Tag: academy

2020 AFL Draft recap: Western Bulldogs

WITH the consensus best player available in this year’s draft tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA), the Western Bulldogs did a heap of early work to ensure their man would arrive at the kennel, along with at least one more National Draft selection. The momentum of a bumper trade period carried on into the next intake opportunity and is set to put the Dogs in good stead for another finals push in 2021. Boasting a spine which is filling out nicely and a ridiculously deep midfield, Luke Beveridge‘s side looks primed to ascend in the coming seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

National Draft:
#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Rookies:
Lachlan McNeil (Woodville West Torrens), Roarke Smith (Re-listed)

The Bulldogs were well prepared to match a bid for NGA gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan anywhere within the top three, and did so without second thought when Adelaide put them on the board with the very first pick. Their remaining selections were effectively wiped, leaving only a late third rounder to look forward to thereafter.

Ugle-Hagan promises to form a formidable forward combination with Aaron Naughton, adding even more aerial firepower and match-winning ability. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate is quick off the mark and has a sizeable vertical leap, making him near-impossible to stop on the lead. Despite the lack of a top-age season, he has long been pegged as this year’s first choice and could quickly become one of the competition’s elites. He should be in the frame for an early debut.

With just one more point of call in the National Draft, the Bulldogs added another raw and athletic talent in Dominic Bedendo at Pick 55. The lean Murray Bushrangers product has outstanding athleticism across the board and good versatility in the the sense that he can play either up forward or as a wingman. His ceiling is quite high, but there is plenty of development left to make and strength to be added to his 187cm frame.

The only other fresh face to arrive at Whitten Oval was 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil, taken in the Rookie Draft. After being overlooked last year, the Woodville-West Torrens midfielder remained in the conversation with a quality SANFL League campaign for the eventual premiers. His inside-outside balance and running capacity would have appealed to the Bulldogs, who admittedly now have an embarrassment of riches in the engine room.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was the consensus best player in this year’s draft | Credit: Western Bulldogs

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

21 elite top-age prospects have been named in the 2021 AFL Academy squad, as the AFL reverts back to a condensed nationwide program. Previously, the intake entailed as many as 150 talents from around the nation being nurtured in their state hubs, but with cost cutting at the hands of COVID-19 the traditional model will be reinstated.

The squad, coached by former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer, is set to play a game against a Victorian state league side and participate in camps during the year. Players are still set to be added to the list with a number of spots left vacant, as the AFL and club recruiters collaborate to finalise the intake.

Among the standouts, current pick one frontrunner Jason Horne joins the likes of Collingwood father-son hopeful Nick Daicos in the squad. Horne has already gained senior SANFL experience with South Adelaide and has a wide range of weapons, including his speed, ball winning ability, and aerial prowess. Daicos, the son of Peter, has all the skill his pedigree would suggest and enters the elite pathway with a great reputation in the APS competition under his belt.

Victorians dominate the squad with 10 selections, with a far less compromised top-end highlighting the lucky dip that is the AFL Draft. Aside from Daicos, Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Austin Harris (Gold Coast, Academy), and Ned Stevens (Gold Coast, Darwin zone) are the only other selections with ties to clubs. In another shift from this year’s cohort, it looks set to be a talent pool consisting largely of midfielders at the top end.

>> A look ahead: 21 in 2021
>> 2021 AFL Women’s Academy

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence)
Rhett Bazzo (Western Australia/Swan Districts)
Jase Burgoyne (South Australia/Woodville West Torrens)
Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy)
Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers)
Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy)
Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels)
Jason Horne (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Matthew Johnson (Western Australia/Subiaco)
Cooper Murley (South Australia/Norwood)
Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers)
Matthew Roberts (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges)
Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy)
Jacob Van Rooyen (Western Australia/Claremont)
Jack Williams (Western Australia/East Fremantle)

Featured Image: Joshua Rachele looms as a top prospect in 2021 | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Sydney Swans

DESPITE the final standings showing a 16th place finish, Sydney was a side which produced plenty of promise throughout 2020. Much of that came down to young talent rising the Swans’ ranks and with an eventual draft haul boasting two top five picks, that factor is set to be compounded heading into next season. Pick three slid down to pick four and the Swans were again on the board with pick five, quickly matching their first of two bids in the National Draft. One more matched bid and a couple of rookies later, and Sydney has a handful of fresh faces entering the elite system, but with a sense of great familiarity given three are Academy graduates.

SYDNEY

National Draft:
#4 Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
#5 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
#32 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

Rookies:
Malachy Carruthers (Sturt/South Australia), Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

Having known what was available with its two leading Academy products, Sydney came into the draft looking to target key position options with its first pick. Many analysts linked the selection with West Australian defender Denver Grainger-Barras, but the Swans rated Logan McDonald higher so when he slipped past Adelaide and North Melbourne, they pounced on their man.

McDonald is another West Australian with a full season of senior football under his belt, proving one of the big improvers this year after a stellar campaign up forward. The 196cm forward is hard to deny in front of goal, able to find the big sticks from a bunch of ranges while also bringing contested marking to the fore. He can play deep, but also gains good separation up the ground with his elite endurance base. It is something which has seen him draw comparisons to St Kilda great, Nick Riewoldt.

The Swans were always prepared to match a top 10 bid for Academy talent, Braeden Campbell, but were perhaps a touch peeved when Hawthorn put them back on the clock with pick five. It proved a straightforward decision to match, even if it meant Sydney would then sweat on where Errol Gulden‘s range would land. Ideally for the Swans, it came after the first round and in a position where they could comfortably match once again.

Campbell is a 181cm midfielder with great versatility; not only with his inside-outside balance, but also in that he can also play up forward or off half-back. His speed and penetrating boot make for two damaging weapons and plenty of upside. Gulden is a touch smaller at 175cm, but just as versatile and finds the ball at will no matter which level he plays at. He is crafty with ball in hand, runs all day, and may even be in line for a Round 1 debut despite his light frame. With those two bids matched, the Swans were satisfied with their National Draft intake.

That left a little more action for the Rookie Draft and the Swans took on another interstate prospect in South Australian, Malachy Carruthers. The Sturt Under 18s standout is another terrific runner who opens up the play across half-back or on the wing with his expansive use by foot. Another Academy graduate in Marc Sheather also made the cut at no cost, bringing athleticism, a readymade frame, and developable footballing traits to the squad. He can play on each line and even above his 185cm height.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Swans Academy graduates Braeden Campbell (left) and Errol Gulden | Credit: Jenny Evans/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Richmond Tigers

BACK-TO-BACK reigning premiers, Richmond has not had a massive amount to do with the draft in recent years, with squad depth the main area of focus rather than specific needs. Having taken a first rounder in each of the last three drafts, the Tigers opted to trade out of the pointy end this time around, instead stocking plenty of ammunition for a bumper 2021 crop or future trade flex. Only two selections were made at the National Draft, while one Category B rookie listing capped off a total haul of three new players set to grace Punt Road Oval in 2021, wearing the famous yellow and black.

RICHMOND

National Draft:
#40 Samson Ryan (Sherwood/Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

Rookies:
Mate Colina (Cat B)

Having dealt with Geelong to move out of this year’s first round and into that of 2021, Richmond’s first live selection came all the way back at Pick 40. With tall stocks a key area of fulfilment in the long-term, the Tigers went with 206cm ruckman Samson Ryan and kept with their recent theme of targeting Brisbane Lions Academy graduates. The raw 20-year-old prospect is a little further along than other rucks available and impressed as Sherwood’s primary ruck during this year’s QAFL season. He is a mobile type whose potential comes in clean skills and a steady rate of improvement for someone of his size.

Richmond was then made to match a bid for father-son talent Maurice Rioli Jnr, one of the more talked about prospects in this year’s pool. Essendon was the team to put Richmond on the clock before passing on the next pick, as the Tigers took little time to match for their man. As one would come to expect from such a famous name, Rioli is an all-action small forward with great speed and goal sense, while his punishing tackling pressure is sure to suit Richmond’s current style beautifully. He joins cousin, Daniel at the club and will look to replicate the grand success of his late father, Maurice in the yellow and black.

Seven-foot monster, Mate Colina was the Tigers’ sole rookie selection, a Category B listee who comes from a college basketball background. Along similar lines to their acquisition of Ryan and a bunch of other developing talls over the years, the Tigers have looked long-term in this department and especially so given the pecking order is set to shuffle as Ivan Soldo recovers from his long-term knee injury in 2021. Overall, a hat-trick of fresh faces enter Tigerland with a handy sense of familiarity given family links and the Queensland theme.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Richmond father-son draftee Maurice Rioli Jnr trains | Credit: (Retrieved from) @Richmond_FC via Twitter

2020 AFL Draft recap: GWS GIANTS

HAVING lost some key personnel at the trade table this year, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) held a strong hand coming into this year’s draft with four first rounders and five picks within the top 30. While their final haul changed via live trading, the Giants came away with five terrific talents at the National Draft and added another fresh face among their three-pronged rookie intake. After a disappointing 10th place finish in 2020, GWS will hope to hit back with force next year and should be well stocked for sustained success with more draft hauls like this one, adding to an already stacked list.

GWS GIANTS

National Draft:
#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59 Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Rookies:
Sam Reid (Re-listed), Zach Sproule (Re-listed), Will Shaw (NSW/ACT zone, Cat B)

A hat-trick of picks within the top 20 meant GWS had some trading flex, but the strategy was to reassess after those initial selections should a trade agreement not be reached. The latter ended up being the case, with top 10 slider Tanner Bruhn the Giants’ first selection at 12. Potentially the best pure midfielder in the draft behind Will Phillips, the 183cm Geelong Falcons graduate is relentless on the inside and driven to improve. While he adds to the raft of GWS midfield options, the Giants rate his versatility and can see him impacting with his mix of class and intent either down back or up forward.

The Giants then moved to bolster their outside running stocks with picks 15 and 18, making somewhat prospective selections in Conor Stone and Ryan Angwin respectively. Stone doubles as a medium forward but has the aerobic capacity to play further afield, as proven during his time with APS side St Kevin’s. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut for Oakleigh before contributing to its premiership triumph. Angwin has already drawn comparisons to fellow Foster native Xavier Duursma, with his slender frame juxtaposed by fearless attack on the ball. He is another strong runner who looks set to develop in outside roles, but has the potential to fill out and impact either up forward or on the inside.

A trade with Collingwood saw GWS bolster its 2021 hand with another first-rounder, but it came at a cost with the Giants’ remaining top 30 picks going the other way. That left picks 58 and 59 to manufacture something with and a pair of defenders rounded out a solid haul. Cameron Fleeton was called out first, a versatile type who can play tall, small, offensive, or defensive roles down back and was set to co-captain the Geelong Falcons this season. Jacob Wehr is a mature-ager who starred in Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership success in 2020, showcasing enormous class and poise off half-back. His decision making by foot is a real asset which appealed to many clubs.

Sam Reid and Zach Sproule were given rookie lifelines as re-listed players, with NSW/ACT zone selection Will Shaw a surprise Category B listing by the Giants. The classy outside runner was part of the GWS Academy before running out for the Murray Bushrangers and Bendigo Pioneers, but was overlooked in his top-age year. Having swept over vision of him, the Giants were keen to get Shaw on board as a long-term depth option.

Featured Image: Tanner Bruhn was GWS’ first pick in the 2020 National AFL Draft | Credit: Getty Images

2020 AFL Draft recap: Gold Coast SUNS

GOLD COAST took great strides in 2020 and became one of the more enjoyable sides to watch, with a raft of young talent helping the Queensland-based team to 14th place after consecutive bottom-two finishes. The Suns came into this draft having done most of their work beforehand, making the most of concessions afforded to them by the AFL to pre-list a couple of top 25 academy talents and rookie three more, while also snaring a genuine slider with Pick 7. Some senior names were also given extended chances through the Rookie Draft, making what looks like a slender draft haul at first glance a rather deep and valuable one for the rising Suns.

GOLD COAST

National Draft:
#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Pre-listings:
Alex Davies (Broadbeach/Allies)
Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder/Wanderers/Allies)

Rookies:
Jacob Townsend (Essendon), Jack Hombsch (Re-listed), Jordan Murdoch (Re-listed), Aiden Fyfe (Broadbeach/Academy), Rhys Nicholls (Labrador/Academy), Hewago Paul Oea (Cat B)

It was a rather short and sweet National Draft for Gold Coast – the same could not be said for viewers who stayed the course – with Pick 7 its only live selection. Elijah Hollands, a dynamic midfielder/forward with top three value, was the Suns’ man having slid down the order when North Melbourne’s selection of Will Phillips saw the dominoes fall differently than expected. The Murray Bushrangers product has exactly the kind of star quality which Gold Coast looks for at the top end, and while he may not see any game time for the first half of his debut season as he recovers from an ACL tear, he could well become the best player out of this year’s crop down the line.

He joins pre-listed academy guns Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey on the Suns’ primary list, essentially meaning three top 25 prospects were landed for the price of one. Davies is a big-bodied inside midfielder who excels at the contest with his clean hands and poise in traffic, which made him Queensland’s top talent from a while back. Jeffrey comes in via the Suns’ access to the Darwin zone and brings terrific athleticism as a swingman. He will likely start in defence but could just as easily utilise his aerial nous as a lead-up forward with serious speed and goal sense.

Among the other academy graduates to hit the bigtime were Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe. Both were pre-listed rookie selections but had their names called out in that draft, while International Scholarship holder Hewego Paul Oea earned Category B status prior to the draft. Nicholls and Fyfe are both aggressive forward runners who can play off half-back or the wing, while ‘Ace’ Oea is a Papua New Guinea native known for his exciting speed and raw talent in the forward half. All three are prospective picks who should provide decent squad depth in the long-term.

The Suns also snared a fresh face, but one familiar to the competition in Jacob Townsend through the Rookie Draft. The 27-year-old joins his fourth AFL club and will add some experience to the forwardline. Meanwhile, Jack Hombsch and Jordan Murdoch were also taken with rookie picks as re-listed players who have been granted another chance in the Suns’ squad. The primary listing of Davies and Jeffrey pushed a number of senior names onto an extended rookie list, which again ties into concessions afforded by the AFL.

Featured Image: The SUNS’ pre-listed Academy talents | Credit: SUNS Media

Rookie Rundown: The picks you might have missed

THE 2020 AFL National and Rookie Drafts have been run and done, with plenty of fresh faces entering the elite system despite limited exposure, opportunities, and football this year. Often times, the best gems and values picks are found in the Rookie Draft and this year is no different, with a bunch of selections not read out during the official event seeing hot prospects get their chance. We take you through some of the names who have snuck onto lists via pre-listing or Category B eligibility, perhaps flying under the radar having been confirmed away from the glamour of draft night.

>> NATIONAL DRAFT: Club-by-club picks
>> ROOKIE DRAFT: Full order

Gold Coast is arguably the team with most relevance to this kind of category, with a total of five pre-listings made as part of the Suns’ draft concessions. Top 25 talents Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey made their way onto the primary list, with the former an academy product and the latter aligned through Gold Coast’s access to the Darwin zone. Davies is a tall inside midfielder who thrives at the contest with great poise and clean extraction, while Jeffrey is an athletic swingman who stands out aerially and has great upside.

Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe are other academy graduates who were called out during the Rookie Draft, both promising to add some outside run and class to the Suns’ squad. Their listings were somewhat of a formality, but also show the growth of Gold Coast’s talent program. International scholarship holder Hewago Paul Oea earned a Category B slot after being overlooked last year, potentially bringing great speed and excitement to the forward half. ‘Ace’, as he is affectionately known, hails from Papua New Guinea and represented the Allies during last year’s Under 18 championships.

Another Queensland academy product in Carter Michael also earned rookie selection, pre-listed by Brisbane having been an integral part of the Lions’ pathway setup. The versatile midfielder’s selection slipped under the radar and was only announced after the fact, but he has long been linked with a spot on the Lions’ list. He is a Category A rookie, while Irish convert Deividas Uosis has been listed as a Category B prospect. The Lithuanian-born athlete was announced as a Lions coup early in 2020, but will only officially join their list come 2021.

Will Shaw was somewhat of a surprise get by GWS, with Marc Sheather Sydney’s only other academy selection after matching bids for Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden. Shaw is a former Giants Academy member who played for both Murray and Bendigo in the NAB League but was overlooked as a top-ager before getting his chance with the Giants, who value his outside run and class. He was eligible for selection as he falls in the Giants’ NSW zone. Sheather is a versatile option for the Swans who can play above his size up forward, down back, or even through midfield. He has athletic traits which appeal and a readymade kind of build. Both are said to have been put into Category B slots.

Adelaide wasted little time in announcing the Category B listings of Next Generation Academy (NGA) members James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch, who managed to slip through past the National Draft. Both are fast-developing talents, with Borlase a strongly-built defender who is the son of 246-game Port Adelaide champion Darryl, while Newchurch is a zippy small forward with x-factor and a wonderful eye for goal. They are far from the finished product, but could play a part in the Crows’ rebuild having capped off a massive overall draft haul.

Elsewhere, a couple of monster basketball converts also earned Category B selection, with Paul Tsapatolis landing at Geelong and Mate Colina snapped up by Richmond. Melbourne NGA prospect Deakyn Smith carries some interest after missing out on this intake, but will train with the club in hopes of nabbing a spot in future. Port Adelaide father-son Taj Schofield was one who did find a home in the Rookie Draft after the Power committed to him, adding great value at essentially no cost.

Featured Image: Gold Coast Category B rookie Hewago Paul Oea | Credit: SUNS Media

A look ahead: The 21 top prospects for 2021

WHILE we are only a day removed from the 2020 AFL National Draft, Draft Central is already looking forward to the next crop of elite level hopefuls. This year’s AFL Draft Guide featured 21 of the best top-age prospects eligible to be drafted in 2021, providing pocket profiles and an insight into what to expect from a upcoming bumper crop. Clubs have already been jostling for position among next year’s order, as plenty of players do the same at the top end with their on-field efforts. We have already identified an early frontrunner, with a familiar father-son name not far off and plenty of variety in terms of representatives from each state and territory.

21 in 2021

The top contender:

Jason Horne (South Adelaide/South Australia)
21/06/2003 | 182cm/75kg
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Horne is the current frontrunner among next year’s crop after returning a sensational season of football. Having already established himself among South Adelaide’s Under 18 setup, he quickly came to dominate this year’s proceedings and earned a call-up to the senior side. He adapted well to the speed of the game playing mostly as a forward, soaring for high marks and backing his speed across the ground. The 2019 SA Under 16 MVP has very few weaknesses, but plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
21/02/2003 | 189cm/83kg
Midfielder/Utility

Somewhat a jack of all trades, Andrews plugged gaps on each line for Vic Metro at last year’s Under 16 championships; showing clean hands, a cool head, and match-winning abilities. Rates highly for upside.

Samuel Banks (Clarence/Tasmania)
2/04/2003 | 186cm/72kg
Midfielder/Half-Back

Arguably Tasmania’s leading 2021 prospect, Banks was the Under 16 Division 2 MVP last year and has already turned out for the Tasmania Devils Under 18 side. The balanced midfielder/half-back has also played senior football for Clarence, showing plenty of class while disposing by foot.

Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
17/10/2003 | 194cm/74kg
Tall Defender

One of Western Australia’s top talents heading into 2021, Bazzo is a versatile defender renowned for his intercept marking ability. He could well blaze a trail similar to that of fellow Swan Districts product, Denver Grainger-Barras having established himself among the Colts side and in the PSA competition this year.

Cooper Beecken (Glenelg/South Australia)
24/02/2003 | 188cm/72kg
Defender

A tall and rangy defender, Beecken staked his claim as a potential high-end prospect for 2021 with a promising showing in this year’s Under 18 All-Stars game. It capped off a solid season overall for the 17-year-old, who holds similarities to Will Day with his stature, marking and kicking abilities.

Lachlan Brooks (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
1/02/2003 | 179cm/75kg
Inside Midfielder

Brooks earned Under 16 All Australian honours after an outstanding carnival for Vic Metro where he showcased great grit and ball winning ability at the contest. He was looking to make his way into Sandringham’s side as a small defender this year, while also playing midfield for Brighton Grammar.

Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country)
27/04/2003 | 185cm/79kg
Half-Back/Wing

Hailing from Murray’s region, Chesser boards at Melbourne Grammar and is set to represent Sandringham during his NAB League stints. He is a rebounding half-back who can also provide dash off the wing, boasting great speed and a wicked boot on the outer.

Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
01/03/2003 | 183cm/72kg
Balanced Midfielder

He has only just entered the Oakleigh Chargers system, but Daicos is already well-known not only for his exploits with Carey Grammar in the APS competition, but also for his ties to Collingwood as a father-son prospect. He has terrific skills and ironically supports Carlton. Already a top five chance.

Arlo Draper (South Adelaide/South Australia)
30/01/2003 | 185cm/71kg
Midfielder/Forward

A smooth-moving type with plenty of upside, Draper returned a fantastic bottom-age season with South Adelaide to prove on of South Australia’s brightest 2021 candidates. He wins a good amount of contested ball while also providing marking and goal threats up forward.

Joshua Fahey (Gold Coast Academy/NSW/ACT)
11/11/2003 | 186cm/76kg
Half-Back/Outside Midfielder

While formerly tied to the GWS Academy, Fahey represented that of the Gold Coast Suns this year and showed fine form. He is a damaging rebound defender who gains plenty of meterage with his daring dash and raking left boot.

Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
15/09/2003 | 182cm/76kg
Inside Midfielder

There are few others who show quite the appetite Hobbs does for the contest, and soggy conditions at last year’s Under 16 championships saw him thrive. Having since made his NAB League debut, Hobbs continues to pump the ball forward and tackle hard at the coalface.

Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/Western Australia)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/80kg
Inside Midfielder

Subiaco Colts premiership player, Johnson developed well in 2020 to become one of his state’s leading midfielders. He has a terrific balance of aggression and class, able to win his own ball and carve ways around his opponents on the exit. Has great upside as a raw, tall ball winner.

Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
7/01/2003 | 195cm/86kg
Key Forward

Lukic is an athletic tall forward who fares particularly well close to goal. After leading the Under 16 Division 1 goalkicking with nine majors, he made his NAB League debut in a stacked Oakleigh side and showed plenty of promise. Has good speed and can compete at ground level.

Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/78kg
Midfielder/Utility

A hard-working midfielder who can play a role on each line, Molan brings a true team-first attitude. He made his NAB League debut last year and has some good upside given his size and versatility. One who you can rely on to compete.

Cooper Murley (Norwood/South Australia)
20/06/2003 | 177cm/66kg
Small Midfielder/Forward

Part of Norwood’s Under 18 premiership side, Murley already looks a class above the grade. His speed out of congestion, repeat forward running, and excellent skills made for scintillating viewing in 2020, making him a prime prospect for next year. Still has some filling out to do.

Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushranger/Vic Country)
11/04/2003 | 179cm/77kg
Small Midfielder/Forward

Rachele rightly took out the Division 1 and Vic Country MVP awards at last year’s Under 16 carnival, putting him firmly in the pick one race. He went on to average two goals per his four NAB League games, bringing plenty of x-factor up forward and spark through midfield.

Lewis Rayson (Glenelg/South Australia)
14/01/2003 | 181cm/64kg
Half-Back

A small defender who impacts in a big way, Rayson provides plenty of drive from half-back. His ability to read the play and break forward quickly in transition is a real asset, capped off by damaging use by foot.

Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/South Australia)
31/07/2003 | 183cm/76kg
Midfielder/Forward

Roberts is a standout wherever he plays and dominated both the school football and SANFL Under 18 scenes at times in 2020. He is capable of racking up huge numbers through sheer work-rate and competitiveness, while also posing a scoring threat when resting up forward.

Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
28/01/03 | 186cm/72kg
Half-Back/Midfielder

Was captain of Vic Metro’s carnival-winning Under 16 side in 2019 and adapted well between multiple roles. Originally employed as a half-back for his run and damaging use by foot, Sinn also thrived in midfield and somewhat of a wildcard. Has plenty of desirable traits and potential.

Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/01/2003 | 181cm/74kg
Midfielder/Forward

Another who has plenty of runs on the board already, Sonsie is silky smooth on the ball through midfield and dangerous around goal. He made his NAB League debut for minor premiers, Eastern Ranges after winning Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP award.

Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/Western Australia)
16/04/2003 | 194cm/88kg
Key Forward

A dominant key forward with terrific aerial presence, Van Rooyen is one of the leading prospects in his position for 2021. He booted 19 goals in 10 WAFL Colts games this season, finding the big sticks at least once in each outing.

In the mix:

In such a promising crop, there are plenty of names who could have easily squeezed into the initial list. From a Victorian perspective, the likes of Lachlan Rankin and Youseph Dib are two exciting talents from the Oakleigh Chargers who featured strongly in the Metro Under 16 squad. Dib is tied to Collingwood as an NGA and plies his trade both inside, on the wing, or up forward, while Rankin is a classy user off half-back. Blake Howes was another standout on the Metro end and has great upside as a high-marking, athletic forward.

South Australians have benefitted greatly from a full state league season, albeit improvised. Morgan Ferres is a tall forward with terrific athleticism and the ability to dominate at centre half-forward. Nasiah Wanganeen and Jase Burgoyne were others to show plenty in the SANFL Under 18s this year, with the latter the son of Peter Burgoyne and thus tied to Port Adelaide as a father-son. Isaiah Dudley, the cousin of Kysaiah Pickett also has links to a club already in Adelaide. He is small, but has plenty of talent and should not be forgotten after an injury-riddled year.

West Australian prospects also benefitted from a season of football, with the likes of Lochlan Paton and Judd McVee both getting some Under 18 midfield minutes. Paton is a solid mover who can roam forward, while McVee is an explosive stoppage player who can also move on the outer. Joshua Browne is another name right up there after his efforts for East Fremantle in 2020, with Max Chipper another to keep in mind as a clean outside user.

Featured Image: Jason Horne is our top pick for 2021 | Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

2020 AFL Draft Preview: West Coast Eagles

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are still subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is West Coast, a side now two seasons removed from its 2018 premiership triumph but still well within the flag hunt. The Eagles’ strong and mature core remains, but their recruiting staff will again have to get creative at the draft table with another set of late selections. Having only come into the equation at Pick 49 last year, the Eagles’ current first pick now lies all the way back at 62, which makes predicting their final draft hand all the more difficult. It may well be the case that in the current environment, West Coast only makes one selection at this year’s event.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Guide
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS: 62, 86, 90, 104, 115

2021 PICKS: WCE Rd 1 | WCE Rd 2, PTA Rd 2 | SYD Rd 3 | WCE Rd 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 62)

Talk about a lucky dip. This year’s draft has been pegged as a ridiculously even one past pick 30, so just imagine the due diligence West Coast will have to do with its first selection coming at 62. Given the vast expanses the 2020 talent pool reaches, West Coast may be a club to look local with what will likely be its sole pick in the National Draft. The likes of Shannon Neale and Kalin Lane, two West Australian rucks, have been linked with the Eagles as long-term key position options. Both are late bloomers of sorts, with Neale an athletics convert and Lane a 19-year-old whose first full WAFL Colts season came this year.

Outside run and class could be another area of fulfilment for the Eagles, so they would be thrilled if a player of Isiah Winder‘s talent was still available in the fourth round. Defenders like Kellen Johnson and Jack Avery could also pique interest given their intercept and rebound qualities, though they are both far from the finished product. A mature-age coup may better suit West Coast’s list profile at this range, with creative South Australian defender Jacob Wehr entering the draft radar along with combine invitees Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore. While technically mature-age, they are all young enough to still provide long-term cove down back.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

West Coast’s current 2020 hand does not offer much flex in terms of live trading, but the Eagles could table their future picks to potentially move up the order and grab a steal. They lay claim to Port’s second rounder and Sydney’s third so if only one prospect is to come through the door this year, those selections may be moved on in order to really make it a good one.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will West Coast come away with just one National Draft selection?

What kind of role will West Coast look to stock long-term?

Can West Coast nab a major slider, or will it take a chance on less proven talent?

Will West Coast look local at the draft?

Featured Image: West Coast skipper Luke Shuey is set to welcome new draftees with open arms | Credit: AAP

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Sydney Swans

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are still subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Sydney, a side which has been notoriously consistent in the modern era but is currently in the midst of a list rebuild. The Swans finished 16th in 2020 having slid from finals to 15th the year before, meaning they will again lay claim to a top five pick and have the chance to bring in some elite young talent. As has often been the case, Sydney also boasts a couple of high-end academy products set to garner interest in the first round; meaning pick three, Braeden Campbell, and Errol Gulden will likely make up the Swans’ total National Draft haul.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Guide
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 3, 34, 37, 43, 48, 60, 82

2021 PICKS*: SYD Rd 1 | SYD Rd 2 | SYD Rd 4

* – denotes as of December 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden (both academy)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term key position depth
Long-term inside midfield depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 3)

While the Swans recently bolstered their ruck stocks during trade period with the coup of Tom Hickey, losing versatile tall Aliir Aliir hurt their top end key position depth. With pick three, Sydney has the opportunity to bring in a genuine gun key defender in Denver Grainger-Barras; a player who can not only fill the post long-term, but who also suits the club’s style and culture. He is the best defender available and will unlikely slide much further among the top five. The West Australian also showed his wares this year against pick one fancy Logan McDonald, arguably getting the better of him in the second half with courageous aerial efforts and superior reading of the play.

Should the Swans again look to target a midfielder in the top five like they did with Dylan Stephens last year, Will Phillips will be the go-to. At 180cm, he is not exactly the big-bodied type Sydney might prefer in the long-term, but he looks every bit the 250-game player clubs look for with such lofty selections. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate joined Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in midfield last year and largely held his own, showcasing consistent ball winning ability, toughness, and a handy step away from congestion. Dynamic midfielder/forward Elijah Hollands could be another factor in this range, while the Swans have also committed to a bid on Western Bulldogs NGA Jamarra Ugle-Hagan should that option be available. Fortunately for Sydney, a bid for Campbell is expected to arrive after pick three.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Having already completed a good amount of work to cover high-end academy bids, the Swans would perhaps prefer to stay a touch quieter among this year’s live trading scene. The best case scenario would see a bid for Campbell come late in the top 10, or even outside it, with Gulden’s bid sliding into the second round. Obviously keen to match both, the Swans could easily avoid a points deficit and any more trading action with that type of hand. Otherwise, we may see them spring to life once a team puts them under the cosh, but it should be a relatively straightforward outcome with three overall picks taken.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Which list need will the Swans attend to with pick five?

Will a bid for Braeden Campbell come within the top 10?

Will Errol Gulden be off the board before round two?

Do the Swans have enough to match two first round academy bids?

Will the Swans pick up any more academy products in their Rookie intake?

Featured Image: Swans Academy prospects Errol Gulden (left) and Braeden Campbell embrace | Credit: Narelle Spangher/ AFL NSW/ACT