Tag: Irving Mosquito

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

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

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

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

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

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

2014:

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

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

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

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

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

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

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Classic Contests: Jets, Power share 36 minor scores in Round 4 thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Gippsland Power and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to early 2017, when the two sides went down to the wire in a game of heavy momentum swings.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 4
Saturday April 22, 2:00pm
Downer Oval

WESTERN JETS 3.10 | 4.11 | 5.15 | 9.21 (75)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.3 | 5.9 | 9.12 | 9.15 (69)

GOALS:

Western: C. Thar 2, O. King, J. Hazik, Z. Butters, L. Hitch, J. Noonan, J. Dundon, B. Smokrovic
Gippsland:
M. McGannon 2, I. Mosquito 2, W. Broadbent 2, C. Henness, A. Quigley, N. Hogan

BEST:

Western: J. Dundon, Z. Butters, B. McGregor, S. Radovanovic, C. Thar, N. Stuhldreier
Gippsland:
W. Stephenson, S. Masterson, J. Hudson, T. Bindley, B. Motton, A. Hodge

Draftees in action:

Western: Tristan Xerri, Buku Khamis, Zak Butters, Xavier O’Halloran
Gippsland: Callum Porter, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito

A pair of teams looking to even up their negative records met in Round 4 of the 2017 TAC Cup season, with Gippsland and Western sitting on the precipice of the top eight at 1-2 apiece. The Power had just broken through for their first win of the campaign a week earlier, while the Jets’ sole set of premiership points were earned in Round 2.

Some notable bottom-age talent took the field, with current Port Adelaide wombo combo Zak Butters (Western) taking on Xavier Duursma (Gippsland), while the highly touted Xavier O’Halloran also lined up for the Jets, and soon-to-be Essendon debutant Irving Mosquito was stationed up forward for Gippsland. Arguably the most glaring absentees were Western’s best two top-age prospects, in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty.

In somewhat of an omen for things to come, Western made the better start, albeit an inaccurate one shooting towards the scoring end at Downer Oval, Williamstown. A Mosquito major split the Jets’ 3.10 with one quarter played, and ended up being the difference come half time after Gippsland enjoyed its own period of dominance in the second term. A four-point lead was extended to 21 at the final break, as the hosts continued to struggle in front of goal.

A mad scramble for the Jets’ kicking boots must have finally become fruitful over that break, as Western stormed home with four goals to nil in the fourth period to snatch victory by a single goal. Gun small midfielder Connor Thar got the ball rolling with two majors in the opening 10 minutes, before Jack Noonan sealed the deal with less than 60 seconds left on the clock.

Judah Dundon, whose late third term goal gave Western a sniff, was named his side’s best player ahead of Butters and Thar, while O’Halloran racked up 23 disposals. Will Stephenson was adjudged the top Power performer with Sean Masterson in tow, while Mosquito added two goals to Gippsland’s cause and Aiden Quigley had 25 touches.

The Jets weren’t able to scrape themselves into finals contention throughout the year, finishing the regular season in 10th at 6-12. Gippsland scrounged enough wins to do so with eight triumphs carrying the Power to seventh place. Their season was brought to an emphatic end at the hands of eventual premier Geelong, who beat them by 85 points in the first round of finals. Gippsland also won the reverse fixture between these two sides by 16 points in Round 17.

Featured Image: Mike Owen/AFL Media

Classic Contests: Porter inspires Power to hand Falcons first loss

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when an inspired performance helped Gippsland hand the Falcons their first loss for the season.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 9
Saturday June 3, 12:00pm
Central Reserve, Colac

GEELONG FALCONS 2.0 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.5 (65)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.3 | 6.8 | 8.11 | 9.16 (70)

GOALS:

Geelong: A. Garner 6, M. Chafer, F. O’Gorman, L. Noble, B. Cockerill
Gippsland:
C. Porter 4, B. Beck, X. Duursma, I. Mosquito, K. Reid, T. Fleming

BEST:

Geelong: C. Idun, S. Walsh, L. Noble, A. Garner, H. Benson, T. McCartin
Gippsland:
C. Porter, X. Duursma, A. Quigley, W. Stephenson, T. Fleming, M. McGannon

Draftees in action:

Geelong: Tom McCartin, Brayden Ham, Sam Walsh, Connor Idun
Gippsland: Callum Porter, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito

Seldom did Sam Walsh find himself outdone in a midfield battle throughout his decorated junior career, but on an early-June afternoon in Colac, the improbable occurred. A bottom-ager in the 2017 season, Walsh was still highly regarded and already well known for his ability to rack up huge numbers. He did just that against the Gippsland Power in Round 9 of the TAC Cup with 30 disposals and 10 marks, but he and his Falcons were eclipsed by a mammoth 36-disposal and four-goal effort from Power midfielder, Cal Porter.

To that point in the season, the Falcons had hardly put a foot wrong. Their 8-0 record had them sitting pretty atop the ladder, with an average winning margin of over 55 points across the first seven rounds. Conversely, the Power’s finals hopes looked to be dwindling as they slumped to 2-6 on the back of three-consecutive losses, only good enough for 10th place.

But with plenty of time left to resurrect its campaign, the Morwell-based talent program only needed a spark to light up the back-end of its season. It seemed Gippsland was up for the fight too, creating a greater number of scoring chances in the opening exchanges, but being kept within touch by the more accurate Falcons side.

A nine-point advantage was extended to 24 at the main break, and made 25 by three quarter time as Gippsland looked like cruising to what should have been an unlikely win. As good sides often do, Geelong made it tough in the end, pouring on 5.1 to Gippsland’s 1.5 in the final term. But just as the Power’s inaccuracy looked like catching up with them, they managed to hold on for a memorable five-point win on the road.

While the day will always be remembered for Porter’s breakout performance, a number of others also showed their class. Aside from Walsh’s 30 disposals for the Falcons, Adam Garner spearheaded his side’s late charge to finish with six goals, as future draftees Connor Idun (11 disposals, two marks, three tackles) and Tom McCartin (11 disposals, four marks, six tackles) were also named among the best. Bayley Cockerill (31 disposals, one goal) and Harry Benson (27 and one) were others to find plenty of the ball.

For Gippsland, a bottom-aged Xavier Duursma showed his class with 22 disposals and a goal, while fellow draftee Irving Mosquito also hit the scoreboard. Diminutive ball winner Will Stephenson was also productive with 25 touches and 9 marks. alongside Aiden Quigley (21 disposals, four marks, five tackles).

The Power would go on to drastically improve their early-season form, finishing the home-and-away allotment in seventh at 8-10, before Geelong exacted its revenge in week one of finals by way of an 85-point thrashing. The Falcons finished equal-top in the regular season but had to settle for second on percentage. They won through to a famous grand final against Sandringham, which they won by two points as Joel Amartey‘s post-siren shot went wide for the Dragons.

Classic Contests: Mozzie’s last minute magic guarantees draw

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 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind the clock back to 2018, when Gippsland Power hosted Northern Knights in Morwell, and by the end of four quarters, neither side could be split.

2018 TAC Cup, Round 4
Saturday April 21, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

GIPPSLAND POWER 1.8 | 2.3 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.1 | 5.4 | 7.4 | 10.6 (66)

GOALS:

Gippsland: I. Mosquito 4, J. Smith 2, R. Baldi, M. McGannon, A. Young, T. Hayes.
Northern:
S. Brazier 4, K. Agosta 2, J. D’Intinosante, B. Gillard, R. Sturgess, R. Bowkett.

BEST:

Gippsland: I. Mosquito, K. Reid, R. Sparkes, J. van der Pligt, B. Smith, M. McGannon
Northern:
B. Gillard, R. Sturgess, L. Potter, S. Brazier, T. Hallebone, R. Gardner

Draftees in action:

Gippsland: Irving Mosquito, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Leo Connolly, Noah Gown
Northern:
Sam Philp

An early season clash out at Morwell saw Gippsland Power take on Northern Knights in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup season. The Power had a host of talented bottom-agers who were already starring for the side, and had started the season with a 2-1 record to sit third on the table. They went in as strong favourites at home against a hardened Knights outfit that was one win from three games, sitting eighth on the table.

The early going belonged to Northern Knights as skipper, Braedyn Gillard booted the opener just two minutes into the game, and then Kye Agosta added another six minutes later to put his side up by 10. The lively Irving Mosquito would kick the first of four goals in the game late in the term, giving his team some confidence going into the second quarter.

Once again though, Northern had the upper hand in the next term, booting three of the four goals and racing out to a 19-point advantage by half-time. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess were both having big games, while Josh Smith was looking strong in attack for the Power. Trailing at half-time, Gippsland burst out of the blocks in the second half with Riley Baldi, Matt McGannon and Mosquito booting consecutive goals. The latter of the trio levelled the scorers momentarily until back-to-back goals from Sunny Brazier handed the visitors a 12-point buffer with five minutes remaining.

With only a couple of minutes left in the term, Mosquito found the goals yet again, and not for the last time in the game, would have a say deep in red time. At the final break, the home team’s deficit was a measly five points. The first goal in the final quarter would be crucial and up stepped Brazier to match Mosquito’s trio of goals, giving his team an 11-point advantage. That would not last long however, with Tyrone Hayes scoring, then Smith putting his team in front and Alex Young adding some extra incentive. After a few misses from Northern, the goal hurt as the Power led by five.

Agosta came to the rescue midway through the term with a goal, and soon Brazier popped up for his fourth, and the Knights trailed by seven points with 11 and a half minutes remaining. The last 10 minutes were tension-filled as both sides tried to get the upper hand, but the Power kept attacking and when they scored a crucial behind, the deficit was just six points and everyone knew what could be on the cards.

It looked for ages like the Knights would hold on and score a terrific away victory, but in the dying moments with just 22 seconds left on the clock, that man Mosquito popped up and found a way with a terrific effort in the pocket to drill it home and create something out of nothing for his time. The scores were level, and with no time on, the siren sounded not long after to signal a draw and the teams would split the points.

Mosquito was named best-on for the Power thanks to his crucial four-goal outing which accompanied 15 disposals, five marks, nine inside 50s and five tackles, while Kyle Reid was instrumental down back clunking nine marks and seven rebounds from 20 disposals. Ryan Sparkes (28 disposals, six marks and three tackles), Jake Van Der Plight (27 disposals, seven marks and 11 tackles), Brock Smith (14 disposals, three marks and nine tackles) and McGannon (18 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles and a goal) were the other bests for Gippsland. Of future draftees, bottom-agers Fraser Phillips (15 disposals, one mark and three behinds) and Leo Connolly (14 disposals, five marks) both impressed, while top-age key forward Noah Gown worked hard for 14 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

Gillard led the way for the Knights, picking up 25 disposals, five marks, eight clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Sturgess had a massive day out racking up 29 disposals, 10 marks and four rebounds, as well as capitalising with a goal. Harrison Grace (21 disposals) and future Blue, Sam Philp (21) both had big days out, whilst Brazier booted four goals from 18 touches and seven marks. Stefan Uzelac had seven rebounds with 19 touches and eight marks.

Gippsland Power would finish the season in second, reaching a preliminary final before bowing out at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers to the tune of 93 points, while Northern Knights finished eighth but lost to Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in a Wildcard Round clash.

The readymade rookies for your fantasy sides

IT is no secret that ready-made recruits are in vogue, favoured increasingly over each draft given the potential for them to slot straight into an AFL 22. With that in mind, and how important the right rookie choices will be for your fantasy sides, here are the draftees from each club to keep an eye on throughout the year who look most likely to crack into their respective starting lineups.

Adelaide:

Chayce Jones, Midfielder

Jones has hit the ground running in pre-season, with the hard-working midfielder keen to break into Adelaide’s Round 1 calculations. Able to play on each line, Jones has the versatility to find a place anywhere in the line-up – skyrocketing his chances of early selection. The former Tassie Mariners skipper won All Australian honours last year, and could well have been in top five contention at the draft if he were a few centimetres taller. Expect Jones to be a consistent figure once picked, with a good ability to accumulate and use the ball effectively.

Others to consider: Ned McHenry

Brisbane:

Noah Answerth, Defender/Midfielder

Oakleigh’s 2018 captain prospered in his over-age year, bouncing back from an injury-tarnished 2017 to bolt into Brisbane’s draft plans. The 55th pick of the draft became an adept rebounder off half-back on both sides, with the capabilities to move into the midfield upon further growth. Answerth could prove a handy pick as he is already named as a dual-position player, with his leadership and work ethic traits that should have him in the good graces of coach, Chris Fagan.

Others to consider: Ely Smith, Connor McFadyen

Carlton:

Sam Walsh, Midfielder

One of the more straight-forward choices at number one in recent years came in the form of Sam Walsh for the Blues. The Geelong Falcons product is a perfectly balanced midfielder – one who accumulates well on the outside with his run, and can prize clearances all day for his side. Walsh uses the ball well and showed he can hit the scoreboard too, and may well be the most obvious rookie choice in fantasy history given he is arguably the most decorated junior of the past decade. Lock him in for Round 1, bar any injuries, and expect him to hold his own in the young Blues midfield.

Others to consider: Liam Stocker

Collingwood:

Isaac Quaynor, Defender

Anyone who has seen Quaynor’s pre-season figure will know he looks more than ready for the rigours of AFL football. The versatile defender has grown extensibly in both physically and talent-wise over the past year, making him a prospect who featured as high as pick 12 on some clubs draft boards. He went just one pick later to keep the ‘Pies accountable, and may be well worth it nonetheless with his athleticism and growing ability to find the ball. Defensive spots are hard to fill, but Quaynor may be a solid answer.

Essendon:

Irving Mosquito, Forward/Midfielder

The Bombers did not gain the biggest of draft hauls, but have a beauty in the form of Irving Mosquito. His value and upside may well translate into fantasy terms given his dual-position status, but expect the Gippsland product to feature most prominently up forward for the Bombers if anything. Good in the air and lethal around goal, Mosquito will be hard to miss once he is out there, and the Bombers certainly liked the look of him given he was selected with their first pick.

Others to consider: Brayden Ham

Fremantle:

Brett Bewley, Midfielder

Former Seagull, Bewley has been knocking on the door of AFL selection for a few seasons now, and gets his chance alongside VFL teammate, Lachlan Schultz at the Dockers. The solidly built midfielder has added inside grunt to his already prominent outside run and booming left foot kick. Averaging 25 disposals per VFL game in 2018, Bewley could well be one to provide aid to the relatively young Freo midfield over time, should he not break in straight away. His age, frame, and versatility point towards an early debut, though.

Others to consider: Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schultz

Geelong:

Jordan Clark, Defender

Impressive WA defender Jordan Clark was his state’s best during the National Championships, propelling him into first round contention. Clark looks a great fit for the Cats, who have been looking to add run to their side – and the Claremont product will hope to slot straight in across half back. An elite junior cricketer, Clark reads the play beautifully and is especially clean by both hand and foot, while also having already proven himself amongst senior bodies in the WAFL during his top-age year. Clark’s knack for kicking the ball more often than not also bodes well for fantasy points, given his efficiency and rebound prowess.

Others to consider: Darcy Fort

Gold Coast:

Sam Collins, Defender

No, your eyes do not deceive you. While he may not be the obvious choice out of Gold Coast’s draft haul which included four first-rounders, Sam Collins looks to be a sure choice for fantasy defences. In a similar mould to Adelaide’s Tom Doedee, Collins is an outstanding reader of the ball in flight, and became known for his intercept marking while suiting for VFL side, Werribee. Equal-third in 2018’s JJ Liston Trophy, Collins landed at the Suns via the state league access system and may well slot straight into a defensive post after Steven May’s departure alongside pick six, Ben King.

Others to consider: Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Jez McLennan

GWS:

Xavier O’Halloran, Midfielder

Having taken three versatile midfielders with their first picks in the draft, GWS may face some selection headaches early on given the depth and talent they have acquired. Nonetheless, O’Halloran could be the pick of the bunch with his readymade frame, mix of speed and athleticism, and ability to play forward. A fearless leader for both Western Jets and Vic Metro in 2018, O’Halloran is a contested beast with strong hands overhead and a lovely set shot when required. He may not be a lock just yet, but a good number of the Giants’ haul look likely to get a go during their first year.

Others to consider: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Kieren Briggs

Hawthorn:

Damon Greaves, Defender/Midfielder

One who slipped through the national draft, Greaves was a clever pick from the Hawks as a rookie selection. A rebounding defender with good endurance, the West Australian uses the ball with good efficiency and penetration by foot. With the loss of Ryan Burton and injuries hampering Grant Birchall, the door may open for a youngster like Greaves to slot in across half back throughout the year – but he may face competition from fellow recruit, Jack Scrimshaw early on.

Melbourne:

Marty Hore, Defender

2018 Collingwood VFL best and fairest Marty Hore may prove to be the best of the Victorian state league recruits – despite being the third picked. While Kade Kolodjashnij will undoubtedly occupy one of the Dee’s back flanks, Hore looks ready to burst onto the scene as an elite intercept marker and dangerous left-foot kick. The former Bendigo Pioneer found his level and excelled after being overlooked in his draft year, featuring in the last two VFL teams of the year having outshone AFL-listed talent throughout the competition. Set to be a bargain pick, the 22-year old could be one of the better defensive cash cows.

Others to consider: Tom Sparrow

North Melbourne:

Tarryn Thomas, Midfielder

Listed as purely a midfielder, North’s Next Generation Academy star has a definite ability to drift forward with ease and become a damaging figure inside 50. With clean hands and a knack for winning games off his own boot, Thomas was a no-brainer for the Roos to match within the top 10 of the draft after an exceptional year which saw him lead Tasmania to an Academy Series victory and the Allies to a win over Vic Country. Expect him to make an early appearance in the starting 22 alongside fellow draftee, Bailey Scott – adding pace and X-factor to North Melbourne’s engine room or forward half.

Others to consider: Bailey Scott, Tom McKenzie

Port Adelaide:

Connor Rozee, Defender/Forward

Rozee seems a safe choice as Port’s first pick off the board, with the versatile South Australian also able to roll through the midfield despite his defender/forward status. Highly touted since his Division One Under 16 National Championships MVP in 2016, Rozee bolted into the top five after starring in South Australia’s Under 18 championship win, and North Adelaide’s senior premiership. While he still has room to grow, Rozee may well hone his craft in the big-time up forward, where he is able to find the goals well, cover ground quickly, and mark strongly overhead. Expect him to feature almost instantly as Port’s premier South Australian pick.

Others to consider: Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma

Richmond:

Riley Collier-Dawkins, Midfielder

While Richmond’s midfield will be a hard one to crack, Collier-Dawkins could well find his place in the Tigers lineup as part of the forward six. With coach Damien Hardwick favouring a third tall amongst his mosquito fleet and established big-men, the Oakleigh product could snatch selection in the place of someone like Jacob Townsend, while Josh Caddy moves further up the filed. One who is touted as more of a prodigy than a readymade star, Collier-Dawkins may take some time to excel, but has the frame and natural talent to win contested ball or cause trouble in the air up forward – having played deep forward for both Oakleigh and Vic Metro at times in 2018.

Others to consider: Jack Ross, Fraser Turner, Jake Aarts

St Kilda:

Jack Bytel, Midfielder

While a back injury looks likely to curtail the start of his AFL career, Jack Bytel is one to keep an eye on throughout 2019. The Calder Cannons product is a proven ball-winner (22 possessions per TAC Cup game) who loves to get his hands dirty at stoppages (4.5 clearances). While he did not quite live up to the expectation that an U16 Vic Metro MVP and AFL Academy selection usually entails, Bytel is a consistent performer who could be a damaging midfielder once he fills out his 188cm frame and gets back on the park.

Others to consider: Nick Hind, Callum Wilkie

Sydney:

Nick Blakey, Forward

Poised to take over from where Lance Franklin leaves off, Blakey has the key tools of all prodigious key forwards to go with the athleticism of a midfielder. While he can play further up the field, Blakey’s overhead marking ability and booming left-foot kick make him a perfect fit for Sydney looking towards the future. With the promising Tom McCartin one of the few contenders for his position, Blakey should find his way into the first 22 at some point during the season – purely on the back of the talent he showed this year for the Swans Academy and Allies side.

Others to consider: James Rowbottom

West Coast:

Luke Foley, Midfielder

After not even nominating for the national draft in his top age year, Foley returned with an absolute bang to become one of WA’s best talents. A year more developed than the class of 2018, Foley could be favoured over the more raw draftees the Eagles picked up and looks to be a sure pick to slot into either their midfield of forward line – despite premiership sides being notoriously hard to crack. His strong hands and penetrating kick will be assets at the next level, with his pure talent worth a shot for the Eagles after taking him in the second round. Being a local boy helps, and Foley should have no issue in adapting to the rigours of AFL out west given his work ethic.

Others to consider: Jarrod Cameron

Western Bulldogs:

Will Hayes, Midfielder

Another VFL success story, Hayes gets the nod here over fellow state league recruit Ben Cavarra and first round gun, Bailey Smith. Averaging 26 disposals for Footscray’s VFL outfit, Hayes enjoyed a career-best season having steadily improved over his five years in the system. At 23 years of age, Hayes looks ready to make a splash in the stacked Doggies midfield, and has the workrate that coach Luke Beveridge seems to favour, having taken Hayes with the last pick in the national draft. It will be a toss-up for selection early on between Hayes and the recruits mentioned, but all three could well sneak into the 22 across each line given the versatility of the other two.

Others to consider: Bailey Smith, Ben Cavarra

AFL Draft review: Essendon

IN one of the biggest surprises in the draft Essendon snared young gun – Irving Mosquito from Hawthorn’s Next Generation Academy and drafted plenty of other up and coming youngsters. While they did not feature in the first round of the draft Essendon still got their hands on some talented players with the likes of Noah Gown and Brayden Ham also making their way to the club.

National Draft:

 

Irving Mosquito – Small Forward

The electric small forward has bucket loads of class, speed and knows how to hit the scoreboard. Likened to that of superstar Cyril Rioli, Mosquito will be a great asset up forward for the Bombers. Paired with the likes of big full-forward Joe Daniher the two could make for a very damaging forward line with Daniher dominating the airways and Mosquito controlling the ground. While his offensive efforts are impressive with his silky pick-ups, turns out of trouble and explosiveness off the mark, Mosquito impresses just as much with his defensive pressure. He worries opponents out of going for the ball and forces turnovers credit to his smothering defence inside the forward 50. With plenty of development still to come Mosquito has a high ceiling with a possibility for the live-wire to play through the midfield in the future.

Noah Gown – Key Position Forward

After spending time playing down back, Gown has been a revelation up forward and has plenty to offer the Bombers. With an impressive vertical leap and good speed, Gown is sometimes underrated for his athletic abilities but he has shown that through development and training he is capable of exponential growth given the chance. Gown can apply plenty of defensive pressure with his follow up work across the ground which will be a good find for Essendon. He has good hands under pressure, a nice kicking action and has good leading patterns which will make him more dangerous as time goes on.

 

Brayden Ham – Medium Utility

The Geelong Falcons product is a good pick up for the Bombers who have cleverly recruited players to fill needs. Ham has a plethora of skills with his agility, endurance and speed key features of his game. With plenty of inside midfielders at the club Ham will provide that dash on the outside and has a high impact per possession influence which could be vital on the big stage. Lightly framed, Ham will need to put some time into the gym to bulk up and prepare for AFL level, but overall will be a good addition to Essendon.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Tom Jok – Tall Utility

After spending time with Collingwood’s VFL side Jok has found himself at the Bombers and offers plenty of talent. The 21-year-old has plenty of speed and a big tank which will be handy for Essendon. His strong hands and ability to rotate through different positions will also be important for the club as he provides versatility.

Matt Dea – General Defender

After spending plenty of time with Essendon, Dea was re-rookied by the club and looks set to spend some more time there. He has great leadership qualities and offers plenty of experience to the line-up. Dea is renowned for his ability to read the play, impact the contest and his strong hands. Pair this with his experience and it makes him an important piece of the puzzle at Essendon.

 

Summary:

The Bombers targeted a range of players some gifted with speed others with strong hands under pressure providing the club with great variety across the board. Essendon took a slightly attacking method to the table come draft day stealing live-wire Irving Mosquito from Hawthorn with their first pick which did not come until pick 38. With the Hawks unable to match the bid the Bombers took home some serious talent in the form of Mosquito. They also recruited some experience after securing Tom Jok who showed his worth for the Magpies VFL side and keeping Matt Dea around at the club.

2018 National AFL Draft selections

THE 2018 National AFL Draft selections and club by club selections as they happen today will appear here:

Round 1:

1 – Carlton – Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
2 – Gold Coast – Jack Lukosius – (WWT Torrens/South Australia)
3 – Gold Coast – Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)
4 – St Kilda – Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
5 – Port Adelaide – Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)
6 – Gold Coast – Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
7 – Western Bulldogs – Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
8 – North Melbourne – Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)
9 – Adelaide – Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)
10 – Sydney – Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
11 – GWS GIANTS – Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
12 – Port Adelaide – Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
13 – Collingwood – Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
14 – GWS GIANTS – Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)
15 – Geelong – Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)
16 – Adelaide – Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
17 – Fremantle – Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
18 – Port Adelaide – Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
19 – Carlton – Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
20 – Richmond – Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
21 – Brisbane – Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
22 – GWS GIANTS – Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

End of Round 1:

23 – Gold Coast –  Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

Round 2:

24 – GWS – Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)
25 – Sydney – James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26 – Western Bulldogs – Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
27 – Melbourne – Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)
28 – West Coast – Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
29 – Collingwood – Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
30 – Adelaide – Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
31 – West Coast – Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)
32 – Fremantle – Luke Valente (Norwood/Western Australia)
33 – Melbourne – James Jordon (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
34 – GWS GIANTS – Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/NSW-ACT)
35 – West Coast – Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
36 – Brisbane – Thomas Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
37 – Western Bulldogs – Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
38 – Essendon – Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
39 – West Coast – Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
40 – Brisbane – Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
41 – St Kilda – Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
42 – Brisbane – Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)
43 – Richmond – Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Round 3:

44 – Sydney –  Justin McInerney (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
45 – Western Bulldogs – Ben Cavarra (Williamstown VFL)
46 – North Melbourne – Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
47 – St Kilda –  Matthew Parker (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
48 – Geelong – Ben Jarvis (Norwood/South Australia)
49 – North Melbourne – Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)
50 – Geelong – Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)
51 – Sydney – Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
52 – Hawthorn – Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushangers/Allies)
53 – Melbourne – Aaron Nietschke (Central District/South Australia)
54 – St Kilda –  Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
55 – Brisbane – Noah Answerth (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Round 4:

56 – Melbourne – Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
57 – Fremantle – Lachlan Schulz (Williamstown VFL)
58 – Richmond – Fraser Turner (Clarence/Tasmania)
59 – Fremantle – Brett Bewley (Williamstown VFL)
60 – Essendon – Noah Gown (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
61 – GWS GIANTS – Connor Idun (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
62 – Richmond – Luke English (Perth/Western Australia)
63 – Hawthorn – Matthew Walker (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)
64 – Adelaide – Lachlan Sholl (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
65 – Geelong – Darcy Fort (Central District/South Australia)
66 – Carlton – Finbar O’Dwyer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
67 – St Kilda – Robert Young (North Adelaide/South Australia)
68 – Geelong – Jake Tarca (South Adelaide/South Australia)
69 – North Melbourne – Joel Crocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Round 5 onwards:

70 – Carlton – Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
71 – Gold Coast – Caleb Graham (Gold Coast Academy/Queensland)
72 – Essendon – Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
73 – Port Adelaide – Riley Grundy (Sturt/South Australia)
74 – Geelong – Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
75 – Melbourne – Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
76 – Port Adelaide – Boyd Woodcock (North Adelaide/South Australia)
77 – Collingwood – Atu Bosenavulagi (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
78 – Western Bulldogs – Will Hayes (Footscray VFL)

*Clubs matched bids to secure father-son or academy prospect

Club by Club Players:

Adelaide: Chayce Jones, Ned McHenry, Will Hamill, Lachlan Sholl
Brisbane: Ely Smith, Thomas Berry, Tom Joyce, Connor McFadyen, Noah Answerth
Carlton: Sam Walsh, Liam Stocker, Finbar O’Dwyer, Ben Silvagni
Collingwood: Isaac Quaynor, Will Kelly, Atu Bosenavulagi
Essendon: Irving Mosquito, Noah Gown, Brayden Ham
Fremantle: Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schulz, Brett Bewley
Geelong: Jordan Clark, Ben Jarvis, Jacob Kennerley, Darcy Fort, Jake Tarca, Oscar Brownless
Gold Coast: Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Jez McLennan, Caleb Graham
GWS GIANTS: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Xavier O’Halloran, Ian Hill, Kieren Briggs, Connor Idun
Hawthorn: Jacob Koschitzke, Mathew Walker
Melbourne: Tom Sparrow, James Jordon, Aaron Nietschke, Marty Hore, Toby Bedford
North Melbourne: Tarryn Thomas, Curtis Taylor, Bailey Scott, Joel Crocker
Port Adelaide: Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Riley Grundy, Boyd Woodcock
Richmond: Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Ross, Fraser Turner, Luke English
St Kilda: Max King, Jack Bytel, Mathew Parker, Nick Hind, Robert Young
Sydney: Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot
West Coast: Xavier O’Neill, Luke Foley, Bailey Williams, Jarrod Cameron
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Smith, Rhylee West, Laitham Vandermeer, Ben Cavarra, Will Hayes

2018 AFL Draft Central Phantom Draft

WE are now just three days away from the first pick being called in the 2018 AFL National Draft, and at AFL Draft Central, we have put our heads together and put forward our Phantom Draft, based on how some of the picks can fall. A few things to note:

  1. The pick numbers are different to the currently assigned picks due to bidding. We included bidding so Sydney matched a bid on Nick Blakey, Collingwood matched bids on Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly, Western Bulldogs matched bids on Rhylee West and Buku Khamis, GWS GIANTS matched a bid on Kieren Briggs, and so on and so fourth. That is why the pick numbers are not the same as the current pick numbers for clubs
  2. There was no live trading that took part – we did not want to overcomplicate the process, so we just opted for a nice simple Phantom Draft
  3. We have only included the first four rounds, so don’t fret if you only see clubs like Essendon having two picks, or Fremantle not picking up Jason Carter – we looked at list spots and anticipated numbers, so Carter was going to be Fremantle’s next pick outside the first four rounds.
  4. We have not included any rookie upgrades in the Phantom Draft, most of which will likely come outside the first four rounds anyway.
  5. No coaches were assigned to individual teams, instead it was a group effort with a variety of supporters chipping in their thoughts based on their contacts as well as club needs, with multiple South Australian and West Australian writers also involved – this is opinion-based.

 

Adelaide:

#9 Connor Rozee
#15 Jackson Hately
#19 Luke Valente
#26 Bailey Williams
#66 Hugo Munn
#73 Zane Barzen

Adelaide went with a distinct South Australian feel to it, taking the Croweaters’ three best midfielders from the National Under 18 Championships in Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately and Luke Valente. Rozee and Hately in particular could well go earlier, with St Kilda (pick four) and Gold Coast (pick six) considering the silky midfielder. It was an easy choice when Rozee was at pick 9, as was Hately who the Crows would be rapt to get at that selection. With the midfield sorted, Adelaide opted for talls after that, snaring Dandenong tall, Bailey Williams with #26, as well as local forward, Hugo Munn, and the exciting Zane Barzen from the Murray Bushrangers who can play a medium-tall role at half-forward.

Brisbane:

#21 Curtis Taylor
#34 Ely Smith
#35 Connor McFadyen
#53 Tom Berry

A few fan favourites made their way to Brisbane in the draft, with Cam Rayner’s best mate Curtis Taylor seeming a good selection at pick 21. With Xavier Duursma off the board, Taylor is another one the Lions are rumoured to like, and he adds a point of difference inside 50 with plenty of scope. Then they targeted big bodies, with Ely Smith and Tom Berry – brother of Jarrod – while also matching the bid on Academy prospect, Connor McFadyen. They are at the stage where they do not need to fill too many holes, and just beefed up their midfield and forward lines with some bigger bodies who have versatility as well.

Carlton:

#1 Sam Walsh
#61 Tyron Smallwood
#64 Sam Fletcher
#69 Ben Silvagni

Carlton was tricky to pick for late, after clearly selecting Sam Walsh with the first pick. Walsh is the standout midfielder in the draft crop, and Blues fans should be thrilled to have him coming on board, as a safe, 200-game player and future captain. He is joined by mid/forward, Tyron Smallwood who just oozes X-factor and looks like great value late, as well as inside midfielder Sam Fletcher who bleeds for any club he plays for. Wrapping up the draft with father-son selection Ben Silvagni, Blues fans should be pretty pleased with the value they have received considering their late picks.

Collingwood:

#18 Isaac Quaynor
#25 Will Kelly

A bit of a straight forward draft for Collingwood with Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly both heading to the club. The Magpies had no problems matching the bids, though there is a chance they go into deficit for 2019. Either way it will not stop them matching the pair who sure up the club’s defence. Collingwood will use a third pick – likely to be in the late 80s by the time bids and passes have shuffled up the order, with the Magpies contemplating a roughie from Western Australia – perhaps the unlucky Jack Mayo or Patrick Farrant to help strengthen their tall stocks.

Essendon:

#37 James Rowbottom
#57 Riley Bowman

Just the two picks inside the four rounds for Essendon, but no fear Bombers fans, along with a potential Shaun McKernan rookie upgrade, the Bombers are likely to take one or two more selections. They could target someone like a Nick Hind who has speed to burn and already knows the club well having played for the Bombers’ VFL side. But in the two selections Essendon did make, they went for the inside strength of James Rowbottom, and the ruck depth provided by Dandenong’s Riley Bowman, a couple of need-based selections for the Bombers in the Phantom Draft.

Fremantle:

#18 Ian Hill
#36 Sydney Stack
#45 Tom Lewis
#56 Damon Greaves
#72 Aaron Nietschke

Fremantle went local for its picks, going West Australian for three, and a couple of South Australian boys as well. Fremantle fans seem divided on whether or not to select Ian Hill with the first rounder, but do not let an injury-interrupted season put you off, he is a genuine star. The Dockers also selected fellow West Australian, Sydney Stack to add class to the side, as well as half-back Damon Greaves. Fremantle are also rumoured to be interested in Sturt midfielder, Tom Lewis, while also taking a punt on the consistent Aaron Nietschke with the final selection in this Phantom Draft. They then can select Jason Carter with a later selection or as a free hit in the rookie draft.

Geelong:

#14 Riley Collier-Dawkins
#49 Josh Kemp
#50 Charlie Sprague
#63 Oscar Brownless

Geelong made four picks in our Phantom Draft, picking up big-bodied inside midfielder, Riley Collier-Dawkins and two hybrid forward options in Josh Kemp and Charlie Sprague, before picking Oscar Brownless with their final selection. The father-son prospect can play midfield or forward, while Kemp adds a defensive element to the forward 50, and Sprague adds the attacking element which gives them plenty of scope for the future.

Gold Coast:

#2 Jack Lukosius
#3 Izak Rankine
#6 Jye Caldwell
#31 Jez McLennan
#33 Jacob Koschitzke
#71 Matt McGannon

Gold Coast always had a strong hand coming into the draft, and much like we expect in the real thing, selected Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Jye Caldwell with their first three selections. They add to their talent inside 50 and strength through the midfield. Later in the draft, the SUNS sured up their defence, picking half-back flankers, Jez McLennan and Matt McGannon, alongside All-Australian key position defender, Jacob Koschitzke. It means the SUNS picked up a tall at either end and added bucket loads of skill on the flanks.

GWS GIANTS:

#10 Jordan Clark
#13 Chayce Jones
#22 Ned McHenry
#23 Kieren Briggs
#51 Tom Sparrow

GWS GIANTS filled a number of needs in selecting players with varying skill sets and versatility that enables them to play a number of roles during a match. Jordan Clark and Chayce Jones are your clean, outside ball users who can slot practically anywhere on the field, Ned McHenry is your forward pressure player who loves the physicality of the game, and Tom Sparrow late represents value as a burst midfielder. The GIANTS also matched a bid of Academy prospect, Kieren Briggs who slots into the ruck ranks which have been wearing thin given Rory Lobb’s departure.

Hawthorn:

#52 Noah Gown
#60 Irving Mosquito

They will have another selection late, but along with Next Generation Academy member, Irving Mosquito, Hawthorn took a punt on key forward, Noah Gown. The Gippsland Power teammates reunite at the Hawks and immediately add to the forward half of the ground with Jarryd Roughead coming to the twilight of his career, while Mosquito adds that forward pressure. Both are players who with the right development could certainly be great value players at these selections.

Melbourne:

#29 Xavier O’Halloran
#32 Will Hamill
#38 Toby Bedford
#54 Will Golds

Melbourne has one of the more well-rounded teams and we targeted best available, with a focus on speed and outside run. Vic Metro captain, Xavier O’Halloran adds leadership and can play midfield or forward, while Will Hamill and Will Golds are classy outside ball users. Hamill will likely play off half-back and Golds off a wing, while Next Generation Academy player, Toby Bedford will cause headaches for opposition coaches inside 50.

North Melbourne:

#11 Tarryn Thomas
#30 Bailey Scott
#62 Angus Hanrahan

North Melbourne had the three selections in the first four rounds, and will also be picking up Joel Crocker with the club’s last selection. In the first four rounds, they matched bids on Next Generation Academy prospect, Tarryn Thomas, and father-son prospect, Bailey Scott. Both are top talents who will be great inclusions to a midfield that could do with a dose of outside speed and versatility. Angus Hanrahan late is a developing forward who can play midfield and add another dimension inside 50.

Port Adelaide:

#5 Ben King
#12 Zak Butters
#17 Xavier Duursma

Just the three early picks for Port Adelaide, selecting Ben King with pick five after brother Max was gone, while Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma add versatility and clean skills. Butters has great class and will play off half-forward or along a wing until he bulks up, while Duursma is equally lightly built and will play off a flank at either end or along a wing in time. Both know how to use the ball exceptionally well and have plenty of upside for the future.

Richmond:

#20 Liam Stocker
#42 Jack Bytel
#55 Tom McKenzie
#59 Harry Reynolds
#67 Brayden Ham

Richmond will look to target bigger bodies at the coalface, so expect a couple of these types of names to land at the Tigers. Liam Stocker has long been linked to Punt Road, while Jack Bytel seems a no brainer at pick 42. Tom McKenzie adds a different type of midfielder with their next pick, having speed and the ability to play off half-back as well. Reynolds is similarly able to play off half-back or through the midfield, and has that prototype body size. With the final pick, Richmond took a punt on overager Brayden Ham who has elite athletic traits and can play anywhere on the ground.

St Kilda:

#4 Max King
#40 Fraser Turner
#47 Durak Tucker
#58 Zac Foot
#70 Joe Ayton-Delaney

St Kilda fans have been keen to secure midfielders, and while it still looks like Max King will be the first selection, they cannot be unhappy with a genuine franchise key forward who as an added bonus, supports the Saints. Throw in the outside run of Fraser Turner and Zac Foot, while Joe Ayton-Delaney comes off a half-back flank and might not make it to pick 70, but he was there in this draft and would be fairly quickly swooped upon. Durak Tucker is another player who will add some composure down back with nice athleticism and offers value at pick 47 if the Saints are so inclined to pick up the West Australian.

Sydney:

#6 Nick Blakey
#43 Laitham Vandermeer
#44 Tom Joyce
#48 Jack Ross

Sydney made four rather savvy selections in the draft, taking Academy prospect, Nick Blakey after matching a bid inside the top 10, then selecting three very different players with the three selections remaining in the 40s. They picked up overage speedster, Laitham Vandermeer, small inside bull,  Tom Joyce, and dual balanced midfielder, Jack Ross, all of whom are arguably more readymade than many of their contemporaries at the same draft region.

West Coast:

#24 Sam Sturt
#27 Luke Foley
#41 Jarrod Cameron
#65 Mitch Podhajski
#68 Dillon O’Reilly

West Coast heads to the draft coming off a premiership, so targeting players who can fill depth for future years is important, and we looked at a variety of players to fill certain roles. They pick up draft bolter, Sam Sturt with their first selection, as well as overager, Luke Foley who remains in his home state. They were forced to match a bid for Jarrod Cameron at pick 41, but that seems straight forward, while picking up the readymade Mitch Podhajski, and local key forward, Dillon O’Reilly.

Western Bulldogs:

#8 Bailey Smith
#28 Rhylee West
#39 Jacob Kennerley
#46 Buku Khamis

The Western Bulldogs got their two club-tied players through matching bids with father-son midfielder, Rhylee West and Next Generation Academy prospect, Buku Khamis. The Bulldogs also picked up the man they have been heavily linked to in Bailey Smith with their first selection and outside runner, Jacob Kennerley with their second round pick a #39. All could contribute during the 2019 season if the coaching staff are so inclined, so it is a readymade draft haul for the Dogs.


*Among those taken in the next 20-odd picks included the likes of Hayden Sampson, Oscar Chapman, Daly Andrews, Mitch Riordan, Noah Answerth, Lachlan Sholl, Will Kennedy, Joel Crocker, Jason Carter, Riley Grundy and Kyle Reid, with some mature agers including Nick Hind, Brett Bewley and Darcy Fort also there.

AFL Draft preview: Hawthorn

HAWTHORN has the weakest draft hand in the league after trading some of their picks for ready-made players such as Chad Wingard in the hope of staying at the top of table. But with an ageing list, Hawthorn will be looking to inject some more speed and another key forward to help-out Jarryd Roughead into their side.

List needs:

  • Key forward
  • Defensive small forward

Draft selection: 53, 90

Entering into the draft at pick 53 Hawthorn will be hoping to acquire a key forward who will be able to help out in their attacking 50. It will depend who is available but if the likes of Will Kennedy and Dillon O’Reilly are still there they will be a valuable asset to the Hawks. Both Kennedy and O’Reilly have a good goal sense, strong hands and an ability to read the flight of the ball. Though it might take some time for them to fully develop and compete at AFL level they have plenty of upside and will be a good inclusion for the Hawks. Other possibilities for Hawthorn is Hugo Munn or Murray Bushrangers forward Hudson Garoni who has proved he can be a handful to maintain up forward.

If by some chance Bailey Williams slides he will be hot on Hawthorns list with his silky skills, gut running and impressive ability to hit the scoreboard. Williams has strong hands under pressure taking plenty of contested grabs and has proven his versatility spending some time in the ruck.

Next Generation Academy member Irving Mosquito has given Hawthorn fans plenty to be excited about with comparisons between cult hero Cyril Rioli. Mosquito has plenty of speed to burn and is deadly around the goals with his quick and clean hands and ability to get into damaging positions. The Gippsland Power player is lively across the ground and applies plenty of pressure to trap the ball inside attacking 50. He would be a great pick up for the Hawks who will be looking to replace the likes of livewire Rioli and the ageing Paul Puopolo who is coming into the twilight of his career.

AFL Draft Central Final 2018 Power Rankings

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#1 Jack Lukosius (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

Many seem to be somewhat writing the talented tall off a little given he is not kicking five goals from 20 touches and 10 marks every single week against senior bodies. As far as we are concerned, the skillset and ability he has both athletically and physically is unbelievable, and if he was playing in the Under 18s instead of the League, you would be seeing those kind of numbers each and every week. When the opposition know you are a talented kid, they will make sure they work harder to stop you, and Lukosius has done a terrific job, but just tired towards the end of the year which is more than fair. He has the capability to be a star key forward, key defender or midfielder and for his size, most people just cannot hit targets like he can, and move as well as he can. He has not lost his number one position all year, and both he and Walsh are the clear standouts come the draft month.

#2 Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The safest pick in the National Draft bar none. It is easy to see why Carlton would select him with pick one, and in terms of midfielders he just ticks practically every box. To poke holes in his game you have to get nitty gritty, but honestly, he is just a keeper and a future leader. He will add bucketloads to that Blues midfield both on and off the field, and looks every bit a 200-game player. Just a talented midfielder who you know what you will get each and every week, and if there was a genuine way to have two number ones in this list he would be there. Walsh has not moved from this spot all year, and it is easy to see why.

#3 Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Most agree he is the X-factor of the draft. No doubt that Rankine has all the tricks a player could want, and can literally produce plays that no-one else in the draft could. He can kick bags of goals as a small forward, dominate through the midfield with his speed and agility, and take a game away from the opposition in a matter of minutes. His endurance and consistency are areas that could continue to develop, and he is prone to the odd brain fade in terms of discipline with 50m penalties as such, but as we like to say – it is the price you pay for greatness, and in terms of upside and sheer brilliance, Rankine is the number one in that department.

#4 Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

It is not too often a kid who does his ACL after playing just one TAC Cup game still goes in the top five, but here we are. He was never going to fall too far given his athleticism and ability to just dominate games. Just ask the Oakleigh Chargers defence who had not answers to stop him – when Will Kelly was a forward – and he monstered undersized defenders with his massive vertical leap and contested marking. He booted 8.6 in windy conditions that day at RAMS Arena, and genuinely had a laugh with the ball delivered to him with ease. If he gets a big pre-season in and more strength work done, he could be a very scary prospect up forward.

#5 Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Missed seeing him strut his stuff in the second half of the TAC Cup season after that achilles injury put an end to his year. A consistent inside midfielder with great speed and elite endurance, Smith is as safe as Walsh in terms of picks, and if a team could somehow pair the two together, then that cements a terrific culture at that particular club for the future. A natural leader who is a high accumulator of the football, a massive clearance winner and a bone-crunching tackler, Smith is a top five player who like the others at the top-end of this list, could easily be pick one in most other drafts. Terrific selection.

#6 Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The third Sandringham Dragons player in the top six, Ben King has put together a terrific season for Haileybury and showed off what he is capable of for Sandringham late in the year despite having less opportunities with limited inside 50s for the Dragons. He can play at either end, and showed after a great season in defence last year, and now up forward this year, that he will fill a void wherever needed. The fact he could be this far down is remarkable given he could genuinely be a pick one in a lot of drafts. A 200cm key position utility who can run the 20m sprint in under three seconds? Yes please.

#7 Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

He has had comparisons to ‘Buddy’ Franklin, and they are not too far-fetched with Blakey having the size of a key forward, but the smarts and athleticism of a midfielder. He is a huge inclusion to the Swans outfit, and could play early on, but the Swans will be sure to bulk up his wiry frame before subjecting him to monster key defenders. Expect him to play an outside role with some time in the midfield before he can bulk up and eventually take over from ‘Buddy’ inside that forward 50. Not a huge accumulator, but boy does Blakey have some nice tricks, and some high X-factor which will excite Swans fans.

#8 Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)

A good season really threw the light utility into high-end draft calculations, with Rozee always thereabouts, but shooting up after a good SANFL League finals series with North Adelaide. Some were wondering what had happened after a quiet National Under 18 Championships, but South Australia threw the bigger bodies in the middle, and Rozee played on flanks, using his elite kicking skills to hurt opposition sides. He is another who will need time to fill out, but he has some promising upside if he can fulfil it. A great character as well, Rozee will ensure he gets the best out of himself which is why Gold Coast would be considering him with pick three.

#9 Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)

North Melbourne fans have been waiting for Thomas for some time since he burst onto the scene as an Under 16s player for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships – showing just how gifted he was at that time. He has not waivered from the top 10 in our eyes, and just has massive upside. He is the cleanest player in the draft at ground level with velcro hands, and he oozes class all over the field. He is light, but well built in terms of height, and once he fills out and develops further at AFL level, he will be a star. Genuine X-factor talent and a fully fledged top 10 player, even if a bid comes outside that mark.

#10 Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)

The 180cm Tasmanian is the smallest midfielder to slot into the first round, but like many others, he does not have too much to fault about his game. Aside from the occasional decision, Jones tends to use the ball well, is one of the best kicks in the draft crop, wins his own ball, runs and has elite athleticism, can kick goals or play off half-back. In short, his game is fairly close to complete and we would probably argue he would be in top five talks if he was five centimetres taller. No reason Jones cannot go top 10 on draft night though, and while he could slide through to the second round, it would be an absolute steal for any club that selects the future captain.

#11 Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)

Hately is the South Australian balanced midfielder who just ticks a lot of boxes. He hardly does a thing wrong, yet does not receive the same plaudits as some of the other state representatives. He accumulates the football, can play inside or out, is a clearance expert and uses it consistently by hand or foot. He could walk into a lot of sides early on, and have an impact which could be a great boost for those sides needing a readymade midfielder who has already played senior football against bigger bodies. A player not to discount because he has a lot to offer and he will no doubt show that early on in his career.

#12 Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Unlike some of the other midfielders in the first round, Collier-Dawkins does not have the consistency, but what he does have is the upside. He is that prototype midfielder, built like Patrick Cripps but with Adam Treloar’s burst speed. He is not a huge accumulator of the football, but he can certainly do some amazing things with it, and he has a long, penetrating kick which he uses when up forward or bursting out of a stoppage. He needs to show it on a more consistent basis, but his hurt factor and upside is as good as anyone in the draft. He is a long-term prospect who fans will enjoy watching over the years.

#13 Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Another “Mr Consistency” with a lot of the top midfielders in the draft not having too many major deficiencies in their games. Duursma rarely had a bad game in season 2018, leading the Gippsland Power to a surprise preliminary final, and performing well for Vic Country in defence. He can slot in nearly anywhere on the field, uses the ball well and moves nicely in transition. He is light but can win the contested ball or be the runner on the outside. He also knows how to hit the scoreboard, often picking up speed during a series of quick handballs and unloading from just inside 50 on the run for an important goal.

#14 Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

One of the most consistent players in the draft crop, and you would not be completely silly to suggest he could be the third best midfielder in the draft without injuries hampering his year. He is being talked up as a top 10 prospect and deservedly so. There is not too much to tweak with Caldwell’s game, and if he can get in a big pre-season, the sky is the limit. He can play inside, outside or up forward, and we dare say he would be easily in the top 10 if he had been able to show off his ability more consistently this season. Nonetheless he looms as a very good pick-up for any club that selects him. A great leader too.

#15 Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

One of the top-age draft bloomers who was self-admittedly a fair way off 12 months ago, has turned it around to be a genuine first round prospect in 2018. He is tough as nails and despite multiple injuries – both pre and during games, Stocker battled through admirably. In the absence of Dragons skipper, Bailey Smith late in the year, Stocker stood up terrifically and added another dimension to Sandringham’s midfield brigade. He wins the contested ball, gets to the outside and has a penetrating kick. Once he can further improve his endurance, he could take his game to another level as well.

#16 Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)

One of a number of players who burst onto the draft scene after a terrific National Under 18 Championships. Could well go top 10 by draft night, but he is rated inside the top 20 safely. He is a creative half-back who moves well and just keeps winning the football. In time, he will be expected to progress onto a wing potentially, but he has made the defence his own throughout the championships. He has the ability to hit-up some terrific pinpoint passes, but it is his decision making and composure, as well as his positioning that sets him aside as a general defender. Likely to be the first natural medium defender picked in the draft.

#17 Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs father-son could receive a bid in the top 20, but is likely to be in that early second round. The Dogs will match and he will head to the kennel where his father, Scott became a legend. Very similar to his father, West is small in stature, but stands tall in heart and determination, with his clean hands, ability to read ruck taps and move through stoppages among the top features in his game. He also knows how to play forward as either a leading forward, or a crumber, and that is where he will start his career before ultimately progressing into the midfield. He might be the 180cm, but he can still do some serious damage in the midfield.

#18 Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)

We refuse to drop the exciting small forward/midfielder outside the top 20 despite him seemingly dropping on rankings everywhere. He has far too much X-factor and while 12 months ago he was talked up as a top five pick, his inconsistent season through various injuries and some form dips see him drop to late first round. The West Australian teams are perfectly situated to select him in the draft, and he is another natural born leader. With his cousins, Stephen and Brad already in the purple, Fremantle might look to add to the family tree at the club, with his skills and decision making among the best out there.

#19 Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member will be a gift to the Magpies with Collingwood expected to very quickly match any bid that comes in. He is an outstanding leader, with great athleticism, good run and carry, and decision making. But his biggest strength is his football IQ, that is often not rewarded by looking at highlights, but the work he does off the ball to shut down gaps in play, or intercept balls that float through the middle of the ground – in some instances Quaynor would come off his opponent to dash at a ball and not break stride. He could easily play senior football next year, replacing Sam Murray off half-back.

#20 Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A kid who other than those deep in recruiting circles, many would not have heard of three months ago, now slots into the top 20. He is a medium forward who is good overhead, has elite athleticism and just competes for the football in the air or at ground level. He lacks endurance given he missed the cut for the initial Stingrays’ squad, but has not put a foot wrong since after strong performances for Peninsula Grammar in the APS. With game smarts and creativity in spades, Sturt has great upside that clubs would be excited about developing. Still raw, the forward is a player that will take time, but could be easily worth the wait.

#21 Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Rated much higher throughout the year, Williams’ inconsistent season at times has him drop a little to just outside the top 20. He is a player who could be snatched up with a first round pick, but is more likely to be top 30 more so than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of anyone, and he clunks contested marks strongly. Williams has had some worries in front of goal, with confidence and inconsistencies forcing him to miss some gettable shots. He can play ruck or down forward, but is more likely to settle into a key position forward role while giving a chop out in the ruck from time to time.

#22 Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Butters had an early finish to the 2018 season, given the shoulder injury ended his year. He is a fantastic talent with high upside, and can play through the midfield or up forward. He has that touch of class about him and while he is as light as they come, he does not waiver in his attack on the ball. There is no doubt he is more of a long-term prospect with his body size, but he could play forward early in his career, before progressing into the midfield down the track. He is a player that you want to have the ball in his hands, and Butters is the type who will create a nice following because of his good decision making and skill execution in the forward half.

#23 Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Jets and Vic Metro captain has been a consistent player in season 2018, playing both on the inside, outside and up forward. O’Halloran has terrific athleticism, with fantastic acceleration, speed, agility and endurance, as well as an insatiable work ethic that sees him get the best out of himself. He is strong overhead and can penetrate through zones with his kicking, and he is a player who will be considered for the first round, but should not come too much later.

#24 Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

A composed user of the football at half-back, McLennan’s National Under 18 Championships performances threw him into the spotlight and has earned his place inside the top 25. With all the talk around South Australia’s top four, as well as Valente, McLennan has gone about his business well, and is that defender who should be available to most clubs, and a player that will be reliable for years to come. Has SANFL League experience too with Central District, not looking out of place against men, and showing off his elite kicking skills. Adelaide might want to pounce with their last first round pick, but there will be no shortage of clubs in the market for a “quarter-back”.

#25 Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)

Despite being a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Bailey Scott chose to follow his father and head to Arden Street, with the Kangaroos having first chance to snare the consistent youngster under the father-son bidding system. The Kangaroos won over Scott ahead of the Suns, and Cats, with Scott likely to play up forward early on before progressing into the midfield. He has nice offensive and defensive traits, and despite not looking at smooth as others, he uses the ball well and can hit the scoreboard. Some clubs rate him inside the top 20 – a bid will likely come shortly after, with Scott not escaping into the 30s without being claimed.

#26 Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The nuggety midfielder/forward might not be the tallest player, but he has all the heart and ability you would want from a player. Not afraid of a scrap, and just attacks the contest with vigour, McHenry offers a club plenty of versatility with his agility and smarts outweighing his 174cm height. He knows where the goals are up forward and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand and executes by hand or foot. A player predicted to drift into the second round because of the size knowing he will have to play outside or as a small forward, McHenry looms as another bargain for clubs past pick 20.

#27 Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The X-factor from the Cannons has had an up-and-down year, which is what is the question mark hanging over him, but no-one could dispute his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft. He struggled for consistency, but when he was “on” he was really on, and could turn a game with a massive quarter of multiple goals. He stood up to be an important player at times through the championships, and looms as one of those players where clubs will be eyeing off each other to see who grabs him first. Taylor has great upside that could result in a genius pick down the track if he drifts to the second round as expected.

#28 Luke Valente (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian MVP and captain led from the front in the National Under 18 Championships, and despite injury curtailing his year, Valente showed enough to suggest he could even push into the first round. At his best he is a top 20 player, and it showed when Valente received an invitation to this year’s AFL National Draft, meaning he is highly likely to be taken in that first round. A natural born leader, aside from some athleticism,  there is not too many faults with his game and expect him to be one of the safest picks in the draft crop with his attack on the ball and willingness to get his hands dirty, second to none.

#29 Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

The over-age midfielder has found his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He has a consistent base week-in, week-out and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year despite battling injuries at times, and was solid through the National Under 18 Championships. Expected to be the third or fourth West Australian drafted behind Ian Hill and Jordan Clark, and perhaps Sydney Stack.

#30 Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)

The top GIANTS Academy prospect had a year to remember through the Academy Series and the National Under 18 Championships, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for both the GIANTS and Allies, while also named ruck of the All Australian side. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base, and ability to just compete and do all the defensive things, and ground work/second efforts to perfection. He is not the most mobile player, but with a frame that is readymade for senior football, Briggs is highly rated both internally and externally, and is expected to receive a bid in the second round.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.