Tag: AFL

AFL Women’s draftee watch: Round 4 – Saint Smith sustains shining performance

ROUND 4 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season reverted back into it’s three-day stretch over the weekend, with a number of fresh faces continuing to make their mark on the competition and establish their roles in each team. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared across the latest set of fixtures, focusing on players in every match under 21 years of age and from the most recent draft crop.

St Kilda vs. Geelong

St Kilda shook off a youthful Geelong outfit on Friday night to kick off Round 4, with a star Saints draftee continuing to prove her worth. Number six pick, Tyanna Smith has somewhat flown under the radar thus far but is as consistent a performer as any draftee this year, especially after notching her third 16-disposal performance in four games. Having slotted seamlessly into her side’s midfield, it seems inevitable that Smith will soon be recognises with a rising star nomination. Why not now?

Laura Gardiner became Geelong’s newest debutant in the same game, registering three disposals and breaching either arc in her work on the outer. Fellow first year players Stephanie Williams and Olivia Barber also retained their places in the senior side, with the latter again showing some promise as the Cats were kept to just one goal for three terms. She finished with a minor score from her six touches and one mark.

Carlton vs. Richmond

Carlton scraped home in a thriller on Saturday afternoon, overcoming a horror start to beat Richmond by five points at Princes Park. Mimi Hill has was the Blues’ first selection in last year’s draft and continues to be their pick of the first year players, contributing some excellent moments on the wing. She finishes with 13 disposals and two marks, showing great poise and clean hands in the process.

Daisy Walker again featured for Carlton after her Round 3 debut and was under the pump down back. She registered virtually identical stats to her maiden outing (four kicks, three handballs) but also stepped up to the plate with four tackles. Number one pick Ellie McKenzie was also excellent for Richmond, proving all-class on the ball as she gathered 14 touches and four marks rotating through midfield.

Fremantle vs. Gold Coast

Fremantle flexed its muscle in the second half to see off Gold Coast on Saturday, extending the Dockers’ unbeaten streak once more. First round selection, Sarah Verrier finished with three disposals and four tackles, but had a moment she will never forget in the third term when she slotted her maiden senior goal. The 18-year-old kicked truly after earning a holding the ball free kick inside 50.

An inexperienced Gold Coast side fought hard and was within striking distance for half of the game, but could not match Freo’s firepower with its only score, a goal, registered in the first term. Lucy Single got her hands dirty for the Suns with seven tackles, while Maddison Levi laid four in her six-disposal display. Meanwhile, Daisy D’Arcy had it three times as the young Suns continue their learning curve.

North Melbourne vs. Collingwood

Saturday night’s Marvel Stadium blockbuster saw Collingwood swoop on North Melbourne, with the Magpies holding their highly-touted opponents goalless to remain undefeated. Collingwood father-daughter coup, Tarni Brown continues to impress in black and white, cementing her spot in the side with another 13 touches (11 handballs), two marks and three tackles.

Joanna Lin has enjoyed a three-game stretch since debuting for the Magpies and managed her highest disposal haul (five) in this game, while Bella Eddey produced the same numbers for North Melbourne in what was a tough day forward of centre for the Roos. Having played all four games so far, she is another to have cracked a top side to good effect.

Brisbane vs. Adelaide

Two South Australian draftees featured as Brisbane and Adelaide locked horns in Sunday’s all-important clash at Hickey Park, which the Crows took out. Lions debutant Indy Tahau was promising in her maiden appearance, managing a mark among her eight touches. Teah Charlton has shown flashes of brilliance for Adelaide, but did not produce too many more highlights for her reel in a six-disposal outing up forward.

Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne

Whitten Oval has proven a fortress for the Western Bulldogs this season and they claimed another big scalp on home turf after beating Melbourne on Sunday. Number two pick, Jess Fitzgerald continues to shine with her scoreboard impact and fierce two-way attack, booting a pair of crucial goals among her 12 touches while also laying eight tackles. Teammate Sarah Hartwig is also growing in confidence and managed 13 disposals, including two marks and two rebound 50s.

The Demons did not quite click up forward, at least from a conversion standpoint, but it was not for a lack of trying. Star draftee Alyssa Bannan again troubled the scorers, just not in the majors column as she snared a behind from her three disposals and two marks. Further afield, Eliza McNamara is another draftee to have grasped an early senior opportunity and finished with nine disposals and four tackles this time out.

GWS vs. West Coast

Greater Western Sydney (GWS) made it two wins on the trot by overcoming West Coast on Sunday, boosted by the return of a key draftee. Tarni Evans is the player in question and added some spark to the Giants’ lineup in her first game back from suspension. She finished with 12 disposals, three rebound 50s and a couple of tackles in a swift reminded of her value.

Bella Lewis continues to be thrown in the deep end for West Coast and again stood up to the rigours of senior midfield play, finishing as her side’s highest ball winner (16 disposals) behind a raft of Giants. The 18-year-old also dug in for a career-high nine tackles, defying her frame. 19-year-old Amber Ward also chimed in with six touches, as the South Australian remains among senior calculations.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Western Bulldogs

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO RECAP:

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

2020 AFL Draft recap: West Coast Eagles

AFTER entering last year’s draft at Pick 49, West Coast’s night opened all the way back at Pick 52 this time around as the Eagles signal their intent to stay within the premiership window. Three fresh faces entered the elite ranks overall, with some handy versatility and readymade types among the target areas West Coast identified. Having finished fifth on percentage and lost a home elimination final in 2020, the Eagles will be desperate to climb back into the top four with its strong and mature core remaining.

WEST COAST

National Draft:
#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Zane Trew (Swan Districts/Western Australia), Daniel Venables (Re-listed)

The Eagles were put on the clock in the third and final round, selecting South Australian Luke Edwards with Pick 52. Edwards is the son of Adelaide great, Tyson, but was overlooked by the Crows as a father-son nomination and thus eligible in the open draft to other clubs.

The Glenelg product was a standout bottom-ager at last year’s Under 18 carnival and went on to gain senior experience with the Bays this year. He gets a big tick for versatility; able to play off half-back, as an inside midfielder, or even rest forward, boasting clean skills and natural footballing nous as his key strengths. A readymade choice.

Just a handful of selections later, West Coast would have been thrilled to bring in local talent, Isiah Winder, a crafty small who can also play multiple roles and has outstanding athletic traits. The Peel Thunder talent gained some good traction after blitzing the West Australian draft combine, but had also previously showed his wares on-field with eye-catching displays in the WAFL League and Colts competitions.

Having started as a small forward with good goal sense and marking ability, Winder further utilised his speed and skill in 2020 as a midfielder, while also rotating off the flanks at either end. He had long been linked with West Coast’s first pick, but should prove a great value option just a few spots down the order.

Eagles staff would have been just as content with the coup of Zane Trew as a rookie, given he was considered one of the most unlucky players to have missed out on National Draft selection. He is a handball happy inside midfielder out of Swan Districts with great extraction ability and awareness in-close, but will be hoping to get an extended run after multiple injury setbacks.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Eagles draftee Isiah Winder trains in his new colours | Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Sydney Swans

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

SYDNEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO RECAP:

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

2020 AFL Draft recap: St Kilda Saints

ST KILDA is a side looking to crack the top four and after climbing all the way to sixth at the end of this year’s home-and-away fixtures, the Saints are truly ascending. Having recently targeted established, mature-age talent to accelerate their development, St Kilda has hardly been the most active club come draft time over the last few years. That theme continued in 2020, but handy key position depth at either end sees the Saints’ squad filling out quite nicely in anticipation of a top four tilt.

ST KILDA

National Draft:
#26 Matthew Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Rookies:
Nil.

St Kilda entered this year’s National Draft at the end of round one, selecting Calder Cannons graduate Matthew Allison with Pick 26. The 194cm utility is somewhat of a prospective selection having only shown glimpses of top-end potential across his 10 NAB League outings as a bottom-ager. But some strong marking displays during the 2020 preseason put Allison’s name on the map, pegging him as a potential bolter after earning a National Draft Combine invite. He blends aerial prowess with strong running capacity and looks like developing into a key forward, but can also roll further afield onto the wing.

Tom Highmore was the only other new Saint selected across both the National and Rookie drafts, making for a shrewd choice at Pick 45. The 22-year-old defender was overlooked as a GWS Academy product in his draft year, but has since put plenty of runs on the board in the senior NEAFL and SANFL competitions. His move to South Adelaide this year proved fruitful, as the 192cm interceptor quickly established himself as a premier player in the league. He is a strong marker who proves just as capable with ball in hand and promises to add great long-term depth to St Kilda’s backline. He should push for selection in 2021 and is a pick which suits St Kilda’s upward trend.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Saints draftee Matthew Allison dons his new colours | Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Richmond Tigers

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

RICHMOND

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

Rookies:
Mate Colina (Cat B)

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

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

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

VIDEO RECAP:

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

2020 AFL Draft recap: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne came away with one of the more significant hauls at this year’s AFL Draft, introducing a total of seven new faces to its developing list. The Kangaroos will see great opportunity in their midst having grasped an elite talent with pick three, and incoming head coach David Noble setting lofty expectations on his side’s future projection. It comes after a season which was hardly short of disastrous at most times, but the upside of a fresh start and plenty of young talent will hopefully keep supporters tuned in as North looks to head in exactly that direction.

NORTH MELBOURNE

National Draft:
#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Patrick Walker (North Hobart), Connor Menadue (Werribee)

The first real surprise of the draft came as North Melbourne opted to select Will Phillips with Pick 3. While the durable inside midfielder is perhaps much like what the Kangaroos already have through the engine room, he looks every bit the 250-game lock who will impact immediately at AFL level.

At 180cm, the Oakleigh Chargers graduate has a good balance of inside and outside traits; proving clean in congestion and a touch handball happy, but also boasting a zippy burst away from traffic with the ability to chain possessions. He was a key part of Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership, waxing with the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson through midfield. Being given Brent Harvey‘s number 29 only proves the faith North Melbourne has in its primary selection.

With Pick 13, the Kangaroos doubled up on ball winning midfielders with South Australian Tom Powell. The Sturt product averaged over 35 disposals per game in the SANFL Under 18s, making for a monster season in which he proved difficult to ignore. He is best suited to the stoppages with his clean hands and composure, proving arguably the best exponent of the handball in his draft class. Much like Phillips, the reliability and honesty this selection brings will go a long way to helping North Melbourne turn its fortunes around quickly and he could well earn an early berth in the senior squad.

More smalls were in the offing later down the order, but this time bringing a touch of speed and dynamism to the squad. Geelong Falcons product Charlie Lazzaro is a quality character who brings toughness and tackling pressure on-field, able to play on both sides of midfield or as a small forward at 179cm. Phoenix Spicer was somewhat of a bolter, but a prospect with clear AFL interest this year having impressed for South Adelaide’s Under 18s and Reserves. He has pace to burn and loves to take the game on, able to hit the scoreboard from a wing or more simply ply his trade as a lively small forward.

Dynamic forward Eddie Ford rounded out the National Draft intake, a bargain at Pick 56. The spring-heeled Western Jets graduate is capable of taking big marks and bombing home long goals, making for an eye-catching highlight reel thus far. He would have looked to move more permanently into midfield as a top-ager, but was denied the opportunity. Tasmanian Patrick Walker adds some outside class as a rookie option, while 24-year-old former Richmond dasher Connor Menadue was a surprise selection after being delisted in 2019. Overall, it was a midfield-first approach from North with seven overall selections, though key position pillars still require fulfilment down the line.

Featured Image: Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Melbourne Demons

MELBOURNE’S rollercoaster 2020 season ended in a ninth place finish and the lingering feeling of disappointment, but a sense of assuredness was somewhat restored as the Demons managed to gain two first round picks in this year’s draft. The move to trade back up the order and bring in a trio of top 35 talents marked a job well done, as a couple of classy smalls were joined by a developable tall prospect in what was an all-local draft haul. With a couple of spots potentially remaining open on the outside and in Melbourne’s front half, these players may well get a senior chance in their debut seasons.

MELBOURNE

National Draft:
#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Nil.

Consecutive first round picks opened the show for Melbourne, who looked to have had running machine, Max Holmes snatched from under their noses by Geelong immediately beforehand. Nonetheless, his former Sandringham Dragons teammate Jake Bowey marked a great first selection followed by a slight slider in Bailey Laurie, who was linked to GWS’ picks in the teens.

Bowey is a tough 175cm prospect with clean skills and great speed and agility. He can play a number of roles but made the wing his own as a bottom-ager and also has the potential to develop as a small forward. Laurie is similarly brilliant skill-wise, particularly by foot, known to carve up the opposition with his baulks and forward carry. The 179cm Oakleigh Chargers graduate achieved premiership success with the side in 2019 and along with Bowey, should have fans quickly warm to him.

The selection of Fraser Rosman, another Sandringham product, proved Melbourne’s final point of call at the draft and was a more prospective pick than the previous two. At 194cm, Rosman is an athletic marvel with great speed, endurance, and vertical ability which translates to his versatility. His size suggests he can own the forward 50 arc in future, but Rosman is also capable of rolling further afield. He has had little exposure with only two NAB League appearances last year, with his draft bolt coming on the back of promising preseason performances.

Melbourne was one of the rare sides not to make any rookie selections, meaning its three-pronged National Draft haul were the only fresh faces taken in after trade period. With Bowey and Laurie, the Demons have added some much-needed class going forward in support of 2019 draftee Kysaiah Pickett, while Rosman could become a fearsome key forward in the long-term, but has great flexibility otherwise.

Featured Image: Melbourne’s fresh faces from the 2020 AFL Draft | Credit: (Retrieved from) @melbournefc via Twitter

2020 AFL Draft recap: Hawthorn Hawks

WITH the disappointment of a 15th place finish comes great hope via the draft and in 2020, Hawthorn came into the event holding its earliest pick since 2005. The Hawks have a history of making good on their high-end selections and filled an immediate list chasm with their first choice on the night, while also gaining some exciting long-term prospects and taking little time to match a bid on their own homegrown talent. A haul of four in the National Draft was capped by one more rookie selection the very next day, making for a handful of fresh faces set to inject even more enthusiasm to the Hawks’ developing list.

HAWTHORN

National Draft:
#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Jack Saunders (Norwood)

Hawthorn’s first pick hinged on much of the action amongst the top five, with the Hawks reaching a happy medium in terms of picking for list needs and the best available talent. After a failed bid on Swans Academy member Braeden Campbell, West Australian Denver Grainger-Barras was the Hawks’ man; the best defender in the draft and an athletic one at that.

At 195cm, he is a terrific intercept marker and has great versatility in the sense that he can lock down opponents or play as a loose man across the back half. The Swan Districts product could well slot straight into James Sicily‘s role from the get-go, while also freeing him up to swing forward or be let off the chain once he recovers from his long-term knee injury.

The Hawks then looked towards bolstering their small stocks with the selections of Seamus Mitchell (Pick 29) and Tyler Brockman (46). While some small forwards are picked for their defensive acts, these two will likely prove selections made on speed and upside. Both are wonderfully quick and have serious x-factor, able to ply their trade as high half-forwards or even closer to goal.

Neither are quite the finished product, but promise to put together handy highlight reels if given a chance at senior level early on. Hawthorn’s recruiting staff were obviously quite high on their talents having jumped on them a touch early, but the pair could prove well worth the price in quick time.

In between those picks came a bid on Next Generation Academy (NGA) product Connor Downie, a driven and professional character who was set to captain the Eastern Ranges this year. The outside midfielder/defender loves to take the game on and boasts a penetrating left-foot kick, allowing him to gain meterage at a good rate.

Having put four years of work into Downie through their NGA program, the Hawks were prepared to match a bid in the 25-range, so snaring him 10 picks later than that was a bonus. Another outside runner in Jack Saunders rounded out the draft as a rookie pick, adding line-breaking and ball-winning ability to the Hawks’ midfield stocks. The 180cm talent played a key part in Norwood’s Under 18 and Reserves sides this season.

Featured Image: Hawthorn’s 2020 draftees | Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: GWS GIANTS

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

GWS GIANTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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