Tag: 2020

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

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.

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.

Q&A: Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

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 Sandringham Dragons’ Blake Howes at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The medium-forward prospect impressed during last year’s Under 16 National Championships, hitting the scoreboard as a hard-working, high-marking lead-up option in Vic Metro’s undefeated carnival winning side. Howes will be looking to crack into Sandringham’s Under 18 line-up this season, and is one of eight Dragons currently involved in the Victorian Academy hubs.

Read what the impressive bottom-ager had to say about his journey so far and the year ahead in our latest Q&A.

>> CATCH UP ON ALL OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

 

MA: Blake, how’s the day been so far?

BH: “Pretty good. We’re just doing the multiple different tests, I’ve enjoyed it with the boys. It’s been a good day so far.”

 

In terms of your footy you’re coming off a strong Under 16 campaign, how was the week up in Queensland for you?

“It was a good week up on the Gold Coast. We played at the GABBA and Southport – which was pissing down that day, terrible weather – but I really enjoyed the week, meeting new guys and different coaches. It was a really, really good experience, I loved it.”

 

Are you looking to crack into the Sandringham Under 18 side now?

“Yes, for sure. Hopefully I get a few games here and there but I’ve just got to continue to work hard, keep training well and hope to impress the coaches.”

 

What kind of role are you looking to lock down?

“Probably that half-forward (role) high up the ground. Just using my work-rate, getting up and down the ground.”

 

Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off along the way?

“No, just to keep playing consistent footy I suppose. Showing what I can do and helping the team out. Just to have fun as well, that’s the main thing.”

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

AFL Draft Watch: Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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 Oakleigh Chargers prospect Finlay Macrae, a balanced midfielder who comes from good pedigree. The brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jack had the opportunity to train at Whitten Oval during preseason after making a splash in Oakleigh’s NAB League premiership-winning side, while also running out for Xavier College in the APS Football season. Macrae was named in Vic Metro’s 2019 squad as a bottom-ager having donned the ‘Big V’ at Under 17 level, but will look to break through for an Under 18 berth in 2020.

While he has spent most of his time with Oakleigh thus far running off a half-forward flank, the classy midfielder will be looking to become a permanent midfield cog in each side he represents as a top-ager. With poise, ball-winning hunger, excellent decision making and skill execution, the promising Charger has all the traits to do exactly that.

PLAYER PAGE:

Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: March 13, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Balanced midfielder

Strengths: Poise/class, decision making, accumulation, versatility
Improvements: Speed/explosiveness

2019 NAB League stats: 7 games | 16.9 disposals | 3.9 marks | 2.6 tackles | 1.1 clearances | 3.4 inside 50s | 0.4 goals (3)

>> Q&A: Finlay Macrae

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 61cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 60cm/72cm
Speed (20m) – 3.12 seconds
Agility – 8.90 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.6

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

A solid game by the NAB League premiership player who was busy in all thirds of the ground. He used it well in the back half early in the match, seeming composed for his side and just settling down and releasing the pressure valve with safe kicks in defensive 50. When he went further up the ground he was able to set up his team going inside 50, winning more of the ball as the game went on. Macrae showed good hands under pressure in defence, but will thrive in the midfield next season.

NAB League Grand Final vs. Eastern

By: Peter Williams

The midfielder had some exciting moments throughout the Grand Final on his way to 20 touches and seven marks, only missing a couple of opportunities and finishing with two behinds on the scoreboard. His run and carry and decision making is a highlight and like a number of Oakleigh midfielders, showed why the Chargers will be tough to beat again next year.

NAB League Preliminary Final vs. Sandringham

By: Ed Pascoe

It would seem a second Macrae is on the horizon in the AFL with 2020 prospect Finlay playing a fantastic game showing his class and composure. Macrae’s best bit of play came in the second quarter selling a bit of candy before kicking a perfect pass inside 50 to teammate Cooper Sharman, Macrae found it easy to find space around the ground and use the ball superbly by hand and foot. Macrae finished the game with 22 disposals, nine marks and six inside 50s.

NAB League Round 17 vs. Sandringham

By: Michael Alvaro

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

Under 17 Futures vs. Queensland

By: Michael Alvaro

Best afield for mine, the brother of Bulldogs star Jack showed off his pedigree with a game-high 34 disposals – 10 more than anyone else – six marks, five clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal. Macrae built into the game nicely, starting with some clean and effective accumulative touches before really having an impact in the second half. He lifted again in the fourth term, hitting the scoreboard with a classy finish from 45m while also assisting goals to Ollie Lord and Jack Diedrich to cap off a fantastic display.

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Metro U18s 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
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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

AFL Draft Watch: Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western 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 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 East Fremantle prospect Brandon Walker, who is part of Fremantle’s booming Next Generation Academy (NGA) alongside twin brother, Chris. The classy, rebounding half-back has already impressed with his line-breaking speed, astute disposal, and vertical leap when intercepting from defensive 50. After earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level, Walker was a standout for Australia in its annual Under 17 fixture against New Zealand, and went on to become a mainstay for East Fremantle’s WAFL Colts outfit as a bottom-ager.

This year, the 184cm prospect will be looking to break into the West Australian Under 18 starting side having been named in the 2019 squad, while also resuming his climb up the WAFL ranks. He managed the second-best running vertical jump off the left side (94cm) across the nation during preseason, and is sure to showcase much more than just his incredible athleticism once the on-field action returns.

PLAYER PAGE:

Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia

DOB: October 17, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Half-back/midfielder

Strengths: Vertical leap, speed, decision making, reading the play, rebounding
Improvements: Consistency/accumulation

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 73cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 75cm/94cm
Speed (20m) – DNT
Agility – DNT
Endurance (Yo-yo) – DNT

DNT – Did not test

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

WAFL Colts Round 15 vs. Peel Thunder

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL U16s All-Australian defender showed why he is so highly touted for the 2020 AFL Draft with another polished performance. He accumulated 11 possessions, grabbed three marks and laid two tackles, while he also provided a heap of run from the defensive half.

WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. Swan Districts

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL Under 16s All-Australian member increased his draft stocks for 2020 with another superb performance. Against Swan Districts, Walker accumulated 16 possessions, took four marks and laid two tackles, playing primarily across the half-back line. His line-breaking capabilities, decision-making and disposal efficiency are all at a fantastic level for someone his age. He is a part of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy.

WAFL Colts Round 8 vs. South Fremantle

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL U16 All-Australian showed why he is already being touted as a possible first round draft pick in next year’s AFL Draft. Against the Bulldogs, Walker gathered 21 possessions, recorded five inside 50s, took four marks and laid four tackles to be one of the best players.

WAFL Colts Round 2 vs. Subiaco

By: Lenny Fogliani

The Fremantle Next-Generation Academy prospect was sizzling off the half-back line for East Fremantle. He finished with 15 possessions and five marks, showcasing the traits that made him an All-Australian last year. He used his speed to burn off opponents, was smart with his decision-making and elite with his foot skills.

WAFL Colts Round 1 vs. Claremont

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 WA U16s All-Australian was excellent for the Sharks, showing why he is so highly rated for the 2020 AFL Draft. He used his crisp disposal and electrifying speed from the half-back line to torch the Tigers. He finished with 11 possessions, five marks and three tackles.

>> 2020 WA U18s 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
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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

Q&A: Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers/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 Murray Bushrangers’ Josh Rachele at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The electric midfielder/forward was a standout at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, captaining Vic Country en route to earning the Kevin Sheehan Medal as Division 1 MVP. His form warranted a call-up to the Bushrangers’ NAB League side, where Rachele booted eight goals in four games in the back-end of the season. With a full athletic package and freaking skills to boot, the 178cm prospect is set to hit the ground running again in 2020, representing Murray and his new school, Caulfield Grammar once football resumes.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Josh, have you had a good day so far with the testing?

JR: “Yes, so far it’s been pretty good, a good experience. I hit a couple of PB’s (personal bests) which is alright but overall the Murray boys have been doing pretty (well) which is good.”

 

Coming off a MVP-winning Under 16 campaign as captain, what has it been like moving into the Murray Under 18s program?

“Obviously there were a lot of high hopes for this season so the main goal is to just play well early. I’ve had a pretty good preseason so far, the first couple of goals will be to get into the Vic Country squad and hopefully play a game. But really, just to develop my game as well.”

 

Where do you see your best position being, having played through the midfield and up forward thus far?

“I’d probably say at the moment probably that fifth/sixth role, that forward-flanker who gets up the ground, then goes deep. Next year I’ll hopefully get a few more minutes in the midfield but this season, hopefully just through the forward line.”

 

Who are some of the Murray-listed players you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“Number one would have to have been Elijah Hollands, but it’s unfortunate with his ACL (injury). But just to learn off him this year, he’s going to do a bit of coaching at Vic Country and the Bushrangers so he’s going to have eyes, just watching me and I’ll ask for advice, especially with the resilience he’s going to have to build.

“Also Zavier Maher, he’s probably going to be in the leadership group at Caulfield Grammar this year. He’s been a big part of my Caulfield journey so far and I’ve been doing a lot of extras with him.”

 

What has the transition to Caulfield been like?

“I think there was about four or five Murray Bushrangers guys already there so that made my move pretty easy. I knew a few day-schoolers already but that main connection with the Bushrangers boys helped me move in pretty smoothly.”

 

It must be great also having a connection with your Under 16 teammates, moving into this year and your top-age season in 2021?

“Yes, next year will probably be one of the biggest years of my life. A lot of high expectations really, but (I’ll look to) have another good preseason and start early. No major goals, just to get into the Vic Country squad again and move from there.”

 

Are there any other little goals you’re looking to tick off?

“We have the Australia (Under 17) game coming up in April, so that will be a goal just to play well there and get a win with the boys which would be an unreal experience. Then to play the Under 17s game on Grand Final day, that’s it really.”

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

>> Get to know
>> Marquee Matchup

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies
182cm/75kg

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

>> Draft Watch

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia
187cm/80kg

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Get to know

Mani Liddy
Sturt/South Australia
181cm/79kg

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

Zavier Maher
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

184cm/82kg

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

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

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

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

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

>> Get to know

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

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

>> Draft Diary

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

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

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

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

Positional Analysis: Key Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

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

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

Squad predictions: 2020 Allies Under 18s

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

GUIDELINES:

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

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

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

DEFENCE

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

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

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


MIDFIELD

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

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

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

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


FORWARD

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

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

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


INTERCHANGE

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

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

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


SQUAD DEPTH

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

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

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

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

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 ALLIES U18s:

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

AFL Draft Watch:

Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

Marquee Matchups:

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

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

>> 2020 UNDER 18 SQUAD PREDICTIONS:

South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia