Tag: AFL Draft

WAFL Colts Player Focus: James Tunstill (East Perth)

EAST PERTH midfielder James Tunstill has enjoyed a solid season at WAFL Colts level, earning selection in the West Australian Under 19’s State Squad and seeing his side finish top three at season’s end. Tunstill has made a name for himself as a hard working midfielder capable of breaking opposition lines with his carry and kicking.

In Saturday’s do-or-die final against East Fremantle, Tunstill stood up to be a major ball winner in the Royals’ midfield, with East Perth bull Kade Dittmar a late exclusion. Unfortunately despite his best efforts, the Royals lost and bowed out of finals. We put Tunstill’s performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his game quarter-by-quarter.

POCKET PROFILE

James Tunstill
East Perth/Western Australia

DOB: 18/07/2003 (18-years-old)
Height: 185cm
Weight:
76kg

Position: Midfielder

2021 Averages:
WAFL Colts (15 games)

21.6 disposals | 14.3 kicks | 7.3 handballs | 3.3 marks | 3.2 tackles | 4.9 inside 50s | 0.4 goals (6 total)

Source: WAFL

2021 WAFL Colts, Semi Final | East Perth 5.6 (36) def. by East Fremantle 7.11 (53)

#11 James Tunstill (East Perth)

Stats: 23 disposals (19 kicks, 4 handballs), 6 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 behind

Q1

Starting in his usual on-ball role, Tunstill wasted no time getting involved in the contest and made his presence known in the opening minutes. At the first bounce, Tunstill quickly pressured the kick from the opposition ruck who had won the clearance, and followed up to pressure the opponent that won it on the back of the square. The ball worked its way to the half-back flank for a stoppage, where Tunstill ran into a great spot along the boundary, winning first possession and kicking it down the line just as he was bumped over the boundary.

With the Royals having a lot of ball in their forward half Tunstill, became a key part of his side’s movement inside 50. His first real involvement was a smart lead for his teammate who had taken an intercept mark, where he followed up by wheeling around and putting a bullet-like kick onto the chest of Ethan Regan on a slight angle. Another key opportunity came as Tunstill worked forward from a stoppage and provided a lead when his teammates got it out in space, taking the mark well and continuing to run before kicking forward under pressure with the ball placed perfectly for his forward who unfortunately couldn’t hold the mark.

Tunstill’s work rate was highlighted in the opening quarter, as he worked back to be an outlet option from defensive 50 and joined in on tackles with his teammates to lock the ball in. With such acts, it felt like he was everywhere the ball was when he was on the field. Tunstill did rush his kicks forward at times when under pressure, but overall used it well and gave his teammates the best opportunity to take a mark.

Q2

After a solid first quarter, Tunstill worked into the game more in the second, finding himself more involved around contests as he started positioning well to receive handballs out the back of packs. Tunstill showed good composure when he received these handballs out the back, not flinching with oncoming traffic and generally using it well to keep the ball moving forward.

One particular moment highlighted this best in the defensive 50, where Tunstill received the handball out the back and had his kick smothered, but immediately followed up to win the contested ball at ground level, before quickly firing out a handball wide to a teammate in space. He had a couple of impressive kicks in the back half that helped open up the ground going forward for the Royals, and generally worked hard to be an option for his teammates. Tunstill laid an impressive tackle towards the end of the quarter, running from 20 meters away to close down an opponent, launching himself and grabbing hold to stop an East Fremantle counter attack.

Tunstill had an opportunity on goal that he perhaps would have liked another go at in the second quarter, managing to hold a one-on-two contested mark above his head as both opponents tried to knock him off balance, but deciding to try and play on to snap around the corner rather than take a set shot. The effort ended up going through for a minor score.

Q3

Starting the second half well, Tunstill won the first clearance of the third quarter, running straight through to grab the ball out of the air and kick forward in an unusual manner. He continued to position well around contests but wasn’t used as much as many of his teammates opted to kick long forward when under pressure, although when he was used Tunstill ran well and kicked smartly for teammates to mark.

Tunstill seemed more comfortable with contact in the third term as well, with one play mid-way through the quarter seeing him get onto the end of a handball and jump into oncoming contact, keeping his arms free and firing out a handball to a teammate in space who was able to kick long inside 50. To go with this, Tunstill competed for everything he could, whether it was at ground level or in the air, putting himself in front of leading players or throwing himself on the ground to create a contest.

Tunstill’s ball use seemed to improve in the third quarter as well, notably when out in space or allowed to run a few steps to steady himself. Tunstill would put piercing kicks in the arms of his teammates, giving them every advantage he could to hold the mark.

Q4

As East Fremantle began to overrun East Perth, opportunities to impact became more limited for the Royals. What Tunstill did continually well was display his work rate and do his best to pressure opponents if he couldn’t lay a tackle. Tunstill still had some impressive moments with ball in hand; the most impressive coming later in the quarter where he received a handball in defensive 50 and went for a run up the wing, taking a couple of bounces whilst getting away from opponents, then kicking to a contest due to limited options up the ground.

Closing thoughts…

Whilst the game didn’t end how Tunstill would’ve wanted from a team perspective, he put in a really good all-round game where his work rate and courage were well highlighted. It wasn’t just his work rate to get from contest to contest that was impressive, Tunstill ran hard defensively to lay tackles or apply pressure on opponents not even in his area, causing multiple stoppages throughout the game. Whilst he is prone to rushing kicks when under pressure or in traffic, Tunstill’s ball use is typically solid, with his ability to keep his hands free and handball whilst being tackled a highlight, and his kicking on the run also really strong.

Image Credit: Pixell Photography via East Fremantle FC

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL U18s – Grand Final

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as Woodville-West Torrens defeated Glenelg to take home its third premiership in four seasons. In the latest SANFL Scouting Notes edition, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 17 and 19 representative squad members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report

2021 SANFL UNDER 18 GRAND FINAL
GLENELG 10.9 (69) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 13.8 (86)

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

The diminutive small forward imposed himself on the contest early, laying a couple of very strong tackles in the opening minute of the game. Tunkin’s toughness and fearless attack on the ball would continue to be staples of his grand final performance. He showed good positioning up forward, working into dangerous spaces at the feet of the key forwards. He booted a goal mid-way through the second term, however the Prince Alfred College product would loved to have also converted a couple of his flying snaps on goal. Tunkin spent more time in the middle as the game wore on and showed some ability at the stoppages, providing spark and energy around the contest. In a solid outing, he gathered 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four clearances and 1.3 in front of goal.

#5 Hugh Stagg

The skipper set the tone early in the game with a terrific smother. Moments later he cut off an errant Eagles kick before delivering a beautifully weighted ball to key forward Jack Harding. Early in the second term, Stagg marked deep inside forward 50 but his kick from a difficult angle missed. With his side struggling to generate meaningful attack, Stagg took a strong mark and booted a captain’s goal midway through the second quarter which triggered a short-lived switch in momentum for the minor premiers. Stagg’s foot skills let him down at times, but his work around the contest was strong as it has been all season. Stagg finished with 20 disposals, five marks, four clearances and five inside 50s.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Despite his side being beaten on the day, Rayson was arguably the Tigers’ best performer. Dividing his time between half-back and a midfield role, Rayson showed a willingness to play on and take the game on at all costs. He complimented some meaningful dash with mostly clean and measured disposal by foot. He did the tough stuff well too, tackling hard and displaying good vision in-close. His positioning down back and ability to intercept mark proved valuable as well. Rayson capped off a strong season with another admirable showing in the grand final, amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and three rebounds.

#32 Oscar Adams

Versatile key position player, Adams was given the job on Woodville-West Torrens forward Lukas Cooke for much of the day, restricting him to just one goal. He took a number of big pack marks to highlight his strong aerial ability and clean hands overhead. Adams was clean by hand and foot but will regret giving up a soft 25-metre penalty for an off-ball incident as the Eagles piled on the goals. He was sent into the ruck in the hopes of providing something extra around the ground in the final stages, but the writing was on the wall by that point. In a season which saw him earn state honours, Adams’ final club match of the season saw the athletic utility gather 16 disposals and six marks (four contested).

#38 Jakob Ryan

Bottom-ager, Ryan produced a fine showing for Glenelg. Operating across half-forward, he was caught for speed a couple of times early in the game but adjusted nicely and displayed nice composure with ball in hand. He did his best work in the air on the outer wing of Adelaide Oval, using his athleticism and height to take mark after mark. Arguably the goal of the game, in a match with several excellent efforts, was slotted by Ryan on the run from outside 50 to show everyone his high-end talent. Ryan’s overhead strength continued to stand out, along with his strong tackling and clean delivery inside 50. Ryan finished with 20 disposals, nine marks (five contested), five tackles and seven inside 50s.

#44 Jarrad Parish 

Full-back, Parish was given the daunting task of stopping Eagles captain Jordan Lukac, and kept the talented big-man goalless for three quarters. Although Lukac had a clear height and reach advantage over the Sacred Heart College defender, he wasn’t able to convert his opportunities early in the game. Parish never gave in, taking a number of hits for his side and continuing to fight it out. The Eagles’ midfield dominance would ultimately provide Lukac with a number of shots in the final term, which he duly converted, but Parish should be commended for his efforts. He provided solid rebound, with his ball use particularly impressive. He finished with 15 disposals, five marks (two contested) and six rebounds.

Others:

Harrison Kaesler was a standout for the Bays, with his run-and-carry from the defensive 50 a highlight. The Tigers’ leading ball-getter, Kaesler left his best performance of the season for last, finishing with 29 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and seven rebounds. Cooper Beecken spent the game on the wing and finished with 21 disposals and five marks. Fellow outside midfielder Hunter Window worked hard and was also prolific, gathering 25 touches and three marks. Utility Darcy Gluyas ran hard all game to take six marks and gather 20 disposals. Key forward Jack Harding booted the first goal of the game and added two in the final term. Strong overhead and on the lead, he managed 10 disposals and six marks (four contested).

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

#2 Sam Nicholls

Nicholls has done some of his best work in the midfield this season, but his three first half goals up forward proved invaluable for the Eagles in their 17-point grand final win. His roving in and around the packs and intelligent positioning up forward allowed him to have a number of cracks at the goal in attack. Nicholls’ finishing was sublime and provided the Eagles with the fast start which alluded them in the previous two finals. He provided good pressure around the ball, finishing with 16 disposals, five tackles and three clearances.

#8 Brock Thomson

One of the premier small defenders in the SANFL Under 18 competition, Thomson again played an important role in the big dance. He spent some time on powerful Glenelg skipper Hugh Stagg early on and nullified a couple of one-on-one contests. Charged with the kick-in duties, Thomson’s foot skills stood out over a range of distances. He finished off a terrific season with 18 disposals, two tackles and nine rebounds in the decider.

#18 William Neumann

Neumann was in everything early in the game, with his fierce attack on the ball complimenting his handy run-and-carry through the midfield. A contested ball beast in the opening term, he moved to defence and continued to impact the game with his toughness and bash-and-crash style. He laid consecutive bone-crunching tackles in the second half to bring down two Tigers, who saw Neumann’s intense tackling first-hand. Rock solid down back, Neumann gathered 21 possessions, three marks, three tackles and three rebound 50s.

#21 Adam D’Aloia

If draft watchers hadn’t previously noted Eagles midfielder and SA Under 17 skipper D’Aloia, they certainly will now after the bottom-ager produced a dominant performance on the big stage. Having already spent some time at Reserves level this season, D’Aloia looked a class above the rest from the get-go. The inside midfielder was freakishly clean and quick with his hands in-tight. His ability to free his arms when being tackled and flick out a quick handball spoke of his high football IQ. D’Aloia was far and away the most dominant contested ball winner on the ground, using smarts at stoppages to amass clearance after clearance for the Eagles. In the second term, D’Aloia took a terrific mark on the 50m arc, then received a 25m penalty and slotted the set-shot goal to extend Woodville-West Torrens’ lead prior to half-time. D’Aloia’s stoppage brilliance continued after the main break, reading the tap-work of Zac Phillipsat centre clearances particularly well. A deserved winner of best on ground honours, D’Aloia gathered a game-high 30 disposals, four marks, eight clearances and nine inside 50s.

#26 Jordan Lukac

Lukac entered the grand final in hot form, following a match-winning five-goal effort in last weekend’s preliminary final win over West Adelaide. Although a couple of promising inside 50s just dropped short of Lukac’s leads early on, his attack on the ball and cleanliness at ground level were terrific. He had an early set-shot from long range which unluckily hit the post, then later sent a set shot out on the full. However, he used his body beautifully in the marking contest, edging direct opponent Jarrad Parish under the ball and marking well. Lukac continued to use his height and reach to advantage and looked dangerous whenever the ball was sent in his direction. Despite looking so threatening, he entered the three-quarter time huddle without a goal to his name. That quickly changed, as Lukac converted a couple of set shots to put the exclamation mark on the win. Lukac finished the game with 16 disposals, five marks (four contested), two tackles, seven hit-outs and 2.3.

Others:

Consistent midfielder Dustin Launer perhaps didn’t have his usual influence on the game by foot, but worked his way into it nicely to finish with 18 disposals and three marks on the wing. Mattaes Phillipou booted a terrific running goal to open the Eagles’ account. He flew high multiple times in attack and was clean with his hands in the midfield, collecting 17 possessions, three tackles and three inside-50s. 16-year-old Brody Mair played an important role, winning 13 disposals, applying three tackles, sending the ball inside 50 on five occasions and booting a goal.

The Eagles’ forwardline proved too tall for the Bays. Centre half-forward Lukas Cooke lead up well all game and brought the ball to ground well when he didn’t clunk it. Going head-to-head with Oscar Adams, he won 13 disposals, six marks (three contested), four tackles and a goal. Will Pearce was quiet early but turned it on after half-time. His damaging left foot sliced open the Glenelg defence and his presentation and strength in the air was excellent. Charlie Blair was exciting across half-forward, pushing up the ground to provide an option and doubling back to boot two goals.

Image Credit: Glenelg FC

A look back – 2020’s AFL Draft cult heroes

WITH a lot less live football to trawl through last year, there was plenty of time for keen draft watchers to think about a range of topics, ideas and categories in regards to the class of 2020. In the build-up to draft day, the Final Siren Podcast team took a look at some of the potential cult heroes who fans would be likely to warm to quickly. Today, we review the list of 10 and delve into some of the hits and misses it has produced thus far.

Podcast link: Click here!

The parameters for last year’s list included a bunch of factors; from each prospects’ style of play, character and work-rate, to their name and look. Below are the lists of five compiled by Draft Central Chief Editor Peter Williams and Draft Editor Michael Alvaro.

Michael Alvaro’s five:

Jack Ginnivan
Bailey Laurie
Nathan O’Driscoll
Caleb Poulter
Maurice Rioli Jnr

Peter Williams’ five:

Jackson Callow
Eddie Ford
Lachlan Jones
Phoenix Spicer
Brandon Walker

In no real surprise to anyone, all 10 players went on to be drafted and seven of them managed to earn AFL debuts this season. Looking back on the selections, the likes of Caleb Poulter, Lachlan Jones, and Maurice Rioli Jnr have already garnered great followings with fans across the footballing world – let alone their own clubs – warming to them quickly.

Along with Poulter, Collingwood supporters were itching to see Jack Ginnivan get a taste of senior action, enjoying his energy and goal sense once that eventually occurred. The vibes are strong at North Melbourne too, with Eddie Ford and Phoenix Spicer impressing, while Brandon Walker has long been a Fremantle fan favourite given his ties to the Dockers’ NGA program.

So, there were some handy choices among the bunch, but also a few oversights. Errol Gulden is arguably the most glaring omission, with plenty to like about the Sydney Swans small – from his page-popping name, to pure class on the ball and incredible first year form.

Fremantle Dockers forward Josh Treacy is another who suits the cult hero mould perfectly. The barrelling bigman has already earned a few nicknames, with ‘The Big Cohuna’ and ‘Cyclone Treacy’ arguably the picks of the bunch. He certainly caught the eye on-field too and loves to throw his weight around – as was also the case at junior level.

Essendon fans didn’t take very long to appreciate top 10 picks Nik Cox and Archie Perkins. Cox, the 200cm ‘unicorn’ who can does pulls off outrageous feats for a player of his stature was an early Rising Star candidate, while Perkins is a stylish type who exudes confidence both on and off the field.

Elsewhere, Adelaide fans were stoked to get James Rowe in the door and the sheer delight he brings as a small forward makes him hard not to like. The mature-age draftee was one of the great stories of last year’s crop and went on to feature heavily in his maiden AFL campaign, providing highlights even neutrals could appreciate.

Image Credit: Paul Kane via AFL Photos

Down but not out – Draft prospects struck down by long-term injuries

ON top of disruptions and an overall lack of complete opportunity for many budding draft prospects over the last two years, the ever-present misfortune of injuries has also lingered. Some said tongue-in-cheek last year that if there was any time to suffer a long-term injury, especially as a Victorian, 2020 would have been it.

That was an exact reality for Elijah Hollands, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during training last February. His bottom-age performances had put him in good stead, but clubs were made to consider the impacts of his injury before calling his name. Considered a top five candidate, he was snapped up quickly by Gold Coast at pick seven.

Luckily for Hollands and recruiters alike, there has been precedent for such occurrences. Looking at the last handful of intakes, the likes of Max King (pick four, 2018) and Brodie Kemp (pick 17, 2019) were taken within the first round despite their own ACL tears. Conversely to Hollands, both enjoyed at least some top-age footy, but all three played zero AFL games in their first years.

In 2015 there were fears surrounding the long-term impacts of Jy Simpkin‘s badly broken leg. A year later, Jaidyn Stephenson‘s top 10 hopes were put up in the air as clubs pondered the risk of his genetic heart disorder. Both were touted as genuinely elite talents, and ended up rightly finding homes with picks 12 and six respectively. At AFL level, both have shown that kind of potential too.

Arguably the best case study for this kind of analysis will be the class of 2019. Cooper Stephens, Kemp, and Mitch Georgiades were taken consecutively within the first round, despite all suffering long-term injuries as top-agers. Stephens played just two full NAB League games before a broken leg derailed his year, but he recovered in time to impress at the National Draft Combine.

Kemp’s ACL tear was an untimely one as it came towards the end of his draft year, meaning he would have to wait until 2021 to make his top flight debut. A versatile prospect with top 10 talent, he ended up a steal at pick 17 for Carlton. Arguably the biggest surprise of the trio was Georgiades, who Port pounced on despite three surgeries on his quad which kept him out for an entire year. The rest is history.

Further down the order, Adelaide utility Josh Worrell (pick 28) slipped in the rankings during his top-age season and a shoulder reconstruction may have further hindered his first round chances. Conversely, North Melbourne was not deterred by Flynn Perez‘s ACL tear, and the Western Bulldogs took in Riley Garcia despite suffering the same injury late in the year while representing WA.

While some like Garcia have continues to prove unlucky with injuries upon entering the AFL system, many others like Simpkin, King, and Georgiades have already rewarded their clubs with their play. It will be interesting to see how Kaine Baldwin fares, as he was once considered a top 20 candidate but entered Essendon’s ranks after back-to-back ACL tears. There were also examples in the mid-season draft of clubs selecting players despite them carrying existing injuries at the time.

Those kinds of stories should give renewed hope to some of this year’s brightest prospects. Many of them have endured the frustration of injury setbacks on top of pandemic-related interruptions to their seasons, compounding the stress of wondering whether they have done enough to impress.

Being heavily managed will hardly matter for a player like Nick Daicos, but the roaring success of Ben Hobbs‘ return is one example of how exposure at high levels is the best way to impress. The likes of Tyler Sonsie, Josh Sinn, and Campbell Chesser would all have benefitted from one final run at the top 10, while a player like Cooper Murley has previously shown high potential, but has lost so much of his season due to repeat injuries.

Then there are examples of players like Lachlan Carrigan, who returned for 19th-year campaigns after being overlooked in 2020, but have not been able to build on their promise after being struck down for the entire 2021 season. Despite the hard knocks, if there is anything previous years have taught us, it’s that talent will be found if it is there. It may not matter as much at the top end, at least in the long run, but should not dismay those who have to fight a little extra on their way back from the sideline.

PODCAST EXPLAINER | The Midfielder’s Draft

THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this week for another pocket podcast edition, this time breaking down why the upcoming AFL intake has been deemed a midfielder’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime midfielders available, and why they are likely to feature at the pointy end.

Among the group of likely first-rounders, the team broke prospects into three different categories to get a better understanding of how each of them play, and perhaps help fans narrow in on the exact type of ball winner they want their club to pursue. In this week’s explainer, we delve into said categories and the players which suit them respectively.

Podcast link: Click here!

PODCAST AGENDA

FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS

The top two

It is no secret that Nick Daicos and Jason Horne-Francis are regarded by many as the top two prospects in this year’s draft, and they just so happen to both be midfielders. While clear of the competition, they are very different types and have varying weapons which they lean on.

Daicos is an accumulator who offers an outrageously consistent output with his work-rate, unrivalled smarts, and team-oriented play. While he brings class and grace, Horne-Francis is more of a bull at the coalface with his explosiveness and noted aggression at both ball and carrier. He can open games up with penetrating kicks and high marks, bring his impact per possession to a high level.

The safe/reliable picks

Reliability is a major factor in what clubs look for in their potential draftees, and there are a selection of midfielders which can certainly offer as much among the 2021 crop. For much of the pathway, Ben Hobbs has been one who looks ready to go with his mature frame and strength in contested situations now complimented by hard running and consistent disposal outputs.

Fellow Victorian Josh Ward has added inside elements to his game this season to rise into top 10 contention, complimenting his running ability and wonderfully clean skills with some real grunt in midfield. Over in Western Australia, Neil Erasmus has put up exceptional numbers at PSA and WAFL Colts level, while Matthew Roberts has taken well to senior football in the SANFL.

While Hobbs, Erasmus and Roberts have all battled injury this year around their runs of form, all four players here are the types who will perform each week and look safe bets as 200-game players for the future. They are reliable, tough, and hard-working, so should provide great value in the first round.

The classy types

Many clubs will value midfielders who can not only win the ball at a good rate, but also use it well. This year, there are a few who fit this category with enviable class on the ball and elite decision making which really puts them above many others in the draft class.

Arguably atop the list, and one who could fit a range of categories is Finn Callaghan. The Sandringham Dragons powerhouse has been a big improver this year, developing from a half-back and wingman to become an outstanding centre bounce operator. At 189cm, he has the build of a modern day midfielder but moves so gracefully in traffic, never rushed and always able to manufacture a bit of space before delivering effective disposals.

Tyler Sonsie is a prospect who fits this mould perfectly, and was considered a top five candidate coming into the year. Injury has interrupted his campaign, but the Eastern Ranges midfielder is as poised as they come in possession with top level vision and skills coming out of congestion. His ability to roll forward and find the goals is another string to his bow, and an important point of difference.

Another couple of dynamic types with plenty of class are Matthew Johnson and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. While one has slid a touch as the other has risen this year, there is no denying that both players use the ball beautifully by foot and are two of the more elite kicks going around. At 193cm, Johnson features more at the centre bounces and moves well in traffic, while Wanganeen-Milera has tricks on the outside and can carve up the opposition in space.

The versatile/hybrid types

Hybrid is a bit of an in-vogue word at the moment, but in this sense we’re talking about the players who are versatile and can impact in other areas of the ground before eventually becoming more permanent midfielders, or pinch-hitting there.

There is a good handful of first round talent which suits this mould, starting with South Australian Arlo Draper. He fares well at stoppages and can certainly get his hands on the ball there, but adds a point of difference with his ability to take marks and kick goals up forward. He has been more of a midfielder-forward at Under 18s level, but has spent more time among the front half in senior grades.

Prominent Sandringham Dragons pair Josh Sinn and Campbell Chesser are players who have notable outside traits, including their speed, line-breaking ability, and kicking skills. Both have developed across half-back and the wing, but can just as capably play on the inside and are true metres-gained assets in all roles.

Along with the above pair, Josh Rachele has been a standout throughout the pathways and while he has more often been used as a half-forward for Murray and Vic Country, can certainly impact with his speed and skill in midfield. From small to tall, Josh Goater is a big-bodied type on the inside who can essentially play anywhere. He has clean hands and unreal athleticism, which boded well for his most recent move to half-back with plenty of run and intercept marking.

DEPTH – OTHERS TO CONSIDER

It’s not just a midfielder’s draft in the first round, with many top ball winners rising into contention or remaining around the mark. There is a healthy scattering of players from different regions, offering a diverse range of skills and mostly being available in the open draft.

Zac Taylor and Mitch Knevitt offer very different styles, but both were in sensational form before the latest Victorian lockdown. Dandenong Stingrays pair Judson Clarke and Connor Macdonald are smaller types with terrific craft, while Jake Soligo is another in that mould. Elsewhere, St Kilda fans with have their eyes on exciting NGA pair Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens, while Northern’s Ned Long is one to keep an eye on.

Western Australia’s engine room has proven very strong in representative hitouts, with a good mix of hardened inside types and accumulating outside runners. Josh Browne is as consistent as they come, while Corey Warner offers some forward drive on the outer, and Taj Woewodin is a Melbourne father-son candidate with nice traits. On the inside, Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick are absolute bulls, with Dittmar’s East Perth teammate James Tunstill another to consider.

Port Adelaide has its own father-son prospect in Jase Burgoyne, who is a really classy type. He is quite light-on though, and may have to lean on his versatility to play off half-back before entering the midfield fray. Elsewhere, Hugh Jackson had an outstanding first half of the season to put his name in the spotlight, and Cooper Murley arguably possesses top 25 talent, but has been struck down by injury for much of the year.

Draft Central’s 2021 SANFL Under 18s Team of the Year

WITH only Saturday’s grand final left to play, now is the perfect time to look back at the SANFL Under 18s season that was in Draft Central‘s 2021 Team of the Year (TOTY). Finalists Glenelg and Woodville-West Torrens combined to contribute nine members of the 22-man squad, which is led by West Adelaide midfielder Cade Kennedy (captain) and highly touted South Adelaide prospect Arlo Draper (vice-captain).

Nine of the selected group represented South Australia in last month’s Under 19 National Championships bout against Western Australia, while a further two did so at Under 17 level this year. There were also plenty of talented South Australians who narrowly missed, either due to playing more football up the grades, in school competitions, or through the squad’s overall strength.

We take you through all 22 selections line-by-line, highlighting the strengths each squad member brings to the collective and exactly why they each feature.

DEFENCE

FB: Charlie Pridham (West Adelaide) – Dayne McGary (Glenelg) – Brock Thomson (Woodville-West Torrens)
HB:
Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide) – Oscar Adams (Glenelg) – Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)

Clean foot skills and composure with ball in hand are prominent traits of the TOTY defence. Named in the back pocket, West Adelaide’s Charlie Pridham enjoyed a standout season for the Bloods, playing every game (including two finals), and finishing with the most disposals and kicks of anyone in the competition. A reliable contributor down back, Pridham remained calm under pressure and provided plenty of rebound and drive from the backline.

Glenelg’s Dayne McGary earned selection at full back following a strong season in the yellow and black, which saw him average 15 disposals and six marks per game. Often assigned the oppositions best tall forward, McGary’s strength and clean kicking were vital for the Bays’ success. Eagles defender Brock Thomson was an obvious selection down back following an ultra consistent year for the grand finalists, which saw him average 23 disposals, four marks and close to six rebound 50s.

North Adelaide gun Blayne O’Loughlin demanded a half-back spot after a terrific season at Prospect which saw him earn state Under 19 selection. As clean and composed as anyone under duress, O’Loughlin’s attacking instincts and dash from defence were hallmarks of the Roosters’ game plan. Oscar Adams joins fellow Tiger McGary in defence, slotting into the centre half-back role. Adams spent the year rotating between the ruck and a defensive role, with his height, reach and aerial prowess earning him state honours.

State Under 19 vice-captain Lewis Rayson slots in on the other half-back flank, having provided the Bays with plenty of trademark run-and-carry throughout the season. Also effective through the midfield, Rayson is a high metres gained type of player, whose dare and attack on the ball has proven valuable for SA and Glenelg alike.

MIDFIELD

C: Isaac Birt (South Adelaide) – Cade Kennedy (West Adelaide, captain) – Dustin Launer (Woodville-West Torrens)
FOL:
Will Verrall (South Adelaide) – Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide) – Arlo Draper (South Adelaide, vice-captain,)

South Adelaide’s Isaac Birt was a simple selection on the wing following a breakout season which saw him rise to become one of the state’s best outside midfielders. His combination of speed, endurance and crisp ball use cut apart games week-after-week, with his Round 10 effort against Norwood (31 disposals, two goals, 11 marks, five tackles and eight inside-50s) sure to have caught the attention of scouts.

Hard-working West Adelaide skipper Cade Kennedy is the starting centreman in the TOTY and has been named captain after displaying tremendous on-field leadership to inspire the Bloods’ rise from bottom last season to a preliminary final berth. He averaged 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s as one of the competition’s most well-rounded on-ballers. Hard at the contest but an effective run and carry option, Kennedy is well-deserving of a spot in the starting midfield.

Eagles utility Dustin Launer could have slotted into just about any position on the team, such is his versatility, but his efforts in a balanced midfield role see him selected on the wing. A classy ball user and hard runner, Launer collected 30 disposals in five games, including efforts of 42 and 37 (twice). Talented bottom-aged Panther Will Verrall narrowly edged out Centrals’ Saxon Evans and West’s Oscar Steene to win the number one ruck role. Verrall finished second in the competition for total hitouts, but was arguably more dominant when the ball hit the ground, with his ball-use and willingness to compete at ground level impressive for a player of his height.

North Adelaide’s Hugh Jackson was another obvious choice in the midfield rotation. He shot out of the blocks and finished with an average of 29 disposals, five marks, four clearances and five inside 50s. A smooth mover and good ball user on his left foot, Jackson was also clever by hand throughout the year. Despite spending time in the Reserves and League grades, South Adelaide’s Arlo Draper was too good at Under 18s level to leave out of the team of the year. Averaging 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six clearances and a goal per game, Draper was a class above the field in his nine matches. A classy mover who excels in traffic at stoppages, Draper also proved difficult to handle up forward and has been named vice-captain of the side.

FORWARD

HF: Hugh Stagg (Glenelg) – Will Pearce (Woodville-West Torrens) – Jesse Thackeray (West Adelaide)
FF:
Jack Delean (South Adelaide) – Corey Brougham (Glenelg) – Zyton Santillo (North Adelaide)

The half-forward line of the TOTY certainly packs a punch, led by Glenelg bull Hugh Stagg. Stagg’s power and strength was integral to the Bays’ engine room throughout the year, but he also proved his worth up forward by kicking 23 goals in 13 games for the minor premiers. At centre half-forward, competition leading goal kicker Will Pearce demanded selection after a dominant season with the Eagles which saw him bag 47 majors from 20 matches and lead the competition in contested marks. Loxton North product Jesse Thackeray produced a great season for the Bloods. Splitting his time between the midfield and half-forward, Thackeray’s work rate was always high and his defensive work wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the West Adelaide coaching staff.

Despite not being draft eligible for another couple of years, brilliant small forward Jack Delean is thoroughly deserving of his forward pocket role. He booted 26 goals in eight Under 16 matches to help the Panthers to the flag earlier in the season, then took to the Under 18 competition like a duck to water, bagging 35 goals in 13 matches – including two hauls of five, never failing to hit the scoreboard. Electric at forward-50 stoppages, Delean wrecked havoc in the air and on the ground in a sensational season in the blue and white.

Glenelg’s Corey Brougham narrowly edged teammate Jack Harding to take out the all-important full forward position. A reliable set shot for goal, booting 38 goals in 14 matches, Brougham was unstoppable on the lead and his vice-like hands saw him mark just about everything which came his way. Zippy Rooster Zyton Santillo‘s defensive pressure and creative ball use through the midfield and in attack saw him earn a spot on the opposing pocket. Santillo produced a consistent season, finishing with an average of 23 disposals, five marks, five tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s per game.

INTERCHANGE

Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood) – Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens) – Saxon Evans (Central District) – Harvey Harrison (North Adelaide)

The interchange bench was hotly contested, but Norwood’s Matthew Dnistriansky simply had to be picked to fill a role across the backline. Norwood’s most consistent player in what was a tricky year for the defending premiers, Dnistriansky’s measured ball use, sound vision and decision making were highlights of his year.

Following a dominant preliminary final showing, in which he booted five goals and lead his team to victory, Eagles captain Jordan Lukac was a late inclusion into the squad. Impressive up forward, the athletic big man also helped out in the ruck and got stronger as the season wore on. Bulldogs tall Saxon Evans finished the season with the most hit-outs of anyone and is arguably the best tap-ruckman in the state. Athletically gifted, Evans was perhaps unlucky not to be given a run in the state side against Western Australia.

Harvey Harrison is North Adelaide’s fourth selection in the team of the year. A midfielder with terrific running power and handy skills at top speed, Harrison is good in-tight but spreads as well as anyone in the competition. He finished the year averaging 25 disposals, six marks, four tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s.

Unlucky to miss: 

As is the case with all representative sides, there are a number of talented players who should consider themselves unlucky to have missed the cut. Glenelg had a number of fantastic contributors throughout the season, including medium defender Cooper Beecken, smart forward Harry Tunkin, classy midfielders Darcy Gluyas and Hunter Window, and strong-marking tall forward Jack Harding.

West Adelaide’s Kobe Ryan would have easily made the side but spent much of the year playing college football with Sacred Heart. His Bloods teammates Dylan White and Luke Young also narrowly missed out. Central District struggled at times, but Tahjin Krieg and Isaiah Dudley were standout performers. From South Adelaide, rebounding defender Lachlan Hayes and nimble midfielder Luke Mitton could also consider themselves unlucky to have narrowly missed the cut.

Pocket Podcast | The Midfielder’s Draft

THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this week for another pocket podcast edition, this time breaking down why the upcoming AFL intake has been deemed a midfielder’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime midfielders available, and why they are likely to feature at the pointy end.

Among the group of likely first-rounders, the team broke prospects into three different categories to get a better understanding of how each of them play, and perhaps help fans narrow in on the exact type of ball winner they want their club to pursue. Below is an ordered run sheet for all the topics covered.

Podcast link: Click here!

Podcast Agenda:

  • The top end – first round prospects
    • The top two – Daicos and Horne-Francis
    • The safe/reliable picks – Hobbs, Ward, Erasmus, Roberts
    • The classy types – Callaghan, Sonsie, Johnson, Wanganeen-Milera
    • The versatile/hybrid types – Draper, Sinn, Rachele, Goater, Chesser
  • Depth – those also in contention

Stay tuned to Draft Central, as tomorrow we’ll have an explainer piece to accompany your listen.

>> Top 30 Ranked: September Power Rankings

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Finals Week 1 – Claremont vs. East Perth

CLAREMONT will face off against WAFL Colts minor premier Swan Districts for the second time in three weeks, after downing East Perth by 41 points in week one of the 2021 finals series. The Tigers were inaccurate early on but found their groove and snared crucial goals at the end of the first two terms to restore leads. A five-goal third quarter then helped Claremont break the contest open, before running out comfortable victors with another four majors in the final stanza.

We highlight a few of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes with a particular focus on state representatives, before taking a look around the grounds and up the grades.

>> Player Focus: Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)

SCOUTING NOTES

Claremont 13.9 (87) def. East Perth 6.10 (46)

Claremont:

#17 Hugh Davies

His final stats of seven disposals and two marks hardly do justice to the role Davies played in defence, with the bottom-ager making several important plays on the last line. He looked composed in a series of crises, able to work things out across defensive 50 and apply ample pressure on East Perth’s forwards when the ball hit the deck. In the air, he rose for some timely spoils and was desperate enough to keep the play alive with little margin for error.

#22 Sam Gilbey

Another bottom-aged defender who hardly garnered massive stats (six disposals, two marks, one goal), Gilbey still managed to show glimpses of his massively promising skillset on Saturday. Both of his marks were lovely intercepts up the ground, which he used to move the ball on quickly heading inside attacking 50. On the first occasion, Gilbey showed off his impressive left-foot kick with a booming goal just before quarter time, seeing Claremont regain the lead. He competed well to turn the ball over and pressed a high line, before being used further afield in the final term and even shaving the post with another shot on goal.

#27 Angus Sheldrick

Arguably the best player afield, Sheldrick got to work early and put in an absolute shift out of Claremont’s engine room. While able to win the contested ball with his strength and grit, Sheldrick also displayed a phenomenal work-rate to get his legs pumping with some green ball and find possessions around the ground. He helped drive the Tigers forward and despite lacking a finishing touch at times, put the ball into dangerous spots. He was in the wars during term three with a head knock and big hit from Jye Amiss, but got back to work to finish with a game-high 24 disposals, 12 tackles, and five inside 50s to go with a first term goal.

#29 Jahmal Stretch

The crafty small forward is one who has the ability to light up any passage of play, and certainly did that with his 10 disposals, three marks and two goals. An early rush of blood saw him burn a teammate over the top when running into an open goal, but Stretch built into his best work by hitting the ball at speed and springing up for marks inside 50. His first goal came shortly after a set shot fell short, and he added another in term four with a quick snap which showcased his high level goal sense. With terrific pressure acts and sparks of individual brilliance, Stretch continues to be an eye-catching goalsneak.

#32 Jacob van Rooyen

He doesn’t need too many chances to make a real impact, and that is exactly what van Rooyen did during a three-goal third quarter. The strong-bodied key forward helped Claremont kick away with majors at the beginning, middle and end of term three after a relatively quiet first half. His fundamental strengths were solid throughout without much opportunity, but came to the fore during said period with a couple of strong pack marks and set shot conversions. While only earning a modest seven disposals, he made them count with four marks and those three majors to go with some imposing pressure acts.

#35 Luke Brown

Another bottom-ager who managed to show glimpses of potential, Brown finished up with a couple of really handy goals from his five touches. The 199cm ruck-forward first got his hands on the ball through sheer reach in the ruck, before booting those two majors in the second half. The first was a terrific bit of improvisation, as the bigman volleyed the ball home off a deep spillage. His second goal was also manufactured off a pack, as Brown gathered and quickly snapped the ball through to show great skill for a player of his size.

Others:

Claremont had a bunch of solid contributors on each line, starting with the likes of Talon Delacey (19 disposals, five inside 50s) and Kendyll Blurton (15 disposals, five tackles) in midfield. Arthur Jones was again productive on the wing with 17 touches and five inside 50s, while Campbell Rogers played a key hand down back. Speaking of, Sean Williams’ effort to keep leading goalkicker Jye Amiss scoreless was outstanding, as was Peter Coles’ three-goal haul at the other end. In the way of state squad members, Under 17 prospects Edward Allan (wing) and Will Bailey (forward/wing) had their moments, and top-age tall Eric Benning missed with a calf complaint.

East Perth:

#4 Ethan Regan

The West Coast NGA candidate started in midfield, with the East Perth coaches perhaps looking for him to make an early statement with his size and explosiveness. That did not quite eventuate, but Regan built into the game well from his usual high half-forward post. His kick penetration lead directly to goals on two occasions, as Regan linked East Perth from beyond the attacking arc into more dangerous positions.

#7 Jye Amiss

Having built a remarkable streak of kicking multiple goals in all of his previous WAFL Colts and state Under 19 outings, Amiss was finally shut-out on Saturday. The West Australian spearhead was hardly given an inch inside attacking 50 and did not always receive the best delivery in any case. Most of his work was done further afield, where he ventured on searching leads and showed some really nice moments of poise to hit targets on the way back to goal. He later showed signs of a confidence dip with a couple of dropped marks, perhaps the product of perceived pressure having been under the pump all game.

#9 Kade Dittmar

A strong figure in the East Perth midfield, Dittmar offered plenty of his usual power and contested ball winning prowess on Saturday. His physicality on the inside was evident, as he looked to bustle through tackles and apply some punishing ones of his own. While Dittmar gained a good amount of distance on his clearances, with eight of his 15 disposals sent inside 50, he tended to dump kick at times and couldn’t quite hit the target with a couple of attempts on goal. Still, his intent matched the finals atmosphere.

#11 James Tunstill

Tunstill was one who started the game brightly, producing some eye-catching moments in midfield and rotating forward to snare a first term goal. He was prominent at ground level, collecting the ball cleanly and finding ways to slip or spin to the outer where he could gain a bit more meterage. His goal came from a set shot after marking well overhead, converting the chance well from 40m. Tunstill finished up with 14 disposals and three inside 50s, marking a solid return after his promising opening.

#26 Kaden Harbour

Another who was productive in spurts, Harbour brought good intent and effort to the finals contest. He chased up loose balls and worked up the ground for his side, with one play seeing him break at pace with two running bounces before kicking inside 50. The small forward produced another great inside 50 foray in term three which was not finished off, and his closest attempt on goal hit the post with a snap from the pocket.

#34 Jedd Busslinger

Hardly overawed by the finals occasion as a bottom-ager, Busslinger saved his side’s blushes several times on the last line of defence. The 195cm prospect proved difficult to beat both aerially and at ground level, showing great composure to mop up under pressure and move the ball on cleanly. He was never rushed despite the heavy pressure at times, and proved his commitment with a goal-saving mark which saw him thud into the goal post. Busslinger was swung forward in term four, and finished with four marks from his nine disposals.

Others:

No East Perth player notched over 20 touches on Saturday, but speedy midfielder Jayden Peak was the closest with 18. His run-and-carry proved productive, as did the skills of wingman Oscar Armstrong (13 disposals), who kicked a fantastic long-range goal in term three. Kalani Brooks was another to step up in midfield with 16 disposals and five tackles, while state Under 17 squad member Jordyn Baker showed a bit with nine disposals up on the wing.

AROUND THE GROUNDS:

In the other colts final, East Fremantle advanced in Sunday’s knockout bout against West Perth, downing the Falcons by 29 points after trailing narrowly at the first break. The Sharks, bolstered by an array of quality state squad members, soon clicked into gear and manufactured nearly double the Falcons’ scoring shots (20-11).

It was unsurprising to see Josh Browne top the disposal charts once again, racking up a game-high 32 to go with six inside 50s and a goal. Fellow draft combine invitee Corey Warner and bottom-ager Jed Hagan supported him well, while Melbourne father-son candidate Taj Woewodin also found plenty of the ball. In-form tall Josh Cripps kicked a goal from 19 touches, and Jackson McManus – the nephew of Shaun – snagged a game-high three majors.

A pair of promising bottom-agers fared well for the Falcons, as Kane Bevan notched 31 disposals and six marks, while defender Griff Julian clunked eight grabs among his 23 touches. Luke Michael matched the latter’s marking feats, and Lochlan Paton got his hands dirty with 12 tackles to go with 18 disposals.

There was not as much action to speak of in a draft sense up the grades, but classy midfielder Matthew Johnson caught the eye with a team-high 23 disposals, nine marks and one goal in Subiaco’s finals win over West Perth. At League level, Jesse Motlop bagged a goal from 11 touches as South Fremantle held on in a one-point thriller against Claremont.

Featured Image: The 2021 WA Under 19s squad huddles before facing SA | Credit: WAFL via Twitter

SANFL U18s Player Focus: Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

WOODVILLE-WEST Torrens Under 18 skipper Jordan Lukac was recently added to the extended AFL Draft Combine list, proving reward for the promising rate of improvement he has shown in 2021. The 196cm prospect turns 19 in September and represented his state at the level this season, with his athleticism and physical intent serving well.

On Saturday, he helped lead the Eagles to a fourth Under 18s decider in five years with a handful of goals as one of the dominant bigmen afield. We put Lukac’s preliminary final performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his game quarter-by-quarter.

>> Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s Preliminary Final

POCKET PROFILE

Jordan Lukac
Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia

DOB: 18/09/2002
Height/Weight: 196cm/89kg
Position: Key Forward/Ruck

Strengths: Vertical leap, physicality, leadership

2021 Averages:

Under 18s: 14 games | 8.6 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.9 tackles | 0.9 inside 50s | 2.4 goals (33 total)
Reserves: 3 games | 7.3 disposals | 2.0 marks | 5.7 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1 total)

2021 SANFL U18s Preliminary Final | Woodville-West Torrens 13.15 (93) def. West Adelaide 9.8 (62)

#26 Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

Starting up forward with fellow tall Zac Phillips taking up the primary ruck duties, Lukac was presented with very limited opportunities to showcase his craft in the opening term. West Adelaide was well on top, restricting the Eagles to just one forward 50 entry across the first 15 minutes.

Lukac was eventually rotated into the ruck after 19 minutes but could not quite get his hands on the ball as Westies continued to surge ahead, ending up with a statless quarter – but not for a lack of effort from the skipper.

Q2

After the Bloods’ period of superiority, it was time for Woodville-West Torrens to hit back in term two. Lukac played a solid part in the scoring swing, notching a goal and two behinds from his sole three kicks for the quarter.

The bigman’s size and physicality drew extra attention from direct opponent, David Midwinter, who had the tough job of marking him one-out inside defensive 50. Lukac and the Eagles took toll.

He drew a holding free kick while leading to the top of the arc, which lead to Jase Burgoyne’s first goal as the Port Adelaide father-son prospect took the advantage into an open goal.

Protecting the drop zone well on long kicks in transition, Lukac snared his own score (a behind) from a 30m set shot, and later kicked his opening major after 17 minutes of play. He had the opportunity to add another from a similar spot but put the 45m set shot wide.

Q3

Contributing an identical scoring output of 1.2 in term three, Lukac continued to help the Eagles soar to a defining lead on the back of a greater wealth of opportunities. While he missed two gettable free kick conversions, Lukac produced one of the day’s highlights with his second goal.

Stationed behind the play outside attacking 50, Lukac marked and sensing a big moment, moved straight on with the ball. He carried it just past the arc and let fly with a booming shot on goal which carried through, with only about 90 seconds left in the term.

The captain’s goal cliché is, well, exactly that, but Lukac’s goal helped lift his side heading into the final term. Three of his four touches resulted in scores, with the remainder an errant bomb kick which ended up out of bounds on the wing.

Q4

Lukac’s finish to the game was indicative of his side’s efforts, as he added another three goals with surer conversion. The first came from a terrific juggled mark in deep a one-on-two contest, before Lukac turned and slammed the ball home with ease.

He found a bit more space for his next mark and goal, before again being infringed in a marking contest en route to snaring his fifth and final major score. Lukac also showcased some deft ruck craft in the second half, hitting nicely to his accelerating rovers for a few clean clearances breaks which caught the eye.

Closing thoughts…

While he started slowly with limited opportunities, Lukac ended up having a big say on the result with nine of his 10 kicks resulting in scores. He eventually straightened up but could have claimed an even bigger haul if not for inaccuracy, as he constantly drew free kicks with defenders struggling to combat his size and strength. The Eagles played to his strengths by stationing him one-out inside 50, where he only needs a few looks to do some damage. He got better and more effective with his ruck craft as the game wore on too, making for a well-rounded and impactful overall effort from the rising tall.

Image Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

WAFL Colts Player Focus: Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)

WEST AUSTRALIAN midfielder Angus Sheldrick has impressed across multiple levels throughout his 2021 campaign. Most of his appearances have come for Christ Church in the PSA, but Sheldrick has taken the step up to WAFL Colts and state representative level in his stride, consistently finishing amongst his sides’ highest accumulating players while providing high work-rate and pressure around the ground. 

The 179cm inside midfielder put in an arguably best on ground display against East Perth in the recent start to the 2021 WAFL Colts finals series, winning plenty of ball for Claremont as the Tigers brought home a four-point victory.

POCKET PROFILE

Angus Sheldrick
Claremont/Western Australia

DOB: 7/11/2003 (17-years-old)
Height/Weight: 179cm/88kg

Position: Inside Midfielder
Strengths: Contested work, strength, work-rate

2021 Averages:
WAFL Colts (7 games)

26.7 disposals | 3.9 marks | 4.7 tackles | 6.3 inside 50s | 0.6 goals (4 total)

2021 WAFL Colts Finals Week 1 | Claremont 12.9 (87) def. East Perth 6.10 (46)

#27 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)

Stats: 24 disposals (14 kicks, 10 handballs), 5 marks, 12 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal

Q1:

Starting the game in the midfield, Sheldrick wouldn’t move from the role for the quarter as his constant work rate and pressure around the contest set the tone for Claremont around the ground. Sheldrick made an early impact with his tackling, causing a stoppage around the forward 50 before getting involved in the handball chain that Claremont would start from the clearance, where he managed to find teammates even when in traffic. His ability to find teammates wasn’t limited to his handballing either – he took the opportunities he had by foot to put the ball to the advantage of teammates inside 50. Unfortunately at times his teammates didn’t react quick enough and couldn’t take full advantage of it.

Claremont had difficulties with it conversion on goal, kicking five straight points to start the game before Sheldrick put the Tigers’ first goal through. With a stoppage inside 50, Sheldrick positioned well to get a backwards handball from his teammate, then tucking the ball under his arm and getting around a couple of opponents to snap it straight through.

Sheldrick’s positioning around the ground was arguably his biggest strength in the first quarter. Whether it was getting onto the end of some handball chains, holding up an opponent after they won the ball at a stoppage, or coming into a contest so he was at the front of a marking pack, he was largely unmatched in that regard throughout, so much so East Perth started giving him some extra attention around stoppages. 

Q2:

Whilst not accumulating as much of the ball in the second quarter, Sheldrick maintained his defensive and pressure work around the ground and in stoppages, keeping East Perth’s major ball winners honest and on their toes. He won a couple of clearances through sheer work-rate and ferocity at the contest, bumping opponents out of the way to get the ball and feed it off by hand to well-positioned teammates, typically looking to move the ball into the corridor.

Something that stood out more about Sheldrick’s game as the quarter went on was his defensive focus in all aspects of the game. In open play he’d work back hard to create a stoppage with his tackling or pressure, and around stoppages he’d often set up on the defensive side to stop opponents running straight through into their attacking 50.

Q3:

Somewhat limited in how much he could impact due to getting a cut on his head that took some time to bandage up, Sheldrick still made the most of his opportunities in the third term and made sure his presence was felt. The theme of Sheldrick’s quarter was courage, putting himself into some uncomfortable situations and coming out on top. The most impressive example of this came late in the third, as the Royals looked to be getting a certain goal as they streamed forward, but Sheldrick put himself in front of a leading Jye Amiss, holding the mark as Amiss knocked a bit of wind out of him. Sheldrick got straight back to his feet and ran the ball out of defensive 50 before kicking into the middle. 

Sheldrick continued to work defensively and apply pressure around the midfield, frustrating opposition players and copping heavy contact that should have seen him rewarded with some more free kicks.

Q4:

Sheldrick played a big role in securing the victory for Claremont in the final term, winning a lot of ball and generally using it well by foot, looking to spread the play wide to teammates or kick it long to a pack for his tall forwards to crash. What was arguably most impressive about his last term in particular was how he started to present as a marking option around the ground, providing smart leads that weren’t overly dangerous but helped Claremont get a more open ground. Sheldrick also started getting more rewarded for his tackles, earning a couple of free kicks with his repeat efforts through the middle of the ground.

Closing Thoughts:

Sheldrick has made a name for himself as one of the premiere draft-eligible inside midfielders from WA and showed exactly why in the first final of the WAFL Colts season. Whilst Sheldrick doesn’t play a particularly flashy game, his work-rate and courage in his approach lifts his team with him and keeps his side in the contest regardless of the score. It’s obvious that opposition consider him a danger with the amount of attention and work that gets put in to him, in an attempt to negate his impact around stoppages.

As we approach the AFL Draft, don’t be surprised to hear more and more about Sheldrick with reliability and consistency during an interrupted season two big ticks alongside his name.

Image Credit: Claremont FC