Tag: AFL Draft

Academy Watch | Lions prospects endure tough loss, Suns earn late call-ups

THE Brisbane Lions reserves returned to the scene of their 2019 NEAFL Grand Final victory at Fankhauser Oval to face their opponents from that day, 2018 NEAFL premiers, the Southport Sharks. However, the 2021 version of the Lions, unlike the undefeated side of two years ago, is injury depleted with 10 Lions Academy players topping up the team, while Southport’s lineup is now studded with ex-AFL talent including 10 former Gold Coast Suns, so it was the Sharks who dominated this contest from start to finish.

Mid-season rookie Kalin Lane debuted for the Lions, with the West Australian recruit scoring his maiden VFL goal and tapping a respectable 13 hit-outs in Brisbane’s three-man ruck battery.

Saxon Crozier and Toby Triffett each had 21 disposals through the midfield and were among the Lions’ leading on-ballers, but were outclassed by an all ex-AFL Sharks midfield that is leading the VFL in most statistics, and has their team sitting on top of the ladder.

Recent academy graduate Bruce Reville once again showed his quality, consistently breaking through the middle of the ground with speedy run and carry, having multiple shots on goal on the rare occasions the Lions went into forward fifty to finish with 2.3 from 19 disposals.

Athletic tall utility Jack Briskey played loose in defence, but with the Sharks deploying a mozzie fleet in their forwardline and the ball continually coming in hot, the lanky key defender battled.

Jacob Langbourne provided a strong marking outlet on the flanks and had a nice set shot goal late, while Charlie Bowes was stoic in defence as he weathered some crunching contests.

Tahj Abberley was starved of opportunity, but with six marks and four tackles he made his 15 touches count, while Will Tasker and Hugh Fidler each had goals as the young Lions never stopped trying throughout the 107-point hiding.

Southport now sit a game clear at the top of the table with seven wins from eight games, while the Lions drop a game and percentage out of the top eight.

The Gold Coast Suns reserves fielded only the two academy top-up players, with top-ager Jack Johnston coming in to provide a strong body against a prolific Aspley attack, while Bodhi Uwland answered a late call up to be part of the Suns’ 40-point second half comeback.

Meanwhile, AFL Academy Sun, Austin Harris, was among the best on ground on debut in his senior QAFL appearance for Broadbeach. However, the Cats fell to Labrador in a top of the table clash, with Tigers and Allies player Bailey Reeves scoring a goal in his side’s victory.

Passed over for the Allies squad, Jed Foggo came out and scored four goals for Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) in a performance sure to soon win him a place in the Suns’ side. Teammates Will Bella and Brinn Little were major contributors to the win as they now pack their bags for next week’s Allies camp in Sydney.

Jye Lockett, who has previously linked with the Suns Academy, was another to be overlooked for Allies selection but had an impressive outing for GWV Rebels in the NAB League with 17 touches and a goal.

Image Credit: RF Photography

PREVIEW | Debuts galore as Metro sides make NAB League return

METRO regions are set to make their long-awaited return to the NAB League this weekend, as the competition extends back out to eight fixtures in Round 9. While fans are still not allowed to attend metropolitan games, one recruiter from each club will be allowed on the scene to observe the next generation of talent, with rules more relaxed at country and interstate fixtures.

As advertised, a bunch of bottom-age prospects will continue to be blooded through the elite talent pathways and there are some absolute gems to keep an eye out for ahead of the Under 17 National Championships. Returning 18th-year and top-age stars also fill out the list of names to watch, while both New South Wales (NSW) academies remain along with the Northern Territory (NT) Thunder.

Scotch College pair Sam Darcy and Scott Beilby have been named in Oakleigh’s side to face the Northern Knights on Saturday morning. Both boast ties to AFL clubs, with the former a Western Bulldogs father-son candidate, while the latter is part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).

The Chargers will also unveil Tasmanian top-ager Sam Collins, who will make his first appearance for the region having shifted to live in Melbourne this year. 2019 premiership midfielder Fraser Elliot is another 19-year-old back in the mix having had a taste of VFL football, while GIANTS Academy member Patrick Voss is back in Oakleigh colours after earning an Allies nod. Elijah Tsatas is the bottom-ager to watch, an explosive midfielder who was previously sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Northern is also set to blood a couple of promising Under 17s, as coach Leigh Clarke returns to face his former side. Brayden Ham and Josh Hamilton add to those under-age stocks, while Melbourne Grammar student Josh Ward is a welcome addition to the midfield. He’ll operate alongside in-form skipper Joel Trudgeon and Ewan Macpherson, who returns after a stint with Footscray in the VFL.

The day’s other all-metro bout sees Sandringham host Eastern Ranges, boasting mid-season draftee Max Heath. The St Kilda ruck is set to palm down to a formidable midfield trio, which includes co-captain Darby Hipwell, and the newly-formed combination of Finn Callaghan and Charlie McKay. Allies squad member Jack Peris has also been named on the wing.

The midfield battle should be fierce, with Tyler Sonsie and Jake Soligo resuming for Eastern. Dashing top-ager Josh Clarke comes in for his first game in 2021, named in his usual half-back post, while 2005-born talent Nick Watson is in line to make his debut. The diminutive midfielder-forward has serious talent, akin to the likes of Errol Gulden in terms of natural ability which defies his size.

Eastern Ranges half-back Josh Clarke (centre) is in line to return

In the final game on Saturday, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) locks horns with Murray, as Mars Stadium continues to get a workout from the Rebels. Gun inside midfielder Ben Hobbs is set to return for the hosts, named in a forward pocket as GWV boasts an embarrassment of midfield riches.

Allies squad members Toby Murray (ruck) and Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) are set to rotate through the Bushrangers’ structure, with Carlton VFL listed midfielder Zavier Maher again suiting up for Murray as former Caulfield Grammar schoolmate Josh Rachele comes out of the side.

Sunday’s action starts early as the GIANTS Academy takes on Tasmania Devils in the first game of a Blacktown double-header. Sydney is the other NSW-based academy to play host, taking on the NT Thunder in the afternoon. All four sides boast a bunch of prospects named in the Allies squad, who should acquaint themselves nicely.

Calder and Western battle it out in the round’s sole other metro clash, making for a repeat of the season-opener in Craigieburn. Carlton father-son hopeful Dane Whitnall comes in for his Calder debut, bolstering his side’s spine along with developing ruck Liam Podhajski. The latter is one of a few players afield with VFL experience, including Jets top-agers Cody Raak (defence) and Billy Cootee (midfield).

The in-form Geelong Falcons take on Gippsland Power in Morwell, with both sides having fielded a bunch of up-and-comers of late. Geelong will again go with midfielder Jhye Clark, ruckman Olivier Northam, and forward Will Baker, while Gippsland will be buoyed by the returns of Will Papley and Chance Doultree as Jai Serong goes the other way. 2005-born forward Zane Duursma is again one to watch.

The Dandenong Stingrays enter the fold once again to see out the weekend’s action, travelling to face Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. 2005-born Vic Country Under 17 squad member Harley Reid has shown plenty of promise for the Pios, as one of many under-agers settling into the side. Dandenong will have a bunch of fresh faces take the field too, including 16-year-old Sam Frangalas, along with a strong core of familiar names.

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 10 – Claremont vs. Peel Thunder

CLAREMONT shot clear in third with a 21-point win over Peel Thunder on Saturday morning, overcoming the impact of multiple changes to come away with its third-straight victory. Peel started the brighter side and opened up an early three-goal buffer through superior conversion, before being pegged back to trail at half time. Claremont took over from there, with four goals to two in term three setting up a more comfortable run home.

We take a look at a few of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes, and go around the grounds with some of the other outstanding Colts performances out of Round 10.

SCOUTING NOTES

Claremont 9.14 (68) def. Peel Thunder 7.5 (47)

Claremont:

#12 Talon Delacey

Having narrowly missed out on state Under 19s selection, Delacey served a reminder of his talent with a dominant stoppage display. The Claremont ball winner was constantly able to get his hands on the ball at stoppages, while also working hard around the ground to accumulate an equal team-high 22 disposals. He tended to hack kicks away from congestion but gained decent meterage in doing so, helping the Tigers break from the middle. He looked hungry and showed good intent in an overall solid outing.

#32 Jacob van Rooyen

The highly touted key forward is getting back to his best form, and bagged another strong haul of goals with four on Saturday. He started the game in midfield though, spending about a quarter of his total game on-ball as he returns to full-time minutes. While he provided a big body around the ball, van Rooyen was much more impactful inside attacking 50 despite copping a tricky matchup. He converted his side’s opening goal in the first term from a set shot and snapped another in the following period after marking strongly overhead. His third term double helped Claremont break clear, with two classy snap finishes from tight angles on either side of the goal bringing his tally to four goals on the day. He could have had more too, also registering three behinds.

#36 Eric Benning

Benning was able to show glimpses of his athletic best despite copping a heavy knock in the opening term, which slowed his output. The Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect leapt beautifully in the ruck and produced a couple of eye-catching running clearances, pointing towards his potential. He spent a fair bit of time resting deep forward as the game wore on though, even finding the goals on one occasion. Hopefully he shakes off the knock and finds some even better form ahead of his state’s Under 19 campaign.

#37 Henrick Alforque

Another NGA talent, only for West Coast, Alforque continues to dazzle with his speed and repeat efforts forward of centre. The zippy small forward worked up past the attacking arc to find the ball, before wheeling back towards goal with pace and looking to get creative. He is still very raw in terms of his end product, missing some gettable chances once he had done all the hard work beforehand. He did manage to snare a couple of goal though, serving as good reward for his effort.

Peel Thunder:

#2 Scott Tuia

One of Peel’s top ball winners for the day, Tuia defied his size to consistently crack in at ground level and prove a really productive midfielder. He was a constant in the engine room and managed to get his hands on the contested ball, while also using his pace on the outer as the Thunder broke forward. That kind of play provided real drive for his side, making for a solid contribution overall.

#8 Brady Hough

A state Under 19s bolter, Hough showed why he is in line for representative honours with another promising outing for Peel. Stationed on the wing, he competed well for possession and tracked back to accumulate touches, while helping Peel generate some momentum with clean skills on the rebound. He found himself in a more advanced position during term three, marking on a break at half-forward and kicking nicely to Luke Taylor inside 50 to notch a goal assist. Hough should provide solid depth to the Black Ducks’ midfield come National Championships time.

#23 Luke Polson

One who is capable of playing in multiple positions, Polson started in the ruck and while beaten early on by Benning for pure leap, he went on to show his upside. The versatile tall is mobile for his size and not afraid to take on players in front of him, weaving through traffic and disposing with poise. He used his running capacity to win the ball around the ground while rucking, but also did some nice work up forward. A couple of strong marks late in the piece capped off his game, which should again put him in the frame for League selection after being teased with it this week.

#30 Jarrad McIlvinney

McIlvinney is often tasked with tough assignments in defence and it was no different on Saturday, as he took on van Rooyen and Benning at different stages. He proved a terrific matchup for van Rooyen, reading the play well and competing aerially against his fellow state Under 19 squad member. The tall defender positioned well to intercept when away from lockdown duties, and generally used the ball calmly by foot as Peel looked to rebound. In a state squad full of promising talls, McIlvinney should provide some solid key defensive fold.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

There was only one other WAFL Colts fixture in Round 10, with East Perth getting the better of South Fremantle on Sunday. Spearheading the Royals’ comprehensive 61-point victory was Jye Amiss, who brought his season goal tally up to 30 with another bag of five to continue his hot form. Fellow state squad members Ethan Regan and Kaden Harbour each snared two majors, while wingmen Oscar Armstrong (25 disposals) and Jake Littleton (20) were productive on the outer. On the inside, Kade Dittmar also had it 20 times and James Tunstill found the goals once from 18 touches.

In case you missed the West Australian Under 19 squad announcement, you can find everything you need to know here, while the recent Under 17 squad unveiling can be observed below.

Image Credit: Claremont FC

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 8

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled over the weekend, with two Northern Academies and Tasmania returning while four of Victoria’s country regions also battled it out. Plenty of draft prospects for 2021 and beyond impressed in Round 8, as the competition draws closer to full resumption. Check out the top performers from all four of Saturday’s fixtures in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 8 snapshot

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 13.6 (84) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 14.4 (88)

By: Michael Alvaro

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

The busy Swans midfielder proved just that in another outing where his ball winning ability came to the fore. He was all-action at stoppages, getting on the move and finding first touch off the taps despite there being little room to operate. Rogers constantly seemed to be at the drop of the ball, while showing good anticipation with his spread to impact away from the contest. Not only did the midfielder kick two goals, but he also set up multiple scores for his teammates with good ball use on the move. His major in the final term put the Swans ahead, but they were unable to hang on.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another of the Swans’ productive small midfielders, Roseby showcased his typical ability to get in-and-under, while also running hard to accumulate around the ground. Tasmania’s pressure around the ball made it difficult to cleanly extract and break away, but Roseby did his best to gather on the move and bustle out of traffic. While it was tough going at the contest, the top-ager found the ball in a touch more space when working back or spreading forward. He missed his chance to hit the scoreboard in term two after winning a free kick close to goal, ending with one behind from 25 disposals.

#20 Marco Rossmann

Rossmann was finally able to put forward the potential he previously showcased in what was arguably his best academy outing for the year. With a more permanent run in midfield, the top-ager was able to find plenty of the ball with a game-high 31 disposals and still impacted inside 50 with two goals. He looked classy in possession, using a strong five-step burst to break into space and look to use the ball positively, often pumping the ball long by foot. His two majors came during the second term, with the first a gift via the umpire’s whistle, and the second a really classy snap as Rossmann quickly wheeled onto his left side.

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Baynen Lowe

After missing Tasmania’s last NAB League game through illness, Lowe returned with the Devils and picked up right where he left off. The midfielder was terrific with his pressure and intent around the ball, remaining relevant going both ways and finding plenty of footy. The ground level contest was hot, and Lowe managed to snatch good meterage for Tasmania with his long kicks out of congestion, notching eight inside 50s from his team-high 28 touches. He cracked in hard but also showed clean hands on the inside, while also producing a couple of nice repeat run efforts in transition on the outside.

#4 Sam Foley

Foley was a reliable sweeper across the back half for the Devils, able to read the play and get into positions to force the turnover. He made a few handy intercepts, pressing aggressively and competing either in the air or at ground level to strongly win possession for his side. He pushed up hard between the arcs to then distribute on the rebound, using his run and usually clean short kicking to hit targets further afield. He bombed a touch under pressure, but so too did many others on the day. Foley finished with 22 disposals and three inside 50s in a solid outing.

#12 Jye Menzie

On his NAB League return, Menzie took up his usual forward post and started brightly by kicking the game’s opening goal. Much of his play suited the high half-forward role, with the top-ager able to work up the ground and use his sticky hands on the lead, while also getting back towards goal. He was a key link-up player down the line with such presentation and showed good intent with ball in hand to get it moving quickly, putting Sydney’s defence under more immediate pressure. Menzie also snared the first goal of the final term, drawing the Devils back to within a goal and setting the tone for their last-ditch push towards victory.

GEELONG FALCONS 9.10 (64) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 7.12 (54)

By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong Falcons:

#11 Cooper Whyte

Again one of Geelong’s most prominent stoppage players, Whyte ended up providing some terrific drive from the engine room. He contributed a lot of his early work from the clinches, dishing out short handballs and getting stuck in at the coalface. Come the second term and beyond, and Whyte began to get going a touch more on the outer and looked to get Geelong on the front foot with driving run and long kicks. He also got his hands dirty in a tackling sense, making for another well rounded midfield performance.

#12 Noah Gribble

Having enjoyed a stint in midfield last time out, Gribble moved into the centre bounces permanently on Saturday and racked up an equal game-high 28 disposals. Credit to his enormous running power and work rate, Gribble seemed to pop up everywhere and won the ball in all areas of the ground. He also did the basics well at the contest, distributing more often by hand and allowing others to be the outside runners. The top-ager came a little unstuck when he tried to bite off a bit more by foot, but looked effective when quickly disposing to those on the move. He almost capped his game with a goal, as his 45m set shot in the final term rocketed into the post.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

The big-bodied midfielder was well and truly in the thick of things early on, as arguably the best player afield during the first half. Knevitt’s tackling and physicality were real features, as he proved combative at the contest and used his size to win plenty of hard balls. He also showed a good turn of speed on the exit at times, while competing aerially to display a couple handy points of difference. He kept his hands free under tackling pressure and flicked handballs out, before spending more time forward after half time and booting a set shot goal in term three.

#60 Toby Conway

The 204cm AFL Academy representative made his NAB League return on Saturday, and showed just why he is considered one of the better Under 19 ruck prospects going around. Conway was simply too big and strong in the ruck, winning a whopping 37 hitouts and dominating that realm. He protected the drop zone with strength and was able to palm down to his rovers’ advantage, before eventually gaining the confidence to snatch out of the ruck on a couple of occasions. In a tick to his work rate and game awareness, Conway worked back onto the defensive goal line when Bendigo took long-range set shots, earning him a contested mark and a couple of rushed behinds. He also marked well when stationed a kick behind the play, which is a good area of development for Conway.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#1 Sam Conforti

Starting in midfield and rotating forward, Conforti was a productive forward mover for Bendigo in his NAB League return. The top-ager did well to stay on the move and collect the ball cleanly in motion, contributing some handy work at ground level. He was forced to work well up the ground to find the ball as a forward, linking his side back towards the attacking arc as he received and ran in transition. Conforti had multiple chances to hit the scoreboard too, with a couple of quick snaps going wide and a second term set shot missing to the near side.

#2 Harvey Gallagher

Gallagher has shown some really nice form for the Pioneers of late, starting up forward in this game before getting to work through midfield. He was a strong contributor at the contest, able to use his speed and strength in tackles to break away and set Bendigo on the front foot. He backed said pace when blazing through the corridor, but also showed some finesse with nice vision and execution by hand in tight spots. Gallagher snared two goals via free kicks after half time, with his second putting Bendigo in front momentarily. His intent and effort were solid in the closing stages, as he looked to make things happen when the game was up for grabs.

#56 Harley Reid

One for the future, Reid is a 2005-born player who has shown some serious talent across his first two NAB League appearances. He is set to feature in the Vic Country Under 17 side this year and has already made an impact at Under 19 level with his explosive traits and goal sense. The 16-year-old started the game magnificently, booting two goals within as many minutes during the opening term. The first was a terrific running snap which showed his eye for goal, and the second came from a pack mark in the goalsquare where he simply read the ball better than anyone else. Reid also showed a knack for the spectacular with his spekky attempt in the same quarter, before bouncing straight to his feet and winning the spill. He went on to snare a third goal after half time, again judging the ball well in flight to mark in a two-on-two situation in the goalsquare. One who doesn’t need many touches to make an impact, Reid promises to catch the eye for years to come if he can keep up such form.

GWV REBELS 16.20 (116) def. GIPPSLAND POWER 6.1 (37)

By: Ed Pascoe

GWV Rebels:

#1 Sam Butler

Butler has been playing some excellent footy this year and this might have been his best outing yet, with the crafty forward/midfielder the most impactful player on the ground. His first quarter really set the tone, kicking two great goals; with the first coming from a nice show of courage going back with the flight before nailing the set shot, and the second showing his forward nous by quickly getting boot to ball in general play. Butler was a handful forward but once the game was won he was moved into the midfield in the second half and despite the impending result, Butler still showed plenty of intent with a lovey chase down tackle in the midfield which was rewarded. Overall, Butler has shown a great mix of flashy brilliance and the ability to do the hard yards and win his own ball. He finished with 27 disposals, seven tackles, six marks, six inside 50s and two goals in a best on ground performance as he continues to build a very strong year.

#3 Charlie Molan

One of the hardest workers in the NAB League, Molan put together a very complete performance this time around, not only showing plenty defensively but also proving to be dangerous with ball in hand as well. Molan has made the wing position his own, using his fantastic work rate and size at stoppages to his advantage. Molan’s ability to get involved multiple times in transition was a key feature of his game, often getting the ball at half-back and finding himself on the end of chains inside attacking 50. He also showed his ability to kick long and accurately with a nice goal from a handball receive at 50m. Although he isn’t the flashiest, his work rate and selfless plays should endear him to his coaches and scouts, and he finished a very strong game winning 26 disposals, eight inside 50s and one goal.

#5 Josh Rentsch

Although he didn’t capitalise on the scoreboard, Rentsch provided a great target for the Rebels going inside 50. He was a constant feature, leading up to cause havoc for the Gippsland defenders who couldn’t go with him due to his size and power – not just on the lead but also at ground level. Rentsch kicked 1.6 with his only goal coming from a nice finish in general play, powering out of congestion. He had many set shots but didn’t miss any by a long way, and his set shot kicking despite the result shouldn’t be a massive concern for clubs. Rentsch was certainly the most dangerous looking tall forward and he also remains one of the prime key forwards in Victoria in general. He finished the game with 14 disposals and six marks, with his marks all very impressive.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The talented defender has had a quieter last two weeks by his standards, but still managed to show why he is rated so highly with his impressive leap and marking ability. Gibcus had a good battle with Jai Serong for parts of the first half but certainly got off the leash once Serong was moved behind the ball. Something for Gibcus to tidy up is his kicking, which has fallen away slightly in the last two weeks and while it’s good that he wants to move the play on quickly, he needs to take more care to execute the kicks to help maximise his rebound ability, as he has no trouble at all intercepting the ball – even marking the return kicks he originally turned over. Gibcus finished the game with 12 disposals, seven marks and four tackles.

#13 Sam Breuer

A change of position worked wonders for Breuer, who has been stationed as a defender all year but transitioned seamlessly into a midfield role against Gippsland. Breuer was a great four-quarter performer and although not the flashiest, he did what was required with efficiency and toughness. Despite not spending much time in the midfield this year, he looked a natural with his ability to read taps and show poise with ball in hand at stoppages, often handballing well and finding targets by foot when in transition. Breuer kicked a nice goal on the siren with a steady set shot on half time and would set up a goal in the third quarter, with his second efforts from a stoppage and tough tackle creating a chance inside 50. This was a promising performance from Breuer and another good back up performance in the midfield could really improve his draft stocks, as he has now shown to be a very versatile and committed player. Breuer finished the game with 30 disposals, seven tackles and 1.2.

#16 Kai Lohmann

The athletic half-forward has looked better and better as the year has gone on and although he hasn’t been able to put results on the scoreboard, his natural traits just make him so exciting to watch, with his dominance in the air and speed at ground level real difference makers. Lohmann was a marking machine, if he jumped at the ball he was a sure bet to take the mark no matter the competition in the air. With his clean hands and natural leap, he might yet take the mark of the year in the NAB League. Although he could be making a play for mark of the year at some point, he almost kicked goal of the year with a stunning piece of play, running and carrying the ball tight on the boundary, taking a bounce and almost snapping the goal. It was a great showcase of his natural athleticism and willingness to take the game on. Lohmann finished the game with a season-high 23 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s and although he didn’t kick a goal, it seems a matter of time before he starts to really hurt the opposition on the scoreboard.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Cooper Alger

One of the better users of the ball for Gippsland in what was a a dirty day for the team, Alger could hold his head high as he provided plenty of skill and drive from half-back, running hard both ways. Alger’s work rate was rewarded in the second quarter when he would get a mark working into the forwardline, and then slotted the set shot with ease on his trusty left foot. Although not the most prolific for Gippsland with only 13 disposals, he made all of his possessions count with his skill and poise.

#23 Jai Serong

The talented tall, who has spent plenty of time as a forward and midfielder so far this year for Gippsland, would find himself spending time down back later in the game and applying himself surprisingly well in a new role. Serong started the match promisingly up forward with fellow talented tall Josh Gibcus manning up on him in a few contests, with Serong taking a strong contested grab against him in the second quarter. Serong was dangerous up forward, kicking a goal from a holding the ball decision in the first quarter and a classy major in the second, getting boot to ball quickly under pressure in one of the goals of the day. Serong was later moved to defence where he offered plenty of rebound and good skills from half-back. At over 190cm, Serong has shown some great versatility so far this year which could only enhance his draft stocks, and he finished the game with a team-high 18 disposals, seven marks and two goals.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 15.14 (104) def. NT THUNDER ACADEMY 3.8 (26)

By: Declan Reeve

GIANTS Academy:

#5 Angus Curry

The bottom-aged midfielder was a touch too classy for anyone else afield, as he looked convincingly the best ball user when he had ball in hand. He pin-pointed his kicks going forward and hit his handballs well with precision, at times not even turning his head to see his teammate, but putting it to the voice. Was in the right spots around stoppages from the second quarter onwards, where he’d win first possession consistently but sometimes failed to find a way out of the traffic and got caught for another ball up. Showing his game sense however, he adjusted how he approached stoppages as the game went on to start getting the ball out in a bit more space. Tackled well for a player of his size, where he caught a few off guard with his pace.

#7 Matthew Hamblin

The standout inside midfielder for the game, Hamblin was everywhere early on in the game when others were still trying to find their feet a bit, leading to him having the ball on a string. Was prolific around stoppages for a good chunk of the first half, just able to note subtle cues from the opposition ruck to start winning clearances off NT hitouts. Around the ground he was handy, working hard to pressure opponents and force turnovers, able to get the ball off the deck and dispose of it quickly, where without pressure his kicking was reliable, and under pressure he preferred to fire off quick and sharp handballs.

#14 Luke Lawrence

The bottom-aged forward target was the go-to man in the attacking half for GWS, with his leading patterns at a high level, he was often well placed inside 50 to follow up with a shot on goal when he held onto the marks – but did have some trouble with holding onto them at times. He worked hard without the ball as well, laying an impressive tackle in the third quarter where he ran 25 metres to lay it, rightfully being rewarded with the free kick. When he had the ball he generally used it well, not looking to do anything flashy, but always what was right for the team.

#19 Maximus Monaghan

After a quieter first half than you’d expect from the ball winner, Monaghan started to get into the game really well in the second half, with aggression on the ball around the ground that was hard to deal with for NT. Playing similarly to Hamblin, they formed a strong inside partnership, with Monaghan looking faster and more confident using the ball under pressure. What really stood out with Monaghan was how hard it was to move him for the opposition, he took bumps and heavy contact in his stride to hold his feet, not even being knocked off balance.

#24 Sam Frost

In a game that had relatively little defensive half pressure for the Giants, Frost was always switched on, often stopping NT attacks from transition with his aggressive attack in the air and even at ground level, where he wasn’t afraid to back his size and strength to get through packs of players without being brought down, often following up with a long bomb forward. Frost was consistently able to launch his kicks 60 metres, from kick-ins and from outside forward 50 in attempts to score, where distance wasn’t an issue but accuracy needed some polishing. 

NT Thunder:

#2 Andy Moniz-Wakefield

Battled hard all day to be a player constantly with the ball for NT. Often used as a link-up man from defence, he did well to break away from opponents and create separation on the lead to take marks without much hassle. He used that same speed, mixed with his agility, to get around players in tighter situations and follow up with good ball use forward, which unfortunately often went unrewarded.

#27 Tadhj Evans

On what was a hard day for the NT forwards, Evans managed to stand out as a head above the rest with his leap and strong hands as the main forward target, consistently able to hold contested marks or knock the ball in front of teammates to run onto. He used his body well in marking contests, able to nudge opponents under the ball to allow it to go over the back for either himself or a teammate. He looked good and agile at ground level as well, best displayed in the final term where he gathered a ground ball under pressure from two opponents, spun out of their arms and handed it off to a teammate without breaking stride.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

NAB League Player Focus: Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)

GREATER Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels prospect Sam Butler is one of the most promising players out of the country region in 2021, and has a name familiar to most as the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. The 18-year-old has a similar burst of speed and goal sense, but has recently gained greater exposure in the midfield where his ground level game has shone.

Most recently, Butler starred in the Rebels’ comprehensive 79-point victory over Gippsland Power at Mars Stadium, spending a half up forward before being thrust into the centre bounce mix. He ended up with 27 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, and two goals to come under our NAB League Player Focus microscope for Round 8.

Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country

DOB: 10/02/2003
Height/Weight: 184cm/73kg
Position: Midfielder/Forward

2021 Averages:
NAB League (6 games)

19.3 disposals | 9.8 kicks | 9.5 handballs | 4.2 marks | 5.5 tackles | 2.8 inside 50s | 1.0 rebound 50s | 1.0 goals (6 total)

2021 NAB League, Round 8 | GWV Rebels 16.20 (116) def. Gippsland Power 6.1 (37)

Player Focus: #1 Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)

Stats: 27 disposals (11 kicks, 16 handballs), 6 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 goals

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

After his recent midfield initiation, Butler started the game back in his equally familiar forward post as the GWV coaches shuffled their magnets.

He served a reminder of his potent forward craft, able to snare two goals with sound finishing inside 50. The first saw him nip in front of the leading Josh Rentsch to mark overhead, before converting a 35m set shot with aplomb. The second was in open play, as Butler picked up the bobbling ground ball on the outside of a forward 50 stoppage and quickly snapped it home as he was spun in a tackle.

Outside of his scoreboard impact, Butler worked hard off the line to impact the opening centre bounce and get his hands on the ball early, looking clean at ground level with his ability to swoop on loose balls at speed and flick out effective handballs.

He also laid a couple of strong tackles, chasing and locking up opponents, to cap off a productive term which yielded six disposals (two kicks, four handballs), two tackles and two goals.

Q2:

Continuing in his forward role, Butler began to find even more space as he pushed up the ground before helping to link GWV inside attacking 50.

His first act was a well-judged overhead mark from a long Gippsland kick-in, locking the play in his side’s front half. He showed strong hands and judgement once again with a mark on the wing, before working forward to mark uncontested inside 50.

As Butler looked to stamp his mark on the game, he fell short on a couple of occasions. His mark just inside the 50m arc saw him go back and take a set shot, which fell short, while a running foray saw him caught holding the ball as he streamed towards goal, looking to take on the defender with a second bounce.

Ultimately, Butler ended up with a similar output in terms of numbers, managing six disposals (three kicks, three handballs) and four marks as he found space further afield, suiting the high half-forward role.

Q3:

Butler’s return to the midfield came in term three as he was rotated on-ball after around five minutes.

While it took him a little time to warm to his engine room operations, Butler got involved with some sharp touches on both sides of the contest. He darted a beautiful inboard kick to Marcus Herbert at centre half-forward, and looked typically assured at ground level with his clean use by hand.

He was a touch less productive with his disposals as Gippsland did well to pressure the ball carrier, with a lot of his handballs to the first option and sometimes transferring said pressure. Still, Butler added another six disposals (two kicks, four handballs) and a mark as he adjusted to the midfield move.

Q4:

The fourth quarter was Butler’s best in terms of numbers and right up there with the opening term for impact – just in a different department.

He started with great intent, earning a holding the ball free kick at the first centre bounce by hunting the ball carrier and catching him unawares. From there, a lot of Butler’s work was done around the stoppages with continually sharp gathers at ground level. He showed an innate ability to keep his arms up and disposal of the ball in tackles, while also using his burst of speed to bustle to the outside.

He added a bit of run on the outer via a one-two play with Fraser Marris, and capped off a really solid outing with nine disposals (three kicks, six handballs) from midfield.

Closing thoughts…

Butler again showed just why he is one of GWV’s most promising prospects in 2021, hitting the scoreboard when stationed up forward before proving sharp at the contest through midfield. Having boosted his running capacity, the 18-year-old has been able to more consistently showcase his key strengths, in that burst of speed and wickedly clean hands. He can impact at ground level and in the air, while also providing solid tackling pressure and the added bonus of goal threat. Going forward, Butler could perhaps back his pace more when coming away from the contest, taking more time to get free himself and taking more meterage before disposing of the ball. His first-option policy is working pretty well at the moment, though.

Image Credit: Jonathan Di Maggio/AFL Photos

SANFL Under 18s Player Focus: Cooper Murley (Norwood)

NORWOOD midfielder and AFL Academy member Cooper Murley has had an interrupted start to his 2021 football season. Having played two games in the SANFL Reserves, an ankle injury kept him out of action for one and a half months, resulting in him missing the AFL Academy game against Geelong VFL in April. 

After returning through the Reserves in Rounds 8 and 9, Murley was brought in to the Norwood Under 18’s side in Round 10 for its clash against South Adelaide. The contest was close but ended with the Redlegs going down by nine points to the Panthers. Murley was prolific in his first Under 18’s game for the season, with a team-high 34 disposals and seven clearances, to draw attention for this week’s SANFL U18’s Player Focus.

Cooper Murley
Norwood/ South Australia

DOB: 20/06/2003
Height/Weight: 178cm/70kg
Position: Midfielder/Small Forward

2021 Averages:

SANFL Reserves: 4 games | 12 disposals | 7.8 kicks | 4.3 handballs | 3 marks | 2.8 tackles | 0.8 clearances | 2.3 inside 50s | 0.8 rebound 50s | 0.8 goals (3 total)

2021 SANFL U18s, Round 10 | Norwood 10.10 (70) def by. South Adelaide 11.13 (79)
#1 Cooper Murley (Norwood)

Stats: 34 disposals (22 kicks, 12 handballs), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 7 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals, 1 behind

Q1: 

To start off his 2021 Under 18s campaign, Murley wasn’t overly involved early. He was put into the forward line initially, unable to impact much outside of drawing a player at an early inside 50 stoppage. It wouldn’t be until the 10-minute mark of the first quarter that Murley would come alive. Once moved into the midfield, he looked lively around stoppages, positioning himself well to be a handball receiver from whoever gathered first possession. His first clearance would come not long after his move into the guts, having it palmed down straight to him around the defensive 50 mark, handballing back and then getting it again closer to the boundary line, unable to hit his intended target by foot in the middle of the ground. 

He worked hard to assist in defence when it was down there, earning himself a free kick at one stage and initiating a promising bit of play with his switch kick. From there, Murley’s work was done exclusively at ground level, able to pick the ball up cleanly, even when under direct pressure, and fire off precise handballs to teammates. His approach to ground balls was near perfect in the first quarter, positioning his body well to protect himself and keep his arms free from contact, then getting the handballs away quickly as he stood up, rather than standing up then handballing. 

It was a strong start to his Under 18’s return, looking a class above when he had the ball and in contests, able to beat bigger opponents at ground level almost exclusively with how he positioned his body when picking the ball up.

Q2:

Murley once again started the quarter in the forwardline but looked to push up straight away, in a high half-forward sort of role. This got him pushing up the ground deeply and more involved in transition from the defensive half for Norwood, where he was the target of a lot of kicks early on. In those situations, he utilised his speed to run onto the ball, even taking a mark running with the flight. He showcased his clean hands below his knees a few times, with the most impressive being a clean pickup off the ground as soon as the ball hit it, so much so it could’ve been paid a mark. To follow that up he handballed to a teammate, then worked hard to u-turn and get in front of the running pack of players, getting a handball over the top and having a shot on goal from 50 out, which was touched just before the line. 

Two things were really obvious in the second quarter in regards to Murley; number one was how good his repeat efforts are, having a couple of marks spoiled or just not being able to hold them, but following up superbly at ground level to win the footy and shoot off a quick handball to a teammate. Number two was how dangerous he was when given even the slightest bit of space to work with, taking the advantage from a couple of free kicks for teammates, where he’d burst away, take a bounce and deliver well forward, with a moment like this leading to his second goal of the quarter right before the siren. 

His first goal was a great showing off his work rate and danger in transition, where a teammate put the ball in front of him, he ran onto it and picked up cleanly, then delivered a pinpoint kick to a teammate inside 50, ran hard to get the handball receive and snapped it through. 

Overall it was definitely a higher production quarter from Murley as he got more involved. As he did so, it got him more attention from opposition as he was being stuck to like glue around stoppages towards the end of the quarter, and given a bit of rough treatment in tackles, which he handled well. His use by foot improved from the first quarter which made Norwood more dangerous in transition.

Q3:

A quieter quarter than the last for Murley, though he still chimed in with moments of class when he was given the space and used by teammates, with his kicking taking yet another step up to hit essentially every target, or be put to their advantage, perfectly.

Murley’s hands were extra sticky in the third, holding onto a few handball receives he got at pace, before quickly composing himself to deliver a kick forward. His first real involvement played out exactly like this, with the kick and inside 50 that should’ve been marked, but wasn’t. He took a mark a little later at the back-end of the centre square, quickly wheeling onto his right side and kicking it a good 50 meters to go out the back of a pack for Norwood’s quick smalls to run onto. Later on in the quarter, he took an impressive contested grab on the far wing, not breaking stride to play on and deliver it well to a teammate at the top of the 50. 

It was more of the same brilliance for Murley overall, with his one-grab pickups below his knees continually impressive and his vision excellent to hit targets most others wouldn’t even attempt.

Q4:

Started the quarter in the midfield for the first time all game as the Redlegs needed to find a way to put the game to rest. He was in and under from the get go, getting first hands to the ball from the ruck tap and being wrapped up straight away. Unfortunately he had to spend some time on the bench as early on he copped a corkie after being ran into on the boundary line, coming on about five minutes later. 

Murley didn’t let the injury stop him throwing himself into contests and getting involved, earning a free kick in the defensive half for a good tackle and looking to spread it out wide. He took a mark later on in the quarter and sent it deep inside 50 for a teammate to mark, but unfortunately miss the resultant shot on the goal. 

It’s no surprise that Norwood started to struggle when Murley had to go off to deal with the corkie, highlighting his importance to their play in what was the worst time to see it.

Final thoughts…

There’s no doubting Murley’s quality as a player and it’s clear to see why he’s part of the AFL Academy for 2021. Despite being smaller in stature he wasn’t phased when in contests with bigger bodies, using his smarts to gain the advantages he could and win most contests reliably. At ground level there was no one better, Murley never fumbled and his hands were too quick for opponents to react to in close. Balancing himself as a midfielder is a real strength of Murley’s as well, working hard on the inside and outside to fill the roles well, and that versatility is an asset to any team he ends up a part of in future. Whilst his kicking and marking were more often good than not, they’re two areas from this game he could look to sharpen up on.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 8

THE 2021 NAB League season is slowly returning to normalcy, with four games played across a pair of double-headers on Saturday. Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) picked up points in all-country showdowns, while Tasmania returned to the fold with a win over the Sydney Swans Academy, and the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy trumped Northern Territory Thunder. Check out the key figures and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 13.6 (84) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 14.4 (88)

IN A SENTENCE:

Tasmania Devils marked a captivating return to the NAB League, winning by four points via a Will Splann goal with six minutes left to play having trailed at the first three breaks.

TEAM STATS:

  • Swans Academy won the handballs (161-133) and tackles (61-55)
  • Tasmania Devils won the kicks (162-146) and marks (62-34)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Marco Rossmann (Swans Academy) 31 disposals, 5 marks, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Felix Rogers (Swans Academy) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy) 25 disposals, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 28 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 8 inside 50s
  • Sam Tilley (Tasmania Devils) 22 disposals, 4 tackles, 2 rebound 50s
  • Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils) 22 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Marco Rossmann (Swans Academy)
4 – Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils)
3 – Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
2 – Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Sam Tilley (Tasmania Devils)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

GEELONG FALCONS 9.10 (64) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 7.12 (54)

IN A SENTENCE:

Geelong Falcons toppled higher-ranked opposition for the second week running, edging the Bendigo Pioneers by 10 points after giving up the lead in term four.

TEAM STATS:

  • Geelong Falcons won the handballs (121-110), inside 50s (47-41) and hitouts (55-21)
  • Bendigo Pioneers won the kicks (179-157) and rebound 50s (36-33)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons) 22 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 60s
  • Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 behinds
  • Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers) 6 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
1 – Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

GWV REBELS 16.20 (116) def. GIPPSLAND POWER 6.1 (37)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GWV Rebels overwhelmed Gippsland Power with 36 scoring shots to seven, returning to the winners list via a 79-point thumping on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (398-245), inside 50s (65-26), and marks (93-55)
  • Gippsland Power won the rebound 50s (49-20), tackles (68-65) and hitouts (43-20)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels) 30 disposals, 3 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels) 38 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Jai Serong (Gippsland Power) 18 disposals, 7 marks, 4 tackles, 5 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Max Walton (Gippsland Power) 17 disposals, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 16 disposals, 12 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)
4 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
3 – Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels)
2 – Kai Lohmann (GWV Rebels)
1 – Vincent Huf (GWV Rebels)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 15.14 (104) def. NT THUNDER ACADEMY 3.8 (26)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GIANTS Academy proved far too strong for their Northern Territory counterparts, piling on scoreboard pressure after quarter time and running out comfortable 78-point victors in Blacktown.

TEAM STATS:

  • GIANTS Academy won the disposals (285-198), inside 50s (50-25), and marks (70-63)
  • NT Thunder won the rebound 50s (34-22)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy) 28 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy) 24 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 3 rebound 50s
  • Maximus Monaghan (GIANTS Academy) 19 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s
  • Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT Thunder) 24 disposals, 7 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s, 1.3
  • Lloyd Johnston (NT Thunder) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 7 rebound 50s
  • Ronald Fejo Jnr (NT Thunder) 19 disposals, 7 marks, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy)
4 – Angus Curry (GIANTS Academy)
3 – Luke Lawrence (GIANTS Academy)
2 – Maximus Monaghan (GIANTS Academy)
1 – Andy Moniz Wakefield (NT Thunder)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

The race to be number one: What separates Daicos and Horne?

IT’S the great debate surrounding this year’s AFL Draft. Nick Daicos and Jason Horne, the race to be number one. On June 1, Draft Central released its first monthly Power Rankings edition for 2021 and there were plenty of questions raised about the pointy end of the list. Daicos has arrived on the scene with plenty of fanfare and has since dominated both the media landscape, and on-field arena. But one prospect remains in the way him being the outright frontrunner this year – Horne.

We take a look at some of the key arguments to spawn on either side of this debate, essentially answer the question of why Horne topped our Power Rankings list and if Daicos stands a chance of snatching the crown come July’s edition.

Nick Daicos
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: 3/01/2003
Height/Weight: 183cm/72kg
Position: Midfielder

Season Averages:
2021 NAB League

4 games | 35.5 disposals | 22.3 kicks | 13.3 handballs | 6.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 6.0 inside 50s | 2.5 rebound 50s | 2.3 goals (9 total)

Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: 21/06/2003
Height/Weight: 184cm/78kg
Position: Midfielder

Season Averages:
SANFL League

8 games | 15.0 disposals | 10.6 kicks | 4.4 handballs | 4.4 marks | 3.9 tackles | 3.4 inside 50s | 0.5 rebound 50s | 0.6 goals (5 total)

MEN AGAINST BOYS

The first place distant draft watchers often look when comparing players is the stats sheet. While it’s a fairly useful performance indicator, in this case it needs much more context than is afforded through pure numbers. Daicos is miles ahead of Horne on that basis alone, averaging 20 more disposals and managing just under double Horne’s goal tally in half the amount of games. He leads the NAB League for total disposals, kicks, and goals, while also topping Oakleigh’s charts in a number of other categories. His numbers are ridiculous, there is no denying it, and Horne’s don’t make for bad viewing either.

The difference is the level they’re playing at. Victoria’s elite talent pathway proudly boasts about providing over half of the total draft pool each year, and while that is fact, the standard of the competition has been a touch sub-par in 2021. That is not to discredit Daicos, talent pathway staff, or any of the footballers who have stuck true to their dream throughout a difficult period, but the game of catch-up remains evident after a year away from competitive action and incredibly rushed preseasons.

On the other hand, Horne’s 2020 campaign was merely disrupted, as opposed to cancelled. He got a taste of senior football as a bottom-ager and is better for it now, performing consistently in what is arguably the nation’s strongest state league at the moment. The 17-year-old has fallen below 10 touches just once in eight games and has impacted with more permanent midfield time. He also performed brilliantly in the SANFL Under 18s competition for two seasons as an under-ager.

Through no real fault of his own, Daicos is yet to get an extended run at senior level. He was due to slot into Collingwood’s VFL set-up during the NAB League’s month-long break, but a lingering corked thigh and overall management of his workload meant that did not come to fruition. The saying goes you can only beat who’s in front of you, and Daicos is doing that, but the different levels these two are competing at is a big factor in what their numbers look like.

THE ACADEMY GAME

So these two compete at different levels currently, but what happened when they ran out on the same field this year? The pair was chosen to represent the AFL Academy in a showcase game against Geelong VFL in April, often seen as a good sighter for the year’s talent. The Under 19 Academy was trounced by 130 points, with few prospects truly able to enhance their credentials on what was a tough day at the office.

Daicos was the AFL Academy captain and carried the role with aplomb having also experienced leadership with Oakleigh in the NAB League. Horne has too, at representative level no less, but Daicos got the nod here. The second big tick for Collingwood’s father-son hopeful was that he ended the game as the Academy’s clear highest ball winner. Not only that, but his 26 disposals were double that of Horne.

Now the context of competition is out of the equation, surely it’s conclusive that Daicos is the better-performed prospect – on pure numbers. It’s not quite that simple, as you’ll find below.

>> Scouting Notes: AFL Academy vs. Geelong VFL

IMPACT PER POSSESSION

It’s all well and good winning bucketloads of the ball, but what are these two doing with it?

Horne’s lower disposal rates in comparison do not necessarily indicate lesser impact. 15 of his disposals are arguably more damaging than if Daicos had the same number, but the latter’s sway on the game comes through sheer accumulation and an uncanny knack for knowing when and where his next possession will come. Horne’s penetrative kick and bullet-like passing can be a real weapon, matched with the positive intent to put the ball in ominous areas. His knack for taking eye-catching overhead marks and laying crunching tackles also point towards his undeniable status as a high-impact player.

Daicos is usually a wonderfully clean and clever user of the ball, with the added trait of bringing his teammates into the play. He constantly looks to give and go; kicking short and running hard to get the handball back, or chaining by hand up the field to help bring some fluency to his side’s play. It means he is a productive and creative type in midfield, just in a different way to Horne. He is better able to find the ball in all areas of the ground with his work-rate and smarts, but is that kind of accumulation always as impactful as possible? The verdict is out, but he can certainly have an overwhelming effect on the game with his rate of accumulation, popping up everywhere.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Judging such high-level AFL Draft prospects to the most minute details is often a fickle exercise which does little to actually highlight what they do so well. In this case, it works to better understand some of the key parameters and contexts required to make such judgements. At the end of the year when both likely attract top two selections, and throughout their careers the discussion will rear its head – again and again. Walsh/Rozee, McCluggage/Taranto/McGrath, Hodge/Judd/Ball – all examples of exactly that. It never goes away, but hopefully now there is a better understanding of which factors weight in the favour of both Daicos and Horne, for fans, pundits and recruiters alike to make their own judgement calls. It’s all subjective.

2021 West Australian Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 West Australian Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with 33 players making the cut to represent their state at the upcoming National Championships. Selected to compete in games against South Australia (July 31) and the Allies (August 7), the squad features players ranging from their 19th year, to a gun 16-year-old who is also among the state’s Under 17 set-up.

The Black Ducks promise to be competitive at this year’s carnival, boasting a strong core of versatile key position prospects and dynamic midfield mix. AFL Academy members Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts), Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont), and Jack Williams (East Fremantle) are among the best talls available in this year’s draft crop, while Subiaco pair Matthew Johnson and Neil Erasmus are set to wax in midfield having also represented the national Under 19 Academy.

Fans of AFL clubs will also have specific players to keep an eye on, with father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects littered through the side. Exciting small forward/midfielder Jesse Motlop (son of Daniel) comes under Fremantle’s academy umbrella, while explosive East Perth mover Ethan Regan is one for Eagles. Melbourne also has a father-son in the mix, with Taj Woewodin (son of Shane) a promising midfield option.

East Fremantle produced the most members (eight) this time around, as the WAFL club continues to prove a strong breeding ground for draft eligible talent. East Perth is the next best with six players involved, including Regan and leading Colts goalkicker Jye Amiss (25 goals). There is plenty of competition for spots up forward, with swingman Bazzo likely to revert to a defensive post along with versatile 19-year-old Jaiden Hunter (Perth).

Hunter is one of a few top-agers to have earned League berths in 2021 after being overlooked at last year’s draft, with Perth teammate Jack Avery in that same boat, alongside midfielder-turned-defender Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle) and ruckman Jake South (Subiaco). Meanwhile, 18th-year talents van Rooyen and Johnson also broke through for their senior debuts before returning to the Colts grade.

After hitouts against South Australia and the Allies, WA is scheduled to take on Vic Country and Vic Metro in Victoria on September 24 and 29, to round out the National Championships.

Below is a preview of how the West Australian team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad.

FB: Jack Avery (P) – Rhett Bazzo (SD) – Finn Gorringe (EF)
HB: Jed Hagan (EF) – Jaiden Hunter (P) – Judd McVee (EF)
C: Corey Warner (EF) – Matthew Johnson (S) – Max Chipper (SD)
HF: Ethan Regan (EP) – Jacob van Rooyen (C) – Neil Erasmus (S)
FF: Jye Amiss (EP) – Jack Williams (EF) – Jesse Motlop (SF)
FOL: Jake South (S) – Josh Browne (EF) – Kade Dittmar (EP)

INT: Zac Fleiner (WP), Kaden Harbour (EP), Brady Hough (PT), Lochlan Paton (WP), Luke Polson (PT), James Tunstill (EP)

EMG: Oscar Armstrong (EP), Eric Benning (C), Ed Curley (EF), Richard Farmer (S), Jarrod McIlvinney (PT), Angus Sheldrick (C), Jahmal Stretch (C), Bryce Watson (SD), Taj Woewodin (EF)

FULL SQUAD:

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

2021 SANFL Under 18 Player Focus: Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)

NORTH Adelaide midfielder Hugh Jackson is one garnering attention with his eye-catching stat lines and prolific ball winning ability. He has enjoyed a sensational start to the SANFL Under 18s season, averaging 35 disposals and six clearances per his nine games with great consistency in his output. The Rostrevor College graduate is fully focussed on his football in 2021, working hard on his contested game and becoming a more complete midfield package.

His Roosters came up against Sturt for a second week running in the junior grade, trumping the Double Blues to the tune of 38 points at Unley Oval. Jackson was again instrumental in the victory, gathering 41 disposals and 12 clearances to become the prospect placed under our SANFL Under 18s Player Focus microscope this week. We run you through his game quarter-by-quarter, and bring you the key stats out of his Round 9 showing.

Hugh Jackson
North Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: 3/05/2003
Height/Weight: 181cm/70kg
Position: Midfielder

2021 Averages:

Under 18s: 9 games | 34.7 disposals | 19.1 kicks | 15.6 handballs | 7.4 marks | 3.6 tackles | 5.6 clearances | 6.0 inside 50s | 3.3 rebound 50s | 0.2 goals (2 total)

2021 SANFL Under 18s, Round 9 | North Adelaide 14.12 (96) def. Sturt 8.10 (58)

#12 Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)

Stats: 41 disposals (30 kicks, 11 handballs), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 12 clearances, 11 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Jackson made a red-hot start for the Roosters, taking up his usual spot at the centre bounces and proving the go-to rover. He won the first centre clearance of the game and was able to win a couple more in the opening minutes by staying on the move and pushing off his opponent smartly.

He tended to wheel quickly onto his left side once in possession, pumping his legs to get into space before delivering a long kick forward. Once a couple of his initial inside 50 forays failed to hit targets, Jackson fed a lateral handball out of the next centre bounce in a handy adjustment.

The prolific ball winner was rotated off at around the nine-minute mark, earning a short rest before again being sighted about three minutes later. He showed clean hands to pick up off the deck at speed and flick out handballs, but his repeated attempts to burst through tackles saw some of his disposals scuppered under pressure.

Overall, it was a productive period in terms of ball winning, where Jackson was able to break into double digits for disposals and drive North forward with ball in hand.

Q2:

The second term was a touch quieter by Jackson’s standards, despite again winning a good amount of ball. He saw repeat possessions in a few early passages but did much of his work under pressure, sending kicks straight up in the air, along the ground or with an awkward spin around the body.

Jackson still managed to latch onto the ball at stoppages and work into space on occasion, but even then his decision making and execution by foot let him down. His go-to was often a long kick down the line, but they would often be thrust to contests or outnumbers on the wing with no direct target in mind.

He found himself being tackled a lot more and attracted a couple of free kicks, using one to deliver inside 50 but seeing the pass dropped by his leading teammate. While able to register eight kicks for the quarter, Jackson’s impact came mostly at the contest with little damage coming away from it.

Q3:

Jackson lifted once again in the third term, working his way around the outside of stoppages and finding a touch more room to operate. Instead of being caught as he did in the previous period, the North midfielder looked to dispose of the ball quickly and that led to some rushed execution under pressure.

He had a nice moment where he prized the ball out of a pack on the wing, got moving quickly into space and delivered a neat ball inside 50, only for it to again be fumbled by a teammate. That lowering of the eyes is something Jackson can do to further hurt the opposition, with his contested game another clear area for improvement.

Having again cracked into double digits for disposals throughout the term, Jackson was in the thick of things but continued to turn the ball over under Sturt’s pressure around the ball. His output was there, but the end product was not.

Q4:

Jackson looked to finish strong with some added defensive acts, though his light frame made for tough work when looking to stick tackles. He also continued to accumulate a touch more away from the stoppages, dropping back to help transition out of defence and trying to drive forward on the outer.

His disposal by foot remained a touch off from those positions, but Jackson proved much neater when going inside forward 50 and provided some handy score assists. He hit Isaac Keeler and Adam Heath with short passes going inside 50, just putting enough on them for the key forwards to mark low before hitting the scoreboard.

It was a solid finish to the game for Jackson, as he again racked up possessions and did so with different methods. He was eventually able to sure up his disposal and ensure his work going forward resulted in North boosting their score.

Final thoughts…

There is no doubting Jackson’s ability to find the ball. He is prolific in that area and it isn’t a bad key strength to have, especially when the numbers look so good after nine rounds of Under 18 football. As a small midfielder, Jackson does not quite have the agility or strength to consistently burst through traffic, though it seems he is actively trying to boost his contested game. He works well on the outside of stoppages and gets his legs pumping to find space before sending long kicks forward. His neat-looking disposal could do with some sharpening, and being able to inflict more damage with his wealth of possessions will prove a big step in his development.

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