Tag: flynn perez

2019 AFL Draft club review: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne came into the 2019 AFL Draft with the potential to snap up a trio of sliders in the second round via picks in quick succession, or perhaps even trade up and get in the thick of the first round action. The latter somewhat ended up being the case, with the ‘Roos’ recruiting team opting for a couple of long-term fixes to go with creativity and guile going forward. There was also a good news story out of their Rookie Draft selection, with a much-improved overager taken out of their Next Generation Academy to make up a solid spine of choices.

National Draft:
31. Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
34. Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
35. Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Cat-B. Matt McGuinness (Tasmania/Allies) | 195cm | 77kg | Tall Utility

The likes of North Melbourne and Richmond were two clubs whose hauls coming into night two looked like shaping respective five-pick sections of the draft, and North’s three-pick cluster in the 30s allowed them to add depth across multiple bases. After placing a bid on Hawthorn father-son Finn Maginness – which was inevitably matched –  the ‘Roos shuffled down the order but were able to secure one of the more sought-after talls of the draft. In a pool short on key position options, Charlie Comben is a developing type with good overhead marking and ruck craft who can provide long-term fold in the key forward and ruck departments, which are currently accounted for.

Jump over a few picks and Jack Mahony was next off the board, with North’s recruiting team putting him more in the small forward category. A capable midfielder at junior level, Mahony’s size means the engine room will be a bit of a reach for him early on, but his ball finding capacity and work rate really suits that high half forward role. His craftiness going forward will also be a handy point of difference for the Kangaroos’ side, with the Sandringham product able to hit those 45-degree targets with rare vision and skill.

Flynn Perez is the kind of player many thought North would target coming into the draft, with his outside speed and class evident during a promising bottom-age season for Bendigo Pioneers. Of course, the ‘Roos had to promise Perez he would not be forgotten as he injured his knee early in 2019, meaning he did not take the field at all this year. But the willingness for clubs to pick players coming off long-term injuries – even as early as the first round – means Perez could well be a bargain given his high ceiling and readymade body shape.

Rounding out North’s draft haul was the Category B selection of Tasmanian utility Matt McGuinness, who came on well during his 19-year-old season in the NAB League. An Allies representative to boot, McGuinness is effectively a free hit with high upside who is capable in the air and possesses a penetrating kick on the outside. While he still needs to fill out, he could be a long-term key position option or that in-vogue intercept defender who can rebound just as well.

Overall, North Melbourne was able to gather a diverse haul of draftees and gains long-term coverage in a range of positions. There is plenty of upside in the likes of Comben, Perez, and McGuinness, while Mahony has long been a highly touted prospect and should provide great value at pick 34. Expect to see most of these players feature over time.

2019 National AFL Draft: Round 2-5 selections

WITH Round 1 selections done and dusted on Wednesday night, Thursday hosted the remainder of the 2019 AFL National Draft, as we look a the top Australian rules talent being picked up across Australia. Below is every pick from the beginning of Round 2 with plenty of analysis to come on Draft Central over the next week.

For picks 1-21, check out the Round 1 Selections.

ROUND 2

Pick 22 – Brisbane Lions – Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia) | 184cm | 81kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 23 – Port Adelaide – Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 81kg | Medium Forward
Pick 24 – Adelaide Crows – Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 182cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 25 – Port Adelaide – Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 26 – Sydney Swans – Will Gould (Glenelg/South Australia) | 192cm | 106kg | Tall Defender
Pick 27 – Gold Coast SUNS – Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 189cm | 81kg | Midfielder/Defender
Pick 28 – Adelaide Crows – Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 195cm | 83kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 29 – Hawthorn – Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 189cm | 82kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 30 – Essendon- Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 31 – North Melbourne – Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
Pick 32 – Melbourne – Trent Rivers (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 188cm | 83kg | Defender/Midfielder
Pick 33 – Brisbane Lions – Brock Smith (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
Pick 34 – North Melbourne – Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
Pick 35 – North Melbourne – Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 36 – Sydney Swans – Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia) | 188cm | 77kg | Medium Forward
Pick 37 – Brisbane Lions – Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 183cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
Pick 38 – Essendon – Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
Pick 39 – Sydney Swans – Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 40 – Collingwood – Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) | 185cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 41 – Geelong – Francis Evans (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 78kg | Medium Forward
Pick 42 – Adelaide Crows –  Ronin O’Connor (Claremont/Western Australia) | 192cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 43 – Richmond – Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland) | 183cm | 79kg | Medium Utility
Pick 44 – Richmond – Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland) | 185cm | 83kg | Outside Midfielder

ROUND 3

Pick 45 – Collingwood – Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 73kg | Midfielder/Defender
Pick 46 – Richmond – Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 188cm | 75kg | Forward/Midfielder
Pick 47 – Carlton – Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 48 – Adelaide Crows – Lachlan Gollant (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | 191cm | 72kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 49 – West Coast Eagles – Callum Jamieson (Claremont/Western Australia) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
Pick 50 – Geelong – Cameron Taheny (Norwood/South Australia) | 185cm | 80kg | Medium Forward
Pick 51 – GWS GIANTS – Jake Riccardi (Werribee/VFL) | 194cm | 96kg | Key Forward
Pick 52 – St Kilda – Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 84kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 53 – Western Bulldogs – Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 185cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
Pick 54 – Richmond – Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 195cm | 87kg | Key Position Utility

ROUND 4

Pick 55 – Collingwood – Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 192cm | 75kg | Defender/Midfielder
Pick 56 – Essendon – Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
Pick 57 – Hawthorn – Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 186cm | 76kg | Medium Forward
Pick 58 – West Coast Eagles – Ben Johnson (West Perth/Western Australia) | 178cm | 68kg | Small Defender
Pick 59 – Brisbane Lions – Jaxon Prior (West Perth/Western Australia) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
Pick 60 – Gold Coast SUNS – Jy Farrar (Adelaide SANFL/South Australia) | 191cm | 79kg | Tall Utility
Pick 61 – Fremantle – Minairo Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 183cm | 71kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 62 – Western Bulldogs – Riley Garcia (Swan Districts) | 177cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder

ROUND 5

Pick 63 – Essendon – Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers) | 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility
Pick 64 – St Kilda – Leo Connolly (Gippsland Power) | 181cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 65 – GWS GIANTS – Tom Hutchesson (Adelaide SANFL/South Australia) | 177cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder

2019 Draft Central Phantom Draft

THE 2019 AFL National Draft is just a couple of days away and it is clear that trying to work out which clubs favour which players is incredibly difficult given the evenness of the draft crop outside the first round. Even inside the first round, preferences will play a huge role in where players go with certain clubs battling with another one or two for certain players. In this Phantom Draft, we have done the first three rounds, but have not included any live trades which will undoubtedly come in on the night.

ROUND 1:

1 Gold Coast – Matt Rowell
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 180cm | 78kg

The number one pick has been in little doubt for many months now, with the Oakleigh Chargers ball magnet a standout player throughout the 2019 season. He won nearly every accolade he possibly could, and never played a bad game. Rowell will have been prepared for the move north for some time now and he will be a Round 1 starter for the SUNS.

2 Gold Coast – Noah Anderson
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 191cm | 87kg

Like Rowell, expect Anderson to suit up in Round 1, likely playing forward as a marking target who can also rotate through the midfield. He has a high scope of improvement given he is that prototype tall midfielder who has a nice burst of speed through the middle, so expect him to be one who catches the eye quite often.

3 Melbourne – Luke Jackson
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 199cm | 94kg

The Demons caused a bit of a stir when they announced Jackson as a potential top three pick. Not because of his ability because that was never in doubt, but the fact they were willing to risk a top three pick on a ruck which bucks the trend of recent years. A former Australian basketballer, Jackson was highly sought after by the GIANTS and Dockers among others, so the Dees had to pull the trigger at pick three. Hayden Young was the other consideration at the selection.

4 GWS – Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Defender
21/06/2001 | 187cm | 83kg

While at first many thought that Hayden Young might be the pick here – or Jackson if the Dees went with Young – the GIANTS have opted towards the speedy and slick half-back Lachlan Ash who provides great run and carry out of defence. Nathan Wilson left to go to Fremantle two years ago, and the inclusion of Ash allows Zac Williams to play more midfield time if required. An elite kick with terrific athleticism.

5 Sydney – Sam Flanders
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Mid/Forward
24/06/2001 | 183cm | 82kg

The Swans are believed to be tossing up between Gippsland Power teammates, Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. Flanders provides that slight more height and elite hands on the inside, while being a match-winner up forward. He still has areas of consistency to work on, but in terms of what he could become, the ceiling is endless. At this selection, Sydney cannot do too much wrong, but Flanders will offer them plenty of highlights inside 50 in the early days before developing into a midfielder in time.

6 Adelaide – Fischer McAsey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
08/03/2001 | 197cm | 91kg

The Crows were weighing up four potential players at this selection, and expected this pick to be a choice between Dylan Stephens and Fischer McAsey. McAsey is the option to be that key defensive replacement for Alex Keath, while being able to play inside 50 if required as a switch man. If Sydney opt for Stephens, then Flanders would be another thought for the Crows potentially.

7 Fremantle – Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Defender
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

An absolute steal here at Pick 8, but that is the way it looks like panning out, with Fremantle picking up elite kick Hayden Young with Pick 8. The Dockers would consider Stephens if available, and given Stephens is still on the board, might even lean towards the Gippsland Power mid/forward. Fremantle seem pretty settled with this selection given Young could well have been gone by Pick 3.

8 Fremantle – Caleb Serong
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

Another steal here with the Gippsland Power strong midfielder/forward Caleb Serong landing in Fremantle. Fremantle might have looked at grabbing West Australian captain Deven Robertson to begin with, but once it became clear Serong would be available, the Dockers have narrowed their sights on Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). He is so strong overhead he is more than capable of matching it with taller players, while his competitive nature and desire to be the best possible player will provide the Blues with a really strong option going forward.

9 Carlton – Dylan Stephens
Norwood/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 183cm | 74kg

While the Blues were originally thought to have eyed off Caleb Serong, it looks like Dylan Stephens will be the one left on the board presuming Adelaide opt for Fischer McAsey. Stephens is the best available and also fits a need, with the outside mover capable of playing from next year. Already having played at SANFL League level, Stephens adds a high work rate and strong character to the side. Deven Robertson would be a consideration here, as would down-trading to grab a couple of first round picks.

10 GWS (matched/bid) – Tom Green
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 190cm | 89kg

There is a reason the GIANTS moved from Pick 6 to Pick 4, and that was because the Swans had committed to bid on GIANTS Academy member Tom Green. They have publicly said they are unlikely to do so now, but will still force GWS out of the draft and into deficit, but the GIANTS will happily cop that given they pick up Green to join Ash as a couple of elite talents at the club. Either could start from early on, and expect Green to have a real impact from the moment he gets out there.

11 Melbourne – Cody Weightman
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Forward
15/01/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

The Demons are set on picking up a small forward at this selection, with Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett the two most talked about at this selection. The Demons have put plenty of time and effort into Weightman and might just get the nudge over Pickett, but it is a lineball call. The Dees also could consider Miles Bergman at this pick given the Dragons’ forward could develop into a taller midfielder, but the firepower up forward is what the Dees are after.

12 Fremantle (matched/bid) – Liam Henry
Claremont/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 180cm | 68kg

A bid for Liam Henry was always going to come in the first round and push Fremantle well down to the back-end of the draft, but the Dockers will not be too worried in matching this bid. Having already picked up Hayden Young and Caleb Serong, they have filled three different spots in their team and the exciting Next Generation Academy prospect in Henry will provide plenty of highlights over the coming years.

13 Hawthorn – Brodie Kemp
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 89kg

Versatile tall Brodie Kemp is somewhat of a slider here and could well slide further to Port Adelaide or Geelong. Will eventually be an inside midfielder, but can play a third tall role at either end of the ground and had a terrific Under-18 Championships. Is overcoming an ACL injury sustained mid-year.

14 Port Adelaide – Will Day
West Adelaide/South Australia | Defender
06/05/2001 | 189cm | 76kg

Get the feeling the first of Port Adelaide’s picks will be between Day, Bergman and Kemp depending on who is available. The slick ball user from West Adelaide, Day has links to Gold Coast with his cousin Sam there, and would be a huge chance to be off the board before Port Adelaide’s second selection. After adding skilled users last year in Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters, Day adds that extra touch of class coming off half-back and is a good size at 189cm.

15 Western Bulldogs – Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg

One of a couple of draft bolters, Kysaiah Pickett is well in consideration to be taken by Melbourne at Pick 10 (to become 11), but the Dogs will be all over the tenacious small forward if he drops. Miles Bergman is the other potential choice here, while if the Dees go with Pickett, expect Cody Weightman to be the strong chance for Pick 15. Pickett is still very light but loves the contested aspect of the game and the Dogs have shown through drafting Caleb Daniel, they are not worried about height but instead look at skill and Pickett has bucketloads of that.

16 Geelong – Deven Robertson
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 184cm | 81kg

Robertson was rumoured to be a possible top 10 selection, with the West Australian captain leading from the front during the Under-18 Championships to win the Larke Medal and state Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Would be a steal here for Geelong but a number of clubs along the way would be looking at him carefully. A future captain at AFL level.

17 Gold Coast – Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Defender
20/01/2001 | 178cm | 73kg

It is thought that this selection will be between Will Day and Trent Bianco, and with Port taking Day off the board in this scenario, Bianco is the man to step up to the plate. Port would also be keen on picking up Bianco if Day is snapped up elsewhere, so the Suns will want to use this selection on him. He joins Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson from the Oakleigh Chargers program up on the Gold Coast and adds more leadership to the side coming into that team. Will provide skill and dash off half-back.

18 Port Adelaide – Josh Worrell
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 83kg

With the skilful defender in Will Day secured, Port will look to bring in a tall to replenish some of their stocks lost over the off-season. Well aware that Geelong is in the business of finding a key position player, the Power will have to pounce at this selection rather than wait another two picks. Knowing they will likely just take the one tall, getting one here and knowing the Cats will take a tall at the next pick allows them to go best available at Pick 20. Josh Worrell can play either end and is great value here as a long-term developing tall.

19 Geelong – Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg

After a couple of talls dropped in the top 10, Geelong and Port may well do a merry dance to snap up the next couple and see who will pounce on who in the back-end of the first round. With Port having the first chance at Pick 18, Geelong will either need to pounce on Josh Worrell and risk losing Deven Robertson, or take the chance and secure the developing utility in Harrison Jones. Jones is as versatile as they come and has even spent time in the ruck this year. Whilst he might be considered a bolter to land in the first round, his athletic attributes – mainly his speed and endurance – make him a player to watch.

20 Port Adelaide – Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Port would look at teaming up Will Day with Trent Bianco at this selection – if Bianco was left on the board – to continue the influx of speed and skill, but Miles Bergman being on the board is the choice here. Bergman could well be snapped up by Melbourne, or the Western Bulldogs who are both in the market for a small forward, meaning one of Weightman or Pickett could be left for the Power to secure. Bergman has the height on the others and could well develop into a midfielder who can hit the scoreboard, and played most of the year sore but still had terrific moments in 2019.

21 Hawthorn (matched/bid) – Finn Maginness
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

Given Richmond is targeting inside midfielders, it is tipped that the Tigers will place a bid on Finn Maginness at the end of the first round. The Hawks will quickly match the bid to bring the midfielder into the club, and traded picks to ensure they have plenty of points available. This bid would see the Hawks lose Picks 44 and 52 (which are given up due to Academy bids, whilst Pick 56 would slide to Pick 63).

22 Richmond – Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

With the Maginness bid match, Richmond will focus its attention on securing that inside midfielder. Geelong Falcons’ Cooper Stephens is among a number of selections left on the board and could well be snapped up at this pick. Jay Rantall is a consideration, though Stephens is more readymade to slot straight into the line-up and will be that pure inside midfielder with time. A good size at 188cm, Stephens is one who will have an immediate impact.

ROUND 2:

23 Gold Coast – Trent Rivers
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
30/07/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

There is every chance Rivers is at a new club by Wednesday night, but if he is not, then he will not take long at all to come off the board at this selection. The four clubs over the next five picks would all be keen on the tall midfielder who can also play other roles around the ground, and has good development left.

24 Brisbane – Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg

Could go as high as Richmond in Round 1, but more likely to land at either Brisbane or Adelaide in Round 2. The Lions cannot not risk him dropping to their next pick, so would need to pounce with #24 and add an extra Rebel to the mix. Elite endurance and can play multiple roles through the midfield. A former Australian basketballer.

25 Adelaide – Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg

Picked at this selection because of his ability to provide outside run and carry, and can fulfil that role coming off half-back. A dual All-Australian, the knocks are whether or not he can win the contested ball, but at 189cm and the ability to hit penetrating passes makes him too good to turn down. Not completely out of the question for him to slip a bit further, however.

26 Adelaide – Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg

Given the Crows have picked up Fischer McAsey, they may err on collecting another key position player, but like McAsey, Sam De Koning has an ability to play at both ends, or even through the ruck. He is the last of the top 30 talls available, so the Crows might want to bundle him up with McAsey. If they end up with Dylan Stephens at Pick 6, expect De Koning to be a massive shot here – if available.

27 Geelong – Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg

A number of picks the Cats could make at this selection, but Thomson Dow seems very ‘Geelong’ like. Another Geelong Grammar boy to possibly go with Brodie Kemp or in this phantom, Deven Robertson, Dow is the brother of Carlton’s Paddy. While he is not as readymade as his brother, he has similar athleticism and is good inside 50 on the lead. A forward to start his career, but will eventually develop into a full-time midfielder.

28 Sydney – Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

Elijah Taylor is incredibly talented and adds more X-factor to a Swans side that will have already brought Sam Flanders earlier in the draft in this Phantom Draft scenario. Taylor is a good size at 188cm, and while staying in Western Australia might be a priority, the Swans have a good system in place to make players from interstate fit in well. Far too good to ignore at this selection, and if bypassed, chances are he will not be there at the Swans’ next selection.

29 North Melbourne – Will Gould
Glenelg/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/01/2001 | 192cm | 106kg

Surely the South Australian captain could not drop this far? It is possible, and some think it might be into the 30s. He could go as high as Gold Coast at 23, or maybe even Adelaide at 26 if De Koning is off the board, but Gould will slide outside the top 20. He is an unbelievable talent, and one we have rated in the top 15 most of the year. Elite footballing qualities, once he gets into an AFL environment, he will likely prove a few people wrong. A bargain at this selection.

30 North Melbourne – Cameron Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

There is a feeling the Roos will pick a small forward at their selections, whether it be Cameron Taheny, Elijah Taylor or Dylan Williams. With Williams touted to slide the furthest when it is all said and done, Taheny looks to be the more readymade prospect for North, and the transition into the blue and white stripes will be made easier in this scenario coming across with Gould. Another bargain pick.

31 Melbourne – Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Providing some speed and dash off half-back with neat kicking skills, Darcy Cassar is a player with some top shelf traits, and just needs to iron out inconsistencies to take the next step. At his best he is contending for a top 20 spot, and Melbourne fit the need they were targeting at the top end of the draft in a skilful half-back by adding Cassar to their list in the second round.

32 Brisbane – Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg

An interesting selection looms for the Lions at this pick, and the likes of Harry Schoenberg and Sam Philp were considered, but given the Lions have picked up a number of exciting players with upside in recent years, Dylan Williams is one who might appeal to them. He might not fit a direct need, but at this selection he is a bargain and also has those leadership qualities – co-captaining Oakleigh Chargers – and is surely too good to pass up because he will not be there at the next pick.

33 Port Adelaide (matched/bid) – Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

Port has enough points to match a bid for Jackson Mead at this point in the draft, and will not have a problem matching should a team like North Melbourne put the offer out there. North is known for making bids on players that fill needs, and Mead’s range is tipped to be in this hitting zone. Expected to make his way to the Power without any fuss.

34 North Melbourne – Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg

A few options to pick from here, but North has interest in Hugo Ralphsmith, and may well take him with one of their picks inside the top 30. If not and he is still on the board here, Ralphsmith will be difficult to pass up. Sam Philp, Harry Schoenberg and Mitch O’Neill will be considerations, but Ralphsmith may be the first choice.

35 Essendon – Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg

The South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner offers a solid inside presence at the selection for the Bombers, with his inside craft and ball-winning abilities among his strengths. Essendon might consider Sam Philp at this selection as well, with the Bombers and Swans potentially targeting similar types to round out their list.

36 Sydney – Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

A perfect fit for the Swans, Sam Philp is a running machine on the inside with terrific burst speed out of the contest – a 2.87-second 20m sprint – which fills a need whilst adding his contested ball winning ability. Despite missing out on Vic Metro selection, Philp offers plenty to the club that picks him, and Sydney could be that club.

37 Essendon – Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

The Bombers need another ruck for depth, and Comben is a player who can also play that key position forward role. He is a good size and still developing, and given the likes of Collingwood and Geelong are not far away, Essendon might have to make their move at this pick to secure him.

38 Brisbane – Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg

A steal at Pick 38, Tasmania’s top player makes his way north and will be a welcome addition given his ability to play anywhere on the ground. He adds to the Lions’ skilful and exuberant young side and is another player like Gould who may prove a fair few wrong in the coming years.

39 Collingwood – Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Seems to be the obvious pick for Collingwood, with Mitch Georgiades the best tall forward available at this selection and a clear need for the Magpies. Collingwood might be tempted to opt for a tall defender in Karl Finlay or Dyson Hilder, or maybe the upside of Fraser Phillips, but these are all the selections coming in the next few selections.

40 Geelong – Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193cm | 90kg

Geelong may not opt for a second tall, but Finlay is the type who has great agility and is able to play on a tall or small in defence, which in this Phantom Draft would allow Harrison Jones to play forward. Finlay is an Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner and it would not be surprising to see him go higher and perhaps even pounced on in the 20s – particularly if De Koning joins the other talls in the first round. Like many talls, it is often a needs basis, so could slide to around here, but Collingwood would seriously consider him with their last pick.

41 Adelaide – Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg

Has the talent to become anything, and could end up at a number of clubs in the 30s, but the Crows could not take a chance any longer with Richmond and Carlton no doubt keen to acquire his services. Has the potential to become a midfielder long-term and just moves well and creates havoc inside 50. A player who has drawn traits similar to Jack Macrae and Scott Pendlebury at the same age – even if much rawer than those players.

42 Richmond – Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

With three consecutive selections, Richmond is likely to select one key position player just to add to the depth in the squad, and given they have picked up Cooper Stephens with the first selection, the additional inside midfielder need is filled. Hilder is a readymade key position option, but can work with the Tigers’ back six to become a strong negating defender who is also capable of creating offensive rebound. Another key position player who might go higher than this due to needs.

43 Richmond – Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

The Gippsland Power captain is a hard nut and would be a perfect fit for Richmond given his accountability in defence and willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates. He showed in 2019 that he can also create offensive drive, and that will be attractive for the Tigers to fill that Brandon Ellis role, or play deeper and release one of the other defenders.

ROUND 3:

44 Richmond – Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

Hard to see Mahony slipping this far, but if he did it would certainly be a bargain. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Mahony rarely wastes a kick and is able to set up his forwards with neat 45-degree passes that can be deadly for the opposition. A high footy IQ and one who will develop into a very handy player.

45 Carlton – Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg

Has been long linked to Carlton at this selection, but will he be there? It is possible, and he fills a perfect need which allows the Blues to go best available at Pick 9. Has a lot of growth left in his game, and is more consistent than a lot of other small forwards. Adds a touch of class inside 50.

46 Sydney – Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

While it is becoming increasingly difficult to try and predict which way clubs will go by this stage, the Sturt winger adds some terrific pace and line-breaking willingness that can attract clubs in the third round. He takes the game on and is a good size, just needs to iron out a few things and could be a real valuable contributor on the outside.

47 Adelaide – Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg

While Mott is not the fastest midfielder going around, he has such clean hands and skill on the inside, which he has been developing over the past 12 months. Mott can also play outside where he uses his terrific kicking ability to advantage and replaces the wealth of midfield depth that has been lost at the Crows this year.

48 West Coast – Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

West Coast seem tipped to look local at this selection, and one of Jake Pasini, Trey Ruscoe or Riley Garcia might be a choice. Pasini is the tallest option and able to replace one of the Eagles’ key defenders in time, having worked on areas of his game such as his kicking and decision making.

49 North Melbourne – Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

A number of clubs over the next few picks are still in the market for a key position player, and with North Melbourne having picked up a number of faster, outside types – as well as Gould – Jeka presents a different option for the Roos. He can play at either end and is an elite contested mark, potentially sharing the forward line with Nick Larkey in years to come, learning from Ben Brown.

50 Collingwood – Jake Riccardi
Werribee/VFL | Key Position Forward
07/11/1999 | 194cm | 96kg

One of the strongest rumours floating around the mid and later stages of the draft is Jake Riccardi to Collingwood, and the Magpies will not want to wait too much longer from here. Could well end up the first State Draft Combine invitee to go in the National AFL Draft, but the question will be whether or not the Magpies pick up two tall forwards – Georgiades and Riccardi – or if they go best available then take Riccardi.

52 St Kilda – Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

A long-term developing forward, Sharman has great upside and would be considered by some clubs in the 40s. As accurate shot on goal as anyone else, Sharman will not immediately step in due to needing to improve his endurance, but when he does, he would add some great speed on the lead, strong overhead and convert his opportunities. Saints could go a number of ways, but they will like Sharman’s upside.

53 Western Bulldogs – Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Arguably the hardest to place in the draft, Nick Bryan could go anywhere from the late 30s, up into the 60s, but Western Bulldogs could opt for some ruck depth at Pick 53 and has been linked here if available. A long-term prospect, Bryan is more a player who will take over in a few years and given his athletic traits, could be something special.

54 Richmond – Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

A workhorse through the middle, Byrnes has transitioned from a player on the fringes of his NAB League side Sandringham Dragons, to captaining the side, representing Vic Metro and making himself all but a certain draft candidate. He has to build his kicking, but he is dual-sided and a threat out of stoppages with a quick burst here and there and often pumps the ball to the danger zone inside 50. A perfect fit for the Tigers.

55 Carlton – Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A big-bodied midfielder tipped to slide down later in the draft, Pick 55 for Darcy Chirgwin could be another selection that makes people look silly in the future. He is a perfect fit for the Blues to provide assistance for Patrick Cripps in the midfield and is not afraid to crash and bash around the stoppages.

Others not far away had the draft extended out: Riley Garcia, Callum Jamieson, Trey Ruscoe (Western Australia), Luke Partington, Callum Park, Josh Morris (South Australia), Angus Baker, Liam Delahunty (NSW-ACT), Brady Rowles, Lachlan Williams (Vic Country), Louis Butler, Josh Honey, Lachlan Stapleton (Vic Metro), Frank Anderson, Sam Lowson (VFL)

ACADEMY/FATHER-SON SELECTIONS IN CONTENTION LATE/ROOKIE WITH COMBINE INVITES OR HAVE BEEN NOMINATED:

*Note the below does not mean the club has committed to them – although in some cases they have – it is merely a list of those clubs with players tied to the club that received combine invitations and were in the respective club’s Academy or father-son prospect at the start of the year.

Anzac Lochowiak -> Adelaide
Noah Cumberland, Keidean Coleman, Lachlan Johnson, Bruce Reville and Will Martyn, Tom Griffiths -> Brisbane
Cameron Wild -> Carlton
Isaiah Butters, Leno Thomas -> Fremantle
Ryan Gilmore, Josh Gore, Dirk Koenen -> Gold Coast SUNS
Liam Delahunty, Matt McGrory, James Peatling, Jeromy Lucas, Ed Perryman -> GWS GIANTS
Harrison Pepper -> Hawthorn
Matthew McGuinness -> North Melbourne
Trent Burgoyne -> Port Adelaide
Bigoa Nyuon -> St Kilda
Luke Parks, Hamish Ellem, Jackson Barling, Nicholas Brewer, Samuel Gaden, Max Geddes, Harry Maguire, Samuel Thorne-> Sydney

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Hawthorn Hawks

HAWTHORN heads into the 2019 AFL Draft with its highest pick since taking Ryan Burton with pick 19 in 2015, and may well come away with a rare pair of first round selections. The Hawks can look to replenish their key position stocks at the top end, while also looking for points of difference through midfield on top of snaring potential father-son, Finn Maginness.

CURRENT PICKS: 11, 42, 50, 54, 63, 73, 87, 92

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Finn Maginness (F/S), Harrison Pepper (NGA)

LIST NEEDS:

Key position depth
Midfield point of difference/speed

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Key position depth, particularly down back, looks like being the Hawks’ priority coming into this year’s draft, with pick 11 a good spot for filling that need at the correct value. All Australian swingman Fischer McAsey looks the best fit and is ripe for the taking at pick 11, but could be snapped up by the Cats should they trade into the top 10. If that is the case, Brodie Kemp is another option with great upside who can plug gaps on every line, while the dynamic Josh Worrell could also slot in up either end as a high marker. The Hawks will hope a bid for father-son gun Maginness comes after their first selection, with a pick somewhere in the teens or early-20s more likely for the athletic midfielder.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Hawks have been able to already secure a trade that saw them pick up two selections from North Melbourne in Pick 50 and 73, as well as a future second round selection for the 2020 AFL Draft. In exchange they gave up Pick 30, but with a potential first round bid for Maginness – and certainly top 25 – that selection was always going to be used to secure the father-son, but this way Hawthorn has greater versatility to match.

REMAINING CROP:

As is the case for most sides, the back-end of the draft is purely up to needs and preference as it looms as one of the most open pools in recent times. Should the Hawks look to further bolster key position stocks, the likes of Jake Pasini and Emerson Jeka may well be available around that 54-mark, while ruck options come in the form of Nick Bryan, Callum Jamieson and Joel Ottavi in that range. Angus Hanrahan, brother of current Hawk, Ollie would be a nice addition late-on for some outside run with Isaac Smith coming into the free agency fold soon, while Bendigo pair Flynn Perez and Brady Rowles fit the same mould if they are still on the board, and Josh Honey could offer the same kind of power going forward. Late picks are always difficult to predict, but the Hawks will undoubtedly have their favourites going in and could even take Harrison Pepper as a Next Generation Academy pick.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 60-41

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at those players we have ranked 60-41.

#60 Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 179cm | 73kg

The only State Draft Combine player in our Power Rankings, the Eastern Ranges ball magnet has been one of the more consistent players this year. One of the few unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invite, Stapleton has plenty of tricks despite his size, and can win the ball inside or out. In season 2019, Stapleton averaged 22.3 disposals, 2.5 marks, 5.2 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.1 tackles from 13 games, predominantly playing an inside role. His hands in close were very good, with athletic traits that are handy but could still improve such as his in-game acceleration – clocking a sub-three second 20m sprint at the State Combine, and his kicking consistency. A rough chance still, but should have done enough to find a place on an AFL list.

#59 Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

Mr Consistent, Sandringham’s fearless captain has been as reliable as just about anyone in the NAB League this season. Byrnes can play inside or out, wins the ball out of a stoppage and has a trademark five-step burst to create separation from his opponent and send the ball inside 50 to leading teammates. His kicking could certainly sharpen up, but he can use either foot which makes him more of an asset, and while he is shorter compared to some inside midfielders, he has the readymade frame to compete at senior level. Almost missed out on a bottom-age year at Sandringham and has been a workhorse to put himself in a position where he could be drafted. Just a no-fuss footballer who leads by actions and will be a popular player at a club should he be selected.

#58 Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

On upside, Jeka is a lot higher, but it is just piecing all of his traits together for some consistency. He is an elite contested mark, is virtually an eight-second flat agility test and near three seconds 20m sprint candidate. This athleticism is something rare in players of his size, but the inconsistencies of the past few years, as well as finding his best position – between forward and back – means he is still a raw prospect who has to develop. Given his traits, if he can be put to work and learn off a more aggressive mentor at an AFL club, then he will add more to his game. He has the physicality to really worry opposition defenders when leading out, it is just showing it on a more consistent basis. His best is winning a game off his own boot, but it just happens in seldom, so the best is yet to come from the Western Jets tall.

#57 Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender
25/04/2001 | 185cm | 74kg

An interesting prospect, Butler at his best can be a damaging half-back who floats through the middle and wins plenty of the ball. When it comes to off-field testing, Butler’s numbers do not jump off a page. But when it comes to in-game work, he moves well and has the smarts to evade opponents with ball-in-hand and open up space for his teammates. He seems a confidence player, because when he starts hitting targets, he can hardly miss, but when he sprays the odd kick early, he can be a bit more error prone throughout the game. Showed plenty throughout his school footballing, and finished the NAB League season averaging 23 disposals and three rebounds a game.

#56 Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

A lightly built, but talented outside midfielder with some good size, Shute is the stereotypical winger who likes to run and create from the back half going forward. Shute has nice foot skills with a touch of class, as well as a high work rate that sees him push up and down the ground. His endurance could still improve, as could his impact per possession, and while standing at 73kg, Shute could add size to his frame. Overall though, Shute has a nice outside game from which clubs can work with, and is one of the more prominent wingers available in the AFL Draft crop. He could go higher than this based on his ball use and outside run, but is still a developing talent.

#55 Flynn Perez
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder
25/08/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

One of the players hardest to rate this year, Perez has missed his entire top-age season after injuring his knee late last year at a Vic Country camp. From what he showed as a bottom-ager, Perez has some neat outside traits, and class when in close. He moves well and is a creator for his team, it is just about getting some consistency in both his disposal and game. At 188cm, Perez is a nice height for a midfielder, and when adding in his athleticism, the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder is unlikely to be forgotten by an AFL club come November.

#54 Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Considered a potential first rounder at the start of the year, Bryan has slipped down the order after an inconsistent year. He had a good finals series, particularly in the last couple of games which gave recruiters another glimpse at the highly athletic ruck. While he is far from the finished product, it is hard to imagine he will be overlooked based on his sub three-second 20m sprint and his size at 202cm makes him a valuable commodity. While he might not have the consistency of some of the other talls higher on the list, he has plenty of upside and a club could certainly find a need for Bryan should they be on the lookout for another ruck.

#53 Josh Honey
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
17/10/2001 | 185cm | 82kg

Another player with great upside, Honey has the versatility to rotate between midfield and forward, and is an athlete to-boot. Honey was one of the more impressive performers at the National Draft Combine, clocking up times of 2.97 seconds (20m sprint) and 8.10 seconds (agility test). His consistency can be a worry at times, particularly when it comes to influence throughout long periods in games, with his accumulation lower than most other comparable players – 16.1 disposals per game. But when on his game, Honey has that hurt factor about him, with his clean hands and defensive pressure – 4.6 tackles per game – a feature, as well as his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly, contributing 12 goals in 14 games at NAB League level, and two from two at the Under-18 National Championships.

#52 Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

A really consistent and reliable defender, Pasini is a player who could step up and play from early on in his career. At 193cm, Pasini is a little undersized to match up against the bigger-bodied key forwards, so will likely fill out as a running defender who takes a third tall, or could play on smaller players if need be. He has the skill level to be that offensive running back, and he reads the ball in flight really well. Averaging 18.3 disposals and 4.1 marks at WAFL Colts level from seven games, Pasini also got a call-up to both the Reserves and League sides for Swan Districts where he did not look out of place in two and one games respectively. After playing for Western Australia at the Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, Pasini returned as a top-ager and again was able to provide a steadying influence, picking up his rebound numbers to average two per game.

#51 Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Similar to Perez, Georgiades is one who is hard to read where he goes. On talent, he could be a top 30 pick, but the fact a quad injury has kept him out of action throughout his entire top-age year would be a concern. He is too talented and has too much upside to not be looked at, and with his vertical leap (85cm running) and acceleration (2.925 seconds 20m sprint), Georgiades is a headache for any defender. Once the air space is clear and there is a body in front of him, expect the high-flying forward to sit on their head and bring the ball down. While he has not been able to show any improvements this year due to injury, he could also improve his defensive attributes, with few tackles despite his obvious athletic talent. In terms of what he offers offensively however, Georgiades can be a dominant goal kicker both in the air and at ground level and be that X-factor that sets him aside from other tall forwards in this draft.

#50 Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

A versatile player who could well end up as a key forward and second ruck, Comben is capable of playing either role to a high standard. His ruck craft itself is good, and his second efforts at ground level such as laying a follow-up tackle or providing a block or shepherd is impressive. He can float forward and lead out of the goalsquare with sticky hands and an ability to crash a pack if needed. He has had his fair share of injuries over the journey so is arguably a tad behind on his development. But the fact he has come such a long way in his top-age year means Comben has plenty of upside for the future and is one who clubs can look to for the long term if they are after a bigger body up forward who can play that second ruck role to a t. Could be the second ruck picked in the AFL Draft, depending on how clubs view his progress against Bryan’s and what they are looking for, but we have him here due to his versatility and greater consistency over the season, as well as impact at the Under-18 National Championships for Vic Country.

#49 Liam Delahunty
GWS GIANTS/Allies | Forward/Defender
13/02/2001 | 192cm | 91kg

A member of the GWS GIANTS Academy, where Delahunty ends up on draft night will be interesting considering the GIANTS’ picks in this year’s draft. With Pick 6 likely to be Tom Green, Delahunty could be matched with one of the later picks, potentially 59 or 60. If the GIANTS choose to trade up to grab a second elite talent to avoid using Pick 6 on Green, then matching Green with their few picks, they might struggle to match a bid. Either way, Delahunty has shown enough to suggest a club could use a player of his services, with his kicking ability and reliability up forward – or in defence at times. He is a strong mark and covers the ground well, and while he is undersized, he could develop into a midfielder with time if required, and given his smarts could be very handy there. He could improve his accumulation numbers from ground level with the majority of his touches coming from marks. Once he develops that area of his game, he can have an equal impact at ground level as he can in the air.

#48 Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193m | 90kg

The Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner from the championships two years ago, Finlay has remained consistent across all areas. While his ground balls and decision making at times could improve, his work without the ball is top notch, able to intercept at will across half-back. He will likely play as that third tall defender, and has superb agility for a player of his size, and captained his school, Prince Alfred College (PAC) during the season. He reads the play well and is a dominant one-on-one player who could play from early on in his career if given the chance, but still has those areas to work on and will undoubtedly do so. A potent defensive weapon, Finlay might be the awkward size at 192cm, but he is a two-way player, nullifying an opponent and creating drive from half-back.

#47 Noah Cumberland
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies | Forward
15/03/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A player we at Draft Central are a fan of, Cumberland has some seriously great athletic traits. In particular his break-neck speed coming off a flank or charging down the ground, recording a 2.931-second 20m sprint and 8.208-second agility test at the National Draft Combine. Tied to the Lions’ Academy, Cumberland could well be the first Lion bid on in the AFL Draft, and his versatility and high upside would be something attractive to the club and other clubs. He is a great pressure player as well, with his aggression at both the ball and opponent, and with ball-in-hand or without. He averaged almost five tackles a game at the championships, and while he will want to lift his accumulation and kicking consistency – he averaged just the 11 touches per game – he has some great traits from which a club can develop.

#46 Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

As reliable and competitive as they come, Smith is a defender who can play both offensive and defensive roles, and almost always achieve the team requirement of him by the end of the game. Rarely having a game where he does not in some part contribute, Smith will attack contests without fear for his own safety, and also provide rebound out of the back half. He ticks a lot of boxes across the board, and while he could improve his speed, and add more dimensions to his game up the ground, his flexibility to play against taller or smaller opponents is a bonus. His one-on-one strength helps him take on the stronger players, while his competitive nature helps him challenge those with greater athletic traits. His rebounding and intercept marking, as well as his penetrating kick are other features of his game, and he is a player who will be loved by teammates, but bemoaned by opposition players.

#45 Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

There are not too many readymade key defenders in this AFL Draft, which makes Hilder a unique prospect for clubs. If an AFL club is contending and needs a key position player who is more prepared to tackle senior footy earlier in his career, then Hilder looms as a value mid-draft option. While he is not as agile as some others, and could work on his ground ball craft, Hilder is strong in the air, and composed with ball-in-hand in defence. Much like his North Adelaide teammate Finlay, Hilder has experienced all three levels of SANFL football this year, with eight games at Reserves level his predominant grade. He was as reliable as they came for South Australia at the national carnival, and is a nullifying defender who can take an opposition forward out of the game, averaging almost five marks from 12.5 disposals per game at the championships.

#44 Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

Another player who is difficult to rate and could go anywhere from 30 to 60 is Sharman, who had plenty of highlights this year since joining the Oakleigh Chargers program. Having made the move from New South Wales to Victoria and playing out at Balwyn, Sharman burst onto the scene with a few hauls of goals, including four against Eastern Ranges in a tight game. His goal kicking accuracy and marking is quite impressive, and while he has to build his endurance and other areas of his game to be more of a complete package, Sharman has that upside which clubs will hope to harness. For a player of his size with his smarts and X-factor, Sharman could play that third tall role inside 50 and with his athleticism, he is able to play as a leading forward out of the square.

#43 Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

A smart player who knows how to find the ball and use it delicately to hit targets over short distances like very few can, Mahony is a bit of a unique option as a small utility. Predominantly used in the forward half, Mahony is still light, but can compete with players in contested situations, and with his footy IQ and creativity, Mahony rarely makes too many mistakes by hand or foot. In saying that, his size will always come into question as a sub-180cm player, with Mahony lacking that explosiveness that others have playing a similar role. He will likely become that half-forward who can rotate through the middle, mainly because of his ability to pinpoint players inside 50 with sharp 45-degree kicks in between a host of opponents. Importantly, Mahony does not try and go for too much outside his limitations and therefore is highly influential with the game he employs.

#42 Trey Ruscoe
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Defender
03/11/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

A bit undersized to be a key defender at the elite level, Trey Ruscoe has proven to be a player who can easily play that role in the WAFL Colts, and while that is against lighter bodies, he will be challenged to do so against bigger-bodied forwards. In saying that, Ruscoe has great strength and the skills to also play as a running half-back. He has spent time in the midfield which is an area he can further develop and potentially become a readymade inside midfielder who can have an influence around the stoppages. Ruscoe is ultra-competitive and positions himself well in the defensive 50, but could play a midfield-defence hybrid role with his running capacity and versatility to play either position.

#41 Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A good sized inside midfielder who might be somewhat underrated compared to his peers due to injury issues that ruled him out of early season games then was injured in the opening quarter of his Under-18 Championships match. What he offers to a club is a big body with an appetite for winning the ball in the contest. His disposal (24.7), clearance (5.2) and tackling (7.9) numbers are right up there with the best, and his defensive approach to the game will certainly win him over at AFL level. His outside game and athleticism could do with some work, as could his ability to hit the scoreboard, but lock him in to be a inside midfielder who can provide a presence around the stoppages, especially once he has added more size to his frame in the coming years.

Victoria leads way with National Combine invitees

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

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

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

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

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

2019 NAB AFL Draft Combine list
NSW/ACT

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

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Malcolm Rosas (NT Thunder)

QUEENSLAND

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

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

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

TASMANIA

Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania Devils)

VIC COUNTRY

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

VIC METRO

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

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

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

AFL Under 18 National Championships preview: Vic Country

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

 

Key players:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

X-Factor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Big Improvers:

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

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

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

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

 

AFL U18s Fixture:

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

 

Summary:

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

Dragons, Power dominate finalised Victorian squads

SANDRINGHAM Dragons and Gippsland Power make up one third of the total Victorian representatives in the Vic Country and Vic Metro sides which were officially announced this week. Following the Victorian trial games which saw the Victorian teams face-off against Allies at Ikon Park on Sunday, the two squads are set ahead of the National Under 18 Championships starting on Saturday, June 1.

Sandringham Dragons have a whopping 14 players across the sides, with 13 players – Jack Mahony, Ryan Byrnes, Louis Butler, Hugo Ralphsmith, Miles Bergman, Finn Maginness, Fischer McAsey, Joshua Worrell, Corey Watts, Charlie Dean, Andrew Courtney and Jack Bell – making the Metro side, while the Country-based Darcy Chirgwin earned a place in the Country squad. Gippsland Power had nine representatives themselves, with Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Riley Baldi, Harrison Pepper, Ryan Sparkes, Fraser Phillips, Brock Smith, Josh Smith and Charlie Comben all securing a spot in the final Country squad.

Oakleigh Chargers – led by potential top two picks Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson – had seven players in the Metro squad, while Dandenong Stingrays also had seven players in the Country squad, including top 10 potential pick Hayden Young.  Bendigo Pioneers had six representatives in the Country squad, including the injured Flynn Perez, while the likes of Cooper Stephens, Tanner Bruhn and Chirgwin are also currenly in the rehab program but are involved in the development camp tomorrow.

The two sides go head-to-head this Saturday at the MCG as a curtain raiser to the Collingwood-Fremantle clash in a Round 2 battle of the championships which has been brought forward. Vic Country then heads south to Launceston to face the Allies a week later, while Vic Metro traves to Western Australia.

VIC COUNTRY:

1 Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)
3 Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)
5 Cameron Wild (Murray Bushrangers)
6 Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power)
7 Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels)
8 Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers)
9 Isaac Wareham (GWV Rebels)
10 Harrison Pepper (Gippsland Power)
12 Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers)
13 Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)
14 Liam Herbert (GWV Rebels)
15 Ryan Sparkes (Gippsland Power)
16 Brodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers)
17 Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays)
18 Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers)
19 Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)
20 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
21 Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons)
22 Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
24 Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)
25 Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers)
26 Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons)
27 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)
29 Lachlan Williams (Dandenong Stingrays)
30 James Schischka (Bendigo Pioneers)
32 Ben Worme (Bendigo Pioneers)
33 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)
34 Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays)
35 Toby Mahony (GWV Rebels)
36 Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)
37 Blake Kuipers (Dandenong Stingrays)
38 Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons)
39 Josh Smith (Gippsland Power)
40 Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power)
41 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons)

VIC METRO:

1 Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons)
2 Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)
5 Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
6 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)
7 Lachlan Stapleton (Eastern Ranges)
8 Adam Carafa (Northern Knights)
9 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers)
11 Matthew Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
12 Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)
13 Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons)
14 James Ross (Eastern Ranges)
15 Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)
16 Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
17 Ryan Gardner (Northern Knights)
18 Lachlan Potter (Northern Knights)
19 Josh Honey (Western Jets)
20 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)
21 Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons)
22 Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons)
23 Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers)
24 Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
25 Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons)
26 Ryan Sturgess (Northern Knights)
27 Oscar Lewis (Sandringham Dragons)
28 Jamieson Rossiter (Eastern Ranges)
29 Fischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons)
30 Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)
31 Joshua Worrell (Sandringham Dragons)
33 Corey Watts (Sandringham Dragons)
34 Charlie Dean (Sandringham Dragons)
35 Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights)
36 Emerson Jeka (Western Jets)
37 Andrew Courtney (Sandringham Dragons)
38 Brodie Newman (Calder Cannons)
39 Jack Bell (Sandringham Dragons)
40 Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers)

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 1

TOMORROW marks the start of a new era in Victorian Under 18 Boys football, with the brand new NAB League Boys competition kicking off. A standalone game at MARS Stadium begins the first round, before a spread of matches across Victoria on Sunday will provide plenty of highlights for the 2019 draft crop.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 1 – 23/03/2019
3:00pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

The standalone game on Saturday afternoon pits the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels against reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays. The game marks the second consecutive match the Rebels have played against the Stingrays, having been on the receiving end of a belting in last year’s elimination final. The Stingrays have made some changes with a new coach and talent manager coming into the fold, while also losing a fair chunk of their premiership side. They will now rely on a lot of bottom-agers as well as some talented top-agers who featured in parts throughout the 2018 season. Led by top prospect, Hayden Young, the Stingrays have a solid team across the board with last year’s co-catain Mitch Riordan slotting into the centre for this match, and the likes of overager Jai Nanscawen and Luca Goonan also named there, while Sam Merrick – who tested well at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day on a wing. It will largely be a new-look side both on an off the field for the Stingrays, while for the Rebels, they have a large among of players who tasted plenty of football last year. The midfield contains overager, Matty Lloyd who is looking at a new inside role, as well as some silky top-agers in Mitch Martin and Isaac Wareham, the inside ability of Cooper Craig-Peters and bottom-age talent, Nick Stevens. Fellow overagers, James Cleaver and Jed Hill provide some good run up either end, while the ruck duel between Patrick Glanford and Bailey Schmidt will be one to watch. The Stingrays deserve to be favourites, having the wood over the Rebels the past few years, but with so much change, it is as good a time as any for the home team to grab much needed points in the opening round.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
10:00am
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

The next day at RSEA Park, Sandringham Dragons face Calder Cannons in the first of a Metro double header at the ground. The Dragons are stacked with talent across the board and will be one of the teams to beat this season. The Dragons’ spine of Corey Watts, Fischer McAsey, Jack Mahony, Charlie Dean and Riley Bowman looks ominous, while a midfield containing Ryan Byrnes, Finn Magginness and Josh Worrell will match it with the best. For the Cannons, captain Brodie Newman holds down half-back with overager Tye Browning, while the athletic Thomas Cartwright has been named at full-back. The Cannons midfield is a strength with Daniel Mott, Sam Graham and Harrison Minton-Connell named in the middle. Josh Kemp is an exciting prospect who while overage, is still only in his second year in the system. There is no doubt the Cannons have a massive challenge on their hands here against a full-strength Dragons outfit. Winning the midfield battle is crucial and backing themselves to match Sandringham’s run is the challenge, while the Dragons will be keen to win in the first game at their new home in Moorabbin.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
12:30pm
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

In the second match of the double header, Eastern Ranges take on a full-strength Oakleigh Chargers which is a huge challenge for the Ranges. A year more experienced with the likes of Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Chayce Black in the middle, captain James Ross, Todd Garner and Jarrod Gilbee in defence, and Billy McCormack and Jamieson Rossiter in attack, Eastern has a solid side on paper. Overagers, Cody Hirst and James Blanck will play key roles in the side, but they will all need to be at their best to topple the might of the Chargers. Nick Bryan heads up the ruck and will look to get first hands to Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell and Joe Ayton-Delaney who moves into a more contested role this year. Dylan Williams and former Rebel, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan provide excitement up forward, while Trent Bianco and Will Phillips use the ball well coming down the ground. The top-end talent and depth is clearly there for the Chargers and is a key reason why they are arguably the team to beat this season along with Sandringham and Gippsland, of whom all three are well represented in the AFL Academy.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
1:00pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

The second all-country clash of the weekend occurs at RAMS Arena in Craigieburn where Murray Bushrangers meet Gippsland Power. The Power are one of the contenders this season and look to be the top country team for season 2019. Coming off a preliminary final, albeit with a disappointing exit in the end, the large proportion of bottom-agers who steered the team to such a successful season are now top-agers and have the extra year of experience. For the Bushrangers, they also have their fair share of talented bottom-agers and should be the country side most likely to give Gippsland a run for its money. For Muray, its dynamic forward line will cause headaches, which in the past has been dominated by talls, but is more likely to be the hybrid-medium-smalls who create some issues for opposition defenders. Jye ChalcraftCam Wilson and Elijah Hollands can be damaging at ground level while Will Chandler provides some height up forward, and the match-ups with Jake van der Pligt, Brock Smith, Ryan Sparkes and Tye Hourigan will be the ones to watch. Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips and Sam Flanders going head-to-head with the likes of Jimmy Boyer, Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild will be another interesting battle, while Josh Smith and Ben Kelly could go head-to-head in the Power forwad line. While Gippsland are missing key midfielder Caleb Serong, expect them to get the job done in what could be a thrilling contest to open the season.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
2:00pm
Colac Football Ground – Colac

A couple of teams with unknowns about them face-off in Colac, as Geelong Falcons host Bendigo Pioneers. The Falcons have a lot of new players in their side, while the Pioneers are always a young team. With many of the names getting games last year, the Pioneers should feel some line-up consistency for round 1. High-flyers, Braydon Vaz and Will Wallace hold down the key defensive posts for the Pioneers, while Brodie Kemp, Thomson Dow and Riley Ironside all fill out the midfield. They will have to battle top talent, Cooper Stephens, as well as overage forward-turned-midfielder, Charlie Sprague and Charlie Harris. Jesse Clark will look to provide some run and carry out of a new-look defence in 2019, while the likes of Jay Dahlhaus and Charlie Lazzaro are ever-dangerous inside 50. The Falcons given their record and form late last year, including from some of their bottom-agers in 2018, will have them heading in as favourites, but Bendigo could well take home the points given the majority of their line-up – minus Flynn Perez who is out with an ACL and a couple of others like Matt Hird – is able to play.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
3:40pm
Ikon Park – Carlton

The final game of the round heads to Ikon Park where the Knights and Jets go head-to-head in what could be a battle of the two most improved sides heading into this year. Last year the Jets made the finals but were bundled out in the elimination final, while the Knights had a disapponting loss to GWV Rebels the week before in the Wild Card round. Both teams are capable of creating scoring opportunities, as Josh D’Intinosante and Darcy Cassar were a couple of the more dangerous half-forwards last season. Emerson Jeka will start at centre half-forward and no doubt be the main target inside 50, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey know where the goals are. Daly Andrews is a handy overager to return to the side, while Spencer Johnson and Josh Kellett will come out of defence. The Knights’ bottom-agers were among the top players last season, and Nathan Howard will take up the ruck duties, while Adam Crafa, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier will use their bigger bodies to try and outmuscle the Jets midfield. Ryan Gardner, Lachlan Potter and Ryan Sturgess will move the ball in transition, while former Sandringham Dragon, Will Kennedy and Aaron Clarke are two Jets who will look to stretch the Knights when forward.

NAB League season preview: Bendigo Pioneers

AN ADDITIONAL training base, renewed optimism and fresh opportunities headline a successful off-season for the Bendigo Pioneers. The club with the largest land mass in the competition is ready and raring to go in season 2019, after a number of top-agers impressed as bottom-agers last season. Talent Manager Stephen Sharp said he was optimistic about the year ahead.

“We had a reasonably strong 17-year-old group last year who are obviously now top-age,” he said. “We think we’ve got some good prospects, and getting access to all our kids together would be a dream for us, to be able to have them all train together and play together because we think that would be able to help our performances. “Not mentioning wins because it’s not the focus of the program. “We’re pretty excited, but we do get access to most of them.”

While some of the Pioneers top prospects, Brodie Kemp and Thomson Dow will board at Geelong Grammar, Bendigo will have access to them in the first few rounds and late in the season. It will boost the Pioneers, who Sharp said have a number of raw potential draft prospects for the 2019 season.

“(Kemp) would be one of the top prospects,” Sharp said. “There’s himself, there’s Thomson Dow, there’s Flynn Perez who’s out with an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) for the year, he’s had an ACL reconstruction so he won’t play any footy, but he’ll get himself ready for the combine. “He’s a real leader. “There’s James Schischka, there’s Aaron Gundry who’s about 200cm. “We’ve got Matt Hird who’s a developing tall who’s had a bit of injury interruption, he’s 203cm, he ran in the state trials of 800, 1500m for his school in NSW, he lives in Barham. “We’ve got some raw talent up there. “Braydon Vaz is another key forward/defender, hybrid sort of player. “Cooper Vick, we’ve got some good talent at the top end. We think we’ve got a handful, whether that be five, it could be one.”

Sharp said the 2019 draft crop had the potential to emulate that of the 2017 crop which saw Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien, Angus Schumacher (all Carlton), Jarrod Brander (West Coast), Brent Daniels (GWS GIANTS) and Kane Farrell (Port Adelaide) all land at AFL clubs.

“We think there’s good prospects this year, not too dissimilar to 2017,” he said. “We were a bit lean last year, we thought we might get two. “We thought Jacob Atley might have gone, and he was pretty close, I think Essendon were keen to take him. “He’s been contracted to their VFL. “Obviously Jye Caldwell went to GWS at 11. “But we think there could be three or four.

“We’re happy with the way the program is progressing. “We’ve had 14 players drafted in the past four years, just under four a year. “If you can get another four this year, that keeps that consistency up there which is really good. That sends a good message to the kids in our region, if you come into our region you can get drafted.”

With the Bendigo region stretching up to both the New South Wales and South Australian borders, the Pioneers network stretches across the north west of the state. While the region is large, it provides its own challenges with travel a staple of Pioneers players routines. Sharp was excited to announce a fourth training base to reduce travel over the off-season.

“I think it’s ticking along well,” Sharp said. “We’ve got some really good staff, we’ve opened up a Moama training base this year so we’ve got four regional centres, so we’ve got Bendigo, Moama, Swan Hill and Mildura who train from November through to nearly the end of February. “Purely because of the size of the region we can’t get everyone together. “In saying that we do have our testing down here in Bendigo at the end of December and had some trial games in early February, which is always good to get the kids together when we can.”

In 2019, the new-look NAB League features interstate sides once again, and brings back memories for Sharp, who recalls a time when non-Victorian sides were a regular fixture on the then-TAC Cup calendar. Sharp said Tasmania being a full-time side was particularly exciting for the competition and the Pioneers program.

“It’s exciting for us because I was involved many years ago with the NSW/ACT Rams when we were in Canberra,” he said. “The (Tasmania) Mariners and the Rams were a part of the normal fixturing back in that 96 (1996) through to the early 2000s. “So we’re excited by that prospect because we played Tassie in Tassie in 2015 in May, and we play them twice this year.”

Sharp said the club was excited to both travel down to Tasmania in July, and welcome the Devils to Queen Elizabeth Oval in May.

“It’s a good opportunity for the kids to get away and stay overnight, so we’re looking forward to playing Tassie,” he said. “Particularly with them coming here adds a bit more profile to our program with an interstate team coming here.”

With an exciting batch of raw talents in 2019, Sharp said spectators could expect the Pioneers to play an exciting brand of football to give themselves the best chance of being drafted, while maintaining accountability.

“I think that’s a philosopy of our program,” he said. “We’ve got to showcase the kids’ talents; defensive mindset and accountability when need be, but you’ve got to get the footy and take the game on and showcase what you’ve got because it is that sort of program, so Rick’s got a really simple game style. “We’re working his coaching principles around teaching the fundamentals, your clean ground ball, your kicking skills, your handballing, your marking, your decision making, all that simple stuff is a real strong focus of his coaching. Whether he’s coaching groups or throughout our region, you can get caught up in structures of the game, gameplans and setups and all that, but if you can’t execute it… you could have the best gameplan in the world couldn’t you? We thought we’d keep it pretty simple.”

The Bendigo Pioneers begin their season on Sunday, March 24 against Geelong Falcons at Central Reserve, Colac.