Tag: boyd

2015 Draft Profile: Tom Cole

Tom Cole (Bendigo Pioneers)

Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Position: Utility
Player comparison: Matthew Boyd
Strengths: Versatility, inside work, leadership
Weaknesses: Speed, outside game
First year impact: Low to medium

Bendigo’s Tom Cole is your footballer’s footballer.

There is nothing too flashy about the inside midfielder, but there is nothing wrong with him either.

Some players are described as “bangers and mash”, or simple and effective. This is Cole to a tee.

If you are looking for a player that can hit a target lace-out 50 metres on the run, or take a huge specky, then do not consider Cole. If you are looking for a player that is ultra-consistent and can plug holes just about anywhere, then Cole is your man.

Cole is very similar to Matthew Boyd in the way he goes about it – a strong leader, uncompromising footballer and is not afraid to do the team things ahead of personal gain.

He can play in the midfield, up forward or down back and just has that dogged determination to win the football. When he does have the football, he has the aura that dares an opposition player to take it off him.

His greatest asset is by far his flexibility and ability to win a contest.

Not particularly athletically gifted or a skillful player, Cole is a reliable kick, with solid endurance, who can drift forward, kick a few goals, drift back and settle the defence, or be thrown into the middle to win important clearances.

In short, if you need the ultimate role player, Cole is that player.

That is not to say Cole does not have a future at AFL level, but unlike your Darcy Parish’s and Jacob Weitering’s, he’s unlikely to become that A-grade star that club’s can build lists around. But as fans know, you cannot have 44 stars on your list; you need honest toilers who can be relied upon to just get the job done week-in, week-out.

In terms of areas for improvement, the biggest area Cole could develop is his outside game. Particularly up forward, Cole could become more offensive and kick those two-to-three goals a game as a high half forward.

Right now, he would be a very reliable defensive forward, possibly even develop into a tagger down the track if they will exist in the future. Unlike a lot of young players trying to impress recruiters, Cole does not wow scouts with his offensive attributes, but his defensive attributes instead.

As many know, it is easier for clubs to teach players to back themselves offensively than to work harder defensively, because to slip back into past routines, means tackling and defensive pressure could go out the window, something unlikely to occur with Cole.

Much like Boyd, Cole could become a future captain and while he might not win a game off his own boot, he is likely to be that leader who his supporter base recognises, but opposition fans question why he is out there.

If Cole does develop a strong offensive game, then he could certainly become a very valuable asset to any football club.

In this year’s draft, Cole is likely to be drafted somewhere in that mid-second to third round draft range because he does not offer anything spectacular, but he is remarkably consistent. In an era when the pressure on young players is at a premium, it is unlikely to faze a player like Tom Cole, who will take it all in his stride.

A strong leader and defensive-minded general would come in handy for any club needing a big-bodied utility who can support any position on the field.

There are question marks over whether Cole’s lack of any particular offensive attribute will hinder his career, but he is the type of player who would be willing to work hard on that side of his game and would benefit from an AFL environment.

For some clubs who cannot afford a Lamborghini, sometimes going back to basics and settling for a mid-90s Holden or Ford still has value and just gets the job done.

If a club backs Cole in, they should not have to worry about what they will receive in return.

No top ten pick? No worries: Hidden gems in the National Draft

Every year the AFL Trade and now Free Agency Period brings a certain sense of excitement amongst AFL clubs and fans. With the season done and dusted, every club goes back to square one in a bid to retain, alter or rejuvenate their list in an attempt to achieve their goals for the following season. Whether you’re a side like Hawthorn or Sydney who look to bring in established stars as they press for a premiership, or a side like St Kilda or Melbourne that focus their attention on gaining the services of talented youngsters or high draft picks; the off-season is an exciting time.

With excitement comes debate about whether clubs can snare players in the National, Rookie or Pre-Season drafts that are likely to become 200 game players, captains or role players who can help push the club towards its next premiership. Much has been spoken about the 2013 draft crop as being shallow after the first 15 picks. While this may be the case, there is still plenty of genuine talent outside the first round that could surprise a lot of fans over the coming years. While many might argue that those players taken in the top ten are comfortably higher than those ranked in the later rounds, there are a number of players that could be fantastic value for a club that might not have that early pick.

#1 – Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges) -> Michael Apeness (Eastern Ranges)

It seems ironic that if you’re not a club in the race for pick one but need a key forward, that a perfect late value pick could be Tom Boyd’s team mate Michael Apeness. Apeness is just as good of a contested mark and demands the footy on searching leads. He might not have the dominance that Boyd has shown at Under 18s level, but with the frame and the underlying talent that he has, Apeness could be a late second rounder to third round pick and provide the same contest and impact up forward. He’s ready made and can impact next season if given the chance and could be a very handy pick up for one of the lower sides looking for a young key forward.

#2 – Ben Lennon (Northern Knights)/Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers) -> James Sicily (Western Jets)

Both Ben Lennon and Jack Billings are all but expected to go inside the top ten. Both players are primarily forward, however can play in the midfield or in Lennon’s case, down back as well. It’s hard to find too many players that are in that lead up role, but one player who is a real gem is Western Jets’ James Sicily. Behind only Lennon and Billings in a height-contested mark scale, Sicily consistently beats players who are well out of his height and weight division. He has fantastic goal sense and can play the crumbing role as well. Very similar to a Brent Macaffer but rated even higher at the same age. Was originally a third to fourth round pick but has shot up into the second round, but could still be there for a late second round pick.

#3 – James Aish (Norwood)/Josh Kelly (Sandringham) -> Riley Knight (Woodville-West Torrens)

This year has undoubtedly being touted as a midfielder’s draft. With so many talented midfielder’s going in the first round, it’s hard to compare and contrast so many. One guy who has flown under the radar massively is Riley Knight from Woodville-West Torrens. He played at the Under 18s Championships and has been ultra-impressive in the SANFL. He’s a good kick of the footy and wins plenty of it. The fact he has great endurance just makes him solid across the athletic and skill bases. While he has a few question marks over his hurt factor, Knight has the potential to become a very dangerous player in the future with the right development. Could be one to watch in the third round or beyond.

#4 – Matt Crouch (North Ballarat Rebels) -> Ben Cavarra (Eastern Ranges)

After his brother was drafted to Adelaide in the mini-draft, Crouch became one of the most talked about draftees in the 2013 draft crop. He has impeccable vision but lacks damaging footskills and doesn’t have a huge athletic base. One player who could go late due to his height and continually being overlooked by recruiters such as his omission from the draft combine is Eastern Ranges’ captain Ben Cavarra. He finds the footy with ease and relentlessly urges his team on regardless of the game situation. He wins the hard ball and while he can tend to rush his kicks a fair bit, he racks up clearances like there’s no tomorrow. Very similar to Matt Priddis in the way he goes about it and could be fantastic value as a late pick.

#5 – Marcus Bontempelli (Northern Knights) -> Lewis Fitzgerald (Oakleigh Chargers)/Jonothon Marsh (East Fremantle)

The last player type that is likely to go inside the top ten is the tall midfielder that is Marcus Bontempelli. Bontempelli is a hard player to compare because he plays the tall forward role intermittingly with the wingman role. There are two players that are similar if you look at his individual roles. In terms of midfield, Lewis Fitzgerald is that tall midfielder who has a raking kick and has potential to do damage around the field. He is quite athletic and knows how to find the football too which is always handy in that position. If you want Bontempelli for his forward aspects, then perhaps West Australian Jonothon Marsh might be the guy you’re after. He’s so hard to place because on potential he’s one of the highest in the draft, but on current ability he is about a third round pick. No doubt a recruiter will pounce early in the second round but if he slides, Marsh could be one to grab if he’s still there at your club’s third rounder.

Eastern Ranges storm to 2013 TAC Cup premiership

Photo: Evette Johnson

The TAC Cup Grand Final in 2012 was one of the great grand finals to ever be played in the premier under 18 competition, with Oakleigh prevailing over Gippsland by just the solitary point in ‘golden point’ extra time. The 2013 grand final was built up to be another close contest, with both the Eastern Ranges and Dandenong Stingrays in good form. Unfortunately by halftime the Eastern Ranges already had one hand firmly on the premiership cup, and by the final siren it was a trouncing, with the Eastern Ranges kicking 10 last quarter goals to stride to a 112 point grand final thumping, 24.8.152 to 5.10.40 over the Stingrays.

It all fell perfectly into place for Eastern leading up to the grand final, with star forward and probable number one draft pick Tom Boyd being included in team for his first game in almost three months after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the National Championships. Eastern also were able to regain young gun Mitch Honeychurch, who was a welcome inclusion into the side who missed the upset against Geelong Falcons in the preliminary final a week earlier.

Michael Apeness was able to open the account for the Ranges with a goal after a strong contested mark, and it would set the standard for the morning as the Dandenong defenders struggled to contain the three big forwards in Michael Apeness, Tom Boyd and star under-ager Christian Petracca, who helped contribute to the Ranges 16-point lead at the first break. Tom Boyd started off as if he hadn’t missed a game to date, kicking three goals in the first quarter, and captain Ben Cavarra was also prominent with 10 first quarter possessions through the midfield.

The second quarter saw the Eastern Ranges really put the Stingrays to the sword, and were able to beat Dandenong all over the ground, most notably shutting down prominent Dandenong ball winners Billy Hartung and Zac Jones, which slowed the Stingrays offence and movement out of their back half. The Ranges kicked six goals straight to just three Dandenong behinds. Daniel Welsh, the speedy Eastern midfielder was the star of the quarter, kicking three goals, and helping the Eastern Ranges to extend the lead to 49 points by halftime, with Cavarra continuing to get the ball, with 18 first half possessions.

Dandenong couldn’t wait to hear the halftime siren. Halftime gave them a chance to go downstairs, regroup and think about how they could chip away at the 49-point deficit, but Eastern had other ideas. Within the two minutes, after some good pressure from the Stingrays, the Ranges quickly moved the ball from end to end, and Mitch Honeychurch finished off with a classy goal to extend the lead to 55 points. Ben Cavarra continued to get the ball at will, reaching 23 disposals late into the third quarter. Dandenong just couldn’t keep up with the pressure and skills of the Ranges, with the Stingrays giving the ball up on countless occasions, including inside their defensive 50 and the Ranges pounced on these mistakes, using them to build a big 64 point three quarter time lead, holding the Stingrays to a lowly three goals for the game.

By the start of the fourth quarter, Dandenong had all but conceded that they were going to lose the grand final, but Eastern decided to not take the foot off the pedal in the last quarter and within the first minute, Mitch Keedle put the lead out to 70 points with his first major and it was all one-way traffic from then on. The Eastern Ranges piled the goals against the normally stingy Stingrays defense. They smashed Dandenong, kicking 10 goals to two in the last quarter to run away with a huge 112-point victory.

The Eastern Ranges defense held the Stingrays to just five goals for the game, an outstanding effort. With 13 individual goal kickers for the match, the Eastern Ranges deserved the win and were the much better side on the day. Afterthree goals in the first quarter, Tom Boyd finished with only four goals, but created countless contests that lead to opportunities for his teammates. After Daniel Caprion was switched to the big forward, he did well to hold him to just one goal after quarter time, earning best on ground honours for the Stingrays. For the Eastern Ranges, to compliment Boyd’s four-goal haul, Honeychurch, Traynor and Welsh all kicked three goals, with Apeness and Petracca two each, and Keedle, O”Sullivan, Gibson, Walker, Hannon, Crowe and Evans the single goal kickers. The best on ground medal was awarded to Eastern captain Ben Cavarra, who finished with 30 possessions as he tore apart the midfield with his dash. The best on ground medal added to Cavarra’s outstanding season, after he picked up the Morrish Medal for the league best and fairest, tying with three other winners.

The Ranges played almost the perfect game on Saturday, and they showed how skillful their talented list really was. Although the season is over, the excitement leading up to the draft awaits, with the Ranges having several players in contention to be added to an AFL list come November. Congratulations to the Eastern Ranges on a fantastic season, and good luck to all players in contention for the 2013 NAB AFL Draft.

Eastern Ranges celebrate huge premiership win

Photo: Evette Johnson

Eastern Ranges were announced the premiers not long after 1:00 pm on Sunday afternoon. For Eastern’s coach Darren Bewick and the team who had slaved away for just under 12 months (more for some), they had finally earned the right to celebrate. It would be ironic that the largest margin of the season would come in what was supposed to be the toughest contest. The final margin was a whopping 112 points in a one-sided blitz that saw Eastern pile on the goals after quarter time and were devastatingly clinical.

Led by captain Ben Cavarra who won the medal for best on ground, Eastern Ranges never looked like losing after opening up an eight goal half time lead. At the same time they had reduced Dandenong to a measly 1.7.13 at the half, of which may have been even less had Clayton McCartney not recovered from kicking it into the man on the mark and still kicking the only goal of the half.

Along with Cavarra, Jordan Walker and Connor O’Sullivan were impressive while Tom Boyd had 17 sets of recruiters wondering if there was a way to trade for that number one pick. Eastern Ranges played the best match they had played all season and ran riot over the Stingrays who looked a shadow of the team that had their opposition’s measure just three weeks ago.

With Boyd and Mitch Honeychurch returning from injury, there were question marks over their fitness, but both finished with multiple goals and between them, they outscored the Stingrays. Cavarra was clearly the man of the match with 30 disposals, 19 handball receives, two marks and three tackles. Great players stand up when the game is in the balance and Cavarra had 19 first half disposals.

Unfortunately for the neutral portion of the crowd, the heat had gone out of the game as early as the second quarter with Eastern Ranges beating them all over the ground. Many feared the margin would exceed three figures and that’s exactly what happened. It was a battle of one team who were rolling down the hill to victory against a side that had lost all hope by half time. When it looked like it couldn’t get any uglier, the game found a way. Eastern Ranges had 13 individual goal scorers with players who had spent time in defence such as Sam Gibson and Jordan Walker getting on the scoresheet.

It’s hard to find many positives for Dandenong. The Stingrays were blown out of the water after quarter time and while the likes of Billy Hartung, Daniel Capiron and James Harmes could hold their heads high, it was not a match that many Stingrays would be proud of. After a tense opening stanza where Clayton McCartney goaled to keep them alive, it was all Eastern Ranges. They didn’t goal until Billy Hartung strung two goals in a row together in the third as the Stingrays pushed the goal sneak forward in a bid to regain some life in the match. It was only a brief murmur as Eastern Ranges went on to continue to hammer them into the ground. It was a dirty day for the Stingrays, but for Eastern Ranges, it will be the most memorable day in their football lives until they can reach the penultimate prize in the AFL.

Eastern Ranges 24.8 (152) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 5.10 (40)

Eastern Ranges goals: Boyd (4), Honeychurch (3), Welsh (3), Traynor (3), Apeness (2), Petracca (2), Keedle, O’Sullivan, Gibson, Walker, Hannon, Crowe, Evans.
Dandenong Stingrays goals: Hartung (2), McCartney, Scott, Rennie.
Eastern Ranges best: Cavarra, Welsh, O’Sullivan, Walker, Fisher, Bond
Dandenong Stingrays best: Capiron, Hartung, Gawley, Bastinac, Kempster, Wilson

2013 Draft Profile: Michael Gibbons

Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers)

Height: 175 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player comparison: Ben McGlynn/Matthew Boyd
Strengths: Tackling pressure, ball winning ability, influence
Weaknesses: Disposal

You have to be a very good footballer to get drafted if you are less than 180 cm tall. Even more so if you stand at just 175 cm. Michael Gibbons is just that, a very good footballer. He is a ball magnet who loves to get his hands dirty and get this own ball and is also quite a capable small forward. He has been a standout for the Murray Bushrangers this year, averaging 26.4 disposals this year and being the main ball winner for his side.

Gibbons is small but it doesn’t stop him from racking up possessions. He leads his team for disposals and also lead his state for possessions in the Champs with 130 which ranked him second overall. Despite getting a lot of the ball Gibbons doesn’t always use it effectively, with a very poor kicking efficiency of 50 per cent. This is mainly due to poor decision making and a tendency to float the kicks up to his targets off a couple of steps rather than punching them lower with more purpose. Those higher kicks may come off this year when he has big Max King to kick to in his forward half but they won’t cut the mustard at AFL level.

Gibbons is very slippery and difficult to tackle. He has a strong core and strong legs which help him to hold his ground in tackles. He doesn’t panic when being tackled and usually frees his arms and fires out a handpass. His low centre of gravity certainly helps him when the ball is in dispute, often winning ground balls against taller opponents and rarely going to ground.

At 175 cm Gibbons needs to have more strings to his bow than just being able to get a lot of the ball so he has worked hard on his ability to go forward and its starting to bring results. Gibbons kicked just three goals in the first five TAC Cup games of the year but has kicked seven in his last four games including two games where he kicked multiple goals. His tackling pressure is fantastic and he has shown a lot of potential as a defensive forward which is where I see him starting off at AFL level. He averages almost five tackles per game and never gives his opponent any space, harassing them and chasing them so that defenders can’t waltz out of the backline uncontested. Gibbons is never out of the game and even when he is manning the mark he tries to put pressure on by dancing around and putting his opponent off. Its these little things that catch your eye and impress you because many players are unwilling to do them.

During the championships Gibbons was a star for NSW/ACT and he can count himself extremely unlucky to have missed out on All Australian selection. Gibbons ranked second overall for disposals (130), fifth for contested possessions (47), second for uncontested possessions (83), sixth for clearances (23), eighth for inside 50s (17) and first for tackles (36). His performances in the Champs were superb and he made it difficult for recruiters to ignore him, particularly GWS who have first crack at him as a zone selection similar to how they recruited Zac Williams last year.

As well as he has performed this year, Gibbons is still not looked at as a certainty to be selected. Most of this comes back to his height and in a draft littered with small talents like Lewis Taylor and Mitch Honeychurch, it may be the difference between Gibbons going in the main draft and being rookied. He certainly has the talent to make it but needs to have a strong finish to the season, particularly if the Bushrangers make the finals, to stamp himself as a sure thing come draft day.

Gibbons was selected at Pick 71 in the Bound For Glory News Phantom Draft by Geelong. This was to build on their midfield depth as their midfield stars are close to retirement and go into the midfield and forward rotations with the likes of Allen Christensen, Mitch Duncan and Matthew Stokes. While his limitations are well noted, Gibbons has plenty of potential and is one to watch later in the draft.

Mid-year reviews: Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights, Calder Cannons – Friday

Eastern Ranges
Ladder position: 3rd
Win-Loss ratio: 9-4

Season so far:
Four weeks ago the Ranges did what no team had been able to do before them. They defeated the ladder leaders and best team in the TAC Cup, the Geelong Falcons. But they didn’t just beat them; they thumped them to the tune of 108 points without two of their best players in Tom Boyd and Ben Cavarra. Since that infamous victory the Ranges have struggled. They just pipped middle of the road Dandenong Stingrays by ten points and copped a 105 point hiding from the Western Jets. Eastern Ranges has been a side that have impressed this season but since Tom Boyd’s injury and loss of players to Vic Metro duties, they have struggled against similar strength sides. While they have maintained a top four position, they have been vulnerable at times. With Boyd coming back over the next fortnight, Eastern Ranges should expect to finish top two and secure a home final and double chance

Top prospect: Tom Boyd
Tom Boyd has been the dominant key forward this season and has kicked 23 goals from only five games. Boyd is incredibly mobile for a 199cm key forward and is a terrific striker of the footy when kicking for goal. He is a strong mark on the lead who has amassed an impressive 41 marks at an average of just over eight a game this season. He kicked six goals in game one of the Under 18 Champs for Vic Metro. Boyd is likely to go number one in the draft this year, and won’t slide past pick three at the latest.

Dark horse: Mitchell Honeychurch
After being selected in the Vic Metro side Honeychurch has taken his game to another level. He averages only around 15 disposals in the TAC Cup but collected 33 disposals against West Australia, 23 disposals against Vic Country and was among Vic Metro’s best against Queensland. He is a hard running midfielder who kicks goals and would suit any AFL club needing  a Dale Thomas type player.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
The Ranges need to find that form the saw them dismantle the Falcons without their best players, to stay in the top four. Crunch matches against currently second placed Gippsland Power and the third placed Murray Bushrangers soon follow which will give a good indication as to where the Ranges are at.

Ladder prediction: 4th


Northern Knights
Ladder position: 6th
Win-Loss ratio: 6-6-1

Season so far:
The Knights have been competitive each week apart from a smashing at the hand of the Falcons, a scenario most teams are familiar with. They currently sit in eighth position on the ladder and that’s a fair reflection on their season which has seen them win the matches they have been expected to.  Their six and a half wins recorded this season is already a considerable improvement on their paltry three wins last season.

Top prospect: Ben Lennon
Since collecting 20 touches and kicking two goals in his one game with the Knights, Lennon has gone from strength to strength. The versatile Lennon kicked four goals in Vic Metro’s win over WA and presented and marked well in Metro’s other games. A safe bet for any side that drafts him.

Dark horse: Jake Kalanj
Kalanj has been solid for the Knights and has averaged a good number of possessions throughout the season. Although it’s his tackling and marking abilities that will likely attract the interest of AFL clubs. BFGN Reporter Jourdan Canil likened Kalanj playing style to Jimmy Bartel‘s in his profile on him. Thus Kalanj will likely develop into a team and fan favourite.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
The Knights may play finals but very few teams above them would be fearful of playing them until they take a significant scalp.  The Knights have a tough upcoming month which sees them play three of the current top four sides in the Falcons, Power and Bushrangers. Beat one of those sides and teams may have to start taking notice of the Knights.

Ladder predictions: 9th


Calder Cannons
Ladder position: 9th
Win-Loss ratio: 6-7

Season so far:
The Cannons sit ninth on the ladder and don’t look to have improved much from last year. They sit two games outside the top four and their season hasn’t hit any great heights; as they haven’t defeated any of the top teams; nor has it hit any particular lows as they haven’t been heavily beaten thus far. Their greatest losing margin this season is only 51 points which is noteworthy as many teams, even good teams, have suffered three figure loses.

Top prospect: Matthew Merlo
18 year old Matthew Merlo has averaged 26 possessions in his seven games this season. The hard working midfielder averages just fewer than five marks a game. Though he was overlooked for the Under 18 Championships his possession numbers can’t be ignored.

Dark horse: Aaron Christensen
Although Christensen averages fewer than 14 touches a game he can still do some damage and turn a game. This was evident In the Cannon’s win last week against the Chargers where he kicked two goals and helped the Cannons control the game. He has good tackle numbers for the season but needs to find more of the ball if he wants to find an AFL club.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
This week the Cannons play the fourth placed Bushrangers in a must win game if they want to stay in the eight and feature in the finals. A win could see them jump to fifth if results fall their way and with the fourth best precentage in the competition a top four finish isn’t out of the question. Although they have a tough second half of season with matches against the current top  sides the Bushies, Jets, Power, Falcons and Ranges and Dragons who are all top eight teams at this stage.

Ladder prediction: 8th


Under 18s Power Rankings July 12th: Key forwards

The season is at the midway point and we are starting to get an idea about who is likely to be drafted this year. We’ve seen a lot of good performances this year, although how do you decide what a good performance is? It is very subjective and difficult to compare a big five goal game from Tom Boyd to a 30 possession game from Lewis Taylor and a 15 possession game from Dom Sheed in the WAFL seniors. The idea of these rankings are to put all individual games on a scale to make it easier to compare the potential draftees.

In a similar way to Dreamteam and SuperCoach scores, a player’s statistics from each match are analysed and the players gain a point score due to a formula devised by myself.  Points are gained for qualities that recruiters look for in a player, eg. contested marking, effective kicking and tackles gain higher points than ineffective possessions so players that burn the ball are negatively affected. Senior matches and reserve grade matches are weighted to compensate for the higher standard of football, so players like Dom Sheed and Trent Dumont are not punished for having a weaker statistical output in a more difficult competition. Over the course of the season the scores have been compiled and an average score for each player is noted and they have been sorted in order of average. Please note that some players will have inflated averages due to playing less games (school football and Under 18 Championships games are not included at the moment as the AFL have not released the full set of statistics for them).

Mid season rankings:
1. Dayle Garlett (Swan Districts) – Avg 133.4
2. Riley Knight (Woodville-West Torrens)- Avg 128
3. Matt Crouch (North Ballarat Rebels)- Avg 126
4. James Tsitas (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 125.4
5. Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges)- Avg 123.6
6. Lewis Taylor (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 119.2
7. Josh Kelly (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 115.5
8. Tom Langdon (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 115.3
9. Billy Hartung (Dandenong Stingrays)- Avg 113.7
10. James Battersby (Sturt)- Avg1 113.3
11. Josh Scott (Gippsland Power)- Avg 113.1
12. Nick Favretto (West Adelaide)- Avg 112.5
13. Ben Cavarra (Eastern Ranges)- Avg 109.3
14. Sam Heavyside (Bendigo Pioneers)- Avg 109.5
15. Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 108
16. Lachlan Cassidy (North Ballarat Rebels)- Avg 107.7
17. Mitch Harvey (North Adelaide)- Avg 105.5
18. Ben Sokol (South Fremantle)- Avg 105.5
19. Eli Templeton (Burnie)- Avg 105
20. Blake Acres (West Perth)- Avg 104.7
21. Zac Merrett (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 104
22. Peter Bampton (Norwood)- Avg 102.7*
23. David Iaccarino (Western Jets)- Avg 102.7
24. Kade Kolodjashnij (Launceston)- Avg 102
25. Christian Salem (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 102
26. Jacob Chisari (Bendigo Pioneers)- Avg 101.9
27. Dominic Sheed (Subiaco)- Avg 101.8
28. Luke McDonald (Werribee)- Avg 101.5
29. Darcy Lang (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 100.5
30. Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers)- Avg 97.2
31. Aiden Franetic (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 97
32. James Sicily (Western Jets)- Avg 96.7
33. Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 96.2
34. Darcy Hourigan (South Adelaide)- Avg 96
35. Bryden Squire (Murray Bushrangers)- Avg 95.4
36. Christian Petracca (Eastern Ranges)- Avg 95.4*
37. Alex Carr (Gippsland Power)- Avg 94.9
38. Merryck Buchanan (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 94.3
39. Louis Herbert (North Ballarat Rebels)- Avg 93.4
40. Matthew Merlo (Calder Cannons)- Avg 92.6
41. Hugh Goddard (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 91.8*
42. Nathan Freeman (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 91.5
43. Toby Nankervis (North Launceston)- Avg 91
44. Zac Webster (Glenorchy)- Avg 91
45. Isaac Conway (Aspley)- Avg 91
46. Brady Grey (Burnie)- Avg 91
47. Pat McCartin (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 91*
48. Matthew Haynes (Northern Knights)- Avg 90.8
49. Nick Robertson ( West Perth)- Avg 90.6
50. Nick Bourke (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 90.3

This week we will take a closer look at the top 10 tall and medium sized forwards in the Under 18s this year.

1. Tom Boyd- 199cm, 103kg, Eastern Ranges
Everybody has heard about the big unit from the Eastern Ranges. He loves to crush packs with his big frame and take big contested marks, averaging 3.6 per game. He is a super set shot at goal which has helped him to a mammoth tally of 23.13 from five games this season, as well as a couple of bags in the Under 18s Championships before an ankle injury put a halt to his season.

2. Josh Scott- 188cm, 80kg, Gippsland Power
Scott missed out on being drafted last year but has come back this year with a bang, kicking 47.22 this year. That unbelievable accuracy from Scott is due to a fantastic goal kicking technique. Despite his smaller size, Scott can take a good grab and can hold his own in a one on one contest, as shown by his 2.5 contested marks per game. Scott’s tackling pressure is quite good for a key forward and the Gippsland big man averaging 2.4 tackles per game.

3. Mitch Harvey- 195cm, 97kg, North Adelaide
Harvey has enjoyed a great season for North Adelaide, kicking 20 goals in just 4 matches. He has dropped a lot of weight this year and it has helped his footy enormously as he can now not only use his big frame to clunk marks, but can get out on the lead and use his acceleration and agility to run into the space. He has good vision for a key forward and doesn’t go for goals every time, despite playing mainly as a deep forward due to his lack of endurance. Harvey is surprisingly good below his knees for a big man, so when the ball goes to ground he can clean up after himself or use his physical presence to block for a roving forward.

4. Darcy Hourigan- 190cm, 92 kg, South Adelaide
Hourigan is a burly forward with a booming kick who has been crashing packs and making an impact for both South Australia and South Adelaide. Despite his big frame, it is his ability on the lead which is his stand out feature and as a result he ranks a little lower in these rankings due to taking more marks out on the lead than in a one on one contest. Hourigan has kicked just 11 goals from 4 matches in the SANFL reserves this year but kicked a bag of 5 in the Champs against Queensland and showed just how much of an impact he can make.

5. Luke Reynolds- 188cm, 86kg, Port Adelaide
Reynolds is an in between type of player. He isn’t really a tall forward but he isn’t a small either. He plays as a third tall for Port Adelaide in the SANFL , leading up the ground and taking a lot of marks up on the wing before hitting up targets in the forward 50 with precise kicking. On the lead he uses his athleticism to get separation with his man and takes a number of marks each match. Because of his role he doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to kick goals, only slotting two from a total of two reserve grade matches this year, but showed in the Under 18s Championships what he can do when played a little deeper.

6. Dallas Willsmore- 190cm, 81kg, North Ballarat Rebels
Wilsmore is a consistent performer, averaging 2 goals a game and 9.5 possesions per game. He takes marks and works hard up the wings. He has good athleticism for his size which allows him to work up the ground but he needs to find more of the ball to have more of an impact. His marking is good, averaging 1.5 contested marks per game and 4.75 marks in total.

7. Max Hayes- 191cm, 86kg, Sandringham Dragons
Hayes is a good user of the footy and can take a very good grab. He averages 13.8 possessions per game, which is good for a key forward but he can be prone to turnovers, affecting his ranking. Also affecting his ranking is his ability to go missing and not kick any goals some weeks which hurts his average. Hayes has kicked seven goals in five games, but has tallies of four, two and one with only two goalless matches. The key feature to Hayes’s game is his marking. He averages six marks per game and has eight contested marks in his five games, often out marking taller defenders in one on contests.

8. Cameron McCarthy- 195cm, 89kg, South Fremantle
McCarthy was having a very solid season for his colts team and for his state before a brutal lower leg injury ended his year. McCarthy has been averaging 12 possessions, five marks, and has kicked an accurate 20 goals and six behinds from eight matches. He likes to fly and can take a big contested mark and takes it at its highest point, making it difficult to spoil. His kicking technique is suspect looking but he has had no problems with accuracy so it must work for him.

9. Jydon Neagle- 184cm, 77kg, Murray Bushrangers
The nuggety forward from the Bushrangers is having a second crack at the draft this year after injuries curtailed his season last year. Neagle is smaller than most key forwards but has a big frame and is a very good mark, taking 11 contested marks from seven games and averaging 5.1 marks in total. He is very consistent and usually chimes in with two or three goals per game, helped out by his accurate goalkicking (15.9 for the season). Neagle is a confident player and backs himself to do the job which is a trait you want in a forward.

10. Jonothan Marsh-191cm, 89kg, East Fremantle
Marsh is a leading centre half forward but doesn’t play like your typical tall. He works up the ground in a similar way to Nick Riewoldt minus the marking ability, but uses his speed to turn his opponent and get back to the goals. Marking is not a strength of Marsh which is why he sits so low in these rankings, but he will go much higher on draft day. Marsh has kicked an inaccurate 10.17 this year from seven games which doesn’t help his ranking.

Vic Metro Under 18s Championships review

Vic Metro 15.10 (100) defeated Western Australia 12.9 (81)

Goals: Lennon (4), Boyd (3), Honeychurch (2), Maginness (2), Apeness, Curnow, Kennedy-Harris, Salem
Best: Honeychurch, McDonald, Kelly, Cavarra, McStay, Lennon, Apeness

Vic Metro traveled to Western Australia looking to win their third straight game of the Under 18s Championships. They started well, with key forward Tom Boyd booting three goals in ten minutes. But midway through the first quarter, Boyd went down with an ankle injury and didn’t return. Scans later showed that this injury would for him to miss the rest of the Championships. So with Boyd out, the other Metro forwards had to step up. Ben Lennon kicked four goals, and Mitch Honeychurch had 33 touches and two goals. The Metro midfield was just too strong for WA, with Luke McDonald and Josh Kelly having a huge impact on the game.

Vic Metro 8.7 (55) defeated by South Australia 8.10 (58)

Goals: Billings, Lennon, Bontempelli, Kelly McLaren, Honeychurch, Apeness, Hayes
Best: Kelly, Billings, Lennon, Honeychurch, Kennedy-Harris

Vic Metro and South Australia was billed as the biggest clash of the Under 18s Championships. Unfortunately with Metro missing Tom Boyd, it meant that Max Hayes had to stand up, something that didn’t happen. While Hayes has had an impressive year, he just couldn’t have a ‘Boyd-like’ influence on the contest and therefore the likes of Ben Lennon and Jack Billings stood up in the forward line. Mitch Honeychurch and Josh Kelly were also among the best, continually driving the ball inside 50 and creating options for the Metro forwards. With the likes of Tom Cutler and Mitch Keedle being late withdrawals, the side was left a little vunerable in defense and the three talls from South Australia ran rampant against a smaller Metro side.

Vic Metro 9.7 (61) defeated Vic Country 6.6 (42)

Goals: Billings (3), Apeness, Lennon, Honeychurch, Sicily, Walker, Bontempelli
Best: Honeychurch, Kennedy-Harris, McDonald, Billings, Kelly, Bontempelli

Vic Metro got one over their state rivals Vic Country in the final round of the Under 18s Championships. Jack Billings had an impressive first half, with 11 disposals and three goals to the main break. Ben Lennon and Michael Apeness were also dangerous in the Metro forward line, as they both created contests close to goal and hit the scoreboard. Mitch Honeychurch  continued his great form this Championships, as he racked up 23 touches and laid seven tackles; was one of the best for Metro again. Josh Kelly and Jay Kennedy-Harris also shone in the midfield.

Overall, Vic Metro finished second to winners South Australia, with a 4-1 record, with the three point loss to SA being the deciding game. Had Tom Boyd played that match, the result may have changed and Metro may have been celebrating a three-peat of carnival wins.



Tom Boyd

Tom Boyd is by far the most talked about player in this draft. At 198cm and 100kg, Boyd is the highest rated key forward since Nick Riewoldt graced the field as an 18 year old. It’s not surprising that Boyd was always going to be a key factor at the Under 18s Championships and was seen as the difference between Vic Metro and the rest. Unfortunately for Boyd and Metro, he lasted barely a quarter, injuring himself against Western Australia in the first match. He still booted three goals in the first quarter but an awkward landing saw his Championships come to an end before they’d barely started. He is a lock for a top three pick this year.

Josh Kelly

Josh Kelly is one of those elite ball users who can run through the middle and pinpoint a target up forward. Despite his slight build, Kelly has good evasion and vision which helps him weave his way through traffic and deliver lace out to the forwards. Prior to Champs, Kelly had played primarily APS football and had only been sighted twice at TAC Cup level. Against South Australia, Kelly stood up and stamped his authority on the game to almost get the Metro side home. They fell short despite his piecing passes to the likes of Jack Billings and Ben Lennon, but Kelly well and truly put his hand up as a top five pick.

Jack Billings

Jack Billings has been considered a star since he made his mark for the Under 16s. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder/forward has the talent to be a top ten pick but sides may elect to go with more complete midfielders. Despite his size, Billings is a fantastic mark overhead and a great kick for goal. He can play midfield but loomed a dangerous forward target alongside Ben Lennon in the Metro forward line. He would add so much class to any forward line with his neat skills and goal kicking prowess. Billings is a first round prospect who should go top ten, but may slip to a late first round depending on needs of the AFL clubs.

Ben Lennon

Ben Lennon is one of the best overhead marks for an Under 18s player and stepped up when he was called upon at the Under 18s Championships. Against South Australia, Lennon was marking everything in sight and ensuring his side stayed competitive. He’s strong around the core and can shake off tackles and more importantly play that third tall role so incredibly well. Like Billings, sides may prefer to go with a full midfielder, but anyone looking to add another dimension into their forward line couldn’t go too wrong with Lennon.

Christian Salem

Christian Salem is considered the ‘Rolls Royce’ of the TAC Cup competition. He is the best user by hand or foot and has great spacial awareness to find targets that many players wouldn’t have the nous to see. Salem is that outside midfielder who isn’t overly quick, but he has that ability to evade would-be tacklers. For sides keen on good ball use, Salem is one player that should be firmly on the radar of most sides. His main knock is his lack of finding the footy compared to other players (17 disposal average) but his disposal is incredibly damaging.

Mitch Honeychurch

Mitch Honeychurch is one guy who through injury early in the season was unsighted and almost became a ‘forgotten man’ as Eastern Ranges captain Ben Cavarra stood up in his absence. Since returning from injury, Honeychurch has reminded us of what kind of player he could be and really stamped his authority during the Championships. Good against Western Australia, Honeychurch was clearly in the top five players for Metro against South Australia. Playing in the midfield, Honeychurch used the ball cleanly and was able to deliver it to the Metro forwards to provide another midfield option beside Josh Kelly. His Champs form has undoubtedly shot him up the rankings and could well come into top 30 considerations.

Max Hayes

Max Hayes didn’t have the Under 18s Championships that he would have liked. After an impressive season with Sandringham thus far, Hayes couldn’t impact the games the way he would have liked. A goal after the siren to reduce the margin to three points was Hayes’ input against South Australia but he provides a strong target up forward to drag away a key defender. Missing Tom Boyd meant Hayes received the best defender, nullifying his impact somewhat. He’ll still be one to watch come draft time and should be drafted in the top 40, depending on how he goes for the rest of the season. Still in the top five key forwards this season.

Ben Cavarra

Ben Cavarra is likened to the underdog that everyone loves so much. He’s small and doesn’t have the best skill set in the world, but runs, chases and racks up important contested disposals. Cavarra has no trouble finding the football and he usually the one under a pack scooping it out to the classy outside runners. Despite his clear limitations, Cavarra has a lot to offer AFL clubs with his hard running and clearance ability. Captain of Eastern Ranges, Cavarra has a good head on his shoulders and oozes leadership. His impressive season and carnival should see him drafted somewhere in the first few rounds, a potential bargain for a side craving an inside midfielder.

Jay Kennedy-Harris

Jay Kennedy-Harris is that X-Factor that could be a high-risk, high-reward type player. By high-risk we’re not talking off-field, purely on-field as Kennedy-Harris is a superb individual who has led the Chargers magnificently this year. He has that game changing ability to tear opposition to shreds but his tank needs a lot of work which sees him play a majority of the game up forward. It also sees Kennedy-Harris sometimes go missing for a quarter after dominating for three. Almost single-handedly winning a game against the Bendigo Pioneers off his own boot, Kennedy-Harris could be a handy second round pick for a side with great development that can turn him into an elite player.

Nathan Freeman

Nathan Freeman is another player who stood up during the Under 18s Championships and could potentially push other players out for a top ten spot. Freeman is primarily a high half forward who runs through the midfield with great class. Freeman wins his own football and regularly hits the scoreboard. He is different from other midfielders in the draft as he kicks goals but can also move into the midfield and rack up possessions. His clearances and inside 50s are first class and you’d be struggling to find a team not read his name out on draft day in the first two rounds.

2013 Draft Profile: Daniel McStay

Daniel McStay (Eastern Ranges)

Height: 193 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Position: Defender/Midfielder
Player comparison: Tyson Goldsack (Better disposal)
Strengths: Athleticism, Disposal, Versatility
Weaknesses: Strength

Daniel McStay is a valuable prospect in the 2013 National Draft because unlike many players he has the ability to play as a key defender or a tall wingman, something very few others can do. While he’s mostly found his home in defence for Vic Metro, McStay was able to show off his midfield ability during a few games when he wasn’t required for a key role. Given Eastern Ranges have such a strong team with plenty of tall timber, McStay has the rare chance to use his athleticism and height to provide plenty of run to create plays up the field.

He’s often not talked about in the same breath as other key position players because while he has the height, he doesn’t have the strength of others like Darcy Gardiner or Michael Apeness. What McStay offers to a club is that ability to break the lines and move into the midfield which is rare for a 193cm player. He’s also a hard player to find a comparison with because very few eligible key defenders can move into the midfield. A few years ago Andy Otten showed glimpses of being able to play midfield before injury struck while others such as Tyson Goldsack have made moves onto the wing. I have decided on Goldsack in terms of style, but McStay has much better disposal efficiency. While Goldsack is far from a ball butcher, McStay is one of the better kicks in the TAC Cup.

Daniel McStay is in the top ten for disposal efficiency and also averages just under six marks a game and is top five in contested marks for the TAC Cup. Those ahead of him are Tom Boyd, Hugh Goddard, Michael Apeness and Patrick McCartin. All members of their respective Victorian sides, yet McStay has more than held his own. His ability to average over 15 disposals a game also ranks high for a key defender who pinch hits in the midfield.

McStay is one of those guys you want the ball in his hands. He has solid endurance and decent speed for a guy of his height and a nice solid kick to hit targets up the field. While he is only 83kg, McStay has the height of 193cm which should see him become a really solid key position defender for the future. The only fear with weight gain is whether he can maintain his athleticism. McStay could become a perfect match up for the Cloke’s and Riewoldt’s who just run their opponents into the ground. Obviously he would be monstered at first, but after a season in the gym, McStay could really develop into a strong defender and hold his own against the beast forwards.

With the new sub rules and impending interchange cap, clubs are ultra keen on discovering players that can play multiple positions. While McStay should settle into a key defensive post, it would be of great advantage for a club to send a player of McStay’s ilk into the midfield. Whether that would be to give a winger a breather or use his flexibility against teams with smaller forward lines where he would not be needed down back.

With his elite disposal efficiency and strong marking ability, McStay has all the characteristics to become a star player. Teams looking for flexible defenders such as Collingwood, Geelong, Hawthorn or Brisbane may take a look at McStay who is a dark horse in the draft as it sits. He could very well go anywhere from second round to fourth round depending on who needs his skill set, but one thing’s for sure, McStay has too many valuable qualities and characteristics for a club not to take a chance on him.


TAC Cup Statistics:

Games: 7Goals: 6


Disposals: 15.47
Marks: 5.86
Tackles: 2.14
Disposal Efficiency: 79.12%
DT Points: 72.71

Phantom Draft June edition: Jourdan Canil

One of our Rising Star team, Jourdan Canil has bravely stuck his neck out and created a phantom draft for the first four rounds. It should be noted that plenty can change over the next few months and with the great diversity of our writers, much like the public, everyone has a different opinion. Jourdan has been the first one to put his hand up and attempt one of the hardest things to do five months from the draft. The aim is to give readers an insight into who will be available around the picks that your club has. It should also be noted that Adelaide will not have the picks designated to them, however Jourdan has used Adelaide in his phantom draft so it gives an extra pick for the first two rounds and therefore an extra player can be included.

Over the next four days, we’ll be publishing it round by round starting with the first round. So enjoy getting familiar with some of the names that will grace the AFL field in 2014.

1. GWS – James Aish (SA – Mid)
183 cm 72 kgs
Player Comparison: Jimmy Bartel
Aish mightn’t be the clear cut number one this year, but he is the most well rounded of the midfield group. He and Christian Salem are the two this year that have that Scott Pendlebury trait of seeming to make the opposition slow down around them so they have time and space to dispose of the ball cleanly. Aish is a fantastic user of the footy and can play both inside and out. Never mind his size, this year’s crop is full of smaller midfielders. Aish is classy with and without the ball. His ability to evade tackles is great for someone so light. His marking is pretty good, but it will probably get exposed at AFL level.

2. Melbourne – Luke Dunstan (SA –Mid/Fwd)
Woodville-West Torrens
184 cm 82 kgs
Player Comparison: Jobe Watson
Some have compared him to Dustin Martin, but I think Dunstan will be less explosive and more consistent. Dunstan is a fantastic inside midfielder who could easily rack up 10+ clearances a game. Great foots kills and a decent user by hand. He’s the kind of midfielder who can go forward and not just provide a target, but truly dominate.  Could see Dunstan slip to around 5 depending on the draft order, but a player of his calibre shouldn’t go any lower than that.

3. Western Bulldogs – Thomas Boyd (VIC – KPF)
Eastern Ranges
198 cm 100 kgs
Player Comparison: Taylor Walker
Doggies should get their wish seeing as the Dees and Giants have great KPF stocks. Boyd is simply exceptional. He takes the ball at the highest point and can still win an aerial contest even when he’s getting double and triple teamed. Boyd is a very accurate set shot, decent field kick and quick enough to beat defenders on the lead. He is fantastic below the knees for a player as big as he is. He is beatable though. In round one this year, Hugh Beasley from Oakleigh just niggled and niggled at him and just played tight against him one out. Boyd struggled for the first half, with his first goal being a cherry pick. He ended up with four, eventually kicking two monster set shots. The thing is, he could very well be like Barry Hall. He could snap and lose focus, or he could become motivated and physical in the right way.

4. St Kilda – Josh Kelly (VIC – Mid)
Sandringham Dragons
181 cm 71kgs
Player Comparison: Andrew  Gaff
Kelly is an elite endurance runner, which should see him adapt to AFL well, even with his light frame. He’s exclusively an outside player, but due to his ability to get to every contest, he can rack up the possessions. In the times I’ve seen Kelly play, he hasn’t impressed me enough to really deserve the number four position. His kicking wasn’t as amazing as it was hyped to be but perhaps it was just a quiet day. He is the ideal outside, classy player for the Saints and I would be surprised if they passed on him. Should see him start out as that Andrew Gaff wing type player.

5. Gold Coast – Jack Billings (VIC – Fwd/Mid)
Oakleigh Chargers
182 cm 73kgs
Player Comparison: Dustin Martin
For me, Billings is under rated. He has that physicality in his tackling, breaking tackles and marking that you see in a seasoned AFL player like Dustin Martin or Adam Goodes. He is dual sided and my word he is silky on both feet. He can kick it more than 50 metres with precision like Jack Macrae. His marking is the real highlight of his game. He takes it at the highest point and clunks them even when he gets hacked. Prefer to see him play as a leading high high half forward so he can set up the play as well as hit the scoreboard.

6. Brisbane – Dominic Sheed (WA – Mid)
184 cm 79 kgs
Player Comparison: Chris Judd
For me, Sheed is the perfect replacement for Polec who is rumoured to be on the way out. Sheed is the real quality over quantity guy, which should really set up the Brisbane midfield with Mayes and Rich. Whilst not of the Billings/ McDonald kicking calibre, Sheed is probably an 8.5/10 in terms of footskills and is nifty by hand. He is a great decision maker and solid athletically. Not overly quick, but shouldn’t be exposed at AFL level because he knows his limitations and where to run.

7. Port Adelaide – Trent Dumont (SA – Mid)
184cm 85kgs
Player Comparison: Ollie Wines
No doubt Port will seriously consider Dumont with their first pick. The other SA boys in Scharenberg and Robertson could also be around the mark at this point, but considering the immediate success they’ve had with Wines, Dumont should please them. A really strong inside ball winner who already has an AFL body. His skills and pace aren’t anything to write home about, but they will be developed at AFL level. Chuck him in the midfield with Wines and Boak and you have three excellent clearance players.

8. North Melbourne – Luke McDonald (VIC – UTIL – NM F/S)
Werribee Tigers
187 cm 77 kgs
Player Comparison: Shannon Hurn
Plenty has been said about McDonald’s kicking, and it’s true. He could nail a target from 60m away easily. McDonald is a great size, but unfortunately lacks that defensive talent at this point. Hopefully playing in the VFL should allow him to become more accountable in the back half especially against big bodied opponents. McDonald has incredible pace and should form a formidable half back duo with Shaun Atley. North fans have their playmaker. The question is whether he can break forward tags. Against NSW/ACT he had 24 touches but nothing that made him standout whatsoever. I haven’t been as impressed with him as others have, but nonetheless he’ll go to the Roos with their first pick.

9. Adelaide*- Matt Crouch (VIC – Mid)
North Ballarat Rebels
182 cm 75kgs
Player Comparison: Joel Selwood
Crouch’s draft position shouldn’t be too affected by his recent injury. He managed to rack up 32 disposals even with an injured hand so clearly he doesn’t need to be at 100% health wise to dominate. He is the kind of player a coach will absolutely love and while he might have been an Adelaide Crow, the Kurt Tippett saga may rob them of him. Unlike Brad, Matt is more of an inside midfielder. He tackles extremely hard and is at the bottom of every pack. He can rack up the ball and knows how to use it, even though you wouldn’t say his kicking and handballing are highlights. While he’s not the athlete that Brad is, he can still punch out some solid numbers.

10. Carlton – Christian Salem (VIC – Mid)
Sandringham Dragons
182 cm 83 kgs
Player Comparison: Scott Pendlebury
Considered Cameron Conlon here but I think his injury might allow him to slip a little. Looks like a human wrecking ball but is far from it. Whilst Salem can win the inside ball with his tenacity and strength, but the real highlight of his game is his rare ability to find time and space when it shouldn’t be there. In his first TAC Cup game this season, Salem dominated the first half to the point where I literally couldn’t take notes on any other player because he was the only one catching my eye. In heavy traffic, he manages to evade a tackle and spot up a player perfectly, even with immense pressure around him. Salem can hit the scoreboard too, although his game isn’t suited to the forward line. His outside skills are fantastic and he is a fantastic tackler. To be quite honest, I think he is a better player than Josh Kelly, but Kelly is a superior athlete. Against New South Wales/ACT, Salem was played in the forward pocket and kicked three goals. Yet when he moved up the field, he just played with such composure and measured his kicks so well.

11. Richmond – Marcus Bontempelli (VIC – Mid)
Northern Knights
191 cm 83 kgs
Player Comparison: Luke Hodge/ David Myers
Plenty of people rate Bontempelli as extremely high quality. I don’t quite feel as though he is as skilful as some of the smaller midfielders, but his size should help him justify his position at 11. I rate him similarly to Luke Hodge based on two aspects of his game. The 100m stretch- Bontempelli can run for 40 metres then roost it 60 metres. Secondly, he reads the play so well and is an intelligent footballer. With his sort of size, he could play as a third tall. But I feel he is a dead ringer David Myers, in that he plays very similarly, yet he is much better suited as that midfield type rather than a small key position player. Bontempelli has the skills to be a great outside player and his size allows him to win clearances at TAC Cup level. Whether he can translate his inside game at AFL level remains to be seen.

12. West Coast – Nicholas Robertson (WA – Mid)
West Perth
187 cm 79kgs
Player Comparison: Brent Stanton
Considered Scharenberg at this pick purely because he’d be free with Waters and Hurn copping forward tags.  Robertson is a hard two way running outside midfielder. Like Stanton, his skills aren’t sublime but they are pretty good. You know with Robertson that he will try his best to get to every contest and based on that, he can get plenty of the ball. He’s a tall midfielder which is all the rage. Wouldn’t mind seeing him try and become a better mark and inside player, but I think if he puts on too much size he’ll lose that running capacity. Double edged sword, really.

13. Essendon – Ben Lennon (VIC – Mid/Fwd)
Northern Knights
187 cm 79kgs
Player Comparison: Ryan O’Keefe
The thing with Lennon is that he is great at everything and can play everywhere. Whilst that versatility is great, we are yet to see him settle down and truly dominate. Lennon for me, is best suited as the Ryan O’Keefe type- can play as a marking forward or an inside ball winner who can also kick well. I love Lennon’s kicking ability, even though it’s probably not in the upper echelon of this draft class. Lennon isn’t renowned for being at the bottom of a pack, but he can do it if needed. His size makes him a good link up marking target. He has some serious pace and is a great all-rounder. Makes him one of the safer ‘best available’ options.

14. Fremantle – Cameron Conlon (VIC – KPF/Ruck)
Northern Knights
198 cm 87 kgs
Player Comparison: Kurt Tippett
Something about Conlon that I really like, although at the same time I have question marks over his game. Feel he could turn out to be a Tyrone Vickery type player. Conlon is a great contested grab.  Obviously with him being six to eight centimeters taller than most key backs, he can do that quite easily. He takes the ball close to the highest point and reads kicks into the 50 well. He’s a good kick at goal from the set shot. Not overly great below the knees so he’s not the type that would kick snaps from his own crumbs. Can play in the ruck, but he’s more of that Joe Daniher type key forward. He’s a perfect fit for Freo.

15. Collingwood – Matt Scharenberg (SA – Def/Mid)
189cm 88kgs
Player Comparison: Harry O’Brien
I don’t rate that athletic third tall as much as others do, which is why I have Scharenberg at 15. Scharenberg is the running half back who reads the play well and takes intercept marks. His drive from the half back is great and his disposal is pretty decent so he can set up the play. If he had a lethal kick then I think he’d demand a top ten spot. Or if he could develop into a genuine tall outside midfielder then he’d also be right up there. Plenty of great SA talents this year, so hopefully he can dominate at champs and be the third name in that list of good SA players rather than fourth or fifth.

16. Sydney – Dwayne Wilson (SA – Mid)
177cm 72kgs
Player Comparison: Steven Motlop
More of a pure outside midfielder than Steven Motlop, but the damaging kick and raw pace are similar. He’s got a great penetrating kick and is a more accurate shot on goals than Motlop. Could see him used on a wing more often than as a half forward, but it really depends on where he goes. Obviously needs to put on some more size but that should come in time. Worst case scenario he could become a Leroy Jetta type- doesn’t get a lot of the ball but he is extremely quick, applies forward pressure and kicks goals.

17. Hawthorn – James Tsitas (VIC – Mid)
Geelong Falcons
180cm 76 kgs
Player comparison: Brett Deledio
Tsitas is quick and is a quality endurance athlete. I’d say he’s the third best athletic gifted and skilful midfielder ihttp://www.boundforglorynews.com.au/wp-admin/post-new.phpn this draft behind Kelly and Freeman. Tsitas is a great user of the footy, although he’s not a huge kick. Tsitas can rack up the ball as he pleases, notching up 32 against Tasmania. He’s an ideal small link up player who can give a side plenty of drive. His size isn’t too much of a knock, but the quality of midfielders in this draft could see him go from anywhere between 15-25.

18. Geelong – Darcy Gardiner (VIC – KPD)
Geelong Falcons
192 cm 84 kgs
Player Comparison: Ted Richards
The best key defender in the draft. Could go forward if he needs to, but the cats have pretty solid key forwards developing. Gardiner is a great, strong mark and reads the play quite well. He is decent by foot, but probably nothing to write home about. I doubt he’ll become an attacking key back, but he should be able to become that defensive general and is reliable enough to be a link up target.


Tomorrow: Round 2