Tag: AFL Draft

AFL Draft Watch: Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Geelong Falcons’ Tanner Bruhn, a classy midfielder who remains a first round prospect despite recurring injury bouts. After earning Under 16 All Australian honours as Vic Country’s MVP in 2018, Bruhn broke through for four outings with the Falcons and was primed for a big bottom-age year. A preseason knee injury would momentarily halt his journey, before making a successful return to action in the last two NAB League rounds.

Bruhn may well be a benefactor of the extended lay-off in 2020 given preseason knee surgery would have had him in doubt for the early rounds, and there are plenty who are keen to see him in action. While he remains more of an inside type, Bruhn does not simply rely on strength at the contest, with his agility, smarts, and expert extraction allowing him to rack up big numbers and prove a match winner from the engine room. With an extended run, the Falcons star could well push for top five contention come season’s end given his immense ability.

PLAYER PAGE:

Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: May 27, 2002

Height: 182cm
Weight: 73kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Strengths: Contested work, tackling, class, scoreboard impact
Improvements: Durability, size/strength

NAB League stats: 2 games | 17.0 disposals | 1.5 marks | 4.0 tackles | 5.0 clearances | 4.5 inside 50s | 1.5 rebound 50s | 1.5 goals (3)

>> Q&A: Tanner Bruhn

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Quiet game in realistically what was his third elite level game since a long-term injury. He showed good strength early to get a handball away whilst being tackled in the middle, and had a shot on goal in the opening term but was run down inside 50 by Sam Collins before he could.

NAB League Wildcard Round vs. Sandringham

By: Michael Alvaro

One of Geelong’s only forms of resistance through a midfield that was soundly beaten, Bruhn continues to show no signs of wear from his long-term injury layoff. The bottom-ager had some promising moments at stoppages, winning the first clear disposals at the opening centre bounces of the first and second terms. His clearance work is already sound and he looked unfazed by Sandringham’s bigger bodies, digging in where he could and zipping away with his first few steps. He also provided good drive forward by foot and chipped in with a goal in the third term from close range. Has a wealth of potential and should lead Geelong’s strong bottom-age core into next year.

NAB League Round 17 vs. Dandenong

By: Peter Williams

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

>> MORE GEELONG FALCONS CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Country U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

SANFL Player Focus: Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide)

IN a return to our Player Focus piece, we take a look at a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 2 of the competition, our eyes were on West Adelaide key forward/ruck Riley Thilthorpe, who took part in the Bloods’ dramatic draw with Central District.

SANFL STATISTICS:

10 disposals
2 marks (1 contested)
5 tackles
15 hitouts
1 clearance
1 goal, 2 behinds

Now a staple among Westies’ League setup, Thilthorpe took the field on the opposing side to fellow South Australian Academy Hub member, Corey Durdin, who was lively for the Bulldogs. Durdin was at the centre of our Player Focus piece last week, and both players have taken to senior football with aplomb.

The Bloods hit the ground running in this game with 6.5 in a hot opening term, and Thilthorpe was the unlikely catalyst. Starting at full-forward, the 200cm prospect had a remarkable first five minutes and was in everything inside West Adelaide’s attacking 50. He notched the first score of the game after snatching the ball from a contest spillage, sending a warning shot to the Bulldogs defenders.

His combination of aerial presence and ground level work helped Westies hit the scoreboard again, but this time with all six points as Thilthorpe again got his hands on a spillage at centre half-forward between three opponents, kept his hands free in a tackle and flicked out a handball to the running Isaac Johnson, who booted the game’s opening major.

Roll forward about a minute longer, and Thilthorpe was impacting the play high on the arc once more, hitting a long centre clearance ball from the side and continuing his momentum to gather the spillage and send a left-foot snap towards goal. The ball would trickle through for a fantastic goal on his wrong side from around 45-metres out, a great effort from the bigman.

Thilthorpe’s reach was also something which stood out, allowing him to get his hands on multiple passes which entered his vicinity even if he started from behind. He did not receive the best delivery early on and often had a Centrals defender sitting in the hole, although his lack of speed off the mark at times saw him caught behind his direct opponent as the ball entered his area.

The potential top five pick continued his solid form heading into the second term, doubling his impact with some work in the ruck at forward half stoppages. That reach of his constantly allowed him to bring the ball to ground despite being outmuscled or out-positioned at times, and a well directed double-handed tap down to Dallas Willsmore almost yielded another goal assist. He had the chance to boot another goal himself too, finding space deep in the forward pocket to mark but hitting the post with his set shot.

He was robbed of another beautiful snap goal in the third term as the ball fell into his lap from the front-and-centre position, before he bent the ball home with confidence. Unfortunately, a free kick was awarded to Central District for an infringement in the marking contest which Thilthorpe sat off. His impact in front of the big sticks did not look like stopping there as he sent Kaine Stevens running into an open goal, only for the star midfielder to fumble his bounce and give the chance away.

While he looked threatening up forward, Thilthorpe also got a run through the ruck rotation, starting a kick behind the ball in general play when it was locked inside the Bloods’ forward 50, and eventually attending a centre bounce. His leap may not be massive, but the Westies youngster managed to get his hand on the ball nicely against Jonathan Marsh.

Thilthorpe looked to be fading out of the game late due to a lack of opportunity and poor delivery once again, but capped off a solid day with a terrific contested mark on defensive wing, something we will be sure to see much more of in future. His work up the ground late proved clutch, despite not being able to help his side get over the line for the win. Once he gains the confidence to leap at the ball more often, those deft touches will turn to eye catching clunks.

>> WEST ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

Q&A: Thilthorpe/Bloods U18s
Draft Watch: Riley Thilthorpe

>> 2020 South Australia U18 Squad Prediction
>> 2020 AFL Draft Analysis: Key Forwards
>> July Power Rankings

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not on any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

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

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot here. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#5 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Grainger-Barras rounds out the top five; another tall, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has been squeezed out to number six at this point, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

>> Q&A

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

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

#9 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Rounding out the top 10 is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

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

#11 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Fremantle Academy.

>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

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

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess. He should make the step-up for Oakleigh once again having impressed late last year, while also cracking the Vic Metro line-up.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 5: Pick one down, but draftees fly high

11 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. Top pick Matt Rowell may have been rubbed out early with a dislocated shoulder, but there was plenty to take out of Round 5 for the class of 2019 as plenty of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level. For the first time this year, none of the weekend’s debutants came from the most recent draft, but there promises to be plenty to come.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Hayden Young (Fremantle)

STATS: 15 disposals (10 kicks), 6 marks, 2 rebound 50s, 73% disposal efficiency

The stats may not overly flatter him, but Young is building nicely into is AFL career having returned another strong performance in Fremantle’s first win for 2020. Stationed in his usual defensive post, Young delivered 12 of his 15 disposals from the back half and did so with accuracy. His intercept marking ability is also coming to the fore as he gains in confidence, able to read the ball well in flight and have a crack backing into traffic. At four games into his elite level venture, the Dandenong Stingrays graduate is beginning to bring his best traits forward and has cemented his spot in the Dockers’ side.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)

18 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements

As good mate, Rowell went down, Anderson stepped up to deliver one of his better performances across his first five career games. Continuing in his role on the wing, Anderson got involved in the contest and managed to find the ball in important areas while also fulfilling his defensive duties with 11 pressure acts. The former Oakleigh Charger may have turned the ball over six times amid the heat of the contest, but has impactful touches and has the potential to have a big say once all the factors in his game click.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

15 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 2 score involvements

Ash is another who is beginning to click into gear having been granted ample opportunity upon his AFL berth, and he was among the GIANTS’ top 10 disposal winners in their win against Hawthorn on Sunday. Moving along the line from defence to the wing, Ash was able to penetrate the forward 50 in transition to show a glimpse of his attacking quality, while also providing a safe outlet in the back half. He won half of his possessions in contested situations too, displaying a good appetite for the contest and the rigours of the elite level.

Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

14 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 score involvements

Right behind Ash in terms of disposals was GIANTS Academy graduate, Green with 14. After a breakout game in Round 4 saw him earn a Rising Star nomination, the big-bodied midfielder continued on his ball winning ways to contribute some solid numbers to GWS’ Sunday salute. The GIANTS’ coaching staff has shown great faith in Green in allowing him to run through midfield, attending centre bounces where he thrives on the contested side of the game. He’s another who looks to be locking down a spot, and is providing ample cover some some absent GWS stars.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

10 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Following the example set by former Vic Country teammate, Young is Serong, who also played his part in Fremantle’s opening win for season 2020. The diminutive Gippsland Power product is another who has been thrust right into the engine room action at times, holding his own against big-bodied opposition and remaining relevant going both ways. He is proving more comfortable with ball in hand as time goes on, and it is positive that he manages to find it in the first place.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

Classic Contests: Cannons hold off Pioneers in slow-scoring affair

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Bendigo Pioneers and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides met in early in the season for a low-scoring slog.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Saturday May 4, 2:15pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 4.3 | 6.5 | 7.6 | 7.10 (52)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Fletcher 2, B. Rigoni, N. Gentile, J. O’Sullivan, D. Mott, M. Allison.
Bendigo:
E. Roberts, R. Ironside, J. Ginnivan, Z. Murley, C. Fisher.

BEST:

Calder: J. Martin, D. Mott, J. Hotchkin, T. Browning, N. Gentile, B. Newman
Bendigo:
J. Treacy, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Schischka, B. Vaz, W. Wallace

Draftees in action:

Calder: Sam Ramsay
Bendigo:
Brady Rowles

There have not exactly been many ‘classic’ contests between these two sides over the past decade, but they got within 16 points of each other in Round 6 of last year’s NAB League season in a decent showing. The Cannons were beginning to shake off a slow start to their campaign, improving to 2-3 with a win over Geelong in Round 5. Conversely, Bendigo was beginning to slide after a rampant 2-0 start, sitting at 2-2 with a bye in tow.

The Cannons may have been missing a couple of their eventual, surprise draftees, but would go into the clash boasting most of its top-end talent at the time. Of them, Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay took the field, while Bendigo’s sole draftee on the team sheet was Sydney speedster, Brady Rowles. The absences of key players and first round picks Brodie Kemp and Thomson Dow would prove costly for Bendigo over the stretch, as it looked to reclaim some of its early season form.

True to form, Calder made the hot start with a four goals to one opening term. While Bendigo was accurate with its sole scoring shot for the quarter, the Cannons could only put away four of their seven attempts. It seemed the Cannons were en route to a big win having kept their opponents to just one goal in the second term too, adding another couple themselves to set up a 28-point lead at half-time.

But that was when the Pioneers began to shake off the potential wares of their big road trip, doubling their goal tally in the third term to shave the margin to 21 points heading into the final period of play. Still, they would need to double their tally again to sneak over the line while keeping Calder goalless. Bendigo managed the second feat, but lacked the firepower in tough conditions, falling just under three goals short to the better fancied Cannons.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher booted two majors in a day which was scare of goals, while midfield ace Daniel Mott also found the goals with one of his game-high 36 disposals. Brodie Newman managed 21 along with 12 marks, while James Schischka (20 disposals) was Bendigo’s leading ball winner. Rowles had one of his more influential outings with a season-high 17 touches, with Ramsay kept to 16 on the opposing side.

The Cannons would go on to finish two games outside of the top three, notching a 9-6 record to sit fifth. After a win in week one of finals, their season would end at the hands of Sandringham in the semi finals. Bendigo failed to make its own post-season splash, bundled out in Wildcard Round after amassing a 5-10 come the end of the regular season.

AFL Draft Watch: Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Gippsland Power’s Zach Reid, a mobile key position utility who possesses great skills for a 202cm prospect. Having been tried up either end of the ground and in the ruck over 15 NAB League games last year, Reid looks arguably most comfortable in defence; where he is able to utilise his vertical leap and shrewd reading of the game to make an impact aerially, while also rebounding with aplomb.

The raw, tall draft hopeful could well come into first round contention if he delivers on his potential in 2020, with all the attributes to stand out from the crowd as a key position option. He should again be a mainstay in Gippsland’s side amid the shortened NAB League season, and be a lock for Vic Country’s Under 18 National Championships campaign.

PLAYER PAGE:

Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country

DOB: March 2, 2002

Height: 202cm
Weight: 82kg

Position: Key Position Utility

Strengths: Versatility, overhead/intercept marking, skills, vertical leap
Improvements: Strength, raw

NAB League stats: 15 games | 11.1 disposals | 3.9 marks | 2.0 tackles | 2.4 hitouts | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1)

>> Q&A: Zach Reid

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 62cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 82cm/86cm
Speed (20m) – 3.17 seconds
Agility – 8.69 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.6

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

While he spent a bit of time in the ruck, Reid’s best work is arguably always done down back and he proved that again here. He was composed with ball in hand and dished off to his runners well, while also kicking capably on the last line. He capped his game with a strong pack mark in the third term and got involved well in Team Brown’s rebounding efforts.

NAB League Round 12 vs. Geelong

By: Peter Williams

The unlikeliest of heroes found himself kicking the winning goal from 25m out in the dying moments of the match. The consistent full-back went forward late in the game to be a point of difference, and he was certainly that, taking a terrific one-on-one grab straight in front, out-bodying his opponent. He slotted it and teammates came from everywhere to celebrate. In the first three quarters he was his usual unflappable self in defence, using good hands and composure when in the back 50, laying some strong tackles, including one goal-saving one on Oliver Henry in the back pocket.

NAB League Round 8 vs. GWV

By: Peter Williams

Used the ball well in defence and was strong overhead. He seemed to move well around the ground but at times was a tad slow to react and was tackled a couple of times, forcing him to rush his disposal. Reid showed off a nice long, technically sound kick and showed good body work on his opponent one-on-one deep in defence.

>> MORE GIPPSLAND POWER CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Country U18s Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

AFL Debut Watch – Round 5: AFL and club debuts up for grabs

ROUND 5 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, with a late change seeing Northern Knights graduate Sam Philp keep his spot after a Round 4 debut. This weekend, another three newcomers are in line to make their maiden elite-level appearances, while an Essendon pair is set to run out for the Bombers for the first time. We take you through the list and give a little reminder of what each player may bring to the table.

Note: * denotes named on extended bench.

Collingwood vs. Essendon

AFL Debuts: Nil
Club Debuts: Mitchell Hibberd, Andrew Phillips

Mitchell Hibberd (Essendon)

The 23-year-old entered his second chance saloon with Essendon via the 2019 rookie draft, given another crack at the elite level after being cut by North Melbourne at the end of 2018. An outstanding VFL campaign with Williamstown shot the Tasmanian right back into AFL contention, as he looks to build on his four previous career outings.

Hibberd is now a well-built inside midfielder at 190cm, fitting the mould of modern day engine room operators with a good mix of size, speed, and the ability to find the ball. He should prove a handy point of difference in the Essendon midfield, which is quite short in comparison, and in-need of that hardened inside type. With sharp skills and a penetrating boot, Hibberd could also feature on the outside or off half-back.

Andrew Phillips (Essendon)

The former Carlton bigman gets a berth for his new club against arguably the best ruckman in the competition, Brodie Grundy as Essendon takes on Collingwood on Friday night. Tom Bellchambers has been given the axe, although the Bombers would tell you he is being ‘managed’, providing the perfect opportunity for Phillips to finally cement a starting spot at AFL level.

The 29-year-old should be able to compete well in the ruck battles at 201cm, but will be tested around the ground and below his knees by Grundy. Phillips may also be forced to ware on his Collingwood opponents in the role for long periods, with Shaun McKernan Essendon’s only other viable ruck option in the side.

Adelaide vs. Fremantle

AFL Debuts: Andrew McPherson*
Club Debuts: Nil

Andrew McPherson (Adelaide)

Adelaide fans may well witness yet another 2020 debut, as McPherson awaits confirmation of his spot in the starting side to face Fremantle on Sunday afternoon. He is one of four inclusions named on an extended Crows bench, with no omissions made at this point and gun midfielder Matt Crouch set to return to the line-up after his inglorious axing.

A graduate of the 2017 draft class, McPherson had high hopes billed of him during his top-age year, but missed nearly all of it through injury. Nonetheless, the Crows showed faith in the local talent and snapped him up with pick 40 in the National Draft. He managed nine SANFL outings in 2019 and may get his first crack at the next level at 21 years of age, providing elite endurance and rebound quality from defence.

Melbourne vs. Richmond

AFL Debuts: Jake Aarts*
Club Debuts: Nil

Jake Aarts (Richmond)

Having taken the long road to landing on an AFL list, Aarts may finally get his shot at the bigtime on Sunday in Richmond’s clash against Melbourne. The diminutive forward comes in as part of an eight-man Tigers interchange, facing stiff opposition to sneak into the starting 22 as the likes of Sydney Stack and Jack Ross come the other way.

The former VFL Tiger will fit perfectly into his side’s system, providing that relentless, rolling pressure in the forward half and the work rate to push back to goal hard. He is difficult to beat at ground level with this hardness and low centre of gravity, and will undoubtedly look to impact the scoreboard given his smarts around the big sticks. Expect the 25-year-old to hit the ground running once he gets a shot, placing pressure on others of a similar mould among the squad.

GWS vs. Hawthorn

AFL Debuts: Harry Jones*
Club Debuts: Nil

Harry Jones (Hawthorn)

One who features on this list for a second week running, Jones will have to compete with four others on Hawthorn’s extended bench to replace the injured Luke Breust and face GWS to see out Round 5. The 20-year-old inside midfielder hails from the Murray region, and has the size to compete at AFL level should he be given the opportunity.

Hawthorn’s midfield is difficult to crack, but fans have been yearning for Jones to be handed a senior berth after he impressed last year in the VFL. He was close then, last week, and will be close now to breaking into the 3-1 Hawks side.

Marquee Matchups: Oliver Davis vs. Zane Trew

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place as the class of 2020 eventually takes the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

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

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

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 182cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight:
78kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

ATHLETIC PROFILES

2019 PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS

STANDING VERTICAL JUMP

Davis – 56cm
Trew – 60cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Davis – 71cm/68cm
Trew – 76cm/73cm

SPEED (20m)

Davis – 3.11 seconds
Trew – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Davis – 8.29 seconds
Trew – 8.66 seconds

ENDURANCE (YO-YO)

Davis – 20.3
Trew – 20.8

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

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Davis:

2019 NAB League

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

Trew:

2019 WAFL Colts

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

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

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

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

BEST GAME

Davis:

2019 NAB League Round 8 vs. Dandenong

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

Trew:

2019 WAFL Colts Round 3 vs. Perth

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

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

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

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

STRENGTHS

Davis:

Contested ball/clearances
Consistency
Toughness
Tackling
Agility

Trew:

Contested ball/extraction
Releasing handballs
Strength
Tackling
Poise

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

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

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

IMPROVEMENTS

Davis:

Speed
Blazing away

Trew:

Breakaway speed

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

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

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

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

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Davis:

2019 NAB League Round 11 vs. Northern

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

Trew:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Metro

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

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders

DASHING, daring outside midfielders are becoming increasingly important amid the current trend of contested, scrum-like styles of play, able to break the lines and change the course of games in a flash. Among this year’s crop lies a versatile bunch of outside types who can double in different positions, and while not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

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

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

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

Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
174cm | 66kg

Starting small, Bowey kicks off this list as one of the prospects who may sneak into top 20 calculations on draft boards, with plenty of desirable attributes to outweigh his 174cm/66kg frame. The Sandringham Dragons product is hard at it, able to take the ball cleanly and burst through congestion with his high-level speed and agility. He featured in 16 NAB League games last year stationed on his customary wing position, but is quite apt forward of centre and could even utilise his sharp foot skills off half-back.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia
188cm | 79kg

Another in the line of East Fremantle Under 18 prospects is Carroll, who comes in at a good size to compete across a range of positions. The West Australian’s precision kicking makes him damaging on the outside, while courage in the air and intercept marking prowess make him a half-back option. The 188cm prospect can also roll through midfield, but has quality traits on the outer and will more likely find a spot there should state representative duties come calling.

Saxon Crozier
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
189cm | 80kg

Crozier has been one of Queensland’s most highly touted 2020 prospects for a while now, and has cut his teeth as an out-and-out outside midfielder thus far. The tall, rangy Brisbane Academy product has filled out of late and has eyes on securing an inside role, but has arguably shown his best form to date on the wing. Crozier’s running capacity and ability to hurt the opposition when given time and space suit the outside role, and he has also adapted his skills to run off flanks at either end of the ground. He will be a leader among the talented Brisbane crop, and should prove a handy addition to the Allies squad.

>> Q&A

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
185cm | 83kg

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate may have eyes on more minutes on the inside, and boasts the ideal size for it, but is so good running on the outer that we simply had to include him in this list. Downie is set to skipper the Eastern Ranges side which lost in last year’s NAB League decider, with the experience of 14 games and a Vic Metro Under 18 outing under his belt. While he is not overwhelmingly quick, Downie loves to get the ball moving and finishes his line-breaking runs with penetrating left-foot bombs. His skills can be adapted to a half-back role, and he is no stranger to finding the big sticks, either.

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

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies
172cm | 68kg

Search the definition for pocket rocket and a picture of Gulden is what you are likely to find. The nippy Swans Academy hopeful does not let his size get in the way of making a big impact; as his smarts, agility, and ability to chain possessions allow him to carve up the opposition on the outside. While he could also be considered a small or half-forward, Gulden is just as capable of wreaking havoc from the wing and enjoys getting into space. He won the Under 16 Division 2 MVP in 2018, appeared four times for the Allies as a bottom-ager, and has already played senior footy. Look out.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Brodie Lake
Peel Thunder/NT Thunder Academy/Allies
186cm | 70kg

One of the Northern Territory’s brightest draft prospects this year is Lake, a tall midfielder who boasts great versatility and running power. He has twice featured in the Thunder’s Under 16 squad, taking out last year’s MVP award for his service through midfield and in defence. Lake has also plied his trade for Peel Thunder and at senior level for Southern Districts in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), lauded for his coachability, skills, and work rate. He will be one to keep an eye out for come the national carnival, and will be eligible to be taken by Gold Coast given its alignment to the Darwin academy zone.

Carter Michael
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
188cm | 74kg

A second Queenslander on this list, Michael may well find himself lined up on the opposite wing to fellow Brisbane Academy product, Crozier when it comes time to run out for the Allies. The 188cm prospect is a silky mover through traffic who boasts a penetrating left foot kick, and he may well be one to juggle time between inside and outside roles throughout the year, depending on which team he represents. He already has experience on the inside for the Lions at Under 18 level and is a leader among that group, but may be pushed out to the wing for the Allies where he can make an impact with his sharp decision making.

>> Q&A

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia
180cm | 73kg

Powell made an immediate impact upon his return to SANFL Under 18s action last week, collecting 34 disposals in Sturt’s Round 1 win over Central District. The speedy midfielder actually has quite a nice balance of traits given his mix of athleticism and ball winning ability, but may find his way into the South Australian lineup on the outside where his explosive burst will come in handy. It is pleasing to see Powell back on the park after an unlucky run with injuries in 2019, and he should quickly rise in stocks should his form persist.

>> Q&A

Taj Schofield
WWT Eagles/South Australia
178cm | 72kg

The son of Port Adelaide premiership player, Jarrad, Schofield is another South Australian prospect to have battled injury as a bottom-ager, but he is primed to make an impact in 2020. Power fans will be keeping a close eye on the 2020 father-son candidate, who is incredibly classy on the outside with eye-catching agility and short-range kicking. Schofield has been working on his inside craft, too, and featured among the Eagles’ Under 18 centre bounce quartet in Round 1 after starting up forward. The small prospect was named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side, where he represented Western Australia before making the move to SA.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of other prospects who could fit into the outside midfielder category, but are more effective in other roles from out perspective. Among them, the elite trio of Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Braeden Campbell are all players we deem to be of the balanced midfielder variety, along with the likes of Finlay Macrae and Bailey Chamberlain. Corey Durdin is one who would be considered more of an inside type, and we see him as a small forward in the long run in any case.

Speaking of, Sam Conforti will make the same transition for Bendigo, while West Australian pair Ira Jetta and Joel Western can roll through multiple positions, including on the outside, but look more suited to flank or pocket roles. Glenelg small Cooper Horsnell also has eyes on a role further afield, but remains in the small forward category.

There are a raft of defenders who move up the ground well and may, in future, be considered outside midfielders. NAB Leaguers Charlie Byrne and Nick Stevens have the ability to roll further afield, but seem to prefer their half-back posts, while Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Patrick Walker are in a similar boat. Queenslander Tahj Abberley is one who can play just about anywhere but has been billed as a small defender, and we like Ty Sears as a running half-back, too.

In the utility category comes the likes of Zac Dumesny and Campbell Edwardes. Dumesny made his SANFL League debut in 2020 and can operate on the wing or up forward, but looks like developing into a third tall in defence. Edwardes is as versatile as they come and is yet to lock down a specific role despite looking comfortable on the outside.

Of course, anyone else we may have missed could also appear in our previous analysis on inside midfielders.

Positional Analysis: Inside MidfieldersKey Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

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

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

AFL Draft Watch: Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Oakleigh Chargers’ Will Phillips, who has a terrific balance of inside and outside traits through the engine room – able to dig in and find plenty of his own ball, while providing forward movement in his bursting runs through congestion. The 179cm prospect averaged a tick over 22 disposals across 10 games in Oakleigh’s premiership-winning NAB League campaign last year, with his form enough to warrant a call-up to Vic Metro’s Under 18 side as a bottom-ager.

Having attended centre bounces with the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson through the Chargers’ program, Phillips is looking to become a leader in each midfield he lines up for in 2020; juggling his time between school football commitments at Caulfield Grammar, Oakleigh’s premiership defence, and representative duties with Vic Metro. Few others can extract possession like Phillips, making him a locked-on top 10 prospect for this year’s draft.

PLAYER PAGE:

Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: May 22, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Balanced midfielder

Strengths: Accumulation, contested ball, consistency, durability/toughness, tackling, composure
Improvements: Repeat contests

NAB League stats: 10 games | 22.1 disposals | 2.6 marks | 4.0 tackles | 4.3 clearances | 3.2 inside 50s | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (3)

>> Q&A: Will Phillips

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Just a tackling machine who keeps on battling hard. Philips is a work horse who continues to dig in and win the ball and do all the team things to support his teammates. He laid a massive 14 tackles for the game while winning another 20-plus disposals. One of the better midfield options heading into next year, he is strong at the stoppages and can spread to the outside to win it as well and set up teammates. He kicked a goal in the third term by winning the ball from a stoppage, fending off an opponent and snapping it off his right at the top of the square. He then set up Joel Jeffrey with a goal thanks to a very nice kick inside 50.

NAB League Grand Final vs. Eastern

By: Peter Williams

The bottom-ager showed why he will be a highly touted prospect next year with a competitive effort through midfield. Just attacks the ball with vigour not to dissimilar to Rowell, and while he can be handball happy at times, had an even spread of kicks and handballs on his way to 16 touches, also hitting the scoreboard with two majors.

NAB League Preliminary Finals vs. Sandringham

By: Ed Pascoe

Phillips backed up his impressive game in the first final to once again make an impact in the preliminary final, showcasing his ability to find the ball and use it well, while also showing great movement in traffic and composure with ball in hand. Phillips has been playing mostly on the wing where he does well but he looks most natural winning his own ball and exiting the stoppages with his acceleration out of traffic and ability to weave through congestion and hit a target by hand or foot. He can also impact the contest with his strong tackling which he also showcased against Sandringham.

NAB League Qualifying Final vs. Gippsland

By: Ed Pascoe

Phillips was fantastic in Oakleigh’s strong start to the game, seeing the bottom age midfielder show some good clean hands in transition and getting involved in a number of plays going forward. Mostly playing on the wing he had no issues winning the ball with his smart running and willingness to also get in and win his own ball. Phillips kicked a nice goal in the third quarter showing some dash and getting back the handball to snap on the run. Phillips finished the game with 29 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

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

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

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

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

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