Tag: chris johnson

Draft Central All-Star Team: Northern Knights

NORTHERN KNIGHTS have some elite players in their All-Star team of the AFL Draft era led by captain and VFL/AFL games record holder Brent Harvey.

THE TEAM:

The Knights have a well balanced side with some quality talls, an elite midfield and plenty of hardened players who could roost the football and impact on the big stage.

DEFENCE:

The balance of offensive and negating defenders is healthy within the Knights defence, led by key talls, Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley. The pair could not be more different with ‘Presti’ being one of the best negating defenders of the modern era, though he also rarely reached double-figure disposals. Hurley on the other hand could be an offensive weapon racking up plenty of disposals and rebounds for the Bombers, having made the All-Australian team twice.

A third tall included in the back six is Richmond premiership defender Dylan Grimes, an All-Australian in his own right. Surrounding the talls are some quality smalls with Brisbane legend and two-time All-Australian Chris Johnson, and Collingwood premiership player, Ben Johnson, as well as Sydney premiership player and now North Melbourne coach, Rhyce Shaw. With the exception of Grimes, the other five players are 200-plus game players. On the bench, Nick Vlastuin could easily slot in as a rebounding defender.

MIDFIELD:

The midfield has a relative mix of current and past players. Its onball brigade of Marcus Bontempelli and Trent Cotchin shows a couple of the elite players in the AFL, as the pair have a Brownlow, three All-Australians, six best and fairests and three flags between them. Leading the ruck division is the incredibly talented Matthew Kreuzer who has had his fair share of injuries over the years, but still played almost 200 games.

Through the centre line, North Melbourne 300-gamer Adam Simpson stands out, having won an All-Australian and best and fairest to go with his two flags in the 90s. He is flanked on either wing by another couple of talented midfielders in 287-gamer Leigh Montagna (two All-Australians) and two-time best and fairest Magpie, Paul Licuria. The core five would be a difficult midfield to stop, with a hardened attack on the ball and one that could use tagging to effect.

On the bench, the midfield runs deep with Nick Stevens, Brent Stanton, John Barker and Daniel Harford all capable of running through the middle.

FORWARD:

Up forward, there is a nice balance between the talls and smalls, with strong marking key forwards, Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall providing some big marking targets. Rocca booted 415 goals in 242 games, renowned as one of the ‘super boots’ of the competition, often launching goals from 70 metres out. Whitnall managed 348 goals in 216 games, but also earned an All-Australian place and a best and fairest in his time with the Navy Blues.

Jarrod Molloy was best known for his work with the Lions before critically being traded in a huge deal for Mal Michael. As history would have it, Molloy missed out on a flag as Michael established himself in the three-peat Lions outfit. Still, Molloy booted 200 goals in 169 games as a really strong forward. The biggest name inside 50 is VFL/AFL games record holder, Harvey with the small forward booting 581 majors in 432 games, winning five best and fairests and four All-Australians in his time. Blake Caracella (187 games, 218 goals) and David Zaharakis (207 games, 125 goals) round out the front six.

Josh Caddy and Harford are among those on the pine who could come on and have an impact in the team if given the opportunity.

DEPTH:

Whilst the 24-player team itself is pretty strong, Northern Knights have a number of players just outside that core group who could understandably make it. Of the 100-game club not in the side, Angelo Lekkas (180), Jack Newnes (155) and Daniel Wheatley (135) are the next three highest in terms of games played, whilst Shane Clayton (117), Ricky Dyson (114), Anthony Franchina (105) and Jack Grimes (100) all reached the triple-figure milestone.

High-flyer Gary Moorcroft (98 games) went close to squeezing in despite falling just short of the ton, whilst Kane Lambert (95) – though drafted out of the VFL as a mature-ager – Aidan Corr, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Brayden Fiorini, Jade Gresham and Darcy MacPherson are among other modern day players who could squeeze into the All-Star side in the coming years.

2019 AFL Draft club review: Essendon Bombers

AFTER a trade period that saw Essendon largely retain most of its list despite the likes of Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia linked to other clubs, the Bombers headed into the draft to just fill some holes and improve their mid-table finish to a top four hopeful. Fans were keen to see at least one tall taken, as well as a potential goalkicking forward, but most importantly a big-bodied inside midfielder. Whilst the Bombers managed to achieve the first two aims, in the National AFL Draft, fans were concerned that they had not picked up the third. Then a day later, a mature-ager in Mitch Hibberd was selected to provide immediate support in the area.

ESSENDON:

National Draft:
30. Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
38. Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
56. Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
63. Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility

Rookie Draft:
10. Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown) | 191cm | 90kg | Inside Midfielder

It was rumoured from the outset that the Bombers were keen on Harrison Jones, a key position utility with high upside, and, conveniently a Bombers supporter. The 196cm tall has played back, forward and even in the ruck, with a sub-three second 20m sprint and an elite endurance base. While only standing at 78kg and viewed as a long-term prospect, the Bombers were confident enough to select him with Pick 30 – trading up to secure the talented tall. Essendon then doubled up on high potential big men with the selection of athletic star, Nick Bryan. While Bryan’s year was not as consistent as some would have hoped given his start, he showed during the finals series what he was capable of, picking up plenty of touches in the NAB League Finals Series and clunking the contested marks that he was not earlier in the season. Still a lot of room to build into his body, Bryan is worth the selection based on his upside, even if some might have considered it a bit of a reach on the night. With the premiership ruck considered in the top few rucks this year, it was too hard to pass up for Essendon who were in dire need of a quality back-up to Tom Bellchambers as Sam Draper continues to show great signs but unfortunately injured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Essendon met its small forward need at Pick 56 when it pounced on Dandenong Stingrays’ excitement machine, Ned Cahill. The 179cm forward has shown he is capable of playing through the midfield, but is much more damaging around goals with a good endurance base and ability to apply defensive pressure to the opposition. Whilst his best weapons are his offensive ones close to goal, Cahill can make opposition defenders nervous with his implied pressure and quick footsteps helped by his nimble movement. Along with Cahill, Next Generation Academy member Lachlan Johnson was picked up in what was an unusual set of circumstances. Tied to the Brisbane Lions through the father-son ruling thanks to his 300-game father Chris, the Lions had nominated him as a rookie prospect. It did mean any selection in the National Draft would trump the Lions’ offer and it was somewhat ironic that the Bombers chose to do so. Earlier, Essendon bid on Brisbane Academy prospect Keidean Coleman, but that bid was matched by the Lions.

In their only selection of the 2019 Rookie Draft, Essendon picked up Hibberd, in what was a blessing for Bombers fans. They wanted a big-bodied inside midfielder who could come in and play a role, and given Hibberd’s experience at AFL level, that is exactly what they got with the selection. The Williamstown midfielder needed just one year in the state league system before showing clubs he was more than capable of earning a second chance, this time with the red and black.

Overall, Essendon drafted for long-term, before grabbing Hibberd who could immediately fill a role in the midfield from early in the season. Do not expect many of the others to see too many games next year, with Jones and Bryan having to add size to their frame and develop their games further, while Johnson is coming off an ACL injury. Cahill is some chance throughout the season, but will be another who is more likely to impact in a couple of years.