Tag: Dylan stephens

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 12: Anderson helps the SUNS push Richmond all the way

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend again spilled into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 12 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition, and two making their debuts. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
STATS: 26 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 375 metres gained, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist

He cannot earn a second Rising Star nomination, but Anderson put in a shift which would have earn him another undisputed nod. The 2019 number two pick was again terrific for the SUNS as they pushed Richmond all the way to the final term, having a big say going forward. Rotating through midfield from the wing, Anderson racked up the ball with ease for a career-high tally of 26 disposals, constantly finding space on the spread and booting forward from contests to gain good meterage. He put in a strong case to be best afield, and looks so comfortable at the level at this point.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
16 disposals, 8 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 score involvements

Day is another youngster who has hardly looked out of place since making his debut, and continues to thrive despite some of Hawthorn’s woes. The South Australian again found a good amount of ball, and was able to push it into more advanced areas of the ground. He is a safe outlet across half-back or in transition, while his marking makes him a dual-pronged threat in defence. Day’s ability to intercept and switch the play into attack will be a real weapon for the Hawks in future.

Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)
15 disposals (11 handballs), 1 mark, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements

Having been shown great faith to keep his place in the flailing Crows side, Schoenberg is beginning to reap the benefits of being afforded a continued run at the elite level. While not all of his 15 touches were particularly impactful or damaging, the South Australian got his hands on the ball at a good rate and used it well around the contest. He has shown a good balance through midfield, and will inevitably be better for the learning experience, especially with games like this one.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
13 disposals, 9 contested possessions, 2 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50

Such is his talent, Serong has had better days at AFL level, but still managed to impact the contest in Fremantle’s heartbreaking loss to Carlton. The Gippsland Power graduate has consistently upheld a remarkably high standard since earning his maiden senior berth, and seems comfortable amid the midfield battle. He showed his ability to stay relevant against bigger bodies at the contest, and did not shy away from the tough stuff. The conditions and frantically contested nature of the game suited Serong perfectly.

Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
11 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 3 score involvements, 1 goal

Stephens continues to go from strength to strength for the Swans as part of an exciting, developing young group. The South Australian has taken well to his duties on the outside, getting forward well where he can utilise his weapon of a left boot and put the ball into dangerous areas. Stephens found the goals once again in this match, and continues to showcase a good balance of traits with his ability to apply defensive pressure, adding to that outside penetration.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Sam Flanders (Gold Coast)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
Josh Honey (Carlton)
Tom Hutchesson (GWS)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Trey Ruscoe (Collingwood)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 10: Debutants make their presence felt

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend again spilled into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 10 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition, while three made their debuts. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Trey Ruscoe (Collingwood)
STATS: 7 disposals (6 kicks), 1 mark, 5 score involvements, 1 goal, 3 behinds

The stats may not flatter, but Ruscoe has made a big impact at the elite level since his now famed debut announcement. Arcing back to a forward line role, the West Australian looked lively inside forward 50 for the Magpies. He kicked off his maiden outing in style by claiming his first goal with his second kick of the game, but spurned another three shots after that. The signs were there though and Ruscoe may well have earned his spot for next week amid Collingwood’s mounting injury crisis. He was the first debutant of the Pies’ 2019 National Draft haul.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
16 disposals, 1 mark, 1 tackle, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 5 score involvements, 1 goal

Anderson continues to go from strength-to-strength and may well be the Rising Star frontrunner with over half the regular season played. While he has most often been utilised out on the wing, Anderson also spent some time among the engine room against St Kilda and pumped forward a couple of centre clearances. He was creative as ever going forward too, gaining good meterage in dangerous areas and getting forward to boot a nice goal as Gold Coast mounted a third term fightback.

Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
10 disposals, 5 marks (3 contested), 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 3 score involvements, 1 goal assist

He may not have been able to impact the scoreboard this time out, but Georgiades keeps on catching the eye. The West Australian key forward again got his marking game going in another Port Adelaide triumph, rising for three contested grabs among his total haul of five. He is proving a key link for Port heading inside forward 50 as a reliable target and sound user of the ball. That proved no different in this performance as he strung together three score involvements, including one goal assist. There’s plenty to like about the Power’s attacking stocks.

Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)
12 disposals, 2 marks, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 3 score involvements

Another debutant in Round 10, Schoenberg was a handy addition to the Adelaide midfield on Wednesday night. He was taken quite high at pick 24 last year, but looks like having what it takes to repay the faith shown in him, and put in a decent debut performance. The South Australian did not win bucketloads of the ball, but found a good balance in his possessions. He was able to get his hands on the ball a few times at stoppages, while also pumping the ball into the right areas as he carried forward on the outer. Well built, and readymade.

Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
12 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

Stephens is beginning to look more and more comfortable at the level having earned an extended run, and produced solid returns in his fourth AFL outing. Stationed on the wing, the South Australian looks most dangerous on his forward ventures, able to find space on the outer and deliver it well inside 50. He joined the first goal club this weekend with a great strike despite being put down hard by Brayden Sier mid-kick, putting the cherry on top of another promising display.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Jeremy Sharp (Gold Coast)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)
Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 8: Serong thrives in the Danger zone

18 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, with many of them enjoying their moments in the sun. There was plenty to take out of Round 8 for the class of 2019, as a bunch of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level and are continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
STATS: 22 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 337 metres gained, 1 goal

A few weeks back we saw Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield enter training to the backdrop of Kenny Loggins’ 1986 tune, Danger Zone. Clearly unawed, Caleb Serong showed on Monday that he does not care for such pomposity, nor wilt to the challenge of shutting out one of the game’s elites. The heart-and-soul midfielder was superb amid horrendous conditions, tasked with following the 2016 Brownlow Medalist, and keeping him to 18 disposals. While he competed with the Cats champ both physically and in the air, Serong also found 22 touches of his own and thrived on the tough stuff to lay seven tackles. To cap off a breakout display, the Gippsland Power graduate slotted home a pin-point goal on his left side to drag Fremantle past what would have been a record low score. He will undoubtedly be in line for a Rising Star nomination this week, and it is no wonder Dockers fans have quickly warmed to him.

Ned Cahill (Essendon)
7 disposals, 4 contested possessions, 1 mark, 5 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 2 goals

You would have already seen the cliched Cahill comparison after Essendon’s Ned soccered home his first league goal on the weekend, and the youngster’s two second half snags proved vital in the Bombers’ narrow win over Adelaide. The small forward’s stats may not flatter, but the energy he brings to what has previously been a stagnant Essendon lineup is noticeable. Cahill played his role to a tee in his second outing, popping up to hit the scoreboard and looking lively deep inside attacking 50.

Brad Close (Geelong)
14 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

The mature-age recruit was another small forward to have posed plenty of threats on the weekend, and joined the first goal club in Geelong’s rain-effected win over Fremantle. Despite the conditions, Close was able to find space inside attacking 50 and got his debut off to the perfect start with a well hit set shot conversion. The Glenelg product was one of the Cats’ most menacing forward options, constantly getting to the drop of the ball and getting involved in his side’s attacking forays. Add four tackles to the mix, and it was a pretty well-rounded maiden outing in the long-sleeved number 45 jumper.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
10 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

It was another lacklustre performance from the Hawks overall, but Day continues to show glimpses of his enormous upside nonetheless. Stationed in the defensive half for most of the match, Day seemed to read the play well and chimed in with some important intercept possessions. His marking overhead was sound, and he also provided a safe outlet under pressure on the rebound. While some turnovers (four) crept into his game in the face of the Swans’ ground level pressure, Day has already shown he is a capable user by foot. He seems a safe bet to remain in the Hawthorn lineup as the kids start to get an extended run.

Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
7 disposals, 7 contested possessions, 100% DE, 3 marks (2 contested), 3 inside 50s, 5 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

Back in the side in a big way, Georgiades continues to justify the faith shown in him after Port Adelaide used a first round pick to secure his services. The West Australian only stands at 192cm, but makes up the difference with a terrific vertical leap and pace on the lead. His hands were strong upon presentation on the weekend, clunking two contested marks as he provided a key link into attacking 50 for the Power. While his ability to create and get involved in attacking passages made him a solid part of his side’s structure, Georgiades crucially got on the board himself with a goal in the second term.

Others in action:

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Will Hamill (Adelaide)
Mitch Hibberd (Essendon)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Josh Morris (Hawthorn)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)
Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 7: Derbies, speckies, and worldie first goals

16 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft have already run out for their respective teams on the weekend, with a further two set to take the field tonight. There was plenty to take out of Round 7 for the class of 2019, as a bunch of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level and are now stamping their mark on the competition, while others impressed on their debuts. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
STATS: 15 disposals (12 kicks), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 7 score involvements, 1 goal

It isn’t the first time a 2019 SUNS draftee has taken out back-to-back star of the week nods, and Anderson has somehow flown a little under the radar in his development at AFL level. Last year’s second pick enjoyed arguably his most impactful outing in Gold Coast’s win over Sydney on Saturday, working hard both ways on the outer to win the ball in important areas, and provide a creative outlet going forward. He showed good awareness and work rate to sneak over the back for a goal, and was involved in seven all up, with his kicking game and ability to gain meterage now coming to the fore.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
19 disposals (74% DE), 8 marks, 3 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements

Day has slotted seamlessly into the Hawthorn setup, providing a safe outlet in the back half with his sound kicking game and ability to rack up uncontested ball. He may have turned the ball over eight times, but went at a solid rate of efficiency overall among his 19 disposals, and put the ball into important areas. He may have benefitted from a few short lateral and backwards kicks, but Day managed to penetrate both arcs and gained good ground for the Hawks in their loss to Melbourne. The next step will be finding a contested edge and improving his defensive game.

Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
10 disposals (80%DE), 3 marks, 4 inside 50s, 2 score involvements, 1 goal

There is plenty to like about Frederick, who made his AFL debut in a one-sided Western Derby. While the running went well and truly against his side, the South Australian showcased his phenomenal speed and was arguably one of the most dangerous Fremantle forwards throughout the contest. Frederick, aptly nicknamed ‘Rick’, managed to get on the board with his maiden elite level goal and looked to have an impact with each disposal, making for a promising start to his fledgeling career.

Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
14 disposals, 3 marks (2 contested), 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 clearance, 3 hitouts, 4 score involvements, 1 goal

Last year’s third pick made his first appearance back in the Melbourne side since his Round 2 debut, and looks to be gaining confidence. Jackson was another to boot his maiden AFL goal, starting as a key forward and rotating through the ruck to give Max Gawn a chop-out. The athletic tall continued to present well and clunked two contested grabs, making for a small glimpse into what he may produce in future. His ability to impact in general play was also evident, and will be a serious asset for Melbourne for years to come.

Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)
9 disposals, 3 marks, 1 inside 50, 4 score involvements, 2 goals

Another to join the first goal club was Weightman, with the electric small forward able to flush his first kick at the AFL level straight through the big sticks – from the boundary line, no less. But his first highlight came just moments before the successful conversion, with the Dandenong Stingrays graduate rising to take an eye-catching contested mark over his teammate. The stats may not flatter him, but Weightman was a dangerous figure around the ball and made the most of his touches, adding another goal and certainly catching the attention of those watching with his raw athleticism and skill.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Ryan Byrnes* (St Kilda)
Ned Cahill (Essendon)
Mitchell Hibberd (Essendon)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey* (Adelaide)
Josh Morris (Hawthorn)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)
Chad Warner (Sydney)

* – denotes yet to play.

AFL Debut Watch – Round 6: Pies, Hawks duos lead list of 11 potential debutants

ROUND 6 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, with a grand total of zero newcomers making it onto centre stage. That is all about to change though, with both Collingwood and Hawthorn naming two debutants each for their Friday night clash, leading a list of 11 total fresh faces named across the league. There could also be three club debuts throughout the weekend, pending the culling of extended squads. We take you through the list and give a little reminder of what each player may bring to the table.

Note: * denotes named on extended bench.

Collingwood vs. Hawthorn

AFL Debuts: Atu Bosenavulagi (COL), Will Day (HAW), Will Kelly (COL), Josh Morris (HAW)
Club Debuts: Nil

Collingwood pulled a selection stunner in naming a pair of untried second year players, which was then matched by Hawthorn’s inclusion of its first year pair. The Pies pair both already had ties to the club upon being drafted, with Atu Bosenavulagi a Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, and Will Kelly a father-son prospect. Both continue the rich link between Oakleigh Chargers and Collingwood, with fellow Chargers graduate Isaac Quaynor also slotting into the lineup.

Bosenavulagi is a pressure small forward who should maintain the pace at ground level for his side, while adding a different dimension when the ball hits the deck. His goal sense, agility, and smarts inside 50 should make for good viewing when he gets into a flow. Despite being drafted as a key position defender, Kelly has made the transition to the forwardline, and will add even more height alongside Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek, with his point of difference being sound foot skills.

For Hawthorn, Will Day was a speculative, high upside pick in last year’s first round, and the faith shown in him is obviously quite high given his relatively early debut. He should provide some much-needed athleticism and class on the outside for the Hawks. Josh Morris is the other newcomer, a fellow South Australian with plenty of potential. His pace in the forward 50 will be eye-catching, and he loves popping up with a goal or two.

West Coast vs. Adelaide

AFL Debuts: Andrew McPherson (ADE)
Club Debuts: Nil

After narrowly failing to make the cut on an extended bench for last week’s clash with Fremantle, Andrew McPherson is set to become the latest Adelaide debutant, as the Crows ready to face West Coast. It has been a long time coming for the 21-year-old, who was taken with pick 40 in the 2017 National AFL Draft despite missing large chunks of his top-age year through injury. His endurance is a standout feature, and he has the right traits to take to the elite level comfortably.

Melbourne vs. Gold Coast 

AFL Debuts: Izak Rankine (GCS)
Club Debuts: Nil

Izak Rankine will make his long-awaited debut on Saturday, putting behind him an arduous run with injury in his short AFL career. The 2018 number three pick was an electrifying junior, able to win games off his own boot with masterful work around goal and terrific athletic attributes. He slots straight into the SUNS forward line, and will look to emulate the success of outgoing 2019 number one pick, Matt Rowell on the big stage. He may not see a heap of the ball, but you’ll definitely know when he has it.

Richmond vs. Sydney

AFL Debuts: Riley Collier-Dawkins* (RIC), Dylan Stephens (SYD), Chad Warner (SYD)
Club Debuts:
Nil

Sydney is set to become the second side in Round 6 to blood a pair of debutants, with 2019 draftees Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner already given the news of their AFL berths. Stephens was the Swans’ first pick in last year’s intake, and had already gained a taste of senior football in his top-age season at Norwood. He slots in on the wing, but boasts a brilliant balance of inside and outside traits which should see him adjust with aplomb. Warner, another midfielder, was a standout for Western Australia during the 2019 national carnival, and is a hardened ball winner who suits the Sydney ethos nicely.

For Richmond, Riley Collier-Dawkins looms as one of five potential inclusions, but will have to compete with a list of seven others named on the Tigers’ extended bench. The 191cm midfielder/forward was a selection made on upside in the 2018 National Draft, with the Tigers using pick 20 on the Oakleigh product. He showed good form at VFL level in 2019, but the Richmond side is a tough nut to crack. Should he get an opportunity, look for his clean hands at stoppages and overhead ability up forward to be key features.

Carlton vs. Western Bulldogs

AFL Debuts: Callum Porter (WB), Jordon Sweet (WB)
Club Debuts: Callum Moore (CAR)

Cal Porter and Jordon Sweet will both be hoping to squeeze into the Western Bulldogs lineup having been named on an eight-man interchange. Porter, a medium sized midfielder, was a late pick in the 2017 National Draft, but has been made to wait for his chance at senior level. His kick penetration and contested work are outstanding facets of his game, and he looks to be a more consistent product having made the long run. Sweet is a 203cm ruck/forward from the 2018 crop, who may also get an opportunity after cutting his teeth in the SANFL and VFL. Tim English has bossed the ruck duties thus far, but a chop-out could come in the form of the South Australian bigman.

2020 SANFL Club Preview: Norwood

NORWOOD are one of SANFL’s biggest clubs and their fans have major expectations going into the 2020 season. Following their disappointing 62-point loss against Adelaide in last year’s semi-final, the Redlegs are hoping to go two steps better in this shortened SANFL season.

>>> CHECK OUT OUR NORWOOD TEAM PAGE

>>> SANFL WOMEN’S NORWOOD TEAM UPDATE

LEAGUE/ RESERVES:

Norwood have done a significant amount of recruiting to bolster their senior list for 2020. Former Adelaide Crows Golden Jacket winner Richard Douglas will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Redlegs side. He retired from the Crows at the end of last season after kicking 164 goals in 246 matches. It will be interesting to see whether the 33-year-old slots straight into Norwood’s star-studded midfield or spends more time at half-forward. 
 
Former North Melbourne and Brisbane Lions midfielder Ryan Bastinac did sign with the Redlegs at the start of 2020, but was forced to return to Brisbane due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is unlikely play SANFL football until later in the season, if at all.
 
Norwood have also lost some talent in the off-season. Star winger Dylan Stephens was recruited by the Sydney Swans in the first round of the AFL Draft, while Cam Taheny was picked-up later by Geelong. Premiership captain Jace Bode retired at the conclusion of last season, as did veterans Brady Dawe and Ed Smart
 
Norwood have retained consistent contributors Matthew Panos, Dom Barry, Cole Gerloff, Sam Baulderstone and two-time Magarey Medalist Mitch Grigg for 2020. As such, expect their senior side feature heavily late in the season and capitalise on the absence of Adelaide and Port Adelaide from the competition.
 
Norwood’s Reserves side is coming off a premiership in 2019, but Stephens and Taheny were major stars in that team’s grand final victory. It will be interesting to see whether their Reserves can contend once again in 2020.
 
UNDER-18S:

Norwood has three under 18 players in the AFL Academy Hub. The best of those is Henry Nelligan, a 170cm midfielder that attacks the contest with ferocity. He did not play many games for Norwood last season due to school football commitments but will look to push his case for senior selection in 2020. 
 
Norwood’s other Academy members are inside midfielder Cooper Murley and ruckman Ned Carey, both of whom will look to make a major impact this season. The Redlegs’ under 18 side failed to qualify for finals last season, finishing with just seven wins from their 18 matches.

>>> GET TO KNOW NORWOOD UNDER 18S

AFL Debut Watch – Round 2: Sharks duo, Country hard nuts and Bushies runner all prepare for first games

ROUND 2 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, and whilst no players made their AFL debuts for either Collingwood and Richmond, there are at least five debutants set to run out for their teams this weekend. Ned McHenry, Thomas Berry, Luke Jackson, Trent Rivers and Laitham Vandermeer will all make their debuts, whilst Tristan Xerri, Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner have been named in extended AFL squads.

ADELAIDE:

Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The small midfielder/forward with great evasive skills gets his chance for the Crows in the Showdown, able to play in front of crowds on debut unlike his peers from Round 1. In his first season at SANFL level last season, McHenry averaged 18.1 disposals (at 77 per cent efficiency), 5.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 1.6 clearances, 2.8 inside 50s and 1.8 rebounds. He earns his chance without any football behind him, but you can be sure he will not leave anything out on the field.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Ned McHenry is a great player who clubs should not overlook just because of his size. Like any Under 18s player, McHenry has his great games and his quieter games, and he is not the quickest player going around. However, he is the draft crop gut-runner who is a tackling machine with good evasion techniques and decision making, as well as an ability to win clearances and play through the midfield or up forward. He is one of those players that will have a high standard he sets himself, and once he slots into a club at the elite level, expect him to get the absolute most out of himself.”

BRISBANE:

Thomas Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Berry joins his brother in the Lions top for the first time after plying his trade through the NEAFL last year. He averaged 14.7 disposals, 2.8 marks and 6.5 tackles, which is what he brings to Brisbane on the field. He is a fierce tackler who has elite athletic traits, and no doubt has had time to build up deficiencies in his game to come out and have an impact against Fremantle at the Gabba.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Tom Berry is an elite athlete who loves a contest. He attack the ball with vigour, and while he has not had a clean run at it, he has still shown some promising signs. Most notably, Berry has added versatility to his bow in season 2018, however his kicking and decision making still needs work. The most agile player in the draft crop and one of the top speedsters on offer, Berry will still have no shortage of clubs looking at him, with the goal of working on those improvements. When he gets the ball, if you give him an inch he can burn you in a second, so his acceleration and power will excite plenty of fans at whichever club he lands at, joining brother Jarrod at the elite level.”

MELBOURNE:

Luke Jackson (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The top three selection from East Fremantle will earn his chance early in the season after narrowly missing out on Round 1 selection. Jackson is beneficiary of Simon Goodwin swinging the axe with seven changes to the side for the clash against Carlton. Playing for the Sharks in the Colts last season, Jackson averaged 32.6 hitouts from 18.6 disposals, 3.1 marks, 4.4 clearances, 2.4 tackles and 1.0 goals per game.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“As a ruckman, Jackson uses his awesome athleticism to leap higher than the other ruckman to win the hitout for his team, and due to his solid ruck craft he regularly palms the ball to his midfielders’ advantage regularly. He also covers the ground really well, and spreads forward, forcing his opponent to be defensively accountable. “At this stage, Jackson looks more comfortable up forward due to his overhead marking ability and solid goal kicking action. Once he is in an AFL environment he can develop his craft either as a forward or as a defender which will allow him greater flexibility as a footballer.”

Trent Rivers (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

One of the most reliable and consistent players across the board in last year’s AFL Draft crop, Rivers joins Sharks now Demons teammate Jackson on debut. The pair have come through the West Australian pathway together, and were members of the title-winning National Championships squad last year. In 2019, the versatile utility averaged 26.8 disposals, 5.2 marks, 4.1 clearances, 4.1 tackles and 1.1 goals for East Fremantle in the Colts.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“One of Rivers’ greatest strengths could be considered an area of improvement. His ability to play in almost any position is excellent for someone his age, but he did not really nail down one spot this year. While some of the top 10 players might be considered elite in their respective positions, Rivers is solid across the board, without determining a clear standout role. Although, once he’s in an AFL system, he has the scope to make any position his. Rivers is a really promising prospect who could have an impact at AFL level early on in his career.”

NORTH MELBOURNE:

Tristan Xerri (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

A surprise packet from the 2017 AFL Draft, Xerri always showed potential from a young age as a beanpole tall who started growing into his body through his top-age year. His vertical leap, field kicking and versatility were among his strengths, whilst he had to improve his footy smarts, consistency and speed. This is no doubt a key reason he has been plugging away for the past couple of seasons at state league level, where Xerri has become a really strong ruck/forward option. In 2019, he averaged 17.9 hitouts and booted 12 goals in 16 games, something he will hope to replicate for the Kangaroos against the GIANTS on Sunday if named in the final squad.

Draft Central’s 2017 Player Profile Summary:

“Tristan Xerri is a raw tall who despite his 96kg is still learning the game. At times he would make some mindboggling decisions on the field, but he seemed better suited in the ruck than up forward. He is a nice field kick who while not overly quick, is good in the air and can play deep or high in the forward line. More of a rookie pick than anything, but he has a few tricks from which clubs can take and build upon.”

SYDNEY:

Dylan Stephens (Norwood/South Australia)

South Australia’s top draft selection from last year, Stephens is in line for a debut with the Swans if selected on game day. He is named among a six-player inclusion for only two confirmed changes, but even if he misses out, a debut will not be far away. He has terrific outside ability and can play inside, though will likely play off a flank or a wing if need be. A natural ball winner who already has experience against senior bodies, Stephens will have no problems adapting to the elite level. In 2019 playing in the SANFL League, Stephens averaged 18.8 disposals, 3.8 marks, 2.0 clearances, 4.7 tackles and booted six goals in 13 games.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Stephens was able to flash his natural abilities throughout the course of the SANFL and National U18 Championships. His outside game has been tremendous, the most obvious asset to his armoury so far and his earned him comparisons to AFL stars Andrew Gaff and Lachie Whitfield. Dylan’s continuous movement is supplemented by the capacity to lead up to the ball, break away from the pack and use the ball wisely when entering forward 50. Stephens is a superb athlete displaying his speed (2.97 20m sprint), endurance (21.2 Yo-Yo test), agility (8.24 seconds), and 2km time trial time of 6.01 minutes at the National Draft Combine. He is likely to play that wing role at AFL level, but has shown he can play on the inside, but still with a high-leaning uncontested ball”

Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The natural ball winner and hardnut was another predicted to make an early season debut due to his high work rate and readiness to play senior football. The third East Fremantle player to potentially make his debut in Round 2, Warner racked up 27.1 disposals, 2.9 marks, 6.4 clearances, 6.4 tackles and booted eight goals in nine games for the Colts. Warner is the definition of an inside midfielder, running at a massive 62.8 per cent contested rate in his top-age year.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

Throughout the year, Warner showed off his excellent contested work, often winning the hard ball before distributing it to his outside runners. As well as showing off an excellent offensive skill set, Warner demonstrated a desire to be an excellent two-way player, showing off a ferocious attack on the man with the ball to win it back for his team. He may not have the penetration in his kicking, but Warner has also shown an ability to be effective and damaging with his handball ability, often opening up the play for his team from stoppages. Compared to some other midfielders in the draft pool, Warner does not boast the same explosive athleticism as some other midfield prospects. However, he did test well at the National Combine in the 2km time trial (6:29 minutes), the and yo-yo test (level 21.6). What is evident is that Warner plays to his strengths; a handy skill to have in an AFL environment.”

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

The speedy and skilful Murray Bushrangers runner could hardly be faulted across his top-age and over-age seasons at the club, missing out on AFL Draft selection as an 18-year-old in 2017, so he went back and was picked up the following year after an even more impressive season. Vandermeer also had the rare feat of playing every game in his over-age year for Vic Country. Playing for Footscray in the VFL last season, Vandermeer averaged 14.6 disposals, with his best effort coming in the final match of the season against Port Melbourne, racking up 24 disposals, six marks, three tackles in the finals series.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Vandermeer has plenty of appealing attributes and he has proven that he’s worked hard on the deficiencies in his game which caused him to miss out last season. For the second year in a row, Vandermeer has done everything right in making himself an attractive option to club recruiters. It is extremely unfortunate that his season was cut short due to injury but he has shown enough positives throughout the year to be awarded a spot on an AFL list. He’s one of the more appealing prospects for clubs looking for a speedy, outside player with clean ball use and he will most likely be selected late in the draft or possibly in the rookie draft, if successful.”

Get to know: SANFL U18s – Glenelg

GLENELG has long been a successful producer of junior talent, and its league-high six representatives in this year’s South Australian Under 18 academy hub prove just that. Draft Central was lucky enough to catch up with half of that crop at the 2020 South Australian pre-season testing day hosted by Rookie Me, and with footy momentarily on hold, bring to you everything you need to know, to get to know the next generation of South Australian stars.

What better place to start than at the Den, which boasts the likes of Luke Edwards and Kaine Baldwin at the forefront of its stacked junior program. Edwards, a potential Adelaide father-son made the rare feat of playing all four national championship games for the Tri-Colours as a bottom-ager in 2019, and has been touted as a top 10 pick. Typically up the other end of the ground, the big-bodied Baldwin was instrumental in the Croweaters’ carnival-winning Under 16 campaign two years ago, but missed his bottom-age year having torn an ACL. See what the pair, and talented small Cooper Horsnell had to say in the wake of their 2020 season, on a range of topics.

Note, Edwards sat out the testing, but Baldwin continued his successful return from injury with promising results in the agility (8.54), running vertical jump (77cm), and yo-yo tests (20.8).

EDWARDS, BALDWIN, AND HORSNELL ON…


TESTING DAY:

Edwards – “It’s a pretty long day to be honest but it’s a good day, good to get around the boys and interact with other clubs as well… “I’m injured today so I haven’t really done anything but if anything I’m just trying to improve my 20m (sprint) time so that’d probably be the test.”

Baldwin – “It’s been interesting. “It’s been good to see where I’m at and where all the other boys are at as well, especially at Glenelg I think we’re looking good for the year.”

Horsnell – “Not too bad, it’s been a bit of a wait to get from different tests but we’re at the Yo-yo test now so once that’s done, we get to go home. “I think the Yo-yo is probably my strength – my fitness going up and down. I think I’ve had a pretty good pre-season so can get a good score and show that out here.


THE STATE UNDER 18 HUB:

Baldwin – “Obviously some of my best mates are from Glenelg so (I’m looking forward to playing with) Luke Edwards… James Borlase, I could name the whole team. “They’re all a good bunch of blokes and we’ve bonded really well together in the hub program so far this year.”

Horsnell – “It’s been really good, especially last year in the 18s with guys like Dylan Stephens and Will Gould, being around them and seeing how they train has been really good. “A bit of an eye-opener for this year which has been good… “(I look forward to playing with) Riley Thilthorpe, a big, tall ruckman. “And definitely Luke Edwards, I’ve played with him for a bit but he’s always good to play with, we’re good mates so I like playing with him.”


2020 GOALS:

Edwards – “Hopefully I can play some senior footy, play a couple of League games if that’s before state champs or after state champs. “Obviously I’ve got my older brother (Jackson) who’s come down again so if I could play with him as well that’d be pretty cool. And hopefully by the end of the year, get drafted but we’ll just wait and see what happens with that.”

Baldwin – “I think my main focus is just the championships, especially because that’s pretty early – I’ll only really have a month or two of footy under my belt before that. Hopefully I can perform well there and we can get a win as a team as well.”

Horsnell – “I’m training with the seniors down at Glenelg now so hopefully playing a bit of senior footy. (I’ll) start off in the Reserves but see if I can put my name up there for League selection, and hopefully state champs as well.”


ROLES:

Edwards – “(Midfield) is where I’ll probably be playing mostly through the state champs. But it’s obviously good to be able to be that versatile type of player – go through the mid, down back. “I enjoy playing through the mid probably more, I find it easier than playing down back but hopefully through the mid a little bit more, find more of the ball which would be good.”

Baldwin – “I’d really like to keep working (as a key forward) and see how I go with that, but also to start looking at some more midfield craft as well being a bit shorter than maybe some more natural key forwards. “But besides that, key forward is probably my strength and I’ll continue to work on that.”

Horsnell – “I think moving up onto the wing a little more this year, get up the ground a little bit more, get involved and get the ball in my hands a little bit more hopefully. “It gives me a bit more flexibility too, to play two different roles (forward and wing) as well so yeah, looking forward to that.”


WORKING ON…

Edwards – “Probably just that contested marking if I want to go down back or if I want to go up forward. “Just being able to be that player who can run and crash a few packs like Kaine Baldwin and take some big marks, that’d be pretty cool.”

Baldwin – “I guess a day like this is probably a good indicator for me, just working on speed and agility and just becoming more mobile and versatile so I can play more positions.”


INJURIES:

Edwards – “It’s not major, it’s just a little bit of a lower back (issue). “It’s just been out for a little while, for about two weeks now but I should be back pretty soon hopefully.”

Baldwin –  “I’ve been working through my rehab with my ACL and progressing as my physio and doctor tell me, so I’m pretty excited to get back and probably looking for a return early in the year.”

2019 AFL Draft club review: Sydney Swans

A REGENERATIVE draft haul is what Sydney Swans fans can look forward to reaping the rewards of, with their side bringing in a range of talents and some long-term midfield cover. Boasting their first non-academy top 10 pick since taking Gary Rohan at number six in 2009, the Swans pulled a small surprise and picked up a South Australian gun with senior experience, packaging another Croweater with their next pick and two West Australians to round out an impressive National Draft haul.

National Draft:
5. Dylan Stephens (Norwood/South Australia) | 183cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
26. Will Gould (Glenelg/South Australia) | 192cm | 106kg | Tall Defender
36. Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia) | 188cm | 77kg | Medium Forward
39. Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
4. Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 186cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder
19. Jack Maibaum (Sydney Swans)

Dylan Stephens became the Swans’ first non-academy top 10 pick in a decade when snapped up at pick 5, with much of the talent around that range ensuring Sydney would pick a top-end quality player. It did that with Stephens’ blend of inside and outside traits suiting the Swans’ long term needs. While his frame and penetration on the outside bode for growing into a classic wingman, Stephens is more than capable of becoming the locked-in inside midfielder that Sydney will need long-term. His senior experience in the SANFL League and Norwood’s premiership-winning Reserves means he should be ready to slot straight into the starting side.

Fellow South Australian Will Gould was next on the list for Sydney, another readymade type with senior experience having won the SANFL League premiership with Glenelg –  which was enough to see the Swans trade up to nab him. One of the strongest players available, Gould played more like a key defender at Under-18 level, but could be more suited for the third tall role in the back six given his sure kicking skills and phenomenal penetration. While Gould lags athletically, he is a footballer’s footballer and has all of the natural talent to prove plenty of people wrong by making his mark in the big leagues.

While Sydney already boasts a couple of exciting medium forwards, mercurial West Australian Elijah Taylor was too hard to pass up on at pick 36. On talent alone, Taylor is arguably a first round prospect and could be anything at the next level with his innate goal sense and knack for the spectacular. His selection could also free up Isaac Heeney for more midfield time and make possible pursuits for Tom Papley easier to take. Making the trip east with Taylor is his Black Ducks’ teammate Chad Warner, a hardworking inside midfielder who thrives on the contested side of the game. He could be an under the radar pick who has an impact early on and adds value straight away, adding depth to the engine room.

Aside from the re-listing of injury-riddled defender Jack Maibaum, Bendigo Pioneers goer Brady Rowles was the Swans’ lone Rookie Draft selection. A phenomenal runner with searing pace, Rowles continues the theme of Sydney’s preference for outside speed in previous drafts having brought in the likes of Zac Foot, Justin McInerney, and Oliver Florent of late. While Rowles is still quite raw, he has plenty of upside and makes high impact plays.

Overall, the Swans will be thrilled with an even an diverse haul of draftees, filling out their midfield in the long term but also picking players who look ready to go. After baulking on trading in Joe Daniher for a pretty penny, another move for the enigmatic forward is still on the cards with no talls taken at the draft and Darcy Cameron out the door.

2019 AFL Draft club review: Adelaide

ADELAIDE was determined to hit the draft hard with a number of experienced players leaving over the off-season. The holes the Crows needed to fill included a key defensive post with the departure of Alex Keath, and some extra depth through the midfield after the likes of Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Hugh Greenwood also left. Armed with three picks inside the top 30 and all five in the top 50, the Crows were determined to bring in some talent with upside.

ADELAIDE:

National Draft:
6. Fischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 197cm | 91kg | Key Position Utility
24. Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 182cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
28. Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 195cm | 83kg | Key Position Utility
42. Ronin O’Connor (Claremont/Western Australia) | 192cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
48. Lachlan Gollant (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 191cm | 72kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
7. Ben Keays (Brisbane Lions)
21. Ben Crocker (Collingwood Magpies)

Adelaide had a choice on its hands heading into the draft, as to whether it would go tall (Fischer McAsey) or small (Dylan Stephens/Sam Flanders) with its first selection at Pick 6. With Stephens taken off the board by Sydney, the Crows opted for the best tall forward-defender in the draft in McAsey. At Pick 28, Adelaide paired him up with his Sandringham Dragons’ teammate Josh Worrell, both of whom have played in the same defensive 50, but have also shown more than enough to suggest they could also develop into forwards. Worrell won Vic Metro’s leading goalkicker award at the Under-18 Championships, while McAsey took out the side’s Most Valuable Player.

The Crows had an interest in MVPs, also looking local by plucking out Harry Schoenberg with Pick 24. The South Australian midfielder was a revelation at the carnival, and the Crows identified him a target to perfectly replace the midfielders that had departed. With Will Gould still on the board at the Crows’ back-to-back selection, they traded with Sydney which saw the Swans snap up Gould, while Worrell fell to Adelaide. With a couple of picks to come in the 40s, the Crows took a couple of taller midfielders to compliment their side. Ronin O’Connor is that inside midfielder who can also play taller roles up either end at 192cm. Hailing from Claremont in Western Australia, he will add to the inside strength with Schoenberg, while Lachlan Gollant is a late bloomer from the Calder Cannons, standing at 191cm but just 72kg. While Gollant is predominantly outside, he has a fierce attack on the ball and its carrier, with defensive pressure and athleticism among his strengths.

In the Rookie Draft, the Crows opted to bolster its forward stocks given Eddie Betts‘ departure to Carlton, and instead of going young, handed two lifelines to current AFL players after they were delisted by their respective clubs. Brisbane’s Ben Keays and Collingwood’s Ben Crocker were selected to add immediate depth to the line-up, and after picking up four players of 191cm or more, could afford to look at smaller options.

Overall when assessing the Crows’ draft haul, they picked up arguably the two best versatile key position players in the draft with McAsey and Worrell, as well as one of the top performers from the Under-18 Championships in Schoenberg. O’Connor and Gollant are at very different stages of their development, but have a similar height and defensive mindset. It is fair to say the Crows wanted to bring in height and a fierce attack on the ball. Adelaide fans could be happy with the picks their club made, with O’Connor the most readymade option, while Schoenberg – once he builds his endurance further – would not be too far away from senior football.