Tag: cooper murley

Down but not out – Draft prospects struck down by long-term injuries

ON top of disruptions and an overall lack of complete opportunity for many budding draft prospects over the last two years, the ever-present misfortune of injuries has also lingered. Some said tongue-in-cheek last year that if there was any time to suffer a long-term injury, especially as a Victorian, 2020 would have been it.

That was an exact reality for Elijah Hollands, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during training last February. His bottom-age performances had put him in good stead, but clubs were made to consider the impacts of his injury before calling his name. Considered a top five candidate, he was snapped up quickly by Gold Coast at pick seven.

Luckily for Hollands and recruiters alike, there has been precedent for such occurrences. Looking at the last handful of intakes, the likes of Max King (pick four, 2018) and Brodie Kemp (pick 17, 2019) were taken within the first round despite their own ACL tears. Conversely to Hollands, both enjoyed at least some top-age footy, but all three played zero AFL games in their first years.

In 2015 there were fears surrounding the long-term impacts of Jy Simpkin‘s badly broken leg. A year later, Jaidyn Stephenson‘s top 10 hopes were put up in the air as clubs pondered the risk of his genetic heart disorder. Both were touted as genuinely elite talents, and ended up rightly finding homes with picks 12 and six respectively. At AFL level, both have shown that kind of potential too.

Arguably the best case study for this kind of analysis will be the class of 2019. Cooper Stephens, Kemp, and Mitch Georgiades were taken consecutively within the first round, despite all suffering long-term injuries as top-agers. Stephens played just two full NAB League games before a broken leg derailed his year, but he recovered in time to impress at the National Draft Combine.

Kemp’s ACL tear was an untimely one as it came towards the end of his draft year, meaning he would have to wait until 2021 to make his top flight debut. A versatile prospect with top 10 talent, he ended up a steal at pick 17 for Carlton. Arguably the biggest surprise of the trio was Georgiades, who Port pounced on despite three surgeries on his quad which kept him out for an entire year. The rest is history.

Further down the order, Adelaide utility Josh Worrell (pick 28) slipped in the rankings during his top-age season and a shoulder reconstruction may have further hindered his first round chances. Conversely, North Melbourne was not deterred by Flynn Perez‘s ACL tear, and the Western Bulldogs took in Riley Garcia despite suffering the same injury late in the year while representing WA.

While some like Garcia have continues to prove unlucky with injuries upon entering the AFL system, many others like Simpkin, King, and Georgiades have already rewarded their clubs with their play. It will be interesting to see how Kaine Baldwin fares, as he was once considered a top 20 candidate but entered Essendon’s ranks after back-to-back ACL tears. There were also examples in the mid-season draft of clubs selecting players despite them carrying existing injuries at the time.

Those kinds of stories should give renewed hope to some of this year’s brightest prospects. Many of them have endured the frustration of injury setbacks on top of pandemic-related interruptions to their seasons, compounding the stress of wondering whether they have done enough to impress.

Being heavily managed will hardly matter for a player like Nick Daicos, but the roaring success of Ben Hobbs‘ return is one example of how exposure at high levels is the best way to impress. The likes of Tyler Sonsie, Josh Sinn, and Campbell Chesser would all have benefitted from one final run at the top 10, while a player like Cooper Murley has previously shown high potential, but has lost so much of his season due to repeat injuries.

Then there are examples of players like Lachlan Carrigan, who returned for 19th-year campaigns after being overlooked in 2020, but have not been able to build on their promise after being struck down for the entire 2021 season. Despite the hard knocks, if there is anything previous years have taught us, it’s that talent will be found if it is there. It may not matter as much at the top end, at least in the long run, but should not dismay those who have to fight a little extra on their way back from the sideline.

PODCAST EXPLAINER | The Midfielder’s Draft

THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this week for another pocket podcast edition, this time breaking down why the upcoming AFL intake has been deemed a midfielder’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime midfielders available, and why they are likely to feature at the pointy end.

Among the group of likely first-rounders, the team broke prospects into three different categories to get a better understanding of how each of them play, and perhaps help fans narrow in on the exact type of ball winner they want their club to pursue. In this week’s explainer, we delve into said categories and the players which suit them respectively.

Podcast link: Click here!

PODCAST AGENDA

FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS

The top two

It is no secret that Nick Daicos and Jason Horne-Francis are regarded by many as the top two prospects in this year’s draft, and they just so happen to both be midfielders. While clear of the competition, they are very different types and have varying weapons which they lean on.

Daicos is an accumulator who offers an outrageously consistent output with his work-rate, unrivalled smarts, and team-oriented play. While he brings class and grace, Horne-Francis is more of a bull at the coalface with his explosiveness and noted aggression at both ball and carrier. He can open games up with penetrating kicks and high marks, bring his impact per possession to a high level.

The safe/reliable picks

Reliability is a major factor in what clubs look for in their potential draftees, and there are a selection of midfielders which can certainly offer as much among the 2021 crop. For much of the pathway, Ben Hobbs has been one who looks ready to go with his mature frame and strength in contested situations now complimented by hard running and consistent disposal outputs.

Fellow Victorian Josh Ward has added inside elements to his game this season to rise into top 10 contention, complimenting his running ability and wonderfully clean skills with some real grunt in midfield. Over in Western Australia, Neil Erasmus has put up exceptional numbers at PSA and WAFL Colts level, while Matthew Roberts has taken well to senior football in the SANFL.

While Hobbs, Erasmus and Roberts have all battled injury this year around their runs of form, all four players here are the types who will perform each week and look safe bets as 200-game players for the future. They are reliable, tough, and hard-working, so should provide great value in the first round.

The classy types

Many clubs will value midfielders who can not only win the ball at a good rate, but also use it well. This year, there are a few who fit this category with enviable class on the ball and elite decision making which really puts them above many others in the draft class.

Arguably atop the list, and one who could fit a range of categories is Finn Callaghan. The Sandringham Dragons powerhouse has been a big improver this year, developing from a half-back and wingman to become an outstanding centre bounce operator. At 189cm, he has the build of a modern day midfielder but moves so gracefully in traffic, never rushed and always able to manufacture a bit of space before delivering effective disposals.

Tyler Sonsie is a prospect who fits this mould perfectly, and was considered a top five candidate coming into the year. Injury has interrupted his campaign, but the Eastern Ranges midfielder is as poised as they come in possession with top level vision and skills coming out of congestion. His ability to roll forward and find the goals is another string to his bow, and an important point of difference.

Another couple of dynamic types with plenty of class are Matthew Johnson and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. While one has slid a touch as the other has risen this year, there is no denying that both players use the ball beautifully by foot and are two of the more elite kicks going around. At 193cm, Johnson features more at the centre bounces and moves well in traffic, while Wanganeen-Milera has tricks on the outside and can carve up the opposition in space.

The versatile/hybrid types

Hybrid is a bit of an in-vogue word at the moment, but in this sense we’re talking about the players who are versatile and can impact in other areas of the ground before eventually becoming more permanent midfielders, or pinch-hitting there.

There is a good handful of first round talent which suits this mould, starting with South Australian Arlo Draper. He fares well at stoppages and can certainly get his hands on the ball there, but adds a point of difference with his ability to take marks and kick goals up forward. He has been more of a midfielder-forward at Under 18s level, but has spent more time among the front half in senior grades.

Prominent Sandringham Dragons pair Josh Sinn and Campbell Chesser are players who have notable outside traits, including their speed, line-breaking ability, and kicking skills. Both have developed across half-back and the wing, but can just as capably play on the inside and are true metres-gained assets in all roles.

Along with the above pair, Josh Rachele has been a standout throughout the pathways and while he has more often been used as a half-forward for Murray and Vic Country, can certainly impact with his speed and skill in midfield. From small to tall, Josh Goater is a big-bodied type on the inside who can essentially play anywhere. He has clean hands and unreal athleticism, which boded well for his most recent move to half-back with plenty of run and intercept marking.

DEPTH – OTHERS TO CONSIDER

It’s not just a midfielder’s draft in the first round, with many top ball winners rising into contention or remaining around the mark. There is a healthy scattering of players from different regions, offering a diverse range of skills and mostly being available in the open draft.

Zac Taylor and Mitch Knevitt offer very different styles, but both were in sensational form before the latest Victorian lockdown. Dandenong Stingrays pair Judson Clarke and Connor Macdonald are smaller types with terrific craft, while Jake Soligo is another in that mould. Elsewhere, St Kilda fans with have their eyes on exciting NGA pair Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens, while Northern’s Ned Long is one to keep an eye on.

Western Australia’s engine room has proven very strong in representative hitouts, with a good mix of hardened inside types and accumulating outside runners. Josh Browne is as consistent as they come, while Corey Warner offers some forward drive on the outer, and Taj Woewodin is a Melbourne father-son candidate with nice traits. On the inside, Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick are absolute bulls, with Dittmar’s East Perth teammate James Tunstill another to consider.

Port Adelaide has its own father-son prospect in Jase Burgoyne, who is a really classy type. He is quite light-on though, and may have to lean on his versatility to play off half-back before entering the midfield fray. Elsewhere, Hugh Jackson had an outstanding first half of the season to put his name in the spotlight, and Cooper Murley arguably possesses top 25 talent, but has been struck down by injury for much of the year.

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2021

IT has been a long wait, but the Draft Central Power Rankings are back for another edition. The September update sees our list of top prospects stretched to 30 after a last-gasp National Championships fixture and some handy showings from rising stars amid the on-again, off-again nature of season 2021. While changes are scarce at the top-end, there are six fresh faces among the overall intake and a couple of notable risers who continue to garner attention.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion of each players’ current ability and potential, not taking into account the bidding system, or AFL clubs’ lists and needs.

>> 2021 AFL Draft Combine List: 90 prospects earn invites

#1 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

August Ranking: #1

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. The Magpies are in for a rare talent.

Last month:

In what was a quiet month for Victoria’s metropolitan prospects, Daicos still managed to dominate headlines. The father-son candidate officially nominated Collingwood as his destination of choice, committing two years on top of his original starting contract as he waits to join the senior squad in November. He looks a lock to be bid on with one of the first two picks.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Nick Daicos on the ball for Oakleigh Chargers

#2 Jason Horne-Francis
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

August Ranking: #2

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as damaging scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne-Francis retained his crown for our first two rankings updates. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Only 18 in June, Horne-Francis boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him well in contention for number one status.

Last month:

We got to see some of Horne-Francis’ blinding best during August, as two of his four SANFL League appearances yielded high level returns. He kicked off the month with 22 disposals and three goals against Central District, before bookending it with 24 disposals, five clearances, seven tackles, nine inside 50s and a goal against West Adelaide. In between those outings, he also skippered South Australia’s Under 19 squad. While down on his usual lofty standards, Horne-Francis spent plenty of time forward and made his presence felt – particularly during a productive final quarter.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Jason Horne-Francis captaining South Australia | Credit: SANFL

#3 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

August Ranking: #3

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his clean kicking, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.

Last month:

While there ended up being no football for Victoria’s metropolitan regions, Callaghan was arguably set for a pretty steady August in any case. The smooth mover was due to return from a foot injury which kept him from representative honours in July, but can now rest up ahead of the combine.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

Finn Callaghan in Vic Metro colours

#4 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg

August Ranking: #4

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top three candidate on potential and the clear best tall in the draft, with his versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy initially impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck at NAB League level, but went on to consolidate his top-end credentials with outstanding performances up forward. Bulldogs fans, you have another key position jet on the radar.

Last month:

Another Vic Metro prospect who did not get on the park in August due to a lack of NAB League and APS football, Darcy remains in top three contention and like Daicos, will inevitably attract a very early bid.

Sam Darcy is the leading tall in this year’s crop

#5 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

August Ranking: #5

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner had an interrupted start to his 2021 campaign due to injury, but has well and truly proved his top 10 credentials since getting back on the park. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety soon-to-be 18-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and has taken full toll with dominant numbers upon his return to action.

Last month:

Victoria’s Country regions briefly got back on the park in August, and Hobbs managed to sneak in a couple of outstanding performances for his GWV Rebels. Consistent as ever, he racked up 34 and 32 disposals across the two games while also finding the goals in each. Hobbs’ hard edge, ball winning ability, and reliability continue to be his key strengths, despite both of his August outings resulting in losses.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

Ben Hobbs kicks Vic Country forward

#6 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

August Ranking: #7

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 calculations.

Once again, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture, as he continues to improve at a great rate.

Last month:

Like Hobbs, Gibcus got on the park for a couple more appearances in GWV colours. He was also consistent in his output, managing 12 and 13 disposals in the respective losses, while also rising for three marks in both games. The tall talent may be quiet at times, but has terrific upside and some eye-catching strengths across the backline.

#7 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

August Ranking: #6

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each key position post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position talent who rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew is well and truly out of reach for Melbourne as a Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate by now. He currently sits inside the top 20 group quite unanimously, boasting raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons NGA talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Last month:

While considered a Country region, much of Dandenong’s list lies within the Metro ring and thus, the Stingrays’ last game came on August 1. Andrew was afield for the loss to Eastern Ranges, notching 17 disposals, four marks and 16 hitouts. He looked quite raw and struggled for footing at times, but popped up with a couple of typically impressive overhead marks as he rotated forward from the ruck.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

#8 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg

August Ranking: #8

Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is consistently capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.

Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot well among the 2021 crop’s first round bracket. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward won the same honours this year as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent.

Last month:

Like many of his Metro-based counterparts, Ward did not see any action over the last month due to a lack of APS and NAB League competition.

Josh Ward captained Vic Metro this year

#9 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

August Ranking: #9

Snapshot: Initially an exciting forward who has since transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching traits both aerially and at ground level.

Arguably Western Australia’s leading prospect, Erasmus has built on the promise he showed in last year’s WAFL Colts grand final which saw him come into 2021 as a first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 decider, showcasing clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this year, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with scoreboard impact remaining in his back pocket.

Last month:

Western Australia’s vice-captain returned emphatically via the state side at the end of July during trials, but did not get to take the field in last week’s National Championships bout. The Hale School skipper sustained a corked thigh in his August 14 PSA outing and played the next week despite it, but saw said injury flare up just before he was set for representative duties. Erasmus was brave in his school outings as he endured the knock, impacting as one of his side’s best players with more time up forward. He has not played in any WAFL grade since May, and may well have played his last game for the year – pending another state Under 19s clash.

>> WA U19s Player Focus: Neil Erasmus

#10 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

August Ranking: #10

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to find the goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s absolute best is exceptionally good. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Last month:

Sonsie has been on the sidelines since late-June due to injury, sustaining bone bruising in the second half of Eastern’s Round 9 loss to Sandringham. He was thus ruled out of Vic Metro duties in July, and did not manage to get on the park last month with metropolitan NAB League regions out of action.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#11 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

August Ranking: #11

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the most damaging technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looked close to regaining top form at times.

Last month:

Injured during the final term of July’s Victorian Challenge Match, Sinn was set to make his return in the back-end of the NAB League season. With that now scrapped for Metro regions, he can look forward to turning out at the Draft Combine.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

Josh Sinn carries the ball forward for Sandringham Dragons

#12 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

August Ranking: #13

Snapshot: A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations you’d expect on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Last month:

The Murray Bushrangers only played once, at the very start of August but had the bye during the competition’s mid-month return. Rachele did not turn out in the aforementioned fixture, and his three-goal APS dig with Caulfield Grammar on July 31 was his last outing.

#13 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

August Ranking: #14

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in tight spaces through the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact when stationed inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in all three SANFL grades this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who will feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Last month:

Draper returned from injury through the Reserves last month, with his 14 disposals and four clearances enough to earn a League debut the following week. He looked classy in possession while averaging 11 disposals and five marks in his two top flight appearances, before turning out for South Australia in the Under 19 championships fixture. The first round talent was a touch down on his usual output but did some nice things rotating through midfield from the forwardline. He then dropped back down to Under 18s level, producing 24 disposals, five marks and six clearances in a finals loss to West Adelaide.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus
>> Feature

#14 Jye Amiss
East Perth/Western Australia | Tall Forward
31/07/2003 | 195cm | 85kg 

August Ranking: #19

Snapshot:

You’ll hear plenty of puns regarding the key forward’s ironic surname but it’s true that Amiss is more hit than, well, miss. The East Perth spearhead has dominated the 2021 WAFL Colts season thus far, booting 51 goals in 13 games with a ridiculously good conversion rate of 78 per cent from his scoring shots. He proved undeniable for selection in a West Australian state squad stacked with key position talent, and doesn’t need a wealth of opportunities to make an impact. With sound overhead marking and an improving ground level game, Amiss is an irresistible threat inside attacking 50. He bolted into our rankings with a debut inside the top 20, and makes another move having excelled on the big stage.

Last month:

Amiss has skyrocketed into top 15 contention over the last two months, with his latest patch of form only consolidating said status. He started out with 18 disposals, 11 marks and six goals against the bottom WAFL Colts side after starring in state trials, before snaring two goals on each side of his National Championships outing. As WA’s spearhead, Amiss snared two goals and passed off some gettable opportunities in a terrific display where he constantly found separation on the lead, marked cleanly overhead, and kicked a highlight reel goal.

#15 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

August Ranking: #12

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

Another member of South Adelaide’s football factory, Roberts’ form over the last few seasons has seen him prove difficult to deny of first round contention. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 18-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Last month:

Like South Adelaide teammate Draper, Roberts returned from injury through the Reserves where his 18 disposals and five marks were enough to yield a League call-up. He had not trouble finding the ball with 20 disposals and seven inside 50s in his game back in the top flight, before kicking two goals from 13 touches on the other side of his National Championships appearance. Roberts found indifferent form in said fixture, putting in a shift during term two to keep SA in the contest, but proving a touch scrappy with his disposal at times. He found plenty, nonetheless and continues to put up strong numbers.

>> Q&A
>> Feature
>> SANFL League Player Focus

Matthew Roberts gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook Photography

#16 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder/Defender
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

August Ranking: #16

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 20, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser had only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having lacked continuity while battling a knee injury earlier in his campaign.

Last month:

Another who was primed to impress in the back-end of the year, Chesser did not get the chance to prove his worth given the lack of APS and metropolitan NAB League football. He already missed a chunk of time earlier in the year having undergone knee surgery, but will be preparing for the Draft Combine.

#17 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Defender
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

August Ranking: #17

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential and versatility.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing, pinch-hit up forward, and has proven his class off half-back. He is another who stakes his claim on high upside.

Last month:

Goater technically made an appearance in August, albeit on the first day as his Calder Cannons beat the Murray Bushrangers. The talented utility continued to showcase his versatility, starring in defence with 28 disposals, 11 marks and eight rebound 50s before Metro regions again went into lockdown. His intercept marking ability and clean kicking skills proved weaponous.

#18 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera
Glenelg/South Australia | Wing
22/02/2003 | 188cm | 70kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A smooth-moving wingman with plenty of tricks, Wanganeen-Milera can carve up the opposition with his combination of agility and elite decision making by foot.

Wanganeen-Milera comes from good pedigree as the nephew of Gavin Wanganeen and son of Terry Milera, but is blazing his own trail en route to first round contention. Class is the word which often comes up when describing the flying Glenelg wingman, as he dances around opposition players and delivers pin-point passes by foot. The 18-year-old started out in the Bays’ Reserves team this year but has since made an impact at League level, and was a late call-up to the AFL Academy squad in April. He has proven one of the most exciting draft prospects to watch over the last two months, performing well against high levels of competition and holding his own. The scary thing is, he still has plenty of room to grow and improve.

Last month:

While he made his SANFL League debut in July, Wanganeen-Milera made arguably his biggest impact in August. He kicked a clutch goal in Glenelg’s dramatic win over Norwood, and booted another major from 13 disposals the next week before slotting into South Australia’s Under 19 state squad. He was a standout at that level, tearing up the wing and oozing class with each disposal to thrust his name into top 15 calculations. His last outing was back in the League grade, managing nine touches as Glenelg lost its first game for the season on the eve of finals.

>> SANFL Player Focus

#19 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

August Ranking: #15

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is one of the premier tall midfielders in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop coming into the season, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean skills around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Last month:

Johnson turned out for back-to-back games in the WAFL Reserves grade to start the month, returning mixed results. While he was quiet with seven touches in his first dig, the tall midfielder backed it up with 22 disposals and 10 marks to showcase the range between his best and worst form. He had previously proven all class against his peers though, and that was no different as he represented WA in last week’s National Championships showcase. Running through midfield, Johnson’s kicking was outstanding and he proved a top level type with ball-in-hand.

#20 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm | 70kg

August Ranking: #18

Snapshot: Wilmot is a tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed and ball use.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Last month:

Like many of his Metro-based Victorian counterparts, Wilmot’s last game came on August 1. The speedy half-back was one of Northern’s best in a home loss to Bendigo, contributing 16 disposals, four rebound 50s, and plenty of run out of the back half. A vocal kind of leader, he also read the play well and got behind his teammates with great voice. There have, unfortunately, been no opportunities since.

Darcy Wilmot on the fly for Northern Knights

#21 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

August Ranking: #20

Snapshot: Williams is a versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals up forward, while also rotating through the ruck or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 35 goals in 12 WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

Williams continues to prove an ominous type at WAFL Colts level, consistently kicking multiple goals and dominating in the air. He booted eight goals from a combined 29 disposals and 13 marks in his two games in the lead up to state Under 19 representation, before returning with another three majors from 17 touches and nine marks last week. In his National Championships outing, Williams showed promising signs up forward and found the big sticks, but could have ended up with more had he converted and stuck even more overhead marks inside 50.

#22 Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
10/02/2003 | 184cm | 73kg

August Ranking: #24

Snapshot: Butler has wonderfully clean hands and burning pace, traits which have translated well from an initial forward role, to a more recent midfield venture.

Another prospect with ties at the elite level, Butler is the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. He is an exciting player in his own right though, with sharp skills by hand and a terrific turn of speed which serve him well in a creative sense. Having proved himself in the forward half, Butler went on to impress with his clean ball winning ability in midfield before injury struck. He missed out on representing Vic Country as an Under 19 having done so at Under 16s level, but is a player who catches the eye and would have been a lock for said honours if the opportunity presented once again.

Last month:

While Butler was steady with 10 disposals and 1.2 in his August 1 outing upon returning from injury, he built back to form in his next appearance. Turning out in a loss against Gippsland, the midfielder-forward racked up 27 disposals and four marks to be one of the Rebels’ better players on the day, before all Victorians were sent back into the current state of lockdown.

>> NAB League Player Focus

#23 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

August Ranking: #21

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading Northern Academy talent.

Our top-ranked Northern Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is clearly the best prospect out of the Allies crop and a real top 25 round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

The sole NSW-ACT representative on this list, Fahey has also been impacted by lockdown over the last month but managed to sneak in a senior game. He turned out for local, AFL Canberra First Grade outfit, Queanbeyan on August 7 and produced the goods. Fahey snared three goals and was among the Tigers’ best players in a 129-point win over Gungahlin. Opportunities continue to prove scarce though, unfortunately.

>> Feature

#24 Tom Brown
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Medium Defender
30/07/2003 | 186cm | 71kg

August Ranking: #22

Snapshot: A dashing half-back with terrific athleticism in the form of speed and a vertical leap, Brown is a bolting talent who you’ll likely miss if you blink.

While Geelong gained access to sister, Millie via father-daughter rules, Tom Brown is ineligible to be drafted by the Cats under the father-son category as his father Paul falls just short of the 100-game qualification. Nonetheless, the Murray Bushrangers prospect has plenty of eye-catching traits which will help him blaze his own trail. A Vic Country Under 16 and now Under 19 representative, Brown is capable of playing on each line but looks to have found a home across half-back, where his dashing style and overhead marking shine. An ankle injury kept him out for a large chunk of the season, but he since returned and looked raring to break into first round contention.

Last month:

As has proven a repeated tale for Victorians on this list, Brown only managed one NAB League outing in August. He was steady with 12 disposals, two marks and three tackles in Murray’s low-scoring loss to Calder at the start of the month, but has not had any further opportunities to impress with no APS competition, and the Bushranger’s bye on August 15.

#25 Zac Taylor
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Small Midfielder/Forward
31/01/2003 | 180cm | 74kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A crafty small prospect with outstanding vision, skills and decision making, Taylor has no trouble finding the ball and makes things happen when in possession.

A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Taylor proved undeniable for repeat honours in the Under 19 grade this year given his outstanding NAB League form. The 180cm midfielder-forward combines toughness with high level smarts; not afraid to work hard to win his own ball, but most effective when able to accumulate and tear sides apart with his sharp skills. The 18-year-old has a great turn of speed and looks to be creative with each possession, breaking into space with his zip before hitting targets further afield. He is particularly reliable by foot and puts up ultra-consistent numbers each week, making him a deserved entrant to the top 25 up our September update.

Last month:

There has been no NAB League action for Metro prospects past August 1, but Taylor made than lone appearance count after impressing at representative level. He racked up a whopping 37 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s in a tight win against Murray on that day, having built into a ridiculous strong vein of form.

>> NAB League Round 15 POTW

Zac Taylor is a crafty user of the ball

#26 Blake Howes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Wing

7/04/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: One of the best athletes available in this year’s draft, Howes boasts a terrific aerial game but also competes well at ground level and shows promising versatility.

While unranked last month, Howes is one who previously featured in our top 25 and is a player who should be well known to keen draft watchers. He was an All Australian at Under 16 level, plying his trade as a high-marking medium forward with wonderful athleticism and clean hands. While he started the year off in that usual forward post, Howes has since shown his versatility with a shift to the wing and is a classic high-ceiling type of prospect. He was included in this year’s initial AFL Academy intake and continues to back up that selection with form fitting of his potential as a mainstay in the Sandringham Dragons’ side.

Last month:

It was unlucky for a player like Howes that the latest lockdown came, given he had been building into some really promising form for Sandringham Dragons up on the wing. He notched 20 disposals and two goals against strong opposition in GWV on August 1, continuing to show his potential and genuine upside.

#27 Mitch Knevitt
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
8/01/2003 | 193cm | 81kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with great size and reach, Knevitt dominates at the coalface and impacts around the ground with his strong overhead marking, a feature also sighted up forward.

One who was marked by his teammates as one to watch during preseason, Knevitt has taken full advantage of finally getting the opportunity to impress with some outstanding form in 2021. The 193cm midfielder provides range and size which proves difficult to combat at the coalface, as he digs in to win contested ball and stands up in tackles while dishing it out. The Geelong Falcons product is also developing his outside game and is athletically sound, getting to more contests around the ground and making an impact with his contested marking. He fits the modern day midfielder-forward prototype given his built and ability, with the performances to match his potential now coming to the fore.

Last month:

Knevitt had been building ominous form before the latest Victorian hiatus, with his sole outing in August an absolute blinder. The big-bodied midfielder dominated with 36 disposals, 10 marks, eight inside 50s and a goal against the Bendigo Pioneers, steering Geelong to victory in his most complete performance yet. He had also put in a massive shift in late-July and was impressive at representative level, helping him climb into top 30 range.

>> NAB League Player Focus
>> NAB League Round 16 POTW

#28 Judson Clarke
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
17/10/2003 | 179cm | 69kg

August Ranking: #25

Snapshot: Clarke is a zippy small forward/midfielder who can light up the game in a flash with his forward run, tricky agility, and eye for goal.

While his exploits were on full show earlier in the year, Clarke stamped his credentials with a breakout performance in the Under 19 Victorian trials, bagging five goals in a starring display. The crafty Dandenong Stingrays product represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and continues to show promising glimpses both in the NAB League and at school footy level. He is nimble in possession with a mix of speed and agility, and looks to make things happen in the front half with creative energy and smarts at the fall of the ball. Clarke often finishes his work with spearing left-foot kicks, making for an exciting package as far as small prospects go. While he can roll through midfield, the 17-year-old looks most damaging up forward and can cement his spot here with more eye-catching big game showings.

Last month:

The Yarra Valley Grammar student had his last outing on July 30, playing against Peninsula Grammar in the AGSV football competition. As a result, he missed out on Dandenong’s August 1 bout and was then impacted by Victoria’s restrictions on metropolitan areas.

#29 Jesse Motlop (FRE NGA)
South Fremantle/Western Australia | Small Forward/Midfielder
23/11/2003 | 176cm | 74kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A highly skilled small forward with great goal sense, speed and smarts, Motlop comes from good pedigree and can make his presence known in a flash.

Another player with ties to the elite level, Motlop is the son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne forward Daniel, but is ineligible for father-son selection. He is part of Fremantle’s NGA, though it will be difficult for the Dockers to secure his services via bidding as Metro-based WA prospects can only be matched on with a bid after pick 40. To any club, Motlop offers an exciting mix of speed and skill as a small forward, able to find the goals regularly with clever finishes while also providing forward pressure. An Aquinas College student, he topped the PSA goalkicking charts last year as a bottom-ager and has cracked the WAFL League grade this season, spending more time in midfield against his peers.

Last month:

Motlop capped off a strong PSA football season with Aquinas College in August, spending more time in midfield after his forward feats in Year 11. He then turned out for Western Australia in last week’s National Championships fixture, snaring a classy small forward’s goal and showing flashes of his brilliance. Upon returning to the WAFL League grade, Motlop booted 2.2 from 13 disposals in a productive display as South Fremantle downed West Coast. He is well poised to now feature in the Bulldogs’ finals campaign.

#30 Jacob van Rooyen
Claremont/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Defender
16/04/2003 | 194cm | 88kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: van Rooyen is a tall forward who presents well with strong hands and a booming kick, but has also shown great potential as a swingman and even in midfield.

Having been earmarked as potentially Western Australia’s best tall prospect coming into the season, van Rooyen has overcome some adversity en route to recapturing his best form. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games as a bottom-ager. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in 2020’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis halted his progress a touch, but van Rooyen started out the season at League level and has shown he is physically a level above the Colts grade.

Last month:

van Rooyen was in serious form heading into last week’s National Championships showcase, booting 11.5 from a combined 44 disposals and 16 marks in two WAFL Colts appearances. Having starred in his usual forward post with all the physicality expected of him, van Rooyen translated that form to a defensive swing for WA’s Under 19 side. He was exceptional against South Australia, helping out on the last line and popping up as an aerial force to clunk multiple intercept marks. He was more steady with seven touches and two goals in his latest Colts dig, but has proven his swingman credentials.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

Jacob van Rooyen is a powerful prospect | Credit: Claremont Football Club

IN THE MIX:

West Australian midfielder Josh Browne is the only player who comes out of last month’s list of 25, but remains around the mark in an even bunch having returned to his ball winning best post-injury. East Fremantle teammate Corey Warner has produced an eye-catching season in the APS and at League level, while intercept marking machine Rhett Bazzo came into consideration after his outstanding National Championships performance for WA. Claremont ruck-forward Eric Benning has also put his hand up of late, but Fremantle fans will want to keep the athletic bigman’s potential on the down-low.

Fellow tall Toby Conway is arguably the best pure ruck of this year’s crop and has hardly put a foot wrong when given the chance. Sandringham Dragons and St Kilda NGA pair Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens have also risen into second round calculations on the back of their desirable traits, while midfielders Connor Macdonald and Jake Soligo are consistent performers who earned representative honours this year.

Over in South Australia, Cooper Murley remains unlucky having again been sidelined through injury (collarbone), but has serious talent. North Adelaide accumulator Hugh Jackson put up some extraordinary early-season numbers and made his Reserves debut last week, with Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne continues to perform and state Under 19 vice-captain Lewis Rayson was a member of our top 25 earlier in the year.

In the Mix: How the WA/SA U19 extended squad members fared this week

WHILE 46 of the best AFL Draft prospects out of West and South Australia took the field in Saturday’s Under 19 National Championships bout, there were a bunch of extended squad members who were forced out either through injury or the inevitable selection squeeze. We take a look at how they fared this week in their respective WAFL and SANFL grades in a special edition of In the Mix.

>> Scouting Notes: All 46 players – WA vs. SA U19s

Western Australia:

Two of Western Australia’s three squad emergencies were in action for East Perth on Saturday, as the Royals beat Subiaco quite comfortably while Jahmal Stretch‘s Claremont had the bye. Up forward, speedy small Kaden Harbour was dangerous around goal with 1.3 from 12 disposals and four marks, while bottom-ager Jedd Busslinger clunked four marks from 13 touches at the other end.

In the same game, extended squad member Oscar Armstrong (21 disposals, seven marks, one goal) also extended his consistent run of form for the Royals, as the electric Richard Farmer (26 disposals, six marks, seven inside 50s, 1.3) was arguably Subiaco’s best player in the 51-point loss.

Elsewhere, late squad addition Joshua Cripps, the brother of Carlton co-captain Patrick, was a key cog in East Fremantle’s 21-point win over West Perth. The ruck-forward contributed 20 disposals, five marks, 16 hit-outs and three goals in the victory, including two in the final term to help his Sharks kick away. He also formed a nice partnership with Ed Curley, who notched 16 touches and laid eight tackles with a bit of speed and class in the front half.

Perhaps one of the picks of the lot in Round 21 of the WAFL Colts competition was Luke Polson, who dominated up forward as Peel Thunder downed Perth by 38 points. The mobile big man clunked seven marks and registered 3.6 from his 15 disposals, marking a promising return to the level. He had previously been trialled down back with the state side, but was squeezed out given WA’s wealth of tall options.

There were a bunch of injury casualties which also impacted selection, none more so than the late out of state vice-captain Neil Erasmus. The Subiaco midfielder couldn’t quite get up from a corked thigh which flared up during the week, and was replaced by Max Chipper in the side. The losses of Jaiden Hunter (elbow) and Kellen Johnson (ankle), and Jarrad McIlvinney also made for some improvisation to the defence. Speaking of, West Perth rebounder Zac Fleiner was touch-and-go for a return, but again just missed out.

South Australia:

Like Western Australia, one of South Australia’s three state Under 19 emergencies (Shay Linke) had the bye this week, while the other two got some run in their legs. Harvey Harrison was one, and he was in fine form for North Adelaide’s Under 18s with 34 disposals, seven marks, and 10 clearances as the Roosters beat Sturt. Luca Whitelum was the other, claiming 25 touches and seven marks in Central District’s Under 18s loss to Woodville-West Torrens.

In the same game as Whitelum, big man Saxon Evans fared well aerially with four marks and 32 hitouts. A couple of Norwood prospects who are working their way back to form off recent injuries also turned out at SANFL Under 18s level. Top-age tall Ned Carey managed 10 disposals, 23 hitouts and a goal, while Alastair Lord (21 disposals, 1.2) showed plenty of his trademark dash rotating through midfield and defence, as Norwood was defeated by Glenelg.

Fellow Redleg Henry Nelligan was one who played up, turning out in the League grade. He contributed 18 disposals, five tackles and a goal as Norwood claimed an important win over North Adelaide. Another to taste senior action was Woodville-West Torrens’ Brayden Calvett, who managed 14 touches, six marks and two goals in the Eagles’ Reserves win over Sturt.

Among those unavailable for selection, Cooper Murley (collarbone) was arguably South Australia’s most glaring injury omission. Explosive North Adelaide midfielder James Willis (ankle) has also spent time on the sidelines, while the likes of Will Spain, Zac Phillips, and Dayne McGary were others who did not hit the field this past weekend.

Featured Image: Brayden Calvett gets a kick away for Woodville-West Torrens | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

2021 AFL Draft Combine list released

THE list of 2021 AFL Draft Combine invitees was released on Monday, with 90 of the country’s brightest prospects selected to show their athletic wares next month. The list will be extended to 120, with 60 of that total allotment set to attend the National Combine on September 29-30 at Marvel Stadium. The remaining 60 invitees will participate in state-based testing days held around Australia.

>> Top 25: August Power Rankings update

Among the initial 90 invitees is an even spread of talent from each National Championships region. With Victoria supplying around half of the usual draft intake each year, 41 of the state’s best prospects (19 country, 22 metro) earned invites. 11 of the 13 included Allies squad members also turned out at NAB League level, giving the competition strong representation.

The West and South Australian crops look strong as ever, with both states producing 18 players to the initial intake. Among them is pick one candidate Jason Horne-Francis, who features alongside South Adelaide teammates and fellow first round fancies, Arlo Draper and Matthew Roberts. Subiaco pair Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson lead the WA contingent, along with a raft of key position options.

>> Indicative draft order: Who’s in the top 10 mix?

There aren’t too many surprises among the allotted crew, with only one player chosen outside of the Under 19 realm and 87 of the chosen 90 born in 2003. 20-year-old Central District key defender Leek Alleer is the lone ‘mature’ ager, while Eastern Ranges’ Corey Preston and Giants Academy member Harrison Grintell are the only 19th-year players in the mix.

For the most part, players have been selected directly from the representative squads put together ahead of this year’s National Championships, which continue to be postponed. Tasmanian Will Splann is one who came from outside the Allies squad, while Northern Knights pair Anthony Caminiti (tall forward) and Ned Long (midfielder) did not feature for Vic Metro after trials – though, the latter was injured.

Nick Daicos is a pick one contender

Nineteen players are club-tied, split between father-sons, Northern Academy products, and Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopefuls. Oakleigh Chargers teammates Nick Daicos (Collingwood) and Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs) are father-son candidates who could yield bids within the top two picks, while Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide) will likely end up at Alberton outside of the first round.

Giants Academy standout Josh Fahey headlines the Northern Academy input, along with fellow AFL Academy member Austin Harris (Gold Coast). Top 10 candidate Mac Andrew looks set to be the sole NGA product taken before pick 20, but there is plenty of talent clubs will have exclusive access to.

Among them is rising St Kilda-tied pair Mitchito Owens and Marcus Windhager, who impressed enough to earn Vic Metro selection. Over in WA, ruck/forward Eric Benning (Fremantle) and athletic utility Ethan Regan (West Coast) have risen into contention, and the has been conjecture over Jesse Motlop, who also features as a Dockers NGA selection but will only land there past pick 40.

2021 AFL DRAFT COMBINE LIST

NSW-ACT:

Angus Anderson – Sydney Swans Academy
Ryan Eyers – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Fahey – GWS Academy
Harrison Grintell – GWS Academy
Patrick Voss – Oakleigh Chargers/GWS Academy

Northern Territory:

Andy Moniz-Wakefield – NT Thunder
Ned Stevens – NT Thunder/Gold Coast Academy

Queensland:

Will Bella – Gold Coast Academy
Austin Harris – Gold Coast Academy
Bodhi Uwland – Gold Coast Academy

South Australia:

Leek Alleer – Central District
Cooper Beecken – Glenelg
Isaac Birt – South Adelaide
Jase Burgoyne – Woodville-West Torrens
Lukas Cooke – Woodville-West Torrens
Arlo Draper – South Adelaide
Morgan Ferres – Sturt
Jason Horne-Francis – South Adelaide
Hugh Jackson – North Adelaide
Shay Linke – Central District
Cooper Murley – Norwood
Blayne O’Loughlin – North Adelaide
Lewis Rayson – Glenelg
Matthew Roberts – South Adelaide
Hugh Stagg – Glenelg
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera – Glenelg
Luca Whitelum – Central District
James Willis – North Adelaide

Tasmania:

Sam Banks – Clarence
Baker Smith – Clarence
Will Splann – North Hobart

Vic Country:

Mac Andrew – Dandenong Stingrays
Jamieson Ballantyne – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Miller Bergman – Dandenong Stingrays
Tom Brown – Murray Bushrangers
Sam Butler – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Campbell Chesser – Sandringham Dragons
Judson Clarke – Dandenong Stingrays
Toby Conway – Geelong Falcons
Josh Gibcus – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Cooper Hamilton – Bendigo Pioneers
Ben Hobbs – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Mitch Knevitt – Geelong Falcons
Kai Lohmann – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Connor Macdonald – Dandenong Stingrays
Charlie Molan – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Josh Rachele – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Rentsch – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Jai Serong – Gippsland Power
Hamish Sinnott – Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Vic Metro:

Finn Callaghan – Sandringham Dragons
Anthony Caminiti – Northern Knights
Paul Curtis – Western Jets
Nick Daicos – Oakleigh Chargers
Sam Darcy – Oakleigh Chargers
Youseph Dib – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Goater – Calder Cannons
Blake Howes – Sandringham Dragons
Tyreece Leiu – Eastern Ranges
Ned Long – Northern Knights
Mitchito Owens – Sandringham Dragons
Corey Preston – Eastern Ranges
Lachlan Rankin – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Sinn – Sandringham Dragons
Jake Soligo – Eastern Ranges
Tyler Sonsie – Eastern Ranges
Zac Taylor – Calder Cannons
Dante Visentini – Sandringham Dragons
Josh Ward – Northern Knights
Darcy Wilmot – Northern Knights
Marcus Windhager – Sandringham Dragons
Karl Worner – Oakleigh Chargers

Western Australia:

Jye Amiss – East Perth
Rhett Bazzo – Swan Districts
Eric Benning – Claremont
Josh Browne – East Fremantle
Kade Dittmar – East Perth
Neil Erasmus – Subiaco
Brady Hough – Peel Thunder
Matthew Johnson – Subiaco
Jesse Motlop – South Fremantle
Lochlan Paton – West Perth
Ethan Regan – East Perth
Angus Sheldrick – Claremont
Jahmal Stretch – Claremont
James Tunstill – East Perth
Jacob van Rooyen – Claremont
Corey Warner – East Fremantle
Bryce Watson – Swan Districts
Jack Williams – East Fremantle

Horne-Francis named South Australian captain for upcoming championships

POTENTIAL top pick Jason Horne-Francis has been named captain of South Australia for the upcoming 2021 AFL Under 19 Championships. The talented onballer will look to lead the group into battle against Western Australia on Sunday, August 29 at Lathlain Park in Western Australia. Coach Tony Bamford will again take the reins, with Sturt top-ager Mani Liddy and Glenelg’s Lewis Rayson named as vice-captains in the side.

>> SOUTH AUSTRALIAN AFL U19S CHAMPIONSHIPS SQUAD

The tournament has been forced to be flexible after various and continued COVID-19 lockdowns force state-against-state action to be reconsidered. After no Under 19s Championships were played last year, Horne and his peers last played at the Under 16s Championships back in 2019, where the young gun was awarded with the South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP). He also captained the side at the championships then.

>> 2019 UNDER 16 ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM

Jason Horne-Francis (right) with Zac Dumesny, Matty Roberts and Nick Kraemer at the AFL U16 Championships. Picture credit: Victor Harbor Times

Horne-Francis was one of three South Australians to make the Under 16s All-Australian team alongside Central District small forward Isaiah Dudley, and Norwood midfielder Cooper Murley. The duo are amongst the talented South Australian squad which finished equal second at that Under 16s Championships, defeating Western Australia but losing to both Victorian teams. As Vic Country lost to Western Australia, the three states all finished on one win from three games, while Vic Metro went through undefeated.

The AFL Under 19 Championships kick-off with the Western Australia-South Australia clash, with another three weeks given before the two Victorian sides do battle at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday, September 18. It all happens from Friday, September 24, with the Allies taking on South Australia and Vic Metro hosting Western Australia in a to-be-announced Victorian location. The states will hang around for the week before facing off the following Tuesday with the Croweaters locking horns with Vic Metro, and Vic Country facing Western Australia. Vic Country and the Allies has been scheduled for the weekend of October 2.

OTHER CONTENT:

>> JASON HORNE-FRANCIS PLAYER FOCUS

>> THE RACE TO BE NUMBER ONE. WHAT SEPARATES DAICOS AND HORNE?

 

Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography

Ones to Watch: The draft prospect bottleneck brimming with talent

WHILE the top end of the 2021 AFL Draft pool is shaping up nicely despite constant injuries to gun players, unexpected season intermissions, and the absence of an Under 19 National Championships, a massive bottleneck remains just outside of first round contention. Draft Central released its August Power Rankings update on Monday, which ranked the nation’s 25 best prospects, but had about 40 in contention for said honours.

With such an even crop forming around the 20-35 mark, we nominate a player from each national carnival region who could soon rise up the ranks to feature in future rankings, while also highlighting a bunch of other players to watch as regular season fixtures wind down. Some of the talents listed below were also spoken about in the latest Final Siren Podcast episode, where the Draft Central crew fielded your questions.

VICTORIA

Potential Riser: 

Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

Arguably the 26th player in our August Rankings, Taylor may have already made a case for pushing into the top 25 come September’s edition. The small midfielder boasts excellent skills, vision, and decision making, which is exactly what you want from a player who finds the ball as much as he does. At 180cm, Taylor can also double as a pressure forward and utilise those reliable skills in the front half, but has really found a home as Calder’s primary ball winner of late. Over his last three NAB League outings, the 18-year-old has averaged 34 disposals, seven marks and six tackles en route to taking out the Round 15 Player of the Week. He is one of the form players of the draft pool right now, and is proving difficult to deny.

Ones to Watch:

There are plenty of Victorians in the mix as usual, with most already sneaking into the top 25 – like Tom Brown, Sam Butler, and Judson Clarke this past month. Arguably the next biggest riser has been St Kilda Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Mitch Owens, a winger from the stacked Sandringham Dragons regions. The 190cm gloved goer has done plenty of growing over the last year and was a late call-up to last month’s Vic Metro side. He took his chance well, and was in fine form for the Dragons with 25 disposals, six marks, and seven tackles in their most recent outing.

Fellow Sandringham wingman Blake Howes has previously featured in our rankings and remains around the mark, with his athleticism and versatility boding well for a talent with incredible upside. Having rolled up to the wing from his usual forward post in 2021, the 190cm Vic Metro representative has added strings to his bow and booted two goals from 20 touches in his latest NAB League appearance.

Connor Macdonald and Jake Soligo are a couple of small midfielders with handy turns of speed who have no trouble finding the ball, and can also roll forward to impact the scoreboard. Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib is another in that small category at 174cm, but has a mature body which stood up to the rigours of VFL football earlier in the year. He has stood up in midfield recently with his strength and speed around the contest, but is also able to play pressure roles at either end of the ground. Oakleigh teammate Lachlan Rankin is another to monitor; offering versatility, natural smarts, and clean skills in a range of roles.

At the taller end of the midfield scale, Geelong Falcons ball winner Mitch Knevitt has consistently been a standout for his region at the coalface. While he has plenty of room left for improvement, clubs will likely look at his speed, contested work and 193cm frame as traits which point towards workable upside. Fellow big-bodied mid Ned Long has been sidelined of late, but was in promising form at the start of the NAB League season.

There are a couple of defenders who have also impressed throughout the year to prove their potential, in Justin Davies and Oscar Morrison. Both represented Vic Country and have nice combinations of tall and small traits at just under 195cm. Meanwhile, Morrison’s Geelong Falcons teammate Toby Conway has firmed as one of the premier rucks available, standing at over 200cm with handy craft in that department and evolving influence around the ground.

Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Connor Macdonald

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
22/02/2003 | 188cm/70kg | Wing

A smooth-moving wingman with elite pedigree, Wanganeen-Milera is among one of the more eye-catching South Australian prospects. The nephew of Essendon and Port Adelaide champion, Gavin, he caught the eye last year with his speed and dare on the outer for Glenelg’s Under 18s, and has since plied his trade in the senior grades. After 11 Reserves outings, the 18-year-old earned a League berth with the Bays this season and was even a late addition to the AFL Academy squad in April. His skill and poise on the ball made him a standout in South Australia’s Under 19 trial game last month, and with his collection of high-level attributes as a tall and raw wingman, Wanganeen-Milera is certainly on the rise.

Ones to Watch:

After being considered among the top 10-20 prospects coming into 2021, Norwood midfielder-forward Cooper Murley was squeezed out of out latest top 25. It’s through no real fault of his own though, with the productive attacking runner first missing out on AFL Academy duties due to an ankle injury in April, before suffering a collarbone injury in the opening minutes of a SANFL Under 18s outing last month. With an extended run and some more senior action, he can quickly improve his stocks.

A trio of club-linked prospects have put themselves in contention with sustained form in 2021, particularly at Under 18s level. Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne is quite highly regarded in his state, with versatility and clean foot skills among his best traits. While he is quite light-on, he enjoyed a steady three-game stint with Port’s SANFL outfit this season and has no trouble finding the ball.

Adelaide NGA products Blayne O’Loughlin and Isaiah Dudley are crafty smalls who will also come into consideration, and both have even managed to crack the Reserves grade. North Adelaide leader O’Loughlin is the nephew of Michael and loves to generate defensive rebound with his speed and kicking, while Centrals’ speedster Dudley also has good pedigree, with his high-level footy smarts boding well for a future in the small forward role.

North Adelaide midfielders Hugh Jackson and James Willis have both thrown their hats in the ring as potential bolters, but offer quite different strengths. Jackson has clearly been the SANFL Under 18s’ top ball winner with an average of 31.7, while also leading the league for handballs and inside 50s. He has a handy turn of speed, as does the explosive Willis. While a touch more raw in his finished product, Willis certainly catches the eye with his power and agility in the engine room.

State Under 16 and Under 19 teammates Lewis Rayson and Morgan Ferres continue to be thereabouts too. Rayson’s drive and kick penetration on the outer has proven a consistent feature of his game, while Ferres booted 13 goals from a whopping 21 scoring shots in his two SANFL Under 18s outings this season. Both have earned Reserves berths, while Centrals midfielder-forward Shay Linke has broken through to the top flight this year and showed some promise.

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in SA colours | Image Credit: AFL Photos

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)
23/11/03 | 176cm/74kg | Small Forward

Fremantle staff and fans alike will be cursing a technicality in the NGA rules which may see Motlop snatched from their grasp. NGA products from metro regions in South and Western Australia are only eligible to join their aligned clubs with a bid past pick 40, and Motlop has certainly staked his claim to be taken well within that range. The speedy small forward has a terrific eye for goal and applies valuable pressure, which he showed in his WAFL League debut for South Fremantle last month. The son of former Port and North Melbourne forward, Daniel, has also featured at PSA level for Aquinas College and led the competition’s goalkicking as a Year 11 last year. He can also roll into midfield but will likely pique the most interest with his work inside attacking 50.

Ones to Watch:

Twin talls Jacob van Rooyen and Rhett Bazzo were highly touted coming into the season and while they have shown glimpses of top 25 potential thus far, may have fallen just outside that range. Claremont’s van Rooyen is a noted key forward who has shown his versatility this year with time in midfield and more recently, down back. A glandular fever diagnosis halted his initial run at League level. Bazzo, an Under 16 All Australian defender, has arced back to his intercept-marking roots of late after being trialled up forward earlier in the year. Both are AFL Academy members and will be key state Under 19s figures.

Among the recent League debutants are Corey Warner and Luke Polson, who are quite different prospects. Warner, the brother of Sydney’s Chad, is a real goer out on the wing while Polson is a mobile and versatile tall talent who is not afraid to run with the ball. Along with this pair, one of the state’s biggest risers has been West Coast NGA product Ethan Regan, out of East Perth. At 189cm, he is an explosive unit with terrific aerial prowess and the ability to cover good ground in transition.

It would be remiss not to mention some of WA’s top performers in the recent state Under 19s hitouts. Big-bodied midfielders Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick have been superb across the three games, while Dittmar’s Royals teammate James Tunstill is a promising type. The likes of Jahmal Stretch and Kaden Harbour are lively small forwards entering the conversation, while Taj Woewodin should have Melbourne’s attention as a potential father-son pick-up. Meanwhile Lochlan Paton and Brady Hough have been solid across a few different roles for the Black Ducks.

Jesse Motlop celebrates a goal on his League debut | Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

ALLIES

Potential Riser:

Sam Banks (Tasmania Devils)
2/04/2003 | 187cm/73kg | Half-Back

Banks has long been on the radar as Tasmania’s standout draft prospect for 2021, having taken out Under 16 Division 2 MVP honours in 2019. He also made eight appearances for the Devils’ NAB League side in the same year and has turned out in the TSL for Clarence. While he was sighted up on a wing and through midfield in the past, Banks has played almost exclusively in defence this season upon battling injury. A broken wrist saw him miss out on representing the AFL Academy in April, but the 18-year-old made his NAB League return in Round 11 and has looked promising with his rebound running and skills by foot across half-back. He could be in for a boost with an extended run and some more showings of his potential in roles further afield.

Ones to Watch:

Banks’ fellow Tasmanians Oliver Davis and Sam Collins have gotten back on the horse after being overlooked last year. Hard-nosed midfielder Davis attracted mid-season draft interest and is currently part of Adelaide’s reserves squad, while Collins has moved up to Victoria and linked with reigning NAB League premier, Oakleigh Chargers, where he has featured in midfield upon returning from injury. Forward Jye Menzie is another in the top-age category, and recently snared a bag of goals in the Devils’ Under 17 vs. Under 19 clash.

There are plenty of Northern Academy prospects who their respective clubs will look at closely. Brisbane has seen the likes of Saxon Crozier, Tahj Abberley, Toby Triffett, Charlie Bowes, and Will Tasker take strides at state league level this year, having all remained in the Lions’ system as 19-year-old talents. Gold Coast has more 2003-born talents in the pipeline, including AFL Academy member Austin Harris. He, too has gained VFL experience along with defender Bodhi Uwland and twin talls Will Bella and Jack Johnston.

Elsewhere, Giants Academy member Josh Green (brother of Tom) trained with Richmond during preseason and may still have some interest, while Murray Bushrangers prospects Charlie Byrne and Cameron McLeod were among those to have some interest at the next level – both during preseason and in this year’s mid-season intake.

Sam Banks in action for Clarence | Image Credit: Solstice Digital

2021 South Australia Under 19 squad announced – Phase 2

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) announced its Phase 2 Under 19 squad on Wednesday, with 33 of the state’s brightest prospects making the cut. An internal trial game on Friday night helped decide the final few selections, albeit amid terrible weather for a showcase game, as SA prepares to face Western Australia on August 7 in Round 1 of this year’s Under 19 National Championships.

Glenelg has contributed the most players, with seven Bays talents included in the squad. Among them is Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, the nephew of Gavin Wanganeen, who performed strongly in last week’s trial. While he is not club linked, Adelaide has a pair of Next Generation Academy members – Isaiah Dudley and Blayne O’Loughlin – in the squad, while Port Adelaide father-son candidate Jase Burgoyne (son of Peter) also features.

There are six 2002-born players in line for representative honours, with three of them coming out of the Woodville-West Torrens program. Namely, they are talls Zac Phillips and Jordan Lukac, and Max Litster. Sturt’s Mani Liddy returns after a terrific trial outing, as does Centrals speedster Lachlan Grubb, while Glenelg’s Dayne McGary is an eye-catching selection once again.

Among the premier 18th-year talent, first pick candidate Jason Horne just about selects himself, while fellow South Adelaide guns Matthew Roberts and Arlo Draper could recover from their respective ankle injuries in the nick of time. Cooper Murley (collarbone) is another in that category, though fellow Norwood prospects Henry Nelligan, Ned Carey, and Alistair Lord will hope to get a look in for Phase 3 as they return later in the year.

There are a couple of stat leaders among the pack too, in North Adelaide’s Hugh Jackson (disposals, handballs, inside 50s) and Centrals tall Saxon Evans (hitouts). Both have been in undeniable form at Under 18s level, as have the likes of James Willis and Lewis Rayson – who loom as ones to watch.

South Australia’s third selection phase will come prior to the state’s final batch of championships fixtures, which will take place in late-September as the squad travels to face against Vic Country and Vic Metro. The Croweaters are also set to take on the Allies during Phase 2.

Below is a preview of how the South Australian team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Note, those named on the interchange and emergency lists are likely to rotate between the two Phase 2 fixtures.

Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Blayne O’Loughlin (North) – Oscar Adams (Glenelg) – Cooper Beecken (Glenelg)
HB: Jase Burgoyne (Eagles) – Zac Becker (Sturt) – Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)
C: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg) – Matthew Roberts (South) – Shay Linke (Centrals)
HF: Arlo Draper (South) – Morgan Ferres (Sturt) – Will Spain (Sturt)
F: Isaiah Dudley (Centrals) – Lukas Cooke (Eagles) – Cooper Murley (Norwood)
FOL: Zac Phillips (Eagles) – Jason Horne (South) – Hugh Jackson (North)

INT: Hugh Stagg (Glenelg), James Willis (North), Brayden Calvett (Eagles), Jordan Lukac (Eagles), Mani Liddy (Sturt)

EMG: Saxon Evans (Centrals), Lachlan Grubb (Centrals), Isaac Birt (South), Jacob Owens (Glenelg), Cade Kennedy (West), Dayne McGary (Glenelg), Luca Whitelum (Centrals), Oscar Steene (West), Harvey Harrison (North), Max Litster (Eagles)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA PHASE 2 UNDER 19 SQUAD:

PLAYER SANFL CLUB HEIGHT WEIGHT
Lachlan Grubb Central 177cm 75kg
Isaiah Dudley Central 166cm 69kg
Shay Linke Central 190cm 79kg
Saxon Evans Central 201cm 94kg
Luca Whitelum Central 188cm 77kg
Dayne McGary Glenelg 192cm 85kg
Lewis Rayson Glenelg 183cm 69kg
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera Glenelg 188cm 70kg
Cooper Beecken Glenelg 190cm 73kg
Hugh Stagg Glenelg 180cm 79kg
Jacob Owens Glenelg 184cm 69kg
Oscar Adams Glenelg 198cm 85kg
Blayne O’Loughlin North 171cm 74kg
Hugh Jackson North 181cm 70kg
James Willis North 180cm 75kg
Harvey Harrison North 181cm 71kg
Cooper Murley Norwood 178cm 69kg
Arlo Draper South 186cm 75kg
Jason Horne South 184cm 77kg
Isaac Birt South 181cm 70kg
Matthew Roberts South 184cm 80kg
Mani Liddy Sturt 183cm 80kg
Morgan Ferres Sturt 190cm 80kg
Will Spain Sturt 178cm 69kg
Zac Becker Sturt 190cm 92kg
Cade Kennedy West 178cm 75kg
Oscar Steene West 199cm 82kg
Max Litster Woodville-West Torrens 184cm 83kg
Zac Phillips Woodville-West Torrens 201cm 85kg
Jordan Lukac Woodville-West Torrens 196cm 89kg
Brayden Calvett Woodville-West Torrens 177cm 72kg
Jase Burgoyne Woodville-West Torrens 186cm 65kg
Lukas Cooke Woodville-West Torrens 195cm 80kg

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s – Round 13

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season continued over the weekend, with the latest round of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 12.7 (79) def. by NORTH ADELAIDE 16.12 (108)

By: Declan Reeve

Central District:

#21 Austin McDonald

McDonald was the major ball winner for Central through the contest, with his balance around the contest particularly impressive, able to win the ball in close or hold out and get a handball receive on the outside, he’d get the ball and spread well from the contest to give himself space to weigh up his options. Often good use by hand, especially in tight, it was McDonald’s kicking that at times let him down, looking rushed even without pressure sometimes; it was obvious when he did take his time the technique was more than good enough to get the ball to the advantage of teammates.

#37 Cody Gilchrist

Playing as the main forward target for Centrals, Gilchrist continued his impressive form in the forward half, getting a return of five goals and two behinds from the standout performance. Gilchrist was dominant aerially and on the lead, able to consistently clunk marks or draw in a free kick from his opponent, the reliability he presented as a target kept Central in the game. With the goals all fairly standard full forward goals, mostly from set shots, it was promising to see that Gilchrist looked to pass off the footy when on tougher angles, and pushed up the ground to be an option higher up and give into the 50, playing an overall selfless game.

OTHERS:

Trent Tattoli (28 disposals and 10 marks) never gave up despite Centrals being behind for so long, with Brodie Tuck (15 disposals, five marks and a goal) also looking good in patches as he did his best to assist Gilchrist as a forward target.

North Adelaide:

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

Playing his usual role in the back line, O’Loughlin brought really dangerous drive out of the defensive half as he pushed up to get handball receives. He was often used when he called for it coming from behind, getting it at top speed and kicking long forward. When he had the opportunity to steady himself, or when he was taking the kick ins, O’Loughlin delivered well to the advantage of his teammates. Managed to sneak forward and kick two goals to round out an impressive performance.

#4 Isaac Keeler

Splitting his time between the forward line and the ruck, Keeler did his best to make every play he was involved in dangerous, even if it meant sacrificing his own stats sheet with a tap to advantage of a teammate, or a give off inside 50. Despite his tall stature, Keeler covers the ground remarkably well, and finds ways to beat opponents with his agility and speed quite often, even after collecting the ball from below his knees he’s able to burst away and pass it off elsewhere. Didn’t have the greatest day in terms of accuracy returning with two goals and three behinds, with his consistency on goal a noted area of improvement.

#51 Angus Tully

Whilst not the tallest player out there, Tully looked strong aerially when required to prove it, with his aerial strength getting him a contested mark in the first quarter and a goal to follow it. He showed a real natural instinct for ground balls as well in the forward half of the ground, able to win them under pressure and dish out a handball, or burst away and kick to leading teammates. Earned his highest goal return of the season so far, accurately putting four goals on the board with no behinds.

OTHERS:

James Willis (34 disposals, three goals and six marks) was as solid a contributor as the Roosters could’ve asked for splitting his time between the midfield and forward-line, with Max Blacker (27 disposals, one goal and six marks) and Zyton Santillo (26 disposals) also registering high returns for their hard work. Despite registering his lowest disposal tally for the season, Hugh Jackson (17 disposals) still had some nice moments.

GLENELG 10.21 (81) def. STURT 5.3 (33)

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#5 Hugh Stagg

A solid body in the Bays midfield, Stagg contributed plenty of work at the coalface with his strength over the ball and ability to dish out handballs under tackling pressure. He would often win possession and be forced to dispose with opponents hanging off him, but backed himself to break clear of congestion with power. He booted his lone goal for the game with a well-steadied finish in the third term, having also registered two behinds and even more opportunities as he looked to manufacture some space.

#11 Jacob Owens

Finishing as the most prolific player afield with 38 disposals, Owens seemed to be everywhere at times on the back of his unrelenting two-way running. That exact trait saw him play the wing role perfectly, breaching either arc consistently while also carrying the ball positively everywhere in between. Whether he was dropping back or driving forward, Owens used the ball relatively neatly, but found less space to operate as the game wore on. Overall, it was an ultra consistent display from the running machine.

#13 Hayden Brokensha

Another Tiger who played his role effectively, Brokensha swept beautifully out of defence and was at the fall of nearly every contest formed in the back half. When not intercepting himself, Brokensha would mop up the spills and chase the loose balls, providing a cool head across Glenelg’s high defensive line. He tended to use the ball well in tough spots and knew when to either hand off under pressure, or release a lateral kick to open the play up.

#20 Lewis Rayson 

Rotating through the midfield and defence, Rayson’s running power and ability to chain possessions saw Glenelg drive forward with force. He used his turn of speed to set off in space after winning ground balls, dishing a handball and working hard to receive the next possession. Rayson also did so when using the ball by foot, targeting shorter options at times to stay involved in the play. His radar was a touch off in the first half, but he steadied after the main break to deliver some cleaner passes inside 50. He pressed up aggressively behind the ball and forced turnovers, even showing his handy vertical leap with an intercept mark during term three. Productive as always, it was another solid 25-disposal outing for Rayson.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Beecken didn’t finish with the formidable numbers of others, but looked sharp as ever on the ball when working it out of defence. He’s a smooth operator across half-back and showed as much on Saturday with clean and composed contributions in tough areas of the ground. His best stint came during term three, where his assured handling and distribution allowed Glenelg to force the turnover and move swiftly into its array of transitions.

#38 Jakob Ryan 

The bottom-ager was exceptional, working high up the ground from his forward post to provide a reliable marking target. Ryan constantly got separation on the lead and presented strongly all the way up to half back, taking clean marks and quickly moving the ball on. He proved a key link in Glenelg’s rebounding play, with his repeatable skill proving hard to stop. A fourth term free kick conversion proved reward for his effort, before pulling up a bit sore in the dying stages. 23 disposals and 10 marks just about does his performance justice.

Others:

Brodie Edwards, Ben Ridgway, and Will Trevena were all productive members of Glenelg’s midfield rotation with over 20 disposals each, while William Watts also got a run in there and snared 3.2 up forward. Harry Tunkin and Hunter Window were good at ground level, as the likes of William Wiseman and Jarrad Parish looked to contribute aerially at either end of the ground.

Sturt:

#5 Jordan Hein

Having gained some experience in the Reserves grade, Hein returned to the Under 18s and had no trouble getting his hands on the ball. He finished as Sturt’s highest disposal getter with 30, including 23 kicks and 10 rebound 50s. Hein worked hard to accumulate from the last line, all the way up to centre half-forward with his running game sending the Double Blues forward with intent. While he looked to get good distance on some kicks, he also saw the ball come straight back in some instances. The zippy mover held a high line and came off it hard to receive off centre bounces, attempting to immediately drive his side into attack with green ball.

#8 Lachlan Thomas

The wingman produced another solid performance for the Double Blues, taking up his usual post and playing the position well. He dropped back to help the defence but tended not to get sucked into the forward arc, or into the contest. Still, Thomas fought for the ball when called upon and took a courageous mark under the high ball in term one. He took up handy positions on the outer and was a positive runner with ball in hand.

#15 Alex Holt

Along with Hein, Holt had plenty to do in defence as Glenelg poured on 31 scoring shots. He was only second to his teammate for disposals, but that haul included a game-high 23 kicks and 15 rebound 50s. Those numbers were slightly inflated by his kick-in duties, but Holt was made to compete on the last line of defence and chimed in with some really nice intercept marks – particularly in term three – before quickly moving the ball on by foot.

Others:

Bottom-ager Nick Sadler did some nice things in his 12-disposal effort from midfield, while the likes of Loch Rawlinson and George Pope also sought to provide some resistance at the source. Another state Under 17s representative in Luca Slade also had his moments and Kai Tucker provided some handy run.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 15.10 (100) def. NORWOOD 9.3 (57)

By: Michael Alvaro

South Adelaide:

#4 Jack Delean

The crafty small forward again got to work and was a menace inside attacking 50 with 4.2 from 15 touches. Delean built into the game steadily and snared three of his four majors after half time, though his first game before the main break from a smart front-and-centre crumb. The bottom-ager proved handy on the lead and converted three set shots with aplomb. His third goal came on the back of a terrific overhead mark against two opponents, defying his size, while the fourth was earned via a free kick as he got busy at a forward 50 stoppage. Undeniable in attack.

#10 Isaac Birt

Birt was again outstanding in his customary wing role, linking South into attack with his work between the arcs. While listed in an outside role, Birt also did the tough stuff with hard tackles, eye-catching spins out of traffic, and solid overhead marks. He brought his usual wingman traits to the fore too, running and delivering forward with intent – backing his pace and skills to do so. He finished with 25 disposals, seven marks, and a combined eight breaches of either arc.

#11 Jaiden Magor

The other major goal-getter on the day, Magor proved a deadeye in front of the big sticks with four six-pointers. Three of his four goals came from set shots, as Magor dealt with tough angles and a variety of distances with aplomb. He was courageous with a couple of his marks going back with the flight and proved powerful over the ball, working hard up the ground before earning his eventual reward inside attacking 50. His last goal came in the third term, as he was gifted the ball by an opponent and did well to snap home quickly on his left foot.

Others:

Midfielder Luke Mitton led all comers with 30 disposals and provided constant effort around the ball for South, supported well by the likes of Angus Bradley and bottom-ager Tom Wheaton. Lachlan Hayes and Cooper Rogers were also productive, while ruck Will Verrall took full toll of a height and leap advantage to finish with 32 hitouts and six clearances.

Norwood:

#2 Tyson Walls

Rotating through both sides of midfield from the forwardline, Walls worked hard to provide the Redlegs with some attacking momentum. He started in the front six and looked to craft ways forward with his speed and agility, searching all the way up to half-back to find the ball and move it on immediately. He was everywhere at times, and it was no surprise to see him finish as Norwood’s top ball winner with 23 disposals. When thrown into the centre bounces, Walls held his own and was tough in tackles against a pretty handy South midfield.

#20 Max Michalanney

The bottom-ager was a constant down back for Norwood, proving particularly influential in the first half with his ability to repel South Adelaide’s attacks. He took on some of the kick-in duties and was generally neat in those situations, but tended to bomb a bit more under pressure in general play. Michalanney did plenty to win the ball back for Norwood though, positioning in all the right spots to either intercept aerially or impact the ground ball. He registered six rebound 50s among his 19 disposals.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Playing in a variety of roles, Dnistriansky was one of the cleaner and more composed ball users for Norwood. He started out on the wing and was thrown into the centre bounces, dropping back well to support the defence in both roles where he picked off safe short options by foot. Dnistriansky was not afraid to look inboard or use either foot, helping steady the Redlegs under pretty substantial pressure. He also moved forward after half time and hit the scoreboard with a well-finished snap goal in the third quarter.

Others:

State Under 17s representative Taj Rahui provided some nice run out of defence, with Will Bowman another to rebound by foot. Will Charlton carried the ball forward well through midfield, while Oskar De Luca snared two goals and looked lively up forward. Starting on the same line, standout top-ager Cooper Murley was injured in his very first involvement, appearing to hurt his shoulder while being tackled.

WEST ADELAIDE 9.3 (57) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 18.14 (122)

By: Michael Alvaro

West Adelaide:

#9 Kobe Ryan

As a classy fixture in the West Adelaide engine room, Ryan again proved his value not only with ball in hand, but also without it. The bottom-ager notched up 26 disposals, five tackles and seven clearances, showcasing a good balance of inside and outside traits along the way. He looked polished in possession but was also willing to crack in and do the tough stuff when required. Ryan capped his game with a goal from nothing in the third term, barrelled out of a contest from range.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Kennedy again stood up to finish as Westies’ main ball winner, managing a team-high 28 disposals and 11 marks in a workmanlike outing. As a near-permanent part of his side’s centre bounce combination, Kennedy was able to burrow in to win his own ball, but was arguably more impactful with his driving plays through the corridor – where he would often mark uncontested, get the legs pumping, and thrust a long ball inside 50. He also looked to chain handballs through the middle and popped up everywhere at times. That included up forward, where he bagged a set shot goal in the opening quarter.

#35 Will Patton

The 2005-born prospect defied his age to provide plenty of solidity down back, proving a cool head in the face of Woodville-West Torrens’ 32 scoring shots. A key feature of Patton’s game was his intercept marking, with the youngster rising high to pluck marks either drifting across, one-on-one, or in the thick of packs. He was as reliable as anyone afield in that department and generally distributed the ball well too, marshalling the play under plenty of pressure.

#51 Harry Barnett

One of the more impressive bigmen afield in context, Barnett had a heck of a job in front of him coming up against the sheer array of Eagles talls. He stood up well, particularly in the first half, showcasing his mobility at 202cm. The state Under 17s representative looked quite polished for his size and was able to earn a few chances on goal before half time. He missed a set shot in the first term, but came back to convert another set shot opportunity in the second after presenting well on the lead. He finished with 12 disposals, six marks and 16 hitouts.

Others:

Jesse Thackeray was a prominent part of the West Adelaide midfield once again with 23 disposals and four clearances, while the likes of Charlie Pridham and Kye Roberts got to work in an under-siege defence. Jed Obst was also handy on the wing on what ended up being a tough day for the Bloods.

WWT Eagles:

#17 Adam D’Aloia

The state Under 17s captain went about his usual ball winning business, finding plenty of it on the inside but also using the ball well for a player of his typing. He finished with 29 disposals, seven clearances and seven inside 50s, lowering his eyes nicely when released and driving inside 50. He was quite a permanent fixture in midfield for the Eagles, proving reliable once again and setting a solid tone to follow.

#20 Lukas Cooke

Cooke is undeniably dangerous with his aerial threat deep inside attacking 50, and the Eagles’ forwardline structure played to his strengths on Saturday. With just 10 disposals and four marks, Cooke registered five scoring shots which included three goals from grabs near the big sticks. He missed a couple more gettable chances, but still made an impact with majors and showcased his clean marking ability.

#21 Mattaes Phillipou

The bottom-ager is truly firming as one to watch for next year, with his athleticism and ability to find the goals again coming to the fore. He took advantage of two Westies defenders slipping over to put through the game’s first goal, and went on to add two more in the final term to cap off a promising outing. Phillipou looked dangerous when working up the ground, linking the play with his marking and pace to be a really productive attacking force. He also got a run in the midfield, where he shows great versatility.

#24 Zac Phillips

The over-aged ruck continues to show nice signs of development, furthering his game past the obvious strength of ruck craft. Phillips worked around the ground well to provide a marking option between the arcs, clunking nine grabs with four of them contested. His overall output of 22 disposals and seven inside 50s would read well for a much smaller player, let alone a player of Phillips’ 201cm frame.

#26 Jordan Lukac

Another of the Eagles’ dangerous talls, Lukac looked at his best when stationed inside 50 where he booted a game-high four goals from seven disposals. Five of his seven touches were scoring shots, but it felt like Lukac impacted more than his numbers would suggest, or perhaps his avenues to goal were just impressive. He showed strong hands on the lead and good athleticism inside 50 at times, especially in snaring his two second half majors. The first saw him cut inside and snap truly from the boundary, while the second was an opportunistic soccer finish in the goalsquare. He tapped well while rolling through the ruck too, playing his role well.

Others:

The Eagles had a plethora of strong contributors, none more so than leading ball winner Dustin Launer (42 disposals, 13 marks, 11 inside 50s, one goal). Blake Hansen (33 disposals) also found plenty of it, while smalls Sam Nicholls and Jay Watson got to work with the latter booting three goals. William Neumann had his moments in midfield too, and Jonte Hunter Price held firm in defence. Early on, Mishai Wollogorang set the game alight with his speed on the rebound.

 

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2021

THE Draft Central July Power Rankings have been locked in after an interrupted, but nonetheless productive month of football around the nation. Two fresh faces feature among the top five as a new number one contender arises, while another two previously unranked players have thrust their way into the overall list of 25 on the back of undeniable form. We profile the full array of prospects in our latest edition, taking you through each players’ last month and the factors behind their moves. Also highlighted are some other names potentially around the mark.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ current ability and potential, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

June Ranking: #1

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses, whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as consistent scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne retains his crown in our second rankings edition for the year. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Only recently 18, Horne boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him awarded with number one status in our eyes.

Last month:

Horne has continued on his merry way at SANFL League level, with his consistent output displayed across the last month of action. Despite three of his four outings in that time being losses, Horne played above his season averages to produce numbers of 16 disposals, 4.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 2.3 clearances, and 0.5 goals per game. Given he is so entrenched in the top three spots, it is easy to look past his development and sustained success, but the pick one contender is in as good a form as ever currently.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

#2 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

June Ranking: #2

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a deeply talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. Daicos is banging down Horne’s door and may well break through as he continues to put runs on the board, in dominant fashion.

Last month:

Daicos only played one game throughout June, but it was a ripper. The Oakleigh Chargers captain got some decent attention in his side’s loss to the Northern Knights, but still managed to rack up 37 disposals and kick a goal. He was perhaps not as damaging as he could have been with his disposal, but most qualms on his season thus far are essentially nit-picks, and exemplary of the quality he is judged at. His average of 35.8 disposals remains a league high, but he did not have the chance to add to it last week after again being managed. He also missed out on Vic Metro trial duties.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

#3 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg

June Ranking: #15

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top five pick on potential and the clear best tall in the draft, with his versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy has impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck in the NAB League, but has also consolidated his eye-catching forward forays at school football level. Bulldogs fans, you have another on the radar.

Last month:

Darcy shot into top three calculations with a brilliant few games in June, most significantly his six-goal during the Victorian Under 19 trials. The Bulldogs father-son prospect was swung forward as he has done during the school football season and was near-impossible to stop. He had a 10cm height advantage on most opponents but took full toll to dominate aerially, while also showing great athleticism and football smarts across the attacking arc. During his one outing for Oakleigh, Darcy started in defence and was similarly assured with his clean intercept marking, before rolling through the ruck and eventually finding the goals up forward. He has solidified his status as the best tall available, and may challenge the previously untouchable top two.

#4 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

June Ranking: #11

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.

Last month:

The top five trigger has been pulled on Callaghan after even more undeniable performances, who was arguably best afield during his two NAB League appearances in June and impressive when suiting up for Vic Metro. He continued his transition to the inside with Sandringham, producing 31 and 28 disposals in his most recent outings and looking ominous in the process. Callaghan was shifted back out to the wing in between those games for the Victorian Under 19 trials, warming to the contest and showing some of his best traits, despite not racking up the usual numbers.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

#5 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

June Ranking: #3

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to kick goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s absolute best is exceptionally good. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Last month:

Another to have only played once during June, Sonsie is currently on the road to recovery after suffering bone bruising in his last appearance for Eastern. The injury was sustained during the final quarter against Sandringham and Sonsie was quiet to that point by his lofty standards, managing 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Luckily the knock wasn’t any worse, though Sonsie also missed out on the Vic Metro trial games and is facing a few more weeks on the sidelines.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#6 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Half-Back/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

June Ranking: #5

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the best technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside of late to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looks poised to return soon and play out a full season in the NAB League.

Last month:

Sinn was eased back from a hamstring strain in June, turning out twice for the Sandringham Dragons and proving steady in his output. The Dragons co-captain started at half-back in his first outing, finishing on 13 touches in a big win against Oakleigh, before raising that slightly in 15 and five inside 50s against Tasmania last week. He spent more time in the midfield during that game and advanced the ball well, in a promising sign for his run towards the National Championships.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

#7 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

June Ranking: #4

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top 10 of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Last month:

Roberts is currently sidelined with a syndesmosis injury, set for another couple of months out of action due to the injury sustained during a school football hitout. He had played two League games for South Adelaide to that point, but will have to wait to further prove his credentials.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

#8 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

June Ranking: #6

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having recently returned from injury.

Last month:

Chesser is another who only recently made his return from injury, coming back from work on his meniscus. The dashing midfielder was thrust into a formidable Sandringham Dragons midfield mix having played his earlier games on a wing, finishing with 19 disposals and five inside 50s as his side defeated Tasmania.

#9 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

June Ranking: #10

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 calculations.

For the second month running, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture, as he continues to improve at a great rate.

Last month:

The high-marking defender has had a stead sort of month, playing at both ends of the ground and even through the ruck. When stationed down back, Gibcus performed his usual feats in the air, and is slowly getting back to his best in terms of his distribution by foot. GWV threw him in the ruck against Geelong Falcons to help boost his output, and he has since had a few stints up forward both in the NAB League and Under 19 trials.

#10 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

June Ranking: #17

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball-winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner has not been able to fully show his wares in 2021 due to injury, but is proving he can break back into top 10 contention with a clean run at it. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety 17-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and has taken full toll upon his return to action.

Last month:

After enduring an injury-interrupted start to the season, Hobbs returned with a bang to thrust himself back into top 10 contention. The bull-like midfielder helped himself to 34 touches and two goals in his first NAB League outing since Round 3, before starring for Vic Country in the Under 19 trials. His willingness to hunt the ball, tackle, and then move forward to kick goals means he impacts consistently, and hopefully he can do so with an extended run.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

#11 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

June Ranking: #7

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is one of the premier tall midfielders in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop coming into the season, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean hands around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Last month:

After a three-game stint at League level, Johnson has dropped back down to the Colts competition and as expected, found much more of the ball. He notched 30 disposals and six tackles in his second game back, before a 16-touch effort in his latest outing. With good skills on the inside and a growing frame, Johnson should be dominant against his peers.

#12 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

June Ranking: #14

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching athletic traits both aerially and at ground level.

Another prospect out of Subiaco who played in last year’s WAFL Colts premiership, Erasmus has built on his potential this year having come in as a potential first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 Grand Final, showcasing great speed and clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this year, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with scoreboard impact remaining in his back pocket.

Last month:

Erasmus hasn’t returned to the WAFL grades since his Round 7 outing, which consolidated the exciting midfielder’s consistent start to the year. He has been going along strong in the PSA as skipper at Hale though, making him difficult to look past among the top 15 as he continues to sharpen his disposal.

#13 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

June Ranking: #8

Snapshot: A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations you’d expect on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Last month:

While Rachele is certainly mercurial at his best, we haven’t always seen that level of form in 2021. He has essentially remained a permanent forward while turning out for the Murray Bushrangers and played the same role in his Vic Country trial outing. Rachele is finding the goals though, with a round-high six majors in his latest NAB League appearance an indicator that his best is worthy of top 10 status – if he can find it.

#14 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

June Ranking: #20

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact when stationed inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in the SANFL Under 18s this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who may feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Last month:

Draper is said to be sparking a bidding war between the two Adelaide clubs, which could push his value into the top 10. He started June off in the SANFL Reserves, breaking through for two games after scintillating Under 18s form. He averaged 16.5 disposals in those outings, before making a splash on his junior return with 31 touches, seven inside 50s and a goal in South’s win against Sturt. He is set for an extended stint on the sidelines having suffered a syndesmosis injury.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus

#15 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

June Ranking: #21

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position type who rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew will have Melbourne recruiters a little nervous with his performances to date. He now sits inside our current top 20, boasting raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever-improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Last month:

Andrew was set to add to his exciting opening rounds with a return to NAB League action, but unfortunately fell to injury early in his outing against Bendigo. Having gone down in a heavy contest, Andrew hasn’t been sighted on-field since and also missed the Under 19 trials.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

#16 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

June Ranking: #12

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading Northern Academy talent.

Our top-ranked Northern Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is clearly the best prospect out of the Allies crop and a real first round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase.

Last month:

Another who has had some time away, Fahey did not take part in the Giants Academy’s NAB League stint, but made his third appearance for the Giants’ VFL last week. He was understandably quiet with seven disposals in his first outing at the level since Round 5 (May).

#17 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

June Ranking: #19

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing or pinch-hit up forward. He is another who stakes his claim on high upside.

Last month:

Goater remains in the mix after some really consistent form for the Calder Cannons, as well as a strong showing in the Vic Metro trial game. As a permanent fixture in midfield, the big-bodied prospect showcased his strong ball winning ability and clean hands, playing the role of extractor and distributor perfectly. He ticked over 30 touches in his latest appearance for Calder and uses the ball efficiently, suiting his side’s kick-mark style.

#18 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

June Ranking: #9

Snapshot: Williams is a versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals up forward, while also rotating through the ruck or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 23 goals in eight WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

Williams’ goalkicking record at Colts level speaks for itself, and the East Fremantle tall continues to find the big sticks consistently. He booted two majors in each of his last two outings, but was really impressive in his latest dig with 22 disposals, eight marks and 21 hitouts to continue his aerial dominance. With such a strong group of key forwards at Western Australia’s disposal, Williams’ form will have to be constant if he is to retain focal point status at representative level. He does have the added string to his bow of versatility, with a ruck chop-out proving useful at various times this season.

#19 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg

June Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.

Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot among the 2021 crop’s top 25 places. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward is destined for the same honours as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent this year.

Last month:

Ward has been one of the form players of the draft pool since our last edition, seeing him soar into the top 20 and look quite comfortable there. It all started with an outstanding 34-disposal effort in Northern’s win over Oakleigh, where he matched Daicos around the contest and was super productive with his ball use. Ward carried that form into the Vic Metro trial game as captain, showcasing more of his outside ability with transitional run and time in the forward half. He capped off a brilliant month of football by racking up another 35 touches and laying nine tackles as the Knights went down to Murray last week.

#20 Jacob Van Rooyen
Claremont/Western Australia | Tall Forward
16/04/2003 | 194cm | 88kg

June Ranking: #13

Snapshot: Van Rooyen is a tall forward who presents well with strong hands overhead and a booming kick, but has also shown potential to move further afield.

Pegged as Western Australia’s best draft prospect and potentially the leading tall coming into the year, Van Rooyen continues to impress in 2021. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in 2020’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis has halted his progress a touch, but Van Rooyen started out the season at League level and was difficult to deny for a return after showing great form in the WAFL Colts.

Last month:

Having been managed back into some form and full-time minutes via the Colts, Van Rooyen returned to the senior WAFL grade last week. He managed a combined 10 goals in his three Colts outings beforehand, but only snared one from six touches and four marks upon cracking into the League set-up for his fourth cap. With an uninterrupted run up forward and potentially some better midfield form, Van Rooyen could once again climb the order.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

#21 Cooper Murley
Norwood/South Australia | Midfielder
20/06/2003 | 178cm | 70kg

June Ranking: #18

Snapshot: A stylish forward runner, Murley holds his own on both sides of the contest and loves to break into attack with speed and slick ball use on the fly.

Murley is an exciting player in full flight, able to break forward quickly with gut running and terrific speed from midfield. He dominated the SANFL Under 18s competition last year and was part of Norwood’s premiership-winning team, showcasing his undeniable talent and upside. In 2021, his progress has been halted by injury, though the 18-year-old has already earned a Reserves berth and remains one of South Australia’s brightest prospects. Having returned from injury last month, he could well be one to rise up the board with a consistent run of form and even more senior exposure.

Last month:

Murley is another who has battled injury in 2021, but is now finding his feet having gotten back on the park. He returned via the Reserves grade but has since found form back in the Under 18s, notching two games of over 30 disposals and two goals in the last three weeks. As was the case at times last season, Murley seems a class above his peers but the true test will be how he can adapt should he be thrust back into the senior grades. If he keeps his form up, a promotion seems inevitable.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus: Cooper Murley

#22 Rhett Bazzo
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Tall Defender/Forward
17/10/2003 | 195cm | 81kg

June Ranking: #16

Snapshot: A key defender who has adjusted to a forward role in 2021, Bazzo is fantastic in his aerial judgement and clean with ball in hand.

Another of Western Australia’s many promising key position prospects, Bazzo made his name as a defender but has since shifted forward. As he did in the AFL Academy showcase, the Swan Districts product may well revert back to that defence post during state representative duties, but looks just as suited to playing an attacking role with his sound marking and use of the ball. He is another who claimed Under 16 All Australian honours in 2019, making him a well known quantity and one with plenty of class. Bazzo has shown just that in four WAFL Colts games to this point, while also turning out for Guildford Grammar in the PSA Football competition.

Last month:

Mixing his time between PSA football and the WAFL Colts, Bazzo continues to be utilised at either end of the ground. He didn’t have much to do in his lone Colts outing for the month, managing 10 disposals, two marks and eight tackles in Swan Districts’ 80-point Round 12 win over Subiaco. It was his fourth Colts appearance for 2021 and it is becoming evident that Bazzo looks most suited to his intercept marking role down back, where he is likely to be stationed for Western Australia at the Under 19 National Championships.

#23 Joshua Browne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 185cm | 77kg

June Ranking: #23

Snapshot: An ultra-consistent midfielder who runs hard and finds plenty of the ball, Browne is one of the most in-form midfielders nationwide.

Browne is a player whose form has made him hard to deny for a spot in the top 25, with his ability to win big numbers at a remarkable rate making him one of the most consistent performers in the draft pool at present. He has built on a promising bottom-age campaign with East Fremantle to hit new heights in the WAFL Colts competition, competing with grunt at the contest and running hard to accumulate around the ground in relentless fashion. He is also quite solid defensively on the inside and is the type of player you want on your side, especially among the centre bounce mix.

Last month:

Browne’s sensational WAFL Colts form continued into June, as the reliable midfielder found plenty of the ball and even hit the scoreboard in some big efforts. Two of his last three outings for East Fremantle yielded 38 disposals, with his latest appearance also seeing Browne end up with three goals to his name against Perth. His output is undeniable and more dominant performances like that of Round 11 will only put his stocks in good stead around this even range.

#24 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights | Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg

June Ranking: #25

Snapshot: Wilmot is a tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed and ball use.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Last month:

Wilmot continued his exciting form with a strong start to his month, turning out for Northern and notching 22 touches in his usual defensive post, as the Knights toppled Oakleigh. He was able to utilise his running power, speed, and sharp ball use in the trial games too, lining up across half-back and even rolling up to a wing for Vic Metro. He continues to showcase handy points of difference for a player of his size and position, essentially holding his place in our count.

#25 Blake Howes
Sandringham Dragons | Forward/Wing
7/04/2003 | 190cm/79kg

June Ranking: NR

Snapshot: One of the best athletes available in this year’s draft, Howes boasts a terrific aerial game but also competes well at ground level and shows promising versatility.

Rounding out the top 25 is another new name in the mix, but one who should be well known to keen draft watchers. Howes was an All Australian at Under 16 level, plying his trade as a high-marking forward with wonderful athleticism and clean hands. While he started the year off in that usual forward post, Howes has since shown his versatility with a shift to the wing and is a classic high-ceiling type of prospect. He was included in this year’s initial AFL Academy intake and continues to back up that selection with form fitting of his potential as a mainstay in the Sandringham Dragons’ side.

Last month:

A name which has hovered around the mark, Howes makes his Power Rankings debut on the back of some really promising displays over the last month. Since moving up to a wing for Sandringham Dragons, Howes has played the position well by getting his hands on the ball more while still showcasing his marking prowess. In finding more possessions, Howes has also proven his ground level prowess. He very nearly had a blinder on the weekend, managing 24 disposals and nine marks against Tasmania, but just falling short on the end product with four behinds. At 190cm, his athleticism and versatility will excite many watchers.

IN THE MIX:

The two to fall out of the rankings since last month’s edition are Glenelg midfielder-defender Lewis Rayson and tall Northern Knights midfielder Ned Long. Rayson continues to tick along with more midfield minutes in the SANFL Under 18s, while Long has not been sighted at NAB League level in the last month and did not feature in the Victorian trials.

West Australian goalkicking ace Jye Amiss is becoming increasingly hard to deny. The East Perth spearhead is the leading WAFL Colts goalkicking charts with 37 in nine games, proving a dead-eye with his set shot conversions and difficult to stop when stationed one-on-one inside 50. His latest outing yielded a bag of seven majors, and he doesn’t need too many opportunities to make an impact.

After snaring five goals for Vic Country during last month’s trials, Dandenong midfielder-forward Judson Clarke is climbing draft boards. His mix of pace and skill catches the eye, with his current form pointing towards top 25 potential. Sam Butler, the brother of St Kilda’s Dan is another in that boat, but was recently injured having made a successful transition into midfield. GWV teammate Sam Breuer has also done so, only from defence, showing good speed and intent around the ball.

The likes of Zac Taylor and Lachlan Rankin are clever footballers who also enjoyed solid trial games to go with their NAB League form, so too Connor Macdonald. Back over in South Australia, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera could be another to watch after breaking through for his League debut, having strung together some form at the Reserves level.