Tag: Cooper Stephens

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the October edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we extend out to the top 35 players at this stage of the year. So much can change over the next month, but the order is firming as combines are completed around the country. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs.

#1 Matt Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

September Ranking: #1

Last month: Had a terrific finals series for Oakleigh Chargers and capped off what was a massive, yet still unsurprising top-age year with a 44-disposal and 11-clearance NAB League Grand Final to lead the Chargers to a premiership. It was his second best on ground in the competition’s ultimate decider despite losing 12 months prior, but this year there was more cause for celebration, just like when he capped off the season with a Best and Fairest victory for the Chargers off just seven games.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

September Ranking: #2

Last month: Became a premiership player with the Chargers this year and while he did not hit the scoreboard in two of his finals, still showed great strength on the inside, then dominated the preliminary final win over Sandringham Dragons, slotting three goals from 23 touches and four marks.

#3 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

September Ranking: #3

Last month: Did all he could across the finals series for Gippsland, with the Power ultimately falling short once again this year. In the Power’s three finals, he averaged more than 25 touches per game, as well as four marks, five tackles, five inside 50s and booted three goals.

#4 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

September Ranking: #4

Last month: Has not played since the last Power Rankings, but tested well at the National Draft Combine, beating his previous agility record in the pre-season but clocking a sub-eight second agility test last week.

#5 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

September Ranking: #5

Last month: Has not played, but showed off his athletic capabilities at the National Draft Combine, doing well across the board including a sub-three second 20-metre sprint which would have not come as a surprise, but still showed what he is capable of from half-back.

#6 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

September Ranking: #6

Last month: Since his qualifying final demolition of four goals in 10 minutes, Flanders had two very different games, with a quiet match against the Western Jets in the semi-final racking up just 18 touches and a goal – though seven tackles – before doing well against Eastern Ranges in the preliminary final despite the loss, with 27 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s.

#7 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

September Ranking: #7

Last month: Has missed the past month with a knee injury.

#8 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

September Ranking: #8

Last month: After his League side was eliminated from the SANFL premiership race, Stephens was brought into the Redlegs’ Reserves Grand Final side where he had 26 disposals, three marks, five clearances, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds on his way to a premiership medal. He also tested strongly across the board at the National Draft Combine.

#9 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

September Ranking: #9

Last month: Unfortunately for Kemp, he went down with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in July school game and missed the remainder of the season.

#10 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

September Ranking: #10

Last month: Did not play after the first final, cited in a moon boot on semi-finals day for the NAB League. Still looms as the first key position player taken despite the injury ending his year.

#11 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

September Ranking: #11

Last month: Given East Fremantle Colts missed finals, Jackson has not been able to play since August but has enough runs on the board to give himself a first round chance.

#12 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendencies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

September Ranking: #12

Last month: Had a strong finish to the year for Glenelg in the finals series, taking home a premiership medallion after 18 disposals, four marks and eight rebounds in the Grand Final.

#13 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

September Ranking: #13

Last month: Similar to Jackson, given East Fremantle Colts missed out on finals, Rivers has not played in the past month but still looms as one of the top couple of players to be picked from Western Australia.

#14 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

September Ranking: #14

Last month: Captained his side to a premiership in the NAB League after a terrific finals series. After being tightly held early, Bianco got off the chain to finish with 29 touches, 10 marks and six inside 50s. This followed on from his 27 touches, six marks and five inside 50s in the preliminary final win over the Dragons.

#15 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

September Ranking: #17

Last month: After a massive 32-disposal game which included a goal against Calder Cannons, Maginnes was quiet in the Dragons’ preliminary final loss to Oakleigh, amassing just 13 touches. He competed strongly in both the 20-metre sprint (2.957 seconds) and the yo-yo test (21.4 level) to finish top 10 and show off his blend of endurance and speed.

#16 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

September Ranking: #23

Last month: Finished off the finals series in the Under 18s side with 22 disposals, nine rebounds and four clearances in a losing West Adelaide team at the preliminary finals stage. His consistency across the year and lethal kicking skills were on show and have been real standouts this year. He also finished top 15 in the running vertical leap with a score of 83cm.

#17 Miles Bergman

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
18/10/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

A talented mid/forward, Bergman is strong overhead and can have an impact anywhere inside 50 with a penetrating kick and eye for goals. Bergman is not a massive disposal winner, but can win a game off his own boot. He still has areas of consistency to work on, but in terms of medium forwards, Bergman has been one of the more consistent ones this year, and looms as a potential first round selection.

September Ranking: #15

Last month: Had a quiet semi-final against Calder Cannons with just four touches for the day, before being okay in Sandringham’s heavy loss to Oakleigh in the preliminary final, finishing with 14 touches, five marks, five tackles and a goal. At the National Draft Combine, Bergman topped the vertical jump with 77cm and came second in the running vertical jump with a massive 90cm.

#18 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

September Ranking: #17

Last month: Unfortunately dislocated his knee in a school football match and has not returned since his impressive 26-disposal, six-mark, two-goal game in Round 14.

#19 Deven Robertson

Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia was been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships after injury last year, and has boosted his draft ranking after the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but would stake a case of the most consistent player in the draft crop and you know exactly what you are going to get from him.

September ranking: #26

Last month: Robertson is done for the year, needing a shoulder reconstruction after dislocating his shoulder in the final championships game. One who has not lost out due to missing out on games with his consistency in big games the reason for his rise as others fall around him.

#20 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College.

September Ranking: #20

Last month: His season is over after a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2019 season.

#21 Mitch O'Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

September Ranking: #18

Last month: Has not played in the past couple of months after injury and his side not making the NAB League finals series.

#22 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitement machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

September Ranking: #22

Last month: After missing the first couple of finals, Taheny returned to Norwood for the Reserves’ Grand Final where he looked fresh, booting four goals from eight disposals in a big game up forward to help the Redlegs win the flag in the competition.

#23 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required.

September Ranking: #19

Last month: Had a couple of impressive finals before a quieter 14-disposal game in the SANFL Reserves Grand Final where his Eagles’ side went down to Norwood in the decider. A bit up and down at times, but has shown nice signs throughout the year.

#24 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

September Ranking: #21

Last month: Has not played in the past two months with back stress fractures ending his year.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month. Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions.

September Ranking: #25

Last month: Did not get on the park since Round 3 due to his long-term injury but was cherry ripe for the National Draft Combine Testing, finishing as the equal winner in the yo-yo test with a 21.8, as well as a top 15 finish in the running vertical leap with 83cm.

#26 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

August Ranking: #24

Last month: Did not play finals this year given the SUNS missed the NEAFL post-season series, but impressed at the National Draft Combine with a 21.6 yo-yo test and an 8.242 agility test. A free hit for Gold Coast with the new draft concessions and a value one at that.

#27 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

September Ranking: #27

Last month: Did not play finals for East Fremantle given the Sharks missed out, but had a 2.966 20-metre sprint and 21.3 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine.

#28 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

September Ranking: #28

Last month: Given the Stingrays were knocked out in the first week of finals, Weightman has not played NAB League in the past month, but tested well in the vertical jump at the National Draft Combine with 69cm in the standing and 83cm in the running.

#29 Elijah Taylor

Perth/Western Australia | General Forward
01/05/2001 | 185cm | 75kg

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar. He has been a talented player for some time, but he has started to string together impressive performances to put his name into top 30 calculations. A key player for Perth in the WAFL and stepped up during the AFL Under-18 National Championships.

September Ranking: #30

Last month: Has not played in the past month since his two goals at Reserves level, but blew away draft watchers with a 8.005-second agility test at the National Draft Combine – second overall at the combine behind Hayden Young.

#30 Harry Schoenberg

Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 180cm | 78kg

The South Australian midfielder surprised a lot of people on his way to his state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the National Under-18 Championships. He throughly deserved it with the second most disposals behind overall MVP winner Deven Robertson, Schoenberg was crucial on the inside, while being able to go outside as well. He still has areas to work on, but he has a nice balance and is consistent as they come, playing at both Under-18 and Reserves level in the SANFL for Woodville-West Torrens.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: After starting the year in the Under 18s, his consistency earned him a place in the Eagles’ Reserves side and he stayed there ever since, including the finals series in the past month. While the Eagles ultimately went down in the decider, Schoenberg had 20 disposals, three marks, six clearances and six tackles in the big game. He averaged 22 disposals and six clearances across his three finals to really step up against senior players.

#31 Thomson Dow

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
16/10/2001 | 183cm | 72kg

The brother of Carlton’s Paddy did a good job of forging his own path this season, splitting his time between school football, NAB League and Under-18 Championships. In his five games for the Pioneers, Dow averaged 21.6 disposals, 4.4 marks and 3.0 clearances, spending time between midfield and forward. He provided a target up forward as he needed to buildup his endurance in season 2019, but has some nice athletic traits such as his agility to get out of stoppages. Still a raw prospect, he has always been in the top half of the draft calculations.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Did not end up playing finals after the Pioneers were eliminated in the Wildcard Round. At the National Draft Combine, Dow ranked third overall in the agility test with a time of 8.061 seconds.

#32 Harrison Jones

Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 194cm | 75kg

The Calder Cannons and Vic Metro key position utility has played in all thirds of the ground, with the forward half seemingly his most effective role, particularly roaming further up the ground. He spent time assisting in the ruck despite being 194cm, with his leap able to match well against taller opponents. He still has plenty of development left in him, and it would not be a surprise to see a club take a chance inside the top 20 given the lack of quality talls in the 2019 draft.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Jones’ year ended in the semi-finals with a loss to Sandringham Dragons, with the tall utility picking up 15 touches and laying five tackles, backing up his 11 and eight the week before. He tested well across the board at the National Draft Combine last week with running vertical jump (83cm), 20m sprint (2.963 seconds) and yo-yo test (21.4) giving him a great all-round mix of athleticism.

#33 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: The Jets were eliminated in the semi-finals by Gippsland Power, with Cassar picking up the 17 disposals and three marks in that game after a quiet game against Northern Knights in the elimination final where he had 11 touches and just the one rebound. His form prior to that was quite good, but just showed the consistency to iron out at the next level.

#34 Sam De Koning

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 200cm | 85kg

De Koning enjoyed a strong Under-18 National Championships, named All-Australian at full-back after a strong carnival for Vic Country. His form at NAB League level was inconsistent at times, though he can play up either end and even through the ruck. His best position appears to be in defence however, with his intercept marking, positioning and reading of the play top notch. He looks likely to be taken in the first half of the draft with talls at a premium this year and he is a versatile one at that.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Has not played since the Stingrays were eliminated in the elimination final against Calder, where he had just the seven touches and two marks.

#35 Fraser Phillips

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | General Forward
15/05/2001 | 186cm | 71kg

A talented medium forward with high upside, Phillips is a player who can do the impossible inside 50, but like many forwards, struggle with consistency. At his best, Phillips can kick multiple goals off limited possessions, and his season with Gippsland Power has been steadily improving after a slow start. He is great overhead and works hard to maintain an impact even when he is not able to do so closer to goal. Having featured in the Power Rankings earlier in the year, Phillips is still around the mark because of that high ceiling he could reach with strong development.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Gippsland Power made it through to a preliminary final, with Phillips averaging 12 disposals. four marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and booting four goals in his three finals. His year was consistent hitting the scoreboard in all but two of his games, including bags of five and four goals, to finish with 28 majors from 15 games.

Others in contention

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)
Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
Cooper Sharman (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Sam Philp (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Liam Delahunty (GWS GIANTS Academy/NSW-ACT)

Next month… The final edition of Power Rankings. A top 50 released with 50-26 followed by 25-1.

Top athletes star at National Draft Combine

AFTER a huge year of football, the nation’s top footballers battled it out for athletic honours last week at the National Draft Combine. A number of top-end talents took out individual tests, while others put their name forward to recruiters because of improvement in certain areas.

Gut-running Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ athlete Jay Rantall took out both the 2km time trial and the yo-yo test, sharing the latter with Geelong Falcons’ co-captain Cooper Stephens. In the speed tests, it was Northern Knights’ Sam Philp who clocked a speed of 2.867 seconds in the 20-metre sprint to take it out, with West Australian Ben Johnson the only other player to record under 2.9 seconds. Top five hopeful, Hayden Young took out the agility test, bettering his pre-season effort to record a lightning quick 7.940 seconds to be the sole player under eight seconds. For the jumps, it was Miles Bergman and Brady Rowles who impressed the most. Bergman took out the standing vertical jump with a 77cm effort, four more than Rowles. But with a run-up it was Rowles taking the honours with a massive 98cm jump, eight more than Bergman who was second.

Vertical jump (cm)

Miles Bergman 77
Brady Rowles 73
Ben Johnson 70
Daniel Mott 70
Cody Weightman 69
Sam Flanders 69
Lachlan Williams 69
Sam Philp 69
Nick Bryan 69

Agility (seconds)

Hayden Young 7.940
Elijah Taylor 8.005
Thomson Dow 8.061
Trent Rivers 8.100
Oisin Gallen 8.197
Chad Warner 8.203
Sam Flanders 8.206
Noah Cumberland 8.208
Connor Budarick 8.242
Dylan Stephens 8.245

20m sprint (seconds)

Sam Philp 2.867
Ben Johnson 2.885
Malcolm Rosas 2.924
Mitch Georgiades 2.925
Noah Cumberland 2.931
Finn Maginness 2.957
Harrison Jones 2.963
Jeremy Sharp 2.966
Brady Rowles 2.968
Dylan Stephens 2.972

Running vertical jump (cm)

Brady Rowles 98
Miles Bergman 90
Sam Flanders 88
Cian McBride 87
Lachlan Williams 86
Hugo Ralphsmith 86
Jaxon Prior 85
Nick Bryan 85
Oscar Lewis 83
Kysaiah Pickett 83
Cody Weightman 83
Will Day 83
Brady Rowles 83
Cooper Stephens 83
Harrison Jones 83

Yo-Yo test (level)

Jay Rantall 21.8
Cooper Stephens 21.8
Connor Budarick 21.6
Chad Warner 21.6
Oscar Lewis 21.5
Sam Philp 21.5
Lachlan Ash 21.4
Harrison Jones 21.4
Finn Maginness 21.4
Trey Ruscoe 21.4
Riley Baldi 21.3
Sam Flanders 21.3
Matt Rowell 21.3
Jeremy Sharp 21.3

2km time trial results (min:sec)

Jay Rantall 5:50 minutes
Finn Maginness 5:51
Dylan Stephens 6:01
Louis Butler 6:09
Hugo Ralphsmith 6:12
Jeremy Sharp 6:12
Connor Budarick 6:15
Jai Jackson 6:15
Will Martyn 6:16
Ned Cahill 6:17
Matt Rowell 6:17
Noah Anderson 6:17
Cooper Stephens 6:17
Cian McBride 6:17

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the fourth edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 30 players at this stage of the year. So much can change over the next few months, but the order is firming as combines around the country close near. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs.

We will be following up with ‘Ones to Watch’ in a separate piece later this week.

#1 Matt Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

August Ranking: #1

Last month: Returned to the NAB League Boys with a bang collecting a whopping 34 disposals, three marks, 10 clearances, six inside 50s and seven tackles in a huge effort for Oakleigh Chargers to get over the line against Sandringham Dragons in the final round of the season. Was tightly guarded in Oakleigh’s qualifying final win over Gippsland but was a key reason the Chargers got home , picking up 29 disposals, four rebounds and laying eight tackles.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

August Ranking: #2

Last month: Anderson was one of the crucial match winners upon return to the NAB League Boys, booting 3.2 from 24 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and four clearances, taking control in the final term for the Chargers to overrun the Sandringham Dragons in the final round of the season. Finished the first final against Gippsland with 29 touches, four tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds in a strong effort despite not having his usual time and space.

#3 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

August Ranking: #6

Last month: Rested for the final week of the NAB League Boys season after a hectic year that included school football, will attack finals fresh and be a key contributor for the Power in their bid for the flag. Got under the skin of some Oakleigh players in the Power’s narrow loss to the Chargers, putting together a strong 29-disposals, four-mark, five-tackle and seven-inside 50 performance.

#4 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

August Ranking: #3

Last month: Put together a solid month with three 20-plus disposal games, and spending time forward against Geelong Falcons in between. Was crucial in Dandenong’s win over Murray in the Wildcard Round to advance through to the finals, picking up 24 touches, two marks, seven tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds. Was okay without being outstanding in Dandenong’s elimination final loss to Calder, picking up 19 disposals, two marks and three tackles. Drops down only because the three close to him had huge games in do-or-die or finals matches.

#5 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

August Ranking: #4

Last month: Finished his competitive season with a best-on performance for Murray in the Bushrangers’ loss to Dandenong in Wildcard Round. The co-captain was massive around the ground with his drive and elite skills and decision making. He took four marks, laid six tackles and got it down at both ends with six rebounds and five inside 50s. He now returns to play with Shepparton in his home club’s finals series.

#6 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

August Ranking: #5

Last month: Had his lowest disposal game of the year with just 14 against the Pioneers in Round 17, but has been a mirror of consistency this season with all bar one previous game with more than 20 disposals, including 28 and a goal against the Devils in Round 14. Absolutely dominated the second quarter of the qualifying final against Oakleigh, racking up 12 touches and booting four goals on his way to 27 disposals, seven marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s.

#7 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

August Ranking: #7

Last month: Has missed the past month with a knee injury.

#8 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

August Ranking: #9

Last month: Had held his spot in finalist Norwood’s League side and continues to be a solid contributor, averaging 18.1 touches, 4.5 marks, 4.7 tackles and 3.2 inside 50s per game. To end the regular season, Stephens recorded more than 20 disposals in three of his four matches. He then stepped up over the weekend for Norwood to keep their premiership dreams alive with a terrific goal to accompany his 14 touches, two marks, three tackles and two clearances.

#9 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

August Ranking: #8

Last month: Unfortunately for Kemp, he went down with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in July school game and will miss the remainder of the season.

#10 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

August Ranking: #10

Last month: Was quiet in Sandringham’s tight loss to Oakleigh failing to kick a goal, but backed up with a big 14 disposals, five marks and two goals in the Dragons’ massive 103-point thumping of Geelong Falcons in Wildcard Round. Had a quieter game playing down back against Eastern in the qualifying final. Glided through the air to take a number of intercept marks but also dropped a few, finishing with 11 touches, four marks and three tackles.

#11 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

July Ranking: #24

Last month: Continues to dominate the WAFL Colts, with three consecutive matches of 20-plus disposals and 27-plus hitouts, then went forward in the most recent game against Perth, booting two goals from 16 touches, four marks and 31 hitouts. Has risen back to where he was at the start of the year as others fall and his consistency remains the same.

#12 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendencies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

August Ranking: #12

Last month: Racked up a season-high 27 disposals in Glenelg’s loss to Sturt in Round 18 heading into finals, also having five marks and 10 rebounds and continuing to impress.

#13 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

August Ranking: #16

Last month: Racked up a season-high 30 disposals in the final round of the regular season for the Colts, while laying seven tackles and booting 2.2 from six marks. Rivers has not dropped below 25 disposals in a remarkable display of consistency this season.

#14 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

August Ranking: #14

Last month: Picked up 28 disposals, five marks and six rebounds in a match-winning effort for the Chargers against the Dragons in the final round of the season, and while he did not have his usual influence in the first final, stepped up to kick the match-winning goal in the pouring rain to win the Chargers the match against Gippsland. He still finished with 24 touches, two marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds.

#15 Miles Bergman

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
18/10/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

August Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Has had the biggest month of just about anyone, dominating in the Herald Sun Shield to win best on ground for St Bede’s College in their narrow win over St Patrick’s, then continued that form in NAB League with a goal against the Chargers from 13 disposals, four marks and six tackles, then ran riot against the Falcons with four goals from 18 touches, eight marks and four tackles. Showed in Sandringham’s narrow loss to Eastern in the qualifying final that he does not need many touches to hurt the opposition, booting two goals from 13 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and three inside 50s.

#16 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

July Ranking: #17

Last month: Unfortunately dislocated his knee in a school football match and has not returned since his impressive 26-disposal, six-mark, two-goal game in Round 14.

#17 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

August Ranking: #23

Last month: Carried his AFL Under-18 Championships form into his NAB League back-end of the season, having an impact through the middle and up forward, booting five goals – including three in the tight loss over Oakleigh in the final round – and racking up a combined 50 disposals in the two other games with the majority of his time spent in the middle. Is averaging more than five clearances per game since returning to the competition and could be the first Dragon picked in a tight contest with McAsey and Bergman. Did have a quiet game in the first final against Eastern, picking up 14 touches, but laid the 10 tackles showing his strong work defensively.

#18 Mitch O'Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

August Ranking: #11

Last month: Has missed the past month due to injury.

#19 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

August Ranking: #13

Last month: Had a couple of okay weeks in the League side with 11 disposals per game average, before dropping back to the Reserves and starring with 27 touches, six marks, seven inside 50s and four clearances in Woodville-West Torrens’ huge win over North Adelaide in the final round of the season. Was a late withdrawal in the final round of the season

#20 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College.

August Ranking: #19

Last month: His season is over after a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2019 season.

#21 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

August Ranking: #15

Last month: Has not played in the past month with that back injury still troubling him.

#22 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitement machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

August Ranking: #18

Last month: After three goalless games in the SANFL League, Taheny dropped back to Norwood’s reserves where he had 11 touches and booted a goal, importantly laying five tackles in the Redlegs’ 23-point victory over West Adelaide in the final round.

#23 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

August Ranking: #26

Last month: With school football done and dusted, Day returned to the West Adelaide Reserves, picking up 26 disposals, eight marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds, three tackles and a goal in the Bloods’ loss to Norwood in the final round of the season. Picked up 20 touches, nine marks and seven rebounds in a strong performance off half-back for West Adelaide in the Under 18s first final, now playing off in a preliminary final next weekend.

#24 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

August Ranking: #21

Last month: The talented small had 12 disposals, two marks and four tackles in his final game for the year with the SUNS missing out on NEAFL action. The week before he had 13, with his best game of August coming against Brisbane Lions, racking up 18 touches, three marks, five tackles and booting a goal in the 25-point loss.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month. Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions.

August Ranking: #25

Last month: It was confirmed recently that a return for Stephens is not worth the risk, which means the Falcons co-skipper will be on ice for the remainder of the year as he has been for the majority of it. He might have slipped down the order a bit, but he could end up a value pick given what he showed last season as as bottom-ager.

#26 Deven Robertson

Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia was been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships after injury last year, and has boosted his draft ranking after the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but would stake a case of the most consistent player in the draft crop and you know exactly what you are going to get from him.

August ranking: #28

Last month: Robertson is done for the year, needing a shoulder reconstruction after dislocating his shoulder in the final championships game.

#27 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

August Ranking: #29

Last month: Finding his feet in the WAFL League competition, picking up 22 disposals and nine marks in the Round 19 clash against Perth as he showed he belongs in senior football.

#28 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

August Ranking: #20

Last month: Very raw but talented, Weightman looked like he was going to tear the game against Murray Bushrangers apart in the Wildcard Round, but after a strong first half, was ruled out of the second half with concussion as the Stingrays got up in a tight one. He finished with one goal from 12 touches after being inaccurate the week before against the Falcons with three behinds from 16 touches playing mostly through the midfield. Did not play the first final due to the concussion sustained in the Wildcard Round.

#29 Cooper Sharman

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 190cm |

The Oakleigh Chargers product is the definition of a draft bolter, with clubs keeping him under wraps until he made his Chargers’ debut in the NAB League against Gippsland Power. He has since strung a few games together at the level and has plenty of exciting traits, both athletically and game-based. He knows where the goals are, is a reliable set shot and a great overhead mark. Looks damaging every time he goes near it. Is still raw and has areas to work on, but could certainly be the Sam Sturt of 2019.

August Ranking: #22

Last month: Had his first genuine test against a full-strength Sandringham Dragons’ outfit and held his own by booting two long-range goals from seven disposals and two marks, and is an X-factor heading into finals. The week before he booted two majors against the Jets from 10 touches and three marks, showing off his aerial ability against Emerson Jeka in one-on-one victories. Was quiet in the first final against Gippsland Power with his first time going goalless, while having the 13 touches, six marks and four inside 50s, but spent time in defence as well. His handball behind his head to set up a Reef McInnes goal right before quarter time was elite.

#30 Elijah Taylor

Perth/Western Australia | General Forward
01/05/2001 | 185cm | 75kg

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar. He has been a talented player for some time, but he has started to string together impressive performances to put his name into top 30 calculations. A key player for Perth in the WAFL and stepped up during the AFL Under-18 National Championships.

August Ranking: #30

Last month: Booted two goals from 10 touches stepping up to the Reserves side at Perth over the weekend, backing up his two-goal effort from 16 touches at Colts level the week before.

NAB League Boys team review: Geelong Falcons

AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The first side we look at is the Geelong Falcons.

Position: 12th
Wins: 3
Losses: 11
Draws: 1

Points For: 783 (Ranked #13)
Points Against: 1081 (Ranked #12)
Percentage: 79
Points: 14

Top draft prospects:

Cooper Stephens

The inside midfielder missed the majority of the season after sustaining a fractured leg in the first quarter of Geelong’s draw with Dandenong Stingrays at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Round 3. It meant he played just the three matches and in the two full games, he averaged 25 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances, 2.5 inside 50s and laid 4.0 tackles. He showed in his bottom-ager year that he is capable of playing off half-back or a wing, as well as winning the possessions at the coalface and it no doubt would have been tough for him to watch his side end up winning the wooden spoon this season. His leadership is undeniable, not only named co-captain of the Falcons, but also vice-captain of Vic Country despite the knowledge he was never going to take part in on-field activities. Stephens is still considered a top 30 prospect and it will be interesting to see where he falls on draft night.

Jesse Clark

The rebounding defender has enjoyed a strong season and should finish strongly in the Falcons’ Best and Fairest even though others have played more games and will have enough votes to take it out. Often Clark has been requited to play on taller opponents, but it has no stopped him averaging 21.4 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.3 tackles and 6.3 rebounds, as well as recording 2.7 clearances playing on a wing or getting it out of the danger zone from defensive stoppages. He represented Vic Country and averaged the 10.5 touches and 3.0 marks, and is a prospect in the second half of the draft. He is 188cm which is slightly below the key position height, but he offers good strength in the air, positioning and composure under pressure, racking up rebounds at will and could suit a side looking for a reliable defender.

BnF chances:

Outside of Clark, the three players likely to battle for the Best and Fairest are Keidan Rayner, Charlie Harris and Chas Karpala. All three have been able to notch up double-figure games and provide consistency through the midfield and filling in other roles when required. Karpala averaged 19.1 disposals per game this season, third overall, while Harris (18.8) and Rayner (17.3) were not too far behind.

2020 Draft Crop:

Geelong could well be the Eastern Ranges of 2020, with a host of bottom-age prospects who have the potential to lead the Falcons back up the ladder. Tanner Bruhn is a top-end talent prospect, and while he only entered the fray in the final round of the NAB League Boys season after a long-term injury, he looms as the Falcons top prospect if he can stay injury free. Other bottom-agers who have already looked like established players are ruck Henry Walsh, Charlie Lazzaro, Noah Gribble in midfield, while Cameron Fleeton straightens up the defence, and Gennaro Bove provides tackling pressure in the attacking half. Oliver Henry looks a genuine talent at both ends.

Final word:

It was a disappointing year for the Falcons, there is little doubt about that. But they would have been pleased with the development of their bottom-agers to set them up for next year. Stephens and Clark loom as their two draftable prospects given they were the only two receiving draft combine invitations, but Charlie Sprague is one who will surely have a real shot at VFL after consistent form in the back-end of the season and playing in the Young Guns game earlier in the year showing some interest from clubs.

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the fourth edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 30 players at this stage of the year. So much changes over the next 12 months, with only bottom-age form and the first few of months of the seasons to go by so far. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs.

#1 Matt Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

July Ranking: #1

Last month: Since finishing off his national carnival commitments with Vic Metro where he was rewarded with All-Australian selection, Rowell headed back to school football where he won the APS shield with Carey Grammar. At the national carnival, Rowell averaged 24.8 disposals, 5.0 marks, 5.3 clearances, 6.0 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s. He is expected to return to the Chargers’ line-up for the final game of the NAB League Boys season in the huge clash against Sandringham Dragons.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

July Ranking: #2

Last month: Anderson stepped up at the national carnival to earn All-Australian selection, and while he was quieter in Metro’s final game early, he finished full of steam to be one of the best. Across four games Anderson averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.3 marks, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s. Since the carnival, Anderson helped Carey Grammar to an APS shield and will return to Oakleigh Chargers in the final round of the NAB League Boys competition when they tackle Sandringham Dragons.

#3 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

July Ranking: #3

Last month: All-Australian selection in defence after a strong national carnival (averaging 22.0 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 tackles) was terrific reward for the Dandenong Stingrays’ leader, as Young returned back to NAB League level in the past couple of weeks. While Dandenong has not managed to get a win on the board, Young’s influence in the defensive half has made a massive difference, spending time up the ground. In his three games since the national championships, Young has a averaged 25.7 disposals, 4.7 marks, 5.3 inside 50s and booted 3.4.

#4 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. He will be a massive chance for the Morrish Medal if he stays fit, and is a crucial part of the Murray Bushrangers outfit. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

July Ranking: #4

Last month: After a shaky start to the final game against Western Australia, Ash had a massive second half to have a real impact on the contest for Vic Country. While Country ultimately fell short in its quest for the title, Ash had shown enough to win All-Australian selection. The elite user averaged 23.0 disposals, 5.0 marks and 5.0 rebounds per game in his four outings. He has since returned to the Murray Bushrangers, where he averaged 25 disposals, 4.5 marks, 4.0 tackles, and playing large proportions of his games up forward, booted 3.4.

#5 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

July Ranking: #5

Last month: Retained his spot in the fifth place on the rankings, earning All-Australian honours at the national carnival where he averaged 22.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 6.0 tackles, 4.5 clearances and 4.8 inside 50s. Flanders has shown he is capable of playing midfield or forward, with a high level of X-factor particularly around goal. In his two games back for Gippsland Power, Flanders has averaged 24.5 disposals, 4.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 4.5 inside 50s.

#6 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

July Ranking: #7

Last month: Wrapped up the national championships with the Vic Country MVP, picking up 30-plus disposals in a massive game against South Australia at GMHBA Stadium, before a quieter outing against Western Australia in the final game. He averaged 23.5 disposals, 5.5 marks. 8.5 tackles and 5.3 clearances in a solid few weeks for the tough midfielder. Will return to Gippsland Power in the final round of the NAB League Boys season ahead of finals.

#7 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

July Ranking: #6

Last month: Earned All-Australian honours and the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the national championships, averaging 23.8 disposals, 2.8 marks, a massive 8.0 clearances and 4.5 tackles in his four matches. He has since injured his knee and will miss between four to six weeks, luckily avoiding surgery.

#8 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

July Ranking: #9

Last month: Capped off a starring national carnival with All-Australian selection and almost delivering Vic Country’s title with crucial last quarter goals. He has proven to be a clutch player in big moments, averaging 20.0 disposals, 6.5 marks, 2.3 tackles and booting three goals at the championships. Unfortunately for Kemp, he went down with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in a recent school game and will miss the remainder of the season.

#9 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

July Ranking: #11

Last month: One of South Australia’s best across the national championships, Stephens showed off his slick foot skills and leadership to earn a place in the All-Australian side. He averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.3 tackles and 3.5 inside 50s to be an important link on the outside for the Croweaters. He continues to shine in the SANFL League, returning to the competition and most recently having an impressive 26-disposal, eight-tackle, four-mark and one-goal game in the Redlegs’ big win over North Adelaide.

#10 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

July Ranking: #16

Last month: The draft bolter of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, McAsey earned the title of Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his work in defence. In his four games, McAsey has averaged 14.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 tackles, not only nullifying his direct opponent, but creating offensive run out of defence. In addition to this, McAsey had a big day out for Sandringham during a bye week for school football, booting three goals from 18 disposals and 10 marks to be the difference in the Dragons’ narrow seven-point win over Dandenong Stingrays.

#11 Mitch O'Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

July Ranking: #8

Last month: Had an impressive carnival with the Allies, averaging 20.3 disposals, 5.5 marks and 4.3 rebounds playing between half-back and on the wing. Unfortunately injured himself returning back to NAB League duties, going down in the game between Tasmania and Eastern. Should not have too much bearing on his draftability with his first round expectations still there.

#12 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendencies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

July Ranking: #10

Last month: Recorded the most rebounds of any player at the national championships, posting up 7.3 rebounds per game in his four matches, as well as 21.5 disposals and 4.5 marks to earn All-Australian honours. Gould has become a well-established member of SANFL title favourites’ Glenelg’s line-up and has become a consistent performer against AFL listed players such as his efforts against Adelaide reserves recently.

#13 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

July Ranking: #12

Last month: Finished the national carnival with 21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 5.0 tackles, 3.0 clearances and 3.8 inside 50s in a prominent month of football for the potential father-son prospect. Has since returned to the SANFL where he has made his League debut for Woodville-West Torrens, picking up 10 disposals, four marks and booting a goal.

#14 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

July Ranking: #13

Last month: A late withdrawal from Oakleigh’s game against Western on the weekend due to a quad issue, Bianco was best on ground in the Chargers’ upset win against Eastern Ranges upon his return to the NAB League. He picked up 34 touches, eight marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and 10 rebounds in a dominant performance off half-back and through the midfield. It followed up his work at the championships where he averaged 18.5 disposals, 4.3 marks, 3.8 inside 50s and 3.8 rebounds.

#15 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

July Ranking: #14

Last month: Since returning from the championships, Williams helped Oakleigh get over the line with two crucial goals at moments during the win against Eastern. He just had the eight touches and three marks, but then was impacted by a back issue, forcing him to miss the Chargers’ last game against Western.

#16 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

July Ranking: #17

Last month: Does not do a lot wrong and always looks classy with ball-in-hand, Rivers averaged 21.8 disposals, 5.0 marks, 2.5 tackles and 3.0 rebounds for Western Australia and was one of the best in the Sandgropers’ win over Vic Country for the title. Named on the bench in the All-Australian team for his great work at the carnival and has since continued his form at WAFL Colts level for East Fremantle, including 28 disposals, five marks, five tackles and two goals in his most recent outing on the weekend.

#17 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

July Ranking: #21

Last month: Finished the carnival on a high with a big game, particularly early for Western Australia in the Sandgropers’ win over Vic Country. Not as high disposal winner as others, he still had 17.5 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.0 tackles and booted three goals from his four games in the championships, and rarely wastes a disposal with a high work rate.

#18 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitement machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

July Ranking: #15

Last month: Has continued to play a role in Norwood’s SANFL League side, improving the defensive side of his game with five tackles from 10 disposals in his last outing against North Adelaide. At the championships he averaged a goal a game from 14.0 disposals and 2.7 marks, with his upside, rather than current output the aspect that sets him aside from other forward prospects.

#19 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College.

July Ranking: #18

Last month: Became a goal scoring hero for Vic Metro at the national championships, booting seven goals from four games as well as having 10.8 disposals and 3.8 marks per game. Unfortunately for Worrell and Sandringham Dragons, his season is over after a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2019 season.

#20 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

July Ranking: #20

Last month: Won the leading goalkicker award at the national championships which is no easy feat, booting nine majors in four games from his 11.0 disposals and 3.5 marks. Always looks damaging around the ball and is captain of Haileybury College where he has been playing since the championships finished up. He will be a welcome addition for Dandenong Stingrays in the final few weeks of the NAB League season.

#21 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

July Ranking: #19

Last month: The tackling machine laid a massive 9.3 tackles per game at the championships to accompany his 15.5 disposals and 2.3 marks. He can play anywhere on the field and was named in the back pocket where he stood out during the Division 2 series. Budarick was named the Harrison Medallist for his work with Gold Coast SUNS Academy, and has plenty of neat tricks that help recruiters overlook his size.

#22 Cooper Sharman

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 190cm |

The Oakleigh Chargers product is the definition of a draft bolter, with clubs keeping him under wraps until he made his Chargers’ debut in the NAB League against Gippsland Power. He has since strung a few games together at the level and has plenty of exciting traits, both athletically and game-based. He knows where the goals are, is a reliable set shot and a great overhead mark. Looks damaging every time he goes near it. Is still raw and has areas to work on, but could certainly be the Sam Sturt of 2019.

July Ranking: N/A

Last month: In four games, Sharman has booted nine goals for the Chargers, only narrowly missing his first set shot on the weekend. He averages the 13.5 disposals,5.0 marks and 2.5 inside 50s, and while his defensive game is an area of improvement, it was noticeable against Western that it was a focus of his, laying four tackles – the same amount he had in his first three games with the Chargers. The wildcard for Oakleigh in the final two months.

#23 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

July Ranking: #30

Last month: Really showed off his defensive capabilities at the national championships, averaging 18.3 disposals, 3.5 marks, 7.5 tackles, 4.3 inside 50s and 3.8 clearances to continue to prove a point after missing out on the Vic Metro Academy. Will likely play a key role in Sandringham’s finals campaign with a number of others injured.

#24 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

July Ranking: #23

Last month: Still the number one ruck in the draft crop, but like all rucks and even talls most of the time, tend to slip with the improvement of other players. Earned All-Australian honours and was runner-up in the Larke Medal voting, and is now back at East Fremantle where he had 25 disposals, 36 hitouts, and four marks in a big game for the Sharks on the weekend.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month. Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions.

July Ranking: #25

Last month: It was confirmed recently that a return for Stephens is not worth the risk, which means the Falcons co-skipper will be on ice for the remainder of the year as he has been for the majority of it. He might have slipped down the order a bit, but he could end up a value pick given what he showed last season as as bottom-ager.

#26 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

July Ranking: #26

Last month: Built nice form at the national carnival to average 18.8 disposals, 5.0 marks and 3.3 rebounds off half-back. A nice mover who has high upside expect him to finish the SANFL year strongly now school football is finished.

#27 Jack Mahony

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Small Forward/Midfielder
12/11/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

One of the top performed and highly rated players at Under-15 level, Jack Mahony remains a top prospect despite others putting their hand up since. He might only stand at 176cm, but the Sandringham Dragons midfielder/forward has plenty to like about what he can offer to an AFL club. His kicking is as good as anyone in the draft crop, but more for his vision and decision making more so than a penetrating boot like others. He is a unique playmaker in the sense that he can set others up inside 50 with centimetre-perfect passes to leading teammates over any distance. Has more impact in the forward half, particularly as the player with the last disposal going inside 50. Hits the scoreboard himself as well which is important, and can run all day through the midfield if need be, though his size may limit him at the elite level.

July Ranking: #22

Last month: Mahony averaged 18.0 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.5 tackles and 1.0 goals per game at the recent national championships, but it is the way he uses the pill that helps him stand out. In the forward half of the ground, Mahony reads and assesses his options quicker than most and has a playmaking role that impacts the contest. Unfortunately he recently broke his hand and will miss four to six weeks.

#28 Deven Robertson

Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia was been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships after injury last year, and has boosted his draft ranking after the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but would stake a case of the most consistent player in the draft crop and you know exactly what you are going to get from him.

July ranking: N/A

Last month: Has forced his way into the rankings after an ultra-consistent national championships, where he collected every award he could with the Larke Medal, Western Australia MVP, All-Australian jumper and captaincy of the All-Australian team. Just does his job week in, week out and is a fierce tackler with 6.8 tackles per game during the championships, as well as picking up the most ever disposals. Unfortunately, Robertson is now done for the year, needing a shoulder reconstruction after dislocating his shoulder in the final championships game.

#29 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

July Ranking: #24

Last month: Sharp was named in the All-Australian team for his performances over the national championships, averaging 21.0 disposals, 5.8 marks and booting three goals from his four games. In his return to WAFL League, he picked up 20 disposals, six marks, three tackles and a goal before a more modest six dispsoals, three marks, two tackles and goal last week. It comes after he dominated at school footy, booting seven goals in just over a half for Aquinas College, playing forward to break a tag

#30 Elijah Taylor

Perth/Western Australia | General Forward
01/05/2001 | 185cm | 75kg

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar. He has been a talented player for some time, but he has started to string together impressive performances to put his name into top 30 calculations. A key player for Perth in the WAFL and stepped up during the AFL Under-18 National Championships.

July Ranking: N/A

Last month: Finished equal third in the goal kicking at the national championships, booting six majors from four games. He also averaged the 12.3 disposals and 2.5 marks, showing some terrific athletic traits and X-factor inside 50.

Ones to watch:

Despite having to restrict the list to 30, there are plenty of players on the radar in an even draft, with the likes of Kysaiah Pickett, Darcy Cassar, Fraser Phillips and Nick Bryan just narrowly missing out having been in the top 30 of our Power Rankings previously and are every chance to still find a home in that space. Others who came into consideration from Victoria included Greater Western Victoria Rebels’ Jay Rantall, Dandenong Stingrays’ Sam De Koning and Ned Cahill, Bendigo Pioneers’ Thomson Dow, Calder Cannons’ Harrison Jones and Sandringham Dragons’ Miles Bergman. Others who have shown form, have past runs on the board or would be also in consideration in he first half of the draft include Western Australia’s Mitch Georgiades and Trey Ruscoe, South Australia’s Dyson Hilder and Harry Schoenberg, and Brisbane Lions’ Noah Cumberland.

Victoria leads way with National Combine invitees

VICTORIA has dominated this year’s NAB AFL Draft Combine List, with 44 of the 79 invites hailing from the state, including a remarkable 11 players from Sandringham Dragons. Vic Metro led the way despite finishing on the bottom of the table at the National Under-18 Championships, with 23 players making the list, followed by title runners-up Vic Country (21), while overall winners Western Australia (16), and South Australia (13) both reached double-figure invites. Of the Allied states, Queensland had three nominees, followed by New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) with two, as Northern Territory and Tasmania both had the sole nomination each. Players must have been invited by at least four clubs to receive an invite to the national combine, which will be held from Tuesday, October 1-Friday October 4. The state combine lists are usually released over the next few months.

Among the list are five Northern Academy-aligned players with GWS Academy’s Tom Green and Liam Delahunty, Brisbane Lions’ Noah Cumberland and Will Martyn, and Gold Coast’s Connor Budarick. Also receiving invites are father-son prospects Jackson Mead (Port Adelaide) and Finn Maginness (Hawthorn), and the Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Liam Henry.

Sandringham’s haul of 11 players includes Darcy Chirgwin (Vic Country) as well as double-digit Vic Metro representatives, Jack Bell, Miles Bergman, Louis Butler, Ryan Byrnes, Oscar Lewis, Maginness, Jack Mahony, Fischer McAsey, Hugo Ralphsmith and Josh Worrell. Oakleigh Chargers and Gippsland Power was the next most with six apiece, Dandenong Stingrays with five and Bendigo Pioneers with four.

In Western Australia, East Fremantle dominated the 16 nominees, picking up six as Jai Jackson, Luke Jackson, Trent Rivers, Trey Ruscoe, Jeremy Sharp and Chad Warner all named. In South Australia, Woodville-West Torrens had four representatives with Mead, Josh Morris, Kysaiah Pickett and Harry Schoenberg all receiving an invite. Just seven players came from the Allies squad, with Green and Tasmania’s Mitch O’Neill the top prospects.

A couple of players proving that missing out on representative selection is not the end of the AFL Draft dream are Northern Knights’ Sam Philp and Oakleigh Chargers’ Cooper Sharman. Philp has been in great form in the NAB League Boys competition, whilst Sharman has been plucked from under former AFL coach Rodney Eade’s nose to bolt up into draft calculations.

2019 NAB AFL Draft Combine list
NSW/ACT

Liam Delahunty (GWS Academy)
Tom Green (GWS Academy)

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Malcolm Rosas (NT Thunder)

QUEENSLAND

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast Academy)
Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Will Day (West Adelaide)
Karl Finlay (North Adelaide)
Will Gould (Glenelg)
Dyson Hilder (North Adelaide)
Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens)
Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens)
Callum Park (Glenelg)
Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens)
Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens)
Josh Shute (Sturt)
Dylan Stephens (Norwood)
Cameron Taheny (Norwood)

TASMANIA

Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania Devils)

VIC COUNTRY

Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers)
Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power)
Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)
Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons)
Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power)
Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)
Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers)
Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)
Brodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers)
Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers)
Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)
Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)
Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers)
Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)
Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)
Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons)
Isaac Wareham (GWV Rebels)
Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays)
Lachlan Williams (Dandenong Stingrays)
Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays)

VIC METRO

Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
Jack Bell (Sandringham Dragons)
Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons)
Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers)
Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)
Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)
Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
Josh Honey (Western Jets)
Emerson Jeka (Western Jets)
Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)
Oscar Lewis (Sandringham Dragons)
Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons)
Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons)
Fischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons)
Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons)
Sam Philp (Northern Knights)
Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons)
Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
Cooper Sharman (Oakleigh Chargers)
Ryan Sturgess (Northern Knights)
Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons)

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Riley Garcia (Swan Districts)
Mitch Georgiades (Subiaco)
Liam Henry (Claremont)
Jai Jackson (East Fremantle)
Luke Jackson (East Fremantle)
Callum Jamieson (Claremont)
Ben Johnson (West Perth)
Ronin O’Connor (Claremont)
Jake Pasini (Swan Districts)
Jaxon Prior (West Perth)
Trent Rivers (East Fremantle)
Deven Robertson (Perth)
Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle)
Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle)
Elijah Taylor (Perth)
Chad Warner (East Fremantle)

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the third edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 30 players at this stage of the year. So much changes over the next 12 months, with only bottom-age form and the first couple of months of the seasons to go by so far. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs. In July, despite the list extended out to our top 30, there are still a number of prospects knocking on the door. For our June monthly rankings, check out this link.

#1 Matthew Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

June Ranking: #1

Last month: Rowell was a standout performer for Vic Metro in the AFL Under 18 Championships to no-one’s surprise. While many teammates could not lift in the opening two games, Rowell was a steady force for the Metro team and continued his form throughout the four matches. He averaged 24.8 disposals, 5.0 marks and 0.8 goals at the carnival and it is hard to see him displaced from the top spot on the list.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

June Ranking: #2

Last month: Much like Rowell, Anderson has not lowered his colours over the national carnival, being another standout performer with Rowell and Fischer McAsey for Vic Metro. In the four matches, Anderson has averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.8 tackles and 0.5 goals. Expect him to finish the year strongly in the NAB League once returning from his Carey Grammar duties.

#3 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

June Ranking: #3

Last month: We had him up in the region for some time but his national carnival pushed his name into lights as a potential contender for Pick 1, and along with Lachlan Ash as one of the most damaging ball users in the draft crop. In three games, Young has averaged 22.0 disposals, 5.7 marks and 5.0 rebounds. He is more of an offensive defender, laying just the 1.3 tackles, but is strong one-on-one and knows how to intercept both in the air or at ground level.

#4 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. He will be a massive chance for the Morrish Medal if he stays fit, and is a crucial part of the Murray Bushrangers outfit. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

June Ranking: #4

Last month: Ash had another terrific carnival game against South Australia, setting up the kick to Brodie Kemp for the winning goal. He has averaged 23.3 disposals, 5.3 marks, 3.3 inside 50s and 4.0 rebounds, getting up the ground and having an influence as well. A great choice for a team looking for that half-back with a deadly boot and terrific decision making skills under pressure.

#5 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

June Ranking: #6

Last month: Moves up into number five on our rankings because of his consistency through the midfield. Stepped up to be one of the dominant Vic Country midfielders, and his hands in close are every bit as good as anyone else, and he has a match-winning ability. Needs to iron out his set shots which can be inconsistent, but in terms of his talent, it is untapped and could have a higher ceiling than most. Averaging 22.0 disposals, 4.3 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and 0.7 goals per game.

#6 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

June Ranking: #5

Last month: After a quiet couple of games earlier in the carnival by his standards, Green was back to his best against Vic Metro and really stood tall in the narrow two-point win at GMHBA Stadium. In his three games, Green has averaged 24.0 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.0 inside 50s and 3.7 tackles, but most importantly, is averaging almost seven clearances per game. He is the inside distributor who the GWS GIANTS will have to fork out a pretty penny to match.

#7 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

June Ranking: #8

Last month: One of the leading contenders for the Larke Medal should he play another blinder against Western Australia at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday. He has moved up a spot on our rankings and is averaging the third most dispsoals behind Deven Robertson and Harry Schoenberg at the championships.  This carnival he has averaged 26.0 disposals, 6.0 clearances, 3.7 inside 50s, 2.0 tackles, 1.0 goals and a massive 7.7 tackles. He can win the ball inside or out and despite his size has plenty to like.

#8 Mitch O’Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

June Ranking: #13

Last month: Overcoming a pesky ankle injury, O’Neill produced two best-on-ground performances for the Allies in their losses, before being solid without being outstanding in the win over Vic Metro. His ball use is what sets him aside from many other prospects, and while he does not always rack up the numbers others do, he rarely wastes a disposal. Has averaged 21.7 disposals, 7.0 marks and 3.7 rebounds at the championships, often playing in the defensive half of the ground. Could play as a running defender or as a winger at the top level, with his lighter frame used more as an outside player rather than inside one.

#9 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

June Ranking: #15

Last month: One of a number of bolters up the draft board for this month, the hero from Vic Country’s win over South Australia makes it into the top 10. Kemp played his first full game in the midfield for the championships after spending the first couple of matches in defence. Kemp has that nice size of 192cm that makes him a prospect with good upside given nice athletic traits and a clutch ability (winning a high-level game with the final kick). He has averaged 21.0 disposals, 7.0 marks, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 clearances across his three games at the championships.

#10 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings, but I rate him as the standout tall in the draft. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendancies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

June Ranking: #9

Last month: After a quiet game against Vic Metro in South Australia’s loss, Gould was one of the Croweaters’ best in their one-point defeat at the hands of Vic Country. Gould was almost the hero with a last quarter goal showing his ability to sum up the game and his burst through the middle and long-range goal came at a crucial time. Readymade player with his strength and size, and has averaged 20.3 disposals, 6.3 rebounds and 4.0 marks in his three games at the carnival.

#11 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

June Ranking: #12

Last month: A mixed bag for the national carnival, had one impressive game, one disappointing game and one strong game form his three matches thus far. He still moves up one spot from last month, and when given time and space can be very damaging. Like O’Neill, Stephens is still lightly built and has been used as an outside midfielder, avearging 20.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.7 tackles and 3.7 inside 50s.

#12 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

June Ranking: #14

Last month: Arguably South Australia’s most consistent player in the three games thus far along with Harry Schoenberg, Mead has every chance to be the first South Australian picked in this year’s AFL Draft. Port Adelaide fans will be keen to keep him under wraps, but Mead has averaged 21.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3,7 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 5.7 tackles in the carnival so far and moves up two spots in our rankings to follow two of his South Australian compatriots.

#13 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

June Ranking: #12

Last month: After a quiet first game in the AFL Under 18 National Championships, Bianco has put together a few strong performances. He has been utilised as more of a winger, which has benefited him, averaging 18.5 disposals. 4.3 marks, 3.8 clearances, 3.8 inside 50s and 3.0 tackles. Predominantly outside, Bianco’s next step would be his defensive capabilities as a way to grow further, but he is still quite light compared to other players.

#14 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

June Ranking: #10

Last month: The exciting medium forward has been battling injury and form on and off this season and while he has shown glimpses, has not lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. He is still a natural match-winner, and one can expect with a good finals series in the NAB League that Williams could be similar to others before him (think Tim Taranto) and shoot up into the top 10 calculations – which he would be considered in for upside. 

#15 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitment machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

June Ranking: #11

Last month: Similar to Williams, Taheny has also had injury concerns and has not been able to dominate to this stage, but still has plenty of tricks in his arsenal. In South Australia’s final game at Marvel Stadium, Taheny could be one who gets off the leash and announces himself as a genuine top 10 prospect with a big game. Huge celing for the general forward.

#16 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

Fischer McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: The draft bolter of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, McAsey earned the title of Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player (MVP)  for his work in defence. In his four games, McAsey has averaged 14.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 tackles, not only nullifying his direct opponent, but creating offensive run out of defence.

#17 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

June Ranking: #23

Last month: Class with a capital ‘C’. Rivers is a big-bodied midfielder who uses it well on the inside or outside , and has been utilised as a winger or off half-back for the Sandgropers at the national carnival. It has allowed Rivers to use his precise decision making and foot skills to be advantage his team, and in the three games thus far, has averaged 22.3 disposals, 5.3 marks, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 tackles. Does not need many touches to impact a contest.

#18 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College and Vic Metro before returning to the Dragons for the finals series.

June Ranking: #16

Last month: A hard player to place because he could be a top 10 pick on his best days, which he has shown capable of being just that at both ends. For Vic Metro he has filled the void up forward, booting seven goals from his first three games before going kickless in the last match against the Allies. In the national carnival he averaged 10.8 disposals and 3.8 marks, but could be an attractive prospect to clubs at either end.

#19 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

June Ranking: #17

Last month: The tackling machine has averaged two more tackles per game than any other player at the AFL Under 18 National Championships, laying a massive 9.7 across his three matches. He has played on the outside, and while he has not racked up massive numbers (13.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s), he has a high work rate and rarely makes too many mistakes. Has dropped two places only due to others pushing a case ahead of him.

#20 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: After four goals in two of his three national championship games, Weightman slots into the top 20. There is not much of him, but he is likely to win the leading goalkicker award for the carnival , and has averaged 13.3 disposals, 4.7 marks and 3.0 inside 50s in his three games with one to go. Weightman will be keen to finish off on the right note in the final game at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday against Western Australia.

#21 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been solid in the AFL Under 18 National Championships, averaging 15.0 disposals, 5.0 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and 1.0 goals per game from his first three matches. He could be one who thrives at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday in the final game of the championships when the Sandgropers play for the title against Vic Country. Another player some clubs might rate really highly depending on needs and where they see his scope for potential.

#22 Jack Mahony

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Small Forward/Midfielder
12/11/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

One of the top performed and highly rated players at Under-15 level, Jack Mahony remains a top prospect despite others putting their hand up since. He might only stand at 176cm, but the Sandringham Dragons midfielder/forward has plenty to like about what he can offer to an AFL club. His kicking is as good as anyone in the draft crop, but more for his vision and decision making more so than a penetrating boot like others. He is a unique playmaker in the sense that he can set others up inside 50 with centimetre-perfect passes to leading teammates over any distance. Has more impact in the forward half, particularly as the player with the last disposal going inside 50. Hits the scoreboard himself as well which is important, and can run all day through the midfield if need be, though his size may limit him at the elite level.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Mahony has stepped up at the AFL Under 18 National Championships, playing consistently across the board, but impressing in the final game at GMHBA Stadium last Friday. He was one of Metro’s best, booting three goals – including two in the final term – and setting up countless others for teammates with his swift decision making and ball use in the forward half. In his four games for Metro, Mahony averaged 18.0 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s and 2.8 clearances, as well as averaging a goal per game. He loves the contested stuff, winning the ball at the coalface more than half of the time.

#23 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

June Ranking: #20

Last month: The standout ruck across the AFL Under 18 National Championships, averaging a massive 36.7 hitouts as well as 13.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 4.3 clearances. While smaller players have knocked him down a couple of players in these rankings, the athletic tall is almost certain to be named All-Australian ruck as the only pure ruck to be averaging double-figure disposals at the carnival. Like with most big men, he could be a draft bolter, or slide, depending on team preferences.

#24 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

June Ranking: #18

Last month: Sharp will be keen to bounce back with a good performance after a bit of inconsistency by foot in Western Australia’s win over the Allies. He creates space and can be penetrating when given the area to do so. He averaged 21.3 disposals, 4.0 marks, 2.0 clearances and 2.0 rebounds, as well as booting a couple of goals in his first three games. Will be a key runner at Marvel Stadium for Western Australia if they can get up, and burst onto the scene at that very venue last year, making the All Australian side as a bottom-ager.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

The Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3 and will miss a few months, hoping to return in time for a big second half of the year. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month.  Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions. The question mark will be how he returns from his injury, but with the injury not being season-ending, expect him to come back and be a crucial player in the final couple of months for the Falcons.

June Ranking: #19

Last month: Has been injured, but was named vice-captain of Vic Country despite not being able to play in the national championships. Might slide over the next month, but hopefully will remind recruiters of his talent later in the year.

#26 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

June Ranking: #19

Last month: A promising start to the national carnival for Day, playing all three games and destined to play at Marvel Stadium against the Allies on Wednesday. He has averaged 18.3 disposals, 4.7 marks and 3.8 rebounds, using the ball wisely while remaining composed in defence. Could build on the defensive side of his game – averaging just the one tackle per game so far – but has some really damaging offensive traits that catch the eye.

#27 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | General Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

June Ranking: #22

Last month: Has not had the greatest of national carnivals, ending up missing out on the final game after averaging 16.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 3.0 inside 50s and booting just the one goal playing forward – that came in the first match against Vic Country. Still making the list on potential and upside, Cassar will be keen to finish off the year strong and show the signs he was showing pre-championships in defence for the Western Jets.

#28 Kysaiah Pickett

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 170cm | 68kg

Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the draft, the nephew of Port Adelaide and North Melbourne premiership player Byron, is small in stature but big on X-factor and his ability to do the impossible. He is clean at ground level, has high-level goal sense, and despite being so lightly built, was able to force his way into the Woodville-West Torrens League side courtesy of a massive six-goal game against North Adelaide in the first round of the SANFL Reserves competition. Adds an extra dimension to the South Australian forward line and will be one that could light up the big stage over the next month.

June Ranking: #24

Last month: Another player who has class with a capital ‘C’ and was a point of difference in South Australia’s dogged win over Western Australia in Round 1 of the championships, booting the goal of the carnival with clean hands and unbelievable skill from the tighest of angles. He missed the Round 4 game against Vic Country after being suspended for a game following the Vic Metro match, but will return for South Australia’s final game against the Allies on Wednesday. He is not a huge accumulator of the footy – just averaging the 9.5 disposals, 2.0 mark and 2.5 tackles but he does not need much of the football to be a damaging prospect inside 50.

#29 Nick Bryan

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

The super athletic ruck has come on in leaps and bounds this year, and posts a 2.91-second 20m sprint and 78cm running vertical leap, making him an elite speedster, let alone for his size. He has not spent as much time in the elite system with the AFL Academy as others, and still needs to keep building his tank, but Bryan has a huge upside, which is what will attract recruiters to him. He is also capable of going forward and impacting the scoreboard when required, and was plucked out to play in the AFL Academy game against Casey Demons, taking on mature-aged rucks and holding his own. At 202cm, he is the right size for a ruck, and could well be the first ruck chosen this year, depending on how he and Luke Jackson go at the national championships.

June Ranking: #21

Last month: Is rated on upside because of the rarity of his athletic traits for a 202cm ruck to be able to run as quick as he can. Bryan has a really high ceiling for clubs to develop, but slots in as the number two ruck behind Luke Jackson at the championships. Has been okay without being overly impressive, but has still managed 22.0 hitouts from 9.3 disposals and 2.5 marks. Heads back to school footy and will be keen to assert himself in the NAB League once back in the competition.

#30 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been one of the most noticeable players at the national carnival behind the big two midfielders of Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson. Maginness has averaged 18.3 disposals, 3.5 marks, 7.5 tackles, 3.8 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s across the four games at the carnival, and is one of the most prolific tacklers showing a strong defensive side.

Names to watch:

 

Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia)

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia has been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He has averaged 30.7 disposals, 5.0 marks, 6.3 tackles, 4.3 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s and 4.3 rebounds in his three games across the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but could be one who rises up the boards with another strong performance against Vic Country and finishing off the year strong in the WAFL.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Clearly possesses high-level talent, Phillips just needs to take hold of a game and put together a performance he has been building in the NAB League. He has quite a few nice traits and has plenty of X-factor inside 50, he has just been overshadowed by the likes of Weightman at the national championships. He will still be firmly in recruiters’ minds with a strong finish to the NAB League Boys season where he could stake a case to be the leading goalkicker for the competition there.

Harry Schoenberg (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

One of those players who has risen up thanks to strong performances across the championships and will be keen to continue that form in the final game against the Allies on Wednesday. Works hard on the inside and is a handball-first midfielder out to teammates running on the outside, having averaged 27 disposals in his three games so far for South Australia.

Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia)

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar.

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

Makes the list based on his traits that would be attractive to clubs. Not a huge ball winner, Cumberland has terrific closing speed and can burst away from stoppages, whilst also applying plenty of defensive pressure with a terrific tackling technique. Cumberland laid a match-winning tackle against Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium on Friday, and can play anywhere on the field with scope for the future.

Draft Central Power Rankings: June 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the second edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 20 players at this stage of the year. So much changes over the next 12 months, with only bottom-age form and the first couple of months of the seasons to go by so far. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs. For our May monthly rankings, check out this link.

#1 Matthew Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

May Ranking: #1

Last month: Rowell has been playing for Carey Grammar in the APS competition,  and was named best on ground in Carey’s 44-point victory over St Kevin’s in Round 2, where he booted four goals. Starred on the MCG as expected for Vic Metro in the loss to Vic Country on Saturday after a quiet start, but recovered to finish with 28 disposals and eight marks. Has not put a foot wrong this season.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

May Ranking: #2

Last month: Similar to Rowell, Anderson has not done too much wrong, being amongst the best for Carey Grammar in their strong season thus far in the APS competition. On the MCG, he and Rowell were the two best with the tall midfielder working hard for 25 disposals, five marks, five clearances and eight tackles, most importantly with 11 of his 16 kicks being effective.

#3 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

May Ranking: #3

Last month: If Saturday’s opening game of the Under 18 National Championships is anything to go by, Young is the clear third best prospect, if not closing the gap to two above. The standout player on the ground, Young showed off his elite kicking skills with 29 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and two inside 50s – both of which came in the first term along with 10 touches when the heat was on. Importantly wins a lot of his touches from intercept marks, rather than handball receives and is the best kick in the draft crop.

#4 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. He will be a massive chance for the Morrish Medal if he stays fit, and is a crucial part of the Murray Bushrangers outfit. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

May Ranking: #5

Last month: If Young is the best kick in the draft crop, then this powerful user is the next best with terrific penetration and a variety of ways to hurt you coming out of defence or through the midfield. He racked up 21 disposals, at greater than 90 per cent efficiency, while also haveing five marks, two inside 50s and three rebounds for Vic Country on the weekend. Earned a spot higher in the rankings for his efforts as a clean ball user and damaging player.

#5 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

May Ranking: #4

Last month: The inside midfielder again acquitted himself very well over the weekend, backing up an impressive Academy Series by standing up against AFL-listed players in the GWS GIANTS’ win over Gold Coast in the NEAFL. Green had 28 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds while booting a goal, to be one of the most consistent players this season. He might not be as flashy as others, but just gets the job done each and every week and is readymade for AFL football.

#6 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

May Ranking: #7

Last month: Rated highly for his match-winning ability, Flanders has also added a no-fuss approach to his game this season with some terrific inside work. He has some of the cleanest hands going around at ground level, with his kicking being a knock when he can blaze away by foot. He is doing everything right defensively, laying nine tackles at the MCG on Saturday, as well as 21 disposals and four marks, but will be keen to sharpen up his set shots, hitting the post on one occasion on his way to 1.2.

#7 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

May Ranking: #12

Last month: Played his best SANFL League game to date on the weekend in Norwood’s big win over West Adelaide, posting up 25 disposals, six marks, five tackles, two clearances and six inside 50s. In season 2019, Stephens has averaged 17.6 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, while averaging four marks, three tackles and 3.8 clearances. Has jumped to the top of the South Australian contingent.

#8 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

May Ranking: #13

Last month: Was one of the best Country players in the Vic Country win over Vic Metro at the MCG on Saturday. So powerful on the inside for a smaller player, Serong racked up 22 touches, five clearances and laid seven tackles, pumping the ball inside 50 on four occasions as well. Is a player who can play midfield or forward and always brings the heat to the contest. Co-captain of Vic Country with Lachlan Ash as well.

#9 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings, but I rate him as the standout tall in the draft. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendancies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

May Ranking: #6

Last month: Gould has remained in the Glenelg League side in the SANFL and is holding his own with 20 disposals, 5.7 marks and 6.7 rebounds playing in defence. A natural-born leader, Gould is the standout key position defender in the draft, and while talls often drift a bit, it will be interesting to see how he performs at the National Under 18 Championships.

#10 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

May Ranking: #10

Last month: He did not have the greatest of starts to his championship campaign, injured in Vic Metro’s loss to Vic Country, and finishing with just the four disposals and two tackles. The week before he won the game for the Chargers with two final-quarter goals to get over the Knights, also amassing 18 disposals and five marks. Still hot and cold at times, Williams has that potential that shows he cannot drift that far from the top 10.

#11 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitment machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

May Ranking: #11

Last month: Has consolidated himself in the League side for Norwood along with Dylan Stephens, which has not been an easy thing to do for a forward. Taheny has benefited from a talented midfield, capitalising on his opportunities with 11 goals in three games at senior level, including a bag of five on the weekend where he also had six marks. He is knocking on the door of this top 10, and a good championships will see him leap into that group.

#12 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

May Ranking: #9

Last month: After a massive 42-disposal game back in Round 6 for the Chargers, Bianco had a quieter 17-disposal outing against the Knights, albeit laying 10 tackles in a great defensive effort. He was subdued on the MCG by his standards, finishing with 14 disposals, four marks, three clearances and four rebounds. Will no doubt have more impact going forward, and still looms as a crucial player in the Metro side.

#13 Mitch O’Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

May Ranking: #8

Last month: O’Neill returned from his ankle injury to play the last couple of matches for Tasmania Devils in the NAB League Boys competition. Slowly building back into it, O’Neill finished with 15 disposals and two goals drifting forward against the Stingrays in Round 8, before having 20 disposals on the weekend against the Rebels in the Devils’ win. O’Neill showed his clean ball use and running ability for the Allies in the trial matches against Victoria a fortnight ago and will have the benefit of an outside role at the championships.

#14 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

May Ranking: #14

Last month: Continues to play consistent football in the SANFL Reserves for Woodville-West Torrens, meaning a League call-up cannot be too far away. Mead has averaged 20.7 disposals at 74 per cent efficiency, while also averaging 3.3 marks, 4.0 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 2.8 tackles. Another player whose stocks will depend on how he fares at the championships.

#15 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

May Ranking: #16

Last month: Moves up a place on the back of a strong showing for Vic Country at the MCG on the weekend. His kicking at top-speed is still a concern, but the way he bursts off half-back and can split through opponents with ease is eye-catching. Played in defence on the weekend despite his best role being an inside midfielder, but had 16 disposals, four marks and six rebounds.

#16 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College and Vic Metro before returning to the Dragons for the finals series.

May Ranking: #15

Last month: Worrell continues to show some nice signs, not one of the best but sitll a solid contributor at times for Metro in their loss to Country at the MCG on Saturday. Had 10 touches, five marks and three inside 50s playing higher up in defence, and will be used as that rebounding type more-so than his key position nature, but will still have the defensive abilities to nullify an opponent.

#17 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

May Ranking: #20

Last month: Hardly puts a foot wrong with anything he does. Was one of the Allies’ best in the trial game against Victoria, and despite his size, still plays an important role through the midfield. He will have the freedom to play on the outside and use his slick skills to advantage. The Allies line-up against Vic Country this weekend in what should be a cracker, and Budarick will be a key player.

#18 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

May Ranking: #17

Last month: The talented mover and ball user is one who will retain a place in the top 20 until he can have a crack at the championships, because he showed some terrific signs last year, and in the WAFL so far this season. Plenty of guys pushing up in the West Australian side, and will have an important distribution role over the next month.

#19 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

The Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3 and will miss a few months, hoping to return in time for a big second half of the year. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month.  Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions. The question mark will be how he returns from his injury, but with the injury not being season-ending, expect him to come back and be a crucial player in the final couple of months for the Falcons.

May Ranking: #18

Last month: Has been injured, but was named vice-captain of Vic Country despite not being able to play in the national championships. Might slide over the next month, but hopefully will remind recruiters of his talent later in the year.

#20 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

May Ranking: #19

Last month: Like many of his highly-touted East Fremantle teammates, has not played over the past month at WAFL level, but was dominent in his last match a month ago with 17 disposals, 28 hitouts, five marks and two goals proving quite a handful. All eyes will be on Jackson when he takes on fellow talented ruck Nick Bryan at the championships.

#21 Nick Bryan

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

The super athletic ruck has come on in leaps and bounds this year, and posts a 2.91-second 20m sprint and 78cm running vertical leap, making him an elite speedster, let alone for his size. He has not spent as much time in the elite system with the AFL Academy as others, and still needs to keep building his tank, but Bryan has a huge upside, which is what will attract recruiters to him. He is also capable of going forward and impacting the scoreboard when required, and was plucked out to play in the AFL Academy game against Casey Demons, taking on mature-aged rucks and holding his own. At 202cm, he is the right size for a ruck, and could well be the first ruck chosen this year, depending on how he and Luke Jackson go at the national championships.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been playing school football for St Kevin’s since the APS competition started, and then had went out and competed for Vic Metro at the MCG on Saturday. He had his colours lowered by a red-hot Charlie Comben on the day, but Bryan still showed enough to suggest he will be vital in the upcoming championships. He will have a terrific duel against Luke Jackson next round, and will be keen to put in a strong effort against the other standout ruck in the draft crop.

#22 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | General Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Played in attack for Metro on the weekend in their loss to Vic Country. He set up the opening goal to teammate Josh Honey, then kicked one of his own in the first term. Was quieter from then on, but still showed glimpses and his season form this year has been nothing short of exceptional..

#23 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the inside midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Was named in Western Australia’s leadership group last week and is perparing to tackle Vic Metro at home next weekend. Was close to making the top 20 last month and is thereabouts this month with the extension to 25.

#24 Kysaiah Pickett

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 170cm | 68kg

Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the draft, the nephew of Port Adelaide and North Melbourne premiership player Byron, is small in stature but big on X-factor and his ability to do the impossible. He is clean at ground level, has high-level goal sense, and despite being so lightly built, was able to force his way into the Woodville-West Torrens League side courtesy of a massive six-goal game against North Adelaide in the first round of the SANFL Reserves competition. Adds an extra dimension to the South Australian forward line and will be one that could light up the big stage over the next month.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Pickett has managed two League games for the Eagles, booting a goal on debut against Sturt, before seeing what it was like playing on AFL-listed players in the Eagles’ loss to Adelaide.

#25 Fraser Phillips

Gippsland Power | General Forward
15/05/2001 | 186cm | 71kg

A lightly built medium forward, Phillips has some really exciting traits that he has begun to show more often than not as he builds his consistency. He started the season slowly, but has built into his role at Gippsland Power, and can launch goals from just about anywhere inside 50. He is clean at ground level, has a nice turn of foot and great goal sense, as well as applying defensive pressure whenever he gets a chance. A good size who will develop as he adds more bulk to his frame to compete more one-on-one against stronger defenders.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Coming into the national championships, Phillips averaged 13.3 disposals and 2.0 goals at NAB League Boys level, but his past two games were particularly eye-catching with 24 disposals, five marks and two goals against GWV Rebels, following on from a deeper forward role with four majors against Calder Cannons. Building form nicely, he had a quieter game on the weekend for Vic Country, but while he did not win a heap of the ball, never stopped putting in effort – laying six tackles and winning a crucial late hardball get to set up a goal.

Names to watch:

 

Charlie Dean (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The key position forward made a promising start to his year at the Dragons, and could have been a potential leading goalkicker this season had it not been for APS football commitments with Wesley College. Works hard up the ground.

Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Had a big role in the second half for the Country side in the win over Vic Metro, and just has great game sense and nous around goals.

Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The underrated midfielder just keeps on going strong and was solid in Metro’s loss to Vic Country. A player to keep tabs on as the season develops.

Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Has some really nice traits with a penetrating kick and ability to impact forward of centre. Could easily be considered top 25.

Will Day (West Adelaide/South Adelaide)

Talented half-back returning from a hamstring injury to play school footy with Sacred Heart. Able to use both sides of his body well.

Liam Henry (Claremont/Western Australia)

Had a good start to the season in Western Australia and is a member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).

NAB League Boys Round 9 preview: Gippsland and Sandringham face off in top-four clash

SOME sides will be heavily depleted heading into Round 9 of the NAB League Boys competition as Vic Country and Vic Metro the National Championships on Saturday, but there will still be plenty of talent running around with games spread evenly over Saturday and Sunday, and between Metro and Country grounds.

GWV REBELS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Saturday June 1, 11:00am
MARS Stadium

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will be looking to snap a three-game slide when they host Tasmania Devils in Ballarat to open Round 9. The Rebels’ only two wins thus far have come against sides with just six collective ladder points, but they have remained a relatively competitive side nonetheless – going down by less than 14 points thrice. Another usually competitive side has been their weekend opponents, Tasmania, with the Devils scrounging three impressive wins while also unluckily going down by under a goal twice in the last three rounds. The Rebels will have to search for some pretty significant cover with much of their midfield set to earn Vic Country selection in Saturday’s MCG hit-out, and should have the means to do so to an extent. The Devils, meanwhile, will have no such issues coming into the game with the Allies’ first game still a week away. A development weekend should see both sides come in nice and fresh, despite a few players having participated in the recent Allies-Victorian trial games. Expect a close one, with the Rebels usually good at home and Tasmania set to jump at the opportunity to post another win.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday June 1, 12:30pm
Preston City Oval

NAB League football returns to Preston City Oval this week as Northern Knights host Calder Cannons in the round’s sole all-metro clash. Much of the Northern and Calder playing groups spend their development weekend either cheering on the girl’s side in their premiership tilt on Saturday, or suiting up for Vic Metro in the final set of trial games against the Allies on Sunday. Looking to take a leaf out of the girls’ book, the Knights will hope to return to the winners list here after Oakleigh snapped their previous three-game winning run last time out. A fourth win for the season will be a tough ask against an in-form Calder though, with the Cannons winning four of their last five games as they build nicely into the year. While both sides will be hit to an extent by the National Championships opener on Saturday, the likes of Northern’s Josh D’Intinosante and Calder’s Sam Ramsay should still line up in this game after missing out on selection. Expect another tight one as some of either sides’ better talent remains available for selection, and with a mid-table bottleneck emerging early on.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday June 1, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Murray will continue its search for form when it hosts the Oakleigh Chargers in Wangaratta to see out Saturday’s proceedings. The Bushrangers have shown good signs and found themselves in winning positions throughout the first eight rounds, but are languishing as the second-worst placed Victorian side at 2-5 as it stands. They certainly have the talent to have bettered their disappointing start, and it showed with three of their losses coming by under two goals. Their clear-worst loss came last week against Calder by 50 points, so the Bushies should come out hot early on in an attempt to rectify their previous effort. On the other hand, Oakleigh have shown less than what their potential would have suggested coming into the year, with their depth seriously tested as school football and representative commitments has stripped the core of their side. Still, they sit at the bottom of the top eight as one of five teams with four wins, with their last coming in a six-point thriller against Northern. Aside from two losses in excess of 70 points, the Chargers have done well in their last two outings to hang in there with key players out. There is plenty on the line for either side, and it should look very even on paper with stars from both teams set to miss.

 

EASTERN RANGES vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Sunday June 2, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

The Eastern Ranges will hope to continue their consistent season and get back on a winning streak when they face a lowly Geelong Falcons side on Sunday. A surprise packet to this point, the Ranges have proven their worth thus far with some massive wins (three by over 59 points) and by toppling fellow top-four contender, Sandringham in their last outing. The Ranges also did well to stick with second-place Gippsland the week before that and have managed their 5-2 record on the back of even team performances. Geelong has had a much tougher time of it on the back of some back luck on and off the field, holding two heartbreaking losses and a draw which could easily have gone their way, and having star player Cooper Stephens out injured. Inaccuracy in front of goal hurt them last time out as they returned 2.10 in a 28-point loss to Western, so they will be looking to improve on that. Both sides have five players selected in the initial Victoria Country and Metro squads, but could well have some of them available through the National Championships and in this game. With both teams coming in relatively unaffected and following a week off for most, expect them to hit the ground running early on.

 

WESTERN JETS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday June 2, 1:00pm
Williamstown Football Ground

Western Jets will be hoping to cling onto its top eight spot with a win against the Bendigo Pioneers when they do battle in windy Williamstown on Sunday. The Jets have done well to notch up four wins thus far to sit in a traditional finals spot, albeit with their wins coming against opposition no higher than tenth. With their record as it shows, the Jets should consider themselves a good chance in this one against the 2-5, twelfth place Pioneers. Despite only three of their stars being picked for Vic Metro duties, they may still struggle with most of their better performances coming with all three in the line-up. On the other hand, Bendigo will be without the likes of Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp as part of five possible Country representatives, but have competed without said players for most of the year and may adjust better. Having said that, the Pioneers have not added to their two wins without Dow and Kemp, but have gone down by a combined total of just 23 points over the last three weeks – with one loss coming after the siren. This should be a competitive one, with both line-ups shaping as being relatively consistent with what they have fielded all year.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Sunday June 2, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

The final fixture for Round 9 shapes as the best of the lot, with Gippsland Power hosting the Sandringham Dragons in a top-four clash at Morwell Recreational Reserve. The Power have surged up the ladder after a Round 2 hiccup against Dandenong, with the undefeated Stingrays remaining the only side to have toppled Gippsland to this point. The Dragons suffered both of their two losses in the last three rounds, with the most recent blemish on their record coming to fellow top-four side, Eastern. The strength of either side shows beyond ladder position, with both the Power and Dragons among the heaviest hit by National Championship selection, with nine and thirteen players picked respectively. The depth of both sides will be stretched heavily as a result, but they still have their own reasons to come into the clash with a bout of confidence. Gippsland have been competitive in each game and have scored no less than 65 points this year – with a high of 98 coming last week. Meanwhile, Sandringham has already competed without much of its top-end talent due to the school football season, and has managed to stay well within the top four hunt. Expect a cracker despite the absence of absolute top-end talent, with the top four close to being shaken up by five sides sitting just one game out.

AFL Under 18 National Championships preview: Vic Country

VIC Country heads into the first game of the National Under 18 Championships with plenty of question marks given it has been hit with a number of injuries which forces new coach Leigh Brown to shuffle the magnets around. In what will be a tough start to the campaign, they face cross-state rivals Vic Metro who are considered one of the teams to beat this year given the strength of the midfield. With limited talls available for Country, they will rely on their host of top-end talented defenders and medium forwards, while some players will be crucial in standing up and filling a void for the side in the absence of others.

 

Key players:

Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

The rebounding defender is a dominant intercept force who has an elite, penetrating kick that can travel more than 50m, and also be used with 45-degree daggers inboard. One of the most eye-catching players in the Vic Country squad, Ash can also play further up the ground if required, pushing up to a wing or half-forward, but his best role is at half-back. Ash does not rely on handball receives like a lot of rebounding defenders, and similar to Hayden Young, is more of an intercept player who wins a lot of his possessions through marking.

Sam Flanders
Gippsland Power | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

The inside midfielder/forward is a player who will have an impact anywhere he plays, and has a special nous for knowing where the goals are when forward. He often starts forward for Gippsland then after kicking an early goal spends the rest of the time in the midfield until late, using his quick hands and long kicking ability to effect. He is so clean at ground level and shovels the ball out quickly to teammates who are waiting on the outside. He will have an important role as one of the key inside midfielders for Vic Country given the loss of Cooper Stephens.

Brodie Kemp
Bendigo Pioneers | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp can play just about anywhere from midfield to attack and in defence. This year he has played inside midfield in his few games for Bendigo Pioneers. Unlike the other midfielders at Country, Kemp has that bigger frame of 192cm and 82kg who can match it with the taller midfielders, and therefore will be crucial on the inside. Given the injuries to Country’s midfield, Kemp is one who can extract the ball out, and will often choose to kick long inside 50. However he was named in defence for the game against Metro, which might be a sign of where he will play when the opposition has taller forwards.

Caleb Serong
Gippsland Power | Small Midfielder/Forward
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

Despite his size, Serong will not take a backwards step and will apply pressure anywhere on the ground with his determination and willingness to hunt the football. He is deceptively strong overhead and uses the ball well going forward. He can play inside or outside, or as a pressure forward. Serong will likely mix between all those roles, and could be one who stands up when the chips are down because of his natural leadership. Already had experience at the championships, and will be even better this year.

Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays | General Defender
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

Another penetrating kick of the football, Young is a huge interceptor as he showed the last time he ran out on the MCG against Casey Demons. Young is great overhead, but is the most dominant when unleashing his long, penetrating kick, often marking at full pace and kicking long to a dangerous position. When his team is in control, Young often pushes up to half-forward, intercepts a quick kick out of defence and unloads from long range. He is a player capable of assisting in an inside role, but is most potent when at half-back and will combine well with Lachlan Ash in defence.

 

X-Factor:

Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers | General Forward
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

One of the top prospects for next year, Hollands is just so exciting whenever the ball goes in his general direction. He is equally adaptable to win the ball in the air or at ground level, and is especially damaging with ball in hand on the run with his sights on the goals. At 188cm, Hollands is tall enough to play a third tall role, something he might be called upon to do despite being a bottom-ager. He can open up a game in a quarter, so if he gets confidence up and on a roll, opposition defenders need to watch out.

Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power | General Forward
15/05/2001 | 186cm | 71kg

Similar to Hollands but with a different way of winning the ball – often long searching leads or double-up leads deep inside 50, Phillips knows where the goals are and usually has plenty of opportunities. He has a long left foot kick and can often do the miraculous, but just needs to iron out his inconsistencies. He is capable of a 20-plus disposal and three-plus goal game playing as a high half-forward, and also sets up opportunities for teammates inside 50. The championships are a perfect time for him to shine in the bright lights which he has promised teammates to do.

Cody Weightman
Dandenong Stingrays | Small Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

As one can see there is no shortage of exciting forwards for Vic Country, and Weightman is a third type of forward who once the ball hits the ground just has some magical traits. He might be small and has a few areas to work on, but he can pump the ball long and put it straight through the middle, or just get separation on his opponent and mark in space. He could be a candidate to play up the ground at times, but if he, Hollands and Phillips are all in the forward 50, Vic Country has some serious X-factor.

 

Big Improvers:

Jesse Clark
Geelong Falcons | Tall Defender
23/02/2001 | 188cm | 79kg

The rebounding defender is a player who will likely have to play tall in the Vic Country defence, with Dandenong Stingrays pair, Sam De Koning and Bigua Nyuon the other two keys. With Nyoun also likely to spend some time in the ruck, Clark may be opposed to a taller opponent. He is still solid one-on-one, but his forte is rebounding out of the back half with composure, and like a lot of the Vic Country defenders, is able to intercept a lot of ball coming inside 50. Clark has had a great start to the NAB League Boys season and will be keen to continue that form at the championships.

Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels | Balanced Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

The biggest improver in the NAB League Boys competition would have to be Rantall. Representing Australia in basketball, Rantall has an elite endurance base which has allowed him to pick up 30-plus disposals time and time again in the NAB League Boys. He stepped up in the trial games for Country and has looked as solid there as in the Rebels’ midfield, and will play inside, but can spread to the outside and have an impact there. He can also find the goals when drifting forward, and it is just about building on his kicking efficiency to take him to the next level.

 

AFL U18s Fixture:

vs. Vic Metro – MCG, Saturday June 1.
vs. Allies – Launceston, Sunday June 9.
vs. South Australia – GMHBA Stadium, Friday, June 28
vs. Western Australia – Marvel Stadium, Wednesday, July 3

 

Summary:

Vic Country will need everything to go right to stage a challenge in this year’s National Championships given the losses to its midfield through Cooper Stephens and Flynn Perez, while Darcy Chirgwin and Tanner Bruhn have also not played so far this season. Country has a lot of talented small-medium players up both ends, but will rely on some of them to play taller roles in this year’s National Under 18 Championships. Against teams with monster key forwards, a lot will be left to Sam De Koning in defence, while Brock Smith and Jesse Clark will likely have to match up on opponents outside their height and weight division, while Bigoa Nyuon saw time in defence in the Vic Country trial game and will likely play back there. Their mix of forward talent is very dangerous, and if they can get the ball inside 50, the amount of X-factor in there will worry opponents. Country will rely on speed and accurate disposal to win games given its shortage of talls, but with potential top 10 picks, Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash coming off half-back, you know there will be plenty of rebound out of the back 50 to keep opposition players on their toes.