RICHMOND and Western Bulldogs have loaded up on youth in the AFL’s newest pre-season competition, AFLX. In the final night of the three-night competition, a total of 16 draftees from the 2017 National and Rookie drafts have been named, of which the Tigers and Bulldogs have supplied nine. At the other end of the scale, Zac Bailey (Norwood now Brisbane) and mature-ager Nick Holman (Central District now Gold Coast) were the only two from the northern states.
The top-end talent on show will certainly bring plenty of fans through the gates, with Richmond’s top pick Jack Higgins (Oakleigh Chargers), excitement machine Aiden Bonar (Dandenong Stingrays now GWS Giants) and top 10 pick Aaron Naughton (Peel Thunder now Western Bulldogs) are all named to play throughout the round robin format. Higgins could face ex-teammate Ed Richards if the Tigers meet the Dogs, while talented talls Noah Balta (Calder Cannons now Richmond), Ben Miller (Subiaco now Richmond) and Tom McCartin (Geelong Falcons now Sydney) were also named in their respective teams.
Gippsland Power’s sole draftee Callum Porter will also don the red, blue and white, as will a mature-ager who is very familiar with the colours, having played with Footscray VFL last year after a stint at Carlton. Another former blue, Dylan Buckley will be out to impress for his new side GWS, while Liam Baker will reunite with former Subiaco teammate Miller at the Tigers. Others that have been named in the sides are Nick Shipley (GWS Academy now GWS Giants) and Angus Styles (Sandringham Dragons now Sydney). Derek Eggmolesse-Smith played with Bendigo Pioneers last year and spent time with Richmond’s VFL side and now will front up for the senior team.
The AFLX competition is played on a ground with dimensions of between 100-120m in length and 60-70m in width, with four posts at each end and two 40m arcs. Each team will consist of 10 players per game – seven on the field and three on the bench – and there are no restrictions on rotations. No marks will be paid on backwards kicks (except in the forward 40m area) and the last touch out of bounds is a free kick. Kick-ins will occur after each score – even goals – while at least two players from each team must start each quarter inside each 40m arc and any deliberate rushed behinds will result in a free shot to the opposition team from the forward 40m arc resulting in a potential 10-point goal.
The full list of 2017 draftees named in the AFLX squads for Saturday evening are:
Brisbane: Zac Bailey (Norwood),
Gold Coast: Nick Holman (Central District)
GWS Giants: Aiden Bonar (Dandenong Stingrays), Nick Shipley (GWS Academy), Dylan Buckley (Carlton)
Richmond: Jack Higgins (Oakleigh Chargers), Noah Balta (Calder Cannons), Ben Miller (Subiaco), Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (Bendigo Pioneers), Liam Baker (Subiaco)
Sydney: Tom McCartin (Geelong Falcons), Angus Styles (Sandringham Dragons)
Western Bulldogs: Aaron Naughton (Peel Thunder), Ed Richards (Oakleigh Chargers), Callum Porter (Gippsland Power), Billy Gowers (Footscray VFL)
4.10pm – GWS Giants v Richmond
4.38pm – Sydney v Western Bulldogs
5.06pm – Richmond v Brisbane
5.34pm – Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast
6.02pm – Brisbane v GWS Giants
6.30pm – Gold Coast v Sydney
7.03pm – Grand Final