Tag: Brisbane Lions Academy

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

 

Northern Academy Series preview: Round 2

GOLD Coast Suns and Sydney Swans Academies will be keen to double-up with victories over their respective cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions and GWS GIANTS Academies when the Northern Academy series continues this weekend. Originally scheduled to face off against Academies from opposing states, the border restrictions between Queensland and New South Wales have made life difficult, but luckily for the two state’s most talented AFL Draft hopefuls, they will still get to run around.

In a similar structure to last week, the NSW teams will do battle on Saturday at North Dalton Park, Wollongong in conditions that will hopefully be better than the slog fest that greeted the players last week. On Sunday, the Queensland sides will battle it out at Labrador in a change of venue from the first round, which the Lions will be hoping can change their fortunes in the Round 2 clash. All of the teams will have players to watch when talking about both the 2020 and 2021 AFL Drafts, which makes it entertaining viewing.

For Sydney, Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden are the players that Swans fans know plenty about given their role with the Allies last season. The pair use the ball well and can be damaging in the forward half of the ground, with Campbell touted as a top 10 pick and Gulden as a highly rated prospect. But outside the duo, the Swans have a number of others to watch that make them quite a damaging unit, with Marco Rossman up forward likely to build on a quieter first-up appearance, while over-agers Jackson Barling and Sam Thorne are consistent performers for the red and white. Sam Gaden was hitting his straps at the Under 18 Championships last year before injury cut his short, and is worth a look when it comes to key position talents.

Their opponents the GIANTS might not have the standout prospect they had last year in Tom Green, but they do have a number of talents that will excite GIANTS fans, as shown by their capability to push the Swans in the wet last weekend. Josh Green – Tom’s brother – is one of their top talents, with the taller more key position option a player that could follow his brother into the elite program. One of the more unlucky players not to end up on a list is over-ager Liam Delahunty who has plenty of tricks playing as that third-tall utility who can play just about anywhere on the ground. He is one who would love to stake his case, and while he was set to represent Northern Knights in NAB League, the Academy prospect will be thrilled he has a second chance at playing here. Bottom-age talent Kai Watts, and top-age inclusion for Round 2, Charlie Byrne are others to watch, with the latter having some incredible skill coming off half-back that he showed for the Murray Bushrangers last year.

Turning the attention to the Q-Clash, and the Lions will be keen to turnaround their fortunes after a slow start saw them 37 points down before they put a score on the board. The Suns jumped them and utilised the breeze well, but it is easy to see why Lions fans are excited about this year’s crop of Academy talents. Carter Michael and Tahj Abberley are two players who have speed and skill to use coming off half-back, not afraid to take the game on or provide a contest in the air or at ground level. Along with fellow AFL Academy members Saxon Crozier – who often plays off a wing – and Blake Coleman – who worries opposition defenders every time he is in the vicinity of the goals – the Lions have a number of players who really stand out. Shatna Cashen-Harris and Kuot Thok both showed glimpses in the Round 1 loss, while Daniel Lanthois was strong in midfield. Jack Briskey is a key defender who has shown promising signs for Brisbane as well.

The Suns will look to have a similar first quarter start when they take on the Lions at Labrador after their Round 1 blitz basically ended the game in an impressive opening stanza. Bottom-ager Josh Fahey was the top player on the ground in the win while Max Pescud and Josh Gore showed plenty of signs in the forward half of the ground, causing issues for opponents in the air or at ground level. Aiden Fyfe impressed off a wing, while captain Jack Johnston was a rock in defence as he showed last season. The Suns have plenty to like about their side, because the Academy is quite even, shown by the inclusion of over-age forward, Nathan Colenso who kicked a couple of goals. Most of the players have run around in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) this season, with a number of them – such as Colenso and Coleman – transforming from teammates to opponents, or in the case of Michael and Abberley for example – opponents to teammates.

Saturday, August 15

Sydney Swans vs GWS GIANTS, North Dalton Park Wollongong

Sunday 16 August

Brisbane Lions vs Gold Coast Suns, Labrador Park

Scouting notes: Northern Academy Series – Round 1

THE 2020 Northern Academy Series got underway over the weekend, with prospects from the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, GWS Giants, and Sydney Swans talent programs all looking to impress. State derbies kicked off proceedings, and made for a couple of hard-fought battles.

In a willing contest under sunny conditions, the Gold Coast Suns Academy won by 53 points over their Sunshine State rivals. The Suns booted the first six goals of the game – five came with the breeze in the opening term – to run out comfortable winners.

The Sydney Swans Academy also ran out winners in their clash with the GWS Giants prospects, setting up the victory with a string of five unanswered goals which extended from the second term, onwards. Soggy conditions ensured hard work would be made for the 15-point triumph, with a good bit of niggle to go with the contested slog.

We took a look at some of the Academy members and how they performed, as well as a bunch of other names who impressed on the day.

Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast Suns

Brisbane:

By: Peter Williams

#12 Saxon Crozier

Played a mixture between the wing and getting back to help the defence, Crozier was neat with his ball use and always looking to create run for the Lions. After a quieter first term – though he had a good handball out of defence – he had an number of impressive plays in the second term. He sidestepped an opponent and got it quickly onto the right, and presented to his teammates around the field. His handballing release to teammates streaming down the ground opened up the play for Brisbane to begin to cut the deficit back.

#13 Blake Coleman

Not a high possession player, Coleman has high level footy smarts and clean hands that make him so difficult to stop. He is one of those players who might not get a touch for a half, then can win the game for his side with a couple of impactful plays. After a few silky moves in the first term, he combined well with Tahj Abberley down the ground to win it on the wing and keep paddling the ball in front of him. Somehow he managed to gain distance, shake off his pursuers and launch a goal from 50m having beaten three opponents in the clear goal of the day. His second major in the third term was more straightforward, floating in from the side to then hold his ground and clunk the grab 35m out. He nailed the set shot six and a half minutes into the term, and almost had another good mark in the final quarter but could not quite hold it. As he booted two of the Lions’ four goals, he did well to play his role in the forward half with great pressure.

#14 Carter Michael

Michael showed a great balance of offensive and defensive traits throughout the contest, playing off half-back and then pushing up the ground when required. His first foray in the match was a good early spoil, getting the body contact out of the way. Throughout the match, Michael ran hard to be an option through the middle, and often ran up to the kicker at a stop in play to receive the get and go, to add an extra number to the play and try and use his speed to drive the ball down the ground. He pumped the ball inside 50 on occasions, and was working hard to look for one-two opportunities for his teammates. He copped a knock in the defensive 50 back pocket, but bounced straight back up and was solid throughout the entire game. Showing nice hands out of congestion, Michael ran down the ground and teamed up with Abberley well in keeping the ball moving. He had a snap on goal of his own late in the final term, but the wind did not help him out and it went out on the full. His reaction in one passage of play saw him bolt down the middle and leave his opponents in his wake. He was a treat to watch on the day and a real highlight for the Lions.

#15 Tahj Abberley

One of the Lions’ best throughout the day, he just kept trying to create off half-back and push up the ground. He set up a goal to Coleman in the second term with his pace off half-back, and then teamed up well with Michael in the final term with the one-two handballs down the ground. He stayed involved in all four quarters, and even drifted forward at times to kick it deeper inside 50, having a clever snap from long range, but it drifted for a behind. He won plenty of the ball in all thirds of the ground, and when the heat was on early in the game, Abberley was one of the few who stood up and continued to try hard against the flow. He used the ball well and showed good hands in traffic throughout the contest, and definitely showed plenty of potential in the defeat.

Others:

In terms of others who caught the eye, Shatna Cashen-Harris was lively up forward, with clean hands and a silky side-step, always looking dangerous. In midfield, the combination of Sam Winterbottom and Daniel Lanthois tried hard with the latter kicking a clever goal in the second term, whilst Ben Thomas kicked the other major for the Lions. Over-ager Max McDonald was dominant in the ruck, whilst Noah McFadyen provided a contest up forward, and Kuot Thok was not afraid to crash and bash the packs in defence.

>> Lions Academy Content

Gold Coast:

By: Ed Pascoe

#13 Rhys Nicholls 

Nicholls did not have the most productive game but he was still able to show his skill and talent with some nice spin moves and classy movement from the back half. The clever left-footer looked very smooth whenever he got possession and like many of his teammates, always took the opportunity to move the ball forward as quickly and cleanly as possible. 

#14 Max Pescud 

Maybe the most unlucky Suns player not to be included in the AFL based academy, he has been a regular goal scorer in the QAFL and backed that up again. He kicked multiple goals while also unselfishly passing off more opportunities as he could have easily ended up with about five goals himself. A quick player who takes the game on, tackles, and marks with intent despite his light frame, he came undone a few times with his run but when he was up-and-running and taking bounces, he looked very sharp and even got some time through the midfield late in the game, winning a few clearances. 

#19 Josh Fahey 

Fahey played for NSW/ACT in last year’s Under 16 championships and now finds himself with the Gold Coast Suns, although he wont be tied to any academies for next year’s draft. That’ll come as a sigh of relief for all AFL clubs, as he put on a best on ground performance down back. Fahey wasn’t hard to miss with his blonde locks but he also wasn’t hard to miss for the Lions going inside 50 as they kicked it down his throat multiple times. Fahey cut off plenty of attacks, attacking the contest hard and cleanly. His left-foot kicking from defence was a real feature, both long and damaging, and he had a major influence on the result. Fahey looks to be a very promising prospect for the 2021 draft.  

#20 Aiden Fyfe 

Fyfe had the ball on a string on his favoured wing position, and would had to have been the leading possession winner on the ground as he was involved in every quarter as one of the most consistent players afield. Fyfe found the ball all over the ground, working hard defensively and offensively. He was one of many to kick a goal in the first quarter with a nice snap and he would set up countless others with his clean hands and composure when in possession. Fyfe rarely wasted his touches and often hit teammates in a better position than himself. Despite not being the quickest player out there, he was certainly one of the sharpest in both skill and mind with ball in hand. 

#22 Jack Johnston 

The captain of the side, Johnston was a rock in defence at centre half-back. He took some nice strong marks and was cool and composed across the back half. Johnston is a strong player already standing at 195cm and 95kg, using his frame well both overhead anover the ball, and his disposals were often very clean for a big man. 

Others:

A couple of over-agers who impressed were forwards, Josh Gore and Nathan Colenso. Both were able to hit the scoreboard multiple times and look damaging, with Colenso on the lead, and Gore mixing between the lead and in play. Both have been prominent goalkickers at QAFL level, and brought that same form into the game, with Gore’s clean hands and Colenso’s strength and tackling ability amongst the attributes that stood out for the respective forwards.

>> Suns Academy Content

GWS Giants vs. Sydney Swans

By: Michael Alvaro

GWS:

#1 Harry Grant

The diminutive over-ager was thrown right into the cut and thrust of midfield and hardly looked out of place. Grant hunted the ball from the first bounce, with his pace and tenacity at ground level making for a solid two-way contribution. If he wasn’t digging in to win his own ball at the stoppages, Grant was applying smothering defensive pressure to make life hard for opposition midfielders. It seemed the conditions suited his game well, and he would later move forward where he very nearly added a goal to his game with a sharp snap.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Another 19-year-old prospect to show promising glimpses of form, Delahunty was primed to make is mark on the NAB League and VFL in 2020. Instead, he took the opportunity this weekend to show his worth back with the Giants Academy, and had his moments throughout the game. Starting in defence, Delahunty took a nice contested mark to intercept a deep Sydney entry, while also looking to rebound aggressively by running his full measure and delivering by foot. He is somewhat of an in-between size at 192cm and 87kg, allowing him to compete both aerially and at ground level. He continued to take the game on from defensive 50, but was caught holding the ball as he looked to fend off an opponent in the third term. A move forward followed, and Delahunty capped off his performance with a tidy, quick finish for the final goal of the game.

#27 Josh Green

Green cuts a similar figure to his brother, Tom – albeit a touch taller and leaner – and was tried in an inside midfield role for the Giants early on. His 192cm frame allowed him to compete at the stoppages, while his ability to get up either end of the ground made him an influential player throughout the game. While he was a touch slow to truly build into the contest, Green began to show his best form after half time with some terrific overhead marking in tricky conditions. His clearance work built as well with the added confidence, and a later move behind the ball allowed Green to showcase his strong hands and intercept quality.

#42 Maximus Monaghan

One of a number of Giants to have rotated through midfield, Monaghan also showed some good signs while stationed both in defence and attack. The top-ager is strongly built and applied himself at the contest, showing good aggression and strength to break free and dispose of the ball via foot. He accumulated well through the engine room and was later sighted up either end of the ground where he was able to find his way to the ball.

Others:

On a day where the conditions made it tough to take a lot out of the game, there were a number of players to have provided little flashes of form. Bottom-age forward Sam Stening presented well up the ground early and was later rewarded with a goal for his run-down tackle on Max Geddes. The likes of Coopa Steele and Joel Dunstall dug in to find plenty of the ball, while Harrison Grintell looked lively up forward, and Sam Frost was among a few solid defenders. Under 16 NSW/ACT MVP Kai Watts booted a goal from his permenent forward position, while Jack Driscoll rotated back through the ruck.

>> Giants Academy Content

Sydney:

#2 Sam Gaden

Gaden proved a strong a flexible key position option for the Swans, starting forward and eventually plying his trade down back. The over-ager worked up the ground well in the early stages, presenting as a link into Sydney’s forward 50. He provided a goal assist to Jackson Barling in the second term with a hacked kick into the arc, and doubled his impact with some forward 50 ruck work. Having been moved down back in the second half, Gaden showcased his ability to intercept, sweeping well both in the air and at ground level.

#3 Kye Pfrengle

A player who needs only a few touches or moments to catch the eye is Pfrengle, who looked particularly lively in the first term with some incredible marking attempts. The top-age AFL Academy hub member certainly has a spring in his step, leaping high for the ball to intercept GWS’ long defensive rebounds. While he failed to hold onto most of his speckie attempts, Pfrengle was positioned well behind the ball to begin with, allowing him enact that intercept game. He would later be seen a touch deeper in defence, locking the ball in and taking the kick-outs, making handy contributions just when it seemed he was drifting out of the contest.

#7 Braeden Campbell

The leading Swans Academy prospect looked like tearing the game apart as he dominated the opening stages, showing terrific signs through midfield. While his speed and damaging kicking on the outside often garner the most praise, it was Campbell’s toughness and ability to adapt to the conditions which stood out most on this occasion. His clearance work was sound throughout the match, and despite coughing up a rare turnover by foot in the second term, he was able to find his range consistently. With some opposition attention incoming, Campbell was moved to half-back and also rotated off the wing, while pushing forward to slot a goal in the third term. He looked most dangerous with his burst away from the stoppages though, and hunted the ball well when on the inside.

>> Academy Series Player Focus

#15 Sam Thorne

Another over-ager to have made his mark on the game was Thorne, a small midfielder who thrived in the soggy conditions. He was a regular at the centre bounces and stoppages, accumulating the ball with ease at ground level and releasing well to his teammates on the move. Thorne’s ability to shark the ball off hands and get his legs pumping to burst away was noticeable, and it helped set the tone for Sydney from where it mattered most. He finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the day, and kept his name in the hat as far as the Swans are concerned.

#22 Errol Gulden

Campbell’s partner-in-crime, Gulden was a consistent threat for Sydney and managed to find the ball at will while rotating from the wing, through the middle, and up forward. The 176cm mover relies more on agility and smarts rather than pure pace, so initially found it hard in the wet conditions to have his usual impact on the game despite constantly getting his hands on the ball.

Still, Gulden snared the opening goal after being tackled high inside 50, and used it as a catalyst to work more effectively at ground level. His work-rate forward of centre was outstanding, and he could be seen pushing inside 50 from the wing to snare his second major, hardly breaking stride as he gobbled up the loose ball and slotted it home on the fly. Gulden was arguably best afield in the second half, and is just so difficult to stop at full flight. It was good to see him get busy up forward too, as that high half-forward role looks most like being his starting position at the elite level.

#25 Jackson Barling

Barling is another Academy talent to have missed out last year, but seems to have taken it in his stride after an impressive performance. He was first sighted using the ball cleanly in the back half, staying composed to provide a refreshing point of difference in the largely-contested game. His biggest impact came upon his move to the forwardline though, where Barling would kick three goals. His first came on the back of a juggled mark inside 50, which was quickly followed by another strong grab and set shot conversion in the second term. Yet another big clunk helped deliver a third major in the final quarter, though he selfishly burned Thorne as he looked for a fourth. Still, Barling’s scoreboard impact helped turn the game significantly in Sydney’s favour, and his hardness at 183cm and 85kg was impressive as it should be for an over-ager.

Others:

The talent in the Swans Academy runs deep, and there were plenty of others to have pitched in across the day. Marc Sheather was hard at the ball through midfield, while fellow AFL Academy member Marco Rossmann showed some promising signs early in his role up forward. Oscar Bird was another solid contributor who got involved in Sydney’s forward surges.

>> Swans Academy Content

AFL Draft Watch: Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Brisbane Lions Academy hopeful Blake Coleman, a lively forward with wicked goal sense and terrific marking ability. Coleman is the brother of 2019 draftee, Keidean, and will look to blaze his own trail with inspiration from his older sibling, having represented the Lions Academy in all five of its NAB League outings last year. The 180cm prospect was also a standout in the Queensland Under 17 side, with his clean hands and ability to find the goals coming to the fore in difficult conditions.

The soon to be 18-year-old is now plying his trade for Morningside in the QAFL, and has booted three goals in his first two games upon the return of football in Queensland. He was set to again feature for the Lions Academy and break into the Allies squad as a top-ager, but still has the opportunity to impress in the lead up to a delayed 2020 AFL Draft.

PLAYER PAGE:

Blake Coleman
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies

DOB: August 6, 2002

Height: 180cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Small-Medium Forward

Strengths: Speed, clean hands, goal sense, pressure, scoreboard impact
Improvements: Endurance, consistency

2019 NAB League stats: 5 games | 10.0 disposals | 1.4 marks | 2.0 tackles | 2.0 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (5)

>> Get to know: Blake Coleman

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 60cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 62cm/69cm
Speed (20m) – 3.04 seconds
Agility – 8.45 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 19.4

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Lively to say the least. He is one of those players you would come to the football to see. Laid a terrific couple of tackles to set the tone early in the game, with his second being a big run-down tackle and win a free straight in front of goal. He converted that and continued to look dangerous, taking a mark outside 50 but his delivery inside was a scrubber kick to the pocket.

It was one of his only poor kicks going inside, because he seemed to hit-up targets well throughout, setting up Braeden Campbell for a goal with the one-two at half-forward and produced a very nice kick into Reef McInnes inside 50 in the third term. He was able to win the ball at a stoppage in the midfield to show his midfield potential, then finished the game on a high note by selling candy to Wil Parker in the goalsquare and booting it from point blank range.

Under 17 Futures vs. Vic Metro

By: Ed Pascoe

Coleman was one of Queensland’s most dangerous players up forward with his skill and composure a real standout in the wet conditions. Despite standing at 180cm, Coleman played more of a half-forward lead up role with his marking overhead a real feature with how clean it was, especially in the wet conditions later in the game. Coleman wad classy with ball in hand and rarely wasted a possession. His class around goal was also a feature kicking two goals with his best coming in the last quarter, going for a nice run before steadying himself to kick a classy goal. Coleman finished the game with 13 disposals, four marks, five tackles and two goals.

Under 17 Futures vs. NSW/ACT

By: Michael Alvaro

Coleman’s major point of difference was his cleanliness in the conditions and while others did well to make one-touch plays at ground level, Coleman also did it in the air. He scooped up a number of his possessions on the move and with opponents in tow, while taking a couple of juggled marks hitting up to at the ball at half-forward. Coleman was productive forward of centre, looking like creating something with ball in hand – shown by his crafty assist for Saxon Crozier in the second term and constant wheeling around to go inside 50. Did not find the goals on this occasion, seeing a set shot fall short just before his goal assist.

NAB League Round 4 vs. Eastern

By: Michael Alvaro

The crafty forward had a phenomenal third term where he booted three of his four-straight majors. His first goal came in the opening quarter with a good collect below his knees and quick snap to find the big sticks, and he almost found a second later on as his dribbled shot fell short. He kicked his second and third goals on the run with tidy finishes from Tom Wischnat assists, but his highlight of the game came with a big pack mark from the back deep inside forward 50, which he played on from to kick his fourth goal. An excitement machine and classy finisher, Coleman is certainly a natural footballer.

>> MORE LIONS ACADEMY CONTENT
>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

Squad predictions: 2020 Allies Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with carnival likely to take place in October. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the championships come around, but with a few stipulations in place. We began with our Vic Metro, Vic Country, South Australian, and West Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at the potential Allies line-up.

GUIDELINES:

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

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the fifth and final squad prediction, with the Allies’ talent broken down line-by-line. The Allies squad is made up of talent from NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

DEFENCE

FB – Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Peel), Jack Johnston (Gold Coast), Patrick Walker (Tasmania)
HB – Charlie Byrne (Murray), Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast), Sam Collins (Tasmania)

Two Gold Coast Suns Academy members make up the heart of our proposed Allies defence, with genuine talls Jack Johnston (195cm) and Ryan Pickering (199cm) slotting into key position posts. The additions of Brodie Lake and Sam Collins contribute even further to the height and marking power of the defence, with Collins’ intercept and rebound qualities also valuable assets.

Collins’ fellow Tasmanian Patrick Walker should provide similarly astute ball use from defence at a shorter range, while Murray product Charlie Byrne also likes to push further afield and deal damage by foot. The back six should have no trouble competing aerially on the defensive side, while being able to yield an attacking threat on the turnover.


MIDFIELD

C – Saxon Crozier (Brisbane), Oliver Davis (Tasmania), Carter Michael (Brisbane)
FOL – Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast), Alex Davies (Gold Coast), Braeden Campbell (Sydney)

Queenslanders take up four of the six midfield spots in our Allies side, with Brisbane Lions Academy members Saxon Crozier and Carter Michael starting on either wing, while 201cm ruck Thomas Hofert has been tasked with tapping down to Gold Coast Academy teammate Alex Davies at the centre bounces.

There is plenty of grunt in the engine room trio of Davies, Braeden Campbell, and Oliver Davis; with Davies the tallest of the lot (191cm) as that pure big-bodied type, while Davis (182cm) is another extractor who comes in at a similar build to the speedy and versatile Campbell (180cm).

The likes of Crozier and Michael may fancy a run through the middle but seem well suited to the outside, with a number of flankers and depth options in our squad also able to pitch in. Still, we feel this is the best mix, and one which gives the Allies a great chance to compete strongly in the area in which each contest begins.


FORWARD

HF – Errol Gulden (Sydney), Josh Green (GWS), Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder)
FF – Marco Rossmann (Sydney), Jackson Callow (Tasmania), Blake Coleman (Brisbane)

In a similar vein to the defensive mix, this forward six provides good versatility and some great marking power. Jackson Callow is the centrepiece at full forward, a physical key position type who is near-unstoppable with his contested marking, and may well take on ruck duties inside forward 50. Josh Green, brother of GWS draftee Tom, is a 192cm utility who can play up either end. He slots in at centre half-forward for now on account of his aerial ability.

The diminutive but brilliant Errol Gulden comes in on a forward flank but will have eyes on moving up to a wing, with fellow Swans Academy product Marco Rossmann a solid medium type who may also run through the midfield. In the opposite flank to Rossmann is exciting forward Blake Coleman, who along with Northern Territory prospect Joel Jeffrey, provides clean hands and a terrific goal sense. With silver service likely to come from a strong midfield core, this forward mix could do some damage at the national carnival when on song.


INTERCHANGE

INT – Marc Sheather (Sydney), Jared Dakin (Tasmania), Tahj Abberley (Brisbane), Maurice Rioli Jnr (NT Thunder/Oakleigh)

This interchange group is, well, incredibly interchangeable with the group of depth players listed below, but all bring something different to the side. Jared Dakin makes the cut as the only over-ager in the squad given he garnered interest at last year’s draft, and he’ll provide a good ball winning boost.

Tahj Abberley and Maurice Rioli Jnr add some x-factor and smarts at ground level as part of the rotational group. Abberley is likely to play as a small defender but is just as capable up forward or through midfield, while Rioli could well be the genuine small forward that the side is missing. Rounding out the chosen 22 is Marc Sheather, another versatile medium type who can play well above his size at either end given his athleticism.


SQUAD DEPTH

There remains a decent crop of top-agers who narrowly missed the cut, and some bottom-aged talent which will inevitably squeeze into the team minus any stipulations. Among the most unlucky to miss were AFL Academy hub members Rhys Nicholls and Aidan Fyfe, who could both slot in as half-backs or outside types. Kye Pfrengle is another defensive option who will get a look-in, while Jack Briskey and Jack Driscoll are taller types who should also rotate through the same line. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Lui and Ryan Eyers are prospects who may also be thereabouts.

In terms of top-agers outside of the AFL Academy intake, Tasmania’s Isaac Chugg is a terrific athlete, while Devils teammates Will Harper and Jye Menzie are well known to selectors. Sydney’s Pierce Roseby is a tough small who thrived in NSW/ACT colours, as did Max Pescud in the Maroon of Queensland.

Moving on to over-agers, and Tasmanian over-ager Hamish Allan would help the ruck stocks at 206cm, with GIANT-turned-Knight Liam Delahunty another tall who remains among the Under 18 ranks. In terms of Queensland-based 19-year-olds, the likes of forward movers Bruce Reville, Josh Gore, and Hewago Paul Oea have already shown plenty of promise.

Finally, an exciting group of bottom-aged talent is set to cause some selection headaches, lead by Tasmanian gun Sam Banks. He, and Tasmanian teammate Baynen Lowe impressed at Under 16 level enough to warrant NAB League selection in 2019. Queensland Under 16 MVP Austin Harris will also push his case as a small defender, while GIANTS Academy members Sam Stening and Josh Fahey are hard to deny, as is big Queensland forward Noah McFadyen.

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 ALLIES U18s:

Brisbane Lions Academy
Gold Coast SUNS Academy
GWS GIANTS Academy
Sydney Swans Academy
Tasmania Devils

AFL Draft Watch:

Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

Marquee Matchups:

Jackson Callow vs. Cam Fleeton
Braeden Campbell vs. Corey Durdin
Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes
Errol Gulden vs. Jake Bowey

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

>> 2020 UNDER 18 SQUAD PREDICTIONS:

South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

AFL Draft Watch: Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft Watch is Brisbane Lions Academy member Tahj Abberley, a nippy small utility who was an outstanding preseason testing performer. The 179cm prospect ranked among Queensland’s top 10 in all four testing areas, utilising the speed, agility, and endurance he showcased on-field throughout his junior career. Abberley featured in all five of Brisbane’s NAB League outings and represented Queensland at the Under 16 and 17 levels and in 2020, he will be looking to crack into the Allies side while mixing up his usual midfield/forward role to feature off half-back.

PLAYER PAGE:

Tahj Abberley
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies

DOB: April 23, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 70kg

Position: Small utility

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 5 games | 14.4 disposals | 4.0 marks | 2.8 tackles | 1.6 clearances | 1.8 inside 50s | 1.8 rebound 50s | 0.4 goals (2)

Strengths: Speed, agility, smarts, decision making
Improvements: Contested ball

>> GET TO KNOW Tahj Abberley

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 65cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 77cm/82cm
Speed (20m) – 3.02 seconds
Agility – 7.84 seconds
Endurance – 21.1

>> FULL RESULTS:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures vs. NSW/ACT

There’s not much of Abberley, but the Lions Academy product looked unfazed by having to get stuck in. Playing through the midfield and off half-back, Abberley was clean at ground level and smart with his hands out of congestion. His four clearances bode well for more midfield minutes, but Abberley also worked well around the ground to penetrate both arcs

2019 NAB League Round 5 vs. Sandringham

The bottom-ager looked most lively inside 50 during the second half, and was instrumental in Brisbane’s best few minutes of the game. He started up the field on a wing and took a nice overhead mark in the second quarter, backing it up with a courageous effort after half time. Abberley laid a fantastic tackle on the much bigger Corey Watts which went unrewarded, but he managed to snare a goal with a calm dribbled finish out the back.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. NSW/ACT

Abberley was a clever user throughout the game, nipping around with good pace and agility from the midfield, forward. He started well with a goal from a free kick after sharking the ball cleanly but being taken high. His left foot was damaging too with some handy forward 50 entries helping the Maroons to push the pace.

>> MORE BRISBANE LIONS U18s CONTENT

Q&As:

Blake Coleman
Saxon Crozier
Carter Michael

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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