marquee Matchup: Davies vs. McInnes

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early. He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners. He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

Under 17 Futures vs. Vic Metro

By: Ed Pascoe

The tallest of Queensland’s big midfielders standing at 190cm, he was a strong player around stoppages going in hard to win clearances but also working hard around the ground to be an option. Davies showed good attack on the ball but he also showed his ability to pressure and give multiple efforts through the midfield, and had a good bit of play in the first quarter with a great second effort smother. Davies finished the game with 15 disposals and was his team’s leading clearance player with five.

Under 17 Futures vs. NSW/ACT

By: Michael Alvaro

Davies’ game suited the conditions, with the big-bodied midfielder bustling around packs and forcing his way through at stoppages. His approach was pretty simple, slamming the ball on the boot in traffic and gaining territory for his team – often kicking off one or two steps. He did the hard stuff as well with six tackles and a spoil to kill the ball from a front-half kick-in.

NAB League Round 6 vs. GWV

By: Sophie Taylor

Davies used his height to his advantage, providing a solid option in pack scenarios while showing some good movement in space and shepherds around stoppages. He put pressure on ground ball and crumbers, credit to his clever use of space and ability to barrel through a pack. Had only the 12 touches, three marks and two tackles, but his bodywork around the ball was solid.

>> MORE SUNS ACADEMY CONTENT

>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction
>> Positional Analysis: Inside Mids
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

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

Marquee Matchups: Oliver Davis vs. Zane Trew

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 as the class of 2020 eventually takes the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Tasmania’s Oliver Davis and Swan Districts’ Zane Trew – make up two of the most promising inside midfielders in this year’s cohort. Both are incredibly tough and consistent, able to prise the ball out at stoppages and set their sides on the front foot from midfield. Ironically, they lined up on the same side during last year’s fixture between Australia’s Under 17s and New Zealand, both impressing through the engine room rotation. In 2020, they will inevitably meet during the proposed Under 18 National Championships, with Davis a leader among the Allies group, and Trew an important cog for Western Australia.

Davis enjoyed a stellar, largely uninterrupted run for his state in its inaugural full-time NAB League campaign, running out 13 times for an average of 22 disposals. He also broke through for a maiden Allies Under 18 appearance, picking up 10 touches against Vic Country on home turf. On the other hand, Trew suffered some bad luck on the injury front to be restricted to just three WAFL Colts games, but impressed in each. He also missed WA’s Under 18 campaign as a result, but is as professional as any current prospect and should be raring to go this year.

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

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 182cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight:
78kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

ATHLETIC PROFILES

2019 PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS

STANDING VERTICAL JUMP

Davis – 56cm
Trew – 60cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Davis – 71cm/68cm
Trew – 76cm/73cm

SPEED (20m)

Davis – 3.11 seconds
Trew – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Davis – 8.29 seconds
Trew – 8.66 seconds

ENDURANCE (YO-YO)

Davis – 20.3
Trew – 20.8

Strength is one key athletic area which is difficult to measure in these tests, but both manage to show it on-field. In these parameters, their respective results match up to those typical of inside midfielders; boasting agility good enough to see them slip out of congestion, power in their legs which translates to the solid jumping results, and not an overly large helping of speed. The two broke dead-even over 20 metres, and will look to improve their explosive burst over the course of 2020. Trew’s yo-yo test score of 20.8 is understandable considering the amount of time he spent on the sidelines in 2019, but both players should look to really boost that number to better suit their position at the next level.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Davis:

2019 NAB League

13 games | 22.0 disposals | 2.4 marks | 7.8 tackles | 5.4 clearances | 5.1 inside 50s | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1)

Trew:

2019 WAFL Colts

3 games | 29 disposals | 2.3 marks | 7 tackles | 2.3 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

It is quite tough to take a hell of a lot away from numbers over such a wide gap in games, but the similarities are evident between these two players in the data provided.

Davis was a figure of consistency as a bottom-ager, moving through midfield as the Devils’ primary ball winner and main contested asset. His 22-disposal average can attest to that, along with averages of 7.8 tackles, 5.4 clearances, and 5.1 inside 50s. It goes to show that a lot of his possessions come at the coalface, with long kicks his outlet of choice.

Trew is a touch different in the sense that he extracts more significantly via hand, but his ball winning ability is just as prominent as he boasts a higher average across three games – largely thanks to a 40-disposal performance which we will get to later. The West Australian’s numbers stack up well across the board, and display the same contested strength as Davis.

BEST GAME

Davis:

2019 NAB League Round 8 vs. Dandenong

33 disposals
7 marks
3 tackles
5 clearances
9 inside 50s

Trew:

2019 WAFL Colts Round 3 vs. Perth

40 disposals
(24 handballs)
4 marks
10 tackles
4 inside 50s

Both prospects put their accumulative value on full show in our chosen performances, racking up game-high numbers and respective personal-bests for 2019 in terms of disposals.

Davis’ big outing came in tight a loss to Dandenong, which boasted the likes of Hayden Young and Mitchell Riordan in its midfield. Davis’ work rate came to the fore against stiff opposition, digging in to collect 33 disposals; split between his contested work (five clearances), and ever-improving spread away from it (seven marks). He pumped the ball inside attacking 50 nine times, too, showcasing that kick-first approach.

A handball-happy Trew also enjoyed a day out, but stands a level above Davis here in the sense that it came in a win, and he also managed to crack the 40-disposal mark. This was Trew’s final WAFL Colts game for the year, and was a display which had been building after efforts of 21 and 26 disposals. His two-way work rate came to the fore with 10 tackles, and that undeniable strength at the contest helped him flick out plenty of passes from the middle via hand.

STRENGTHS

Davis:

Contested ball/clearances
Consistency
Toughness
Tackling
Agility

Trew:

Contested ball/extraction
Releasing handballs
Strength
Tackling
Poise

While there are some obvious similarities across the strengths of either player, the subtle differences in their respective styles can also be observed.

The distinction of clearances on Davis’ side, to extraction for Trew in terms of contested ball is quite deliberate. While Trew is a terrific clearance player himself, he has been shown more significantly to use his strength and awareness to release handballs to teammates on the run, rather than simply look for meterage. On the other hand, Davis has largely taken the quick entry approach in similar situations, able to use his agility to make small openings and pump the ball forward via foot at the first opportunity. He seems to be finding a better balance in his short-range kicks and handball outlets as time goes on.

Both players are incredibly tough going both ways, and remain just as relevant in their defensive duties as they are going forward. Tackling is listed as a strength on either side, and rightly so as the two love to dig in with averages of over seven tackles each per game. But those slight differences in agility against strength, and first options by foot or hand are the things which set these two prospects apart.

IMPROVEMENTS

Davis:

Speed
Blazing away

Trew:

Breakaway speed

The improvements slapped next to the names of inside midfielders almost feel pre-set at times, and while these two may be working on some of those typical areas, they are more advanced than most overall.

Both will inevitably be working on their speed to achieve that eye-catching burst from congestion, despite not being punishably slow at this point in time. For Trew, it is listed as breakaway speed as he tends to stand up in tackles a touch more than Davis, and could benefit from translating his strength in different ways.

Davis has the agility to keep out of trouble, but often throws the ball straight on his boot in traffic. As mentioned, he seems to be improving in that area, and is quite capable of hitting up shorter options with time going inside 50. On the flip-side, Trew is a highly skilled disposer by foot and could be even more damaging if he utilised that asset a touch more – it is just a matter of finding balance.

Something which is not listed for either player, but will make them more complete prospects is the factor of scoreboard impact. Both managed just a goal apiece last year and while Trew has the penetration to find the goals from range, could always do so more often as Davis would hope to.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Davis:

2019 NAB League Round 11 vs. Northern

Responded well to being left out of the Allies’ 23, bouncing back to his usual ball-winning ways as a constant at the stoppages. Provides a good mix of competitiveness going both ways, finding the ball constantly but also tackling hard without it. He did show some burst and a willingness to kick forward on occasion – like with his centre clearance in the final term – and has the potential to be more effective in use. Was the skipper for the day as a bottom-ager, so has some pretty impressive traits already and is quite obviously talented.

Trew:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Metro

There’s a lot to like about the Swan Districts product as a solidly built midfielder. Starting at the opening centre bounce, Trew’s first big play was a releasing handball forward which opened up play, followed by a composed kick across the 50 that highlighted his rare vision. Later in the game, his overhead marking came into play as he floated between the 50 arcs, contesting hard in the air. Trew’s aggression also came to the fore as he was not afraid to get stuck in and lay some hard tackles.

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

Marquee Matchups: Eddie Ford vs. Oliver Henry

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 pair next under the microscope – Western Jets’ Eddie Ford and Geelong Falcons’ Oliver Henry – are two high-flying prospects who have already lined up on opposing sides at NAB League level, as well as in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase fixture. While neither player was able to break through for a representative Under 18 berth in 2019, both ran out for Under 17 digs in the ‘Big V’ after also representing their regions in the 2018 Under 16 National Championships.

Western’s Ford is a forward/midfielder with plenty of x-factor, able to break games open with his scoreboard impact and knack for taking big marks. Henry is similarly gifted in the air, but is more of a swingman having rotated from end-to-end for the Falcons last year. He is likely to spend a touch more time up forward in 2020, and will be a key part of Geelong’s talented squad after 15 NAB League outings last year. Ford managed one more appearance for the Jets as a bottom-ager, and will be a focal point as he looks to develop his midfield craft.

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

Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro

DOB: June 21, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: General forward/midfielder

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: June 29, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: General forward/defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

There is no recent testing data to feed off from either player due to precautionary preseason management; with Ford sitting out testing on account of a persistent knee niggle, while Henry took the safe route with his tight left hamstring.

However, it only really takes a couple of glimpses of both prospects on-field to recognise their athletic values. Both possess terrific vertical leaps, helping Henry to play above his size up either end, and allowing Ford to take eye-catching hangers in full flight. Ford is perhaps a touch quicker off the mark, and both players are quite agile in general play given their relatively lean builds. Endurance is an area which remains to be seen on either side, especially given their interrupted preseasons and the extended break.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Ford:

16 games
14.1 disposals
3.7 marks
1.4 tackles
1.5 clearances
1.9 inside 50s
0.4 goals (7)

Henry:

15 games
10.0 disposals
4.4 marks
1.1 tackles
1.5 inside 50s
0.8 rebound 50s
1.2 goals (18)

The closeness in this pair’s 2019 statistics is quite satisfying, each running out for a virtually identical amount of games and returning very similar numbers. The small differences can also be attributed to their respective roles; as Ford was able to run through midfield and pump forward some clearances while adding to those inside 50 numbers, while Henry penetrated both arcs in his swingman duties and provided slightly better marking numbers due to his intercept marking ability in defence. His role as somewhat of a third leading tall up forward also contributed to that, allowing the Geelong product to hit the scoreboard more often with over a goal per game. Ford booted goals in six seperate games, including two with multiples, while Henry managed multiples in five of his seven scoring games.

BEST GAME

Ford:

2019 NAB League Round 7 vs. Dandenong

20 disposals
10 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50
2 goals

Henry:

2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Dandenong

11 disposals (10 kicks)
7 marks
1 inside 50
5 goals
3 behinds

Our selections make it seem as if Dandenong were whipping boys in 2019, but it is purely a coincidence that both players performed well against the Stingrays. Ford found the ideal balance between his midfield and forward craft, shifting through the engine room at times while spreading well around the ground and making his impact felt when forward of centre. His efforts were in vein given Western’s big loss, as were Henry’s in Geelong’s draw with the Stingrays. The Falcon’s seven marks as a forward target showcased that ability to play above his size, with eight of his 11 disposals also ending in scores. Henry did have higher disposal games, primarily in the backline, but we feel this performance better exemplifies the role he can play at the next level.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 NAB League Round 8
Western Jets 7.8 (50) def. Geelong Falcons 2.10 (22)

Ford:

12 disposals
4 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50

Henry:

8 disposals (7 kicks)
6 marks
3 tackles
2 inside 50s

In what was hardly a memorable early-season clash between Geelong and Western, these two bottom-aged guns were kept relatively quiet. Still, they were able to show flashes of their best form, with Ford nearing his overall disposal average and finding space on the outer, while Henry was a viable marking option for the Falcons. Neither player was able to find the big sticks, and it is quiet understandable as Geelong managed just two majors to Western’s seven.

STRENGTHS

Ford:

Vertical leap
Clean hands
Overhead marking
X-factor
Impact

Henry:

Marking on the lead
Intercepting
Vertical leap
Versatility
Composure

If you weren’t already aware, both of these players are terrific markers of the ball. While vertical leap is a listed strength on either side, Ford and Henry use it in slightly different ways. While Ford can pull off those explosive pack marks, Henry uses his leap to intercept while sitting in the defensive hole, or to get extension on the lead as a forward. Henry’s dual-purpose marking ability makes him an ultimate utility, which is exactly why versatility is also listed as one of his assets. Ford’s knack for hauling in those mercurial grabs gives him a touch of x-factor, which is also seen in his ability to impact the scoreboard and break games open in quick time. Another string to Henry’s bow is his composure, usually a sure disposer by foot who fared well while the Falcons were under enormous pressure in 2019. Both players only need a few touches to truly damage the opposition, with their combination of athleticism and freakish skills setting them apart.

IMPROVEMENTS

Ford:

Consistency/accumulation

Henry:

Playing to size

Pin-pointing improvements for such high-level players is often an exercise in splitting hairs, but we continue to give it a crack. Neither of the listed areas are necessarily knocks on the players, but more so little adjustments which could be made along the path to becoming more complete prospects.

With Ford eying off more time in the midfield, he will need to up his accumulative value and become a more consistent figure in games. While stats aren’t everything and his ability to tear games apart in small bursts works up forward, imagine what impact he could have with more of the ball.

For Henry, while quashing his versatility would be silly, having him lock down or show greater strength in one specific role sometimes makes a prospect easier to recruit, as you know exactly what kind of player to mould at the next level. Given he can play like a key position outlet at just 187cm among juniors, he can perhaps work on better playing to his size in harnessing that ground ball game to excel in the AFL system.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Ford:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kick a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through.

It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

Henry:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The talented Geelong Falcon who is the younger brother of rising Cats’ defender Jack Henry showed plenty of his talent in what was a hard day for the Team Dal Santo forwards. He was still able to catch the eye; he hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a quality intercept mark in the goal square showing his speed and quick decision making.

Henry was strong overhead and clean at ground level but he also did the what was required defensively as well with some good tackles and smothers, he looks to be one of the most dangerous forward prospects in the 2020 draft.

AFL Draft Watch: Bailey Chamberlain (West Adelaide/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already garnered attention for state representation at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is West Adelaide prospect Bailey Chamberlain, a midfielder with well-balanced inside and outside traits. The 179cm prospect is exceptionally quick off the mark, able to burn opponents either on the outside or through traffic, and finish his carries with penetrative kicks.

Chamberlain managed to crack the Bloods’ Reserves grade for three appearances as a bottom-ager in 2019, and will be looking to go a step further once SANFL football returns in 2020. He will also play a key role among South Australia’s Under 18 midfield group, adding a touch of flair to the mix. Catch up on how he has been tracking thus far.

PLAYER PAGE:

Bailey Chamberlain
West Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: June 26, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 70kg

Position: Balanced midfielder

Strengths: Speed, inside/outside balance, run-and-carry, penetration
Improvements: Kicking at speed

2019 SANFL Reserves Stats: 3 games | 13.7 disposals | 2.3 marks | 3.0 tackles | 4.6 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 0.7 rebound 50s | 0.7 goals (2)

2019 SANFL Under 18s Stats: 16 games | 21.6 disposals | 3.8 marks | 4.8 tackles | 4.6 clearances |  3.0 inside 50s | 1.8 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (4)

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 62cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 68cm/73cm
Speed (20m) – 3.08 seconds
Agility – 8.58 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

QUOTES FROM PRESEASON

Goals… “Just trying to push for a League game really. I’ve just been working as hard as I can to try and push into that selection so hopefully I can play some good footy in the Reserves and then get the call-up… and definitely (playing State Under 18s) is my major goal this year, just to play the champs, play every game and play well.”

Strengths… “My ability to play both inside and outside. I reckon I’m a pretty versatile player in the midfield, I can play that winger role or play an inside role.”

Favourite teammates… “Definitely Riley (Thilthorpe). We’re best mates so it’s pretty good running out next to him. Taj Schofield obviously, I go to school with him so I’m pretty close with him – those are the two main ones.”

>> Get to know: West Adelaide Under 18s

>> MORE WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

>> 2020 South Australia U18 Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

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

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

Marquee Matchups: Elijah Hollands vs. Nathan O’Driscoll

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 pair next under the microscope – Murray’s Elijah Hollands and Perth’s Nathan O’Driscoll – have already gone head-to-head, matching up in representative action at Under 16 and Under 18 level, while also playing on opposing sides during last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star fixture. Both are among their state’s leading draft prospects for 2020, with Hollands in the conversation for number one pick honours before suffering a season-ending knee injury, while O’Driscoll has the all-round game to push for first round selection.

Hollands, who was one of the few bottom-agers to feature in all four national carnival opportunities, last year also cracked the Bushrangers’ Under 18 side as a 16-year-old. He played three times in 2018 and backed it up with another four outings in 2019, averaging nearly 17 disposals and over a goal per game in the NAB League in between his school football commitments with Caulfield Grammar. Having already graduated from school, Hollands was primed to feature full-time for Murray in his usual midfield/forward role, hoping to showcase his match-winning abilities.

O’Driscoll was another bottom-aged prospect to make an early break into the Under 18 state squad, running out three times for the Black Ducks across last year’s carnival. Playing mostly as a running half-back/wingman, the Perth product averaged 16 disposals and 6.7 tackles as he adjusted seamlessly to the step-up in competition. O’Driscoll was also a mainstay in the Demons’ Colts side, averaging over 25 disposals in his seven appearances in more of a midfield-oriented role. Both he and Hollands were set to see more midfield minutes in 2020, but could well have also met in a half-back/half-forward duel in this year’s 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

Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: April 25, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Forward/balanced midfielder

Nathan O’Driscoll
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: May 17, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Hollands – 47cm
O’Driscoll
– 67cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Hollands – 60cm/59cm
O’Driscoll
– 86cm/80cm

SPEED (20m)

Hollands – 3.05 seconds
O’Driscoll
– 2.99 seconds

AGILITY

Hollands – 8.87 seconds
O’Driscoll
– 8.46 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Hollands – 21.2
O’Driscoll
– 21.8

Note: Hollands’ results derive from 2019 preseason testing.

Obviously these results are essentially incomparable given all of Hollands’ scores come from his bottom-aged preseason, but O’Driscoll’s efforts from earlier this year give a good insight into his overall athletic package. Both are powerful and well-built athletes, with O’Driscoll proving as much in his near-elite results across the board; posting terrific running vertical jump scores, a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint, very serviceable agility time of 8.46 seconds, and a high-end yo-yo test score of 21.8.

O’Driscoll’s rare combination of speed and endurance is exactly what AFL recruiters yearn for, while his explosive capabilities prove he is well equipped to keep up with the speed and rigours of senior football. While his 2019 results may not speak to it as such, Hollands is not lost on the same attributes, boasting a similarly high-level speed and endurance base. His vertical jumping results are entirely unflattering and thus far from indicative of how he plays. Hollands would arguably feature right up there with O’Driscoll at this point in time if not for his knee injury, but that remains to be seen.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Hollands:

2019 NAB League: 4 games | 17.0 disposals | 5.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (4)

2019 Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 13.5 disposals | 2.3 marks | 5.5 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 5.3 inside 50s | 0.5 goals (2)

O’Driscoll:

2019 WAFL Colts: 7 games | 25.1 disposals | 4 marks | 7.6 tackles | 0 goals

2019 Under 18 National Championships: 3 games | 16 disposals | 1.7 marks | 6.7 tackles | 3 clearances | 2.6 inside 50s

The slight differences in roles across these two prospects are evident in their 2019 statistics, with O’Driscoll showing a higher output in terms of disposals and tackles, while Hollands has the edge in forward 50 penetration and scoreboard impact. It is much easier to find the ball across half-back, but O’Driscoll is exceptional at it with his contested work and intercept marking abilities, while also being able to showcase his ball winning prowess with a touch more midfield time than Hollands – particularly at WAFL Colts level.

In a much more forward or outside oriented role, Hollands managed to find space well and work almost as a centre half-forward at times with his marking strength. His two-way work rate is also evident in his tackling numbers, while that all-important ability to find the goals shines through across all levels. Hollands may see less of the ball, but creates high-impact plays forward of centre. That is not to say O’Driscoll cannot do the same, with his kick penetration particularly damaging on the rebound.

BEST GAME

Hollands:

2019 NAB League Round 1 vs. Gippsland

15 disposals (12 kicks)
10 marks
3 tackles
4 inside 50s
1 goal, 3 behinds

O’Driscoll:

2019 WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. South Fremantle

28 disposals (14 kicks)
7 marks
12 tackles
10 inside 50s

Our chosen game for both players may seem odd given they returned outings with more disposals or goals respectively, but we feel these were their most balanced performances.

Hollands began his 2019 season strongly against good opposition and while his 1.3 may have proven costly in a three-point loss to Gippsland, he was dangerous as ever. The Bushrangers’ 15 disposals were thereabouts with his career average across all levels, but his impact came in his ability to provide an aerial presence (10 marks) and cover the ground well from half-forward with four inside 50s, while also heading back towards goal effectively to put four scores on the board.

O’Driscoll’s chosen game stood out despite having cracked the 30-disposal mark in a seperate outing, and had another level of value given it came in a winning effort. This was a monster performance from the Demons gun, picking up 28 disposals from midfield and pumping the ball forward relentlessly with 10 inside 50s, while remaining relevant around the ground with seven marks, and on the defensive side with 12 tackles. All of O’Driscoll’s damaging traits and work rate were on show in this fixture, and may be a pointer of what’s to come should he be let off the chain through the engine room more often.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 Under 18 National Championships
Vic Country 6.10 (46) def. by Western Australia 7.9 (51)

Hollands:

14 disposals
2 marks
7 tackles
1 clearance
4 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

O’Driscoll:

21 disposals
4 marks
6 tackles
1 clearance
4 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

This was of course the game made famous by Regan Clarke‘s match-winning goal for the Black Ducks, and Hayden Young‘s elite switching kick which put him on the map (if he wasn’t there already). Employed off half-back, O’Driscoll arguably fared the better of the two, showing great dash on the outside and delivering the ball forward with aplomb. Hollands, who was manned at times by Denver Grainger-Barras, still managed to make a menace of himself up forward with a touch more ground level play, but failed to find the big sticks in this outing.

STRENGTHS

Hollands:

Overhead marking
Scoreboard impact
Athleticism
Versatility

O’Driscoll:

Contested ball
Kick penetration
Two-way impact
Explosiveness

It will be difficult to adjust these strengths for Hollands across the year despite being billed for more time in a different role, but O’Driscoll’s four traits listed below translate well across both his half-back and midfield assignments. While Hollands’ overhead marking and scoreboard impact hint at a very forward-oriented mindset, he is just as capable as O’Driscoll on the defensive end when need be, with the mix of speed and smarts from both players aiding such efforts.

Hollands’ athleticism and strong build bode for more time in the engine room, and O’Driscoll has arguably better proven his worth in said position with his ability to hunt the ball and really burst away from stoppages. Hollands thrives on being able to position well and outclass his direct opponents, while O’Driscoll uses the same attribute when stationed in defence to intercept aerially. Hollands is more of an attacking threat in that sense, using his clean hands to burrow through at ground level, while also marking in dangerous areas.

Both players are also great kicks of the ball and while Hollands can sure up his kicking for goal at times, is usually a sure bet in terms of length and accuracy. O’Driscoll’s pins are absolute weapons in terms of penetrative ability, and make him a two-way asset in any position.

IMPROVEMENTS

Hollands:

Consistency/accumulation
Post-injury durability

O’Driscoll:

Short/long-range kicking balance

Part of Hollands’ improvements are listed by no fault of his own, with the question of durability and endurance often attributed to those who suffer severe knee injuries. A preseason at the elite level should cover that issue, with his work-rate and professionalism usually no issue. In terms of moving seamlessly into a more permanent midfield role, he’ll need to up his numbers and find the ball more consistently. O’Driscoll is a difficult one to list improvements for given his well-roundedness both athletically and skills-wise, but finding a balance in his short and long-range kicking options will be key to his effectiveness going forward. He sometimes blasts the ball forward from midfield, but is such a great target-finder when allowed more time.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Hollands:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a very near-complete performance from the Team Brown captain, who booted two classy goals in his time between the midfield and forward line. His work rate in the engine room was top notch, digging in to win the ball himself and tackling hard going the other way with the opposition breaking.

Hollands also impacted the centre bounces from his starting position on the wing early on, proving clean and composed when the footy was hot. His first goal was a typical one, propping after he collected the loose ball and snapping home. The second was a show-stopper, slamming the ball through the big sticks from 55m out off a couple of steps. Is one of the leading prospects at this early stage, and narrowly missed out on best afield honours.

O’Driscoll:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Spread well to win the ball in all thirds of the ground and found plenty of it, particularly early. He took a strong mark at half-forward in the first term and then won a lot of his touches at half-back as the game turned against his side. He would play the defensive side of the wing to mop up and kick long, providing a release option for his side going forward.

Q&A: Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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

The brother of Carlton midfielder and 2018 number one draft pick, Sam, cuts a much different figure to his elder sibling as a loping 202cm ruckman, and remains quite raw in terms of his development. While he thrives in his ruck craft having averaged 27.3 hitouts across 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, Walsh is constantly working on his impact around the ground as he expands his endurance base. The St Joseph’s junior represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and already cracked the Under 18 side in 2019, capping off his year with an appearance in the Under 17 All Star clash on AFL Grand Final day.

He is quite the unique character and is seldom shy to have a crack. Read up on what Walsh had to say during preseason about his development, opportunities afforded to him through the AFL Academy, and the year ahead with the Falcons.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Henry, how has the day been for you?

HW: “Today’s been pretty good.”

 

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

“The vertical jump for sure, love that.”

 

Pretty important in the ruck?

“Yeah.”

 

How has the preseason been so far?

“It’s been real good, thank you.”

 

On-field, how do you think your game’s coming along?

“It’s developing each game which is real good.”

 

Obviously he plays a much different role, but has your brother (Sam) helped that at all over the past few years?

“Yeah, especially through my running and positioning around the ground. It’s been real good.”

 

I’m sure you tapped a few down to him at preseason training with Carlton as well, it must’ve been good to get down there?

“It was. It was real good, a great experience.”

 

How has being part of the Vic Country hub been for you?

“It’s been real good, seeing how all the other boys from different areas for Vic Country have been.”

 

You’re part of a talented group at the Falcons too, you’ve played a lot together already. Are you looking to bounce back after a bit of a down year?

“Oh yeah bloody oath. Hopefully (we) get a few more wins.”

AFL Draft Watch: Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Sydney Swans Academy product Errol Gulden, a crafty outside midfielder/forward who has proven a perennial headache for opposition defenders. The diminutive 172cm speedster has already represented the Allies at Under 18 level, running out for all four games in last year’s national carnival. The feat came after donning NSW/ACT colours for its Under 17 side and earning the 2018 Under 16 Division 2 MVP award. Gulden also shone alongside Swans teammate Braeden Campbell in the 2019 Under 17 All Stars clash, with the pair sure to transition together into the elite level.

PLAYER PAGE:

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 172cm
Weight: 68kg

Position: Outside midfielder/half-forward

Strengths:Speed/agility, smarts, vision, impact, accumulation
Improvements:
Inside game, decision making consistency

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 STATISTICS:

NAB League: 3 games | 27.3 disposals | 63.9% uncontested possessions | 6.0 marks | 2.0 tackles | 2.0 clearances | 8 inside 50s | 2.6 rebound 50s | 1.3 goals (4)

Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 15.0 disposals | 69% uncontested possessions | 2.8 marks | 2.5 tackles | 0.5 clearances | 3.8 inside 50s | 0.8 goals (3)

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

His side’s best despite the loss, and the Sydney Swans fans would be pumped to see both him and Campbell playing well on the MCG. After a quieter first term by his standards often opposed to Eddie Ford at stoppages, he really got going and was crucial in getting his side back into the contest in the second term.

Kicked the easiest of goals over the back in the second term running into the square with space behind him, and looked composed in his movements in close. He sidesteps opponents with ease and gets his hands free time and time again, showing good core strength to stand up in tackles. Just a really clean player who when he gets going adds that touch of class to any side and is hard to stop.

Under 17 Futures vs. Vic Country

By: Michael Alvaro

Came into the side after missing the annual clash against Queensland on the Gold Coast, shaking off some early cobwebs to showcase his talent. Positioned on his customary wing, Gulden continually used his innate ability to find space of the outside to send the Rams forward, getting on the move and piercing some classy passes along the line.

The promising Swans Academy prospect was usually composed with ball in hand, using his agility to prop into space and find a target as he lowered his eyes – a valuable point of difference to many U18 players. While he was almost found out with some kicks across attacking 50 and passes which proved a little too cute, Gulden’s skills were typically fantastic and he makes the play come alive.

Under 18 National Championships vs. South Australia

By: Michael Alvaro

The bottom-aged Sydney Academy member was again impressive, buzzing around the forward half and proving damaging as he wheeled craftily onto his left side. He started in ideal fashion with a well-read crumb off hands inside 50 and clinical finish for his side’s first and only goal in the opening term.

While his spearing passes on the left look good when they come off, Gulden has a tendency to look for those low-percentage kicks across the 50 arc and did turn one over in this game. He can pick his shots better, but is so damaging when he hits them and you would not want to smother his natural talent. Finished with 14 disposals (12 uncontested).

Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Metro

By: Michael Alvaro

Swans fans will be pretty pleased with what their 2020 Academy prospect has shown to date, and this was another great performance on the big stage. Playing off the half-forward flank and up onto a wing, Gulden was a constant threat moving forward when wheeling around onto his trusty left boot. He always looked to create and showed crafty vision with his passes inside 50 to find teammates on multiple occasions.

Gulden was as clean as anyone at ground level and it proved a telling trait as he delivered so effectively in space around the arc. Gulden’s willingness to opt for high-risk/high-reward kicks and ability to make them work more often than not made him a game-changer, topping off his contribution with two goals in the third term. His first was a real highlight, turning his opponent with great agility and finishing clinically on the left from just inside 50. One of the best for next year’s crop.

NAB League Round 4 vs. Sandringham

By: Alex Gibson

One to watch for 2020. Sandringham had no response to the silky bottom ager who collected 26 disposals in a best-on ground performance. Kicking two goals from the wing, Gulden’s left foot was seriously damaging and was often the man trusted with kicking the ball inside 50 due to his ability to hit a target. Sydney may just have themselves another Heeney or Mills here.

NAB League Round 2 vs. Tasmania

By: Matthew Cocks

The bottom-ager’s performance was hard to fault. Gulden found a way to create his own time and space playing predominantly on the wing and through the midfield. Collecting plenty of the ball (33 disposals in total), Gulden was a key cog in setting the Swans up to attack. His two goals in the first half capped off an impressive best-on-ground performance.

>> Sydney Swans Academy Content

>> Marquee Matchup: Errol Gulden vs. Jake Bowey

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

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

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

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Cardillo vs. Archie Perkins

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 pair next under the microscope – Calder’s Jackson Cardillo and Sandringham’s Archie Perkins – ironically already played alongside one another at representative level in 2019, and are set to do so again this year as part of Vic Metro’s Under 18 side. But it is at NAB League level where we may see these two line up on opposing sides, with Cardillo already a mainstay in the Cannons’ side, while Perkins is again set to don the Dragon in between school football commitments with Brighton Grammar.

Both are tremendous athletes who ply their trade in a mix of midfield and forward time, able to use their explosiveness in different facets of the game to catch the eye. Having spent the majority of their time inside forward 50 throughout 2019, the two movers of virtually identical size will now look to develop in more prominent midfield roles across all levels. With that being the case, Cardillo and Perkins would well oppose each other at centre bounces during the NAB League, or join each other on the opposite side of the centre and half-forward lines during the national carnival.

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

Jackson Cardillo
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

DOB: July 3, 2002

Height: 185cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: March 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Cardillo – 66cm
Perkins
– 70cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Cardillo – 76cm/82cm
Perkins
– 92cm/84cm

SPEED (20m)

Cardillo – 2.88 seconds
Perkins
– 2.94 seconds

AGILITY

Cardillo – 8.15 seconds
Perkins
– 8.24 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Cardillo – 20.2
Perkins
– 20.8

These are some of the more outstanding numbers from the Victorian preseason testing day, with both prospects so well matched across each area. Perkins clearly thrives in the jumps, producing massive efforts standing and off either side – something which also shines through on-field. Cardillo certainly does not lag in those areas, but his ground-level prowess is highlighted in very slightly quicker scores in the speed and agility tests. Perkins, a terrific mover across the ground and on the spread boasts a better endurance score, but that is not entirely reflective of Cardillo’s tireless work at the contest.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Cardillo:

18 games
13.2 disposals
2.1 marks
3.8 tackles
2.6 clearances
2.6 inside 50s
0.6 goals (11)

Perkins:

6 games
14.2 disposals
4.2 marks
1.8 tackles
1.3 clearances
3.2 inside 50s
1.7 goals (10)

There is obviously a much smaller sample size to work with on Perkins’ size in terms of NAB League output, but the similarities between the pair are still evident in their 2019 numbers. Both players achieved similar disposal outputs, but it is Cardillo’s ground ball nous (3.8 tackles, 2.6 clearances) and Perkins’ aerial superiority (4.2 marks) which set them apart from one another.

The ability for Perkins to be a weapon going forward is also clear in his greater inside 50 (3.2) and goal (1.7) averages, with his impact hardly waning when used forward of the ball. On the other hand, Cardillo’s tackling pressure and hardness at the ball helps him thrive up forward, with his accumulative impact evident while running through midfield.

Overall, the pair returned very solid numbers as bottom-agers, particularly given they were both moved around the ground and had talented top-aged teammates to content with.

BEST GAME

Cardillo:

2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Dandenong

27 disposals
5 marks
9 tackles
8 clearances
3 inside 50s
1 goal

Perkins:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. Geelong

20 disposals (16 kicks)
5 marks
4 tackles
1 clearance
5 inside 50s
5 behinds

Cardillo’s season-high effort of 27 disposals stands well clear as his best game from a midfield standpoint, thriving on the inside and remaining relevant going both ways. It was the only game in which Cardillo managed to tick over 20 touches, on top of achieving a season-high in tackles with nine to prove his defensive worth. His ability to hunt the ball was also evident as he slammed forward eight clearances and three inside 50s, providing that all-important metres-gained element.

Speaking of, Perkins is one of the most damaging metres-gained midfielder/forwards in the entire 2020 draft crop, and proved as much in his 20-disposal performance against Geelong. Unlike in Cardillo’s best game, Perkins and his Dragons teammates went perilously close to losing in this encounter, scraping over the line by two points as the player in question booted five behinds. Had he been more accurate in the Ballarat conditions, Perkins’ game would have gone to another level given his outstanding marking efforts and penetration (16 kicks, five inside 50s) from half-forward.

Cardillo’s dual two-goal efforts could well have earned a shout here, but he only managed a combined 27 disposals in those outings, while his 19 disposals and one goal against Eastern in Round 17 made for another outstanding candidate. Perkins, too was well-versed against good opposition, booting three goals against premier, Oakleigh in Round 17, with his 16 disposals and two goals against the Sydney Swans Academy another performance near the mark.

PREVIOUS OUTING

2019 Under 17 Futures, Vic Metro vs. Queensland

Cardillo:

18 disposals
1 mark
2 clearances
1 rebound 50
1 goal

Perkins:

21 disposals
2 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
5 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

As mentioned, Cardillo and Perkins are already familiar with each other, but as teammates rather than foes. The two ran out for the Vic Metro Under 17s in 2019, both returning decent numbers as part of the midfield-forward rotation. Perkins was arguably the better on the day, bossing the half-forward line early while later pumping the ball towards goal amid greater midfield time. Cardillo was utilised a touch more on the outside when running further afield, while also assuming his usual secondary role inside forward 50. With efforts around the 20-disposal mark, both players were among Metro’s most influential and versatile.

STRENGTHS

Cardillo:

Explosive speed
Kick penetration
Stoppage presence
Versatility

Perkins:

Explosiveness
Vertical leap
Athleticism
Impact/damage

There are a few slight differences in either player’s listed strengths, despite their very similar makeups. The distinction of Cardillo’s ‘explosive speed’ to Perkins’ ‘explosiveness’ is deliberate, intended to hint that the latter is a more powerful overall package, while the former thrives slightly more in the specific area of speed. Perkins’ other strengths – vertical leap and athleticism – add to that case, though Cardillo is certainly no slouch across the board either.

While Perkins is as damaging as they come with his combination of forward penetration from high up the ground and scoreboard impact, Cardillo provides meterage in his long kicks, mostly from stoppage situations as he bursts away with that five-step speed and delivers the ball forward. The added trait of stoppage presence attributed to Cardillo is largely credit to his two-way work rate, with his attitude towards ball winning matched by a strong tenacity for tackling.

Cardillo’s nod for versatility applies to both players, but may be slightly more applicable to Cardillo at the next level, with his ground-ball presence and tackling pressure incredibly transferable to medium-small forward roles. On the other hand, Perkins is more of a dynamic, aerial threat who can have a greater say around the ground, providing a target while creating forward movement from almost nothing.

IMPROVEMENTS

Cardillo:

Disposal consistency

Perkins:

Accumulation

Picking out improvements for players with high ceilings is usually a relatively simple task, with such players typically quite raw and mistake-prone. But both of these prospects are pretty well polished, with only a couple of areas left to sharpen and help them become better overall footballers. Cardillo’s disposal consistency is something that can be fine-tuned, with his penetration no issue, but shorter options on the move and under pressure sometimes overlooked or missed. Though Perkins is so well suited to the outside, the suggested upping of midfield time means he can increase his ball winning rate, while not losing any of that damage or scoreboard impact he is already known for.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Cardillo:

Round 14 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks.

His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on.

Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and ability to break tackles.

Perkins:

2019 NAB League Round 17 vs. Oakleigh

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going.

Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals.

His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

FINAL WORD

The thing which makes this matchup so intriguing is how closely the pair is matched across their physical attributes. A single centimetre separates them, and they are two of the most remarkable Under 18 prospects across the country in terms of athletic ability across each department. Explosive midfield types are always a joy to watch, with those bursts from congestion often the most replayed moments on highlight reels. Both players may well be capable of producing as much at the elite level, and have the added asset of being able to impact the game up forward. Perkins may feature slightly ahead on draft boards, but both players are sure to provide eye-catching moments once back on the park as two of Vic Metro’s most promising hopefuls.

Q&A: Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

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

The crafty small forward impressed towards the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, getting on the park five times for the Pioneers to return a haul of six goals. Mitchell possesses great speed and goal sense, which has put him right in contention for more representative action having already run out for Vic Country at Under 17 level, and earned a spot in the 2020 AFL Academy hub. The 180cm prospect battled a knee injury during preseason, which meant he was touch-and-go for a Round 1 return at the time.

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Q&A:

 

MA: How’s the day been so far, Seamus?

SM: “It’s been pretty good, enjoying it. I’m not doing much… (I’ve got) a knee injury but it’ll come good pretty soon.”

 

Other than that, has the preseason been okay and will you be ready for Round 1?

“Yes, all good… (and) possibly, we don’t know yet. We’ll see.”

 

Coming off a promising bottom-age year, what do you think were some of the strengths you were able to showcase?

“Probably my speed and a little bit of athleticism. I don’t really think about it too much.”

 

Where do you like playing most, are you looking to still lock down a forward role?

“Yes, half-forward or maybe even the wing role throughout the year.”

 

What kind of things are you working on as a top-ager?

“Probably my cleanliness with ground balls and that sort of stuff.”

 

How is being around the Vic Country hub developing your game?

“Heaps. Even outside of footy as well, I probably need to be more confident and that sort of thing so it’s helped.”

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