Tag: Gold Coast Suns Academy

AFL Draft Watch: Alex Davies (Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Gold Coast SUNS Academy product Alex Davies, a big-bodied inside midfielder who looms as Queensland’s most promising 2020 prospect. Solidly built at 191cm and 85kg, Davies is a terrific extractor at the stoppages and finds the ball at will, setting the tone from midfield. He represented the Maroons at Under 16 and 17 level, but will now be looking to become the centrepiece of the Allies’ engine room as a top-ager. His four NAB League outings as a bottom-ager also put him in good stead, and he could cost the SUNS first round points value come draft time.

PLAYER PAGE:

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies

DOB: March 18, 2002

Height: 191cm
Weight: 85kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Strengths: Contested ball, clean hands, distribution, poise
Improvements: Outside impact

2019 NAB League stats: 4 games, 18 disposals (49.3% contested possessions), 2.8 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.8 clearances, 2.8 inside 50s, 1.3 rebound 50s, 0.3 goals (1)

>> Q&A: Alex Davies
>> Marquee Matchup: Davies vs. McInnes

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early. He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners. He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

Under 17 Futures vs. Vic Metro

By: Ed Pascoe

The tallest of Queensland’s big midfielders standing at 190cm, he was a strong player around stoppages going in hard to win clearances but also working hard around the ground to be an option. Davies showed good attack on the ball but he also showed his ability to pressure and give multiple efforts through the midfield, and had a good bit of play in the first quarter with a great second effort smother. Davies finished the game with 15 disposals and was his team’s leading clearance player with five.

Under 17 Futures vs. NSW/ACT

By: Michael Alvaro

Davies’ game suited the conditions, with the big-bodied midfielder bustling around packs and forcing his way through at stoppages. His approach was pretty simple, slamming the ball on the boot in traffic and gaining territory for his team – often kicking off one or two steps. He did the hard stuff as well with six tackles and a spoil to kill the ball from a front-half kick-in.

NAB League Round 6 vs. GWV

By: Sophie Taylor

Davies used his height to his advantage, providing a solid option in pack scenarios while showing some good movement in space and shepherds around stoppages. He put pressure on ground ball and crumbers, credit to his clever use of space and ability to barrel through a pack. Had only the 12 touches, three marks and two tackles, but his bodywork around the ball was solid.

>> MORE SUNS ACADEMY CONTENT

>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction
>> Positional Analysis: Inside Mids
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

Q&A: Jye Lockett (GWV Rebels/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jye Lockett at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

It would only seem fitting that the nephew of Tony Lockett would ply his trade as a budding centre half-forward, and furthermore make the move down to Ballarat as he looks pursue footballing and schooling opportunities. The Queenslander is also part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and represented Queensland at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, booting multiple goals in two of the three games.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

MA: Jye, how’s the day been so far?

JL: “It’s been good to see all the other teams here. Everyone goes out there and competes hard and I guess it gives a good indication of your athletic ability.”

 

Which of the tests are you excelling in or looking to improve on at the moment?

“I didn’t do too bad at the agility (test) but I’d probably like to work on my 20-metre sprint.”

 

How has the transition been coming from Queensland?

“It was good, I moved down just before last year and was in the Under 16s Rebels program. I moved into the 18s this year and it’s going really well.”

 

You enjoyed a pretty successful Under 16 carnival as well playing forward alongside Noah McFadyen, how was that?

“Yes, I love playing with ‘Nug’. He’s a great bloke and I think we work really well together, so that 16s Queensland side was real fun.”

 

Will you continue to represent Queensland and the Allies or transition to Vic Country?

“The plan was this year to play with the Queensland Futures 17s and go through the Allies program in my 18th year, but I’m not too sure about that just yet. I’m focused on this year.”

 

And you’ve come down for school as well?

“Yes, I got a scholarship at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat and have done Year 11 and 12 there.”

 

Who are some of the boys from there and the Rebels you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch – a few of the Academy boys. It’ll be good to play alongside them and learn off all their different skills.”

 

In terms of position, are you looking to move further afield in future?

“Yes. Centre half-forward is obviously the main position but anywhere from half-forward or deep forward, even pushing up the ground into the midfield or up on the wing is probably the next goal.”

 

Do you have any other goals for the year?

“Obviously if I can play really well in those Queensland Under 17 games then get into the Under 18 Academy and Allies (squad) and set myself up really well.”

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Daisy D’Arcy (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is Gold Coast Suns Academy talent, Daisy D’Arcy who showed some really promising signs in her middle-age year last year for Queensland at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, then lit up the track at the state pre-season testing event. However she has a massive decision to make with FOUR – not a typo – sports she has reached state level within a pathway system.

Daisy D’Arcy (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)

Height: 163cm
Position: Utility
Strengths: Footy smarts, skills, decision making, versatility, consistency

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 3 games | 9.3 disposals | 0.7 marks | 2.0 tackles | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goal

So much is spoken about players who have a decision to make as a dual sport athlete at an elite level. Many players come through playing a couple of sports and really dominating and then are forced to give it up. Not many come through and seem to be among the best in their state at three sports let alone four. That is exactly the case with Gold Coast Suns Academy member and Queensland talent, Daisy D’Arcy. The 163cm player has reached state level in not only Australian rules football, but rugby, soccer and cricket as well. From all reports up in Townsville where she resides, D’Arcy has a smorgasbord of options when it comes to what she is capable of following in the future.

Speaking strictly about her footballing ability, D’Arcy is a clever small who can play just about anywhere on the ground. She averaged nine touches, a couple of tackles and a rebound at last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, while booting a goal after outsmarting her opponent. Queensland might not have had the most successful carnival last year – especially compared to the huge one 12 months prior – but D’Arcy was among a heap of young talent coming through. Assuming the 2020 addition gets up, one would expect the talented teenager to have more a role through the midfield after spending time at either end in 2019 given the strength of the Sunshine State’s onball brigade, such as future AFL Women’s players Ellie Hampson and Lily Postlethwaite among others.

When speaking to Draft Central at last year’s championships, the middle-ager spoke of her love for both Australian rules and rugby as her two main sports, though it is clear her entry into the Queensland Academy of Sport for her soccer, and her ability to play in the Townsville Super Sixes competition earlier this year show that she is capable of anything. What she chooses will be interesting, but it is no surprise that her footy smarts, decision making and skills were among some her top traits at last year’s carnival. By her own admission, her greatest strength is reliability, happy to play the team game and play a role. What role that will be, in what code is yet to be seen, but when it comes to sporting talent, D’Arcy is up there with the most versatile at the elite junior level.

Squad predictions: 2020 Allies Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with carnival likely to take place in October. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the championships come around, but with a few stipulations in place. We began with our Vic Metro, Vic Country, South Australian, and West Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at the potential Allies line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • The inclusion of bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it is limited
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the fifth and final squad prediction, with the Allies’ talent broken down line-by-line. The Allies squad is made up of talent from NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

DEFENCE

FB – Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Peel), Jack Johnston (Gold Coast), Patrick Walker (Tasmania)
HB – Charlie Byrne (Murray), Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast), Sam Collins (Tasmania)

Two Gold Coast Suns Academy members make up the heart of our proposed Allies defence, with genuine talls Jack Johnston (195cm) and Ryan Pickering (199cm) slotting into key position posts. The additions of Brodie Lake and Sam Collins contribute even further to the height and marking power of the defence, with Collins’ intercept and rebound qualities also valuable assets.

Collins’ fellow Tasmanian Patrick Walker should provide similarly astute ball use from defence at a shorter range, while Murray product Charlie Byrne also likes to push further afield and deal damage by foot. The back six should have no trouble competing aerially on the defensive side, while being able to yield an attacking threat on the turnover.


MIDFIELD

C – Saxon Crozier (Brisbane), Oliver Davis (Tasmania), Carter Michael (Brisbane)
FOL – Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast), Alex Davies (Gold Coast), Braeden Campbell (Sydney)

Queenslanders take up four of the six midfield spots in our Allies side, with Brisbane Lions Academy members Saxon Crozier and Carter Michael starting on either wing, while 201cm ruck Thomas Hofert has been tasked with tapping down to Gold Coast Academy teammate Alex Davies at the centre bounces.

There is plenty of grunt in the engine room trio of Davies, Braeden Campbell, and Oliver Davis; with Davies the tallest of the lot (191cm) as that pure big-bodied type, while Davis (182cm) is another extractor who comes in at a similar build to the speedy and versatile Campbell (180cm).

The likes of Crozier and Michael may fancy a run through the middle but seem well suited to the outside, with a number of flankers and depth options in our squad also able to pitch in. Still, we feel this is the best mix, and one which gives the Allies a great chance to compete strongly in the area in which each contest begins.


FORWARD

HF – Errol Gulden (Sydney), Josh Green (GWS), Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder)
FF – Marco Rossmann (Sydney), Jackson Callow (Tasmania), Blake Coleman (Brisbane)

In a similar vein to the defensive mix, this forward six provides good versatility and some great marking power. Jackson Callow is the centrepiece at full forward, a physical key position type who is near-unstoppable with his contested marking, and may well take on ruck duties inside forward 50. Josh Green, brother of GWS draftee Tom, is a 192cm utility who can play up either end. He slots in at centre half-forward for now on account of his aerial ability.

The diminutive but brilliant Errol Gulden comes in on a forward flank but will have eyes on moving up to a wing, with fellow Swans Academy product Marco Rossmann a solid medium type who may also run through the midfield. In the opposite flank to Rossmann is exciting forward Blake Coleman, who along with Northern Territory prospect Joel Jeffrey, provides clean hands and a terrific goal sense. With silver service likely to come from a strong midfield core, this forward mix could do some damage at the national carnival when on song.


INTERCHANGE

INT – Marc Sheather (Sydney), Jared Dakin (Tasmania), Tahj Abberley (Brisbane), Maurice Rioli Jnr (NT Thunder/Oakleigh)

This interchange group is, well, incredibly interchangeable with the group of depth players listed below, but all bring something different to the side. Jared Dakin makes the cut as the only over-ager in the squad given he garnered interest at last year’s draft, and he’ll provide a good ball winning boost.

Tahj Abberley and Maurice Rioli Jnr add some x-factor and smarts at ground level as part of the rotational group. Abberley is likely to play as a small defender but is just as capable up forward or through midfield, while Rioli could well be the genuine small forward that the side is missing. Rounding out the chosen 22 is Marc Sheather, another versatile medium type who can play well above his size at either end given his athleticism.


SQUAD DEPTH

There remains a decent crop of top-agers who narrowly missed the cut, and some bottom-aged talent which will inevitably squeeze into the team minus any stipulations. Among the most unlucky to miss were AFL Academy hub members Rhys Nicholls and Aidan Fyfe, who could both slot in as half-backs or outside types. Kye Pfrengle is another defensive option who will get a look-in, while Jack Briskey and Jack Driscoll are taller types who should also rotate through the same line. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Lui and Ryan Eyers are prospects who may also be thereabouts.

In terms of top-agers outside of the AFL Academy intake, Tasmania’s Isaac Chugg is a terrific athlete, while Devils teammates Will Harper and Jye Menzie are well known to selectors. Sydney’s Pierce Roseby is a tough small who thrived in NSW/ACT colours, as did Max Pescud in the Maroon of Queensland.

Moving on to over-agers, and Tasmanian over-ager Hamish Allan would help the ruck stocks at 206cm, with GIANT-turned-Knight Liam Delahunty another tall who remains among the Under 18 ranks. In terms of Queensland-based 19-year-olds, the likes of forward movers Bruce Reville, Josh Gore, and Hewago Paul Oea have already shown plenty of promise.

Finally, an exciting group of bottom-aged talent is set to cause some selection headaches, lead by Tasmanian gun Sam Banks. He, and Tasmanian teammate Baynen Lowe impressed at Under 16 level enough to warrant NAB League selection in 2019. Queensland Under 16 MVP Austin Harris will also push his case as a small defender, while GIANTS Academy members Sam Stening and Josh Fahey are hard to deny, as is big Queensland forward Noah McFadyen.

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 ALLIES U18s:

Brisbane Lions Academy
Gold Coast SUNS Academy
GWS GIANTS Academy
Sydney Swans Academy
Tasmania Devils

AFL Draft Watch:

Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

Marquee Matchups:

Jackson Callow vs. Cam Fleeton
Braeden Campbell vs. Corey Durdin
Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes
Errol Gulden vs. Jake Bowey

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

>> 2020 UNDER 18 SQUAD PREDICTIONS:

South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Q&A: Sophie Ure (Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Sophie Ure at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

TM: Sophie, how did you get into football?

SU: “All my family has been involved in it and I’ve just played it since primary school, so it’s just been a big part of my life.”

 

You didn’t really have a choice?

“Well I was always there. I thought it looked fun so I may as well join in.”

 

What is it that you love about footy?

“Just the people around it. Everyone’s so genuine and nice and everyone’s there for each other, trying to make everyone better.”

 

How are you finding being part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy?

“I’m really enjoying it. Especially over the summer, it’s helping me to keep on improving my fitness. I’m from up North so it’s a bit smaller up there, but it’s still really good – good coaches.”

 

How different is it from your experience up North?

“There’s definitely a lot more boys up there, especially from my region so I’m a bit isolated from the girls in the academy sense but it’s still good to see what you’re up against and see how you can improve just from watching the boys.”

 

How old were you when you started playing?

“(I started at) AusKick when I was about five or six, and then played Under 9s.”

 

So did you play mostly against boys back then?

“Yes. I played with and against boys until I was 14, then I only played women’s in the last two or three years.”

 

How have you found that change?

“Playing with boys definitely helped improve my skills more. I had to be better to actually get a kick, so I feel like when I moved over to women’s, it was a bit less about your skills and more about how hard you can hit.”

 

Is there a particular area you’re looking to improve on this season?

“Probably my tackling and defensive pressure… I’m not the most solid person so I want to try and get a bit more involved with tackling pressure so I have a presence.”

 

And what do you see as your strengths on the field?

“I don’t reckon my kicking is too bad. But I haven’t really compared it to people down here.”

 

Do you have any goals for 2020?

“Just to get as far as I can with my footy, whether that’s just the academy, the Under 18 team, or whatever happens.”

 

How have you been travel-wise over the journey?

“It definitely is a lot balancing all the footy on top of Year 12, but it’s good because I enjoy it, so it’s not a chore.”

 

Do you have any role models or mentors you look up to at the moment?

“My parents have been pretty good, they’ve always encouraged me so I just want to be as positive as them.”

Q&A: Ebony Peterson (Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Ebony Peterson at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

Q&A:

 

TM: How did you get into football, Ebony?

EP: “One of my school friends needed players for their club team, so I thought I’d go a long and try out and now I’m here.”

 

How long ago was that?

“That was about four-five years ago.”

 

What is it that has kept you in the game for those years?

“Definitely the people and the coaches as well, they’re a really good help. And it’s fun, it’s just fun.”

 

What’s the most fun part?

“It’s what, 16 against 16 and you just go ham.”

 

You mentioned the coaches, how much of an influence have they had on your development?

“Oh, heaps. They just know what they’re talking about and with anything, you can ask them whatever you need and they’ll give you the right answer.”

 

How’s the preseason been going?

“Very well actually. No injuries, no setbacks yet.”

 

Are there any particular areas you’re hoping to improve on this year?

“Just knowing how I play more. Understanding the positions and improving in every position.”

 

Is there an area you’re particularly strong in?

“I think I’m an alright leader. I can talk, tell everyone what they need to do.”

 

What are you hoping to get out of this season?

“To improve as a footballer, definitely. And my knowledge of the game.”

 

What’s it like being involved with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy?

“It’s a good opportunity. The facilities are pretty good so we are in a good position, especially because how girls footy is growing. It’s really good for us to be (here).”

 

Do you find there’s any difference between playing with the Academy and at club level?

“It’s actually very different. We’ve been training academy since November and when we got back to club, we could see the difference from the academy girls to the club girls. It’s boosted our performance levels majorly.”

 

Have you got any role models you look up to?

Melissa Hickey. She’s got very good muscles… you’ve got to see a photo of her.”

Q&A: Lilly Pearce (Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Lilly Pearce at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

Pearce hails from a high-level athletics background, and initially came into football as a means to get fit upon recovering from a back injury. The top-ager has not looked back since and is now part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy having played just two full seasons of Australian rules football. An athlete who thrives on being busy, Pearce certainly has a lot on her plate in 2020; juggling academy commitments, club football, and her Year 12 studies.

Q&A:

 

TM: Lilly, how did you get into footy?

LP: “I did athletics for 10 years and I got a back injury. So I was off for about two years and then I joined up at my local (Australian rules football) club to get fit because there’s heaps of running involved. I haven’t gone back to athletics since.”

 

What kind of events were you doing in athletics?

“I was doing heptathlons at a national level. Nationals was two years ago, my last one. I haven’t had time to go back, I would like to but I’ve been so busy with academy training and club (football) that I haven’t had time to go back yet.”

 

What was it like being at nationals?

“I’ve competed at nationals since I was 10. It’s just an amazing experience, just getting to that level and making new friends from different states, I think that’s really amazing. It’s really shaped a lot of who I am today, I believe. Obviously travelling with my mum, it’s been great, I loved doing athletics.”

 

Have you been able to transfer some of the skills required in athletics to football?

“Athletics is an individual sport and it’s such a different atmosphere to football. It’s like training seven events individually and it’s so structured; you go to training, you know you’re there to do your training, then you leave and you rest and train the next day. I live and breathe spot, I feel like any rest day is just a step back… I love keeping busy so that’s good.”

 

How have you found being part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy?

“I’m in year 12 this year and thinking about it stresses me out because I have academy three times a week, club two times a week, gym every other day, and gamedays on Sunday. And I have a job. So I feel like every single day of the week I go from one (to the other) and it takes me an hour and 10 minutes to get to training. It’s kind of full-on but I know what I’ve got to do and I’m keen for it to become a routine. I think that’s going to be exciting.”

 

How do you manage it all and the stress involved?

“I couldn’t tell you. I think I just forget about it when I’m on the field or in the gym. I thrive off keeping busy and I feel like I’ll come home and I’ll do my homework and if I keep up to date with everything, then I’ll be fine.”

 

What are you hoping to get out of 2020?

“Probably the experience, mostly. I’ve only been (playing football) for two years so I think mainly the experience.”

 

Are there any particular areas you’re looking to improve on?

“I’d like to be better at marking. I broke my finger in my first season and it’s been on my mind. I haven’t gotten past it.”

 

How’s the injury now, did you recover well?

“I had surgery on it and was off for the whole first season – I did it in the second game. So it’s my third year of (football) but my second season. But yeah, I think it’s just a mental barrier that I think I need to overcome and hopefully I can do that this year.”

 

On the flip-side, what do you see as some of your strengths?

“Probably general fitness. Coming from an athletics background and obviously I train every day, I feel comfortable with how I am in the fitness area. Obviously there’s always room to improve but I don’t struggle as much as I could.”

 

You mentioned before that your mum was a big part of your athletics life, has that been the same with football?

“Definitely. She’s the one who pushes me and if I feel like I can’t do it, she’ll make me do it, then I feel accomplished afterwards. She’s been an amazing role model for me.”

 

Are there any other role models you look up to at the moment?

“I think there are some amazing influencers. Not really any that I really aspire to be like, I think it’s all about making a name for yourself and having your own brand. I think that definitely other people do influence that.”

Marquee Matchups: Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

A couple of academy hopefuls make up our next pair under review, with Cairns native Alex Davies tied to the Gold Coast SUNS, while Reef McInnes is the latest Oakleigh Charger connected to Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy (NGA). The two are virtually identical in size and have already played in opposing sides thrice across three different competitions, providing a decent data sample to this point. Neither player was able to participate in preseason testing due to injury niggles, but are raring to go should they be called upon.

Davies has long been one of Queensland’s hottest draft prospects, and is certainly now the SUNS’ most prominent academy member. The 191cm inside midfielder provides a big body at the stoppages, dominating the clearance stakes with his clean hands, strength, and poise in congestion. He has often been Queensland’s best player during representative duties to date, earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level and impressing last year in the Under 17 competition. Experience in the NAB League also bodes well for Davies, as he helped the SUNS take out the Academy Series in 2019.

His adversary, McInnes has plenty of similar attributes as an inside midfielder, but was forced to play up forward for Oakleigh for much of 2019 given the Chargers’ phenomenal midfield crop. The 192cm mover managed to take full advantage of his limited time in the engine room though, showcasing his ability to find plenty of ball as he also does for Scotch College in school football. McInnes also possesses terrific athleticism for his size, allowing him to come away cleanly from stoppage situations and get his side moving forward. Having played in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, he is also well versed in big games.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Alex Davies
Gold Coast/Allies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy

DOB: March 18, 2002

Height: 191.2cm
Weight: 84.6kg

Position: Inside midfielder

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Collingwood NGA

DOB: December 12, 2002

Height: 192.1cm
Weight: 83.8kg

Position: Inside midfielder/forward

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Davies:

4 games
18 disposals (49.3% contested possessions)
2.8 marks
3.5 tackles
3.8 clearances
2.8 inside 50s
1.3 rebound 50s
0.3 goals (1)

McInnes:

12 games
14.7 disposals (36% contested possessions)
3.9 marks
3.1 tackles
1.6 clearances
1.6 inside 50s
1.6 rebound 50s
0.5 goals (6)

There is often only so much you can read into statistics, and this is somewhat the case with either player here. While Davies’ sample size in the NAB League is three-times smaller than McInnes’, his key stats arguably better reflect his overall game as an inside type. The Queenslander’s 49 per cent contested ball rate, 3.8 clearances, and 3.5 tackles are indicative of his stoppage dominance, while his average of 2.8 inside 50s come from long roosts out of congestion. Over half (9.8) of Davies’ disposals across the four games were handballs though, further reflecting his distributive role.

McInnes’ key stats over 12 games are products of his varying roles in the competition as a bottom-ager, having been pushed out to the flanks given Oakleigh’s stacked squad. Still, McInnes managed three games of over 23 disposals with a high of 29 when utilised through midfield, and made good of his chances in the side nonetheless. McInnes’ deceptive athleticism also comes through in his average 3.9 marks and low contested possession rate, as he showed he could gain separation from his direct opponent in the forward half, while also proving strong one-on-one inside 50. From midfield, McInnes’ accumulation on the spread has arguably proven superior.

BEST GAME

Davies:

NAB League Rd 4 vs. Oakleigh

16 disposals
5 marks
6 tackles
1 clearance
3 inside 50s
1 goal

McInnes:

NAB League Rd 13 vs. Geelong

29 disposals
5 marks
7 tackles
4 clearances
5 inside 50s
2 goals

Either players’ best games display similar upside in their efforts, with two-way work rate, the ability to find the ball, and scoreboard impact all evident across the two performances. Davies’ disposal count may be a touch low at 16, but his well-rounded outing against McInnes and Oakleigh in last year’s NAB League beat out his two 22-disposal efforts. He worked around the ground well to notch six marks, while using his physical presence to also have a say on the defensive side of the stoppages.

McInnes had a blinder against Geelong during the middle of the season, racking up big numbers throughout a rare midfield berth. A game-high 29 touches featured four clearances, five inside 50s, and two goals, with the Chargers’ defensive work also notable as he laid seven tackles. McInnes’ 28 disposals against Western in his next NAB League appearance was a close second, but his goals against Geelong showcase the versatility in his game. Again, the accumulation factor looks good for McInnes in these instances.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

2019 NAB League Rd 4
Gold Coast 14.11 (95) def. Oakleigh 3.6 (24) @ Southport

Davies:

16 disposals
5 marks
6 tackles
3 inside 50s
1 goal

McInnes:

13 disposals
3 marks
1 clearance
3 rebound 50s

2019 Under 17 Futures
Vic Metro 10.11 (71) def. Queensland 6.7 (43) @ Ikon Park

Davies:

15 disposals
3 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
1 inside 50

McInnes:

24 disposals
3 marks
9 tackles
6 clearances
4 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

The ledger after these two meetings looks reasonably square, with Davies having a greater say in their NAB League clash, while McInnes managed to get one back in their representative hitout. It is also worth noting that the pair also faced off in the Under 17s All Star fixture, with both prospects returning terrific performances.

Arguably the best game to look at is the Under 17 carnival clash, where McInnes’ Metro side trumped Davies’ Queenslanders on home turf. Reason being, both players were utilised in their natural inside midfield positions on that day and were easily in their sides’ best handful of players. Though he had nine less disposals, Davies nearly matched McInnes for clearances, but the Victorian was on a tear early with his impact around the ground.

Ironically, the game also worked to somewhat highlight their respective improvements to be made, which will be touched on further down the line.

STRENGTHS

Davies:

Contested ball
Clean hands
Distribution
Poise

McInnes:

Contested ball
Versatility
Strength
Agility

Given their similar position and ilk, the strengths of either player match up well. Both are fantastic in the contested ball stakes, able to use their size at the stoppages to burrow in and gain first use. But where Davies is superior with his clean hands and quick distribution, McInnes thrives with his repeated digs and ability to break away from congestion with either strength or agility.

Davies can be that clearance-first, or distributing midfielder – balancing his disposal by food and hand – while McInnes’ balance comes through in the sense that he can provide more of an outside presence to go with that ball-winning dominance.

IMPROVEMENTS

Davies:

Impact outside of the contest

McInnes:

Four-quarter consistency

As two high-end prospects with ideal athletic profiles and talent to boot, improvements are sometimes difficult to nail down. But there are a couple of areas to sharpen for either player, aimed at making them more complete midfielders.

Davies has said himself that getting to repeated contests and being on the move is an area he is improving on, with that impact outside of the contested situations theoretically allowing him to find more of the ball. While Davies is usually assured in possession, he can also blaze away at stoppages under pressure when a handball option does not present.

McInnes’ improvement comes from a desire to impact for four quarters, with his best football not always consistent throughout each game. Even in one of his best showings – against Queensland last year – McInnes started like a house on fire but faded towards the latter stages. Three NAB League outings of under 10 disposals also pertain to this point, and building a better tank through midfield could be a solution.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Davies:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early.

He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners.

He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

McInnes:

2019 Under 17 All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

Starting in midfield, McInnes proved he was more than an inside workhorse with his poise on the ball and sound decision making when hemmed in.

He has that surprising agility at times – much like GWS Academy product Tom Green and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps – which helps to get him out of trouble on top of his strength in the tackle.

The Collingwood NGA hopeful went on to become influential up forward, finding separation on the lead and almost pulling in some strong marks.

It proved a shrewd move, as McInnes booted two goals; the first coming from a 50m penalty, and the second shortly after with a classy snap from the tightest of angles.

ACCOLADES

Davies:

2018 Under 16 All Australian
2019 Queensland Under 17 representative
2019 Australian Under 17 representative
2019 Under 17 All Star

McInnes:

2018 Vic Metro Under 16 representative
2019 Vic Metro Under 17 representative
2019 NAB League premiership player
2019 Under 17 All Star

FINAL WORD

There is not much to separate these two, who present as some of the finest inside midfield candidates for the 2020 AFL Draft. Both should come at a decent cost to their respective aligned clubs, though that often also works to push them down the pecking order come draft night.

McInnes’ work somewhat out of position to this point has been a blessing in disguise, adding versatility and a greater ability to impact around the ground to his well-rounded midfield game.

Davies is one of this year’s best contested ball winners though, and is rarely beaten in those stakes. While he can always work on adding strings to his bow, specialists are often hard to come by and many have been impressed by his kicking on the outer nonetheless.

We can only hope these two are able to get on the park this year to battle it out once again, potentially as direct opponents during either the NAB League or National Championships.

Gold Coast and Collingwood fans, rejoice.

Features:

For more on these two draft prospects, follow the links below.

Get to know Alex Davies
Reef McInnes Q&A

 

Marquee Matchups:

For more Marquee Matchups, follow the links below.

Sam Berry vs. Zavier Maher
Jackson Callow vs. Cameron Fleeton
Nikolas Cox vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Get to know: Max Pescud (Gold Coast Academy/Allies)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Peter Williams chatted with Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospect Max Pescud at the Queensland pre-season fitness testing day hosted by Rookie Me. As we delve into the Queensland-based talent, you’ll get to know everything you need to know about the brightest academy talents.

The lightly-framed outside mover impressed as a bottom-ager across four NAB League outings last year for the SUNS Academy, as they went on to finish best of all the Northern Academies. Pescud was also an influential figure in Queensland’s Under 17 Futures side, making the most of his opportunities roaming forward from the wing with two goals from 16 disposals against Vic Metro. The Surfers Paradise product is now looking to bulk up in his top-age season and enter it “twice as good” as he did last year, with the ultimate goal of being drafted in mind.

Q&A

PW: How’ve you found today with the testing?

MP: “Today’s been good. I haven’t been testing but it’s good to see all the boys and where the standards are at now. “There’s some good scores going around, it’s good to see the competition and what we’re going up against.”

From your perspective, has your pre-season been interrupted through injury?

“I’ve only been injured this week actually, so pretty unlucky I don’t get to test. But pre-season’s been good, it’s been hard at the SUNS. We’ve all been working very hard because this year’s fixture has been hard for us. “We want to come in and smash the Swans (Academy) and go through the season like we did last year, coming first.”

So you won’t be out for too long?

“Not too long, I’ll be back on Thursday.”

Just enough to miss the testing?

“Yeah” *laughs*

Last season, how’d you find it playing with the Academy?

“It was amazing, very eye-opening. Just playing all those games with the older boys, I enjoyed it so much. “Coming first, the equality and how they brought me in was just really good.”

What kind of things have you been improving on in the off-season?

“I’ve been just trying to gain weight, trying to get my endurance up, and just come back twice as good as I did last year. “Just to develop my body and get (my) weight better for this year.”

And in terms of your on-field traits?

“Just hitting targets and my use of the ball. “Hitting the first option, and my vision – bringing the team more into the game and becoming more of a team player and leader.”

What do you see as your strengths on the field?

“My speed and my in-air ability – like taking marks – and running over time, just long distance and to constantly keep running until I’m down.”

So you’d probably be pretty good at the yo-yo test?

“Yeah. Yo-yo, 2km.”

What are your goals for this year?

“This year obviously I’m trying to look to push into the Allies squad and hopefully if I can, to get as close as I can to becoming an AFL player at the end of the year.”

Classic Contests: Seven-goal third term sees Eastern douse Suns

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 5 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Gold Coast Suns Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in what has been the only clash between the pair.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

Round 5 | Saturday, April 27, 2019
Trevor Barker Oval, 1.15pm

After four rounds of the NAB League Boys season, Eastern Ranges were looking good thanks to three consecutive victories to have them fourth with a 3-1 win-loss record. Though Gold Coast Suns Academy had also notched up three consecutive wins, albeit against fellow Academy sides and a weakened Oakleigh Chargers outfit the week before. It still mean the Suns sat atop the ladder with a a massive percentage of 237.5.

The first half was certainly not one to write home about with just three goals kicked from both sides. Bailey White was the first one the board with a major in the 12th minute of the game, while Ben Hickleton made it two early in the second term to hold a 14-point lead. In the last couple of minutes, Riley Buckland finally brought the 48-minute goalless drought for the visitors and despite it being the Suns first major of the match, they trailed by just eight points at the major break.

It was the third term where the Ranges put the foot down and won the game. Keeping their opponents to just two behinds in the quarter, Eastern piled on 7.2 in a dominant performance that would be indicative of the Ranges ability to win when challenged. Zak Pretty was first on the board in the second half, followed back back-to-back goals to White who had three to his name. Jamieson Rossiter got in on the party with two majors of his own, before two late goals in the last two minutes – to Cody Hirst and a remarkable fourth to White after the siren – had Eastern 50 points up with a quarter to play. Danger signs were there when Rossiter booted his third and his side’s eighth consecutive goal just 45 seconds into the last term. Luckily for the Suns, the defence managed to stem the flow over the next 20 minutes until Hickleton converted the Ranges’ 11th and his second for a 65-point advantage. A consolation goal to Ethan Dawson with three minutes to play ensured the Suns at least finished with two goals on the board.

From the 11 goals, White, Rossiter and Hicketon would combined for nine of them in a remarkable effort up forward, also combining for 35 disposals, and 12 marks in the process. From Eastern’s dominant midfield, Pretty had an absolute day out, feasting on 37 disposals (21 contested), five tackles, eight clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal. Fellow consistent ball winners, Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) and Mitch Mellis (24 disposals, three tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were busy, while bottom-age talents Wil Parker (23 disposals, seven marks and three rebounds) and Josh Clarke (21 disposals, five marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and seven rebounds) were also prominent. Riley Smith was a star in the ruck wiht 37 hitouts from 19 touches, while future Swan Hirst finished with 20 disposals, three marks, four tackles and a goal on the day.

Eventual Hunter Harrison Medallist, Connor Budarick had a team-high 27 disposals, six marks, 16 tackles and five for the Suns, as well as three clearances and four rebounds. Max Pescud (23 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and six rebounds) and Ashton Crossley (22 disposals, three marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds) also found plenty of the ball. In defence, Brandon Deslandes and Corey Joyce combined for 13 rebounds from 39 disposals and seven marks.

Eastern Ranges would go on to earn the minor premiership, making it all the way to the NAB League Grand Final before bowing out to Oakleigh on the big stage. Gold Coast Suns would still win the overall Academy Series thanks to defeating Sydney Swans Academy for the title.