Tag: bailey laurie

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2020

BUDDING AFL Draft prospects from around the nation have stamped their claims over the last month with football returning across multiple states, making for a top-end list boasting plenty of movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s second Power Rankings edition for 2020, we again stick to a list of 20 with only a few adjustments made to our initial July rankings. A certain West Australian key forward has pushed into the top 10, while a couple of South Australian midfielders have bolted in from the clouds to also warrant a spot each. All that, and more in our August Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

July Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

July Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

July Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

July Ranking: #5

Last Month: Grainger-Barras has picked up right from where he left off in 2019, slotting back into Swan Districts’ League side after making his senior debut last year. Across the first three rounds, he has averaged 9.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, and 2.3 tackles from half-back, with his most recent outing earning him best afield honours against Subiaco. The promising defender is so assured in the air and reads the game better than most, though can work on finding more of the ball to make even better use of his smarts and composure.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#5 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

July Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another key position player who is thriving at senior level, Thilthorpe has become a consistent figure up forward for West Adelaide’s League side. He has booted four goals across his six games thus far, finding the big sticks in half of his outings. The area Thilthorpe has impressed most in is his marking, having shown a terrific forward 50 presence and the ability to use his reach to take the ball at its highest point. He is difficult to stop when doing so, and doubles his threat with good ground level efforts. Yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck, though that may prove difficult as the Bloods sit at 1-4-1.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number six, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

July Ranking: #6

Last Month: Like many of the Swans Academy prospects, Campbell has been plying his trade in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, running out for the Pennant Hill Demons over the last three weeks. He booted six goals in his first two appearances and was named in the best both times.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

July Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

July Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#9 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

July Ranking: #20

Last Month: McDonald is the big riser this month having put his name in lights at WAFL League level. The 196cm key position forward put on a show in his senior debut with 16 disposals, four marks, and three goals, before going one-better in Round 2 to boot four majors from 15 disposals and seven marks. His marking strength both on the lead and one-on-one has been exceptional, as has his finishing. After a bye in Round 3, expect McDonald to continue to rise.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#10 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

July Ranking: #9

Last Month: Davies has managed to squeeze a QAFL game into his schedule, appearing for the Broadbeach Cats a fortnight ago and booting a goal in their 57-point win over Mt Gravatt.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#11 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Just slipping outside the top 10 due to McDonald’s rise is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

July Ranking: #10

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

July Ranking: #17

Last Month: Another SANFL League representative, Jones’ form has been enough to warrant a decent rise up our board. The solidly-built defender has cemented his spot at senior level, running out in all six of WWT’s fixtures thus far. While he has returned a few down games of under 10 disposals, Jones’ best is first round quality and indicative of a readymade player. Port fans and staff alike may want to downplay his value, but he looms as a prospect just outside of the top 10 range.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister Emma, is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

July Ranking: #13

Last Month: O’Driscoll has been plying his trade at WAFL Colts level, featuring in Rounds 1 and 2 before a bye most recently. He has been named as the Demons’ starting centre half-forward, but after a steady opening performance, looks to have returned to his usual form through midfield with 25 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in Round 2. Enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

July Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

July Ranking: #12

Last Month: While the competition has now been suspended, Reid managed to fit in three outings for Leongatha in the Gippsland League. He was named among the best for his two goals in the Parrots’ Round 2 win over Moe, and looks to be shuffling around to a few different positions as he has done previously. Hardly a slide, others in more competitive interstate leagues have just gone ahead of him.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

July Ranking: #16

Last Month: The Swan Districts midfielder has already matched his games tally from 2019, but had his most recent WAFL Colts outing cut short through injury. The bye comes at a good time for Trew as he works to wear off his concussion, but he has otherwise fared well in the junior competition. Across Rounds 1 and 2, Trew averaged 28 disposals, three marks, and five tackles in displays consistent enough to see him hold down the number 16 ranking.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

Another brother-of who should feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should he finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and school football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: As by far the most prolific Under 18s ball winner in South Australia, and potentially the entire country, Powell is proving impossible to ignore at this stage. He leads the competition for total disposals, clearances, and inside 50s after six rounds, averaging 37.2, 9.2, and 6.8 in those respective categories. Having also added goals to his arsenal most recently, Powell continues to add strings to his bow. Gaining much-deserved recognition after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#19 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

July Ranking: #18

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

July Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

Off the bat, Caleb Poulter and Heath Chapman are essentially number 21 and 22 on our list, making them the hardest to leave out of the top 20. Both have enjoyed impactful starts to their respective seasons; with Poulter a midfielder who packs presence in the SANFL Under 18s, and Chapman an intercept defender who has roamed further afield in the WAFL Colts. They are both terrific sizes, and have a range of weapons at their disposal.

Bailey Laurie and Brandon Walker are the two who slid out of the 20 from July’s rankings. It has been no real fault of their own, with the inactive Laurie a victim of others’ rises, while Walker has made a solid start to his WAFL Colts campaign but is ultimately just squeezed out.

Walker’s fellow Fremantle Next Generation Academy member, Joel Western has enjoyed a terrific start to the year to come into contention, but missed last weekend’s action through injury. Isiah Winder is another on the rise having earned his WAFL League debut for Peel Thunder, so keep an eye out for his name in future. Midfielder/half-back Jack Carroll is also in form, along with left-field ruck hopeful, Kalin Lane, but both are still just outside this kind of range.

The likes of Corey Durdin and Zac Dumesny linger around the top 30 for some given their SANFL League form, while Tariek Newchurch could be a first round smokey, but can work on becoming a more consistent threat. He and Jamison Murphy have been prominent for North Adelaide, while Bailey Chamberlain and Mani Liddy are hard to ignore at SANFL Under 18s level. Potential Adelaide father-son Luke Edwards also earned a SANFL Reserves call-up this month.

Down in Tasmania, Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis have made promising starts to their TSL campaigns. Of those who are around the mark, but cannot currently stake their claims due to a lack of top-level competition are Connor Downie, Eddie Ford, Jake Bowey, Sam Berry, and ruck bolter Max Heath. NT Thunder utility Joel Jeffrey has top 25 potential, as does Sydney Academy prospect Errol Gulden.

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AFL Draft Watch: Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Oakleigh Chargers’ Bailey Laurie, a smooth moving forward who can also run through midfield. The Caulfield Grammar student broke out towards the end of last year’s NAB League season, helping Oakleigh to its premiership triumph with an excellent first half performance in the decider. The 178cm prospect boasts elite agility and creativity forward of centre, able to weave his way into dangerous positions and bring others into the game. While he was squeezed out of the Chargers’ engine room as a bottom-ager, he will look to have an impact there in 2020 as one of his region’s top prospects.

PLAYER PAGE:

Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: March 24, 2002

Height: 178cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Forward/Outside Midfielder

Strengths: Agility/evasion, creativity, impact, finding space
Improvements: Contested ball, consistency

2019 NAB League stats: 7 games | 15.3 disposals (63.7% UP) | 3.1 marks | 3.6 tackles | 2.6 inside 50s | 1.9 rebound 50s | 0.9 goals (6)

>> Feature: Bailey Laurie
>> Marquee Matchup: Clarke vs. Laurie

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 58cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 63cm/74cm
Speed (20m) – 3.19 seconds
Agility – 7.97 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

NAB League Grand Final vs. Eastern

By: Peter Williams

Has his moments where he can break a game open, kicking a couple of goals either side of half-time and really making his presence felt. The bottom-age forward is a metres-gained player and while he missed a couple of opportunities with two behinds, he still amassed 17 disposals, five marks, four tackles and crucially had six inside 50s, constantly applying pressure on the Ranges.

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Metro U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not on any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot here. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#5 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Grainger-Barras rounds out the top five; another tall, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has been squeezed out to number six at this point, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

>> Q&A

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#9 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Rounding out the top 10 is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#11 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Fremantle Academy.

>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess. He should make the step-up for Oakleigh once again having impressed late last year, while also cracking the Vic Metro line-up.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

Marquee Matchups: Joshua Clarke vs. Bailey Laurie

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

Our next matchup takes place on the outer, with flying flankers/wingmen Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges) and Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers) put under the spotlight. Of course, the pair will likely be teammates for Vic Metro should a national carnival go ahead, but have already faced off twice in the NAB League – including in the grand final, no less. Both were prominent as bottom-agers in the 2019 season decider, with Clarke assuming his usual role off half-back, while Laurie ran riot at half-forward.

Clarke’s 18 underage games are testament to his ability, as he quickly became a key member of the highly successful Eastern side credit to his damaging work moving forward from the back. Laurie managed seven outings in Oakleigh’s premiership side last year, mixing his time between Chargers duties and APS school football at Caulfield Grammar. A popular teammate, Laurie ranks as elite for his agility and is a livewire in the forward half who harnesses his phenomenal creativity.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Joshua Clarke
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

DOB: March 5, 2002

Height: 180cm
Weight: 71kg

Position: Half-back/wing

Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: March 24, 2002

Height: 178cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Forward/outside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Clarke – 48cm*
Laurie – 58cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Clarke – 66cm/56cm*
Laurie – 63cm/74cm

SPEED (20m)

Clarke – 3.10 seconds*
Laurie – 3.19 seconds

AGILITY

Clarke – 8.24 seconds*
Laurie – 7.97 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Clarke – 20.4*
Laurie – 20.5

* – 2019 testing data

Inevitably, it is impossible to compare testing results from the two athletes given only one of them tested this year, however, Clarke did participate in 2019 to give us some data to work with. The pair ranks very highly in agility, with Laurie’s sub-eight second effort landing him in the competition’s top 10. Speed is the area which seems to set the two apart, though Clarke’s 20m time of 3.10 seconds in 2019 is far from flattering to the pace he is able to build at full flight.

The pair fared similarly in terms of endurance albeit if the score are a touch low, and Clarke’s preseason injury interruptions would have made building on the 20.4 score difficult. As smaller players, their power and explosiveness seems to lack in the jumping tests, though they may rarely need to compete in the air given their nous at ground level.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Clarke:

18 games
16.1 disposals (68.7% UP)
1.9 marks
1.5 tackles
1 clearance
3.1 inside 50s
2.3 rebound 50s
0.2 goals (4)

Laurie:

7 games
15.3 disposals (63.7% UP)
3.1 marks
3.6 tackles
2.6 inside 50s
1.9 rebound 50s
0.9 goals (6)

Obviously it is difficult to compare the figures of two players who have very different appearance numbers, but a factor that is somewhat alleviated given they occurred in the same competition.

Something that is immediately evident across both stat-lines is the uncontested possession rates, with both athletes rating at above 63 per cent. For Laurie in particular, it displays his knack of finding space and getting busy on the outside, and his average of 3.1 marks is credit to his leap and ability to find space.

The rebound and inside-50 numbers for both player are also solid, but stand out more glaringly for Clarke given half-backs typically rack up more rebounds. His greater average of inside 50s highlights his ability to break the lines coming out of defence as a real metres-gained asset, getting on the end of handball receives and putting the ball into goal-threatening areas.

That aspect of Clarke’s game means he is also able to find the goals from further afield, while Laurie is seldom far away from the big sticks either and can create chances from nothing. Having put up solid numbers as bottom-agers, it would have been great to see more of their development in 2020.

BEST GAME

Clarke:

2019 NAB League Round 4 vs. Brisbane Lions Academy
Eastern 13.8 (86) def Brisbane 12.3 (75)

21 disposals
3 marks
2 tackles
5 inside 50s
5 rebound 50s
1 goal

Laurie:

2019 NAB League Grand Final vs. Eastern
Oakleigh 12.17 (89) def. Eastern 5.6 (36)

17 disposals
5 marks
4 tackles
6 inside 50s
2 goals
2 behinds

While there may well have been other appearances right in the mix to be chosen for either player, we feel they best showcased their most significant traits in these games.

Coincidentally, Laurie’s chosen best game is also the pair’s previous meeting, beating out his season-high 19 disposals against Calder, and one of his other two-goal efforts – Round 19 against Gippsland. On the biggest of stages, the elusive forward took the game by storm, setting the base for Oakleigh’s triumph with some eye-catching moments early on. Laurie crucially found the goals, but also brought others into the contest and broke it open with his ability to burst out of congestion.

Clarke also had a good batch of games to choose from, but his 21 disposals and one goal up in Queensland against the Lions Academy was a memorable one. We could well have opted for his 22 disposals and one goal in the grand final, or four other showings of over 20 touches across his 18 games. Against the Lions, Clarke had a similarly profound impact and kicked a crucial goal on the run to lift his side in the tight contest. That is somewhat a trademark of Clarke, as is his ability to penetrate either arc. It was all on show in this game, a top effort.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 NAB LEAGUE GRAND FINAL
Oakleigh Chargers 12.17 (89) def. Eastern Ranges 5.6 (36)

Clarke:

22 disposals (15 kicks)
2 clearances
7 rebound 50s
1 goal

Laurie:

17 disposals
5 marks
4 tackles
6 inside 50s
2 goals
2 behinds

You already know about Laurie’s efforts in the grand final given we judged it as his best game, but Clarke was also one of his side’s best players in a losing effort. He managed to collect his second-best disposal tally for the year (22), while also finding the scoreboard in typical fashion on the run from range, and providing plenty of rebound from defensive 50. Clarke’s two clearances and weight of rebound 50s reflect how much pressure the Ranges defence was under, which he held up well in, however tallies of zero marks and tackles reflect Clarke’s reliance on the uncontested and attacking game.

STRENGTHS

Clarke:

Speed
Rebound
Run-and-carry
Kick penetration

Laurie:

Agility/evasion
Creativity
Impact
Finding space

The speed-versus-agility battle comes to the fore in either players’ strengths, with Laurie obviously excelling with sideways movement, while Clarke is able to hit the gas moving forward. Laurie’s evasion can be particularly eye-catching, with his ability to side-step and sneak into improbable pockets of space nothing short of elite.

Finding space also transfers to how busy Laurie gets, proving a pest to opposition defenders as a slippery customer. His creativity with ball in hand also works to break games open, able to hit short-range targets with good vision and execution to thus give him the added – and highly desirable – trait of having a high impact per possession.

Clarke’s best assets all tie into one another, with his speed, carries, and kick penetration essential to any rebounding half-back/wingman. He can prove equally evasive in congestion and once he breaks free, good luck catching him. Clarke is not afraid to carry the ball forward, but also gains serious meterage with his sweet left-foot kicks. Accustomed to booting goals from range, Clarke is a multi-faceted threat in a typically one-dimensional position.

IMPROVEMENTS

Clarke:

Contested ball
Defensive game

Player:

Contested ball
Consistent impact

Laurie’s listed improvement of contested ball is a difficult one to attribute, as he is quite good at weaving through congestion but tended to find more of the ball on the outside or in space up forward. Given his clear ability to move into the centre bounces, Laurie can also work on having a more consistent impact throughout the four quarters, while also accumulating bigger numbers. That aspect was evident even in his best game, where he was electric early but faded away in the latter stages. It may be a product of his forward role in 2019, but can always be worked on.

For Clarke, contested ball is also listed as an improvement given his largely outside game and uncontested possession rate of 68.7 per cent. It ties into the need to improve his defensive game, which Clarke alluded to in preseason himself, adding the defensive attributes to match that attacking flair off the half-back line. A key indicator of improvement will be building on his 2019 tackle average of 1.5, with defensive pressure an in-vogue and required trait for structures at the AFL level.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Clarke:

2019 NAB League Boys Grand Final
By: Ed Pascoe

In what turned out to be a dirty day for Eastern, a shining light was the game from young dashing defender Joshua Clarke, who did everything he could to get his team over the line with his dash and dare from the back half. Clarke had some eye-catching moments, using his speed to take the game on and get away from any would-be tacklers. He had a huge second quarter highlighted by a fantastic goal on the run on a hard angle and distance while also under pressure.

Laurie:

2019 NAB League Grand Final
By: Peter Williams

Has his moments where he can break a game open, kicking a couple of goals either side of half-time and really making his presence felt. The bottom-age forward is a metres-gained player and while he missed a couple of opportunities with two behinds, he still amassed 17 disposals, five marks, four tackles and crucially had six inside 50s, constantly applying pressure on the Ranges.

FINAL WORD

The two may be a touch separate in terms of draft range at this point, with Laurie’s agility, damage, and game-breaking abilities forward of centre making him a desirable option. That should not detract from Clarke’s impressive resume and range of traits, though half-backs and outside types are often put into the dime-a-dozen category. But Clarke’s speed and the improvements that can come from his game are exciting, and he can be just as much of a game changer. The pair would make for a dangerous combination up either end in the Metro side, would have again met in the NAB League this year. Laurie may be set for more midfield time, at 178cm, his best position at the next level with likely be up forward. If both players can harness the contested game sharpen their overall games, they will have little trouble in finding a place at the elite level.

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.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Metro Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place.

RULES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old prospects miss out, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, but all players look likely to be available. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the first stipulated squad, with Vic Metro’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Cody Raak (Western), Cody Brand (Calder), Wil Parker (Eastern)
HB – Joshua Clarke (Eastern), Nikolas Cox (Northern), Connor Downie (Eastern)

There’s a real Eastern Ranges flavour to the back six, with regional skipper and Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie a potential leadership candidate. Athletic Northern utility Nikolas Cox is another NAB League captain in line for those honours, and the two are joined across half-back by Josh Clarke.

The forward penetration Clarke and Downie provide makes for an exciting proposition, though Downie may well find his way up onto a wing or into the midfield in the final squad. The third Eastern product of the defence, Wil Parker can also add value on the rebound, but joins Bulldogs NGA candidate Cody Raak as a capable intercept marker inside defensive 50.

Essendon-aligned hopeful Cody Brand looks set to lock down a role at full back, making for a fairly sturdy last line. The combination of aerial threat and attacking ball use among the six bodes well for Metro, and should set the side up nicely.

MIDFIELD

C – Jake Bowey (Sandringham), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh), Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh)
FOL – Max Heath (Sandringham), Will Phillips (Oakleigh), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh)

If there was an Eastern feel to the defence, then the midfield is all-Oakleigh. Following on with the NGA theme too is Collingwood academy member Reef McInnes, who takes up a spot in the centre with eyes on fulfilling a more midfield-oriented role in 2020.

The familiar faces of Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae look set to join him at the centre bounces, as smaller outlets who can find plenty of the ball. On the outer, we’ve opted for a small combination with the 174cm Jake Bowey on one side, and 177cm Lochlan Jenkins on the opposite.

Should the Metro coaches opt for more grunt through the middle, the likes of Downie and explosive Sandringham product Archie Perkins could add some extra power, though the chosen core should have little trouble finding the ball. Max Heath is the chosen ruck, one of the few pure talls among the ranks at the moment.

FORWARD

HF – Archie Perkins (Sandringham), Liam McMahon (Northern), Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh)
FF – Jackson Cardillo (Calder), Ollie Lord (Sandringham), Eddie Ford (Western)

Akin to last year’s squad, the forwardline is one of the weaker areas of the squad – not for a lack of talent, but due to the lack of a pure small forward. The likes of Perkins, Bailey Laurie, Jackson Cardillo, and Eddie Ford all pack dynamism, speed, and smarts, but fall into the category of midfielder/forwards.

This forward bunch should also have no troubles in competing aerially, with the high-marking prowess of Perkins and Ford aided by vertically apt key position prospects Liam McMahon and Ollie Lord. Though at 193cm and 195cm respectively, the pair falls a touch short of traditional key position height, so may prove less impactful against some of the bulkier defenders one-on-one.

Within the starting lineup, Cox is also able to swing forward if needed, while Heath may well earn a rest up there in between his ruck duties. In terms of mid-sizers, Macrae and McInnes spent plenty of time forward for Oakleigh in 2019, while Downie is another who can find the goals.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Jack Diedrich (Eastern), Conor Stone (Oakleigh), Luke Cleary (Sandringham), Josh Eyre (Calder)

The interchange bench sees two remaining top-age Academy Hub members named, incidentally also providing good depth down the spine. Eastern’s Jack Diedrich and Calder’s Josh Eyre can play in key position posts, with Diedrich adding ruck depth and Eyre a more dynamic option around the ground.

Conor Stone could fill the traditional medium-forward void given his promising form in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, while Sandringham defender Luke Cleary is one of the few non-Academy choices, though his Under 17 experience and squad balance earns him a look-in.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

There are plenty of top-agers who will fancy their chances of cracking into the final squad, but there will always be the unlucky few who don’t. The beauty of having a carnival with multiple games means there is always room for rotation, so plenty of prospects should get their opportunity.

Under 16 representative Darby Hipwell was stiff to miss the Academy cut-off, and provide some great midfield depth. Oakleigh’s Fraser Elliot is a big-bodied mid who could also sneak in, but that midfield is hard to crack.

In terms of smaller options at either end, Lucas Failli could be the small forward Metro is searching for, with the agile 170cm Western product already boasting Under 16 and 17 representative honours.

Northern co-captain Ewan Macpherson skippered the Under 16 Metro side in 2018, and may be another small option. The potential Bulldogs father-son choice would fit in as a defender after his work for the Knights in 2019, though he is set on more midfield minutes in 2020. His Knights teammates Josh Watson, and fellow Under 16 rep Jaden Collins are others who are thereabouts.

Speaking of father-sons, Carlton may want to get a look at Charlie McKay (son of Andy, 244 games), who has impressed during preseason and provides a big body on each line.

Dragons pair Fraser Rosman and Lachlan Carrigan are others who may fly under the radar and into the side, along with raw Calder duo Jack Keeping and Matthew Allison. There are of course two more Academy members – Campbell Edwardes, and Sam Tucker – who could enter the fray, but are unlucky to miss our sides.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Having taken out the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, Metro has the luxury being able to top up its squad with a raft of capable bottom-age talents. MVP Tyler Sonsie is arguably the best of the lot, and could well find his way into the starting 18 on a wing or up forward.

Sonsie’s Eastern teammate Jake Soligo is another who may rise the ranks alongside him, while Vic Metro Under 16 squad member Lachlan Rankin is another handy outside type in the mix.

Sandringham dasher Josh Sinn is another who is capable of settling into the starting side, perhaps at half-back despite his midfield prowess. Potentially filling out the flanks is Nick Daicos, whose selection in the Academy Hub in his first year through the pathways speaking volume of his talent.

Twin talls Dante Visentini and Alex Lukic would provide key position depth up either end under normal circumstances, with Lukic the Under 16 All Australian centre half-forward. Others to gain that honour and Academy selection were Blake Howes, Youseph Dib, Lachlan Brooks, and Braden Andrews, who could all fill roles around the ground.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-ager seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

With these additional top and bottom-age prospects in mind, below is our potential Vic Metro squad, without any provisions.

FB – Cody Raak, Cody Brand, Wil Parker
HB – Joshua Clarke, Nikolas Cox, Josh Sinn
C – Jake Bowey, Connor Downie, Finlay Macrae
HF – Archie Perkins, Liam McMahon, Bailey Laurie
FF – Tyler Sonsie, Ollie Lord, Eddie Ford
FOL – Max Heath, Will Phillips, Reef McInnes
INT – Felix Flockart, Lochlan Jenkins, Conor Stone, Jackson Cardillo

EMG
– Luke Cleary, Nick Daicos, Josh Eyre

Classic Contests: Flanders’ first half magic fails to halt Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides locked horns in a classic qualifying final at Ikon Park.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

NAB League Qualifying Final | Sunday September 1, 2019
Ikon Park, 1:30pm

Draftees in action:

Gippsland – Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Oakleigh – Nick Bryan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh finished the NAB League regular season just one game adrift from top spot at 11-4, enough to see them earn a week’s rest come wildcard round. They would meet in the qualifying final, the last fixture of the competition’s first post-season weekend, and produce an instant classic full of momentum swings.

Oakleigh boasted the would-be first and second picks of the 2019 draft, but the Power had a greater number of draftees on the park in this bout led by Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The key absence of skipper Brock Smith would prove vital though, with a certain bottom-aged Oakleigh star having a big impact on the game.

The Chargers stormed out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term, spearheaded by in-form forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at what proved to be the scoring end. Needing a spark at 23 points down in the first 15 minutes, the Power turned to Serong who provided a lift with his aggression from midfield.

But it was Trent Baldi who would have an even bigger say with his scoreboard impact, slamming home consecutive majors to keep Gippsland in touch. An opportunistic Reef McInnes goal late hurt the Power though, especially given they had kept Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell relatively quiet to that point. It would have to last.

The second period of play would belong to Flanders, who stole the show with one of the greatest 10-minute patches of elite junior football in history. Pushing forward, the dynamic first round draftee showed up his new Gold Coast teammates on the opposing side with four consecutive goals from over 10 touches to break the game open.

On a day where scoring was hard to come by, Flanders’ feats helped the Power pile on nine of the last 10 goals to claim a 23-point lead at the main break. The seven-goal term also went unanswered up the other end as the usually potent Oakleigh side would require a big lift come the second half with much of its bottom-age brigade standing up to that point.

Keeping with the ebb and flow of the contest, it was Oakleigh’s turn to get on top in the third stanza, but their four goals to two was not enough to reclaim the lead. But having created more clear-cut chances, the Chargers drew back to within single digits to give themselves a sniff heading into the final change, albeit if they had spurned a couple of chances to further cut the deficit.

Ugle-Hagan converted a third major early in the fourth quarter as the heavens opened, turning the game into an all-out slog. With goals hard to come by, Riley Baldi‘s major to push the margin out to over a kick looked a big one, but Oakleigh found avenues to the big sticks when they needed them as skipper Trent Bianco sunk a long bomb, and Nick Stathopoulos booted a screamer to seal the come-from-behind win.

Proving impossible to keep down, Rowell and Anderson led the disposal count among two others to lead the Oakleigh’s charge. Bottom-age jet Will Phillips also had 29 touches and added a goal for the winners, while Serong managed the same feat in a valiant effort for Gippsland. Flanders would finish with 27 disposals to go with his four second quarter goals, while St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly also hit the scoreboard from 23 touches.

Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade proved somewhat of a difference aside from the heavyweight battle through midfield, with the likes of Finlay Macrae, Bailey Laurie, and Ugle-Hagan producing the goods early on. Under the leadership of Bianco (24 disposals, one goal), they proved they were not just there to simply fill the numbers.

The Chargers would go on to claim a dominant grand final win over Eastern after comfortably accounting for Sandringham in the preliminary final stage, while Gippsland were done-over by the Ranges at the same mark after overcoming Western in the semi-finals. With a wealth of draftees coming from either side, they were two of the premier clubs of the competition and stand to have a great impact come draft time in 2020 as well.

Q&A: Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Eastern Ranges’ Joshua Clarke at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The speedy half-back flanker already boasts an impressive NAB League resume having featured across 18 games in Eastern’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, and is one of five Ranges currently attached to the Vic Metro Academy Hub. Clarke’s speed and line-breaking ability going forward helped him stand out as a bottom-ager, while his penetrating left boot became an asset throughout 2019. Looking to continue a similar role in 2020, the 181cm prospect would have been raring to go come Round 1 despite a pre-season groin niggle.

Q&A:

MA: Josh, you’re sitting out the testing today – what’ve you picked up?

JC: “I’ve got a little bit of a sore groin, it’s not 100% at the moment so I thought I’d just take a rest out.”

Are you going to be ready for Round 1?

“Yeah I’ll be ready for Round 1, definitely.”

What about the rest of the preseason to date, have you had a solid one?

“I’ve had a fairly solid preseason. “Probably been out for maybe two or three weeks but the boys are going along really well and we get along as a great bunch.”

Playing off half-back in a really good team last year, how’d you rate your bottom-age season?

“I was pretty happy to even just play one game as a bottom-ager but was lucky enough to play the whole year so I was very happy with my performance as a bottom-ager. But I’ve just got to step up this year and be a leader.”

What’s it like for the team having the grand final experience from last year, will it put you in good stead?

“Obviously last year we didn’t have any drafted which showed that we are a team and it’s the same this year. “I think we’ve got the same character, the same mottos we go by so again, I think that us as a team will do pretty well this year.”

Are you looking to move up the ground a little bit, or will you lock down that half-back role again?

“I don’t really mind. “I’d love to have a half-back role, I feel like I can play my best footy there. “On a wing is another place I’m pretty good at so yeah, I like to move forward and kick goals.”

Being around the traps at the Vic Metro Hub, how’s that been for your development?

“It’s been a lot of help, surrounded by players that are better than me and a lot of good leaders and people setting the standard. It’s been really good to learn off them.”

Who are some of the players you’re looking forward to playing alongside this year for Metro?

Eddie Ford, a pretty exciting character. “And definitely Bailey Laurie, he’s a very quick sort of player that I want to (emulate).”

In terms of your game on-field, what are some of the things you’re looking to iron out heading into your top-age year?

“Obviously playing half-back, to nail being a defensive player because that’s my role at the start of the day. “So becoming tighter on my defending, more aware but when I can impact and run off, that’s when I’ll do that.”

Are there any landmarks that you’re looking to hit or goals you’re setting at the moment?

“For me it’s just to set the standard at Eastern. “There’s a lot of boys there that haven’t had the experience, were lucky enough to play last year or been through the system. “So to sort of guide them through that, and we have a great captain in Connor Downie to put us under the wing – he’s very good.”

Classic Contests: Chargers pip Ranges in Box Hill thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 for a top four clash which produced plenty of highlights across a number of momentum shifts, with the Chargers getting on top at the ideal time.

EASTERN RANGES 4.2 | 6.2 | 9.5 | 11.9 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 0.2 | 6.6 | 8.10 | 12.11 (83)

Round 14 | Saturday, July 20, 2019
Box Hill City Oval, 2.15pm

Coming into the Round 14 clash, Eastern Ranges sat top of the table, two wins and percentage clear of the next three sides, Gippsland Power, Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets. The Chargers were getting players back after the Under 18 Championships, and the game at Box Hill City Oval shaped as an absolute blockbuster between two premiership contenders. It would also end up being a grand final preview. With Gippsland winning the earlier game against Tasmania Devils at the ground, the Power now held a strong advantage in second and moved to within four points of the Ranges inside the top two. It would be important for Oakleigh to win considering its run home and the importance of securing a top four spot.

Eastern started the better of the two sides, booting four goals to zero in the opening term and holding the Chargers goalless until the fifth minute of the second quarter. By the time the Ranges’ leading goalkicker Jordan Jaworski put through his second 10 minutes into the quarter, the home side led by 29 points with six goals to one on the board. The momentum began to soon swing with Oakleigh remarkably booting the last five goals of the half, including a couple to Cooper Sharman, and then one right before the half-time break to Dylan Williams who put his team in front for the first time.

The teams traded blows in the second half, with Beau Tennant opening proceedings five minutes into the term, before Sam Woodward extended the lead out to seven a couple of minutes later. This was countered by Oakleigh’s Xander Tassell to cut the deficit to two midway through the term, but once again Eastern had the answer, this time through Tom Weir. The home team led by eight points, but Thomas Graham who was finding plenty of the ball through the ruck, kicked a crucial one late in proceedings to cut the deficit to just three points again. He missed a chance to put his side in front a moment later, and then a desperate rushed behind had the three quarter time siren sounding with Eastern just a solitary point in front.

Sharman stepped up to boot a third goal just three minutes into the term, before Tennant was quickly on the board once again, slotting his side’s first major to take back the lead for Eastern. A fourth to Sharman and one to Giorgio Varagiannis opened up the largest margin of the game for the Chargers – 10 points – but goal sneak Jaworski refused to let the game slip away and converted the Ranges’ 11th major with 10 minutes to go. Billy McCormack missed a chance with the time ticking down and the deficit now three points, before future Port forward Williams again stepped up when his side needed him most, converting a crucial goal with a few minutes left to seal the deal and Oakleigh was able to hold on and win by eight points, 12.11 (83) to 11.9 (75).

There was a host of talent running around that day with Trent Bianco leading all-comers thanks to a whopping 34 disposals, eight marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and 10 rebounds, while Jeromy Lucas (27 disposals, three marks and four tackles) and Kaden Schreiber (20 disposals, four marks and two inside 50s) also found plenty of the ball. From the bottom-age contingent, Lochlan Jenkins and Will Phillips both had 22 disposals and combined for 13 clearances and seven inside 50s. Sharman’s four goals from 18 touches, six marks and four inside 50s were crucial in the win, while Williams finished with two goals from eight disposals, three marks and three inside 50s. Graham (17 disposals, six marks, 14 hitouts and one goal) and Bailey Laurie (14 disposals, six rebounds) were others who impressed in the win.

The Ranges had a number of standout players too in the absence of Mitch Mellis, James Ross and Jamieson Rossiter, with bottom-age speedster Wil Parker tearing up the track with 26 touches, five marks, four tackles and five inside 50s, while Zakery Pretty (23 disposals, seven clearances) and Lachlan Stapleton (20 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) were busy. Chayce Black (17 disposals, five marks, four tackles and seven inside 50s) and Tyler Edwards (17 disposals, four clearances, four tackles and four inside 50s) got the ball moving in transition with Tennant and Jaworski combining for seven goals up forward.

As history would show, these sides would go on to make the 2019 NAB League Grand Final, with Oakleigh Chargers getting up and winning the premiership in terrific style.

Q&A: Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a few weeks earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Western Jets’ Eddie Ford at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

MA: Sitting out this one, what’s going on?

EF: “I just got a little injury in my knee. “It’s under the ACL category, but it’s not a major one, it’s like an ACL stretch. So it’s a week or two or whatever, it’s nothing serious. “Just taking this one pretty easily and just resting for Round 1.”

How’s the preseason been for you?

“It’s been a bit odd for me. “I’ve had a couple of injuries, so this is the second lot of time I’ve done this type of injury. “I’ve done it once in the Metro camp earlier in the year and a couple of ankle injuries in December, so I’ve had a few hiccups but I think my fitness is still up to the level and obviously we’ve got to keep building back up. It’s been a bit interrupted, but it’s been fine.”

How’d you rate your bottom-age year?

“I was lucky enough to be a part of the Vic Metro program as a bottom-ager last year so that was a really good experience, getting around all the boys who got drafted this year which was awesome. “They’ve all got really good standards and they go about it really well so that gave me a goal to look towards. “Especially the blokes who got drafted pretty high, Matty Rowell and Noah Anderson. “They go about it really well and that was really good for me because I was able to play a few practice matches. “I wasn’t able to get into the squad unfortunately but it was good. “The Jets as a bottom-ager was pretty good. “Played most games for them and it was really good.”

Speaking of good standards, you trained at Collingwood over the off-season as part of the Vic Metro hub, what was that like?

“Yeah that was really good. “That was just before Christmas and that was like even a bigger step up to see how they go about it. “Especially their preparation and recovery, it’s just unreal. “They put so much effort into that and anything to get their body right. “It was pretty good to get around all the boys like Scotty Pendlebury and Brodie Grundy.”

What AFL team do you support?

“I go for St Kilda, so probably not the best place to be at Collingwood, but it was good.”

Back on the topic of Vic Metro, which teammates are you looking forward to playing alongside this year?

“So hopefully Raaky – Cody Raak from the Jets – is still there, he’s a good mate of mine from the Jets. Bailey Laurie from Oakleigh is a really good bloke, he’s quite funny. “I’ve roomed with him at one of the camps recently, and yeah all the blokes are pretty good around there. “They all have good interests and all want to play well, so it’s good.”

On the field, you played that half-forward role a fair bit last year, what position are you looking to play in 2020?

“I’m trying to go out and get a bit of a kick in the midfield, so I’m looking to play there a bit more. “That sort of role where you play midfield, rest in the forward and if the team needs some drive I can try to be that one that gets the ball forward. “But yeah I think midfield for me is an aim, to play a bit more of it as a top ager.”

You’ve got a fair bit of athleticism about you, particularly when it comes to marking, what strengths do you think you can show in the midfield?

“I like to think I’ve got a bit of X-factor about me that I can do some things that are pretty odd at times, but it’s good. I just keep bringing that X-factor. “The high marking sometimes, so I can go down forward and take a big grab and hit the scoreboard as much as I can as well which should be good.”