Tag: AFL

AFL Debut Watch – Round 6: Pies, Hawks duos lead list of 11 potential debutants

ROUND 6 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, with a grand total of zero newcomers making it onto centre stage. That is all about to change though, with both Collingwood and Hawthorn naming two debutants each for their Friday night clash, leading a list of 11 total fresh faces named across the league. There could also be three club debuts throughout the weekend, pending the culling of extended squads. We take you through the list and give a little reminder of what each player may bring to the table.

Note: * denotes named on extended bench.

Collingwood vs. Hawthorn

AFL Debuts: Atu Bosenavulagi (COL), Will Day (HAW), Will Kelly (COL), Josh Morris (HAW)
Club Debuts: Nil

Collingwood pulled a selection stunner in naming a pair of untried second year players, which was then matched by Hawthorn’s inclusion of its first year pair. The Pies pair both already had ties to the club upon being drafted, with Atu Bosenavulagi a Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, and Will Kelly a father-son prospect. Both continue the rich link between Oakleigh Chargers and Collingwood, with fellow Chargers graduate Isaac Quaynor also slotting into the lineup.

Bosenavulagi is a pressure small forward who should maintain the pace at ground level for his side, while adding a different dimension when the ball hits the deck. His goal sense, agility, and smarts inside 50 should make for good viewing when he gets into a flow. Despite being drafted as a key position defender, Kelly has made the transition to the forwardline, and will add even more height alongside Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek, with his point of difference being sound foot skills.

For Hawthorn, Will Day was a speculative, high upside pick in last year’s first round, and the faith shown in him is obviously quite high given his relatively early debut. He should provide some much-needed athleticism and class on the outside for the Hawks. Josh Morris is the other newcomer, a fellow South Australian with plenty of potential. His pace in the forward 50 will be eye-catching, and he loves popping up with a goal or two.

West Coast vs. Adelaide

AFL Debuts: Andrew McPherson (ADE)
Club Debuts: Nil

After narrowly failing to make the cut on an extended bench for last week’s clash with Fremantle, Andrew McPherson is set to become the latest Adelaide debutant, as the Crows ready to face West Coast. It has been a long time coming for the 21-year-old, who was taken with pick 40 in the 2017 National AFL Draft despite missing large chunks of his top-age year through injury. His endurance is a standout feature, and he has the right traits to take to the elite level comfortably.

Melbourne vs. Gold Coast 

AFL Debuts: Izak Rankine (GCS)
Club Debuts: Nil

Izak Rankine will make his long-awaited debut on Saturday, putting behind him an arduous run with injury in his short AFL career. The 2018 number three pick was an electrifying junior, able to win games off his own boot with masterful work around goal and terrific athletic attributes. He slots straight into the SUNS forward line, and will look to emulate the success of outgoing 2019 number one pick, Matt Rowell on the big stage. He may not see a heap of the ball, but you’ll definitely know when he has it.

Richmond vs. Sydney

AFL Debuts: Riley Collier-Dawkins* (RIC), Dylan Stephens (SYD), Chad Warner (SYD)
Club Debuts:
Nil

Sydney is set to become the second side in Round 6 to blood a pair of debutants, with 2019 draftees Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner already given the news of their AFL berths. Stephens was the Swans’ first pick in last year’s intake, and had already gained a taste of senior football in his top-age season at Norwood. He slots in on the wing, but boasts a brilliant balance of inside and outside traits which should see him adjust with aplomb. Warner, another midfielder, was a standout for Western Australia during the 2019 national carnival, and is a hardened ball winner who suits the Sydney ethos nicely.

For Richmond, Riley Collier-Dawkins looms as one of five potential inclusions, but will have to compete with a list of seven others named on the Tigers’ extended bench. The 191cm midfielder/forward was a selection made on upside in the 2018 National Draft, with the Tigers using pick 20 on the Oakleigh product. He showed good form at VFL level in 2019, but the Richmond side is a tough nut to crack. Should he get an opportunity, look for his clean hands at stoppages and overhead ability up forward to be key features.

Carlton vs. Western Bulldogs

AFL Debuts: Callum Porter (WB), Jordon Sweet (WB)
Club Debuts: Callum Moore (CAR)

Cal Porter and Jordon Sweet will both be hoping to squeeze into the Western Bulldogs lineup having been named on an eight-man interchange. Porter, a medium sized midfielder, was a late pick in the 2017 National Draft, but has been made to wait for his chance at senior level. His kick penetration and contested work are outstanding facets of his game, and he looks to be a more consistent product having made the long run. Sweet is a 203cm ruck/forward from the 2018 crop, who may also get an opportunity after cutting his teeth in the SANFL and VFL. Tim English has bossed the ruck duties thus far, but a chop-out could come in the form of the South Australian bigman.

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

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

STAR OF THE ROUND: Hayden Young (Fremantle)

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

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

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)

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

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

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

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

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

Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

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

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

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

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

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

Others in action:

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

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

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

Note: * denotes named on extended bench.

Collingwood vs. Essendon

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

Mitchell Hibberd (Essendon)

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

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

Andrew Phillips (Essendon)

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

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

Adelaide vs. Fremantle

AFL Debuts: Andrew McPherson*
Club Debuts: Nil

Andrew McPherson (Adelaide)

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

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

Melbourne vs. Richmond

AFL Debuts: Jake Aarts*
Club Debuts: Nil

Jake Aarts (Richmond)

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

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

GWS vs. Hawthorn

AFL Debuts: Harry Jones*
Club Debuts: Nil

Harry Jones (Hawthorn)

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

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

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 4: Green shoots appear for GWS gun

13 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. There were a total of four debutants from last year’s cohort in Round 4, with others either holding their spots or returning to the line-up.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

STATS: 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 72% disposal efficiency, 2 marks, 7 clearances, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal

In a low-disposal game, Green was among the GIANTS’ top five ball winners as they snuck home to a thrilling win over Collingwood on home turf. Thrust straight back into the midfield fold, the GWS Academy graduate looked at home in his second AFL outing, getting stuck straight in with the tough stuff to notch 12 contested possessions and seven clearances. Last year’s number 10 draft pick was also able to boot his first goal at the elite level, and an important one at that given the final score.

Louis Butler (Western Bulldogs)

14 disposals (11 kicks), 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements

A Thursday night debut saw Butler collect 14 disposals in his usual defensive role, slotting in well across half-back and generating some decent forward momentum. While he kicked well below his usual rate at 21 per cent efficiency, the Sandringham Dragons product put the ball in dangerous areas, breaching either arc five times and having a hand in four score involvements as the Bulldogs downed Sydney.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

10 disposals, 9 contested possessions, 3 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 4 score involvements

After serving an avoidable suspension, Pickett returned to the Demons’ fold and was one of his side’s more lively forward 50 options. He was often Melbourne’s most dangerous outlet at the fall of the ball, wreaking havoc with his ability to hit the contest at full pace and extract, while also doing all the right things defensively. He may have hit five turnovers and could not quite find the goals, but you knew something was about to happen when Pickett neared the ball, and he brings a different dimension to the Melbourne team.

Matt Rowell (Gold Coast SUNS)

20 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 7 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 2 goals

Rowell may finally have been knocked off his ‘Star of the Round‘ perch, but still put in a performance worthy of the honour in his fourth AFL appearance. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate clicked over the 20 disposal mark once again and added another two goals to his haul, while proving a key cog in the SUNS’ engine room operations. Not many draftees have been able to match the grunt work of Rowell, who continues to put up fantastic tackle and clearance numbers to prove his two-way relevance.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

15 disposals (12 kicks), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal assist

Having kept his spot in the 0-4 Fremantle side, Young repaid the faith this week with arguably his best performance in three games at the elite level. Stationed in his usual half-back post, the 19-year-old provided a great glimpse of his damaging left-foot kick with a spearing goal assist pass as he cut through the corridor, while also contributing seven rebound 50s. As he adjusts to the pace and pressure of the AFL, Young has been able to better showcase his offensive game and join in the play going both ways.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)
Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)

AFL Debut Watch – Round 4: Eight in line for AFL debuts

ROUND 4 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, with Sandringham Dragons graduate Louis Butler making his debut in the Western Bulldogs’ win over Sydney. He is one of four confirmed debutants, with a further four hopefuls named among extended squads in anticipation of this weekend’s action. Jamaine Jones will also make his club debut for West Coast after appearing seven times for Geelong. We take you through the list and give a little reminder of what each player may bring to the table.

ADELAIDE:

Shane McAdam* (Halls Creek/Sturt)

Named among an extended squad once again, McAdam will be hoping that new coach Matthew Nicks hands out another debut in Round 4. The high-flying medium forward promises to bring some excitement back to the Crows’ lineup, which has lacked pace and the ability to bring the ball to ground inside forward 50.

As mentioned when McAdam narrowly missed selection last week, the Crows traded to get ahold of the 181cm hopeful as a pre-access draft pick, so obviously think highly of his talent. Adelaide really has little to lose given its current form, so do not be surprised to see yet another fresh face take the field in the tri-colours come Sunday.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“A highly skilled and athletic medium/small forward, McAdam has ability to create goals for himself and those around him with a host of scoring assists all year and 31 goals from 17 League games this year. He averaged almost a scoring shot per game as well as almost two goals per game, making him have a high impact inside 50.

“He has that terrific ability to know how to use the ball, and then find the goals with ease. He is silky and packed with class inside 50 and his X-factor is clear for all to see. These natural footballing abilities go hand in hand with his sensational athletic traits. He has always had these abilities, but in 2018, McAdam has begun to show them on a regular basis.”


BRISBANE: 

Connor Ballenden* (Brisbane Lions Academy)

A Brisbane Lions Academy product who was drafted back in 2017, Ballenden has since staked his claim for senior selection with some promising form at NEAFL level. While he looked poised to suit the Lions’ structures as a key forward in his draft year, the 21-year-old has shown he is capable of also rotating through the ruck and key defensive posts.

The 200cm bigman has been named in an extended squad to take on the Crows, a selection which puts pressure on the likes of Eric Hipwood to perform, and makes for good competition for Stefan Martin‘s currently-vacant ruck spot. The Lions may also feel the need to add height to their defence, so there are plenty of ways which Balldenden could sneak into the Round 4 side.

Draft Central’s 2017 Player Profile Summary:

“If the Brisbane Lions utilise Ballenden as a forward/ruck, there’s no doubting that he has the ability to fit into their structures up forward in the future. His contested marking and pinpoint set shot goal kicking are forwards dreams, and despite a quiet top age season, his bottom-age year was very impressive and suggested that Ballenden has a bright future ahead of him.”


CARLTON:

Sam Philp (Northern Knights)

The first confirmed debutant on this alphabetical list, Carlton fans, coaches, and players alike are excited to see what Philp can produce at the elite level. Somewhat of a surprise first round selection in last year’s National Draft, Philp was a feel-good story of hard work and perseverance among his cohort, bolting into contention despite having missed out on Vic Metro representative selection.

Philp is a hard-nosed midfielder with the ideal balance of speed and endurance, which he uses both ways to either charge the ball forward or apply smothering pressure on the opposition. He was the fastest player of his draft class with a 2.867-second 20-metre sprint time at the National Combine, and will certainly showcase all of that power upon his berth at the AFL level.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“On the field, Philp wins his own ball and is most typically seen bustling out of congestion with his trademark speed and strength to generate some forward run. He is just as apt going the other way too, with Philp’s aggression translating to a fearsome tackling game on the rare occasion where he does not win the ball himself.

“A big improver from his bottom-age season, Philp has continued on the upward trend and could be the kind of player a club will seek to snap up earlier than expected given the upside his unique mix of traits brings.”


FREMANTLE

Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)

Another confirmed starter who narrowly missed out on a selection nod last week, Serong is set to make his AFL debut against the red-hot Gold Coast SUNS. The opposition boasts a number of 2019 draftees who have made an immediate impact, but the prime-time Saturday night fixture gives Fremantle’s budding first-round stars like Serong and Hayden Young the chance to snatch centre stage.

Dockers fans will love the intensity that Serong brings to the table, a true leader who does not shy away from the tough stuff and will bleed for the jumper. His skills are also notable too, with a terrific burst of speed and the clean hands to make up for the supposed disadvantage of his sub-180cm frame in contested situations. While he is a capable ball winning midfielder, Serong will likely start on a wing or inside forward 50.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Touted as one of the top prospected behind the obvious Oakleigh Chargers’ duo, Serong is one of the more well-rounded players in the AFL Draft crop, with very few glaring areas of improvement. The biggest upside for the 178cm midfielder/forward is the areas he could improve on are more easily doable compared to other players.

“Among his list of strengths in his game is his clean hands, footy IQ, clearance ability and strength, while his consistency and competitiveness are up there with Matt Rowell. The areas that Serong can improve are his kicking under pressure – which has developed over the course of the season – his on-field emotion – which while good at times can also be a hindrance – and his size – which while his height will not change too much, he can still improve his muscle tone.”


HAWTHORN:

Harry Jones (Murray Bushrangers)

One of a few 2017 draftees who will hope to finally crack the senior side in Round 4 is Jones, an early rookie selection who can provide midfield depth for the Hawks. Despite suffering untimely injuries in his draft year, the Hawthorn showed faith in what the youngster had already produced as a strong, extractor-type midfielder who can accumulate and run all day.

He was touted for a senior opportunity in 2019 and after having been made to wait his turn, could see a debut appear on the cards early this season as Alastair Clarkson searches for the right balance. A starting midfield of James Worpel, Tom Mitchell, and Jaeger O’Meara is tough to look past though, making it tough for budding starters like Jones.

Draft Central’s 2017 Player Profile Summary:

“Jones had his year cruelly ended early after a back stress fracture mid-season. At that stage he was hitting his strides winning plenty of the ball and impressing in close for the Murray Bushrangers. Jones is a strong inside midfielder who has a great centre of gravity which sees him stand up in tackles and handball to teammates who are free on the outside.

“He is a fierce tackler and endurance runner who just wears down opponents across four quarters. While his kicking could improve and he could have more of an impact on the scoreboard, Jones’ bread and butter is at the coal face, dishing off handballs with quick hands.”


NORTH MELBOURNE:

Jack Mahony* (Sandringham Dragons)

Mahony is among two potential newcomers named in North Melbourne’s side to face Hawthorn on Sunday night, having impressed in last week’s scratch match with three goals. The crafty sub-180cm prospect was highly-touted at junior level, but lacked the explosiveness or size to be seen as a true midfielder upon transitioning to the AFL ranks – hence his slide to pick 34.

But the Sandringham graduate has all the smarts, agility, and professionalism to break into the Kangaroos’ side in 2020 should his first opportunity not be afforded here. Employed mostly as a small forward by North, Mahony will use his work rate to get up the field as a high half-forward, while also getting back deep inside attacking 50 to generate terrific creative output and a sneaky goal threat.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“While big-bodied and athletic midfielders seem to be the in-vogue archetype for recruiters in the modern game, Sandringham’s Mahony proved this year that smaller, creative types can have just as much of an impact through the engine room. Touted as a high-end prospect from as early as his Under-16 year, Mahony has consistently performed for the Dragons when available, while also proving a match winner for Vic Metro and school side, St Kevin’s.

“The final on-field glimpse we got of Mahony was one which stuck in the memory, with his 19 disposals and three goals against the Allies very nearly dragging Vic Metro over the line to end a sub-par carnival. His combination of shrewd winning, spread from the contest, and crafty use going forward make him relevant in many ways, with the potential to continue as a forward flanker absolutely there.”

Tristan Xerri* (Western Jets)

From small to tall, Xerri is the other possible Kangaroos debutant for Round 4. With Mason Wood a key omission, Xerri could well slot straight into the forward line to provide a touch more height, while also aiding Todd Goldstein in the ruck. The Western Jets product is a terrific overhead marker and remains strong in one-on-one situations or in the ruck, with his 201cm frame a constant presence around the ground. He has been a big improver upon entering the AFL system, and could be in with a shot in 2020.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Xerri is a raw tall who despite his 96kg frame is still learning the game. At times he would make some mindboggling decisions on the field, but he seemed better suited in the ruck than up forward. He is a nice field kick who, while not overly quick, is good in the air and can play deep or high in the forward line.”


WESTERN BULLDOGS: 

Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)

The sole player on this list to have already taken the field in Round 4, Butler was a late pick by the Bulldogs in last year’s draft, but impressed enough on the training track to make a steep rise into the senior side. A classic rebounding half-back who is hard at the contest and uses the ball well, Butler looked relatively comfortable among more experienced peers, collecting 14 disposals (11 kicks) in his side’s Thursday night victory over Sydney.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“High-possession half-back flankers are dime-a-dozen in each draft crop, but Sandringham’s Butler is one with a point of difference. The ultra-competitive defender has not only proven his worth in setting up play from the back half with long rebounding kicks, but also showed traits more typical of lock-down types.

“Early in the year, Butler caught the eye with his ability to get to a number of contests on the defensive arc and sweep the ball up at pace, earning a spot in the Vic Metro side for all four games before being tried in a couple of different roles upon re-joining the Dragons squad. The kick-happy prospect seldom had a game under 20 disposals across his 10 NAB League games, getting as high as 31 touches and averaging 22.3 to show marked improvement in his impact on games from his bottom-age year.

* – denotes named in extended squad.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 3: Rowell wows again, Ash debuts

SIX draftees from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how they performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. Lachlan Ash was the sole debutant of his cohort in Round 3, with each player holding their spot while chances for Melbourne and Essendon newcomers have been postponed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

STATS: 20 disposals, 1 mark, 10 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements, 2 goals, 141 SuperCoach

It is very, very difficult to avoid Rowell’s name as the standout for a second week running, and he is proving to those who had not previously caught a glimpse of his game that he rarely has a bad one. Another 20 disposals and two goals were among the highlights for the number one pick, spending over 80 per cent of the match on-field and right amongst the engine room action.

Rowell is simply unstoppable at the contest, perennially the first to the fall of the ball and relevant going both ways, with a massive 10 tackles to go with his ball winning exploits. His left-footed goal on the run had us thinking of his 60-metre bomb in the NAB League Grand Final last year, and the kid can simply do it all.

None of it is by chance either, as the 180cm wunderkind sets the standard for work rate both on and off the field, and his professionalism is conveyed in the most perfect form – with a simple tuck of the jumper. It is no surprise from our point of view to see Rowell hitting the ground running, but he has gone the extra mile in playing a big role in Gold Coast’s incredible momentum shift and consecutive wins upon the season’s restart.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

16 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements, 1 goal, 80 SuperCoach

The SUNS Academy product has looked increasingly comfortable across each of his first three AFL outings, culminating in a strong 16-disposal effort towards his side’s second win on the trot. A versatile and clever small, Budarick reads the play incredibly well and used his smarts in that sense across the defensive line, working hard to intercept Adelaide’s forward 50 entries and faring well in one-on-one contests. His disposal and movement up the ground were also assured, and he even broke through for his maiden goal at the elite level.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

9 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 score involvement

While he was a touch quieter in his third senior appearance, Anderson played a solid game among a team of even contributors. The number two pick was utilised mostly on the outside, finding most of his touches forward of the wing with a good mix of contested and uncontested involvements. Alongside best mate and junior teammate Rowell, the 191cm jet has slotted straight into the SUNS lineup and looks poised to remain in the winning side.

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 tackle, 2 rebound 50s, 71% disposal efficiency

It has been a tough start to life in the AFL for McAsey given Adelaide’s downfalls, but the Crows picked him for a reason among the top 10 and have shown great faith in the promising key defender. Like many others, he is beginning to look a touch more comfortable at the level with time, and battles against some pretty stiff opposition at this point will bode well for his future. While he is still honing his defensive craft and bodywork, McAsey was relatively calm on the ball in the face of Gold Coast’s pressure.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

8 disposals, 3 marks, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

Young is still growing to the rigours of the next level after being able to impose himself previously and generate incredibly penetrative plays off half-back, with a touch more defensive work required in his current role at Fremantle. Still, the highly-touted top 10 pick was able to feature much further afield in this outing after a first half played out of his usual post, and he spent just over 65 per cent of his time on-ground.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 71% disposal efficiency

It was somewhat of a baptism of fire for Ash as the GIANTS and Bulldogs went to war in a heated affair, with the classy operator utilised in his most comfortable half-back role. The number four pick could not quite generate the same dash, dare, and penetration we came accustomed to seeing at the junior level, but he was quite sound on the ball across the backline. In a typically tough side to crack, Ash could see more opportunity given injuries are again taking a toll on GWS, with his versatility freeing others up to play up the ground.

AFL Debut Watch – Round 3: Vic Country cohort in line for big-time berths

ROUND 3 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, and while no players made their AFL debuts for either Richmond or Hawthorn, there could be up to six fresh faces running out at the elite level for the first time this weekend. 2019 Murray Bushrangers captain Lachlan Ash is a confirmed starter for GWS’ clash with the Western Bulldogs tonight, while former Gippsland pair Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders join the likes of Shane McAdam, Will Hamill, and Miles Bergman on extended benches.

ADELAIDE:

Shane McAdam (Halls Creek/Sturt)

The Crows traded to get ahold of McAdam as a pre-draft access pick in 2018, such were the wraps on him as a mature-ager at state league level. Originally from Halls Creek in Western Australia, the exciting medium forward’s move south paid off as he booted 31 goals from 17 SANFL games with Sturt in 2017, before being picked up by the Crows.

After injury interrupted his first year in the tri-colours, McAdam may finally get to don the famous jersey as the club enters a rebuild and looks to test the depth of its list. Should he debut, expect to see some eye-catching high marking attempts, speed at ground level, and a fantastic goal sense.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“A highly skilled and athletic medium/small forward, McAdam has ability to create goals for himself and those around him with a host of scoring assists all year and 31 goals from 17 League games this year. He averaged almost a scoring shot per game as well as almost two goals per game, making him have a high impact inside 50.

“He has that terrific ability to know how to use the ball, and then find the goals with ease. He is silky and packed with class inside 50 and his X-factor is clear for all to see. These natural footballing abilities go hand in hand with his sensational athletic traits. He has always had these abilities, but in 2018, McAdam has begun to show them on a regular basis.”

Will hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Taken at pick 30 in the 2018 National Draft, the Crows obviously saw something great in the Dandenong youngster to jump the gun and snap up his services with their third overall pick. While he is able to adapt his skills and strong athletic base to multiple roles, Hamill will likely be utilised as a lockdown medium defender who uses speed to both apply pressure at ground level, and kick his side into gear going forward. He may finally crack the senior grade after playing 20 SANFL League games in 2019, missing just one outing for the year.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Hamill got to represent Vic Country, playing in his favoured role down back and despite not getting a lot of the ball still had some eye-catching moments. He was a player known to most draft watchers and recruiters going into the start of the year but his form early, especially with ball in hand was not as good as expected. Nonetheless, Hamill worked through the early jitters to start playing some good footy, especially late in the year where he arguably played his best games.

“His finals performances were impressive being named second and fourth best in the preliminary and grand final with his grand final performance holding the most weight especially for the hard edge he had shown early in the game. Hamill had an up and down year, but his mix of attributes and finals form has him firmly in draft calculations.”

FREMANTLE:

Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Fremantle fans will undoubtedly warm to Serong very quickly; a player who bleeds for the jumper, is a terrific leader by example, and has all the skill to match his immeasurable qualities. While he may only stack up as a small, Serong has the tenacity to win his own ball and the work-rate to impact contest after contest, impressing with these traits throughout preseason. There are very few improvements to be made to his game, with Serong already showing remarkable consistency and the cleanliness to be able to keep up to speed at the elite level. As Vic Country’s MVP and best and fairest last year, the Gippsland graduate’s accolades speak for themselves and should he debut, he is sure to make a splash.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Touted as one of the top prospected behind the obvious Oakleigh Chargers’ duo, Caleb Serong is one of the more well-rounded players in the AFL Draft crop, with very few glaring areas of improvement. The biggest upside for the 178cm midfielder/forward is the areas he could improve on are more easily doable compared to other players. Among his list of strengths in his game is his clean hands, footy IQ, clearance ability and strength, while his consistency and competitiveness is up there with Matt Rowell despite heading into the AFL Draft somewhat underrated – if that is possible from a potential top three pick.

“The areas that Serong can improve are his kicking under pressure – which has developed over the course of the season – his on-field emotion – which while good at times can also be a hindrance – and his size – which while his height will not change too much, he can still improve his muscle tone. Overall though, Serong is one of the more complete packages in the AFL Draft this year.”

GOLD COAST:

Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Serong’s partner-in-crime at the Power, Flanders blossomed into a bonafide midfield star come the end of his junior career, but may well revert back to his role as a medium forward upon entering Gold Coast’s lineup. The mercurial 182cm mover has plenty of upside, able to pull down big marks inside 50 on account of his vertical leap, while adapting that same clean hands trait to his midfield craft with strong stoppage work and outstanding power. The SUNS traded up to secure the Victorian with pick 11 in last year’s draft, and while it will be tough to crack Gold Coast’s winning side this week, Flanders will almost certainly get his chance in 2020 and create a few highlights.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

A player with plenty of upside and some readymade attributes is Sam Flanders, a Gippsland Power talent who can fulfil the role as a dangerous forward or a damaging inside midfielder. In his bottom-age year, Flanders spent the majority of his time as a goalkicking forward, booting 19.19 from 12 games, before moving into a midfield role this year, but resting forward in bursts, booting 13.5 from the same amount of games. His attributes lend themselves to moving into this role at AFL level, with the potential top 10 pick able to explode out of a stoppage, give off a clean handball, or get forward and beat his opponent one-on-one in the air or at ground level.

“He showed during the finals series – most notably against Oakleigh Chargers in the qualifying final – that he is capable to winning the game off his own boot, slamming home four goals in a quarter to help his side to the lead at the main break, but it also showed an area of improvement – his four-quarter consistency which does come in and out of games with him being dominant at his best, and ineffectual during quiet periods. Overall, Flanders is a player with serious X-factor and strength that he applies both inside and up forward.”

GWS GIANTS:

Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

The only candidate on this list to have already been guaranteed a debut thus far, Ash is yet another product of last year’s Vic Country unit who possessed great leadership capabilities and a raft of traits which can be immediately transferred to the AFL level. Though he has been named on the bench, expect Ash to showcase his trademark dash and daring disposal off half-back or the wing, gaining invaluable meterage and causing headaches for opposition defenders with that lightning-quick transition. Taken with pick four in the 2019 draft, he could be just the man the GIANTS need to unleash the likes of Zac Williams and Lachie Whitfield further afield as he develops in defence, but has the ability to fare just as well in midfield himself.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“The skilful rebounding defender was a consistent performer across the NAB League season for Murray, averaging more than 23 disposals per game. After being elected co-captain of the Bushrangers with teammate Cam Wilson, Ash would go on to co-captain the Vic Country squad throughout the AFL Under-18 National Championships, indicating that he is looked up to by his fellow teammates and admired by his coaching staff.

“Ash is the ideal footballer for an AFL team searching for a line-breaking defender who can consistently hit targets by foot with terrific vision and decision making. His test results at the NAB AFL Combine were also eye-catching, registering a 21.4 yo-yo test (finishing sixth overall) and a sub-three second 20-metre sprint. Similar to fellow half-back Hayden Young, an area of improvement for Ash is further midfield development, particularly with a focus on the contested ball aspect of the game.”

PORT ADELAIDE:

Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Yet another Victorian in line for an elite-level berth, but this time from a Metro region. Bergman is the classic pick made on upside; a mercurial athlete and footballing talent who stands up in big moments, can simply pull off things that others cannot, and someone who has a high impact per possession.

The explosive medium forward has an incredible vertical leap and covers the ground quickly, with scope to eventually transition from more outside roles and into the midfield. The Power already boast an array of exciting youngsters who have made an early impact on the side, and Bergman may just be the next. His penetrating kick and light frame may see him utilised on a wing, but he can be just as damaging at half-forward.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Bolters are part and parcel of each year’s draft and Bergman finds himself fitting that bill in 2019. A confidence player, Bergman has grown into his top-age season to become a lock as one of Sandringham’s first three players to be taken off the board come draft time on the back of a serious highlight reel.

“Athleticism, power, high marking and goals from range are the things that have seen Bergman draw into the first round conversation, with his ability to take games over slowly becoming apparent. The wingman/half-forward also proved a match-winner this year, relieving late pressure in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final with a sensational pack mark to help St Bede’s scrape home on his way to best afield honours. Bergman’s enormous upside is undeniable, with all of his best traits desirable to clubs across the board.”

Get to Know: Nicholas Kraemer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH ADELAIDE boasts a handful of Under 18 products within this year’s State Academy hub, and one of the deeper overall lists for its junior age bracket. Among the Panthers’ top-age stars gunning for AFL Draft contention in 2020 is Nicholas Kraemer, a big-bodied inside midfielder who has been a mainstay in the South Australian (SA) state system. The 185cm prospect was in line to make his senior footballing debut this year after running out for a Reserves trial match during preseason, but like all prospects around the nation, was forced to momentarily put his aspirations on hold.

But with SANFL football set to return on June 27, and an unconfirmed national carnival looming in October, Kraemer and his fellow South Australians will get to strut their stuff soon enough. Kraemer has done plenty of that throughout his journey already, playing in every game of South Adelaide’s run to the 2019 SANFL Under 18 Grand Final, while also taking part in SA’s championship-winning Under 16 campaign a year earlier. This season, he is hoping to play every game for the SA Under 18 side as a key figure.

While he is most comfortable through midfield, Kraemer is able to play up either end of the ground credit to his defensive prowess and physical presence, but is looking to improve his endurance and speed to better impact through the engine room. As one of the rare Under 18 hopefuls to have already completed his schooling, Kraemer has been able to channel his focus into football while juggling a job at his family business, and has plenty of people to lean on as he strives to prove any doubters wrong.

Draft Central’s Michael Alvaro chatted with the promising youngster during lockdown about his journey so far, the lockdown experience, goals for the future, and plenty more. Check out how the Reynella junior is tracking along in anticipation of his return to the footy field.

THE JOURNEY TO THIS POINT

MA: Nick, where did your footy journey start?

NK: “Firstly, I played footy for my own local footy club. My cousin started playing there when he was young and I was probably about three years old. We didn’t know where to go so we just chose that footy club and I ended up playing there for three years.

“Then I started playing basketball as well, so I was heavily involved in basketball and one of my best mates there played for Reynella footy club so I went and played there. I played Under 13s, 14s, and 15s with South Adelaide and was still playing basketball at that time but it began to get too busy so I had to choose a sport.

“At about 15 I chose footy instead of basketball, played for South and luckily enough got asked to play for the State Under 16s, we were lucky enough to win that (championship) as well which was a good experience. Then I played 18s as a bottom-ager last year, made the grand final and now I’m playing 18s again.”

Having played every game in a side which made the SANFL Under 18 Grand Final, how did you rate your bottom-age year?

“I thought I played pretty well. I was a little bit slow at the start and then I found my mojo and stopped overthinking things. I started playing footy and not worrying so much, that’s when I started to find some form and the team started finding some form.

“We lost a fair few close games at the start and I think we went 8-0 to make the grand final. I felt like I had a bit of a slow start but pulled it in and finished off pretty strong I reckon.”


RISING THROUGH THE SA STATE ACADEMY

How has coming through the SA state system been for your development?

“I feel like it’s been really good. Playing 16s and being with the boys there, everyone’s familiar with each other at the minute and through the hub, everyone’s been so close and the standard have been so good so it makes you better.

“Everyone wants to get better but the standards are so high that you’re just pushing yourself so hard to match everyone. I feel like my development has gone a little bit further this year just being in that hub, and my fitness has grown heaps. It’s been really good this year and I’m enjoying it so far.”

You had a good group in that 2018 Under 16 squad who have come with you all the way to your Under 18 year, who are some of the boys you like to feed off and are familiar with?

“Probably Luke Edwards and Riley Thilthorpe. They’re very senior boys; Riley’s playing League at the moment and knows what he’s talking about, Luke plays a similar role to me – we play inside mid and can go down to half-back.

“I’m getting to learn off him and watch what he does as well, they’re probably the main two I try to watch, see what standards they bring and try to follow them in training.”


LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

Have you been able to keep in touch with the academy during lockdown?

“Yes. We’ve got a page where we can report what we do. With all this lockdown and footy being away we’ve had to post on there what we’ve been doing over the break; so what our gym workouts are, our conditioning workouts.

“(Under 18 Coach) Tony Bamford got us to cook dinner for the family and clean up, so everyone had to cook for their families and post it on there. We’ve got a group chat and we all stay pretty close with each other, and with the group chat it drives you to do your work instead of being left behind. It’s (helping to) keep in touch and get you motivated to keep doing your fitness and gym work so it’s been really good.”

What’d you cook for the family?

“I cooked burrito bowls.”

Nice, healthy?

“Yep.”

Some of the other states have been given tasks like picking out a player to base your game around, have you been given similar activities?

“We’ve done them. We’ve also had to (answer) ‘If we had to quarantine for two weeks, who would we quarantine with?’ – a coach and two players. We’ve had to base our game on AFL players and say why and all that sort of stuff.

“There’s always little activities that the coaches put in place so you’re not bored and you’re not forgetting about stuff so it’s good.”

How have you gone about keeping fit during lockdown, do you have a home gym?

“I’ve got a home gym in my lounge room. Funnily enough, my next door neighbour has a bench with a bench press, leg press and everything. We’ve borrowed it for the minute so he’s been really helpful with that.

“And just going for runs, I’m still keeping fit and keeping busy, if I’m bored I’ll just go into the gym and just do little things to keep my mind off other things.”


THE GAME OF NICK KRAEMER

Who have you chosen as the player you want to base your game on?

“I chose Josh Kennedy from Sydney. I feel like he’s a real inside mid which I play like at the minute. He’s a contested player, he gets his hands on the ball first and gives it out to the speedsters so I feel like that’s what I’m doing. I watch what he does, where he runs, and that sort of stuff.”

You’ve got the clearance game down pat, what are some of the things you see as your strengths at the moment?

“I’d probably say clean hands and I defend pretty well. I’m clean at ground level and I’m more of a defensive player than attacking. I feel like basketball has helped with that and defending people through basketball has got my one-on-one defence down pat and working really well. Those two are probably my biggest strengths.”

In terms of improvements, is getting generally fitter the main area?

“Yes, endurance and speed would be the two main weaknesses that I’ve been working on, growing up and getting feedback from coaches. I’ve got a sprint coach at the minute that I work with and I’m trying to work on that acceleration, the 0-5 metre sprint.

“Then endurance, as a midfielder you’ve got to be able to run so I’ll just keep developing my endurance so I can run and get to more contests.”


GOALS FOR 2020 AND BEYOND

Are you studying at all at the moment?

“No, I finished Year 12 last year. Mum and Dad have a gardening business so I work with them basically every day at the minute.

“I’d like to be a police officer if footy doesn’t pan out so this year was just to focus on footy and then next year if things don’t go well then I’ll apply for that and it’ll be my goal for next year as well as trying to make it in footy as well.”

Did you feel, coming into the year that being able to solely focus on footy would be an advantage for you?

“100 per cent. I reckon I had stuff to prove to everyone and that was probably my biggest motivation to show what I’ve been working on over the break. Coming into January over the Christmas break, I just wanted to show everyone what I’d been working on so now that it hasn’t panned out I’ve been able to develop my endurance a bit more so when footy does come back, I can just prove to the coaches what I’ve been doing.”

Do you have any idea of what level you’re going to be playing this year, firstly with South Adelaide and then with the state side?

“Hopefully (I’ll play for the SA Under 18s), that’s the goal. I did play one game of Reserves footy before all this happened. I played a trial match for the Reserves and had been training with the seniors before that.

“I got a Reserves gig and then the goal was to just make the state team and play every game. Hopefully that still goes ahead and I can play a couple of senior games too.”

In terms of your role, do you think you’ll still be working that inside midfield job, or will you be looking to move around the field?

“I feel like that’s my strongest area, inside mid. But I’m happy to go wherever, I can play a high half-forward which I played in the Reserves game and I liked.

“But then also playing that defensive role which is well-known to me, so inside mid and back are probably the likely two roles that I’ll play this year but we’ll see what happens with that forward role.”

Do you have any goals you’re looking to tick off, team-wise or individually?

“Team-wise is to hopefully go one better than we did last year and individually, probably just to make the state team. The overall goal is to get drafted but there’s little goals in front of that to make it come true. Just playing for the Under 18s first and if I get a gig in the Reserves or League, to play well there and crack into the state team, play well there have an impact in those games.”


LIVING IN THE UNKNOWN

What was it like at the start of lockdown knowing you might not be able to get on the park at all, having that unknown?

“The first two weeks it was a bit disappointing in a way that you don’t know what’s going to happen, or how then future’s going to unfold. But then after you get over the wall of not knowing what’s going to happen, you just get on your bike and start doing what you’re being told to do. We’ve had a program we’ve had to follow so I’m just doing that and doing extra stuff to be able to come back better than I was before.

“So it was a bit disappointing but then again, it was a good way to work on the stuff you’ve not been able to do because of the workload beforehand.”

On the flipside, you must’ve been pretty pumped to see the news of SANFL competition returning, what was your reaction to it?

“It was just very exciting to know that it was going to be coming back and it came back sooner than what we thought. Just excitement overall to be able to come back and train, see the faces at South, see the boys that we haven’t seen in a couple of months… and now play games, improve and hopefully make that state team.”

How long have you been back at training?

“Three weeks. Two weeks of non-contact with 10 people. We’ve had two sessions, an early session and a late session, the oval has been split up into thirds.

“This week has been the first contact training where we’ve been able to actually start tackling so this week’s been a lot better than the last couple where we’ve actually played some sort of footy.”

Is being able to play senior football at this stage an advantage for you over the interstate prospects?

“I feel like it’s good. Giving that exposure to young kids coming through where they can prove that they can play against bigger bodies and if they’re good enough, hold their spot and play there.

“That’s a goal for everyone and guys like Corey (Durdin) and Riley (Thilthorpe) have gone really well up there so hopefully they can keep playing well.”


MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS

Are there any key mentors who you look up to at the moment, whether it be through the state system, at South Adelaide, or your family?

“My whole family. My sister is a police officer, she pushes me to be the best I can be. She’s basically like a second mum, being a cop. Then my brother, he used to play footy when he was younger and gave it up to work more but he’s been helping me a lot with going out and having someone to kick with. My dad has been helping me a lot with that as well, we’ll go out and have a kick. Mum’s just the emotional support, she’s always there for me.

“I don’t really have a role model at AFL level because I kind of just want to model my game on myself, if that makes sense. But watching the big players and how they play is very eye-opening. Mark Clayton as well from South Adelaide has helped me a lot through the three years I’ve been with him and Tony (Bamford) has helped me a lot too, but family is probably the biggest role model at the minute.”

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for contributing to your footballing journey?

“I’d just like to thank South Adelaide mainly, they’ve been a big impact on how I’ve grown. Reynella footy club, where I’ve come from have also helped me a lot. And my family, all the coaches I’ve had – everyone’s been influential. The AFL hub academy, all the boys there have helped me a lot with growing, being a better player and a better person as well.”

FLINDERS UNIVERSITY STUDY

You partook in a study with Flinders University, can you tell me a little about that?

“It was about goalkicking. Dr Sam Elliott did a study on how juniors and seniors think through their routine and how they overthink things. We went in there and he told us what to do, we had sunglasses with cameras on them and all sorts of things where he could record stuff to make his study more accurate. It was pretty good, pretty interesting stuff.”

Do you have any results, has your goalkicking improved or was it good to start with?

“I feel like the further you go out, 30 metres is probably where everyone is most comfortable, but the further you go you start to think about kicking the ball too hard. I think the study has helped me with going through my routine, not trying to hit the ball so hard and picking out a target behind the goals to aim for.”

>> MORE SA UNDER 18s CONTENT

Central District | Get to know
Glenelg | Get to know
North Adelaide | Get to know
Norwood | Get to know
South Adelaide | Get to know
Sturt | Get to know
West Adelaide | Get to know
WWT Eagles | Get to know

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

2020 SA Squad Prediction
2020 Positional Analysis: Key Forwards

Preseason Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo test

Preseason testing analysis: Which State is the most agile?

THE current sporting hiatus serves as somewhat of an extended preseason for the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects, who will be itching to get back on the field. Aside from a few scratch matches on the eve of Round 1, much of the 2020 class has had little in the way of competition thus far.

But preseason testing always serves to get the competitive juices flowing, with players from each region and academy coming together to test where they rate athletically. Rookie Me hosted the preseason testing in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, while the AFL completed testing in Western Australia and NSW/ACT.

In our next analysis of the results from those days around the country, we take a look at the agility test scores and try to answer the question of ‘Which State is the most agile?’. We have compiled the top 10 scores from each State, an overall top 10, and averages from around the nation to help answer the question. Stay tuned for results across each test in the near future.

>> SCROLL DOWN FOR THE OVERALL TOP 10

STATE TOP 10’s

New South Wales:

1. Jordan Endemann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.23 seconds
=2. Cooper Wilson (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.26
=2. Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.26
4. Harry Grant (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.306
5. Matthew McKenzie (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.36
6. Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.367
7. Thomas Longmire (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.41
8. Harrison Grintell (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.414
9. Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.43
10. Kai Watts (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.441

Top 10 Average: 8.347 seconds (6th)

The Swans Academy again makes up most of the NSW top 10, with six talents making up the list – including the entire top three. Jordan Endemann again showcased his athleticism with the quickest time, while top-aged academy standout Marco Rossmann also snuck into the rankings. Harry Grant was GWS’ niftiest mover, clocking up a 8.306-second effort, with 2019 Under-16 State MVP Kai Watts rounding out the list. NSW was one of just two states not to boast a time under eight seconds.

Queensland:

1. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.84 seconds
=2. Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
=2. Caleb Hammond (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
4. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 7.97
5. Kirk McGrory (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.18
6. Billy Evers (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 8.19
7. Damon Eastwell (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.22
8. Will Tasker (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.23
9. Lochlan Harrop (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.24
10. Shaye Walsh (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 8.25

Top 10 Average: 8.084 seconds (2nd)

It was hardly a surprise to see Tahj Abberley again not only feature among the elite ranks for Queensland, but to also claim top spot for his scintillating 7.84-second run. A number of players also made their second and third features on top 10 lists with fantastic times, as the Lions’ academy made up for 70 per cent of the top 10, including the entire podium. The Queenslanders’ elites were the second-quickest on average.

South Australia:

1. Lachlan Grubb (Central District) – 7.94 seconds
2. Connor Willsmore (Sturt) – 8.05
3. James Willis (North Adelaide) – 8.06
4. Nasiah Wanganeen (Glenelg) – 8.11
=5. Jordan Kasianowicz (WWT Eagles) – 8.16
=5. Connor Blackwell (West Adelaide) – 8.16
7. Luke Mitton (South Adelaide) – 8.20
8. Jacob Godden (WWT Eagles) – 8.24
=9. Antonio Zappia (Norwood) – 8.25
=9. Riley Hughes (Central District) – 8.25

Top 10 Average: 8.142 seconds (4th)

SA Academy Hub gun Lachlan Grubb utilised every bit of his athletics background to notch his state’s best time as the sole athlete to clock in at under eight seconds. He, and fellow Bulldog Riley Hughes bookended the 10, while the likes of Connor Willsmore and Luke Mitton made yet another appearance among the top ranks. The Croweaters were once again middle of the road overall through, coming in fourth when compared to other states’ best figures.

Tasmania:

1. Isaac Chugg (Launceston) – 8.04 seconds
2. Jayden Hinds (Launceston) – 8.14
3. Will Peppin (North Hobart) – 8.17
4. Kye Chilcott (Launceston) – 8.26
5. Oliver Davis (Clarence) – 8.29
=6. Sam Tilley (Lauderdale) – 8.31
=6. Sam Foley (Launceston) – 8.31
8. Jack Rand (Devonport) – 8.32
9. Patrick Walker (North Hobart) – 8.34
10. Darcy Gardner (Clarence) – 8.38

Top 10 Average: 8.256 seconds (5th)

Former athletics ace Isaac Chugg was yet again the standout for Tasmania with his outstanding time of 8.04 seconds, though he could not quite become the only Tasmanian to sneak in under eight seconds. Allies Academy Hub members Oliver Davis and Patrick Walker put in solid showings with their times of around the 8.30-second mark, while former Academy member Will Peppin featured on the podium.

Victoria:

1. Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons) – 7.76 seconds
2. Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons) –  7.79
3. Harrison White (Western Jets) – 7.83
4. Oliver Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons) – 7.90
=5. Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) – 7.92
=5. Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) – 7.92
7. Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers) – 7.97
8. Harrison Keeling (Eastern Ranges) – 7.98
=9. 7.99 x3

Top 10 Average: 7.905 seconds (1st)

The quickest top 10 on average across the nation was Victoria, which was the sole state to have every time clock in at under eight seconds. Geelong Falcons products stood out among the massive talent pool, featuring thrice in the top four, with Blake Reid and Charlie Lazzaro managing the best two times. Oakleigh midfield/forward jet Bailey Laurie also ran well, coming in seventh as one of two National Academy members on the list.

Western Australia:

1. Ty Sears (Swan Districts) – 7.92 seconds
2. Jayden Peak (East Perth) – 8.02
=3. Seth Roberts (Claremont) – 8.08
=3. Zac Sanderson (Perth) – 8.08
5. Bailey Jenkin (Swan Districts) – 8.14
6. Saverio Marafioti (West Perth) – 8.18
=7. Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts) – 8.19
=7. Zach Fleiner (West Perth) – 8.19
=7. Rohan Scurria (West Perth) – 8.19
10. Lyle Sibasado (Swan Districts) – 8.22

Top 10 Average: 8.121 seconds (3rd)

One of the top states in terms of their elite runners was again Western Australia, despite only having one athlete run the test in less than eight seconds. Ty Sears was that player, topping the list as one of four Swan Districts products to feature. Top WA draft hopeful Denver Grainger-Barras was one of three players to manage a time of 8.19 seconds, impressive for a key defender.

OVERALL TOP 10

1. Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons) – 7.76 seconds
2. Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons) –  7.79
3. Harrison White (Western Jets) – 7.83
4. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.84
=5. Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
=5. Caleb Hammond (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
7. Oliver Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons) – 7.90
=8. Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) – 7.92
=8. Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) – 7.92
=8. Ty Sears (Swan Districts) – 7.92

An absolutely rapid top 10 was dominated by Victorians, who made up for each podium place and over half of the list overall. Reid and Lazzaro were joined by Harrison White in the top three, with Queenslander Abberley the best non-Victorian runner, followed by two of his fellow Brisbane Academy teammates. Sears made it three states represented, sneaking into the 10 as the lone West Australian.

STATE AGAINST STATE:

1. Queensland – 8.55
2. Victoria – 8.56
3. Tasmania – 8.69
4. South Australia – 8.76
5. NSW/ACT – 8.82
6. Western Australia – 8.89

While Victoria may have dominated the top 10, having the largest talent pool brought its overall average down – albeit only to second place. Queensland proved the best state for sideways movement, edging into top spot while Tasmania filled out the podium. In a change from the yo-yo and 20m sprint results, Western Australia and NSW/ACT were the worst ranked states, even despite the former boasting a very good top 10.

Preseason testing analysis: Which State has the best endurance runners?

THE current sporting hiatus serves as somewhat of an extended preseason for the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects, who will be itching to get back on the field. Aside from a few scratch matches on the eve of Round 1, much of the 2020 class has had little in the way of competition thus far.

But preseason testing always serves to get the competitive juices flowing, with players from each region and academy coming together to test where they are at. Rookie Me hosted the preseason testing in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, while the AFL completed testing in Western Australia and NSW/ACT.

In our second analysis of the results from those days around the country, we take a look at the yo-yo test scores and try to answer the question of ‘Which State has the best endurance runners?’. We have compiled the top 10 scores from each State, an overall top 10, and averages from around the nation to help answer the question. Stay tuned for results across each test in the near future.

>>SCROLL DOWN FOR THE OVERALL TOP 10.

STATE TOP 10’s

New South Wales:

1. Harry Grant (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.8
2. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.3
=3. Hamish Gilmore (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Samuel Frost (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Noah Clarke (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Angus Crelley (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Luke Fellons (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
8. Marco Rossman (Sydney Swans Academy) – 21.7
=9. Joshua Fahey (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.6
=9. Harrison Parker (Sydney Swans Academy) – 21.6

Top 10 Average: 21.9

Boasting the greatest average across its top 10 yo-yo testers was New South Wales, the state to also lay claim to the top two scores across the nation. The GWS GIANTS Academy boys must have eaten their Weet-Bix that morning, returning some phenomenal results and making up eight of their state’s top 10 placings. Harry Grant and Lachlan Squire are top of the tree for 2020, a giant effort from them.

Queensland:

=1. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 21.1
=1. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 21.1
=3. Shaye Walsh (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 20.8
=3. Mason Gates (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.8
=5. Billy Evers (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 20.7
=5. Brinn Little (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) 20.7
=5. Max Nelson (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.7
=5. Kirk McGrory (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.7
=9. Joel Peters (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.6
=9. Reed Maskell-Dobbin (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.6

Top 10 Average: 20.8

The Queenslanders hold the unfortunate status of placing last in terms of their top 10 average, with just two athletes ticking onto the 21.1 stage. Though among the pair is Tahj Abberley, one of Queensland’s best prospects. It was a rather consistent showing up north though, with a good spread of scores and representation from either academy.

South Australia:

1. Benjamin Belperio (Norwood) – 21.5
2. Luke Mitton (South Adelaide) – 21.4
=3. Bailey Griffiths (West Adelaide) – 21.3
=3. Harvey Bock (West Adelaide) – 21.3
=5. Lewis Rayson (Glenelg) – 21.2
=5. Brody Stuart (North Adelaide) – 21.2
=5. Ethan Schwerdt (Norwood) – 21.2
=5. Jack Saunders (Norwood) – 21.2
=5. Morgan Ferres (Sturt) – 21.2
=5. Joshua Garrels (Sturt) – 21.2

Top 10 Average: 21.3

The South Australians were represented well during preseason testing, but were essentially the best of the rest in terms of averages across their top 10. Six clubs had players sneak into the 10, with Norwood’s Benjamin Belperio leading all-comers as one of three Redlegs to make the grade. Sturt was another well-represented side, much like in the 20m sprint times, and had bottom-age bigman Morgan Ferres feature. No scores below 21.2 in the 10, but none getting into the 22’s.

Tasmania:

1. Jake Steele (North Hobart) – 21.3
2. Alex Davies (Launceston) – 21.2
=3. Jared Dakin (Launceston) – 21.1
=3. Kye Chilcott (Launceston) – 21.1
=3. Jake Dixon (Wynyard) – 21.1
=3. Dominic White (North Hobart) – 21.1
=3. Angus Jeffries (North Launceston) – 21.1
8. Patrick Walker (North Hobart) – 20.7
=9. George McLeod (North Hobart) – 20.6
=9. Jacob Young (Clarence) – 20.6

Top 10 Average: 21.1

The small Tasmanian crop put in a solid showing for the endurance test, with a couple of standouts just breaking clear from the trailing pack. Over-age tall Jake Steele topped the sheet with 21.3, with Launceston’s Alex Davies not far behind, and five athletes managing 21.1. Just below them, Academy Hub member Patrick Walker also snuck into the rankings. Fifth place for the Tasmanians on top 10 average.

Victoria:

=1. Harry Sullivan (Dandenong Stingrays) – 22.1
=1. Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) – 22.1
3. Oskar Faulkhead (Bendigo Pioneers) – 21.8
=4. Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) – 21.7
=4. Sam Berry (Gippsland Power) – 21.7
=4. Liam Kolar (Northern Knights) – 21.7
=7. 21.6 x7

Top 10 Average: 21.8

The NAB Leaguers contribute among a massive talent pool, so it was no surprise to see some impressive scores put on the board. No score below 21.6 – higher than the top score of three other states – helped the Victorians secure equal-second, with Noah Gadsby and Harry Sullivan top as the only athletes to breach level 22. Gippsland’s Sam Berry features on the list, a promising midfield prospect who managed 21.7.

Western Australia:

1. Alex Crowe (East Fremantle) – 22
2. Teakle Bohan (East Fremantle) – 22
=3. Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth) – 21.8
=3. Zac Sanderson (Perth) – 21.8
=3. Corey Sellars (South Fremantle) – 21.8
=3. Cameron Dean (Subiaco) – 21.8
=7. Jayden Peak (East Perth) – 21.7
=7. James Ettia (Perth) – 21.7
=7. Jack Demarte (West Perth) – 21.7
=10. 21.6 x7

Top 10 Average: 21.8

Joining the Victorians in second place are the boys from out West, who also combined to have two athletes clock up level 22. Top midfield prospect Nathan O’Driscoll leads a quartet of four players who managed to notch 21.8, which ended up being the state’s average. With a number of high-level performers down the list, WA is sure to feature highly again in the overall averages.

OVERALL TOP 10

1. Harry Grant (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.8
2. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.3
=3. Harry Sullivan (Dandenong Stingrays) – 22.1
=3. Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) – 22.1
=5. Alex Crowe (East Fremantle) – 22
=5. Teakle Bohan (East Fremantle) – 22
=7. 21.8 x10

Grant and Squire lead the way, making it two GIANTS at the top, while a pair of East Fremantle products also make the top ranks. Geelong’s Gadsby is a big name among the podium placings, and there were a bunch of guns among the 10 athletes to clock 21.8. Only three states were represented at the top end; New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia.

STATE AGAINST STATE:

1. NSW/ACT – 20.7
2. Western Australia – 20.6
3. Victoria – 20.4
4. Tasmania – 20.3
=5. South Australia – 20.2
=5. Queensland – 20.2

In the question of which state is has the best endurance runners collectively? The answer is again NSW/ACT, with the GWS and Sydney academies notching an overall average score of 20.7 – backing up their triumph in the 20m sprint stakes. Western Australia again featured highly, just below the benchmark at 20.6, while Victoria and its wealth of athletes managed to sneak onto the podium. Tasmania, just clear of a joint-last spot, jumped South Australia from the top 10 averages.