AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Tasmania Devils.
Points For: 753 (Ranked #13)
Points Against: 976 (Ranked #9)
Top draft prospects:
O’Neill has had his fair share of injuries over the past 12 months, particularly regarding a troublesome ankle, but it has not stopped him being in the conversation for a top 20 pick. Despite some inconsistencies at times, his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop, with his foot skills and decision making at a high level. He has played off half-back or through the middle playing an outside role, but can win his own ball when required. You do not fluke back-to-back All Australians, and O’Neill is the standout prospect this year from the Apple Isle. He might be lightly built, but has some exciting traits to take to the next level.
After being one of a number of unlucky players not to land on an AFL list last season, the tall utility could not have done much more to stake his case in 2019. Consistently one of Tasmania’s best week-in, week-out, he was composed under pressure in a backline that often saw high entry numbers, and he would take the game on making the right decisions going forward. He also showed he is capable of playing up the other end of the ground or through the middle, but his positioning and reading of the ball in flight in defence are strengths in his game. It is hoped he can attract a late or rookie selection 12 months after missing out.
Other in the mix:
The other two players with combine invitations – both Rookie Me – are Jared Dakin and Jake Steele. Both have had different seasons with Dakin unfortunately injured and only playing his first game last weekend. He made it count and show why a club is still keen on him, racking up 25 touches, three marks and 10 inside 50s as Tasmania pushed the Calder Cannons all the way in the Wildcard Round knockout match. Steele has been a staple in the defensive 50 for Tasmania, also showing his capabilities as a forward.
One would think it is a two-horse race between McGuinness and Oliver Davis, both of whom have enjoyed outstanding, consistent seasons. Along with the pair, others who have been in for nearly the entire year are Sam Collins and Patrick Walker, both of whom have shown consistency in defence. Davis has lead the onball brigade with his hard edge on the inside, while Walker recorded the most rebounds of any player on the side, and Collins split his time between defence and midfield.
2020 Draft Crop:
Tasmania’s bottom-age group this year will make the Devils a really challenging side to come up against in 2020. Lead by key forward Jackson Callow and inside midfielder Davis, the Devils have a number of draftable prospects who will really look to make their case to clubs next year. Those in contention for the BnF are also going around as top-agers next year with Collins and Walker both having another year in the system, as does Jye Menzie who showed class in glimpses and it will be interesting to see how he develops over the next 12 months. Then there is Sam Banks who is still two years away from being drafted, but expect a lot of eyes on him next year as a bottom-ager who will be talked up as a top-end 2021 draft prospect.
Given Tasmania had never played a full season in the Victorian Under-18 competition, it was always going to be tough to see how they performed. They got a tick for their season because with so many out at times due to Allies commitments or injuries, they held up and were not blown away as often as some might have thought at first. The loss to Calder was bitterly disappointing, but once the initial feeling fades, no doubt they can look back and see how much they came in the season, pushing the fifth placed side at their opposition’s home deck, without a host of key players.