Tag: cody raak

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Western Bulldogs

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

Next under the microscope are the Western Bulldogs, one of the big winners out of this year’s trade period after nabbing Adam Treloar, holding Josh Dunkley, paying next to nothing for some ruck experience in Stefan Martin, and bringing Mitch Hannan back to Whitten Oval. They should also prove big winners on draft day given the consensus best player available, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, is tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA). On-field, the Dogs have snuck a game clear into finals twice in as many years, now boasting arguably the deepest midfield in the competition and plenty of stock to continue that trend in 2021.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Guide
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS: 29, 33, 41, 42, 52, 54

2021 PICKS: WB Round 1, WB Round 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA), Ewan Macpherson (father-son), Cody Raak (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position forward
Small forward depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 29)

The current figure of 29 as the Bulldogs’ opening pick can effectively be ignored, as at least their first four selections will be off the board when Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is bid on within the top three. As has been widely known for some time now, the Bulldogs will not think twice in matching said bid and obtaining much-needed key forward support for Aaron Naughton. Given the strength they have in midfield, aerial dominance and dynamism will be key to the Bulldogs’ forward game with those two in the same side.

Though Ugle-Hagan will inevitably act as the Dogs’ first pick, the hand they are left with will ultimately yield their selectors’ first genuine choice in the draft. There are three scenarios likely to play out; if Adelaide bids with pick one the Bulldogs will match and have their entire hand wiped out with leftover points yielding pick 66, if North Melbourne bids at pick two the Bulldogs will match and see their first four picks wiped while obtaining pick 73 with leftover points, and if Sydney bids at pick three the Bulldogs will match and again see their first four picks wiped, but gain the equivalent to pick 53 on leftover points.

With the late picks remaining, the Western Bulldogs could target some small forward depth, or look to pick up a developable tall for the long-term. Alternatively, it provides good cover for potential bids on Ewan Macpherson (father-son) or Cody Raak (NGA), but they are likely to be available as rookies.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Given the Bulldogs have already worked to manufacture a hand good enough to cover a top three bid for Ugle-Hagan, there is not much else they may seek to do in terms of live trading. Depending on where the bid comes and which picks they have leftover, the Bulldogs could decide to package the late selections and move slightly up the order to nab a player they are keen on. In scenario three, where Sydney is the team to bid, they could also use picks 52, 53, and 54 to trade back into next year’s draft given they only boast a first and fourth rounder there. Still, do not expect too much significant action from the Bulldogs in this department.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Adelaide bid on Ugle-Hagan with pick one?

How many more players will the Bulldogs take after Ugle-Hagan in the National Draft?

Will Macpherson and Raak attract bids, or slide to the Rookie Draft?

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Vic Metro

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under -17 showcase games last year. Outsider talent from the Vic Metro regions is next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty of prospects around the mark despite missing a full year of football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft Guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CALDER CANNONS:

Jackson Cardillo | Midfielder/Forward
03/07/2002 | 186cm/78kg

One of the more unlucky players to miss out on a draft combine invite this year, Cardillo has plenty of traits which should appeal to recruiters. With explosive speed, great agility and a penetrating kick, the Calder midfielder showed a good amount of promise across 18 NAB League outings as a bottom-ager.

EASTERN RANGES:

Jack Diedrich | Ruck/Forward
17/09/2002 | 199cm/88kg

A developing ruck/key forward, Diedrich was included in this year’s Vic Metro academy hub on the back of just three NAB League appearances in 2019. The raw 199cm tall has some strength to build and production to lift, but has nice upside as he fares well both in the air and at ground level.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS:

Liam Delahunty | Tall Utility
13/02/2001 | 190cm/90kg

One of the 19-year-olds in contention, Delahunty was set to make the move to Victoria this year to suit up for Northern in the NAB League and North Melbourne in the VFL. He instead turned out again for GWS in the Academy Series, showcasing his athleticism and versatility as a tall defender who can also swing forward.

Lachlan Gawel | Forward/Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm/79kg

Another who missed out last year and was set to switch to Northern, Gawel has the kind of upside recruiters like despite only having a small sample size to show. He has exciting athletic attributes and can make things happen on the ball both up forward and potentially from midfield in future.

Josh Watson | Midfielder
21/10/2002 | 182cm/82kg

A likely type who showed his wares in the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, Watson could have been one to really come on in 2020. He has shown his capacity to find a good amount of ball and get it moving forward with his booming left boot. Having played on the outer, he can also move to the inside of midfield.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

Fraser Elliot | Inside Midfielder
05/07/2002 | 188cm/88kg

While he was squeezed out at the pointy end of the season, Elliot proved an important part of Oakleigh’s premiership midfield with his ability to extract and compete at the coalface. He is a big-bodied type who was forced to adapt in other roles at times, but would have been looking forward to permanent midfield minutes in 2020.

Lochlan Jenkins | Midfielder
23/02/2002 | 178cm/79kg

Another key midfield cog in Oakleigh’s stacked 2019 premiership side, Jenkins is a smaller type who finds plenty of the ball and goes about his business with intent. Along with Elliot, he shone in the absence of Oakleigh’s stars during the mid-part of the season and ended up registering 18 impressive games.

Sam Tucker | Key Defender/Forward
07/01/2002 | 197cm/87kg

A swingman of sorts, Tucker is one who was poised to make a big impact in 2020 with a full NAB League season. He is a solid marker of the ball who can impact at either end of the ground, but looked to be settling nicely into a key defensive role. He is already a nice size for it, too.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS:

Felix Flockart | Ruck/Tall Utility
05/11/2001 | 200cm/79kg

Another 19-year-old prospect, but one who has not gained a massive amount of elite-level exposure. After impressing for Brighton Grammar in last year’s APS season, Flockhart was set to join Sandringham’s NAB League and VFL programs, hoping to continue his steep rate of development as a lean and versatile tall with great upside.

Darby Hipwell | Inside Midfielder
15/08/2002 | 181cm/80kg

Having very narrowly missed the cut for this year’s AFL Academy intake, Hipwell took it in his stride and looked to prove his doubters wrong in 2020. Drawing inspiration from past teammates, the inside midfielder has worked hard on improving his outside game to better complement his contested ball winning ability.

Oscar Lewis | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 192cm/75kg

A bolter from last year’s crop who was set to go around once again, Lewis is a raw type with good potential. At 192cm, he is a prototypical athlete with strong running ability on the outside, whether that be carving off half-back or the wing. He would have looked to improve his production and contested work.

Charlie McKay | Midfielder/Defender
09/08/2002 | 186cm/80kg

McKay loomed as one to watch for Carlton fans in 2020 given his ties to the club as the son of 244-game Blues champion, Andrew. He remains father-son eligible and has some nice traits, including hardness at the ball and his ability to play both through midfield or in defence. Could come into greater contention with a full year in 2021.

WESTERN JETS:

Lucas Failli | Midfielder/Small Forward
14/09/2002 | 170cm/73kg

Failli may be small, but packs a punch as a zippy ball winner who can also impact up forward. His size, smarts and agility bode for more time in attack should he get to the next level, with his defensive work-rate also suitable for that small forward role.

Cody Raak | Tall Defender
08/11/2002 | 191cm/77kg

Another Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect tied to the Western Bulldogs this year, Raak is a developing defender who reads the play well and shows sound composure on the ball. He may be building up to key position size and would prove a handy developmental type for the Bulldogs’ Category B rookie list.

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best academy & father-son hauls

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss which AFL club shapes as boasting the strongest combined academy and father-son hauls.

The Next Generation Academy (NGA) and Northern Academy programs have garnered plenty of attention as we prepare for what will arguably be the most compromised AFL Draft in history. Adding fuel to the fire, consensus number one prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is a Western Bulldogs NGA product, while fellow potential top 10 picks Braeden Campbell (Sydney) and Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide) are also already aligned to clubs. Add to that Gold Coast’s pre-listing rights and access to the Darwin zone, as well as some handy father-son prospects overall, and around a quarter of the likely draft pool will include club-aligned juniors.

It got our editors thinking, ‘which club lays claim to the strongest academy and father-son pool?’. We outline the strongest eight hauls, and touch on a few others to look out for in the latest pocket podcast.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Here are some of the strongest likely academy and father-son hauls:

Sydney:
Braeden Campbell (Academy) | 181cm/75kg | Midfielder/Forward | Range: 8-15
Errol Gulden (Academy) | 175cm/75kg | Outside Midfielder/Small Utility | Range: 15-30

Gold Coast:
Alex Davies (Academy) | 192cm/85kg | Inside Midfielder | Range: 10-15
Joel Jeffrey (Darwin Zone) | 192cm/80kg | Tall Utility | Range: 20-30

Fremantle:
Joel Western (NGA) | 172cm/68kg | Midfielder/Small Forward | Range: 25-40
Brandon Walker (NGA) | 184cm/75kg | Medium Defender | Range: 25-40

Port Adelaide:
Lachlan Jones (NGA) | 186cm/89kg | General Defender | Range: 7-12
Taj Schofield (F/S) | 178cm/72kg | Outside Midfielder/Forward | Range: 35+

Western Bulldogs:
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA) | 195cm/90kg | Key Forward | Range: 1-5
Ewan Macpherson (F/S) | 181cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder | Range: Late/Rookie
Cody Raak (NGA) | 190cm/78kg | Defender | Range: Rookie

Adelaide:
Luke Edwards (F/S) | 188cm/83kg | Inside Midfielder/Utility | Range: 30-45
Tariek Newchurch (NGA) | Small Forward/Midfielder | Range: 30-45
James Borlase (NGA) | 192cm/93kg | Tall Utility | Range: 40+

Brisbane:
Blake Coleman (Academy) | 181cm/79kg | Small Forward | Range: 30-45
Carter Michael (Academy) | 188cm/74kg | Balanced Midfielder | Range: 40+
Saxon Crozier (Academy) | 190cm/80kg | Outside Midfielder | Range: Late-Rookie

Essendon:
Cody Brand (NGA) | 196cm/87kg | Key Defender | Range: 30-50
Joshua Eyre (NGA) | 198cm/85kg | Tall Utility | Range: Late/Rookie

There are plenty of others who loom as solid options not only aligned to the clubs listed here, but also to others around the league. Additionally, the selections above are not indicative of those clubs’ entire available pools, but rather the top prospects who have garnered the most attention.

Elsewhere, Reef McInnes is arguably a first round talent who may slide to the 20-30 range for Collingwood, another from their NGA program. Connor Downie is a proven quantity out of the Eastern Ranges, a line-breaking outside mover who boasts a penetrating left boot and is tied to Hawthorn through its NGA. Of course, another prospect who has already garnered plenty of attention is Maurice Rioli Jnr, the son of late Richmond and South Fremantle great, Maurice Rioli. He is a hard-tackling small forward with terrific goal sense and will most likely be picked up as a Richmond father-son, despite also qualifying for Fremantle under the same rule, and Essendon via the NGA.

Expect to see most of the above names find homes at AFL level in 2020, and for the inevitable top five bid on Ugle-Hagan to shape the pointy end of the draft. About a third of the top 30 names could well come from academies, bringing out plenty of baulking and bluffing in the bidding process. As we have seen in previous drafts, being aligned to a club does not always mean you will end up there, so those with big hauls will undoubtedly be made to pay a pretty price for their products.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Key Position Defenders

THE KEY position stocks among this year’s potential AFL Draft crop are quite rich when compared to 2019, with a couple of tall defenders currently featuring at the pointy end of ranking boards. While not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best key position defenders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who we may have missed, or will feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier key defenders who are eligible to be drafted to your club in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

James Borlase
Sturt/South Australia
18/06/2002 | 190cm | 94kg

His father, Darryl may have played 246 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies, but Adelaide lay claim to first dibs on the next generation of Borlase via its academy ranks. The 190cm prospect landed in the Crows’ zone and was born in Egypt, allowing him to join and develop through the Crows’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). Currently plying his trade in Sturt’s Reserves side, Borlase has been a mainstay in the South Australian state ranks, utilised at either end of the ground. But with his strength and sound reading of the play, the 18-year-old is looking to cement a spot down back this year. He is a little short on true key position height but has the frame to compete, and may become more of a third-tall type at the next level.

>> Q&A

Cody Brand
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
23/05/2002 | 195cm | 84kg

Another NGA hopeful, Brand came on strong towards the back end of last year’s NAB League season having regained some confidence during his school football campaign. He is a good size at 195cm and 84kg, able to utilise his strength in one-on-one situations to pose attributes which slightly lean towards the shutdown role among the back six setup. But Brand is relatively adept athletically too, with a decent spring and closing speed allowing him to both impact aerial contests and rebound effectively. He is one of the few talls at Calder this year, and looks like locking down a key defensive post once again having also been trialled up forward.

>> Feature

Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A prospect who may rise quickly up draft boards is Chapman, an athletic key position type who is built for the modern game. The West Perth product mixes defence with offence well, able to read the play and intercept with aplomb, while also finding plenty of the ball and using it soundly on the rebound. While he still has time to grow, Chapman’s slight 193cm frame and terrific athletic attributes throw up the potential for him to be freed from the key position caper, in order to truly enhance his speed-endurance mix. But for now, expect to see Chapman dominating across centre half-back at Colts level for the Falcons, and a partnership alongside Denver Grainger-Barras also looms in future for the Black Ducks.

Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

There is a lot to like about the 2020 Northern Knights co-captain, who brings precise dual-sided disposal, speed-endurance running, aerial prowess, and clean hands all in one versatile 199cm package. Cox cut his teeth in a range of different positions as a bottom-ager, roaming the wing at times while also being tried with great success up forward. But his sound disposal, leadership, and reading of the play have him pinned for a role at centre half-back this year, having appeared once already for Vic Metro among the back six. Should he put all the pieces together, Cox has the potential to be a true top 10 prospect, but as is the case with most high-upside prospects, he is still quite raw.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Speaking of true top 10 prospects, Grainger-Barras is the early clubhouse leader among the key defenders having shown outstanding form to this point in his junior career. After earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level, the Swan Districts product went on to impress across two Under 18 National Championship games for WA, before being ruled out for the remainder of his bottom-age season with a serious shoulder injury. While he is still a touch light-on, Grainger-Barras is more than capable of competing in a lock-down defensive role, but thrives in being able to intercept and showcase his versatility across the backline. He should feature early at WAFL League level having cracked the grade in 2019.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Johnston
Gold Coast Academy/Allies
5/07/2002 | 195cm | 95kg

Another academy member among our list and one who has flown a little under the radar is Johnston, who looks a likely type. He is tied to the Gold Coast SUNS Academy, and played all five games in the NAB League Northern Academy series last year, playing an important role at centre half-back. Like many on this list, he possesses a good amount of athleticism to add to his defensive capabilities, able to impact the play aerially and at ground level. His frame makes him a readymade type, and he looks poised for an Allies berth in 2020 having made the squad as a bottom-ager.

Cody Raak
Western Jets/Vic Metro
8/10/2002 | 191cm | 77kg

While he might fall just under the genuine key position quota at 191cm, the Western Bulldogs NGA hopeful is one who plays the defensive role well. Having already turned out 11 times at NAB League level for the Western Jets, Raak is one of the more seasoned members of his region and provides a good deal of versatility to the potential Vic Metro back six. Raak is able to read the play well across the backline and intercept aerially, while also using the ball soundly when in possession and notching up a solid amount of disposals. He is working on his strength and one-on-one craft, but looms as an exciting third tall type going forward.

Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

The only player on this list to tip over the 200cm mark is Reid, who brings a bunch of desirable traits to the table. The leading Gippsland Power prospect does not just lean on his height and vertical leap to have an impact aerially, as he positions well and is improving on his strength-related game. Reid is also a terrific kick for his size and combines his slick use by foot with clean hands and athleticism to help sweep up at ground level. Having been tested through the ruck and up forward for periods as a bottom-ager, Reid looks primed to continue as a key defender with plenty to suggest he has all the right attributes for the next level.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There were a few players who were tricky to omit from this list, but most will feature on others as they did not quite fit the true key defensive mould. Among them, the 188cm Jye Sinderberry is a very capable lockdown defender at Under 18 level, who competes well in all areas against players about his size. Geelong’s Cameron Fleeton is another versatile type who can adapt to the key position role as it stands, but is likely to be let off the leash going forward. Late bloomer Blake Morris possesses similar intercept marking power, but is again a touch short and light at 188cm/66kg. You can add Will Schreiber to the list, too, although he has also been utilised through midfield this season.

Oakleigh’s Sam Tucker is of a true key position mould, but can be considered a swingman of sorts given he has also played up forward, while the likes of Jack Driscoll double as ruck cover, and Jack Briskey narrowly missed the cut due to his athleticism suiting a slightly different role. Gold Coast Academy prospect Ryan Pickering is another who may impress in 2020, almost adding to the 200cm club.

Picture: AFL Media

Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders | Outside Midfielders | Key Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

July 2020 Power Rankings

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 15 – Murray the lone home victor

MURRAY Bushrangers ended Round 15 of last year’s NAB League season as the only side to pick up a win on home turf, with four travelling teams making their away trips memorable ones across a shortened, five-game round. Five unique venues were also used over the eventful weekend, and Sandringham took a major leap towards the top three as Oakleigh and Eastern were among the three regions to enjoy a bye.

The Dragons’ move into third spot came on the back of a 65-point thumping of Tasmania on the Apple Isle, with the Devils unable to thwart their opponents’ scoring power. It didn’t take long for Sandringham to click into gear, setting up a handy 31-point margin at the main break, and doubling it over the course of the second half to win comfortably in a consistent effort.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan was once again the Dragons’ leading ball winner, booting three goals from 33 touches in a massive outing, while Saints draftee Ryan Byrnes notched 28 and Port Adelaide first rounder Miles Bergman (19 disposals, one goal) looked lively. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness led the way for Tasmania, picking up a team-high 26 disposals, with bottom-age guns Sam Collins (21 disposals) and Oliver Davis (19) also standing up in the losing effort.

Gippsland kept the ball rolling for away sides as it travelled to Dandenong’s Shepley Oval to take on the Stingrays. Akin to Sandringham, the Power got ahead early and never looked back, coasting home comfortably to a 34-point victory. After conceding a 33-point deficit to half time, the Stingrays had more than enough opportunities to get back into the contest, but could only manage 1.9 in the third term while keeping Gippsland goalless. It proved costly, as the Power got off the ropes to recover in the final quarter.

Future Fremantle young gun Hayden Young led all comers with 26 disposals and a goal, with Ned Cahill the next best on 22. Clayton Gay was a culprit of Stingrays’ the inaccuracy with four behinds, but got in the right areas, while Lachlan Williams and Will Bravo booted multiple goals for the Stingrays. Speaking of, Harvey Neocleous notched a game-high three majors for Gippsland, while skipper Brock Smith 22 disposals) and Sam Flanders (21) were among their side’s better ball winners. Ryan Sparkes led the way though with 23 touches.

In another Country-based fixture, Murray got the better of Western, credit to a resounding performance in the forward half. The Bushrangers booted 18.13 (121) to blow the Jets away by 72 points, booting at least four goals in each of the first three terms to set up the big victory. The Jets won some ground back in the final period of play after managing a goal per the previous quarters, and booted four majors to Murray’s two.

A 16-year-old star in Josh Rachele did plenty of damage with three goals from 21 disposals, alongside Jimmy Boyer‘s effort of 26 disposals and three goals. Remarkably, Western’s Josh Honey matched their feat in front of goal, contributing a third of Western’s total scoring shots. Cam Wild led all comers with 29 disposals, while Lachlan Ash (26 disposals, one goal) was in the thick of things, and Jets bottom-ager Cody Raak (24 disposals, 11 rebound 50s) was kept busy down back.

Bendigo’s road trip to Preston proved a fruitful one, as the Pioneers notched a brilliant upset win over Northern. After a tight first half which saw Bendigo claim the slight edge, a three-goal to one third quarter put the Pioneers 24 points ahead heading into the last turn. The Knights would do their best to sneak back into the game, but the away side had all the answers and ran away with the 37-point triumph.

One positive on the day for Northern was the emergence of Nikolas Cox in a true key position role, as he booted four goals to be the game’s most dangerous forward. Bendigo’s Jack Evans was the only other multiple goalkicker (two), as Knights pair Justin Davies and Sunny Brazier led the ball winning stakes with 24 touches each. Carlton draftee Sam Philp collected 22 disposals, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles looked threatening in his 11-disposal effort.

The final game of the round produced a thriller, as Calder snuck over the line against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Mars Stadium. The game was only ever edged in the Rebels’ favour by a margin of one to two goals, but they seemed the superior side on the day and could have been even further ahead if not for some inaccuracy. The Cannons took full toll, booting three goals to one in the final term to snatch a four-point win.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher came up clutch with three goals, matched by teammate Ned Gentile. Three Rebels booted multiples, while Collingwood draftee Jay Rantall dominated with a game-high 35 disposals. The cream had clearly risen to the top as Sam Ramsay followed with 33 touches, as the pair displayed all of the traits which saw them bolt into AFL Draft calculations.

Classic Contests: Jets stream past Dragons with inspired third term

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides did battle in early July.

2019 NAB League, Round 13
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval, Williamstown

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 4.4 | 12.5 | 12.7 (79)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 10.10 (70)

Goals:

Western: A. Clarke 3, L. Failli 3, A. Manton 2, H. White, W. Kennedy, L. Green, J. Horo.
Sandringham:
C. Dean 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, B. O’Leary 2, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, K. Yorke, J. Worrell.

Best:

Western: W. Kennedy, C. Raak, J. Honey, J. Horo, B. Ryan, A. Clarke
Sandringham:
H. Ralphsmith, L. Carrigan, J. Voss, N. Burke, B. O’Leary, C. Dean

Draftees in action:

Western: Josh Honey, Emerson Jeka
Sandringham:
Finn Maginness, Ryan Byrnes, Hugo Ralphsmith, Louis Butler, Josh Worrell, Jack Bell

It seemed the end of the 2019 Under 18 National Championships, and a school football bye would spell trouble for the Western Jets as they readied to face Sandringham Dragons in Round 13 of the NAB League, but one inspired term helped the hosts pull of an unlikely victory at Downer Oval.

The Dragons welcomed back a host of big names, with six of their eventual nine draftees taking the field; including the likes of Josh Worrell, Finn Maginness, and Round 4 AFL debutant Louis Butler. Western would also lay claim to a good bunch of its top-end talent, led by 2019 rookie draftees Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka.

Some more respect could, or perhaps should have been shown to Western from the neutral, as the two sides sat level with 7-4 records to that point. Further to it, Sandringham’s form had somewhat abandoned them during an undermanned period, losing its last two matches and narrowly escaping a defeat to the lowly Geelong Falcons. Western had also lost in Round 12, but picked up wins in its previous four outings to contend for a top three spot.

Just as there was nothing to separate the sides’ win-loss records, they went into the first break level at 3.2 apiece. That was before the Dragons threatened to take hold, edging out to an eight-point lead at half time with help from the scoring end.

Speaking of taking hold, that was exactly what Western was able to do in a game-defining third quarter. Having managed eight total scoring shots for the entire first half, the Jets piled on the same number of goals within an electric 25-minute period, keeping Sandringham to just one in the process.

While the Dragons’ top-end talent help to enact a late surge from 34-points down at the final break, the damage was well and truly already done, seeing Western hold on to win by nine points on its home deck. The win saw the Jets leapfrog Sandringham on the ladder, but both sides were also jumped by Oakleigh, who also came into Round 13 with a 7-4 record.

The small and tall combination of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke produced an evenly-split 6.4 towards Western’s total, just over half of the winning score. They were two of three Jets to boot multiple goals, while Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of Dragons to manage two majors each.

Sandringham’s ball winners got to work despite the loss, as Ryan Byrnes led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, while Maginness (24 disposals, one goal) and Butler (23 disposals) also impressed. Bailey Ryan was Western’s leading ball winner with 19 touches, followed by Honey on 18 and Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (16).

In an odd quirk, ex-Sandringham ruck Will Kennedy was named best afield for Western on the back of 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hitouts, and a goal. Bottom-agers from either side were also recognised, in the form of Western’s Cody Raak and Sandringham’s Lachlan Carrigan.

The Jets would go on to drop slightly to a seventh-place finish at 8-7, beating out Northern in an epic elimination final but going down to Gippsland in the semis. Sandringham remained consistent to finish fourth with nine wins and six losses, but fell short of its premiership dream in a preliminary final loss to Oakleigh.

Classic Contests: Jets hold off fast-finishing Rebels

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to just one year to mid-2019, where the Metro side snuck home on enemy territory.

2019 NAB League, Round 11
Saturday June 22, 11:30am
Mars Stadium

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 1.7 | 4.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 3.1 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 9.4 (58)

Goals:

GWV: C. Giddings, L. O’Brien, C. Nagorcka, L. Herbert, F. Marris, M. Martin, N. Caris
Western:
A. Manton 2, E. Ford, M. Cousins, K. Borg, J. Honey, H. Schumann, N. Reynolds, L. Vidovic

Best:

GWV: L. Herbert, M. Martin, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, M. Herbert, N. Stevens
Western:
C. Raak, L. Rocci, J. Kellett, L. Phillips, E. Ford, M. Cousins

Draftees in action:

GWV: Nil
Western:
Josh Honey (Carlton)

A battle of the two western sides went down in Round 11 of the 2019 NAB League, with GWV Rebels hosting the Western Jets in Ballarat on a late-June Saturday morning. Both sides were a touch undermanned amid the national carnival, with just one future draftee taking the field in Western graduate and Carlton rookie, Josh Honey.

The form between the two sides was heavily contrasted, with the Rebels coming off a 111-point belting at the hands of Eastern where they were kept goalless, capping a five-game losing run. The Jets were faring much better at that point, earning three wins on the trot including the scalp of Gippsland in Round 10 as they readied for their first meeting with GWV for the year.

It all meant Western came in right in the thick of a top three charge, sitting just two points off third and four off first in fifth spot at 6-3. On the other hand, the Rebels were down in 15th with their 2-7 record, but had some decent talent in which would have been hungry to arrest their alarming form slump.

For not of a lack of trying, the hosts found themselves immediately behind as Western adjusted better to the conditions, booting 1.3 to the Jet’s 3.1 in the opening term. The yips carried through to the second term for the Rebels too, this time exceeding Western’s scoring shots with a total of four, but putting them all through the behinds as the Jets managed 1.1 to open up a 13-point buffer at the main break, with double GWV’s score.

But with the game opening up slightly and the Rebels still within striking distance, we had a game on our hands. The home side proved as much, straightening up in front of goal to slam home three-straight majors in the third term to close the gap to eight points heading into the final stanza. While a goal to Mitch Martin midway through the term brought the margin back to a single point, Western had all the answers to run home seven-point winners in a tense finish.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton was the only player to notch multiple goals with two on a low-scoring day, with 14 individuals across either side finding the big sticks. GWV’s Liam Herbert led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, followed by Riley Polkinghorne (26) and Martin (20) for the Rebels, while Daly Andrews (27) was among four Jets to rack up over 20 touches. Honey was impactful with a goal from 16 disposals, but it was Western Bulldogs NGA hopeful Cody Raak who was named the winners’ best with 14 disposals and three marks from defence.

The two sides would go on to meet again in Wildcard Round, with Western advancing to the finals on the back of a 50-point win having finished 7th at 8-7. The Jets would crash out to Gippsland in the semi-finals after overcoming Northern in their elimination bout, with GWV’s 6-9 season ending at that. Jay Rantall would be the sole GWV graduate to find a home at AFL level, though that could well change in future, while Honey and Emerson Jeka were both picked up in the rookie draft following their time at Western.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Metro 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 a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place.

RULES:

  • 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
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old prospects miss out, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, but all players look likely to be available. 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.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the first stipulated squad, with Vic Metro’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Cody Raak (Western), Cody Brand (Calder), Wil Parker (Eastern)
HB – Joshua Clarke (Eastern), Nikolas Cox (Northern), Connor Downie (Eastern)

There’s a real Eastern Ranges flavour to the back six, with regional skipper and Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie a potential leadership candidate. Athletic Northern utility Nikolas Cox is another NAB League captain in line for those honours, and the two are joined across half-back by Josh Clarke.

The forward penetration Clarke and Downie provide makes for an exciting proposition, though Downie may well find his way up onto a wing or into the midfield in the final squad. The third Eastern product of the defence, Wil Parker can also add value on the rebound, but joins Bulldogs NGA candidate Cody Raak as a capable intercept marker inside defensive 50.

Essendon-aligned hopeful Cody Brand looks set to lock down a role at full back, making for a fairly sturdy last line. The combination of aerial threat and attacking ball use among the six bodes well for Metro, and should set the side up nicely.

MIDFIELD

C – Jake Bowey (Sandringham), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh), Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh)
FOL – Max Heath (Sandringham), Will Phillips (Oakleigh), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh)

If there was an Eastern feel to the defence, then the midfield is all-Oakleigh. Following on with the NGA theme too is Collingwood academy member Reef McInnes, who takes up a spot in the centre with eyes on fulfilling a more midfield-oriented role in 2020.

The familiar faces of Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae look set to join him at the centre bounces, as smaller outlets who can find plenty of the ball. On the outer, we’ve opted for a small combination with the 174cm Jake Bowey on one side, and 177cm Lochlan Jenkins on the opposite.

Should the Metro coaches opt for more grunt through the middle, the likes of Downie and explosive Sandringham product Archie Perkins could add some extra power, though the chosen core should have little trouble finding the ball. Max Heath is the chosen ruck, one of the few pure talls among the ranks at the moment.

FORWARD

HF – Archie Perkins (Sandringham), Liam McMahon (Northern), Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh)
FF – Jackson Cardillo (Calder), Ollie Lord (Sandringham), Eddie Ford (Western)

Akin to last year’s squad, the forwardline is one of the weaker areas of the squad – not for a lack of talent, but due to the lack of a pure small forward. The likes of Perkins, Bailey Laurie, Jackson Cardillo, and Eddie Ford all pack dynamism, speed, and smarts, but fall into the category of midfielder/forwards.

This forward bunch should also have no troubles in competing aerially, with the high-marking prowess of Perkins and Ford aided by vertically apt key position prospects Liam McMahon and Ollie Lord. Though at 193cm and 195cm respectively, the pair falls a touch short of traditional key position height, so may prove less impactful against some of the bulkier defenders one-on-one.

Within the starting lineup, Cox is also able to swing forward if needed, while Heath may well earn a rest up there in between his ruck duties. In terms of mid-sizers, Macrae and McInnes spent plenty of time forward for Oakleigh in 2019, while Downie is another who can find the goals.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Jack Diedrich (Eastern), Conor Stone (Oakleigh), Luke Cleary (Sandringham), Josh Eyre (Calder)

The interchange bench sees two remaining top-age Academy Hub members named, incidentally also providing good depth down the spine. Eastern’s Jack Diedrich and Calder’s Josh Eyre can play in key position posts, with Diedrich adding ruck depth and Eyre a more dynamic option around the ground.

Conor Stone could fill the traditional medium-forward void given his promising form in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, while Sandringham defender Luke Cleary is one of the few non-Academy choices, though his Under 17 experience and squad balance earns him a look-in.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

There are plenty of top-agers who will fancy their chances of cracking into the final squad, but there will always be the unlucky few who don’t. The beauty of having a carnival with multiple games means there is always room for rotation, so plenty of prospects should get their opportunity.

Under 16 representative Darby Hipwell was stiff to miss the Academy cut-off, and provide some great midfield depth. Oakleigh’s Fraser Elliot is a big-bodied mid who could also sneak in, but that midfield is hard to crack.

In terms of smaller options at either end, Lucas Failli could be the small forward Metro is searching for, with the agile 170cm Western product already boasting Under 16 and 17 representative honours.

Northern co-captain Ewan Macpherson skippered the Under 16 Metro side in 2018, and may be another small option. The potential Bulldogs father-son choice would fit in as a defender after his work for the Knights in 2019, though he is set on more midfield minutes in 2020. His Knights teammates Josh Watson, and fellow Under 16 rep Jaden Collins are others who are thereabouts.

Speaking of father-sons, Carlton may want to get a look at Charlie McKay (son of Andy, 244 games), who has impressed during preseason and provides a big body on each line.

Dragons pair Fraser Rosman and Lachlan Carrigan are others who may fly under the radar and into the side, along with raw Calder duo Jack Keeping and Matthew Allison. There are of course two more Academy members – Campbell Edwardes, and Sam Tucker – who could enter the fray, but are unlucky to miss our sides.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Having taken out the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, Metro has the luxury being able to top up its squad with a raft of capable bottom-age talents. MVP Tyler Sonsie is arguably the best of the lot, and could well find his way into the starting 18 on a wing or up forward.

Sonsie’s Eastern teammate Jake Soligo is another who may rise the ranks alongside him, while Vic Metro Under 16 squad member Lachlan Rankin is another handy outside type in the mix.

Sandringham dasher Josh Sinn is another who is capable of settling into the starting side, perhaps at half-back despite his midfield prowess. Potentially filling out the flanks is Nick Daicos, whose selection in the Academy Hub in his first year through the pathways speaking volume of his talent.

Twin talls Dante Visentini and Alex Lukic would provide key position depth up either end under normal circumstances, with Lukic the Under 16 All Australian centre half-forward. Others to gain that honour and Academy selection were Blake Howes, Youseph Dib, Lachlan Brooks, and Braden Andrews, who could all fill roles around the ground.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-ager seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

With these additional top and bottom-age prospects in mind, below is our potential Vic Metro squad, without any provisions.

FB – Cody Raak, Cody Brand, Wil Parker
HB – Joshua Clarke, Nikolas Cox, Josh Sinn
C – Jake Bowey, Connor Downie, Finlay Macrae
HF – Archie Perkins, Liam McMahon, Bailey Laurie
FF – Tyler Sonsie, Ollie Lord, Eddie Ford
FOL – Max Heath, Will Phillips, Reef McInnes
INT – Felix Flockart, Lochlan Jenkins, Conor Stone, Jackson Cardillo

EMG
– Luke Cleary, Nick Daicos, Josh Eyre

Q&A: Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a few weeks earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Western Jets’ Eddie Ford at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

MA: Sitting out this one, what’s going on?

EF: “I just got a little injury in my knee. “It’s under the ACL category, but it’s not a major one, it’s like an ACL stretch. So it’s a week or two or whatever, it’s nothing serious. “Just taking this one pretty easily and just resting for Round 1.”

How’s the preseason been for you?

“It’s been a bit odd for me. “I’ve had a couple of injuries, so this is the second lot of time I’ve done this type of injury. “I’ve done it once in the Metro camp earlier in the year and a couple of ankle injuries in December, so I’ve had a few hiccups but I think my fitness is still up to the level and obviously we’ve got to keep building back up. It’s been a bit interrupted, but it’s been fine.”

How’d you rate your bottom-age year?

“I was lucky enough to be a part of the Vic Metro program as a bottom-ager last year so that was a really good experience, getting around all the boys who got drafted this year which was awesome. “They’ve all got really good standards and they go about it really well so that gave me a goal to look towards. “Especially the blokes who got drafted pretty high, Matty Rowell and Noah Anderson. “They go about it really well and that was really good for me because I was able to play a few practice matches. “I wasn’t able to get into the squad unfortunately but it was good. “The Jets as a bottom-ager was pretty good. “Played most games for them and it was really good.”

Speaking of good standards, you trained at Collingwood over the off-season as part of the Vic Metro hub, what was that like?

“Yeah that was really good. “That was just before Christmas and that was like even a bigger step up to see how they go about it. “Especially their preparation and recovery, it’s just unreal. “They put so much effort into that and anything to get their body right. “It was pretty good to get around all the boys like Scotty Pendlebury and Brodie Grundy.”

What AFL team do you support?

“I go for St Kilda, so probably not the best place to be at Collingwood, but it was good.”

Back on the topic of Vic Metro, which teammates are you looking forward to playing alongside this year?

“So hopefully Raaky – Cody Raak from the Jets – is still there, he’s a good mate of mine from the Jets. Bailey Laurie from Oakleigh is a really good bloke, he’s quite funny. “I’ve roomed with him at one of the camps recently, and yeah all the blokes are pretty good around there. “They all have good interests and all want to play well, so it’s good.”

On the field, you played that half-forward role a fair bit last year, what position are you looking to play in 2020?

“I’m trying to go out and get a bit of a kick in the midfield, so I’m looking to play there a bit more. “That sort of role where you play midfield, rest in the forward and if the team needs some drive I can try to be that one that gets the ball forward. “But yeah I think midfield for me is an aim, to play a bit more of it as a top ager.”

You’ve got a fair bit of athleticism about you, particularly when it comes to marking, what strengths do you think you can show in the midfield?

“I like to think I’ve got a bit of X-factor about me that I can do some things that are pretty odd at times, but it’s good. I just keep bringing that X-factor. “The high marking sometimes, so I can go down forward and take a big grab and hit the scoreboard as much as I can as well which should be good.”

McMahon leaping into 2020

HIGH-LEAPING Northern Knights forward, Liam McMahon was ready for anything to be thrown at him in 2020, as he looked to have a huge preseason behind him. While no one could have predicted the global pandemic COVID-19 that ensued and suspended the NAB League Boys season for at least two months, McMahon felt more confident in his role after learning plenty of additional techniques with the Knights and Vic Metro hub.

Speaking with Draft Central at the NAB League Boys Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me last month, McMahon said he enjoyed being able to test himself against the league’s best players. It was also no surprise to see which test he favoured.

“Yeah it’s been really good,” he said. “I think just for all the players to show off their athletic attributes and it’s going alright. “I think so far I’ve performed really well in my vertical leap. “It was a real big thing for me to show my vertical ability and it’s something that overlaps into my game as well.”

While he has always had the ability to leap and clunk the ball inside 50, McMahon is now more adaptable within that role, learning various tricks about how to be more damaging and also learning about his timing and selection.

As a bottom-ager, it was a bit difficult to understand the ropes of how to play the forward line, but now that I’ve had this whole preseason down at Metro and preseason at Knights has helped me understand the running patterns, and when to go for the footy and when to not,” McMahon said. “I played forward predominantly all last year, so I understand it, but grasping that real key forward position and really making it my own.”

Being included in that Vic Metro hub – along with teammate Nik Cox – has really helped McMahon learn ways that other forwards go about their business and what they do to increase their impact and effectiveness on the lead and when creating space.

Yeah the Metro hub has been (going) really well, I think learning all the different game styles from everybody in the group from all different regions,” he said. “I think just bonding and learning everyone’s different attributes and just showing my own as well in that type of environment has been real good.”

McMahon said training with two different sets of teammates allowed him to feed off a number of different players. Being a marking player, the tall forward was sharing advice with a number of other talls both at the Knights and Metro – including some from Western Jets and Calder Cannons.

I’ve been hanging around with Regan Uwandu at Knights and just those boys who are playing similar – jumping at the footy and all that kind of stuff,” McMahon said. “At Metro I’ve been hanging around a little bit with Cody Raak, Josh Eyre, all those boys that know how to jump at the football and do all that kind of stuff.”

While the season might be put on hold, McMahon did have goals set for 2020, which if it can get up and going as hoped, then he will try and fulfil them with a big year.

I think just playing consistent football really,” McMahon said. “I think that’s what shows out at this type of level. “Playing consistent football every single week, and showing you can perform week-in, week-out. “I’d love to play every game for the Knights and have real team success. “(Playing) Metro would be an incredible honour, team success in that as well.”