Tag: jack driscoll

Driscoll’s unique traits stand out for a “big fella”

JACK Driscoll is one of many AFL Draft hopefuls who had their 2020 season derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and look to have had the last couple of months of 2021 also under a cloud of uncertainty. The 200cm ruck/forward has some unique traits that even he admits are different for a “big fella”, and hopes that perhaps they will stand out to club recruiters be it now or into the future.

Coming into the 2021 season, the top-age talent who turned 19 in April, weighed in at 82kg to go with his two-metre frame, something he hoped to work on throughout the year. If there was one positive to come out of the current situation, it would be the fact that Driscoll, like many other aspiring draftees, has the ability to continue to work on those areas in his own time. Speaking to Draft Central at the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) preseason testing day, Driscoll said that he was hoping for a big year.

“Fitness would be number one (improvement) and building up my body,” he said. “I could probably get a bit fitter and stronger around the ground.”

Whilst he might need to build up his endurance and strength – which was not helped by a minor ankle injury prior to Christmas delaying his preseason – Driscoll said his athleticism and skills were self-proclaimed strengths in his game, and hopefully would catch the eye of recruiters.

“I think for a big bloke I’m pretty athletic,” he said. “Not the fittest person, but marking would be one of my strengths and skills for a big fella.”

Driscoll hails from a little town not far from Wagga Wagga, and has gone through the pathways including the GIANTS Academy and Allies, though is still yet to run out for the Allies after the 2020 carnival – and looking more and more likely the 2021 carnival – is all but done and dusted.

“I’m from a little town called Yerong Creek which is about half an hour from Wagga,” Driscoll said. “I grew up and played for The Rock-Yerong Creek, joined the GIANTS Academy in Under 16s, made Rams that year and then 17s, 18s with GIANTS obviously, was in Allies squad for last year and now I’m here.”

Driscoll would have likely been the starting ruck for the Allies this year, but will have to rely on performances earlier in the year where he was able to present as a key forward as well as roll through the ruck. His goal at the start of 2021 was clear.

“Obviously get drafted,” Driscoll said. “But just play the Academy games get a few wins, and Allies hopefully later in the year.”

He was able to play the Academy games and be named in the Allies squad, and though it is more and more likely the opportunities at the national carnival will be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic in NSW and Victoria, Driscoll still put together some solid performances for the GIANTS Academy, slotting two goals from his four games, and averaged 8.3 disposals, 2.0 marks and 6.8 hitouts in that time, as well as an inside 50 per game.

Green striving for “attainable” goal with greater chance at high-level football

AFTER a 2020 season that “wasn’t as planned”, top-age GWS GIANTS Academy talent Josh Green was determined to have a greater crack at the AFL Draft after more chances to play high-level football. Selected in the Allies’ squad for the upcoming AFL Under 19 Championships, 2021, Green has not quite got his wish with the Canberra-based talent having to endure more uncertainty and delays this year. However, it is just as important to have got out to play alongside friends in the Academy.

“Got plenty of mates here in the GIANTS Academy, especially from Canberra, the boys love getting together so it’s great to play with all them. Sam Frost, Fraser Kelly, some of the boys here, Pat Voss what a jet, Sam Stening, Jack Driscoll, you love playing with those sort of boys,” Green said.

Unlike many other peers, Green has experience of going through he AFL Draft system, with another GIANT Academy talent in Tom having been picked up and starring in his second season, one of the leading contenders for the Rising Star Award.

“It was great for the whole family I guess, just seeing him live out his dream,” Green said. “Going so high in the draft, everyone was so proud of him but obviously there’s the thing that’s what I’m striving to do. “It shows it’s an attainable goal, but I’m obviously really proud of him as well.”

Much like Tom, the younger Green moved to Canberra as a child and took up the game where he immediately began grabbing every chance that came his way. Green said he hoped 2021 might provide him with more opportunities to showcase his ability.

“Moved to Canberra when I was about 10,” he said. “Started playing footy in Canberra, played for my school Marist College and just through there the GIANTS Academy pathways, really helped develop my footy. “So coming up through that program, there were heaps of opportunities and then obviously playing under 16s nationals and then some NEAFL and things and unfortunately last year the Under 18s year wasn’t as planned, so this year hopefully have another go at it.”

Whilst drawing some similarities, Green is essentially very different to his brother, with Josh able to play as a leading forward, or push up the ground and play inside or outside. He has no trouble finding the ball and is strong overhead, but was focusing on various athletic traits such as his speed and endurance.

“Ball-winning is the main strength. which helps in the middle,” he said. ‘But then also I feel like i can go forward and take marks as well so versatility helps as well. “My pace is probably the main one (improvement), in my (preseason) 20m sprint I didn’t go too well. “Then just being able to keep the fitness level up throughout the year to run out games.”

In 2021, Green might not have been able to run out for the Allies just yet – with doubt hovering over the availability of NSW-ACT talents in particular given government restrictions – but he put together a consistent NAB League Boys mini-season of 23 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.3 tackles and 1.3 goals in three games.

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 9

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled on into Round 9 over the weekend, with metro regions returning to the fold. A few school football fixtures were rescheduled too, meaning the wealth of talent filtering back through the competition was at a high. This week’s squad is headlined by Player of the Week candidates Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) and Josh Ward (Northern Knights), who earn starting spots in midfield on the back of dazzling 34-disposal displays.

Hobbs also laid nine tackles and booted two goals in the Rebels’ win over Murray, marking a sparkling return from injury for the tough inside midfielder. He is joined by teammates Sam Breuer (wing) and Marcus Herbert (bench), who were squeezed out of the centre bounce mix but both ticked over 30 touches in terrific individual outings. Murray’s Tom Bracher is the other to feature from that game, earning a spot in the back pocket for his efforts in defence this week.

Ward’s feats were made all the more impressive by the fact he lined up on Nick Daicos, taking on the role with aplomb while also advancing his own game. Daicos produced another high-numbers game with 37 disposals to continue his remarkable season, joined by fellow father-son prospect Sam Darcy (centre half-back) and Giants Academy member Patrick Voss (half-back) in the starting lineup. Ward is also supported by teammates, namely partner-in-crime Joel Trudgeon and dashing defender Darcy Wilmot.

Other standouts across the squad include Finn Callaghan, who was best afield in his relatively new midfield role for Sandringham Dragons, while intercept marking machine Tyreece Leiu and busy midfielder Jake Soligo were productive for Eastern. Noah Gribble and Zac Taylor were also arguably best afield in their respective wins, while forwards Sam Paea and Bryce Milford bagged four goals each to earn a spot.

The Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels all lay claim to three squad members, along with the Calder Cannons. Fellow victors Sandringham, Geelong, Dandenong, and the Giants Academy all boast two players apiece, with Eastern the only Round 9 loser to produce multiple candidates this time around. With competition for spots at a premium, particularly in midfield, three losing sides did not have any players included.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 9

FB: Darcy Wilmot (NK), Tyreece Leiu (ER), Tom Bracher (MB)
HB: Patrick Voss (OC), Sam Darcy (OC), Sam Frost (GWS)

C: Sam Breuer (GWV), Ben Hobbs (GWV), Noah Gribble (GF)

HF: Joel Trudgeon (NK), Dante Visentini (SD), Bryce Milford (DS)
FF: Jye Menzie (TD), Sam Paea (CC), Noah Gadsby (GF)

FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS), Josh Ward (NK), Finn Callaghan (SD)

INT: Nick Daicos (OC), Josh Goater (CC), Marcus Herbert (GWV), Colby Nanya (DS), Jake Soligo (ER), Zac Taylor (CC)

EMG: Oscar Morrison (GF), Billy Cootee (WJ), Will Bravo (DS)

2021 Allies Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 Allies Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with the 39-man squad featuring players originating from four different states and territories. Made up of prospects from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the Allies are set to field a largely competitive team at the upcoming National Championships, boasting a strong core of top-agers. In a quirk not many other squads will have, there were no bottom-agers selected.

Among the talents from each state are Northern Academy products, with the GIANTS, Swans, Lions and SUNS academies represented, along with the Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmanian NAB League side. With stints in the Victorian pathways competition, all five academies have been able to enjoy an extended run of competitive action, with the top echelon of players also filtering into the state leagues.

NSW-ACT and Queensland are set to be the most represented states, with the former producing 15 squad members – including three from the Murray Bushrangers – while the latter lays claim to 13. There were six Tasmanians included, while four hail from the Northern Territory.

There are a few prospects playing outside of their native zonings, with the likes of Patrick Voss and Sam Collins (both Oakleigh Chargers), Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons), Oliver Davis (Adelaide SANFL), and Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder), and Ned Stevens (SUNS Academy) all competing in seperate states. That is not to mention the four Murray Bushrangers representatives; Charlie Byrne, Cameron McLeod, Toby Murray, and Ryan Eyers.

Standouts in the squad include GIANTS Academy gun Josh Fahey, a dashing defender who earned the President’s Medal as best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. Versatile tall, Stevens is also part of the national academy, as is fellow SUNS Academy member Austin Harris and Tasmanian Sam Banks, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

The Allies are set to begin their carnival on July 8 against Vic Country, playing host to the Victorians at Metricon stadium. They then travel to face South Australia at Adelaide Oval on July 24, before taking on Western Australia in Blacktown on July 31, and ending at GMHBA Stadium on August 14 by taking on Vic Country.

Below is a preview of how the Allies team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Charlie Byrne (MB) – Ryan Eyers (MB) – Josh Fahey (GWS)
HB: Bodhi Uwland (GCS) – Jack Briskey (BL) – Sam Banks (TAS)
C: Jack Peris (NT) – Josh Green (GWS) – Saxon Crozier (BL)
HF: Patrick Voss (GWS) – Ned Stevens (NT) – Jye Menzie (TAS)
F: Max Pescud (GCS) – Will Bella (GCS) – Austin Harris (GCS)
FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS) – Brodie Lake (NT) – Oliver Davis (TAS)

INT: Tahj Abberley (BL), Sam Collins (TAS), Cameron McLeod (MB), Toby Murray (MB), Bailey Reeves (GCS), Toby Triffett (BL)

EMG: Toby Alker (SYD), Angus Anderson (SYD), Charlie Bowes (BL), Sam Frost (GWS), Darcy Gardner (TAS), Harrison Grintell (GWS), Thomas Hofert (GCS), Jack Johnston (GCS), Brinn Little (GCS), Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT), Kye Pfrengle (SYD), Liam Puncher (SYD), Felix Rogers (SYD), Pierce Roseby (SYD), Baker Smith (TAS)

FULL SQUAD:

Tahj Abberley (Lions Academy)
Jack Briskey (Lions Academy)
Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
Toby Triffett (Lions Academy)
Jack Johnston (Suns Academy)
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Austin Harris (Suns Academy)
Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
Max Pescud (Suns Academy)
Bailey Reeves (Suns Academy)
Will Bella (Suns Academy)
Thomas Hofert (Suns Academy)
Josh Fahey (Giants Academy)
Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
Harrison Grintell (Giants Academy)
Josh Green (Giants Academy)
Paddy Voss (Oakleigh Chargers/Giants Academy)
Jack Driscoll (Giants Academy)
Toby Alker (Swans Academy)
Kye Pfrengle (Swans Academy)
Liam Puncher (Swans Academy)
Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
Sam Banks (Tasmania)
Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers/Tasmania)
Baker Smith (Tasmania)
Oliver Davis (Adelaide/Tasmania)
Jye Menzie (Tasmania)
Darcy Gardner (Tasmania)
Andy Moniz-Wakefield (Northern Territory)
Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Northern Territory)
Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons/Northern Territory)
Ned Stevens (Suns Academy/Northern Territory)
Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)
Ryan Eyers (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Murray (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

2021 NAB League: Round 4 – Debuts galore as Academies, bottom-agers roll through

AFTER a month-long hiatus, the NAB League returns on Saturday morning as five Northern Academies are welcomed to the fold. The Queensland academies – Brisbane and Gold Coast – will face Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays respectively in a Preston double-header, while the NSW academies – GWS and Sydney – take on Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power in Werribee.

Elsewhere, a Craigieburn triple-header on Sunday sees the Tasmania Devils lock horns with the Northern Territory Thunder Academy on neutral turf. Hosts, Calder Cannons open that grand day of action against Bendigo Pioneers, as the Eastern Ranges and GWV Rebels close out the nine-game round.

Opportunity awaits for bottom-aged prospects too, who were essentially held back during the first three rounds this year to provide ample opportunity for top-age talent to shine. All bar one Victorian talent region will field 17-year-olds in Round 4, along with Tasmania and the Academies, with the Under 17 Championship squads being finalised nationwide.

THE YOUNG GUNS – U17s

Round 5’s standalone opener at Trevor Barker Oval sees Sandringham take on Western, with both sides introducing at least one Under 17 prospect apiece. The Dragons have named lively forward Harry Sheezel, who is dangerous around goals and has impressed in each trial or carnival outing thus far. Ben Hempel is another young Dragon named in the side. Cameron Kizan looms as a new Jets’ under-age representative, set to rotate from the bench after lining up on a wing in the Victorian Under 17 trial games for Metro.

Geelong and Gippsland welcome the NSW academies, with the Power due to unveil a host of up-and-comers against Sydney. Zane Duursma is a name which catches the eye, but the brother of Port’s Xavier is a fantastic talent in his own right. A rare 2005-birth in this mix, he will run out against players three years his elder, but looks to cut the difference with his skills and poise in tight spots. The Power have also named promising half-back Jonti Schuback, while Cooper Vickery and tall Harvey Howe will start on the pine.

Geelong looks poised to start a trio of its Under 17 prospects against the Giants Academy, in important positions too. 195cm bigman Olivier Northam is the Falcons’ starting ruck, while midfielder-forward Jhye Clark is poised to enter via the centre bounce mix. Ted Clohesy is another to watch in the Falcons’ forward half.

Saturday’s other double-header sees Northern look to unleash versatile 194cm prospect Dane Harvey, as he is named on the bench while goalsneak Jason McCormick earns a spot in the forwardline along with even more fresh faces. The Knights take on Brisbane, who have also named a 17-year-old in Bailey Tome, in midfield.

Likewise, Dandenong has a few of its own Under 17 inclusions for its clash with Gold Coast. Henry Hustwaite and Ned Moodie are set to start on the bench, as Jess McManus takes up a starting spot at centre half-back. The Suns will also bring in some under-agers, with Jared Eckersley another starting down the spine, while Marlin Corbett will rotate off the pine.

While some of Oakleigh’s talented bottom-agers will have to wait a little longer to crack the Chargers’ stacked lineup, 200cm ruck-forward Will Elliott gets his chance.  Murray will also have at least one Under 17 in its squad on Saturday, with Joshua Tweedale, a 198cm ruck from Wangaratta included in the squad.

Looking across the team sheets for Sunday’s triple-header, and Eastern has a bunch of youngsters ready to impact. Small midfielder Harry Flynn is one to watch in the guts, while Lewis Hayes has also shown plenty of promise as a tall defender. Also among the group of fresh Ranges faces are Kai Windsor, Lachlan Reidy, and Hayden Smith.

GWV will field its share of Under 17s as well, with Felix Fogarty and Aaron Cadman named on the bench. Both loom as forward options, with Fogarty the taller of the two at 197cm.

In Bendigo’s bout with Calder, Jason Gillbee will come in as a rare 17th-year player with games already under his belt, as Ben Cameron also lines up for the Pios. Calder will unleash the very promising midfield pairing of Caleb Burquest and Paul Pascu, who should both get a look-in for the final Metro squad.

An exciting talent to watch out of the Northern Territory Academy is Beau Tedcastle, a livewire small forward with senior experience under his belt in the Top End. The Thunder face Tasmania, who have given ample opportunity to some under-agers already. Among them, 2005-birth Ryley Sanders has been named with Lachlan Cowan, as at least four others look like cracking the Devils’ side this week.

THE RETURNEES – U19s

While the next generation rolls through, some familiar names will also line up once more for their respective regions. Plenty of eyes will be on Murray and Carlton VFL midfielder Zavier Maher as he comes in fresh off a terrific senior outing for his local club. Young Guns showcase representatives Cameron McLeod and Patrick Parnell will also suit up for the Bushies, against an Oakleigh side with strong top-age talent. Among the Chargers’ brigade is Sam Tucker, who comes in for his first game this year, while Ned Moyle and Youseph Dib are at the top end of those returning from VFL duties – both with Collingwood.

Sandringham ruck Felix Flockart, a 2001-birth, will also get a run for the Dragons as he stakes his claim for mid-season draft selection, with the likes of Charlie McKay and Luke Cleary again set to turn out for the ridiculously strong talent region. Cody Raak is another mid-season candidate to watch in that game, lining up for Western in his usual centre half-back post.

Blake Reid and Noah Gadsby are a couple of handy inclusions for Geelong, who have a solid bunch of 19th-year talents. Northern will be happy to see leader Joel Trudgeon in the squad, with Ben De Bolfo and Dominic Akuei listed in defence along with Regan Uwandu, an exciting type who plays his first game for the year after an injury lay-off. Speaking of, Bayleigh Welsh will finally get to run out for Dandenong, named at half-back as former Hawthorn trainee Will Bravo remains in midfield.

Key forward Sam Paea is among a few Calder prospects to come in after gaining experience in the VFL, named alongside Young Guns representative Sam Clohesy. Among the Young Guns group for Bendigo, Caleb Ernst will look to carry on his impressive form up forward, with skipper Jack Evans also set to return after making his VFL debut. The Pioneers have a good few who remain at that level, too.

Tasmania pair Oliver Sanders and Tyler McGinniss will be in the mix for the Devils having made excellent starts to their seasons, enough to be called up to North Melbourne’s VFL team. In the round’s final game, watch for Marcus Herbert and Fraser Marris in GWV’s midfield, while Marc Massarotti and Jake Arundell form a lively tall-small partnership in Eastern’s forward 50.

THE ACADEMIES

While there is arguably less top-end talent across each academy this year than we have seen previously, fans of all clubs involved and from the Top End will be keen to see what their representatives produce. Out of the NSW lot, GWS standout Josh Fahey has not been named, but mid-season draft candidate Josh Green will start at centre half-forward. Sam Stening is another dynamic type to watch for the Giants up forward, with crafty small Kai Watts his state’s Under 16 MVP in 2019. Elsewhere, Sam Frost (half-back) and Jack Driscoll (ruck/defence) are among those with recent VFL exposure.

For Sydney, eyes will remain on the likes of Marco Rossmann and Pierce Roseby as they return in Swans colours. Both missed out on being drafted last year, but bring class and strong ball winning ability respectively. The likes of Toby Alker and Jeremy Woodford were solid state representative at Under 16 level, along with smalls Felix Rogers, Jordan Endemann, and Byron Middleton.

On the Queensland side of things, Suns Academy member Austin Harris looms as his state’s best talent. He’ll look to provide some outside run and class against Northern, while Bodhi Uwland is a developing type to watch in defence and through midfield. The Suns’ side will also be spearheaded by Will Bella, the brother of Gold Coast AFLW ruck, Lauren. Jed Foggo is another to watch, while Finn Brown has shown good form in midfield and Thomas Hofert is a known key position quantity.

For the Lions, Lochlan Harrop looms as an important figure at the heart of the starting lineup. James Packer is another among the 2003-born crop, while the likes of Connor Bulley and Shatna Cashen-Harris headline Brisbane’s top-age group. In terms of the NT talent on show, livewires Ronald Fejo and Andy Moniz-Wakefield should catch plenty of eyes, while Tedcastle will be the star small forward. Jaeden Watts is another to look out for, along with Jason Baird and Christos Gikas. A bunch of the NT boys have also gained senior experience in the NTFL, which should put them in good stead here.

OTHER NOTES…

Collingwood father-son prospect and potential top pick Nick Daicos will lead Oakleigh out having been managed in recent weeks, robbing him of a VFL debut with the Magpies. He is one of a few 18th-year players to have already graduated, making them available for NAB League selection while the school football seasons roll on. Josh Sinn is another in that category, but he has not quite come up for Sandringham this week. His absence looks to have opened the door for riser Finn Callaghan to be tried on the inside.

The Northern Knights are a side who will lose some key personnel to school football, but dashing half-back Darcy Wilmot remains after making an electric senior debut for Montmorency over the break. Sandringham forward Luke Nankervis is another in that category, with plenty of players getting back to their local roots over the last month.

There are a bunch of 18th-year prospects who also turned out for VFL sides in that time, with Calder’s Josh Goater and Zac Taylor (both Essendon) among them. Potential North Melbourne father-son Jackson Archer was another, as he returns to Northern colours this week. Tyler Sonsie, who turned out for Box Hill, will come back into Eastern’s fold, starting in midfield with Jake Soligo (Richmond) and Tyreece Leiu (North Melbourne).

The decision has been made for many top-agers as they either continue in the VFL competition, get more run in their legs through the NAB League, or part ways to head back to local football. With the mid-season draft fast-approaching, there are many in action this week who will count themselves in with a good chance of making the elite grade. Time will tell.

ROUND 4 FIXTURES

Saturday May 22

Sandringham Dragons vs. Western Jets
11:00am @ Trevor Barker Oval

Geelong Falcons vs. GWS Giants Academy
11:45am @ Avalon Airport Oval

Northern Knights vs. Brisbane Lions Academy
11:45am @ Preston City Oval

Murray Bushrangers vs. Oakleigh Chargers
1:00pm @ Wangaratta Showgrounds

Gippsland Power vs. Sydney Swans Academy
2:15pm @ Avalon Airport Oval

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gold Coast Suns Academy
2:15pm @ Preston City Oval

Sunday May 23

Calder Cannons vs. Bendigo Pioneers
10:30am @ Highgate Recreation Reserve

Tasmania Devils vs. Northern Territory Academy
1:00pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve

Eastern Ranges vs. GWV Rebels
3:30pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve

Image Credit: RF Photography

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 5

WITH the NAB League in the midst of a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun filtering into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also get some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.

>> PLAYER FOCUS: Ned Moyle (Collingwood VFL)

A Thursday night Q-Clash opened the Round 5 proceedings, as Brisbane easily accounted for its local rival to the tune of 60 points at Metricon Stadium. A pair of 2002-born Lions Academy graduates stole the show, with Will Tasker (21 disposals, five goals) and Toby Triffett (25 disposals, 10 tackles and three goals) enjoying nights out. Tahj Abberley, Charlie Bowes, and Saxon Crozier also found a good amount of ball in Brisbane’s win, as they continue to gain senior experience.

For the Suns, Bailey Reeves‘ consistent run rolled on as he notched another 24 touches and seven tackles, while enigmatic prospect Max Pescud also ticked over 20 disposals and found the goals. Jack Johnston was another 19th-year talent in the side, with the tall taking three marks among his eight touches overall.

Richmond was another side to win big on the weekend, trouncing GWS by 97 points at Punt Road Oval. Big bodied midfielder Fraser Elliot made his debut in yellow and black, ticking up to 23 disposals, as Eastern Ranges product Jake Soligo (17 disposals) also enjoyed his maiden outing. Sam Durham, who featured in the Young Guns game, took six marks among his 19 touches for the Tigers.

In charcoal and orange, star Academy rebounder Josh Fahey racked up 24 touches and six marks in a busy display, while potential mid-season draft prospect Josh Green turned out again and had it 19 times. Another talent garnering similar attention is Patrick Parnell, who made his debut alongside versatile bigman Jack Driscoll for the Giants.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Will Papley earned a berth with Port Melbourne as the Borough went down to Coburg, Marcus Herbert donned the hoops of Geelong once more as Casey beat the Cats in a thriller, and Darby Hipwell had 10 touches in Sandringham’s win over Williamstown. On the same night, Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent Youseph Dib was a touch quieter in his latest state league appearance, as highly fancied ruck Ned Moyle managed a game-high 23 hitouts against AFL-listed opposition.

North Melbourne fielded a bunch of debutants in its heavy loss to Box Hill on Sunday, sampling talent from three different NAB League regions. Tall Sandringham Dragons midfielder Logan Young finished with 14 disposals and five tackles, while Eastern’s Tyreece Leiu (eight disposals, one goal) and Marc Massarotti (five disposals) got their chance, and Western midfielder Liam Conway (six disposals) also earned a call-up for the Roos.

Essendon rounded out the weekend’s action with a solid win over Frankston, which also saw the Bombers field some fresh faces. Calder Cannons teammates Zac Taylor and Josh Goater got their chance to don the sash, with the latter snaring a goal on debut. Bendigo Pioneers top-ager Sam Conforti impressed once again with 22 touches, as fellow Pio’ Jack Hickman had a crack and Western standout Billy Cootee found it 17 times.

With the NAB League set to return this week, involving cameos from each of the Northern Academies, 18th-year players who hit the VFL will likely return to pathway commitments, while 19th-year prospects will stay involved with the state league program or head back to local football, depending on their preferences.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock / AFL Photos

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: NSW/ACT, NT, QLD

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. Talent from the Allied states and territories (NSW/ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Queensland) on the precipice are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after exciting seasons around the nation.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition
>> Power Rankings: November Update

NSW/ACT:

Will Chandler
Murray Bushrangers | Medium Forward
13/12/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A 2019 state combine invitee, Chandler plied his trade with the Murray Bushrangers but hails from just over the NSW border. He is an exciting forward who can leap high and possesses a smooth left-sided kicking action.

Jack Driscoll
GWS Academy | Key Defender/Ruck
8/04/2002 | 201cm | 88kg

Driscoll is a versatile tall who obviously thrives aerially, but has the point of difference in being able to rotate between key defensive and ruck posts. There is plenty of upside to the GWS Academy member, but he is not yet the finished product.

Sam Gaden
Sydney Academy | Key Position Utility
7/03/2001 | 196cm | 92kg

Gaden is a well-built key position prospect who can impact at either end of the ground or even in the ruck with his strength and smarts. He impressed last year and as an over-ager in 2020 during the Academy Series.

Harry Grant
GWS Academy | Small Midfielder/Forward
3/07/2001 | 172cm | 78kg

He may be small, but packs a punch. Grant showed some impressive form as a nuggety inside midfielder during this year’s Academy Series after missing out as a top-ager. He is a zippy, hard-working midfielder who will likely translate better as a forward.

Godfrey Okerenyang
GWS Academy | Medium Utility
8/09/2002 | 184cm | 80kg

One of the most outstanding pure athletes available in this year’s crop, Okerenyang lit up combine testing this year with his speed and explosiveness. He is still a very raw footballer but has obvious upside and has represented NSW/ACT at Under 16 level.

Kye Pfrengle
Sydney Academy | Defender/Utility
20/11/2002 | 191cm | 82kg

A high-flying type who possesses great versatility and athleticism, Pfrengle brings plenty of x-factor whenever he enters the play. He will be working on turning those glimpses into consistent form as he develops.

Pierce Roseby
Sydney Academy | Inside Midfielder
4/01/2002 | 180cm | 79kg

Roseby has proven to be a reliable inside midfielder with great tenacity and leadership qualities over his time with the Swans Academy. He is a solid ball winner at ground level with clean hands and the ability to run hard all day.

Marco Rossmann
Sydney Academy | Forward/Midfielder
12/04/2002 | 182cm | 79kg

A prospect which Sydney fans have been keeping a particularly close eye on, Rossmann is a classy midfielder who can win his own ball while also posing a threat inside attacking 50 with great smarts and agility.

Marc Sheather
Sydney Academy | Medium Utility
11/06/2002 | 185cm | 84kg

Another strong Swans Academy candidate, Sheather is a true utility in the sense that he can play both small and tall up either end, while also developing as a midfielder. He already cuts a strong figure and has handy athletic traits.

NORTHERN TERRITORY:

Tyrrell Lui
Palmerston | Defender/Utility
2/06/2002 | 187cm

Lui has plied his trade in all sorts of roles but seems to have settled recently as a tall, rebounding defender. He had the tough job of marking Joel Jeffrey in this year’s NT Under 18 All-Stars game and held his own. Currently playing for Palmerston in the NTFL.

Brandon Rusca
Southern Districts | Outside Midfielder/Small Forward
11/05/2001 | 180cm

Another NT prospect who is currently playing senior football in the NTFL, Rusca also ran out for Gold Coast in this year’s Academy Series and is tied to the Suns through the Darwin zone. He likes to take the game on with speed on the outside.

QUEENSLAND:

Riley Buckland
Palm Beach Currumbin | Outside Midfielder/Forward
9/04/2001 | 182cm

A 19-year-old prospect who has shown promising glimpses in 2020, Buckland stands out with his speed and willingness to move the ball on in the forward half. He played into some good form late in the QAFL season for Palm Beach Currumbin.

Shatner Cashen-Harris
Wilston Grange | Outside Midfielder
18/06/2002 | 180cm | 69kg

Cashen-Harris is a prospect who certainly caught the eye this season, running out for the most part with Wilston Grange in the QAFL. He also represented the Lions Academy in 2020, impressing with his explosive speed and smothering defensive pressure.

Nathan Colenso
Morningside | Forward/Midfielder
6/11/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Colenso came into 2020 with big wraps after taking out last year’s QAFL Rising Star award. He ended up a premiership player with Morningside while also turning out for the Suns Academy, garnering attention with his big frame and strong defensive game up forward.

Josh Gore
Broadbeach | Small Forward
29/05/2001 | 178cm | 77kg

An incredibly natural small forward, Gore was one of a few unlucky Northern Academy prospects to miss out on being drafted last year. He bounced back with a terrific senior QAFL season with Broadbeach while also showing his smarts inside 50 with the Suns Academy.

Ryan Pickering
Gold Coast Academy | Key Position Utility
25/09/2002 | 200cm | 88kg

An athletic tall who can play on every line, Pickering obviously excels aerially at 200cm. He impressed this year during his time with Broadbeach and also for the Gold Coast Suns Academy, showing signs of his development.

Bailey Reeves
Gold Coast Academy | Balanced Midfielder
17/04/2002 | 184cm | 78kg

Reeves is a hard-working midfielder who can play both inside and out, as shown during his breakout Academy Series performances. He also enjoyed a solid QAFL season playing mostly on the wing, providing good grunt going both ways.

Scouting notes: Northern Academy Series – Round 1

THE 2020 Northern Academy Series got underway over the weekend, with prospects from the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, GWS Giants, and Sydney Swans talent programs all looking to impress. State derbies kicked off proceedings, and made for a couple of hard-fought battles.

In a willing contest under sunny conditions, the Gold Coast Suns Academy won by 53 points over their Sunshine State rivals. The Suns booted the first six goals of the game – five came with the breeze in the opening term – to run out comfortable winners.

The Sydney Swans Academy also ran out winners in their clash with the GWS Giants prospects, setting up the victory with a string of five unanswered goals which extended from the second term, onwards. Soggy conditions ensured hard work would be made for the 15-point triumph, with a good bit of niggle to go with the contested slog.

We took a look at some of the Academy members and how they performed, as well as a bunch of other names who impressed on the day.

Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast Suns

Brisbane:

By: Peter Williams

#12 Saxon Crozier

Played a mixture between the wing and getting back to help the defence, Crozier was neat with his ball use and always looking to create run for the Lions. After a quieter first term – though he had a good handball out of defence – he had an number of impressive plays in the second term. He sidestepped an opponent and got it quickly onto the right, and presented to his teammates around the field. His handballing release to teammates streaming down the ground opened up the play for Brisbane to begin to cut the deficit back.

#13 Blake Coleman

Not a high possession player, Coleman has high level footy smarts and clean hands that make him so difficult to stop. He is one of those players who might not get a touch for a half, then can win the game for his side with a couple of impactful plays. After a few silky moves in the first term, he combined well with Tahj Abberley down the ground to win it on the wing and keep paddling the ball in front of him. Somehow he managed to gain distance, shake off his pursuers and launch a goal from 50m having beaten three opponents in the clear goal of the day. His second major in the third term was more straightforward, floating in from the side to then hold his ground and clunk the grab 35m out. He nailed the set shot six and a half minutes into the term, and almost had another good mark in the final quarter but could not quite hold it. As he booted two of the Lions’ four goals, he did well to play his role in the forward half with great pressure.

#14 Carter Michael

Michael showed a great balance of offensive and defensive traits throughout the contest, playing off half-back and then pushing up the ground when required. His first foray in the match was a good early spoil, getting the body contact out of the way. Throughout the match, Michael ran hard to be an option through the middle, and often ran up to the kicker at a stop in play to receive the get and go, to add an extra number to the play and try and use his speed to drive the ball down the ground. He pumped the ball inside 50 on occasions, and was working hard to look for one-two opportunities for his teammates. He copped a knock in the defensive 50 back pocket, but bounced straight back up and was solid throughout the entire game. Showing nice hands out of congestion, Michael ran down the ground and teamed up with Abberley well in keeping the ball moving. He had a snap on goal of his own late in the final term, but the wind did not help him out and it went out on the full. His reaction in one passage of play saw him bolt down the middle and leave his opponents in his wake. He was a treat to watch on the day and a real highlight for the Lions.

#15 Tahj Abberley

One of the Lions’ best throughout the day, he just kept trying to create off half-back and push up the ground. He set up a goal to Coleman in the second term with his pace off half-back, and then teamed up well with Michael in the final term with the one-two handballs down the ground. He stayed involved in all four quarters, and even drifted forward at times to kick it deeper inside 50, having a clever snap from long range, but it drifted for a behind. He won plenty of the ball in all thirds of the ground, and when the heat was on early in the game, Abberley was one of the few who stood up and continued to try hard against the flow. He used the ball well and showed good hands in traffic throughout the contest, and definitely showed plenty of potential in the defeat.

Others:

In terms of others who caught the eye, Shatna Cashen-Harris was lively up forward, with clean hands and a silky side-step, always looking dangerous. In midfield, the combination of Sam Winterbottom and Daniel Lanthois tried hard with the latter kicking a clever goal in the second term, whilst Ben Thomas kicked the other major for the Lions. Over-ager Max McDonald was dominant in the ruck, whilst Noah McFadyen provided a contest up forward, and Kuot Thok was not afraid to crash and bash the packs in defence.

>> Lions Academy Content

Gold Coast:

By: Ed Pascoe

#13 Rhys Nicholls 

Nicholls did not have the most productive game but he was still able to show his skill and talent with some nice spin moves and classy movement from the back half. The clever left-footer looked very smooth whenever he got possession and like many of his teammates, always took the opportunity to move the ball forward as quickly and cleanly as possible. 

#14 Max Pescud 

Maybe the most unlucky Suns player not to be included in the AFL based academy, he has been a regular goal scorer in the QAFL and backed that up again. He kicked multiple goals while also unselfishly passing off more opportunities as he could have easily ended up with about five goals himself. A quick player who takes the game on, tackles, and marks with intent despite his light frame, he came undone a few times with his run but when he was up-and-running and taking bounces, he looked very sharp and even got some time through the midfield late in the game, winning a few clearances. 

#19 Josh Fahey 

Fahey played for NSW/ACT in last year’s Under 16 championships and now finds himself with the Gold Coast Suns, although he wont be tied to any academies for next year’s draft. That’ll come as a sigh of relief for all AFL clubs, as he put on a best on ground performance down back. Fahey wasn’t hard to miss with his blonde locks but he also wasn’t hard to miss for the Lions going inside 50 as they kicked it down his throat multiple times. Fahey cut off plenty of attacks, attacking the contest hard and cleanly. His left-foot kicking from defence was a real feature, both long and damaging, and he had a major influence on the result. Fahey looks to be a very promising prospect for the 2021 draft.  

#20 Aiden Fyfe 

Fyfe had the ball on a string on his favoured wing position, and would had to have been the leading possession winner on the ground as he was involved in every quarter as one of the most consistent players afield. Fyfe found the ball all over the ground, working hard defensively and offensively. He was one of many to kick a goal in the first quarter with a nice snap and he would set up countless others with his clean hands and composure when in possession. Fyfe rarely wasted his touches and often hit teammates in a better position than himself. Despite not being the quickest player out there, he was certainly one of the sharpest in both skill and mind with ball in hand. 

#22 Jack Johnston 

The captain of the side, Johnston was a rock in defence at centre half-back. He took some nice strong marks and was cool and composed across the back half. Johnston is a strong player already standing at 195cm and 95kg, using his frame well both overhead anover the ball, and his disposals were often very clean for a big man. 

Others:

A couple of over-agers who impressed were forwards, Josh Gore and Nathan Colenso. Both were able to hit the scoreboard multiple times and look damaging, with Colenso on the lead, and Gore mixing between the lead and in play. Both have been prominent goalkickers at QAFL level, and brought that same form into the game, with Gore’s clean hands and Colenso’s strength and tackling ability amongst the attributes that stood out for the respective forwards.

>> Suns Academy Content

GWS Giants vs. Sydney Swans

By: Michael Alvaro

GWS:

#1 Harry Grant

The diminutive over-ager was thrown right into the cut and thrust of midfield and hardly looked out of place. Grant hunted the ball from the first bounce, with his pace and tenacity at ground level making for a solid two-way contribution. If he wasn’t digging in to win his own ball at the stoppages, Grant was applying smothering defensive pressure to make life hard for opposition midfielders. It seemed the conditions suited his game well, and he would later move forward where he very nearly added a goal to his game with a sharp snap.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Another 19-year-old prospect to show promising glimpses of form, Delahunty was primed to make is mark on the NAB League and VFL in 2020. Instead, he took the opportunity this weekend to show his worth back with the Giants Academy, and had his moments throughout the game. Starting in defence, Delahunty took a nice contested mark to intercept a deep Sydney entry, while also looking to rebound aggressively by running his full measure and delivering by foot. He is somewhat of an in-between size at 192cm and 87kg, allowing him to compete both aerially and at ground level. He continued to take the game on from defensive 50, but was caught holding the ball as he looked to fend off an opponent in the third term. A move forward followed, and Delahunty capped off his performance with a tidy, quick finish for the final goal of the game.

#27 Josh Green

Green cuts a similar figure to his brother, Tom – albeit a touch taller and leaner – and was tried in an inside midfield role for the Giants early on. His 192cm frame allowed him to compete at the stoppages, while his ability to get up either end of the ground made him an influential player throughout the game. While he was a touch slow to truly build into the contest, Green began to show his best form after half time with some terrific overhead marking in tricky conditions. His clearance work built as well with the added confidence, and a later move behind the ball allowed Green to showcase his strong hands and intercept quality.

#42 Maximus Monaghan

One of a number of Giants to have rotated through midfield, Monaghan also showed some good signs while stationed both in defence and attack. The top-ager is strongly built and applied himself at the contest, showing good aggression and strength to break free and dispose of the ball via foot. He accumulated well through the engine room and was later sighted up either end of the ground where he was able to find his way to the ball.

Others:

On a day where the conditions made it tough to take a lot out of the game, there were a number of players to have provided little flashes of form. Bottom-age forward Sam Stening presented well up the ground early and was later rewarded with a goal for his run-down tackle on Max Geddes. The likes of Coopa Steele and Joel Dunstall dug in to find plenty of the ball, while Harrison Grintell looked lively up forward, and Sam Frost was among a few solid defenders. Under 16 NSW/ACT MVP Kai Watts booted a goal from his permenent forward position, while Jack Driscoll rotated back through the ruck.

>> Giants Academy Content

Sydney:

#2 Sam Gaden

Gaden proved a strong a flexible key position option for the Swans, starting forward and eventually plying his trade down back. The over-ager worked up the ground well in the early stages, presenting as a link into Sydney’s forward 50. He provided a goal assist to Jackson Barling in the second term with a hacked kick into the arc, and doubled his impact with some forward 50 ruck work. Having been moved down back in the second half, Gaden showcased his ability to intercept, sweeping well both in the air and at ground level.

#3 Kye Pfrengle

A player who needs only a few touches or moments to catch the eye is Pfrengle, who looked particularly lively in the first term with some incredible marking attempts. The top-age AFL Academy hub member certainly has a spring in his step, leaping high for the ball to intercept GWS’ long defensive rebounds. While he failed to hold onto most of his speckie attempts, Pfrengle was positioned well behind the ball to begin with, allowing him enact that intercept game. He would later be seen a touch deeper in defence, locking the ball in and taking the kick-outs, making handy contributions just when it seemed he was drifting out of the contest.

#7 Braeden Campbell

The leading Swans Academy prospect looked like tearing the game apart as he dominated the opening stages, showing terrific signs through midfield. While his speed and damaging kicking on the outside often garner the most praise, it was Campbell’s toughness and ability to adapt to the conditions which stood out most on this occasion. His clearance work was sound throughout the match, and despite coughing up a rare turnover by foot in the second term, he was able to find his range consistently. With some opposition attention incoming, Campbell was moved to half-back and also rotated off the wing, while pushing forward to slot a goal in the third term. He looked most dangerous with his burst away from the stoppages though, and hunted the ball well when on the inside.

>> Academy Series Player Focus

#15 Sam Thorne

Another over-ager to have made his mark on the game was Thorne, a small midfielder who thrived in the soggy conditions. He was a regular at the centre bounces and stoppages, accumulating the ball with ease at ground level and releasing well to his teammates on the move. Thorne’s ability to shark the ball off hands and get his legs pumping to burst away was noticeable, and it helped set the tone for Sydney from where it mattered most. He finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the day, and kept his name in the hat as far as the Swans are concerned.

#22 Errol Gulden

Campbell’s partner-in-crime, Gulden was a consistent threat for Sydney and managed to find the ball at will while rotating from the wing, through the middle, and up forward. The 176cm mover relies more on agility and smarts rather than pure pace, so initially found it hard in the wet conditions to have his usual impact on the game despite constantly getting his hands on the ball.

Still, Gulden snared the opening goal after being tackled high inside 50, and used it as a catalyst to work more effectively at ground level. His work-rate forward of centre was outstanding, and he could be seen pushing inside 50 from the wing to snare his second major, hardly breaking stride as he gobbled up the loose ball and slotted it home on the fly. Gulden was arguably best afield in the second half, and is just so difficult to stop at full flight. It was good to see him get busy up forward too, as that high half-forward role looks most like being his starting position at the elite level.

#25 Jackson Barling

Barling is another Academy talent to have missed out last year, but seems to have taken it in his stride after an impressive performance. He was first sighted using the ball cleanly in the back half, staying composed to provide a refreshing point of difference in the largely-contested game. His biggest impact came upon his move to the forwardline though, where Barling would kick three goals. His first came on the back of a juggled mark inside 50, which was quickly followed by another strong grab and set shot conversion in the second term. Yet another big clunk helped deliver a third major in the final quarter, though he selfishly burned Thorne as he looked for a fourth. Still, Barling’s scoreboard impact helped turn the game significantly in Sydney’s favour, and his hardness at 183cm and 85kg was impressive as it should be for an over-ager.

Others:

The talent in the Swans Academy runs deep, and there were plenty of others to have pitched in across the day. Marc Sheather was hard at the ball through midfield, while fellow AFL Academy member Marco Rossmann showed some promising signs early in his role up forward. Oscar Bird was another solid contributor who got involved in Sydney’s forward surges.

>> Swans Academy Content

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

DOMINANT rucks often find themselves sliding come draft time, or bolting right to the top should there be a lack of them in the relevant crop. While the key position stocks in this year’s cohort look promising, the search for a pure ruck who can develop quickly at the elite level is often a careful process.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best ruck prospects. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, have improved greatly, or may feature on another list.

Not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, but exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up. There are plenty of steep improvers, so without further ado, get to know some of the premier ruckmen eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Felix Flockart
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
5/11/2001 | 200cm | 79kg

One of the many types on this list to fall under the late bloomer category, Flockart was all set for a berth in the Sandringham Dragons program in 2020. The over-age prospect was also aligned to the Sandringham VFL squad, having been granted the opportunity on the back of some promising form with Brighton Grammar last year. He may prove a slow burner, but is quite athletic and obviously raw with such a lean frame. He is a talented sportsman overall who boasts strong hands on the footy field, and can adapt to a variety of key position roles if required.

Max Heath
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
24/10/2002 | 202cm | 89kg

Another big improver out of the Sandringham Dragons region, Heath proved during a couple of big preseason digs that his is primed to take over as a primary ruck in each side he represents. His APS and NAB League duties may have been put on hold for now, but Heath has impressed enough to suggest he may well be the premier pure ruck option heading into the 2020 draft. He can also move forward and take strong grabs when not muscling through his ruck duties. Don’t let his current record of one NAB League appearance in 2019 put you off, Heath is the real deal.

Kalin Lane
Claremont/Western Australia
5/12/2001 | 202cm | 89kg

While others on this list are bolters in their own right, Lane is the utter definition of it having been selected in the 2020 AFL Academy after just one WAFL Colts outing last year. The 202cm bigman has already achieved double that tally in this year’s competition, benefitting greatly from simply being able to show his worth on the field. As an over-ager, he already boasts a solid frame but is far from the lumbering type, able to impact at the drop of the ball and follow up his ruckwork. With 16 disposals and 29 hitouts in his most recent appearance, Lane seems to be gaining confidence and should push strongly for draft contention.

Shannon Neale
South Fremantle/Western Australia
25/07/2002 | 201cm | 86kg

Neale has come on strongly over the past year or so; impressing as an over-ager among Western Australia’s Under 16 squad, before running out on the MCG in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase. He’s an athletic type, able to use his leap in the ruck while also taking high marks when stationed up forward. Neale’s ability to interchange between either position is a not towards his versatility, with his kicking another bonus which has contributed to a steep rate of development. He has made a steady start to this year’s WAFL Colts season, particularly with 15 disposals, seven marks, 15 hitouts, and a goal in Round 1.

Zac Phillips
WWT Eagles/South Australia
15/08/2002 | 200cm | 80kg

A leader for Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL Under 18s, Phillips is another who is set to benefit from simply being afforded some exposure in 2020. As a primary ruck option, the tall and lean Eagle has averaged 25.5 hitouts across his four games this season, while also contributing around the ground with a tick over 11 disposals per outing. When stationed up forward, Phillips is able to meet the ball at its highest point on the lead and contribute goals to his side’s effort. He looks to be working on his hits to advantage and bodywork at stoppages, which will make him a more well-rounded ruck prospect. Some more polished decision making and disposal will also aid that factor.

Henry Walsh
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country
27/06/2002 | 202cm | 86kg

The brother of 2019 AFL Rising Star, Sam is a much different prospect, but is coming along nicely as he continues to work on his game. While is already quite adept in terms of ruck craft, the Geelong Falcons prospect is improving his running and ability to impact around the ground. Walsh looks to have benefitted from being afforded an extended run in the NAB League last year, with 13 games already under his belt, as well as an Under 18 National Championships appearance for Vic Country. He is currently plying his trade for Cobden in the Hampden League, and has experienced a taste of AFL standards having trained with Carlton during the off-season.

>> Q&A

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are a few prospects who you may have been expecting to see on this list, but have already found a home on others. Among them, Riley Thilthorpe has been put under the key position forward category, while Zach Reid is a key position defender. South Australian Henry Smith is another tall forward who can pinch-hit in the ruck, while the unknown quantity of fellow Croweater Ned Carey can play up either end of the ground, but has suffered extended injury setbacks.

Of the others to have missed out despite being inside the AFL Academy bubble, Jack Diedrich is a raw type from the Eastern Ranges program, while Jack Driscoll is a versatile prospect out of the GWS GIANTS Academy who can also play as a key position defender.

Positional Analysis: UtilitiesInside Midfielders | Outside Midfielders | Key Position Defenders | Key Position Forwards

July 2020 Power Rankings

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Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
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2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Key Position Defenders

THE KEY position stocks among this year’s potential AFL Draft crop are quite rich when compared to 2019, with a couple of tall defenders currently featuring at the pointy end of ranking boards. While not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best key position defenders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who we may have missed, or will feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier key defenders who are eligible to be drafted to your club in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

James Borlase
Sturt/South Australia
18/06/2002 | 190cm | 94kg

His father, Darryl may have played 246 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies, but Adelaide lay claim to first dibs on the next generation of Borlase via its academy ranks. The 190cm prospect landed in the Crows’ zone and was born in Egypt, allowing him to join and develop through the Crows’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). Currently plying his trade in Sturt’s Reserves side, Borlase has been a mainstay in the South Australian state ranks, utilised at either end of the ground. But with his strength and sound reading of the play, the 18-year-old is looking to cement a spot down back this year. He is a little short on true key position height but has the frame to compete, and may become more of a third-tall type at the next level.

>> Q&A

Cody Brand
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
23/05/2002 | 195cm | 84kg

Another NGA hopeful, Brand came on strong towards the back end of last year’s NAB League season having regained some confidence during his school football campaign. He is a good size at 195cm and 84kg, able to utilise his strength in one-on-one situations to pose attributes which slightly lean towards the shutdown role among the back six setup. But Brand is relatively adept athletically too, with a decent spring and closing speed allowing him to both impact aerial contests and rebound effectively. He is one of the few talls at Calder this year, and looks like locking down a key defensive post once again having also been trialled up forward.

>> Feature

Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A prospect who may rise quickly up draft boards is Chapman, an athletic key position type who is built for the modern game. The West Perth product mixes defence with offence well, able to read the play and intercept with aplomb, while also finding plenty of the ball and using it soundly on the rebound. While he still has time to grow, Chapman’s slight 193cm frame and terrific athletic attributes throw up the potential for him to be freed from the key position caper, in order to truly enhance his speed-endurance mix. But for now, expect to see Chapman dominating across centre half-back at Colts level for the Falcons, and a partnership alongside Denver Grainger-Barras also looms in future for the Black Ducks.

Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

There is a lot to like about the 2020 Northern Knights co-captain, who brings precise dual-sided disposal, speed-endurance running, aerial prowess, and clean hands all in one versatile 199cm package. Cox cut his teeth in a range of different positions as a bottom-ager, roaming the wing at times while also being tried with great success up forward. But his sound disposal, leadership, and reading of the play have him pinned for a role at centre half-back this year, having appeared once already for Vic Metro among the back six. Should he put all the pieces together, Cox has the potential to be a true top 10 prospect, but as is the case with most high-upside prospects, he is still quite raw.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Speaking of true top 10 prospects, Grainger-Barras is the early clubhouse leader among the key defenders having shown outstanding form to this point in his junior career. After earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level, the Swan Districts product went on to impress across two Under 18 National Championship games for WA, before being ruled out for the remainder of his bottom-age season with a serious shoulder injury. While he is still a touch light-on, Grainger-Barras is more than capable of competing in a lock-down defensive role, but thrives in being able to intercept and showcase his versatility across the backline. He should feature early at WAFL League level having cracked the grade in 2019.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Johnston
Gold Coast Academy/Allies
5/07/2002 | 195cm | 95kg

Another academy member among our list and one who has flown a little under the radar is Johnston, who looks a likely type. He is tied to the Gold Coast SUNS Academy, and played all five games in the NAB League Northern Academy series last year, playing an important role at centre half-back. Like many on this list, he possesses a good amount of athleticism to add to his defensive capabilities, able to impact the play aerially and at ground level. His frame makes him a readymade type, and he looks poised for an Allies berth in 2020 having made the squad as a bottom-ager.

Cody Raak
Western Jets/Vic Metro
8/10/2002 | 191cm | 77kg

While he might fall just under the genuine key position quota at 191cm, the Western Bulldogs NGA hopeful is one who plays the defensive role well. Having already turned out 11 times at NAB League level for the Western Jets, Raak is one of the more seasoned members of his region and provides a good deal of versatility to the potential Vic Metro back six. Raak is able to read the play well across the backline and intercept aerially, while also using the ball soundly when in possession and notching up a solid amount of disposals. He is working on his strength and one-on-one craft, but looms as an exciting third tall type going forward.

Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

The only player on this list to tip over the 200cm mark is Reid, who brings a bunch of desirable traits to the table. The leading Gippsland Power prospect does not just lean on his height and vertical leap to have an impact aerially, as he positions well and is improving on his strength-related game. Reid is also a terrific kick for his size and combines his slick use by foot with clean hands and athleticism to help sweep up at ground level. Having been tested through the ruck and up forward for periods as a bottom-ager, Reid looks primed to continue as a key defender with plenty to suggest he has all the right attributes for the next level.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There were a few players who were tricky to omit from this list, but most will feature on others as they did not quite fit the true key defensive mould. Among them, the 188cm Jye Sinderberry is a very capable lockdown defender at Under 18 level, who competes well in all areas against players about his size. Geelong’s Cameron Fleeton is another versatile type who can adapt to the key position role as it stands, but is likely to be let off the leash going forward. Late bloomer Blake Morris possesses similar intercept marking power, but is again a touch short and light at 188cm/66kg. You can add Will Schreiber to the list, too, although he has also been utilised through midfield this season.

Oakleigh’s Sam Tucker is of a true key position mould, but can be considered a swingman of sorts given he has also played up forward, while the likes of Jack Driscoll double as ruck cover, and Jack Briskey narrowly missed the cut due to his athleticism suiting a slightly different role. Gold Coast Academy prospect Ryan Pickering is another who may impress in 2020, almost adding to the 200cm club.

Picture: AFL Media

Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders | Outside Midfielders | Key Position Forwards

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Jumps
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