WITH their Under 19 counterparts taking centre stage on AFL Grand Final day, South Australia’s brightest Under 17 prospects went head-to-head at Adelaide Oval on Friday night in the state’s annual Futures showcase. Split into Blue and Yellow teams, the 2004 and 2005-born talents produced a dramatic ending to a contest which gained momentum as it wore on, with the Blue side coming out on top thanks to Nick Sadler‘s breakaway goal in the dying seconds.
We take you through some of the top performers and players to watch from either side in the latest Scouting Notes edition. Note, they are the opinion of the individual author.
BLUE 2.3 | 4.6 | 7.9 | 11.10 (76)
YELLOW 2.1 | 2.7 | 7.10 | 10.12 (72)
Blue: J. Delean 3, B. Mair 2, N. Sadler 2, L. Slade, W. McCabe, T. Scully, H. Barnett.
Yellow: D. Pitt 2, P. Weckert 2, K. Ryan 2, M. Downs 2, L. Rawlinson, W. Rowlands.
By: Declan Reeve
#1 Tyson Walls (Norwood)
05/03/04 | 172cm | 67kg
Chosen as captain for the SA Blue side, Walls did well to lead by example all around the ground as he threw himself at the footy, with little to no concern for getting hurt by opposition running in for the same ball. Walls did most of his damage when he could get a handball or run onto a spilled ball, then accelerate away from his opponents to give himself more time to steady up and dispose of the ball. One moment that highlighted this particularly well came in the third term where he got a handball when he was surrounded by opponents, but back himself to get through the pack with his acceleration and agility, splitting the pack with ease and handballing to a teammate.
#9 Jack Delean (South Adelaide)
15/04/05 | 179cm | 65kg
One of the more well known 2023 draft talents, it’s no surprise that Delean led the game for goals, slotting three majors as arguably the most influential forward afield. Whilst Delean does a lot of good work inside 50, he pushed up the ground well to take marks on the wing or in the centre of the ground and generally looked to move the ball quickly inside 50. One play saw him quickly u-turn after a mark up the ground, run a few steps and kick long to a teammate that had stayed free inside 50 despite Yellow rebounding it earlier, showing strong game sense. Delean’s ability to get separation on the lead and his leading patterns are big parts of his game, as well as converting well from all areas of the 50 with his solid set shot routine and kick. A more underrated part of Delean’s game is his stoppage craft when he’s given the opportunity to be around them inside 50, having a few moments where he got first possession from the ruck tap.
#11 Archie Lovelock (Glenelg)
19/12/04 | 177cm | 69kg
Lovelock played a somewhat under-appreciated role as a high half-forward for the game, pushing up the ground and taking marks before moving the ball on quickly. He may not have hit the scoreboard himself, but Lovelock was directly responsible for a couple of scores with his clean kicking inside 50. What was most impressive about Lovelock was his ability to get to the right spots in space and take marks, finding ways to lose his opponent so he was rarely under much pressure when taking the ball or moving it on.
#15 Nick Sadler (Sturt)
08/01/04 | 179cm | 72kg
Sadler was a constant headache for his opponents around stoppages and around the ground. With a good read of the play and the ball off the rucks’ hands, he was able to consistently find it and generally used it well, looking for teammates that were leading for him. If there wasn’t anyone leading for him, he would hand it out to another runner. Sadler also managed to hit the scoreboard with two majors even though he played mostly as a midfielder, with his second goal proving the match-winner where he broke away from his opponent at the centre stoppage, ran onto the ball towards his goals, took a bounce and then slotted home beautifully from 50 out.
#31 Tyson Coe (West Adelaide)
21/10/04 | 182cm | 82kg
Whilst Coe doesn’t necessarily play the most flashy style of game, he impacted with an in-and-under style and unforgiving approach to opponents with the ball, tackling hard and winning contested ball around the ground. What’s most impressive is Coe’s tracking of opponents with the ball, occasionally bumping opponents in the way out of his path to get to the ball. This doesn’t mean that his ball use should be underrated however; his hands in close can be deadly, and he often looks to centre the ball by foot when out in space.
#43 Jayden Matz (Central District)
23/04/05 | 195cm | 78kg
Whilst Matz wasn’t necessarily a major ball winner, he showed in brief spurts he’s one to watch for the future, with his athleticism being particularly impressive for a tall prospect. He was able to keep up and even beat much smaller opponents in foot races, whilst also capable of leaping over his opponents in the ruck contests. He offers good dynamism and versatility around the ball.
#51 Harry Barnett (West Adelaide)
22/01/04 | 201cm | 92kg
Arguably the best player for the Team Blue, Barnett took some time to work into the game with some good bits of play in the first half, before really coming into his own in the second half as he started to get on top in the ruck contests. Barnett has a rare level of mobility and skill for such a tall player, with his kicking particularly damaging, it became difficult for Team Yellow to deal with as he gradually won more and more of the ball. At his height it’s no surprise that Barnett is a good mark, and he showed that with a couple of impressive contested grabs in the defensive goalsquare, as he worked back hard to be there and stop certain goals before quickly moving the ball on. By the end of the game, Barnett was spending more time up forward, where he took a good mark by pushing an opponent off him and taking the ball full stretch, slotting the goal from directly in front.
By: Michael Alvaro
#4 Loch Rawlinson (Sturt)
1/06/2005 | 177cm | 67kg
One who rotated forward off the wing, Rawlinson provided some nice spurts of run moving into attack on the outer. He read the play well to time his runs and receive in dangerous spots, before making good decisions with his kicks going inside 50. He was squeezed on his right side a couple of times, but hit multiple passes which led directly to scores, while also adding a goal of his own after earning a free kick in the fourth quarter.
#8 Taj Rahui (Norwood)
17/10/2004 | 175cm | 70kg
Usually a dashing rebounder for Norwood, Rahui took up a starting spot on the wing before swinging forward and even attending some centre bounces. His aggressive run-and-carry was a real weapon for Team Yellow, helping to open the play up and offer quick inside 50 entries. Rahui backed his speed and ability to break tackles, accelerating forward with intent and looking quite powerful for his size. He was shifted to the inside in term three, and nearly hit the scoreboard when sneaking forward in the same quarter.
#10 Will Rowlands (Norwood)
19/06/2005 | 176cm | 70kg
Like his Redlegs teammate Rahui, Rowlands shifted forward from the wing before getting a short run on the inside in the second half. He took a bit of time to get involved, but showed some tricks once he got his hands on the ball. With more touches, Rowlands gained the confidence to twist, turn and manufacture space around his opponents with subtle hip feints. He moved forward with purpose and almost kicked a goal from range in the second quarter, before converting a fluky kind of major in the third. Deep in the pocket, Rowlands paddled the ball between multiple opponents, picked it up and swung home a kick at the big sticks to level the scores.
#14 Alex Holt (Sturt)
28/01/2005 | 181cm | 71kg
One of Team Yellow’s most used players at the centre bounces, Holt arguably had more impact on the outside where he took on the green ball and carried it forward. He started brightly and sparked multiple transitions by marking his side’s kick-ins before setting off quickly down the line. Holt’s positive intent on the attack was complimented by a kicking game which compounded his metres gained impact.
#18 Kobe Ryan (West Adelaide)
17/02/2004 | 183cm | 70kg
Far and away the best player afield on Friday night, Ryan has quickly established himself as a Top 10 prospect for next year’s draft. He had the ball on a string throughout the contest, showcasing a ridiculously high work-rate to rack up possessions all around the ground and at the contest. The West Adelaide midfielder proved tough as they come with some of his efforts at stoppages and under high balls, copping some big hits but getting back up and continually finding the ball. His balance through midfield is outstanding and his well-rounded game was compounded by the impact of two goals. He could have finished with even more and looked to have kicked the game-winner with a 50m bomb as the clock wound down, making good on his time as a permanent forward in term four. He would be a good shout to crack SA’s Under 19 side and can play just about anywhere.
#20 Austin McDonald (Central District)
1/01/2004 | 179cm | 75kg
A bottom-ager who has already climbed the SANFL grades, McDonald again showed his wares as a consistent accumulator for Team Yellow. The Centrals ball winner was a constant through midfield and proved clean at the contest by hand. That side of his game is quite efficient, but McDonald also sent a few clearances away when he prized first possession off the taps. The left-footer’s kicking is a touch awkward on the move at times, though it mattered little as he hit up Kobe Ryan to assist what looked to be the game-winning goal.
#40 Patrick Weckert (Woodville-West Torrens)
23/01/2005 | 188cm | 82kg
While he played at both ends of the ground, Weckert arguably made his biggest strides as a forward with two goals in the third term. He started in defence though, tasked with the kick-in duties and looking to snatch some metres with those possessions. When swung forward, Weckert presented well to not only provide a target inside 50, but also a viable link into the arc. Both of his goals came from set shots with the second earned via a nice stretching mark and conversion just before the three-quarter time siren.
#44 Damon Pitt (Norwood)
23/03/2004 | 195cm | 82kg
Pitt was Team Yellow’s most likely key forward throughout the game and produced some nice displays of strength en route to snaring two goals. His first came in the opening term via a marking contest free kick, converting nicely from 40m. Pitt went on to take solid marks on the lead and one-on-one, but missed a pair of set shots in term two. His second major came in the third term from a contested mark deep inside 50, and the 195cm prospect continued to pepper the goals but could not quite scrounge another six-pointer for his efforts.
#52 Will Verrall (South Adelaide)
11/03/2004 | 200cm | 92kg
While not his most outwardly dominant outing, the Team Yellow skipper tried his best to impose himself on the contest. Verrall made an immediate impact, winning a holding the ball free kick at the opening centre bounce to showcase his intent around the ball. He was strong as usual at ground level when throwing his big frame around, and also displayed some handy ruck craft with palms down to his rovers.
Featured Image: Jack Delean celebrates a goal for South Adelaide | Credit: Nick Hook Photography