Tag: darcy parish

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.

2014:

Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

2020 NAB League Boys team preview: Geelong Falcons

SILVER linings often prove golden for talent managers among the nation’s elite talent pathways, but Geelong’s Mick Turner has seldom had to search for them across over 25 years in the job. That somewhat changed in 2019 as the Falcons endured a lacklustre season on-field and produced their lowest draft haul since the proud program’s inception (one), with co-captain Cooper Stephens picked up in the first round by the region’s AFL club.

Aside from boasting yet another first round pick in Stephens, the silver lining in the Falcons’ “out of the blue” year was being able to accelerate the development of a number of bottom-age prospects who will now lead the club in their 18th year. On the back of a solid pre-season, Turner is optimistic his squad will be able to make marked improvements on last year’s output.

“It’s been a pretty good preseason for us, this is the culmination for it with the Rookie Me testing for the AFL,” Turner told Draft Central at the Rookie Me pre-season testing day. “We believe we have a very good squad this year in terms of team and individuals for the draft and hopefully the boys test well.”

“Over the years we’ve been probably the most successful club in Australia at getting players drafted and players on AFL lists – I think last year we had 45 players on AFL and I checked most weeks we’ve got 30 to 35 playing AFL seniors so, we’re pretty happy about that. “Last year was a bit one out of the blue, we had a very frustrating year. “Cooper Stephens got injured, he broke his leg early in the season, Jay Dahlhaus who is really important for us got injured and Tanner Bruhn had a knee operation. “We won three games and then we had a draw, a point loss, a two-point loss, a four-point loss, a seven-point loss – if one of those players played we could have won seven or eight more games.”

“We made a concerted effort at the end of the year to play (16 and 17-year-olds) and I think in the last game against Sandy in the Wildcard Round they beat us by 15 goals but when we looked at it, we had 20 players that would be here in 2020 and I think Sandringham had two. “So you can only play who you can play but we’ve put a lot of work into this group and we think potentially they are a very good group. “Five games in the end in NAB League is probably worth 50 to an AFL player so hopefully that gives us some benefit going into the season and we think that experience has been good for the players.”

Of the 30 players selected in this year’s Vic Country Hub, eight hail from the Falcons’ program. But akin to the cases of Metro powerhouses Oakleigh and Sandringham, Geelong will have to maintain a busy schedule for many of its top-end prospects who will juggle commitments between school, NAB League, and representative football programs. Buoyed by the extended talent of the squad past those selected in the Country hub, Turner highlighted the beginning and end of the NAB League season as key periods for draft hopefuls.

“When the hub’s done they can only pick 30 to start and we’ve got eight in which is a lot… I would have thought 15 to 16 that would get in, there’s boys outside the hub that are as good as a lot of the players inside the hub for us,” Turner said. “We’ve got a list of 60 because we have a lot of player movement within the NAB League, a lot of our boys go to Geelong Grammar and Geelong College, and we’ve got other boys at Christian College and St Joey’s which are our big feeder schools that have ACC commitments with football.

“What’s important at our level is in terms of the draft, when NAB clubs are at their full strength at the start of the year, that’s when boys have really got to put their hand up and play well. “It gets diluted a bit during the year, but if you’re picked for the national championships you’ve got to do well and then at the end of the year when the private school football finishes, that’s when you’ve got to be really putting your stamp on it again to give yourself a chance to reach your dream to be drafted or rookied to an AFL club.”

Player movement and continuity have long been priorities in terms of maintenance for talent managers with their top-aged players, and a bunch of 19-year-olds should be able to provide aid advice-wise to those coming into their draft year. In particular, former Sandringham representative Darcy Chirgwin will be at the top of the list having juggled commitments between the Dragons and a Melbourne Grammar scholarship last year, while also recovering from a spate of injuries.

“Darcy was with us as a 16-year-old and got a scholarship to Melbourne Grammar which was good for him school-wise and academically,” Turner said. “I rate Darcy, he’s a really great player. “When he first came to us this year his conditioning and strength were down a bit compared to our other players but our high performance staff have put a lot of work into him. “He’s with Geelong (VFL) so when he’s picked in the VFL, he will play for Geelong and when he’s not picked for VFL he will come back and play for us. “Hopefully we can get that balance right.”

Chirgwin adds to a talented engine room already boasting the likes of Bruhn and Charlie Lazzaro, but it is an unusually tall squad which is set to take the field for Geelong this season. Henry Walsh, Oliver Henry, and Cameron Fleeton, are all key position types who have already impressed, but Turner is still bullish on his midfielders, too.

“(It’s) probably the tallest team we’ve ever had,” Turner said. “I think we’re pretty balanced right across the board, we’ve got some really good players down back and we’ve got a really good midfield. “Charlie Lazzaro and players like that are in the hub, Darcy Parish‘s brother Indy who is only 17, and we’ve got some really quality forwards if we can get them all on the field.”

“When the team’s at full strength, we’ll play them in the their best positions. “Indy Parish for example won’t play midfield in our first round, but he’ll hopefully be in the side and maybe play forward. “When those older players, Lazzaro and (Gennaro) Bove move out of the midfield, he’ll come in and have his midfield role and get that experience. That goes across the board to all of our players.”

Given the wealth of talent available, Turner believes this will be one of the Falcons’ more fruitful years come draft time. But with a long way to go until then, he hopes they can just get a decent run at it.

“We’re just looking forward to the year, we hope we have a bit of luck with injury… so the players can show what they do but we’re pretty excited about the group. “Potentially we think it’s one of the better groups we’ve had, but the word is potentially – it’s still got to happen, they’ve still got to perform.”

Western Australia and Vic Country to decide AFL U18s title

A NEW national champion will be crowned tomorrow evening with Vic Country and Western Australia set to lock horns for the national title, while South Australia and the Allies play after in what has become a dead rubber match, but still plenty of talent on show. Vic Country has not won since 2015, with Vic Metro and South Australia combining for the other seven titles in that time. Josh Schache was named the Larke Medallist for his dominance up forward, in a team that included Darcy Parish, Ben Ainsworth, Jarrod Berry, Jacob Weitering and Rhys Mathieson. For Western Australia, the time between wins is even longer, with a decade passing since their 2009 triumph where the likes of David Swallow, Mitch Duncan, Jack Darling, Brandon Matera and Travis Colyer were running around in the yellow and black.

 

VIC COUNTRY vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday July 3, 2.10pm
Marvel Stadium

The 2019 AFL Under-18 National Championships once again comes down to the final day, and the winner of this match between Vic Country and Western Australia with the home side undefeated from its three games, while Western Australia has won two out of three, the only blip coming in a low-scoring against South Australia in Round 1. Both teams have accounted for the Allies and Vic Metro – with Country notching up its two wins early on including a 15-goal humiliation of the Allies, while Western Australia had to fight hard but recorded strong wins over both. This game is set to be a beauty with the strong defence of the Country side going head-to-head with the excitement machines that represent Western Australia.

Vic Country has made two changes for the game with Sandringham Dragons’ Darcy Chirgwin coming in for his first game of the series following a successful return from injury a couple of weekends ago against Eastern Ranges. That day he collected 32 disposals and 11 clearances in an impressive return match, joined in the Country side by Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild who was left out of the Murray side on the weekend in order to play this game, but picked up 29 touches the week prior. Fraser Phillips and Lachlan Williams are the two players to miss out after quiet games in the narrow win over South Australia. Western Australia has opted for four changes with the highly rated Jeremy Sharp missing out on the side this week, while Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley and Reuben McGuire are also out of the team. In their place come a couple of overagers in Ryan Bennell and Jarvis Pina, as well as Nathan O’Driscoll and Nicholas Martin.

Both teams have the capability to move the ball with speed, and for Country, it has the two best half-backs in the draft in Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash making life difficult for any side as they slice up opposition zones. Brock Smith and Sam De Koning have proven to stand up as the key talls, with Smith having to play in a higher weight division as he will with a potential match-up against bottom-age tall Logan McDonald on the cards. The small forwards of Country have been very damaging with Cody Weightman the leading goalkicker of the carnival and it will be between him and Elijah Taylor to take out the title. Elijah Hollands has weaved magic across the past month despite being a bottom-ager, while Ned Cahill has worked well with Weightman transitioning from Dandenong Stingrays to the Country side. The midfield of Gippsland Power duo, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders, and Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has made a massive difference and will no doubt look to control the ball in there, able to match it with the strong West Australian midfielders.

Western Australia’s strength lies in its ruck and speed. Luke Jackson is the dominant ruck and is set for All-Australian honours, while Taylor, Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne have that X-factor about them and can create something out of nothing. Deven Robertson has done his draft chances no harm after being injured last year, coming second in the disposals across the carnival, and being a shining light as captain of the Sandgropers. Riley Garcia and Chad Warner have also been consistent in there, while Trent Rivers is a touch of class who can play between half-back and the wing, or go through the middle. The bottom-age talls of McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras hold the visitors in good stead for next year, while Jake Pasini and Callum Jamieson have been strong up either end at the carnival. Spectators also get a glimpse of bottom-age talent O’Driscoll who has been named at half-back, in a game that is predicted to be an absolute beauty.

Vic Country will head in as favourites having gone undefeated thus far, but Western Australia are fresh off a rest whereas Vic Country have the five-day break so it will be interesting to see how that affects them.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 26. Jesse Clark – 36. Sam De Koning – 9. Isaac Wareham
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash – 24. Brock Smith – 18. Hayden Young
C: 8. Thomson Dow – 16. Brodie Kemp – 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill – 20. Elijah Hollands – 13. Jay Rantall
F: 6. Riley Baldi – 39. Josh Smith – 3. Cody Weightman
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 2. Caleb Serong
INT: 22. Darcy Chirgwin – 14. Liam Herbert – 10. Harrison Pepper – 5. Cameron Wild

IN: Darcy Chirgwin, Cam Wild
OUT: Fraser Phillips, Lachlan Williams

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson – 21. Jake Pasini – 20. Jaxon Prior
HB: 22. Max Murphy – 36. Denver Grainger-Barras – 7. Nathan O’Driscoll
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson – 5. Liam Henry
HF: 18. Jai Jackson – 25. Logan McDonald – 19. ELijah Taylor
F: 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson – 3. Tyrone Thorne
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
INT: 34. Ryan Bennell – 24. Ronin O’Connor – 11. Jarvis Pina – 35. Trent Rivers – 26. Trey Ruscoe

IN: Nathan O’Driscoll – Nicholas Martin, Ryan Bennell, Jarvis Pina
OUT: Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley, Jeremy Sharp, Reuben McGuire

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. ALLIES
Wednesday July 3, 4.40pm
Marvel Stadium

In the second game of the double-header, South Australia and Allies will effectively play-off for third spot having already amassed two losses from three games. As South Australia defeated Western Australia, the Croweaters can effectively grab second with a win over the Allies and a Vic Country triumph in the first game. However they could also finish last with a loss, because they also lost to Vic Metro who sit with the same amount of wins – one. If the Allies win they will grab third, while if they lose they will be fourth after ensuring they will not finish last thanks to the win over Vic Metro. South Australia came agonisingly close to making this a title game if they had come away with the points against Vic Country, but with their back-to-back hopes dashed, the Croweaters will be keen to finish off the carnival with a good win.

The Allies have made two changes to the side that got over the line by two points against Vic Metro, recalling exciting bottom-age forward Braeden Campbell, as well as ball winner, Jeromy Lucas who has been named at full-forward. Out of the side go Nicholas Brewer and James Peatling. The South Australians have also made the two changes with Kysaiah Pickett returning from suspension for the game, joined in the side by Jordan Moore, while Jordan O’Brien and Brady Searle are the outs from the team that narrowly lost to Vic Country in the previous game.

The battle of the midfields will be entertaining with Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Lachlan McNeil going head-to-head with Tom Green, Ben Jungfer and Connor Budarick on the outside, while Will Martyn and Mitch O’Neill will hope to match the run provided by Dylan Stephens and Josh Shute on the wing. Up forward, South Australia has some great variety with Daniel Sladojevic the key tall, Cameron Taheny as the talented medium forward, and Pickett as the electrifying small. Noah Cumberland, Tom Griffiths and Luke Parks are in some good form and will look to cover the smalls and mediums, while Liam Delahunty could have the job on Sladojevic.

Up the other end, the South Australian defence is right up there in terms of quality with Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay a couple of dominant tall intercept markers, allowing captain Will Gould to run riot off half-back. Will Day and Luke Edwards also create great run and rebound out of the back half, but will need to be accountable to the likes of Campbell and Hewago Paul Oea who are nimble and damaging if given time and space. Josh Gore is in some ripping form after three goals in the last game, and Hamish Ellem has also produced the goods at ground level. Add in the Allies depth of Errol Gulden and Malcolm Rosas Jr coming off the bench through the forward half and they have plenty of scoring options. Corey Durdin is a name to remember for next year for the Croweaters, while Damon Freitag could cause issues given his size and strength.

South Australia will be favourites in this game given how close all of their games have been, but the Allies have improved each game they have run out, so if that is any indication, they are set to hold up here against strong opposition.

TEAMS:

South Australia:

B: 35. Karl Finlay – 33. Dyson Hilder – 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 19. Luke Edwards – 24. Will Gould – 12. Will Day
C: 10. Joshua Shute – 18. Jackson Mead – 7. Dylan Stephens
HF: 8. Jed McEntee – 32. Daniel Sladojevic – 17. Josh Morris
F: 31. Jordan Moore – 9. Cameron Taheny – 1. Kysaiah Pickett
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows – 15. Harry Schoenberg – 20. Lachlan McNeil
INT: 14. Declan Carmody – 3. Corey Durdin – 42. Damon Freitag – 11. Callum Park – 28 Oliver Shaw

IN: Kysaiah Pickett, Jordan Moore
OUT: Jordan O’Brien, Brady Searle

Allies:

B: 8. Tom Griffiths – 52. Dirk Koenen – 21. Luke Parks
HB: 46. Noah Cumberland – 26. Liam Delahunty – 36. Sam Thorne
C: 15. Will Martyn – 3. Connor Budarick – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell – 37. Josh Gore – 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 31. Hamish Ellem – 47. Jeromy Lucas – 32. Jack Steele
R: 54. Ben Kelly – 22. Thomas Green – 16. Ben Jungfer
INT: 12. Ashton Crossley – 1. Errol Gulden – 24.Joel Jeffrey – 20. Matt McGrory – 4. Malcolm Rosas Jr

IN: Jeromy Lucas, Braeden Campbell
OUT: Nicholas Brewer, James Peatling

Who will the Demons draft?

Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)
Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)

Melbourne has some tough decisions to make. Several sources have said that the Demons are leaning towards Darcy Parish at pick three, while others believe they will select Charlie Curnow. Either way, it looks likely that the Demons will want a midfielder and a key forward.

Pick five (originally pick three)

The big fish: Sam Weideman

Weideman is a traditional tall forward with an excellent set of hands. He’s excellent on the lead or overhead and he works hard to present as an option. Weideman needs to work on his goal kicking, as he can be very streaky. Some days, he can nail five from five, but when he struggles with confidence, he becomes a bit wayward in front of goal.

Plan B: Charlie Curnow

Curnow makes a lot of sense for the Demons. He’s a physical key forward who could fit in well with Hogan. Or alternatively, the Demons may chose to develop him as a midfielder. The Demons may have traded up to chose the player who could be a franchise corner stone. He’s got a lot to work on, but he arguably has the highest ceiling of anyone available at that pick.

Pick 10 (originally seven)

The big fish: Darcy Parish

Parish is a smooth moving outside midfielder who does everything to a high standard. He’s worked on finding his own ball on the inside, and his ceiling has expanded immensely over the course of this year. Parish’s best case scenario is that he becomes a top 15 midfielder in the competition, and that doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch for him.

Plan B: Wayne Milera

Milera is a classy smaller midfielder with a range of different tricks. He’s shown he can be a very effective small forward at senior level, as he hits the scoreboard, provides creativity and he can win his own football. Milera is elusive in traffic and shown that he can be a consistent offensive presence.

Pick 46

The big fish: Kieran Lovell

Lovell is a big-time accumulator, averaging 35 disposals at the national championships. Lovell is tough on the inside, but his endurance also allows him to be a consistent presence on the outside. He makes the right decisions and he’s got great vision, but his execution is not great. Lovell can also hit the scoreboard, so he may be a decent option as a hard-working small forward who can rotate through the midfield.

Plan B: Greg Clark

The Demons could do with a third tall forward who works as a link player. Clark is a versatile type at 194 centimetres, but he’s not a bull on the inside or quick on the outside. He is a clean user of the football and he’s got the endurance to burn off defenders. He hasn’t had the year he would have liked, but there is plenty to work with at the next level.

Pick 50: James Harmes (rookie upgrade)

Pick 82: Aaron vandenBerg (rookie upgrade)

Jourdan Canil’s top 30 draft prospects

Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)
Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)

The AFL Draft is nearing, and despite suggestions of a weak draft, the top 30 prospects are still relatively strong in comparison to previous years. This is my list of the top prospects, but it does not indicate where they will go in the draft.

1. Jacob Weitering
Club: Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Alex Rance

Weitering’s got the whole package. His best asset is his intercept marking. He runs off his opponent and reads the play so well. He’s strong enough to not only compete at AFL level, but immediately win contests. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and positions himself well. A terrific rebounder, Weitering also has a long and classy kick, often putting the ball out into space for his team mates to run into. Athletically, he’s got a good leap and he’s got good closing speed. I firmly believe he will be one of the two or three best key defenders in the league in years to come.

2. Josh Schache
Club: 
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Key forward
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player Comparison: Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)

Probably the most promising ‘true’ key forward of 2015, Schache kicked 27 goals from 15 games as a 17 year old. Schache prides himself on his contested marking. His size allows him to crash through packs, but he also takes the ball out at full stretch. Schache is a great player below the knees, and unlike most key forwards, he is a reliable field kick and shot for goal. Schache has speed on the lead and he also likes to use his physicality. Schache can kick a goal from most places on the field, and he’s got a 55 metre cannon too. In terms of agility, Schache is actually quite impressive for his size. He could potentially improve on the defensive side of his game, which is for me, what separates him from Tom Boyd and Patrick McCartin, as they are probably less likely to become well-rounded key forwards. Schache’s conversion rate this year has been impressive and he’s stood up in key games. Definitely the second best player in the draft for mine.

3. Darcy Parish
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Whitfield

Darcy Parish is a classy outside midfielder, who despite his flaws, should be a top five pick. Parish is a very slight framed player who has great speed. He runs hard to receive a handball or take an uncontested mark, then will keep zipping past others to break lines. Parish loves to kick, and he can often have 20 or more kicks in a game. Most will hit the targets, as he prefers to do short sharp chips. He’s a good decision maker and with that comes a high disposal efficiency. I think at AFL level that efficiency may drop a little as he will be encouraged to be bolder. It’s scary that a player with so much hurt factor still has so much room to grow. Parish has become more of a goal kicker, and he’s put on a bit of weight to increase his core strength. He’s got room to improve his defensive efforts, as his strong tank and speed should really see him taking down few more players. I see him growing into that Lachie Whitfield mould, but perhaps with a little more pace.

4. Callum Mills
Club:
 North Shore
Position: Midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Lenny Hayes

Mills is the complete package, and he will head to Sydney through their academy. He would certainly have been a top three pick if he was on the open market. Mills is an exceptional accumulator, as he averaged 32 disposals at 65% through his six TAC Cup games last year as a 17 year old. . He was named in the bests in five out of his six games. Mills also averaged over six tackles and six marks per game in the TAC Cup. Mills is a beast of an inside midfielder. He’s fairly balanced, as he gets around 50% of his ball on the outside, as he finds space to take uncontested marks and handball receives. But his courage to throw himself at the ball is incredible. He is impossible to tag. Mills is a leader and works hard defensively.

5. Aaron Francis
Club: West Adelaide
Position: Utility
Height: 191cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Adam Goodes

Francis is just a shade below the top two in my eyes, but he’s got the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. He’s a terrific intercept mark, has tremendous athleticism and literally plays in every position. Francis has played his best footy as a third tall or key defender, as his intercept marking and ability to rebound are his two best assets. He’s also extremely strong around the contest, so he can win his own footy on the inside. His kicking is well above average, and he is quickish, so he’s a good player on the outside too. I liked his smarts when playing as a forward. He lead up consistently, and he provides a great target. When the ball hits the deck, he is too big and strong for small defenders, and too agile for bigger ones. The one query I have on him is his goal kicking, but I haven’t seen a big enough sample size of him as a forward to say whether that’s a true weakness

6.Jacob Hopper
Club:
North Ballarat Rebels
Position:
Inside midfielder
Height:
186 cm
Weight:
82 kg
Player Comparison:
Ollie Wines

Hopper is clearly the best pure inside midfielder in this draft. His extraction skills are supreme and he’s got a great understanding of where to position himself at stoppages to have an impact. Hopper is an excellent goal kicker – he heads forward and he can be effective at ground level or as a marking target. He’s a terrific tackling presence and he never stops trying. His kicking is just okay, but his vision and spatial awareness are excellent, so he doesn’t get caught out often. He’s very clean by hand in traffic.

7. Charlie Curnow
Club:
Geelong Falcons
Position: Key forward/midfielder
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Player Comparison: Jake Stringer

Curnow looks like a possible top five pick. He can be a bit lazy, often looking to engage in one on one contests, rather than leading up and using space. Having said that, he’s an elite runner with a very high beep test score, so clearly he’s got a strong work ethic. He gets by in under 18’s with his strength, and obviously coming off that knee injury he wasn’t able to show his running strength. He’s a great contested mark, he wins his own ball on the inside, and at times, his skills are usually pretty good. I think his 21/30 on the kicking test at the combine was a bit misleading. He’s a below average converter on goals, and he’s not a great field kick either.  He’s got a very high upside with his great frame and the ability to grow into a big-bodied midfielder, but I personally see him as a forward in the Jake Stringer role.

8. Matthew Kennedy
Club:
Collingullie-GP
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Elliot Yeo

Kennedy is a big-bodied inside midfielder with terrific endurance and a great overhead mark. He finished with a 14.12 beep tests and some really good scores in various leaping tests at the combine. He’s very hard at the contest, and while he’s not in that elite level for racking up the footy, you can tell that with development, he’ll be able to make that transition at AFL level. Kennedy looks damaging in the forward line, and whilst he is pretty clean with either foot, if it was a bit better he could be challenging for a top three pick.

9. Wayne Milera
Club:
Central Districts
Position: Outside midfielder/small forward
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player Comparison: Shaun Burgoyne (early career)

Milera has far exceeded expectations this year. He’s a creative midfielder/half forward with some of the best skills in this draft class. Milera is a terrific decision maker and he offers something a bit different to the rest of the midfielders in this draft class, where there seems to be one or two clear options, but he’ll cut through the middle and pick a more damaging option that most players wouldn’t even consider. He’s very agile and hard to tackle, and he loves using his speed through the centre of the ground. Milera has been the best performed junior in the top flight of the SANFL, where he’s consistently found the football and chipped in for several goals on a few occasions.

10. Rhys Mathieson
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Jordan Lewis

I don’t like to overrate players, but Mathieson has a similar style to Jordan Lewis in the way he plays on the inside and outside. Mathieson is a big time accumulator, but it’s the way that he does it that really makes his 30 disposal games really impressive, despite being just an above average kick of the ball. Mathieson hunts the ball on the inside. He throws himself at the contest, and despite not being the new prototype big midfielder, his body strength in packs is advanced for his age. He knows how to position himself on the inside, and once he has the ball, he executes handpasses in traffic and out of the bottom of a pack quickly and usually to the best outside option. Mathieson is terrific on the outside too, and this is what makes him such a champion type. Mathieson is fairly quick on the outside, with a solid 20 metre burst that breaks games open. He doesn’t have to run a long distance, because with the separation he creates in a short space, he gives himself enough time to launch a kick into the forward 50. Mathieson has above average skills by hand and foot, and he’s a solid overhead mark too.

11. Kieran Collins
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Daniel Talia

Collins is the best lockdown key defender in the draft. He’s that classic disciplined Darren Glass type, where he doesn’t give his opponents any room to move. He’s got a very high football IQ and he doesn’t try to exceed his limitations. Collins is exceptional overhead and he can take plenty of intercept marks, but he’s not the type to take a massive risk and fly if he didn’t think it was the right time to do so. Collins won the handball test at the combine with an exceptional 29/30. His kicking is fine, but he’s not a great rebounder at this stage of his career. He’s not the quickest player, but his football smarts and spatial awareness make up for that. He’s also shown a little bit as a forward, but he looks like a 200 game player as a key back already.

12. Harley Balic
Club: 
Sandringham Dragons
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Jackson Macrae

Balic is a really classy half forward who can pull off some incredible things. Balic is a terrific overhead mark, and he leads to the right places. His contested marking is incredible for a medium forward. He is a really intelligent forward who pushes up to create space for his full forward to lead in to. He has a very strong body and last year he lacked opportunity in the midfield. His inside game development is arguably the biggest leap of any top talent in the draft this year. Last year I would have said he was a pure outside player, but he has learnt the nuances of the inside game in terms of positioning himself at contests. His developmental curve is extremely encouraging and it’s one of the reasons I like him more than most. The fact he is now a balanced midfielder who can find the footy, as well as being a forward with flare makes me believe he has a sneakily very high ceiling.

13. Ben Keays
Club: 
Morningside
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Christian Petracca

Keays in my mind is close to a top 10 pick, but he will be going to Brisbane through their academy a little later. Keays is a gut running type, who shows absolute class on the outside most of the time (although he does make some poor choices sometimes). Keays has the ability to kick it long or hit short targets with ease.

Keays has a really strong body, and his work on the inside is outstanding. Indeed, Keays’ most exciting ‘Petracca like’ feature is his overhead marking and work as a forward. Keays can really dominate up forward with strength, but he can also kick freakish, skillful goals. He fends off players as he takes on the game, and backs himself in to finish off with a goal. He’s increased his ability to rack up the football, and as such, his disposal efficiency has dropped off a touch, which I think is why he hasn’t been talked about as much in that top 10 equation.

14. Callum Ah Chee
Club: 
South Fremantle
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Player Comparison: Chad Wingard

Ah Chee offers a bit of a different look this year, and though I suspect he has more potential than most of the players in the top 10, he probably hasn’t had the year he would have liked. Ah Chee is lightening quick, in terms of acceleration and over a long distance. There’s not too many ultra quick players who have multiple strings to their bow in this year’s draft class. Ah Chee is an excellent kick of the football. He gets a fair bit of penetration on it and I’ve noticed his decision making has improved over the course of this year. Ah Chee is very dangerous around goals. He’s an excellent crumber, but as you’ve all seen with his mark in the AFL Academy game, he’s a high flier and a good over head mark, despite his light frame. I’d love to see him build up his tank and also his core strength, as he’s struggling to win much of his own footy.

15. Jade Gresham
Club: Northern Knights
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player Comparison: Travis Boak

Gresham is one of those players you know what you are going to get. While he does lack that punishing hurt factor that the elite players have, he uses his limitations to the best of his ability. Skill wise, he was clearly the best tester at the NAB AFL Combine, which helps tick those boxes. Defensively, he’s not too bad. He doesn’t rack up a lot of tackles, but he is accountable and he reads the play well enough to choose when to peel off his man as well. Gresham is a outside-leaning midfielder, with the potential to develop an inside game in the future. He reads the ruck taps so well and knows where to run and break away. While he’s not fast, he’s smart and this helps him at stoppages. He is fearless in the way he throws himself into packs, despite being a shorter midfielder. His hands in traffic are really clean and quick. Gresham has added goal kicking to his repertoire of late. He hasn’t had the opportunity to play much as a crumbing small forward, but he has kicked a goal per game on average this season. Gresham looks to be an excellent leader already.

16. Sam Weideman
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Key forward
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Levi Casboult

Weideman’s injury issues have made him an intriguing prospect, as he has so much that he must improve on. 2014 was an up and down year for the forward. He was able to play 15 games, but only kicked 19 goals and 15 behinds. His statline is poor, but recruiters will look to his best games to find out why he is so highly regarded. Again in 2015, he struggled statistically, despite receiving very good delivery from a strong midfield group. Weideman is a terrific mark of the ball. His contested marking is a standout in pack situations. However, what is most impressive is his ability to take one grab marks on the lead, particularly in sticky situations. You know if the ball is within his long reach, then he won’t drop it. He’s a below average kick of the football. He’s probably one of only a handful of players in this draft class who have one truly dominant skill, but when you cannot convert simple set shots at goal, then it really hurts. Weideman plays as a true leading centre half forward, but he also has the size and skill set to play as a full forward.

17. Darcy Tucker
Club: 
North Ballarat Rebels
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Sam Docherty

Tucker looks best as a half back in my eyes. He reads the play really well, and he plays pretty wide of the contest, so he’s often in a dangerous spot on the rebound if the ball leaks out. He’s not a great individual defender, but I can see with his mindset and leadership that his defensive game will grow. As a midfielder, Tucker plays almost exclusively on the outside, but I can see scope for that developing as he seems to have good core strength. Tucker’s endurance is terrific, as he came in with a 15.3 beep test. That gives me hope that he can be a midfielder, but he’s got a bit to learn in terms of stoppage set ups and the general nuances of that position. Tucker is an excellent kick of the footy. Although he’s a bit down the pecking order, I don’t think there is a massive class difference between Darcy Parish, Cal Ah Chee and Tucker.

18. Ryan Clarke
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: David Zaharakis

Clarke’s speed is excellent over the first few steps and he really breaks lines, but he’s probably a couple of rungs slower than the absolute best. He’s an excellent distributor by hand and foot. His decision making and vision is in the top class of this year’s draft, and he backs himself to hit difficult targets. Clarke is a strong runner who loves to break through the middle. He’s also got a fairly long kick too, and on the run he can impact the scoreboard from 55 out. He can go forward, but he’s probably got some work to do in that regard. He’s not a great mark overhead, and although he has the physical attributes to be a good crumber, he hasn’t shown that he’s got those talents as of yet.  Clarke’s inside game is developing. He’s got great core strength, so he breaks tackles fairly easily. He reads the tap well and he’s physical, so he throws himself at the footy. Clarke is sharp and quick by hand too, so there aren’t too many doubts over whether he’ll be a well-rounded midfielder. He’s not the prototype big-bodied inside beast that recruiters are infatuated with, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be a clearance machine at the top level, but he’ll be serviceable.

19. Eric Hipwood
Club:
Aspley
Position: Key back/forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Harris Andrews

Hipwood will probably attract a top 10 bid, although his form doesn’t quite warrant it. He’s a project player who has terrific agility and a great overhead marking ability. He’s an okay user of the footy, who finds it more than your traditional key backman, but he doesn’t really know his limitations. He looks a bit more at home as a key defender, although he’s showed spurts of form as a forward here and there this year. He’ll take a long time to develop, but then again, we thought that of Harris Andrews and look how quickly he’s adapted.

20. Harry McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Drew Petrie

Harry McKay is a raw prospect who has shown great signs for his age. He should basically be considered a 2016 prospect, as he is only a few days off being eligible for next year’s draft. For a 200 cm player, McKay is very quick and agile. He can twist and turn and crumb like a small forward. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and he continually leads up the ground to present as a link up target. He’s a pretty good kick for goal too. At this stage, he’s a long-term prospect. He’s going to need to put on plenty of size to be able to compete, but he’s got as much upside as anyone in this draft class.

21. Ryan Burton
Club: 
North Adelaide
Position: Forward
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Brett Burton

Burton’s broken leg could see him as a big slider, so it’s really difficult to get a gauge on where he sits. Although he is in that inbetween size, I can see Burton being a key forward. Burton has a massive leap, and his overhead marking is exceptional. Indeed, his game style isn’t too dissimilar to his namesake Brett Burton. Burton is a wonderful kick for goal, and he isn’t shy when it’s a clutch situation. Burton needs to improve his field kicking and forward smarts (ie where to lead and how to space himself). However, one thing that cannot be questioned is his defensive efforts, as he averaged three tackles per game in the Championships as a 17 year old.

22. Riley Bonner
Club:
West Adelaide
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Grant Birchall

Bonner is your classic elite ball user off the back flank. He’s probably the best long kick in the draft, and he can use both feet to a very high level. Bonner can play on the wing, or as a half forward too, but he’s played his best footy as a half-back this year. Bonner isn’t super quick, but he’s agile and he runs hard all game to present as a link-up target. The biggest issue with Bonner is his complete lack of accountability, but that should get better with a few years of development.

23. Clayton Oliver
Club:
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Comparison: Luke Parker

Oliver is a big bodied inside midfielder who has a few different tricks. He wins his own ball easily, and while he has a large frame, he needs to develop a bit more physically for his game to translate to the AFL. Oliver can go forward and take a strong mark, and his finishing around the goals is excellent. Oliver is a strong tackler and a hard worker who runs both ways. Interestingly, Oliver tested much better than most expected in the speed and agility drills, which perhaps raises his ceiling in the eyes of recruiters. He ran a 2.99 20 metre sprint, which isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s pretty good for an inside midfielder. His agility time of 8.11 seconds was third in the entire AFL combine, and incredible feat that will no doubt be taken into account on draft night.

24. Josh Dunkley
Club:
 Gippsland Power
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Early career Jobe Watson

Dunkley is an inside midfielder who finds the goals easily. His drive and work ethic is incredible, reminiscent of Jason Johnson in his prime.He uses his size to bully his opponents, which should still work relatively well at AFL level, but he hasn’t become the great extractor his skillset should allow him to. Dunkley is an incredible tackler and a strong overhead mark. His leadership is a plus as well. Dunkley averaged 6 and a half tackles in the TAC Cup over 13 games, with an astounding 18 tackles leading the way against the Falcons as a 17 year old. He’s a really poor kick and lacks any form of an outside game at this stage. He’s pretty sluggish off the mark too, but he’s got a pretty good tank. He showed that he can hold his own at VFL level, which is crucial for a player of his ilk.

25. Mitchell Hibberd
Club:
Clarence
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Brad Sheppard

Hibberd would be a nice complimentary player on any team. He’s a smart defender, who is really solid in the air. He reads the flight of the ball well and he’s a good athlete. Hibberd isn’t an elite kick, but he hits targets consistently and rarely turns the ball over. He makes the right decisions and he takes the game on when he’s rebounding. Hibberd finds plenty of the ball on the outside, and he’s damaging enough to float forward and have an impact. With his size, athleticism and skills, he’s a very solid option.

26. Ben McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key defender
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Henderson

Ben McKay is the identical twin of Harry. Ben’s best skill is contested marking, which was showcased against Oakleigh, when he took five of them. Like Harry, he is quite agile, although Ben is a bit stronger at this stage. McKay is a solid user of the footy, although he doesn’t offer too much at this stage from a rebounding point of view. He’s a solid intercept mark, but at this stage, he’s more concerned with being accountable than peeling off his man. McKay also showed he can head forward effectively, as well as providing a chop out in the ruck.

27. Luke Partington
Club:
Norwood
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Leigh Montagna

Luke Partington looks to be a really well rounded midfielder. He’s got a bit of speed, and he’s the type to work hard all game, so he’s always providing a link up target on the outside. He’s a pretty neat kick and a nice decision maker too. He’s become a better inside midfielder this year too, using his smarts and speed to read the tap and win clearances, rather than using his strength.

28. Aidyn Johnson
Club:
Bendigo Pioneers
Position: Utility
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Comparison: No real comparison

It’s been hard to get a gauge on what type of player Aidyn Johnson is, due to his injury troubles. Johnson is one of the fastest and most agile players in this draft class, and will probably be taken in the second round based on that. Michael Ablett and Brett Anderson rate him very highly, with his agility (fourth in the AFL Combine), speed and also the ability to create space around goals that others can’t being the really exciting features of his game. Johnson is a great volume tackler, averaging four per game last year in the TAC Cup. He’s also got that match winning ability. He kicked four goals and laid seven tackles last year against the Falcons, and he had a two other games where he was the best player for the Pioneers. He’s got a fair bit that he needs to improve on based on the ten or so games he’s played in the last two years. His kicking is a little too erratic, and he can give away clumsy free kicks. He’s also got to try and use his pace to receive more handballs on the outside, as he struggles to get more than 10-15 touches most games.

29. Nick O’Kearney
Club: 
Calder Cannons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Player Comparison: Brent Stanton

I like O’Kearney more than most, and I think that comes with accepting that he is a limited role player. His ball winning is incredible, as he averaged 25 disposals in the TAC Cup as a 17 year old, and he’s shown that he can do that again as an 18 year old. Despite playing in a star studded Calder team, O’Kearney took out the Cannons’ best and fairest as a 17 year old, and may do so again. O’Kearney reminds me a lot of Brent Stanton, in that he is a terrific two way runner. He gets 65% of the ball on the outside, but he’s improved his inside game as well this year. O’Kearney captained Vic Metro in the Under 16’s and he has natural leadership qualities. However, despite his leadership and high production, there are clear knocks on his game. His kicking is pretty average for someone who is predominately an outside midfielder. It has improved a little bit, but not enough to be a top 25 pick in my eyes.

30. Bailey Rice
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Half back/midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player Comparison: Zak Jones

Rice is a real competitive beast who has made big strides this year. He’s a really strong contested mark for a half back, and he’s shown some real physicality when defending. He offers a lot on the rebound, and even though he’s not an elite kick, he’s very neat and rarely turns the ball over. Rice has shown that he can win his own football as a midfielder, and with increased running power, he can be a balanced midfielder. Rice throws himself at the footy and really reads the flight of the ball well.

2015 Draft Profile: Darcy Parish

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Darcy Parish (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Position: Midfielder
Draft range: Top five
Strengths: Kicking, never slows down, decision making, hurt factor
Weaknesses: Lack of size, defensive efforts, scoreboard impact
Player comparison: Lachie Whitfield
First year impact: Rising Star nominee

Kicking: Elite
Marking: Average
Endurance: Excellent
Speed: Above average

Darcy Parish is a classy outside midfielder, who despite his flaws, should be a top five pick.

Parish is a very slight framed player who has a different type of speed. He runs hard to receive a handball or take an uncontested mark and then he’ll keep zipping past others to break lines.

He’s probably not the quickest player in the draft pool, but should still test around 2.95 seconds for the 20 metre sprint at the combine. The thing with Parish is that he is always running and no one can match the combination of his speed and work rate.

Parish loves to kick, and he can often have 20 or more kicks in a game. Most will hit the targets, as he prefers to do short sharp chips.He’s a good decision maker and with that comes a high disposal efficiency. At AFL level that efficiency may drop a little as he will be encouraged to be more bold.

With his kicking talents, speed and vision, he really should start as a half forward/midfielder at AFL level and work on his defensive pressure, whilst playing in a Zach Merrett-like role.

He’s got room to improve his defensive efforts, as his strong tank and speed should really see him taking down few more players. I see him growing into that Lachie Whitfield mould, but perhaps with a little more pace.

He’s still not quite at that one goal a game you’d like from such an elite player, but to be fair, he’s played 90% as a midfielder this year and hasn’t really had the chance to show his talents up forward.

Parish needs to work on his hurt factor a little bit. He’s obviously got the skills to hurt a team, but if he could eliminate a few of those sideways kicks and get them at 45 degree angles, I think he’d be perhaps the most damaging outside midfielder to come through in four or five years.

At this stage, he looks well ahead in his development compared to Josh Kelly in his draft year. Parish has become so much better on the inside this year, whereas Kelly didn’t really show that side to his game at all in his draft year.

Parish is an excellent stoppage player. His core strength is good enough for him to win a bit of his own ball on the inside. What’s really damaging though is his ability to read the tap then get away from the centre clearance in four or five really explosive steps like Luke Shuey often does.

A lack of size isn’t really an issue for Parish. He’s above 180 centimetres and his core strength is pretty good, so those ‘too small’ stereotypes don’t really apply.

Parish isn’t a great overhead mark, but we saw Jack Lonie really improve in that area last year, so there’s no real question mark over whether shorter players need that asset.

Parish looks on par with Jacob Weitering in terms of how certain you are that he’ll turn out to be an excellent player. There’s no doubt over whether Parish will perform at the next level, which should see him taken by at the very latest, pick seven.