Tag: Essendon

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

2021 VFLW season preview: Essendon

ESSENDON’S Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side is now bearing the fruits of extended work over a tough 2020, according to VFLW operations manager, Charlotte Miller. The tight-knit team is set to maintain much of its core despite last year’s lost season, with plenty of hard work during the most recent off-season seeing the Bombers gel together nicely heading into Round 1.

Miller says the Bombers have built “a feeling of continuity” with so many players recommitting, while some fresh faces and exciting young talent prepare to add another dimension to the building standalone squad.

“It’s a pretty similar squad to 2020 with just a few new faces added in and not too many losses, so there’s a feeling of continuity from then,” Miller said. “We had Ruby Svarc picked up in the AFLW so we’ve lost her, but a lot of the players who were intending to play for us in 2020 are still here and we’ve picked up a few new players.

“It’s starting to feel like we’ve had a squad that maybe was a bit inexperienced in 2019 but even without a lot of games in between now and then, they’ve had that time and training together to connect really well as a team, there’s a really good energy amongst the group. “I think that’s really going to pay off for us.”

Essendon’s 2019 best and fairest Georgia Nanscawen was announced as captain earlier this month and will head a five-player leadership group ahead of former skipper, Courtney Ugle. Along with the handful of players officially at the helm, Miller outlined an extended core of leaders which will work to drive the Bombers forward in 2021.

“(Nanscawen) joined us in 2019 as she was delisted from the North Melbourne AFLW team, but was previously a Hockeyroo with 200-plus games for Australia,” she said. “She’s a quiet leader but she’s super professional. “She’s been playing professional sport since she was 16 and she knows how to manage herself on the ground, she knows how to prepare, she knows how to speak to people and how to get through games without letting things get to her.

“So she’s a really cool head out there which I think is going to be a great thing for the team. (Ugle) has been voted in as vice-captain. “They’ve very different people, very different players, very different ages, and (from) very different backgrounds, but they’re a really nice combination.

“In the rest of the leadership group, there’s Mia-Rae Clifford who’s been around in AFLW teams for a long time; she’s played at Freo, Geelong, and Melbourne in her time. “She’s come back into the VFLW with us this year and is a huge voice out on the field, she really gets the girls going and keeps them moving.

“Then we’ve got Kendra Heil who’s our Canadian player who was our runner-up best and fairest in 2019 as well, and Eloise Ashley-Cooper who’s an up-and-coming leader. “She was our young player of 2019, she came through the Murray Bushrangers NAB League program.

“‘C-Bomb’ Cecilia McIntosh is still around as well as Simone Nalder our ruck, who was in our leadership group in 2019. “She didn’t run for leadership this year because she has a few other things going on, but she’s always an outstanding leader whether she’s in that group or not.”

Along with the established stars of the squad comes a new batch of talent ready to take the competition by storm. With ties to a particularly strong talent region in the Calder Cannons, Essendon will have access to some of the finest young talent in the country through different points of the season.

While under 18 prospects are yet to enter the Bombers’ program as the NAB League season continues, top-age 19-year-olds have been training at The Hangar and will feature even more prominently throughout the VFLW competition. Among the most prominent words Miller used to assess such talent was “exciting”, and AFLW recruiters would arguably agree with that sentiment.

“We’ve signed quite a few from the 18th and 19th-year Calder group and a couple of Bendigo Pioneers players,” Miller said. “Georgie Prespakis from Calder Cannons, that’s a pretty exciting one there. “She’ll come through as the NAB League finishes up for the rest of the season and I imagine she’ll go pretty high in the AFLW Draft this year.

“Also from Calder, Emelia Yassir is a pretty exciting little player and Tahlia Gillard we’re quite excited about as well, so we’ll see a few of them start to flow through as we can across the season – we’ve had the top-age 19-year-old flow come through, not the 18s yet.

“We’ve got two girls from Bendigo who have been training with us quite a lot as well, Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning, they’re both 19th-year players with Bendigo. “They’re playing in the NAB League season but we’re going to try and get them in games down here as soon as we can. “They’ve been training really well, their attitude is great and they’re bringing everything they can to the sessions.”

While the Bombers have come away from preseason with a relatively clean slate on the injury front, Miller says a couple of promising returnees could also make an impact shortly into the early rounds.

“We haven’t really had any significant injuries during our preseason,” she said. “We’ve had a few concussions and niggles here and there for different players, but overall everyone is pretty fit and ready to go.

“We’ve potentially got Gloria Elarmaly coming through, she played at Calder a couple of years ago and I think pretty much in her last game she (suffered) a really severe foot injury – it was a Lisfranc (foot injury) but she also dislocated all her toes. “She was told she’d never run again, never play football again but it looks like we’ll have her back out there by about Round 4, we’re pretty keen to see her out there.

Nicole Julian as well just started with us, she was at North Melbourne previously but comes from more of a kickboxing background. She came over and in one of her very first training sessions with us she did a knee injury, so she’s kind of been in rehab since the start of November but we’ve been working through that with her and we’re hoping she’ll be ready by about Round 2.”

With a mountain of off-season work under their belts and team cohesion backed by a bed of experience, the Bombers are set to “play fast” in 2021 and impress with their pressure game. There may only be one practice game to go off thus far, but Miller says she “saw a lot of good things” from the 28 players trialled in their 60-point win over Darebin on Thursday night.

“What we’ve been working really hard on is to get that ball movement happening,” she said. “I think in 2019 we had players who could play really well but they were rushing and maybe making decisions too quickly and they weren’t coming off. What we saw last (Thursday) night was a much calmer frame of mind, girls who were able to take that pause before making a decision and keep moving.

“They’re not doing anything they couldn’t do a while ago, but they’re just executing it much better now. We’re going for a fast game, lots of pressure, we’re a tackling team and we’re hoping our fitness is actually going to pull us through and give us the edge this year.”

Plenty is happening at The Hangar with new women’s facilities finally finished ahead of season proper and an AFLW license for 2022 in the Bombers’ sights. Miller wished to shoutout the work of head coach Brendan Major, as well as the physio and high performance staff who stuck with the team purely out of care during last year. With the fruits of that work now coming to the fore, it is fair to say the commitment is paying off.

No official fixture has been released, but the Bombers are set to commence their VFLW campaign next weekend and play out of The Hangar until April due to ongoing developments at Windy Hill.

Image Credit: Kate Heath/Essendon FC

2020 AFL Draft recap: Essendon Bombers

ESSENDON became the first club since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks at this year’s AFL Draft, taking a mix of the best available players and those who can help form a formidable spine for years to come.

After finishing 13th and losing some key personnel at the trade table, incoming coach Ben Rutten will have some very handy tools to work with as he looks to steer the Bombers back into finals.

Homegrown talent of sorts in Next Generation Academy (NGA) products also entered the list, making for one of the biggest and best draft hauls of any club – as was expected with the Bombers’ starting hand. Immediate improvement may not show, but the ceiling is unbelievably high on this crop.

ESSENDON

National Draft:
#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Rookies: Martin Gleeson (Re-listed), Dylan Clarke (Re-listed)

Essendon clearly favoured bolstering its tall stocks at the top end, with versatile 200cm prospects Nik Cox and Zach Reid bookending a top 10 three-peat on either side of midfielder/forward Archie Perkins.

Northern Knights product, Cox was the first option and somewhat of a prospective one in that range. The Bombers like his high ceiling as an endurance beast who kicks well on both feet and can play a variety of roles.

Reid is arguably the more nailed-on key position get and should slot into the defence for years to come. He is also an elite kick for his size and reads the play beautifully to intercept.

Perkins could be the midfield wildcard Essendon has been crying out for, with his explosiveness at 186cm a desirable trait and something the Bombers currently lack. He also finds the goals and will likely develop off half-forward before earning more permanent midfield minutes.

Then there came the two NGA selections, with a bid for Josh Eyre coming perhaps a touch early for the Bombers’ liking at Pick 39. It did not stop them from matching for the promising key forward, with his raw athleticism and high rate of improvement really impressing recruiters this year.

Essendon then placed a bid on Maurice Rioli Jnr at Pick 51 before having that matched and trading down the order, with the Western Bulldogs springing a bid on Cody Brand late in the piece. Another Calder Cannons product, Brand is a key defender who can shut down opposition forwards and has been working hard on his contested craft in order to transition that game quickly to the next level.

With Cox, Reid, Eyre, and Brand all over 196cm, Essendon has some extremely exciting tall stocks which could go on to form the base of a competition-best spine – key word, could. Throw Perkins into the midfield mix, and the Bombers are building nicely.

Featured Image: Essendon’s trio of top 10 picks | Credit: Dylan Burns/Herald Sun

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 4)

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, special guest Tom Cheesman again joined Chief Editor Peter Williams and AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro as they continue to break down how this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part four are Adelaide, Essendon, and Greater Western Sydney (GWS), all of whom loom as the three biggest players in this year’s first round. The Crows lay claim to pick one and have narrowed their options down to four; bid on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, or take one of Logan McDonald, Riley Thilthorpe, and Elijah Hollands. With Pick 9 and the first two second round selections also under their belt, this years wooden spooners comfortably hold the highest total draft points value of any side. There also looms the factor of their academy products in Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase, who they will hope can get to the club as rookies.

Then there is Essendon, who could become the first team to boast three top 10 picks since the expansion era, depending on how the pointy end plays out. The Bombers’ early hand will likely attract some live trade interest, but a great opportunity to bring in multiple elite talents presents itself. Essendon could also place bids on a couple of academy talents, with Port Adelaide NGA hopeful Lachlan Jones in that range and Collingwood NGA member Reef McInnes tempting the Bombers, who are crying out for a big-bodied inside midfielder. Like Adelaide, Essendon also has a couple of academy members of interest in Cody Brand and Josh Eyre.

GWS is the other club with a massively influential hand, largely thanks to the Jeremy Cameron trade. The Giants now lay claim to four first round picks and five within the top 30, providing a terrific opportunity to hit live trading hard or simply work with the strong haul they already have. There are a good number of options available in the teens for GWS, of which could bolster their midfield and key defensive needs in the long term. It is also a good range for sliders to come into play and the Giants may well end up as the team which shapes the late-first round to early-second round action.

Below are the picks held by each club, as of December 3.

Adelaide: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 80 
Essendon:
6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87
GWS: 
10, 13, 15, 20, 26, 74, 88

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

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

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Essendon Bombers

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

Next under the microscope is Essendon, a team which will have plenty of say in shaping this year’s top 10. The Bombers could become the first club since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks, but will more likely get busy during live trading time to move even further up the order and shake things up. Despite key personnel leaving during trade period, the Bombers have somewhat covered their bases and will look towards long-term fulfilment to help the club rise from what was a disappointing 13th place finish in 2020. Under new coach Ben Rutten and with one of the most valuable hands in this year’s draft, Essendon could set up the base for its first finals win since 2004 with this intake.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87
* – denotes as of November 23

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Cody Brand (NGA), Josh Eyre (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position forward
Big bodied inside midfielder
Outside/rebound speed

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 6)

Whether Essendon retains pick six as its first choice come draft day remains to be seen, but there are options aplenty for the Bombers should they carry their current hand. Riley Thilthorpe fits the key forward need to a tee while also being able to second as a ruck option. The 201cm South Australian is also in the mix to be taken by Adelaide with pick one, but would be a terrific get for the Bombers should he slide to their first pick. A bid on Sydney Academy member Braeden Campbell may also be in the offing if no club does so beforehand, and not just to keep the Swans accountable either. Campbell fits the Bombers’ need for some outside speed and x-factor through the middle.

Gold Coast, Hawthorn, and Sydney hold the picks before Essendon’s current first and could all be in the market for a midfielder, potentially ruling out the likes of Will Phillips and Tanner Bruhn. In any case, those two are quite similar to what the Bombers already have through midfield in terms of size and inside tendencies. Denver Grainger-Barras could also still be on the table despite his top five billing, though Essendon may look at a key defender a little further down the order. With the Bombers expected to move into the top three picks (see below), Logan McDonald and Elijah Hollands are essentially the two players who will be targets one and two, but that is pending some high-stakes action at the trade table.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Essendon arguably holds the most important hand in shaping the top 10 and could well end up right at the pointy end given it lays claim to three selections in that range. Pick two looks like being the Bombers’ primary target, with a combination of two of their picks between six and eight likely to yield that selection and a later pick in return. North Melbourne is the team to do business with in that case, and the Kangaroos’ current need to maximise incoming talent could see them keen to split high-end picks.

As stated above, one of McDonald or Hollands will likely be the go-to options if such a deal goes ahead and both are players who fill different list requirements. McDonald is the kind of contested marking key forward the Bombers have been crying out for, while Hollands is a tall midfielder who provides invaluable x-factor among the engine room and also poses a goal threat. Their choice would essentially depend on what Adelaide does with pick one, as there is no real loss in getting one over the other.

A factor which will enter Essendon’s thinking later on is when or if other clubs will place bids on its NGA prospects. The Bombers’ next pick falls at 44 and Cody Brand may attract some interest around that range, perhaps leading Essendon to proactively split that pick. Josh Eyre is the other hopeful in contention but Bombers staff will hope he can sneak through to the rookie draft despite his upside. With adjusted bidding rules in place, the Bombers also have a decent amount of late picks stockpiled if required. Ultimately, it means both players are likely to be Bombers, with two or three more picks coming out of their current top 10 hand.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Essendon be able to trade into the top two?

Are picks six/seven, six/eight, seven/eight too much for pick two alone?

How many academy bids will Essendon place?

Will Essendon bid on Reef McInnes in the top 10?

Will a bid on Essendon’s NGA prospects come before pick 44?

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best AFL Draft hands

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro, this time to discuss which clubs hold the best hands heading into the 2020 AFL Draft.

While the indicative draft order is set to undergo a raft of changes in the build up to draft day (December 9), the discussion highlighted three teams which were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in terms of their pick hauls as of the end of trade period. Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney (GWS), and Essendon were the sides in question, though the positions of all 18 teams also came under the microscope; touching on pure draft value index points, flexibility and potential to trade, and likely academy or father-son selections.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Below is a recap of what makes the three aforementioned clubs’ draft hands so strong:
(All picks are as of November 18)

Adelaide
Picks: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 56, 66, 80

Having finished bottom, the Crows have all the power with pick one for the first in their history and will likely use it to gain one of Logan McDonald or Riley Thilthorpe. Afterwards is where it gets interesting, as Adelaide could opt to split pick nine or use it to get into next year’s top 10 as the 2021 crop looks a strong one. The Crows also have three prospects already tied to them in Tariek Newchurch (NGA), James Borlase (NGA), and Luke Edwards (father-son). As it stands, Newchurch is likely to attract the first bid and one for Borlase will hopefully come after their current pick 40. The Crows could be left with a tricky decision as to whether they match for Edwards, who is also flirting with nominating for the open draft. Either way, Adelaide must nail this intake and lay a strong marker for its rebuild.

GWS
Picks: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88

An exodus of sorts sees the Giants hold five picks within the top 30, four of which land among the first round. While the loss of Jeremy Cameron will be felt immediately, GWS has the opportunity to stock up with high-quality long-term options and avoid another steep drop off after finishing 10th in 2020. Alternatively, the Giants could use their picks in the teens to try and enter next year’s first round, or even sneak further into this year’s top 10 should a likely suitor wish to split their picks. Josh Green, the brother of Tom looks set to be the Giants’ sole academy selection this year but holds a value which will be relatively straightforward to match with one of their late picks, if necessary. GWS could be one of the busier clubs in the lead up to draft day and has plenty of potential to extract from its current hand.

Essendon
Picks: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87

The third of three clubs to currently hold a total points value of over 5000, Essendon may also become the first club since the expansion era to take three top 10 picks into the draft. What the Bombers decide to do with those picks is anyone’s guess given the flexibility afforded to them, and that there looms a few long-term list needs which require attendance. It seems as if they will opt to part ways with at least one of their top 10 selections, again either keen on next year’s crop or to expand their options in the first round. Another interesting scenario would be to package a couple of those picks to move into the top five, with Logan McDonald a prospect of particular interest. The Bombers also look set to bring in a couple of promising NGA talls in Cody Brand and Josh Eyre, with the latter potentially attracting a bid before the their current round three selection. There is likely enough cover for Eyre later on, though Essendon may also opt to bolster that late hand for any advanced bids.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Best readymade prospects
Best players under 175cm
Best midfielders over 190cm
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

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

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

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

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

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Power Rankings: October Update

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

Classic Contests: Fletcher, Cannons come up clutch

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the sides played out a thriller in late-2019.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.6 | 7.11 | 8.13 (61)
CALDER CANNONS
2.1 | 4.3 | 6.7 | 9.11 (65)

Draftees in action:

GWV – Jay Rantall (Collingwood)
Calder – Sam Ramsay (Carlton)

There was not much on the line when the Calder Cannons and GWV Rebels faced off late in the 2019 NAB League season, but it would not stop the sides from giving it their all in search of a win. The finals-bound Cannons came in riding high off an undefeated month of action, sitting sixth at 8-5 and level on points with fourth. The Rebels were on a decent run too, winning two of their last three games to improve their record to 4-8, good enough for 14th spot at the time.

Both regions named relatively unexperienced sides for the bout in Ballarat, with all three age brackets represented across the two lineups. Of course, either side still managed to squeeze in a future draftee each, with Collingwood slider Jay Rantall at the heart of GWV’s midfield, while Sam Ramsay played the same role for Calder. Ramsay would be one of four Cannons drafted in 2019, but the only one afield in this clash.

With pride on the line, the hosts looked as if they had a point to prove after what had been a lacklustre season to date, and took the lead at 10 minutes into the first term. Although Calder managed to remain just over a goal adrift at every break, GWV did not relinquish its lead until the final term, while pushing the margin out to 21 points in the second term and 23 in the third.

Inaccuracy would end up costing the Rebels, with their 21 scoring shots to Calder’s 20 still not enough to prize the four points. The Cannon’s late third quarter momentum carried on into the fourth, as Mason Fletcher found the big sticks with just over a minute played, and put his side in front shortly after. Nick Caris snatched the lead back for GWV in quick time, but that advantage would again prove short-lived as Ned Gentile booted the deciding goal with over 10 minutes left to play.

Both sides spurned opportunities to score in the late stages, with the typically windy conditions making life hard for a would-be hero. It meant the Cannons came up trumps at the ideal time, holding on to win by four points and remain in the hunt for an unlikely top three berth.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Fletcher booted 3.3, including two majors in the final term to play a key role, with his goalscoring feat match by teammate, Gentile. The Rebels laid claim to three multiple goalkickers, with Caris, Harry Sharp, and Matty Lloyd all finding the big sticks in a valiant losing effort.

Unsurprisingly, the two eventual draftees led all comers for disposals, with Rantall racking up a game-high 35 touches, while Ramsay trailed closely to notch 33 of his own – along with three behinds. The Rebels had plenty of the ball, with seven players racking up over 20 disposals, including the returning Liam Herbert (23). Among the Cannons youngsters to impress were Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals) and Harrison Andronaco (17, one goal).

Calder would go on to mount a decent finals run, advancing through Wildcard Round and the first week of finals before losing comfortably to Sandringham in the semis – all after narrowly missing out on the top three. GWV improved its position slightly to finish 10th at 6-9, before being bundled out of Wildcard Round by Western.

Rantall was the sole Rebel drafted from the class of 2020, though he could be joined by some teammates on the day in future. Calder’s impressive haul of four included Ramsay, Harrison Jones, and bolters Lachlan Gollant and Francis Evans.

Number Crunching: VFLW – Round 14

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition begins to wrap up, patterns are clearly seen as powerful players dominate in the round-leading stats. In this week’s edition of Number Crunching, we look into those players who lead in goals, disposals, handballs, tackles and marks in Round 14.

Hawthorn has had a fantastic debut season, currently sitting third on the ladder on 40 points. This can be mainly due to great performances from players like Sarah Perkins. Perkins was the leading goal kicker for Round 14 with three in Hawthorn’s big win against the Dogs.

NT Thunder’s Jenna McCormick lead the round in disposals. McCormick’s key role in the blockbuster match-up between first and second was a vital and match-winning one. With 31 disposals in total, the half-back’s presence in NT’s comeback and eventual win in the tight 38-28 game against Collingwood was one to remember.

Saints midfielder, Alison Drennan led the way in handballs. For Round 14, Drennan recorded 22 handballs in the Saints’ clash against Darebin. The Falcons have had a great season thus far, despite her team’s below-average ranking at seventh on the ladder.

Hayley Bullas of Essendon leads this round in tackles. Bullas laid a whopping 17 tackles in the match, but Essendon still conceded to the stronger Geelong side. Bullas continues to be a strong player for Essendon, constantly being top ranked in tackles for her team.

Finally for most marks, two players take out the top position. Hawthorn’s Ebony Nixon as well as previously mentioned round leader, McCormick lead with an equal seven marks. Nixon’s command as a half-back for Hawthorn allowed her to have plenty of space to get six out of seven marks uncontested, assisting her team in another vital win. McCormick’s ability to do the same in difficult conditions against her team’s major competition proved to be also exactly what NT needed.

Round 14: Most individual disposals

Player

Team

Disposals

Jenna McCormick

NT Thunder

31

Jess Duffin

Williamstown

30

Alison Drennan

Southern Saints

30

Angela Foley

NT Thunder

29

Ebony Marinoff

NT Thunder

28

 

Round 14: Most individual handballs

Player

Team

Handballs

Alison Drennan

Southern Saints

22

Eleanor Brown

Southern Saints

15

Maighan Fogas

Geelong Cats

14

Sophie Alexander

Collingwood

13

Hayley Trevean

Geelong Cats

13

 

Round 14: Most individual marks 

Player

Team

Marks

Jenna McCormick

NT Thunder

7

Ebony Nixon

Hawthorn

7

Lauren Spark

Western Bulldogs

6

Meghan McDonald

Darebin Falcons

6

Nicole Callinan

Darebin Falcons

6

 

Number Crunching: VFLW – Round 13

IN this week’s edition of Number Crunching, we look at which teams have been the most damaging in this year’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition. While it is easy to look at the ladder and see who is doing well, we decided to take a look at which teams have recorded the biggest winning margins and the biggest average winning margins this season.

The top three biggest winning margins all belong to the dominant NT Thunder outfit. The Thunder defeated the Bombers, Melbourne University and even the fourth-placed Cats all by more than 60 points. It is easy to see why the Thunder have the highest percentage in the VFLW, sitting on 219.20 after Round 13.

These three big wins, among many others, have helped contribute to NT’s average winning margin. This margin sits at 45.2 points after 13 rounds, but it could get reduced by the season’s end, as the Thunder faces the Pies and Hawks in the closing rounds of the competition. Surprisingly sitting behind the Thunder in second is Carlton, who has an average winning margin of 34.5 points. Although the Blues have only won four games this season, they have been able to beat teams convincingly, with their biggest winning margin of the season being 46 points. One team that has had to work hard for its wins is Melbourne University. The Mugars have won three games this season with an average winning margin of 5.67 points, and are therefore no stranger to close encounters.

 

Biggest winning margins (Rounds 1-13)

Round

Score

Margin

3

NT 14.12.96 def Ess 4.0.24

72 points

4

NT 13.10.88 def Melb Uni 3.1.19

69 points

9

NT 13.7.85 def Geel 2.8.20

65 points

13

Geel 10.7.67 def Rich 1.2.8

59 points

6

WB 12.11.83 def Will 4.3.27

56 points

1

NT 12.14.86 def Darebin 5.2.32

54 points

2

Carlton 9.7.61 def WB 2.3.15

46 points

11

Geel 10.8.68 def Casey 4.3.27

41 points

12

Carl 7.10.52 def Rich 1.5.11

41 points

10

NT 7.8.50 def Darebin 1.4.10

40 points

5

NT 13.5.83 def WB 7.5.47

36 points

7

Coll 8.5.53 def Carl 2.5.17

36 points

8

Casey 6.11.47 def Ess 3.3.21

26 points

 

Highest average winning margins

Rank

Team

Average winning margin

1

NT Thunder

45.2

2

Carlton

34.5

3

Richmond

33.67

4

Geelong Cats

31.62

5

Williamstown*

31

6

Darebin

29.86

7

Western Bulldogs

24.67

8

Collingwood

21.9

9

Hawthorn

19.89

10

Southern Saints

19.4

11

Casey Demons

15.4

12

Essendon*

8

13

Melbourne University

5.67

 

*These teams have only recorded one win this season.