Tag: brayden cook

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft standouts: Gold Coast and Adelaide

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the second piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 15th and 16th placed teams in Gold Coast and Adelaide.

GOLD COAST:

#7 Elijah Hollands

PS: Alex Davies*
PS: Joel Jeffrey*
PS: Aiden Fyfe*
PS: Rhys Nicholls*

The Gold Coast did not blood any 2020 draftees until Joel Jeffrey made his debut in Round 20 on the back of a nine-goal effort in the VFL against Aspley the previous week. Jeffrey played the last four games of the season and kicked 2.4. He showed in the VFL that he can play at either end of the ground, and in his few AFL games, his athleticism and versatility were a highlight, something that could make him a handy asset for the Suns.

Alex Davies played in the final round of the season after averaging 15.5 disposals and 5.0 tackles in 11 games of VFL action. The inside midfielder attended 14 of 30 centre bounces and had 16 disposals, 14 contested possessions and six tackles (including two inside forward 50) in an impressive debut match. He is 191 centimetres tall with good agility, and he has already shown glimpses in his first match that he can win the footy on both the inside and outside and evade opponents, he also took a strong contested mark in the final quarter.

The Suns’ first pick in the 2020 National Draft, Elijah Hollands, did not make his AFL debut this season, instead he was eased back through the VFL after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury suffered prior to being drafted. He played four games and recorded 19 disposals in his most recent outing against Aspley. He has a lot of potential as a classy midfielder/forward and will be one to watch in 2022.

Aiden Fyfe and Rhys Nicholls joined Hollands in the Suns’ VFL team this season, playing eight and five games each. Both players like to run off half-back or play on the wing and use their skills moving forward. Fyfe averaged 16.4 disposals and 5.1 marks, while Nicholls averaged 11.2 disposals and 3.0 marks per game.

 

ADELAIDE:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe
#11 Luke Pedlar
#25 Brayden Cook
#28 Sam Berry
#38 James Rowe

R: Tariek Newchurch
R: James Borlase

Adelaide climbed three spots on the ladder this year following last season’s wooden spoon, and with the team improvement came the development of some promising young talents including Riley Thilthorpe, Sam Berry and James Rowe.

Thilthorpe, the second pick in the 2020 National Draft, stunned everyone on his debut in round six, kicking five goals and showing his ability in the air against the Hawthorn defence. Thilthorpe, who kicked 18.10 from his 14 matches, was the hero in Round 13 against St. Kilda after a miraculous kick over his head completed a stunning comeback win in Cairns. He averaged 10.9 disposals and 3.1 marks and showed his agility as a big man averaging 3.7 ground ball gets per game, ranked elite across the competition.

Hard-nut Berry was another impressive youngster in 2021 playing 17 games for the year. He played across the midfield and down forward, where he kicked five goals for the season. Berry attacked every contest with intent, and he never shied away from bigger, more experienced opponents. After averaging 9.1 disposals for the season, it was his contested work that stood out, as he averaged 5.2 contested possessions (rated above average), 4.1 tackles (rated elite) and 20.2 pressure acts (rated elite).

Playing as a lively small forward Rowe booted 15 goals in his 19 matches. He was a multiple goal kicker on four occasions, including in his first match where he kicked two goals and had 16 disposals. Standing at 173 centimetres, Rowe is an energetic small, who averaged 12.7 touches per game, pushing up the ground often to help transition the ball from the defensive 50 to the forward 50. As a small forward pressure is always a key element and he was ranked above average for tackles inside 50 with 1.1 per game.

Fellow draftees Luke Pedlar and Brayden Cook played two and three games respectively. Pedlar debuted in round 16 and collected 13 disposals, while Cook played the last three games of the season where he averaged 14 disposals, with his best game coming in round 23, picking up 19 touches.

Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase did not feature at AFL level this season, but both have played all 17 games for the Crows’ SANFL team. Newchurch has averaged 10.2 disposals and 1.2 goals per game, while Borlase has averaged 13.7 disposals and 5.2 marks.

 

Picture credit: David Mariuz

State Leagues Preview: Action continues as Round 3 kicks off

WITH football season in full flight as teams hit the deck for Round 3, competitions across Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia prepare for a big weekend of action. Meanwhile, the revamped Victorian Football League (VFL) begins.

South Australia

The round will kick off on Friday night, as Norwood attempt to keep their undefeated streak going against a North Adelaide side searching for its first win. Fresh off a convincing 19-point win against Sturt, Norwood will only find themselves boosted by the return of star Richard Douglas, who missed the Round 2 clash for personal reasons. Keep an eye on experienced midfielder Matthew Nunn as he will look to continue his blistering start to the year, averaging 31 disposals and nine tackles over his first two games. North Adelaide have flagged a potential debutant, naming Kaine Mercovich on the extended bench. The former Port Fairy midfielder has been highly touted since making the move to the Roosters, and with an injury to Frank Szekely, crisis creates opportunity.

Another undefeated side in South Adelaide will be clashing with Port Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday. After smashing the Crows in Round 1 and taking care of North Adelaide last week, the Panthers are looking hard to stop, but the Power have proved themselves capable. Ex-Richmond Tiger Fraser Turner has once again been named on the extended bench for a debut. The 20-year-old Tasmanian utility was named in the same position last week but couldn’t crack into the side. A team with hot form, don’t be surprised if the Panthers go in unchanged. Port will regain midfield duo Sam Powell-Pepper and Tom Rockliff, who returns from concussion. Talented ruck Sam Hayes will be one to watch, as he continues to press for selection at higher level.

With both sides looking for their first win of the year, expect a tense clash between Sturt and West Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. Tasmanian talent Jared Dakin and highly touted ruckman Hamish Allan have been named as possible debutants for Sturt. The 205cm Allan has been named in the ruck which is a promising sign for the 20-year-old, while Dakin is found on the interchange. West Adelaide’s chances will be boosted by the return of star midfielder Kaine Stevens, who returns from injury to play his first game of the season. Young gun Bailey Chamberlain has also been named as a potential inclusion.

Central District will attempt to prevent Glenelg from starting the season 3-0 in this round’s clash. Central could unleash a number of debutants, with local talent Rhys Cannizzaro and mature ager Billy Iles both named on the extended bench. Last week’s inclusions Brett Kennedy and Ben Nason were named in the reserves. For Glenelg, a young trio of Will Chandler (19-years-old), Brady Searle (19) and Brodie Newman (20) have been named on the extended bench, but expect Glenelg to go in unchanged.

With both teams sitting on 1-1 after two rounds, the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and the Adelaide Crows will both be desperate to get a win and move up the ladder. A former Tiger and Crow at AFL level, goalsneak Tyson Stengle has been named for the Eagles for the first time since he was drafted. He will replace Troy Menzel who misses with concussion. Pick 25 in last year’s AFL draft, Brayden Cook will debut for Adelaide in this week’s match against the Eagles. The medium forward/wingman has overcome his shoulder issues and should put on a show in his SANFL debut.

 

Tasmania

Glenorchy will be looking to bounce back after a defeat at the hands of Clarence, and Lauderdale will be the perfect target. Lauderdale were taken down by the Tigers last weekend and will be looking to recover with a win as well, so some good footy is on the cards. Glenorchy welcome back Daniel Joseph into the lineup, as the backman replaces Bayley Bester. Fresh off a five goal haul, expect Ben Kamaric to receive some close attention from the opposition. Lauderdale will be without star recruit Allen Christensen who tore his hamstring in last week’s match. Lincoln Arnold has been named to replace him, fresh off a best afield performance in the development league last week.

Clarence return to Blundstone Arena for the first time since 2019 to take on last year’s runners up North Launceston. The ground had shut its doors for the entirety of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Roos forced to host their games at Richmond. Clarence have made two changes, with defender James Holmes and Jason Bailey replacing Keegan Wylie and the injured Colin Garland. Dangerous forward Oliver Preshaw should again cause opposition defenders headaches. North Launceston will be without utility Thomas Donnelly who has been selected to play in North Melbourne’s VFL side this weekend but expect a close game regardless with both teams stacked with talent.

The best match of the round might be saved until last, as last year’s premiers Launceston host the currently undefeated Tigers at Windsor Park. Launceston will be refreshed after having the bye in Round 2, while the Tigers will be eager to ride their momentum forward and take home a third consecutive win. Both sides will head into the clash undefeated, with coaches satisfied with their talent all over the ground. Jake Hinds and Miller Hodge helped the Blues gain midfield dominance in the first round, while Dylan Riley is expected to hurt the opposition once again on the scoreboard. But can the Blues stop Tigers gun Elijah Reardon? Named on the half back flank, Reardon has started the season in blistering form and will be hard to contain.

 

Western Australia

The Easts go to war as East Fremantle and East Perth clash at New Choice Homes Park for Round 3. East Fremantle fell to the in-form Subiaco last weekend, and East Perth were embarrassed, losing to Peel Thunder by 105 points. Both teams are desperate for a bounce-back of some sort and it will come for one side on Saturday afternoon. East Fremantle could go in unchanged, with all four ins named on the extended interchange. Keep an eye on Luke Strnadica, the Sharks ruckman had an unbelievable match last week, finishing with 23 disposals and 48 hitouts despite the loss. East Perth have also named their inclusions on the extended bench, but with six ins to replace two outs, expect at least two changes. Jackson Ramsey will miss this week’s matchup after gathering 28 disposals last week, as will Corey Watts.

Claremont are sitting pretty in second place at 2-0 and will host Perth this weekend as they continue the hunt for top of the ladder. Perth’s Round 1 win was soon forgotten as they were smashed by Swan Districts the following week, and they face a tough task against Claremont on Saturday. Following 27 disposals in the reserves last weekend, teenager Anthony Davis slots straight into the lineup at centre half-forward for Claremont, replacing Oliver Eastland. Anton Hamp is the only other out for Claremont, as the remaining ins are yet to be determined. Ruckman Christian Eyres returns for Perth, as the magnets are moved following the disappointing loss.

South Fremantle and Peel Thunder will do battle, with only one side able to emerge with their second win of the year. Inaccuracy cost South Fremantle last round, as they were defeated by Claremont, while Peel Thunder are on a high following their 105-point demolition of East Perth. Ruckman Hamish Free is the only confirmed change for East Fremantle, replacing the massive gap left by Brock Higgins, who has been confirmed to miss. Jason Maskos will join him on the sidelines. Key forward Mason Shaw will look to back up his five-goal effort last weekend. At the time of publication, Peel Thunder had not listed its side.

West Coast have started the season 0-2 and will be desperate to improve that record against a Swan Districts side fresh off a 50-point victory against Perth. West Coast have a huge seven confirmed ins to try and achieve this goal. AFL regulars Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee are sure to contribute, but they lose plenty of talent too – the two biggest being Zac Langdon and Alex Witherden, who have earned an AFL recall. Swan Districts’ high profile recruit Lewis Jetta will miss this weekend’s clash, as will Jesse Turner, who had 27 disposals last round. Sam Fisher had 41 disposals last weekend and is sure to find plenty of the ball again.

West Perth have arguably the toughest task in the competition this week, as they find themselves tasked with slowing down the Subiaco juggernaut that is currently smashing through teams. Subiaco sit on top of the ladder with a massive 28 per cent leg up on second place. West Perth could be the team to bring them back down to earth, riding the momentum of last week’s 78-point win against West Coast. They may enter this weekend’s huge clash with no changes, as none have been confirmed yet. Tyler Keitel’s six goal game last weekend has seen him named at full forward, while Aaron Black has been named on the wing, fresh off a 43-disposal outing. For Subiaco, Jordan Lockyer returns to line up at centre half back, having missed last week’s game. Apart from that, expect a relatively unchanged Subiaco side.

 

Queensland

Noosa will resume their season following the bye last weekend, while Palm Beach Currumbin will be keen to improve on last week’s disappointing loss to Morningside. Named his side’s best in last week’s loss, the Lions’ Corey Joyce has been once again named on ball and will be one to watch this week. The same can be said for Ben Mcinneny, who performed admirably last week. For Noosa, forward Aaron Wilson will be hoping to replicate his bag of four goals in Round 1, while Cory Lobb, who was named best afield for Noosa in their first match, will be looking to marshal his fellow backmen.

Redland-Victoria Point began their season in style with a 58-point win, while Labrador could not keep up with Broadbeach, and were eventually defeated by 32 points. Labrador have plenty of talent such as Andy Hollis and Thomas Reeves, so don’t count them out yet. Redland-Victoria Point are in form though, and with stars such as ruckman Matthew Waters and Joshua Brown, it will be a hard task to slow them down.

Maroochydore’s 100-point win over Wilston Grange has found them on top of the ladder heading into this round. It was a clinical display, dominating their opponents all over the ground. This round, they take on Mt Gravatt, who were able to do just enough to take down Sherwood Districts and record their first win of the year. Will they be able to contain Mitchell Scholard, who kicked an astonishing 11 goals last round? Mt Gravatt ruckman Craig Malone will be looking to produce another best afield performance like his previous outing.

Broadbeach were able to take care of business in last round’s action, defeating Labrador by 32 points to grab their first win. Their opponents for this week, Morningside, stormed home against Palm Beach Currumbin to win by 43 points. Both sides will be eager to prove themselves and start the season 2-0. Nick Colenso will bring the scoreboard presence for Broadbeach after a five-goal game last round, while Sam Godfrey will be hoping for plenty of space out on the wing to run and carry. For Mornington, Jordan Moncrieff kicked five goals in last week’s win and will be looking to do something similar against Broadbeach.

Surfers Paradise fell to a rampant Redland-Victoria Point last round, despite putting up 96 points themselves. They will host Sherwood Districts this Saturday, who will also be looking to bounce back after failing to withstand a Mt Gravatt second half surge. Sherwood will be well led in the midfield by Luca Winton, who was everywhere last weekend, and will have plenty of options up forward in Kobe Tozer and Alexander Mitchell. Surfers Paradise won’t be short of talent themselves, with Jack Prestegar providing the dash off half back and Jack Yelland fighting for the ball in the middle.

 

Victoria

The revamped Victorian Football League (VFL) kicks off on the weekend, with plenty on the line as players put their best foot forward and vie for a senior list position. With the league now encompassing all clubs across the east coast of Australia, 22 teams will ply their trade this season across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Friday sees Richmond host Sandringham in the season opener as two standalone clubs in Frankston and Coburg go head-to-head in the evening, with six matches played on Saturday including the first few cross-border encounters with Footscray and Gold Coast Suns, Aspley and Port Melbourne, and Brisbane Lions and Essendon taking the field. Three matches complete the opening round on Sunday, with a couple of Melbourne bigmen looking to prove they’ve shaken off injury concerns and are capable of stepping up to AFL duties.

2020 AFL Draft recap: Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE went into the 2020 AFL Draft holding all the power with pick one and knowing it would need to absolutely nail each pick or movement as its rebuild continues. Armed with the greatest draft points total of any side coming in, the Crows were able to bolster their midfield stocks, fulfil the pressing need for a genuine small forward, and obtain one of the best tall prospects available to form their list regeneration around. With all bar one of Adelaide’s picks originally hailing from South Australia, there was a real local feel to this draft haul.

ADELAIDE

National Draft:
#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Pre-Season Draft: Jackson Hately (Greater Western Sydney)

Rookies: Bryce Gibbs (Adelaide), James Borlase (NGA), Tariek Newchurch (NGA)

Adelaide had no problem relinquishing its pick one status in using it to place a bid on Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, which was inevitably matched. Having subsequently slid back to the second selection, the Crows were delighted to snare local bigman Riley Thilthorpe, a genuine key forward who can also rotate through the ruck. National recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie shared the view that Thilthorpe had long been the best player for his age group in the State, helping confirm the feel-good local choice. Out of West Adelaide, the 201cm talent should prove a pillar of Adelaide’s rebuild and with senior experience under his belt, will likely be given early opportunities if fit.

The Crows then pulled one of the shocks of the first round by pouncing on Luke Pedlar with pick 11, an explosive inside midfielder who may begin his career up forward. The Glenelg product was also captain of this year’s Prince Alfred College side and while injury cut his season short, Pedlar showed enormous quality at each opportunity. The Crows obviously rated him highly and were happy to act at such a high cost with the likes of GWS and Fremantle lurking within the next few picks. The lone Victorian of the group, Sam Berry is another hard-working midfielder who will add to Adelaide’s ball winning stocks, likely to provide great value at pick 28. Speed is his main knock, but his effort and endurance are high-level.

From one bolter in Pedlar to another in Brayden Cook, the Crows obviously did their homework on the vast array of SANFL products this year. The South Adelaide wingman/forward came from seemingly nowhere to enter draft contention this year with 26 goals in 13 Under 18 games. He has grown nicely and shown an equally steep rate of development; with overhead marking, goal sense, and creative nous his main weapons. Mature-age small forward James Rowe rounded out the Crows’ National Draft intake at pick 38, right after Carlton nabbed Corey Durdin. The Woodville-West Torrens goalsneak booted 38 majors this year to top the SANFL charts, showcasing impressing natural smarts and ability inside 50 to suggest he could slot into the Crows’ starting side immediately.

Adelaide also got their man in Jackson Hately, who returns home after quitting GWS at the end of this season. The tall midfielder fits the Crows’ need for midfield depth and is an absolute steal at effectively no cost in the preseason draft. A sense of deja vu came over fans as Bryce Gibbs was called out with pick one, only this time in the Rookie Draft and purely for administrative reasons. He will be moved onto the inactive list and remain retired in 2021. The Crows also managed to land their two NGA products in James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch through Category B listings, a terrific result given their levels of talent and potential to develop.

Featured Image: Riley Thilthorpe dons Adelaide’s tricolours | Credit: Getty Images

2020 AFL Draft Fallout: Bolters and Sliders

THE DUST has settled on another AFL Draft after the rookie intake was completed this morning; leaving keen watchers, fans, and analysts to pick up the pieces and make something of what was a rollercoaster event which seemed to drag on for an eternity. Like any other intake, the 2020 version was littered with sliders and bolters, so we take a look at some of the names which perhaps ended up with surprising numbers left next to them by night’s end.

Full draft profiles on each prospect mentioned below can be found in our AFL Draft Guide.

THE BOLTERS:

While already pegged as a top five selection, Will Phillips somewhat bolted into North Melbourne’s considerations at pick three, throwing as spanner in the works among the top 10. But arguably the biggest first round bolters were selected right after that mark, with Adelaide pouncing on Luke Pedlar at pick 11. The explosive midfielder has battled injuries over the last two seasons but showed great quality on-field when given the opportunity, proving a key cog for Glenelg and Prince Alfred College, the latter of which he captained.

GWS snapped up a couple of Victorians they were keen on in Conor Stone (pick 15) and Ryan Angwin (18), with Collingwood also said to be in the market for Stone. The Oakleigh Chargers product is a medium forward with great goal sense who can also run off the wing with elite running capacity. Angwin, who has drawn comparisons to Xavier Duursma is a different type of wingman with plenty of raw potential. He has filled out nicely and attacks the ball with vigour despite his light frame, while also boasting nice athletic traits.

Geelong traded up twice to snap up Max Holmes at pick 20, who proved one of the biggest late bolters among round one. Holmes’ running capacity appealed to many clubs around the mark, with the Cats pouncing before the likes of Melbourne and St Kilda. At pick 24, Collingwood snuck in a Blake Coleman bid, which was threatened even earlier before trading out for Adelaide to select Brayden Cook, who came from nowhere to be considered a massive first round chance this year. Rounding out the early surprises, Matt Allison was snapped up by St Kilda at number 26, with some other clubs lurking for a dynamic tall around that mark.

The second round was headlined by a few neat risers, including Seamus Mitchell at pick 29 to Hawthorn. He is a pacy small forward with good x-factor, similar to West Australian Tyler Brockman who landed at the Hawks in the following round. Collingwood secured a need in Liam McMahon, who could develop into the long-term key forward option fans have been crying out for. Shannon Neale was off the board at 33, shipped off to Geelong as a prospect who could follow a path similar to Mark Blicavs. Richmond pulled a cheeky bid on Essendon NGA Josh Eyre before taking Samson Ryan from nowhere at pick 40, a developing ruck who is a couple of years on from his top-aged peers.

Looking at the Rookie Draft, Jack Saunders was one of the big surprises as Hawthorn snapped him up with the fourth selection. The South Australian is a hard outside runner who provides long-term cover in that role for the Hawks, who are bringing in some good youth. Isaac Chugg was another choice to attract some attention as Collingwood pounced on the athletic Tasmanian. He looms as a developable half-back or wingman with raw pace.

THE SLIDERS:

A couple of slight sliders emerged early, with the dominoes falling after North Melbourne opted to snare Phillips with pick three. Elijah Hollands, who was widely predicted to be taken there, fell to Gold Coast at number seven and was the Suns’ sole National Draft selection. Tanner Bruhn was one pegged for top 10 status but ended up just escaping that range. It hardly took long for GWS to snap up the classy midfielder at pick 12, before the Giants opted to secure a couple of sliders almost immediately after.

Oliver Henry was another linked with one of Essendon’s three top 10 picks, but the dynamic swingman slid to Collingwood’s pick 17. He looms as a terrific replacement for Jaidyn Stephenson in the Pies’ forwardline. Collingwood NGA Reef McInnes was one who would have tempted clubs in the 8-12 range, but the Magpies were able to maximise their hand after he dropped late into the first round. At pick 23, he was a quickly matched bid for Collingwood, who will likely give him some early exposure around the ground before being thrust into midfield.

Outside of the early proceedings, Jack Carroll proved one of the steals of the draft as Carlton took little time in taking him off the board with pick 41. The classy West Australian was said to have first round suitors, but adds some terrific late value for the Blues as a balanced kind of midfielder who uses the ball excellently and has promising athleticism. Similarly, Eddie Ford was a steal for North Melbourne all the way down at pick 56. He is one who cut his teeth as a high-flying medium forward but has eye on long-term midfield development and brings good variety to the Roos’ overall draft haul. Fremantle would also be laughing with its two NGA products in Brandon Walker and Joel Western only attracting bids in the 50s. Both looked a class above at Colts level this year and have some seriously impressive athletic attributes across the board.

Inside midfielder Zane Trew was a surprise slider into the rookie draft but was given his chance by local side, West Coast, while Jack Ginnivan found his way to Collingwood as yet another shrewd Victorian pick for the Pies. Plenty of talls missed out altogether, with key forwards Kaine Baldwin and Jackson Callow among the most unlucky, while Zavier Maher and Liam Kolar were a couple of potential bolters who did not find a suitor.

Featured Image: Collingwood’s Victorian 2020 AFL Draft haul | Credit: Collingwood FC

2020 AFL Draft: Club by club

IF you are waking up to try and scroll through and find who your club’s newest players are, look no further as we piece together last night’s National Draft club by club. To check out the player profiles of each player selected, click below:

Adelaide:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Carlton:

#37 Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
#41 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

Collingwood:

#17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#19 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#23 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#30 Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#31 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#44 Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Essendon:

#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Fremantle:

#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Geelong:

#20 Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
#47 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59  Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Hawthorn:

#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Melbourne:

#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

North Melbourne:

#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Port Adelaide:

#16 Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)
#49 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Richmond:

#40 Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

St Kilda:

#26 Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sydney:

#4 Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
#5 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
#32 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

West Coast:

#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Western Bulldogs:

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

2020 AFL Draft: Pick by pick

AFTER an unconventional season of football, the 2020 AFL National Draft has come to a close with a number of young and exciting players finding their way to new homes for the 2021 season. Here is the full run down of picks, with the highly touted Jamarra Ugle-Hagan making his way to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 1.

Round 1

1 Western Bulldogs – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

2 Adelaide Crows – Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)

3 North Melbourne – Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

4 Sydney Swans – Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)

5 Sydney Swans – Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

6 Hawthorn – Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

7 Gold Coast Suns –  Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

8 Essendon –  Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

9 Essendon – Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

10 Essendon – Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

11 Adelaide Crows – Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)

12 GWS GIANTS – Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

13 North Melbourne – Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)

14 Fremantle – Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)

15 GWS GIANTS – Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

16 Port Adelaide – Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)

17 Collingwood – Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

18 GWS GIANTS – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

19 Collingwood – Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

20 Geelong –  Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

21 Melbourne Demons – Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

22 Melbourne Demons – Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

23 Collingwood – Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

24 Brisbane Lions – Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

25 Adelaide Crows – Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)

26 St Kilda – Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Round 2

27 Fremantle – Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)

28 Adelaide- Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

29 Hawthorn – Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)

30 Collingwood – Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

31Collingwood – Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

32 Sydney Swans – Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

33 Geelong – Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)

34 Melbourne – Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

35 Hawthorn – Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

36 North Melbourne – Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)

37 Carlton – Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)

38 Adelaide – James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

39 Essendon – Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

40 Richmond – Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy)

41Carlton – Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

42 North Melbourne – Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Round 3

43 Brisbane Lions – Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

44 Collingwood – Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

45 St Kilda – Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

46 Hawthorn – Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

47 Geelong – Nicholas Stevens (GWV Rebels)

48 Brisbane Lions – Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

49 Port Adelaide – Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)

50 Fremantle – Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

51 Richmond – Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

52 West Coast – Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)

53 Essendon – Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

54 Fremantle – Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

55 Western Bulldogs – Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)

56 North Melbourne – Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

57 West Coast Eagles – Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

58 GWS GIANTS – Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)

59 GWS GIANTS – Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens)

2020 Draft Central Phantom Draft: First Round prediction

THE STAGE is set for the 2020 AFL National Draft to get underway tomorrow night, poised to present one of the most unpredictable and even events in history. It has been an unprecedented year in many aspects; with Victorian talents, who typically make up over half of the selected players, unable to take the field as top-agers, while prospects from around the nation showed their wares throughout improvised state league seasons.

There are plenty of moving parts to play out, but Draft Central can finally reveal its first round Phantom Draft ahead of the big day. Live trading has not been taken into account in this effort, but club needs, preferences, and our own rankings have been considered with each pick. The shape of the first round will likely look much different after high-stakes live trades and academy bids, but this is an insight into what each club at the top end may be looking for with their picks.

Pick 1 | Jamarra Ugle-Hagan – Western Bulldogs (Adelaide bid matched)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 195cm | 90kg

The consensus best player in the draft pool yields a bid where he ultimately should, at pick one. Adelaide will not have access to the Lance Franklin-like key forward though, as he is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). The Dogs will quickly match the bid, putting Adelaide back on the clock. Ugle-Hagan promises to bring great athleticism and aerial prowess to the Bulldogs’ forwardline alongside Aaron Naughton, coincidentally fitting their most pressing list need perfectly.

Pick 2 | Logan McDonald – Adelaide
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

Having bid on a key forward with pick one, Adelaide will almost inevitably snap up another when its selection slides to number two. McDonald is arguably the next best option in his position and has enjoyed a stunning campaign at WAFL League level with Perth. His contested marking and endurance combine for a package similar to that of Nick Riewoldt, but the West Australian is set to blaze his own trail. While it has been a talking point, the go-home factor is minimal here, with local talent Riley Thilthorpe also in the mix and Crows supporter Elijah Hollands another who has been considered for much of the year.

Pick 3 | Elijah Hollands – North Melbourne
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

One who could easily have pushed to be the number one ranked player with a top-age campaign, Hollands fits North Melbourne’s need for a dynamic midfielder in the long-term. He spent 2020 recovering from an ACL tear and has mainly cut his teeth as a half-forward thus far, but has all the traits necessary to make a more permanent midfield transition down the line. Given the Roos’ need for key forward support with Ben Brown out the door, McDonald and Riley Thilthorpe could also be desired options here, but Hollands has long been linked with this pick – which North Melbourne has also committed to.

Pick 4 | Will Phillips – Sydney
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 180cm | 80kg

While others are bullish on linking key defender Denver Grainger-Barras to this pick, the Swans may also look to add to their long-term inside midfield depth with Phillips. He may not be the big body to replace Josh Kennedy down the line, but is a reliable ball winner with very few weaknesses who looks every bit the 250-game prospect. As far as comparisons go, he may well be this year’s Matt Rowell, who he spent time alongside in Oakleigh’s premiership midfield during 2019. He looms as the best pure midfielder available at the top end.

Pick 5 | Braeden Campbell – Sydney (Hawthorn bid matched)
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 75kg

Hawthorn, who could well be looking for a midfielder like Phillips, might then be the one to keep Sydney accountable with a top 10 bid on academy product, Campbell. The 181cm midfielder has some elite traits, headlined by his versatility, searing speed, and damaging left-foot kick. The Swans will likely be a touch perturbed by a bid this early, but should take little time to match the selection and end up with consecutive picks. They will then sweat on when a bid for Errol Gulden arrives, ideally in the second round.

Pick 6 | Riley Thilthorpe – Hawthorn
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

With its first top five pick in 15 years, Hawthorn is in a great position to stock up in a couple of key areas. With McDonald and Phillips off the board in our draft, Thilthorpe is a terrific option should he survive Adelaide’s first selection. The 201cm ruck/forward has two years of senior SANFL football under his belt and moves incredibly well for his size, covering plenty of ground and winning the ball both in the air and at ground level. He plays mostly as a key forward, but can also rotate through the ruck as a quality second option.

Pick 7 | Denver Grainger-Barras – Gold Coast 
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

This is your typical best available kind of pick, with Grainger-Barras a true bargain outside of the top five. He is clearly the best key defender available and showed off all of his intercept marking prowess against top three fancy, McDonald during the WAFL League season. He is quite lean but makes up for it with courage and athleticism and has plenty of time to fill out. The Suns may already lay claim to a solid key defensive set-up, but they also tend to look for star power with their picks and the West Australian has plenty of it. A midfielder could also come into consideration here.

Pick 8 | Tanner Bruhn – Essendon
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

Essendon fans may bemoan this selection because of the current profile of their team’s midfield. At 183cm, Bruhn is not exactly the big-bodied ball winner the Bombers have been crying out for, but has plenty of classy qualities on the inside with the potential to also utilise his skill on the outer or up forward. The Geelong Falcons product may not have gained a ton of exposure on-field over the last two years, but has shown all of his worth when given the opportunity and would be a terrific addition to Essendon’s starting side.

Pick 9 | Zach Reid – Essendon
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 83kg

The Bombers will almost certainly look for a tall option with one of their three-consecutive picks within the top 10, and Reid looms as the best of the lot in that range. He looked incredibly sharp at the recent Victorian testing day and at 202cm, possesses wicked skill by foot. The Gippsland product is also incredibly versatile and has a knack for swinging forward to kick clutch goals, but looks most suited to a key defensive post where he can read the play, intercept, and rebound.

Pick 10 | Archie Perkins – Essendon
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Linked to clubs as high as the top five, Perkins has also long been attached to Essendon’s picks and we have taken the opportunity to snap him up. It looms as somewhat of a prospective selection, but Perkins is exactly the kind of explosive, powerful midfielder which Essendon fans would love to get on-board. He is billed as one who could turn into that prototype midfielder/forward in the mould of Nat Fyfe, especially given his aerial ability and knack for finding the goals. A bid on Collingwood NGA member Reef McInnes could also be considered here, and the Bombers could field bids for the pick from the likes of GWS and Collingwood.

Pick 11 | Finlay Macrae – Adelaide
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Having already snared a tall, Adelaide can focus on building its midfield at this range and Macrae is a terrific option should that be the case. The half-brother of Jackson, he boasts a similar appetite for the ball and is exactly the kind of player you want delivering it inside 50. He is clean and dual-sided with terrific decision making to boot. The Crows could also be the ones to bid on McInnes here, though Collingwood may be proactive and trade with Adelaide to this pick, thus ensuring that is not the case.

Pick 12 | Lachlan Jones – Port Adelaide (GWS bid matched)
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Jones would be a very handy fit for the Giants’ backline, but is tied to Port Adelaide through its NGA and will quickly have a bid in this range matched. Essendon is another club which has been linked to Jones, but the feeling is that he will slide into the teens, potentially even further than this point. A bid here is still quite realistic though, especially given Jones’ exposed form at senior level in 2020. He was a key part of the Eagles’ premiership defence and stood out with his mix of aggression and class on the rebound. A readymade player if there ever was one.

Pick 13 | Nik Cox – GWS
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 87kg

With their first defensive choice unavailable to them, GWS would likely spend little time in looking for someone like Cox to fill that gap in the long-term. While he is a versatile type who can also play up forward, Cox’s magnificent ball use on either side and athletic traits suit the defensive caper. He still has plenty of filling out to do and improvements to be made in the contested side of the game, but should develop well alongside the likes of Phil Davis and Nick Haynes. Heath Chapman is another who could be snapped up here, while Macrae would be an enticing midfield option if still on the board.

Pick 14 | Tom Powell – North Melbourne
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

The Kangaroos may already lay claim to a bunch of inside types through midfield, but Powell would be hard to pass up at this range. He averaged over 35 disposals in the SANFL Under 18s this year and was a consistent clearance machine. His outside game and damage by foot are areas to work on, but the 183cm prospect is well aware of that and even showed improvement there throughout the year. Could form the future of North’s midfield alongside Hollands, Jy Simpkin, and Luke Davies-Uniacke.

Pick 15 | Nathan O’Driscoll – Fremantle
Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

Perhaps a bold choice here by the Dockers, O’Driscoll is one whose range divides many a draft watcher. What we do know for certain is that he gives 100 per cent each time he plays, making him one of the hardest working midfielders going both ways. His character will appeal to clubs and the local factor makes him a desirable choice for Fremantle. The likes of Chapman, Jack Carroll, and Brayden Cook may also be around the mark here.

Pick 16 | Oliver Henry – GWS
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 188cm | 77kg

One who had top 10 potential, was pegged for such status, and has perhaps now slipped back out of that range, Henry would be a quality choice for GWS at pick 16. The brother of Geelong’s Jack, he is able to play up either end of the ground and thrives aerially. He could be the dynamic marking forward which many clubs are after, so would be too hard to ignore if he slides all the way back here.

Pick 17 | Heath Chapman – Collingwood
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

After a disastrous trade period, Pies fans would be absolutely chuffed if Chapman gets to their first pick and he would suit their needs well; potentially freeing up Darcy Moore to fill a key forward post, or acting as another intercept defender in tandem with Jeremy Howe. Collingwood could also be one to trade up and get a selection like Chapman in just outside the top 10, with Cox and Reid other players in contention. The concern will also surround a potential McInnes bid, but that is allayed in this scenario.

Pick 18 | Bailey Laurie – GWS
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

Laurie has been heavily linked with the Giants’ first round picks and would be a shrewd selection in our eyes. He is another classy ball user who adds to GWS’ strong creative element in the front half and while he may be pegged as a bolter, Laurie looms as one who could quickly repay the faith. He makes things happen and will quickly endear himself to fans.

Pick 19 | Conor Stone – Collingwood
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Wing
22/04/2002 | 188cm | 81kg

Another first round bolter of sorts from the Oakleigh Chargers, Stone has attracted interest from Collingwood on the back of some promising form as a bottom-ager. His five-goal haul on NAB League debut was a particular highlight, but the medium forward also showed some star power on the wing while running out for St Kevin’s. His running power and goal sense make for a versatile package who could prove too hard to ignore.

Pick 20 | Reef McInnes – Collingwood (Richmond bid matched)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 193cm | 86kg

While this bid has been linked to picks as high as the top 10, one at pick 20 would arguably suit McInnes’ true value a little more. The inside midfielder tore up the draft combine with a searing 20m sprint time and has risen up draft boards as a result, making him a player of interest inside the top 20. Collingwood would be more than happy to match here, after their first two selections.

Pick 21 | Zavier Maher – Richmond
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
5/05/2002 | 184cm | 83kg

Richmond is not afraid to make surprise selections and Maher could be the next in that category. The Murray midfielder has recently been linked to the top 25 and might match the Tigers’ need for some long-term squad depth, despite the array of midfielders they already boast. With his burst from the contest, he looms as one with a point of difference from the others, though.

Pick 22 | Jack Carroll – Melbourne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

This was one of the more straightforward picks across a very even first round. The West Australian looks like developing into the wingman Melbourne is crying out for and did not quite cover last trade period, while also having the potential to cover as a classy half-back or develop into an inside type. He uses the ball beautifully, can find the goals, and is a great size for modern-day football.

Pick 23 | Brayden Cook – Melbourne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Yes, perhaps another wingman, but one who looks likely to develop as a forward early in his career. Cook is this year’s great bolter and shot onto the scene on the back of a SANFL Under 18s season where he averaged over two goals per game. He is terrific in the air and makes good decisions going forward, while also boasting the wildcard of being a game-winning type close to goal.

Pick 24 | Luke Pedlar – GWS
Glenelg/South Australia | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/05/2002 | 183cm | 80kg

The Giants are said to have great interest in Pedlar and should they not pounce with a pick in the teens, he would be a steal for them at this stage. While injuries have curtailed his last two seasons at different points, Pedlar has shown his outstanding hunger for the ball and eye-catching burst from congestion on every occasion afforded to him. Add leadership quality and forward potential to the mix, and you have a very handy bolter.

Pick 25 | Max Holmes – St Kilda
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Wingman
29/07/2002 | 189cm | 74kg

Holmes’ running capacity is what will appeal most to clubs around this range and he has come from seemingly nowhere to jet into draft contention in 2020. He comes from good athletics pedigree but has played high-level football throughout his junior career and will be a handy developable pick. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford could also be in the mix here.

From the clouds: This year’s biggest AFL Draft bolters

EACH year a great deal of AFL Draft intrigue surrounds the prospects who seemingly come from the clouds to land on clubs’ radars. Labelled the bolters, these players are the ones who enjoy steep rises as top-agers to trade obscurity for potential stardom. Last year we saw Will Day, Mitch Georgiades, and Sam Philp taken in round one, Sam Sturt was famously snapped up with Pick 17 the year before, Gold Coast pulled a surprise with Wil Powell in 2017 and well, you get the gist.

In taking a look at the potential bolters in this year’s crop, we are not just talking about players like Logan McDonald or Archie Perkins, who have risen from first round projection to possible top five status. Instead, we will take you through the names from around the nation who have come from greater obscurity to enter the draft frame at differing points. Some will feature at the top end, others might just scrape in at the back, but they all share the common story of coming from a long way back to gain recognition from AFL club recruiters.

Full profiles for all the players mentioned below can be found in our AFL Draft Guide, which is free to download.

THE BOLTERS

STATE BY STATE

South Australia:

South Australia not only lays claim to arguably the biggest bolter of the lot this year, but potentially the biggest overall list of players who suit the category. Headlining the crop is of course South Adelaide wingman/forward Brayden Cook, who went from battling for gametime as a bottom-ager to earning a Reserves call-up early in 2020 and averaging two goals per game in the Under 18s. His nous close to goal and overhead marking ability proved to be game-winning traits for the Panthers this year, propelling Cook into first round contention.

Likely joining him in the top 25 are gun midfielders Tom Powell and Caleb Poulter, who were two of the most consistent ball winners in this year’s SANFL Under 18s. Powell is one of the finest exponents of the handball to come through the junior ranks and proved impossible to ignore on pure numbers in 2020. He was highly rated internally but hardly got the opportunity to show his wares in 2019, suffering multiple injury setbacks and having hip surgery in his bottom-age campaign. Poulter is somewhat of a late bloomer who has enormous upside and great presence on the field as a tall midfielder. His range of weapons include a raking left peg, clean hands, and the ability to play inside, out, and up forward.

Other top-agers in the extended conversation include Luke Pedlar, Malachy Carruthers, Phoenix Spicer, and Xavier Robins. All four earned national draft combine invites after promising seasons, with Pedlar one who has also recently garnered first round interest. The tough and explosive midfielder was a leader among the Glenelg and Prince Alfred College squads this year, before injury cut his campaign short. Defenders Carruthers and Robins both impressed during the school football season before returning to SANFL competitions, while Spicer caught the eye with his dash and x-factor playing on a wing for South Adelaide.

Last but not least are the mature-agers. Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore both earned draft combine invites and were the only prospects over 19 years of age to do so this year. Both read the play beautifully across half-back, mark well, and provide value on the rebound. Premiership Eagles James Rowe and Jacob Wehr will also attract interest. Rowe is a small forward with excellent smarts and natural ability, while Wehr is a rebounding defender with class who was struggling for Reserves games not too long ago.

Victoria:

Despite not getting the chance to put in a full top-age season, there are a bunch of Victorians that have put their hands up for draft bolter status with impressive preseason showings and testing performances. Hulking Sandringham Dragons ruck Max Heath is near the top of the pile after returning dominant trial games. He took on some stern advice after his bottom-age year and came back a different player, throwing his weight around as an aggressive tall who can impose himself on the contest.

Northern Knights product Liam Kolar is in a similar boat after his preseason efforts, making for a steep rise having come from a soccer and athletics background. The raw tall debuted late last year for the Knights but seemed to have hit new heights in 2020 with his speed-endurance mix and rate of development impressing onlookers all the way back in March. Matt Allison and Fraser Rosman are other dynamic talls with great athleticism and upside who have entered the conversation.

Sandringham not only lays claim to Heath in the bolter category, but has also seen the likes of Luke Cleary, Max Holmes, and Lachlan Carrigan burst onto the scene. All three come in at over 189cm and can play in multiple roles. Holmes is the son of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Lee Naylor, while Carrigan’s genetics have seen him benefit from a massive growth spurt which has coincided with his overall footballing development as a wingman.

One who has come from arguably the furthest back is Corey Preston, who earned a draft combine invite this year despite not having yet made his NAB League debut. The 180cm Eastern Ranges graduate is a midfielder/forward with nice athletic traits. Speaking of, Oakleigh’s Conor Stone has really cemented himself among the top-end group of late. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut last year and was part of the Chargers’ premiership side.

Among the ranks in country regions, Geelong’s stacked top-age cohort includes the likes of Blake Reid and Charlie Ham. Reid did some impressive things last year as the Falcons struggled to string results together, while Ham is a late bloomer much like elder brother, Brayden of Essendon. Both players earned combine invites and performed well, just like new 2km time trial record holder Harry Sharp. The former steeplechaser was primed for a big year after showing nice glimpses as a hard working wingman/small forward for Greater Western Victoria.

Western Australia:

Much like the South Australian crop, those from the West have benefitted greatly from being able to prove their worth on-field in a compromised year. Even before then, 204cm Claremont ruck Kalin Lane loomed as a massive bolter in 2020 after being included in the West Australian academy hub. It came after just one bottom-age appearance and he repaid the faith with an outstanding top-age campaign at Colts level.

Isiah Winder also hit great heights this year and was a standout combine tester come season’s end. He earned plenty of plaudits for his breakout performance in last year’s WAFL Colts Grand Final and has since transitioned from a small forward role to impact through midfield and even earn a League debut with Peel Thunder. Along with Lane, he is a developmental option with plenty of desirable traits for his role.

Among the smokies to have come on strongly are Tyler Brockman and Jaiden Hunter. Brockman is an exciting small forward/midfielder with great speed and goal sense, while Hunter is a tall usually accustomed to key defensive duties, but made to take on Perth’s primary ruck role at 194cm. His athleticism and mobility are outstanding. Claremont pair Jack Avery and Logan Young also enjoyed stellar campaigns in 2020, with Avery a promising intercept defender, and Young a reliable midfield ball winner.

Featured Image: South Adelaide bolter Brayden Cook gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Richmond Tigers

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are still subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Richmond, the reigning premier and most dominant team of the last five years. As has largely been the case over that time, the Tigers do not have any glaring list needs which require attendance at the draft, but will rather look to replenish their squad depth with a steady turnover of more mature players. In recent intakes, Richmond has done well to snare a highly-fancied prospect in the first round while also taking on some smokies at the back-end and also being impartial to an academy bid. While they won’t be massive players in this pool, there should be some good value to be had for the premiers.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 17, 36, 61, 79, 97

2021 PICKS*: RIC Rd 1 | RIC Rd 2, STK Rd 2 | RIC Rd 3, GCS Rd 3

* – denotes as of December 2

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Maurice Rioli Jnr (father-son)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 17)

With no glaring needs and some decent long-term midfield depth, the Tigers have a great opportunity to snare a slider or a players they rate highly at that range. Midfielders tend to be Richmond’s main type of choice at this range and that may again be an area which is bolstered given how the tall talent in this year’s pool falls. South Australian Tom Powell is arguably the most consistent ball winner available in the first round and is fresh off a SANFL Under 18s season in which he averaged over 35 disposals. He could be off the board, but would prove a very Richmond pick. Brayden Cook and Nathan O’Driscoll loom as developable options who could also come into consideration, with the former bolting into first round contention and the latter one whose range has been hotly debated. Cook looks likely to develop as a forward who thrives close to goal but can also play on the wing, while O’Driscoll is a hard-working midfielder who can play both inside and out. O’Driscoll could also be a half-back option early on, as Richmond needs long-term, much like fellow West Australian Jack Carroll. Carroll has garnered comparisons to Trent Cotchin, but has also cut his teeth off half-back. Richmond fans may wish for their club to target a tall and cover long-term depth there, but pick 36 may be a better range for that to happen.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Tigers’ claim to a current first rounder, one for next year, and a couple more 2021 second-rounders makes them a team able to trade up if need be. However, the most likely live trade action from Richmond could surround if and when a bid comes in for father-son gun, Maurice Rioli Jnr. The son of Maurice Rioli is a small forward with great goal sense and defensive pressure, suiting Richmond’s game to a tee. While he is expected to attract suitors beyond Richmond’s current pick 36, he could also come into consideration for sides around that mark. That would set Richmond into action, looking to squeeze a pick in before the bid.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Where will a bid for Maurice Rioli Jnr come in?

Will Richmond target a tall with its second round pick?

Is another midfielder in the offing with pick 17?

Featured Image: Richmond father-son hopeful Maurice Rioli Jnr in action for St Mary’s | Credit: Keri Megelus/News Corp Australia