Tag: Brisbane Lions Academy

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Brisbane

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Brisbane.

#18 Maggie Harmer (Medium Defender)
12/04/2003 | 170cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

Tipped to be the Lions’ first selection, Harmer comes straight out of their Academy and has put together some terrific form in 2021. Whilst she only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game to play, Harmer’s work both for Queensland and Maroochydore over a body of work showed that she was more than capable of stepping up. With high-level athleticism and powerful running, Harmer could develop into a half-back for the Lions, or push up and play a wing role, with the tendencies to go inside if required. She is clean and a good user by hand or foot, so expect her to be a player that quickly adapts to senior level and has an impact for Brisbane.

MAGGIE HARMER CONTENT:

>> Draft hopeful Harmer looks of find the best of both worlds

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

#35 Bella Smith (Inside Midfielder)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

To complement Harmer’s outside running ability, Smith provides that inside grunt that has seen her become one of the top hardened midfielders in the AFLW Draft pool. Clean on the inside with a nice burst to create separation out of the stoppages, Smith is a natural contested ball winner, and one who could slot straight into the team at AFLW level. It provides the Lions with more depth through the inside, with Smith no doubt set to add more strings to her bow such as more outside ball-winning capabilities. One of three past or present Maroochydore prospects to join the Lions after being in their Academy, Smith had a really strong 2021 season.

BELLA SMITH CONTENT:

>> Smith taking things “week by week”

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

#46 Mikayla Pauga (Medium Forward)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Bond University / Queensland

A clean and dangerous forward, Pauga is the third player to have come through Maroochydore’s program in the past few years. Having made the move to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship of Excellence, Pauga opted to remain in the Brisbane nomination pool and the Lions were happy to snap her up. Having overcome a couple of spinal fractures in her bottom-age year, Pauga put together a terrific 2021 season for Bond Uni in the QAFL Women’s, playing as a high half-forward. Her endurance is an area to work on, but her natural football smarts, goal sense and creativity in the forward half comes to the fore and Pauga will be an exciting player to watch for many years.

MIKAYLA PAUGA CONTENT:

>> Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga leads from the front in electric performance

#53 Luka Yoshida-Martin (Small Forward)
University of Queensland / Queensland

Everyone loves a left-field pick, and Brisbane’s certainly came in the form of ex-soccer player Luka Yoshida-Martin. A small forward who only took up Australian rules football in 2019, played a stellar role in University of Queensland’s QAFL Women’s premiership. Her effort as a small forward impressed enough for the Lions to call-up the 20-year-old to the AFLW list. Boasting impressive game sense, a knack for goals and some high upside, Yoshida-Martin is viewed as a prospect who can do a lot of damage inside 50 and could take another giant leap in development in an elite program.

#58 Lucinda Pullar (Medium Defender)
02/07/1998
Bond University / Queensland

Another cross-coder who has only pulled on the boots for a few years, Pullar is a former Brisbane Roar representative who made the transition into Australian rules. Initially a part of the Queensland Emerging Talent Squad in 2019, and then earning a 2020 AFLW Draft Combine invite last year, the ex-soccer player finally got her chance to step up to AFLW level after an impressive showing as a defender. Potentially able to play further up the field, it was her one-on-ones and elite level athleticism that caught the eye of Brisbane recruiters, prompting them to pull the trigger and add the Bond University talent to their senior list.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Brisbane selected three of their talented Academy members with the first three selections, taking in Harmer, Smith and Pauga who could play three different roles for the club and cover each third on the ground. They then opted for a couple of fast-developing ex-soccer players with the final two selections, making it a mix of experience and athleticism. A couple of Academy members to miss out include the versatile Abby Hewett, and State captain Christine Okesene who will both continue to push for a spot on a list in the coming years.

Smith taking things “week by week”

POWERFUL prospect Bella Smith has proven herself as one of Queensland’s top draft chances in 2021, but is taking a steady mindset into next week’s big day. The Maroochydore midfielder has been aligned with the Brisbane Lions Academy and there are plenty of former ‘Roos to look towards for inspiration in the same pathway.

“At this point in time I’m just taking everything week by week and just trying to play well in my QAFL games,” Smith said during the season. “But the end goal is definitely to get drafted.”

As a member of this year’s AFLW Academy intake, Smith has picked up plenty of elite standards along the way and got the chance to meet up with her fellow academy members earlier in the year. Queensland’s Under 19 Championships clash with Vic Country also served as a handy “experience”, with Smith notching 14 disposals and five marks despite her side’s 54-point loss.

“It was an interesting game,” she said. “I was very excited for it all, but at the end of the day they were definitely a better side than us. It was still a great experience and good to see friends that we’ve known from the (AFLW) Academy as well.

“(The Academy) is awesome. It’s such a good experience to get around girls that are like-minded. We got to catch up all together not too long ago down in Melbourne.”

At that point in time, Smith had hoped the national academy would be able to play their then-postponed game together, though it never came to fruition. Instead, she honed her craft back home with Maroochydore in a QAFLW campaign which yielded a finals win.

Described by Queensland Talent Manager Mark Browning as a “very, very tough inside mid (who) loves the contest”, Smith says strength and power are her go-to traits. While she is a terrific handler and distributor on the inside, she is still working on her outside game and improving the all-important fundamentals of kicking.

“(I’m looking to improve on) everything really,” Smith said. ” But I’ve been working a lot on my kicking. I’ve been doing work outside of training with Enhanced Football, he’s been helping me over the season on my kicking.”

Cracking the next level would mark another great chapter in Smith’s footballing story, which began at eight years old when she topped up for her brother’s local side.

The likes of Belle Dawes and Lily Postlethwaite have already stepped up from Maroochydore to the Brisbane Lions’ AFLW squad, can Smith be the next Roo to bounce to the bigtime?

Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

AFL Women’s Academy member Mikayla Pauga admits she is in a unique situation. The 18-year-old moved to Bond University for the start of the year to continue her studies, and therefore resides on the heart of the Gold Coast. Despite being around plenty of Gold Coast Suns, Pauga is a Brisbane Lions Academy member and one who has enjoyed coming through the program.

“It’s been pretty good I’ve recently moved to the Gold Coast, so it’s been a bit of an odd experience being in the Gold Coast region but playing for the Lions but I think it’s been really good,” she said.

Compared to many other aspiring footballers, Pauga describes her footballing journey as “quite short”. She first tasted it playing in high school and decided to take it up more seriously at Maroochydore, where she played for a couple of years in the seniors. There, she caught the eye of the Queensland talent pathway, not only running around for the Lions, but being selected in the AFLW Academy. With the move to university, Pauga had to switch Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s clubs from the Roos to the Sharkettes.

Ahead of a clash against her former teammates at her old stomping ground at Maroochydore, Pauga said she was excited and a little nervous, but told Draft Central it was great to catch up with some former teammates pre-game.

“I’m actually kind of excited, I haven’t seen the girls since probably Round 1, so getting to play with them again, will be a bit harder because they know how I play and I know them well, but excited for the clash today,” she said.

Pauga’s journey has not only involved making the switch south from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, but she had to overcome two separate spinal fractures and also had surgery to insert plates into her hand and wrist. The injuries did not deter the pocket rocket who came back bigger and stronger than ever.

“It was a bit difficult, I had two quite similar injuries six months apart so it was just working that fitness back up and the mindset mentality back was a bit hard, but I feel like I’ve come a long way since then so it doesn’t really bother me now,” she said.

Pauga can play high or deep forward, or roll through the midfield, but admitted she hopes to increase her fitness to play more minutes up the ground, and also continue developing her overall game.

“I think I play like a small forward, so I’m close to the ground and pick up the crumbs a little bit and just little explosion plays I’d say,” she said. “I’d like to be able to run around a little more, and just reading the play.”

Over the journey, Pauga identified a former teammate and now Brisbane Lions youngster as a player she has looked up to as an inspiration and role model.

“I would say one of my role models, which would be a bit weird as I played with her for a few years, would be Lily Postlethwaite,” Pauga said. “Just seeing her journey, how hard she’s worked through the years and obviously she’s had her fair share of injuries doing her ACL this year, but yeah just seeing how hard she works and just because you have an injury doesn’t mean you can’t keep going.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft approaching, Pauga has her sights set on reaching the elite level, but also has some long-term goals to go with her more immediate future.

“Short-term would probably be drafted, and the draft is really close, they’ve pushed it a lot earlier this year, so definitely working towards that,” she said. “And just helping build the club reputation and the AFL Women’s in general.”

QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

DESPITE a loss in their Round 13 QAFLW fixture against the undefeated Bond University, AFLW Academy and Brisbane Lions Academy members, Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith, put in strong performances to further solidify their placing as two of the most promising Queensland prospects for the upcoming AFLW Draft. Having both impressed in the recent U19 AFLW Championship fixture against Vic Country, Harmer as a defender and Smith more through the midfield, Brisbane fans will be more than happy to see the two of them make the step up.

>> MIKAYLA PAUGA PLAYER FOCUS

PLAYER PROFILE:

MAGGIE HARMER | MAROOCHYDORE
12/04/2003 | DEFENDER

Making a name for herself as a reliable defender, who plays well above her 170cm height against taller opponents, Harmer is perhaps most well known for her aerial work and clean ball use out of the defensive 50. In the recent Under 19s AFLW National Championships match against Vic Country, she took five marks in the defensive half on her way to getting named in the best, being trusted with kick ins duty for majority of the game.

BELLA SMITH | MAROOCHYDORE
5/10/2003 | UTILITY

Able to fill a role in all thirds of the ground, Smith credits her strength as one of her best traits, but also shows great speed and ball winning ability. It is clear to see why she is able to impact in all areas of the ground. Racking up 14 disposals in the recent U19 AFLW National Championships match against Vic Country, Smith was one of the better users of the ball, often looking to switch play, highlighting her footy smarts.

 

Q1:

Harmer

Stationed in her usual role in the defensive 50, Harmer was involved early on as she spoiled a few marks around the 50-metre mark, not being afraid of running off her opponent to create an outnumber. Harmer’s ball use was often strong, generally handballing to a runner from behind rather than kicking to 50/50 options.

Harmer finished the quarter with 3 Kicks, 3 Handballs and 1 Mark in a very respectable first term where she had some crucial moments with her ball use out of the defensive 50 and work rate to create contests.

Smith

Starting the quarter in the defensive half as a player that pressured opponents well and forced some turnovers for teammates to take advantage of, whilst Smith was good in defensive 50, it was when she got her rotation into the midfield where she thrived, often in the best spot to win clearances and making herself an option as a switch kick to open up the game going forward.

Coming out of the first term with 3 Kicks, 2 Handballs, 1 Mark and 1 Centre Clearance Smith was more involved than her stats suggest, applying pressure and keeping her opponent accountable as a midfielder.

 

Q2:

Harmer

Again in the backline with Maroochydore under a little bit more pressure than the previous quarter, Harmer took majority of the kick ins, where she would run out and kick the ball past the front of the centre square, even taking a bounce at one stage in a remarkable show of confidence. She gave away a harsh free kick for in the back early in the quarter.

Collected 3 Kicks, 1 Handball, 1 Tackle, 1 FA in the second quarter, continuing to create outnumbers in the defensive 50 to stop Bond University scoring as much as they could have.

Smith

Got involved in the same ways off the ball she did in the first quarter, applying pressure on opponents with the ball to force them to rush disposals and not hit targets. Despite not landing a couple of tackles she never let it get her confidence down, working continually hard and eventually getting rewarded later in the quarter, catching an opponent for holding the ball.

Finished the quarter with 2 Kicks, 3 Tackles and 1 FF she wasn’t quite as prolific in collecting the ball in the second, but looked even more dangerous in the second with her tackling and pressure work.

Bella Smith running away from her opponent.

Q3:

Harmer

Harmer moved up to be the sole kick-in player for Maroochydore, doing the same work as in the second quarter with her running out of the square and looking to get the ball far up the ground. She did the same audacious bounce as the previous quarter, but unfortunately got caught by an opponent when it slipped past her, doing well not to concede a free kick.

Getting 3 Kicks, 1 Handball and 1 Mark, for the quarter, with her four disposals all being effective ones and fairly damaging, and seemingly learning from her mistake with the bounce, she adjusted and did not attempt it again.

Smith

A move into a midfield and forward line split rather than the backline paid dividends for Smith in the third, winning more of the ball and being a driving force in getting Maroochydore forward with her ball use and ability to get around opponents. Seemingly gained more confidence around stoppages the longer she spent in the midfield.

Ending the quarter with 4 Kicks, 1 Handball, 1 Mark, 1 Centre Clearance and 1 Clearance, Smith saw a good return stats wise for her extended time in the midfield, without seeing a drop in her pressure work either

Q4:

Harmer

With the game coming to a close and Bond University looking increasingly likely to win, Harmer never dropped her effort, seeing her end as one of the more vital players for Maroochydore, with her ball use getting better and better as the game went on. With just the one blemish for the quarter being another harsh in the back call.

4 Kicks, 2 Handballs, 1 Mark and 1 Free Against, was the return for Harmer in the final quarter, which was arguably her best performance across the game, linking up well with teammates to keep Bond from scoring as much as they could have.

Smith

Looking increasingly more confident on the inside of the contest and around stoppages, especially in the forward half, with her pinpoint handballing leading to inside 50s and scoring opportunities.

The final quarter return for Smith was 1 Kick, 3 Handballs and 1 Clearance, with most of her work done in the forward half, she still applied that pressure she had shown through the whole game.

Maggie Harmer looking to make a lead at half-back.

SUMMARY:

Harmer: 20 Disposals, 12 Kicks, 8 Handballs, 3 Marks, 2 FA

Getting a high return for a defender, especially one that often played deep, Harmer put in a good performance despite the loss, and her kicks from opposition behinds were often put into good spots to result in inside 50s, with Bond’s team setting up well behind the play to stop that eventuating. Although only holding three marks, she flew for everything that was in her area, showing that with some assistance on her marking technique she’ll be an even bigger aerial threat.

 

Smith: 16 Disposals, 10 Kicks, 6 Handballs, 2 Marks, 3 Tackles, 1 FF, 2 Centre Clearances, 2 Clearances

Being thrown about in all thirds of the ground, Smith was able to maintain a consistent level of pressure, whilst chiming in with quality disposals when she got it. Her strength and speed around stoppages was a big advantage over her opponents, unable to be matched for speed when she locked on to a loose ball. With those strengths, her game is sure to translate well to the next level.

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 6

A FOURTH Victorian lockdown failed to bring the 2021 NAB League competition to a complete halt, with four of the five Northern Academies battling it out in a pair of makeshift Round 6 fixtures. Fans were treated to an Under 19s Sydney Derby and Q-Clash on Sunday, as the New South Wales and Queensland-based talent pathway programs returned to home soil to resume their runs. Check out the key figures and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 10.9 (69) def. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 9.9 (63)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GWS GIANTS Academy lead at every break and held on amid the tense dying stages to defeat the Swans Academy by a single goal, in a Sydney derby where the widest margin at any stage was 14 points.

TEAM STATS:

  • GIANTS Academy won the inside 50s (43-39) and handballs (146-143)
  • Swans Academy won the kicks (185-166), marks (83-75), and hit-outs (36-27)
  • The tackles were tied at 55 apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy) 30 disposals (24 kicks), 10 marks, 8 rebound 50s
  • Felix Rogers (Swans Academy) 34 disposals, 7 marks, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy) 27 disposals, 8 marks, 11 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Josh Green (GIANTS Academy) 25 disposals (18 handballs), 3 marks, 3 tackles, 1 goal
  • Angus Anderson (Swans Academy) 20 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
4 – Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy)
3 – Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
2 – Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy)
1 – Fraser Kelly (GIANTS Academy)

NEXT UP:

GWS GIANTS Academy vs. Northern Knights | Preston City Oval | Saturday June 5, 11:45am
Sydney Swans Academy vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Preston City Oval | Saturday June 5, 2:15pm

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 7.7 (49) def. by GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 13.18 (96)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy overcame a first term deficit to overpower the Brisbane Lions Academy, running out 47-point victors with help from a five-goal to nil final quarter.

TEAM STATS:

  • SUNS Academy won the disposals (323-255), handballs (146-85), hit-outs (49-25), and scoring shots (31-14)
  • Lions Academy won the marks (78-63) and rebound 50s (29-23)
  • The tackles were tied at 76 apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy) 34 disposals, 9 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Bailey Reeves (SUNS Academy) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 12 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy) 19 disposals (17 kicks), 8 marks, 4 tackles, 6 rebound 50s
  • Max Pescud (SUNS Academy) 25 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 3 goals
  • Zac Young (Lions Academy) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 8 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Will Bella (SUNS Academy) 18 disposals, 5 marks, 5 inside 50s, 11 hitouts, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
4 – Will Bella (SUNS Academy)
3 – Max Pescud (SUNS Academy)
2 – Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
1 – Bailey Reeves (SUNS Academy)

NEXT UP:

To be confirmed.

2020 AFL Draft recap: Brisbane Lions

BRISBANE is a side on the up and pressing hard to hit the top of the pile, with its trade and draft hauls over the last couple of years indicative such movement. The Lions again went in holding an early-second rounder and built a hand thereafter which allowed them to match incoming bids on their academy talent, before also being able to make a couple other later selections. In the end, two of Brisbane’s homegrown talents landed at the club, while the Lions’ love affair with Vic Country products continued and a developing tall also entered the elite ranks.

BRISBANE

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

Rookies:
Grant Birchall (Re-listed), Carter Michael (Academy), Deividas Uosis (Cat B)

Brisbane’s first point of call came as Collingwood placed a first round bid on leading academy talent Blake Coleman, which had the Lions scrambling to adjust their hand. The bid, which Collingwood also flirted with its picks in the teens, was inevitably matched at 24 and Coleman was able to join his elder brother, Keidean in the maroon, blue, and gold. He promises to bring some spark to the Lions’ attacking 50 in the long term with clean hands, speed, and terrific goal sense among his greatest weapons as a small forward.

The Lions were next put on the clock in round three, where both of their remaining two National Draft selections were made. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels graduate Harry Sharp was the Lions’ seemingly ritual Vic Country pick this time around at 43, having made a name for himself by smashing the draft combine 2km time trial record (5:28) this year. He is a bolter of sorts with obvious running strengths and high upside in his midfield development. 202cm South Australian Henry Smith then rounded out the Lions’ haul just five selections later. He spent most of his SANFL Under 18s season as a key forward who rotated through the ruck, with his contested marking and efforts at ground level key traits to build off.

Looking at Brisbane’s rookie haul, Grant Birchall and Deividas Uosis made for selections which were already made known prior to the fact. Birchall was re-listed as he winds down a stellar AFL career, Uosis is an Irish convert to the code who was born in Lithuania and committed to the club in February this year. The latter was a Category B selection, with academy product Carter Michael put onto the Category A list despite not being called out in the Rookie Draft. He was a key feature for the Lions in this year’s Academy Series while also plying his trade off half-back and on both sides of midfield for Maroochydore in the QAFL. It made for a relatively straightforward rookie intake, with five fresh talents entering the club overall along with Birchall.

Featured Image: RF Photography

Your questions answered – Draft Central’s pre-draft Q&A

YESTERDAY we asked you to send in all your last-minute questions ahead of the 2020 AFL Draft to be answered on our YouTube channel, with those initial enquiries touched on during the Q&A session which you can find here, and linked below. The questions spilled over after the time of recording but not to worry, AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro is on hand to get to all of your pressing questions ahead of draft day.

Q&A:

Q: Do you think it’s worth Fremantle trying to move up the draft order and chase a key position forward? Maybe trade Pick 12 and a future first rounder to try and get a Logan McDonald, or that kind of talent? – From Christopher on Facebook
A: Hi Christopher, there was certainly plenty of early talk surrounding whether Fremantle would look to trade up and snare McDonald in particular. That has cooled of late and it is difficult to see the Dockers having enough to trade up into the top three-to-five picks while also keeping their current NGA talents in mind. A key position player could well still come into consideration with Pick 12 nonetheless.

Q: Is Noah Gadsby a chance of going? – From Zac on Instagram
A: There are plenty of Geelong Falcons products in draft contention, Noah Gadsby being one of them. He missed out on a draft combine invite but will be known to clubs having been part of the Vic Country state academy hub and blitzed preseason testing.

Q: Is Tahj Abberley any hope of being drafted? – From Nathan on Instagram
A: Hi Nathan, Tahj is a player the Draft Central team has rated highly for a long time. He seems to have done all he could this year in terms of performance, but this year’s draft presents a tough squeeze at the back-end. His form at each level and nice blend of traits should have him in the mix, even for other clubs should Brisbane opt against taking him on.

Q: Where will Fraser Rosman be selected? – From @8phila on Instagram
A: Fraser Rosman looms as quite a prospective pick out of this year’s crop, but has all the raw athletic traits which clubs will love. He looks like a later pick or ideal rookie option given how few runs he has been able to put on the board, but his upside and potential may see a club jump early at the tall forward/wingman.

Q: How are Clayton Gay and Will Bravo looking in the draft? – From Zac on Instagram
A: These are arguably Dandenong’s best prospects in 2020 and both shape as players with nice traits to develop at the next level. Clayton is a versatile type who can play up either end and is more of a natural footballer in the way he goes about it, good smarts and footy IQ. Will has greater athletic traits, but is still developing other areas of his game. They are both different players, but expect them to be in the mix in the late stages of the draft or rookie draft.

Q: What pick is Tanner Bruhn going? – From Harris on Instagram
A: Bruhn is poised among such an interesting bunch at the top-end, and his final placing could change drastically depending on which clubs jump on midfielders within the top 10. He could potentially land between picks six and 10, or even slide into the teens – but unlikely any further.

Q: Who is the best ruck prospect and where will they go? – From Arjun on Twitter
A: Riley Thilthorpe could be considered the best ruck prospect, but sees himself as more of a key forward and second ruck option. He has been linked with Adelaide’s first pick and the overall top 10. Elsewhere, West Australian Shannon Neale is a second round chance with nice upside as a lean ruck/forward, while Max Heath could bustle his way into contention after showing massive preseason improvement.

Q: Are rumours of Will Phillips wanting to stay in Victoria going to push him down to Essendon’s picks? – Arjun on Twitter
A: There are plenty of rumours which fly around at this time of year. There is not too much to suggest Phillips poses a massive flight risk, which is often attached to Vic Metro prospects. He could join former Oakleigh teammates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson at Gold Coast, and is certainly a top five talent.

>> Watch the video Q&A below

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Brisbane Lions

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 subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Brisbane is the next side under the microscope, fresh off a season good enough for fourth spot in the final standings. As a team looking to truly contend for the premiership over the coming years, the Lions have traded down the order a touch and focused on securing mature talent from other clubs to further aid their push. A strong academy cohort has also seen them bolster their late hand, with five of the Lions’ current seven picks sitting in the third and fourth rounds. There also lies an opportunity to bring in a second round talent, though the Lions are said to only be looking to use two to three picks overall.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 25, 53, 58, 63, 68, 69, 94
* – denotes as of November 20

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Blake Coleman (Academy), Saxon Crozier (Academy), Carter Michael (Academy)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Best available

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 25)

As it stands, Brisbane’s first selection will be made in the 20s for the third year running, signalling the Lions’ steep rise and clear intentions. While it is subject to trade offers, Brisbane could get some good value from the pick despite not having any glaring list needs. Perhaps a running half-back would provide long-term cover for the ageing Daniel Rich and Grant Birchall with Alex Witherden out the door, or a point of difference through midfield could be the way to go.

Zavier Maher is a player who has been linked with top 25 honours of late and may come into contention. Brisbane has been known for selecting Vic Country players over the years and the Murray Bushrangers product has all the speed, grunt and competitiveness Brisbane would love. Although, the Lions have stocked up on inside midfielders with their first picks in 2018 and 2019, obtaining Ely Smith and Deven Robertson.

Should they look elsewhere because of that factor, a bid for Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie may be in the offing. Given the pick will be pushed back slightly, it will fall right into the Eastern Ranges captain’s range, and he could be the attacking half-back Brisbane is after. Jack Carroll has his first round suitors but is a classy half-back/midfielder who may fit the bill if available, while Nathan O’Driscoll could be the one and join former Perth teammate, Robertson at the elite level.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

An early bid for one of Brisbane’s academy prospects may send its list management team into a scramble trying to scrounge the points to match, though the Lions’ cover in that department looks quite sound after a raft of pick swaps during trade period. Given they have traded out of the first round this year and into that of 2021, the Lions may one of the quieter clubs at this year’s draft and obtain a rather straightforward hand. Pick 25 may be of interest to other clubs wanting to move up the order, with picks from the late-second round onwards arguably more relevant to Brisbane, unless it is keen on a particular player. With no glaring list needs, there is a good sense of freedom in what the Queensland-based club can do.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Brisbane match bids inside the top 30 for their academy players?

Which academy players will Brisbane end up with?

Will other clubs move in for Brisbane’s overlooked academy players?

Will Brisbane hold on to pick 25?

Will Brisbane look to further bolster its 2021 draft hand?

Featured Image: RF Photography

QAFL Player focus: Carter Michael (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

IN our latest edition of the Player Focus, we take a look at how Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Carter Michael fared in Maroochydore’s QAFL Elimination Final against Sherwood. Although his side went down by five points, Michael showed glimpses of why Brisbane fans should be excited about his potential. His strongest asset is his booming left foot kick, which makes him an ideal person to take the kick ins for his side. Most of his disposals in Saturday’s final came from kick ins as a result, but he had some effective moments in general play as well.

Q1:

Despite spending time in the midfield during last week’s clash, Michael started this game on his customary half-back flank. He was in the thick of the action straight away, running past for a handball receive that did not quite him as he would have liked. Once the ball hit the deck, he dove into congestion to cause a stoppage. He started the game with a defensive approach, as he stayed very tight on his opponent and did not run off to provide an attacking option as much as usual. At a stoppage in the defensive 50, Michael won a contested possession but was immediately tackled for a ball up. A few minutes later, he ran hard in transition to pick up a loose ball in defensive 50, got the arms free of an oncoming tackler and dished out a handball.

After a Sherwood behind, Michael took the kick in and used his booming left foot to get the ball to a contest just in behind centre wing, and it trickled over the boundary line. He tried to be more conservative with his next kick in by going short to the pocket, but uncharacteristically he missed his target and it went out on the full. With his next one, Michael chose to go long to a contest down the line. Sherwood kicked 14 points for the match and Michael received 11 or 12 extra kicks as a result.

Late in the quarter, Michael started to get more involved in the game. Shortly after laying a solid tackle in defensive 50 to stop Sherwood’s forward momentum and force a stoppage, he ran around the back of a teammate that received a free kick and delivered a beautiful short pass to a teammate leading up on the wing. When Sherwood next went inside 50, he flew as a third man up into a marking contest to spoil the ball nicely over the boundary line.

Q2:

Michael had a very quiet second term. He took a kick in at the seven-minute mark and went long down the middle and hit ruckman Jacob Simpson lace out. This kick was fantastic because it opened up the game for his side and cleared the defensive zone.

He also had a nice moment where he contested a mark at half-back, collected the ball with one take at ground level and then dished it forwards cleanly to two running teammates. This started a great passage of offensive transition play which resulted in a goal over the back of Sherwood’s defence. Although Michael did not have any impact for the remainder of the quarter, his side was playing well and went into half time with a 10-point lead.

Q3:

Michael took another kick in early in the third where he went long down the line. Although it was marked by the opposition, this was because his teammate did not read the flight of the ball well. From his next kick in a minute later, he went up the middle and found a teammate in the centre square in between three Sherwood players. This was an incredibly difficult kick to pinpoint, yet he had the confidence to go for it (in a tight elimination final, no less) and executed it effectively which was outstanding.

His next kick was from an out-on-the-full free kick in the back pocket, from which he cleared the defensive zone and found a teammate on the wing. Although most of his kicks were great, at this stage they were all coming from behinds or other free kicks, which showed that Michael was struggling to find his own footy in general play.

At the 11-minute mark, Michael ran back to take a nice intercept mark in front of Sherwood’s Zane Lovell. He followed it up by delivering a nice short kick to a teammate on the wing. From his next kick in, Michael smartly ran wide to push the defenders in that direction before pulling his kick straight down the corridor to find teammate Thomas Holt. It was very windy at this point, so Michael’s ability to hit a flat 50 metre kick was very handy for his side coming out of defence.

Michael went up for another intercept mark in defence shortly after, but he and his teammate got in each other’s way. Fortunately for them, the crumber for Sherwood only snapped a behind. With that kick in, he went long to a contest on the wing. A few minutes later, Michael got a handball receive and fumbled it, but cleaned up his own mess and handballed back to an open teammate.

There was a lot of spice in the game late in this quarter, and the ball was consistently locked in Maroochydore’s defensive 50. Sherwood failed to take their chances though, so Michael had a couple more kick ins where he just went long to one-on-one contests on the wing. He and the other defenders held up well under immense pressure and got their side to three quarter time with a 20-point lead.

Picture: RF Photography


Q4:

At the opening centre bounce of the final term, Michael came off the back of the square, collected the ball cleanly, used his pace to break away with a few quick steps and delivered the ball inside 50. This is the type of running play that Michael has done well in the last few weeks but did not do often on Saturday. After the next stoppage, Sherwood got the ball forward but Michael worked back to take the ball cleanly and dish it out the back to a teammate.

From a kick in, Michael found a teammate 50 metres away for an uncontested mark. This was an important kick to hit because Sherwood had just slotted back-to-back goals so his side was under the pump. At the 12-minute mark, Michael gave an important handball over the top to start a link-up chain for his side down the wing. Shortly after, he affected a spoil on his opponent that was leading up at the ball carrier. Michael had two more kick ins where he simply bombed it long down the line to a contest, which was definitely the safest option at the time given that his side was only up by a goal.

When Sherwood kicked another goal and took the lead, Maroochydore’s coaching staff immediately threw Michael into the midfield. This demonstrated how much trust they have in him as a young player, and he rewarded them by having a decent impact in there. He got a couple of quick touches, rushed an important kick forward and applied good body pressure on the opposition. On the back of good midfield work from Michael and others, Maroochydore had multiple shots on goal and took a one point lead late in the quarter. However, they could not capitalise on the hard work by kicking a goal.

Sherwood and former Brisbane Lions player Ryan Harwood then kicked a miraculous goal from a stoppage in Sherwood’s forward pocket to put them five points ahead. A few minutes later, the siren sounded and Sherwood ran out victors in a thriller.

Closing Thoughts:

Competing in an elimination final at League level will prove valuable experience for Michael, as this level of football is not something that many young prospects get exposed to. His skills were typically outstanding throughout the game, and there is no doubt that his left foot will be a major weapon at any level of football that he plays. He has shown in recent weeks that he is also a good contested player, but he did not get many opportunities to showcase this on Saturday. In saying that, it was great to see Michael get some midfield time late in the contest after his inspired bursts in that role last weekend. Although half-back is probably his strongest position at this stage, he has a great size and speed that could help him become a very effective midfielder in the years to come.

For more news and updates about the AFL Draft, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Swans record GIANT win as Suns hold off Lions

SYDNEY Swans and Gold Coast Suns academies have won back-to-back games against the GWS GIANTS and Brisbane Lions academies in the second round of the Northern Academy Series over the weekend. The Swans had a much easier time than the Suns, always looking in control of their match on their way to a dominant 53-point victory over their state rivals.

Sydney Swans 13.8 (87) defeated GWS GIANTS 5.4 (34)

Hosting arguably the two biggest NSW academy prospects in Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden, the Swans midfield was superb, providing equal measures of grunt and pace in getting the ball from defence to attack in an instant. The pair were running down the ground and creating opportunities for their teammates, with Campbell getting on the end of a brilliant goal, and setting up a teammate for another with a four-bounce run from the wing to inside 50. Gulden started in the unfamiliar half-back position, but his speed and skill allowed him to be a danger coming out of defence.

Sam Thorne was a clear standout for the Swans, continually working hard through the middle, and arguably could have been best on ground for his four quarter effort and tackling pressure on the opposition. Along with Thorne through the middle, it was the attack of Reed van Huisstede (four goals) and Liam Puncher (three goals) who applied all the scoreboard pressure. Other Swans who impressed included overager Sam Gaden, who looked comfortable in defence alongside Max Geddes. The deep Swans midfield of Campbell, Thorne, Nick Brewer and Marc Sheather ultimately powered the Sydney side to a big win.

For the GIANTS, they had just the one multiple goalkicker in Fraser Kelly who kicked two, while Logan Berryman, Liam Delahunty and Maximus Monaghan all snagged one apiece. It was no surprise to see Josh Green – the GIANTS’ top rated Academy prospect – named best-on despite the defeat, once against throwing himself at the contest and doing everything he could to get his side across the line. Among those also named in the GIANTS’ best were Sam Frost, Harrison Grintell, Drew Beavan and Daniel Turner in what was ultimately a day where the younger side was outclassed by a more polished Swans outfit.

GOALS:

Sydney: R.van Huisstede 4, L.Puncher 3, P.Roseby 2, B.Campbell, A.Ball, O.Bird, N.Brewer.
GIANTS: F. Kelly 2, L. Berryman, L. Delahunty, M. Monaghan.

BEST: 

Sydney: S. Thorne, E. Gulden, B. Campbell, R. Huisstede, N. Brewer, S. Gaden, M. Geddes
GIANTS: J. Green, S. Frost, H. Grintell, D. Beavan, D. Turner, F. Kelly

Brisbane Lions 10.8 (68) defeated Gold Coast Suns 9.7 (61)

In a game of two halves, the midfield battle proved crucial in deciding which side would snatch the momentum. Gold Coast dominated the opening stages, booting the first four goals of the game on the back of contested work from the likes of Bailey Reeves and Ethan Hunt at centre bounces. The combination of Reeves’ ability to extract, and Hunt’s drive from the contest worked well to get the SUNS on the front foot.

Speaking of, the outside run of Aiden Fyfe and Northern Territory prospect Brandon Rusca also worked well in transition, with the kicking prowess of Josh Fahey and Rhys Nicholls from defence also helping set up some seriously potent Suns transitions. While Fahey looked to penetrate with his long left boot from the kick-ins and deeper in defence, Nicholls more-so utilised strong intercept marking and the nous to run off for handball receives to have an impact.

Skipper for the day, Jack Johnston was a rock at centre half-back, faring well aerially while also contributing to the Suns’ kick-heavy game in the back half at times. He combined well with Joel Jeffrey before the swingman was sent forward, with their reading of the ball in flight ensuring Brisbane had little avenues to go forward quickly. Jeffrey, another prospect tied to Gold Coast through the Darwin zone, showed great class and athleticism in his time up forward. He managed to snare a set shot conversion in the fourth term.

Max Pescud was arguably best afield for the victors though, making a menace of himself at half-forward. While he is still quite light-on, Pescud showed he was not afraid to hit the ball and his opponents hard, and collected plenty of both throughout the day. The forward’s conversion was well off in the first half, but his reward for effort came in the form of two goals, with his first a ripping effort on the run having just burned an opponent.

That opponent was Tahj Abberley, who still proved to be one of Brisbane’s better players across the day. The small utility was as reliable as any Lion afield, constantly looking a class above with his use by foot. He was employed through midfield and rotated out to defence, where his reading of the play and rebound abilities came to the fore.

Another Lions Academy regular, Saxon Crozier was also terrific in a range of roles. Starting through midfield, the Lions captain got his hands on the ball early, but looked most dangerous in the closing stages as he used his long kicking to take the game on. Another usually reliable kick is Carter Michael, who also found plenty of the ball. His radar was a touch off as he looked to initiate some forward movement from defence, but the meterage was there and he fared well with a move into the midfield later on.

Part of Brisbane’s ability to turn the game on its head in the second half came through the likes of Blake Coleman and Bruce Reville. Both players rotated forward through midfield, and looked so dangerous whenever the ball entered their area. Coleman was a particular threat in transition with his clean hands, while over-ager Reville had a massive impact in the third term to give the Lions a sniff.

The pressure of Will Tasker, who booted two goals, and Lochlan Harrop also ensured the Lions took the game down to the wire, with their presence around the ball putting a classy Suns defence under the pump. Brisbane was forced to fight from too far back though, and came up just a goal short despite creating good chances in the last five minutes.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: S. Walsh 2, M. Pescud 2, A. Fyfe, J. Jeffrey, B. Reeves, N. Stevens, B. Uwland, W. Bella.
Brisbane:
W. Tasker 2, B. Reville 2, C. Bowes 2, C. Michael, S. Crozier, L. Harrop.

ADC BEST:

Gold Coast: M. Pescud, J. Fahey, E. Hunt, R. Nicholls, J. Jeffrey, J. Johnston, B. Reeves
Brisbane: T. Abberley, B. Reville, B. Coleman, S. Crozier, C. Michael, L. Harrop