Tag: jason horne

Scouting Notes: 2021 AFL Under 19 Academy vs. Geelong VFL

THE AFL Under 19 Academy suffered a 130-point thumping at the hands of Geelong VFL on Saturday morning, with the hosts flexing their muscle in the showcase fixture at GMHBA Stadium. Result aside, it proved an eye-opening opportunity for the nation’s brightest young talents to test their measure against seasoned operators. Our scouts were on hand in Geelong to deliver their opinion-based notes all 24 Academy players.

>> Match report: AFL Academy vs. Geelong VFL

#1-17 (By Ed Pascoe)

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide/SA)

The usually prolific North Adelaide prospect found the going a bit tougher against the Geelong VFL side but made his possessions count by both hand and foot and often looked composed under pressure. O’Loughlin showed great courage sitting in front of oncoming talls leading up at the ball where he was crunched.

#2 Austin Harris (Gold Coast/QLD)

The speedy defender tied to the Gold Coast Suns, Harris had some nice moments down back showing plenty of dare and dash with ball in hand, despite his light and small frame Harris still managed to get involved and even got a run on the wing late in the game. It is still up in the air which position will be his best going forward.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers/VC)

The exciting Murray forward took some time to get into the game but he certainly looked like the Academy’s most dangerous forward, looking dangerous whenever he got the ball or was in the vicinity. He kicked a great goal from beyond 50m after taking a lead up mark which was one of only two goals scored for the Academy. Rachele was skilful in the air and at ground level and his efforts to tackle were also a highlight.

#5 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/VM)

Not the game Sonsie would have wanted as he pushes for his claim in the first round of this year’s draft, the smooth moving midfielder from Eastern Ranges found the going tough against the bigger bodies in the Geelong midfield and was later moved to defence, yet still could not work his way into the game. Despite using the ball well when he got it, he did not get it enough to really make a big impact.

#6 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

The Collingwood father-son prospect continued his strong start to the year with another prolific game through the midfield leading his side as captain he also lead in disposals with 26. The smooth moving midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers was crafty around stoppages and smart around the ground just knowing where to be at all times and his skill by hand and foot was superb especially with some of his kicks inside 50 early in the game. Although he did not kick any goals as he usually does – he had a few missed shots showing great agility both times but just missing – it was another strong game from Daicos who continues to press his claim as the best prospect in this years draft pool.

#7 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers/VC)

The tough Bendigo defender/midfielder showed his usual traits as a clean and tough competitor with his sturdy frame and desperation on show. Starting down back it took a while for Hamilton to work into the game but got more involved with some midfield time in the last quarter.

#9 Jason Horne (South Adelaide/SA)

The impressive midfielder who has already tasted action against senior bodies at South Adelaide, took what he has learnt from that time into the Academy game showing great tackling intent and playing with a lot of maturity. Despite not being overly prolific with 13 disposals for the game, Horne made every touch count, looking impressive with his burst and clean hands at stoppages and his ability overhead with a strong mark at half-back in the second quarter showcasing his overall elite attributes.

#10 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/SA)

Coming off a 37-disposal game last week for South Adelaide, the tough midfielder was played forward all game for the Academy and although it was disappointing that he did not get a run in his favoured position, he managed to do some nice things and was perhaps his side’s most prolific forward. Roberts got to show his long left foot with a nice kick inside 50 and a 50m shot at goal in the first quarter. Although the shot was a behind, he would have likely had a more prolific game forward with a closer game and better service coming inside 50.

#11 Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles/SA)

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect from Woodville-West Torrens started the game in his usual role at half-back showing his clean hands and composure with ball in hand. Burgoyne would move to the wing in the second half which proved a good move as he started to win more of the ball although his kicking did not come off a few times he did well to try and create although he will want to work on his defensive side on a more consistent basis to better round out his game.

#13 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

Used on the wing and later forward, Rankin would not have a prolific day like his fellow forwards and wingmen, and despite his best efforts defensively, he would not get to show why he was a late addition to the Academy squad, with the small utility impressing at NAB League level for Oakleigh Chargers.

#16 Josh Fahey (GWS/NSW-ACT)

One of the few standouts for the Academy side, the GWS GIANTS Academy member offered plenty of drive from defence using his speed and long left foot to break the lines and it was no surprise that he took kick-outs with those strengths. He took one good intercept mark which could be considered low, but he played percentages and went with the fist multiple times to great success. Fahey showed great leadership qualities being vocal down back and he was prepared to work hard with and without the ball. Sharing some similarities to AA defender Michael Hibberd, he could be set for similar accolades at the next level. Speaking of accolades, he would win the Presidents Medal for his 23-disposal and nine-rebound 50 game.

#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (Glenelg/South Australia)

The athletic wingman from Glenelg did not win a lot of the ball, but he had some good moments by foot playing wing early in the game before moving back in the last quarter showing good composure and a nice spoil deep in defence was also good.

#19-31 (By Michael Alvaro)

#19 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco/WA)

The West Australian ended up being quite a handy addition to the Academy squad, able to show his worth in some nice pockets of play. He came to life during a second term purple patch, where his vertical leap and overhead marking were prominent. Erasmus rose well both on the lead and to intercept across half-forward, where he was posted for most of the game. He would later be shifted up onto the wing where he worked back more defensively, but arguably looked more dangerous in attack during the first half. Erasmus had a set shot attempt on goal fall shot in term two and took some time to eventually hit his targets by foot on the move, but returned a promising game overall.

#20 Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

Another late inclusion, Callaghan took some time to get up to speed with the pressure gauge set, but began to string together plays more indicative of his talent as the contest wore on. When given the opportunity, he showcased his long and penetrative left-foot kick, looking a touch more comfortable when streaming forward in space. The Sandringham Dragons bolter was a little fumbly below his knees which brought on more pressure than required, though he has the frame to beat opponents when going low and hard. Callaghan shifted to half-back in the final term and was released for a couple of trademark runs before breaching the forward 50 arc by foot. He is difficult to stop in full flight with that mix of size, speed and agility.

#21 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

On a tough day for Academy forwards, Howes returned a relatively quiet outing having been permanently employed among the front six. With a light frame considering his height, Howes could not quite burst free from tackles he normally would at Under 19s level, but competed well to win a couple of contests in the opening and closing terms. The first was a handy split at half-forward before dishing off to the running Lachlan Rankin, and the second was an instance where he had to cop contact to create a spill inside 50, as the ball was not delivered to his advantage. A good leaper with sticky hands, it was a difficult outing for Howes to show those traits.

#22 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/WA)

While injury scuppered his chances of an early-season League debut in the WAFL, Johnson put his hand up for such honours with a solid outing against mature bodies. Having played exclusively in midfield, the tall ball winner looks like being in the right shape to do so after his time off. He was the Academy’s third most prolific player, even with a disposal count of 13, showing clean hands and poise at the coalface. His one-touch potential was shown early with a beautiful half-volley gather at half-forward, before going on to take a strong overhead grab later in the first term. Johnson also notched a few clearances but was given little time to think about delivering anything more than a quick kick forward. His uncontested touches were polished though, and he looms as the prime tall inside midfielder in this crop.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/WA)

Arguably the leading key position forward among a raft of high-level midfielders in this year’s draft pool, Van Rooyen was posted permanently in the familiar centre half-forward position. The Claremont product competed well among a front six that was afforded few opportunities and less than ideal delivery. He presented up the ground and was unlucky not to have been paid a sliding mark on defensive wing in the first term. He would continue to gain separation while up the ground, even when his efforts went unrewarded, while also playing a hand in attempting to lock the ball in his side’s attacking 50 with pressure at the contest. Despite a frustrating outing at times, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ remains a frontrunner in his role.

#24 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/WA)

While he has swung forward to good effect in the WAFL Colts, Bazzo reverted back to his defensive duties for the Academy and built into the game well despite being handed tough assignments. A good reader of the ball, Bazzo was caught lacking early as he was caught behind, but saw that kind of positioning pay off later on as he chimed in with well-timed spoils and some terrific intercept marks inside defensive 50. He was under the pump at times given the speed of which Geelong moved the ball forward, but stood up in one-on-one battles against taller and more developed opponents, like Sam De Koning. His confidence seemed to grow with each defensive act, though he could do little at times as the Cats swept up relentlessly after the initial effort. Bazzo’s disposal, mostly by foot, was also assured on the last line.

#25 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels/VC)

The GWV Rebels defender is such a smooth operator on the last line, contributing wonderfully poised disposal on the rebound under a good amount of pressure. He was kept very busy inside defensive 50 and did his best to repel by foot, hitting targets both short and long on the rebound. Gibcus’ reading of the play is also sound, as he popped up to clunk eye-catching marks with nice timing and clean hands. In such a tough role deep among an under-siege defence, he was also impressive at the fall of the ball and swept up as per usual for the Academy. He should be one climbing draft boards after a stunning start to the year.

#27 Jack Williams (East Fremantle/WA)

It was somewhat of an almost day for Williams, who very nearly made the best of limited chances in the Academy forward line. The rising East Fremantle talent started with a strong mark on the lead, before booting his side’s first goal of the game with a wonderfully fluent set shot routine. He would go on to work up the ground and present well down the line, but could not quite hold his marks as he was met with contact by stronger-bodied opponents. Perhaps different umpires would have paid a couple of marks for the balls he got first hands to, but it was not to be for Williams. Still, his short moments were eye-catching despite the absence of end product after his first term goal.

#28 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays/VC)

One of the steepest risers in this year’s crop, the Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect proved his true first round potential. He played up either end and gained a good tick for his versatility, but well and truly came to life in the final term with an awesome showing in the ruck – despite the result being well beyond his side at that point. Andrew caught the eye with phenomenal vertical leaps at each centre bounce, with his first act of the final term a follow-up clearance. He highlighted his marking ability with a nice clunk in front, and showed off some finesse in the ruck with a wonderfully directed hit to the anchoring Jason Horne. Having started forward, the Dandenong Stingrays talent snared the first score of the game with a snap, before displaying clean hands on the move and flying well in his less fruitful move to defence. Demons recruiters will now be sweating on his potential after a string of terrific performances, if they were not already.

#29 Toby Conway (Geelong Falcons/VC)

Playing in his home region, Conway was afforded the starting ruck gig and got to battle it out with an AFL-listed big man in Darcy Fort. He would have learned some handy lessons in positioning and bodywork in each ruck contest, but Conway did his best to compete in those situations. He worked back to offer some aerial support to his defenders and even took an early mark from a long kick-in. Conway also rested forward and spent plenty of time deep in the final term without seeing too much action. He led well on one occasion but was spoiled from behind, unable to cap his outing with a goal.

#30 Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

One of two 19-year-old prospects afield, Moyle carried his promising NAB League form into this outing and competed well against stiff opposition. The Oakleigh Chargers big man rotated into the ruck and was not afraid to leap into or wrestle with his senior adversaries. He also did well to stay relevant as the ball fell to ground level, prizing a few clearances forward – even if they were rushed scrubber kicks. Moyle also had the confidence to grab from the ruck and took a nice mark from a kick-in during term two. Like Conway, he rested forward and was stationed there more frequently during the second half, but just lacked the mobility and composure to make a true impact in those attacking positions.

#31 Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels/VC)

The latest of inclusions in this Academy squad, Marris was relatively competitive in his late-notice opportunity and contributed some handy clean touches. Posted in defence as a small, the GWV product fared well in early one-on-ones without having too many wins, but showed his ability to find the ball in space with neat uncontested touches, mostly delivered by foot. He played his role well and should be one to gain some VFL opportunities, ironically enough with the Cats.

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

Cats too strong and structured for AFL Academy as Daicos furthers his case for top selection

THE NAB AFL Academy suffered a heavy loss to the Geelong VFL side going down 149-19 in what was a one-sided contest from the start. There was no expectation of a win for the Australian side going against AFL-listed players and bigger bodies who have trained and played together for much longer than the few days the Academy players spent together.

Geelong scored the first two goals of the game through Luke Smith and Jordan Johnston who would both remain prolific all game with four and three goals, respectively. The Cats dominated play and possession early, but Australia was able to settle the game a bit and work the ball forward. Nick Daicos eventually found East Fremantle’s Jack Williams inside 50 who kicked truly on a tight angle.

The game would remain between the arcs as Australia wrestled back some momentum, but the likes of Charlie Constable and Quinton Narkle showed why they are in contention for senior selection dominating possession and pushing their side to a 21-point quarter time lead.

The second quarter would only be the start of the significant bleeding for Australia, as Geelong’s pressure around the ball intensified, and their already clean ball movement became cleaner. They would dominate the play, but they could not reflect it on the scoreboard as their inaccurate kicking flattered Australia at half-time.

The Australian defence was working overtime as Smith kicked his second, and Max Holmes and Darcy Fort also hit the scoreboard. While they did well to place pressure on some shots to force five behinds for the quarter, Australia’s foot skills out of defensive 50 were inconsistent as they would either turn the ball over or put it back into dispute.

Subiaco’s Neil Erasmus was lively in the second quarter as was Oakleigh’s Ned Moyle in the ruck, but it was Giants Academy member Josh Fahey (15 disposals) and Daicos (13 disposals) leading the way. Constable managed 17 first-half disposals for the Cats while Narkle (15 disposals, one goal) and Smith (13 disposals, two goals) helped extend the lead to 42 points at the main break.

Geelong showed no remorse for the promising youngsters as Smith’s third goal would propel them to winning the quarter 52-8. Their superior physicality and team cohesion rose to prominence as they were much more composed with ball in hand, moving it forward with ease and cleanliness.

The value of the AFL-listed players remaining in the elite training environments really came to the fore as they just overran the Australian side with spread and pressure. They were plus 58 in disposals for the quarter and never allowed Australia to link with handballs and run and carry. Former Murray Bushranger Jye Chalcraft capitalised on the dominance with a nine-disposal quarter. Current Murray Bushranger Josh Rachele kicked Australia’s second and last goal for the game with a bomb from outside 50.

Geelong ran out the game and kicked away to a commanding 22.17 (149) to 2.7 (19) victory. It was always going to be tough for the Academy players. Brisbane Lions recruitment consultant Leon Harris stressed that it is “more what they take out of it than how well they play”.

Geelong won the disposal count 367-214 and placed enough pressure on Australia to force them into kicking 68 more times than they handballed. They controlled possession and won the mark count 96-59, while the ruck contest was relatively even.

Fahey was named best on ground for the Australian side with 23 disposals, while Daicos continued his NAB League form finding the footy 26 times. Chargers’ teammate Moyle was also serviceable with 11 disposals and 13 hitouts, while South Adelaide’s Jason Horne (12 disposals, six tackles) maintained his effort all game.

For Geelong, Smith managed four goals in the end to go with his 22 disposals and seven marks as Johnston also booted four majors from his 20 disposals. AFL-listed Constable (29 disposals), Narkle, (22 disposals, two goals), and Holmes (23 disposals, three goals) did no harm to their AFL recalls.

No doubt a learning curve for the NAB AFL Academy members as recruiters look forward to their return to their respective state league competitions and of course the national championships where they will hope they implement some learnings from this game. The players will meet with clubs in Melbourne tomorrow as recruiters continue to profile the draft hopefuls.

Picture credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

Full squad: AFL Academy to take on Geelong VFL on Saturday morning

THE AFL Academy is set to take on Geelong VFL tomorrow, making for an exciting curtain raiser to Saturday’s AFL clash between Geelong and West Coast. Bouncing down at 10:10am at GMHBA Stadium, the featured bout sees 24 of the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects granted with the opportunity to go head-to-head with a mature outfit containing plenty of elite level talent.

There has been a raft of changes to the original 21-man squad, announced in December of last year, as top-up players and injury replacements filter into the side. Among the inclusions are a good amount of tall prospects, with rucks Mac Andrew, Toby Conway, and Ned Moyle all earning call-ups for their promising NAB League form.

Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent Blayne O’Loughlin, the nephew of Michael, came in alongside Conway and Moyle, as did dynamic marking defender, Josh Gibcus. Skilled Oakleigh Chargers utility Lachlan Rankin is the latest inclusion, replacing Josh Sinn who pulled up sore after academy training this week.

Sinn’s Sandringham Dragons teammate Campbell Chesser has also been sidelined with a knee complaint, while Tasmanian Sam Banks (broken wrist) and Ben Hobbs will miss after sustaining injuries during the latest round of NAB League action. Braden Andrews and Cooper Murley will also sit out, sporting previous knocks.

The final couple of additions should add some dash and dare on the outer, with the fast-rising Finn Callaghan and Nasiah Wanganeen both getting their chance, while eye-catching West Australian Neil Erasmus was also rewarded for his early-season exploits.

Here’s a look at how the squad may line up:

FB: Blayne O’Loughlin, Rhett Bazzo, Josh Fahey
HB: Jase Burgoyne, Josh Gibcus, Finn Callaghan
C: Nasiah Wanganeen, Tyler Sonsie, Matt Roberts
HF: Matthew Johnson, Jacob Van Rooyen, Blake Howes
FF: Neil Erasmus, Jack Williams, Josh Rachele
FOL: Ned Moyle, Nick Daicos, Jason Horne

BENCH: Mac Andrew, Toby Conway, Cooper Hamilton, Austin Harris, Lachlan Rankin, Ned Stevens

INJURED: Braden Andrews, Sam Banks, Campbell Chesser, Ben Hobbs, Cooper Murley, Josh Sinn

Starting from the back, there should be plenty of drive to come from this lot. Recent inclusions, O’Loughlin and Callaghan are quite varied in terms of height, but both love to get going on the rebound and use the ball by foot. GWS Academy product Josh Fahey is another in that category, while potential Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne brings clean skills and plenty of versatility. Despite moving forward this year, Rhett Bazzo was the sensical full back choice, with Gibcus’ marking prowess also landing him a starting spot in the spine.

This team gets a big tick for versatility in the key position department, with Bazzo one of the many prospects who can shift roles. Fellow West Australian Jack Williams, named at full forward, has been known to swing back, while Gold Coast Academy tall Ned Stevens can arguably play on each line. He may be freed up to play at either end, given the rich ruck stocks available.

The magnets are likely to be shuffled elsewhere, too. Tall inside midfielder Matthew Johnson has been named at half-forward having endured an injury interrupted preseason, but will likely rotate through the engine room. Matt Roberts, named on the wing can also play on the inside but rests forward well and has terrific running capacity. Blake Howes (half-forward) is also known to roam a wing, while Josh Rachele and Erasmus are others with promising midfield craft.

Elsewhere, Cooper Hamilton is a solid figure who can be utilised up either end or in that midfield rotation, while small utility Austin Harris will look to use his smarts as a defender, forward, or wingman. Rankin is another in that boat, having previously played as a running defender or wingman, but more recently been utilised up forward.

Lastly, arguably the centrepiece of the lineup lies at the centre bounces. Top five candidate Tyler Sonsie joins clear pick one frontrunners, Nick Daicos and Jason Horne at the heart of the team, set to form a potent midfield trio for the Academy bunch.

Full squad:

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (SA) North Adelaide
#2 Austin Harris (Qld) Gold Coast Suns
#3 Cooper Murley (SA) Norwood*
#4 Josh Rachele (Vic C) Murray Bushrangers
#5 Tyler Sonsie (Vic M) Eastern Ranges
#6 Nick Daicos (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#7 Cooper Hamilton (Vic C) Bendigo Pioneers
#8 Ben Hobbs (Vic C) GWV Rebels*
#9 Jason Horne (SA) South Adelaide
#10 Matt Roberts (SA) South Adelaide
#11 Jase Burgoyne (SA) Woodville-West Torrens
#12 Sam Banks (Tas) Clarence*
#13 Lachlan Rankin (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#14 Campbell Chesser (Vic C) Sandringham Dragons*
#15 Josh Sinn (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons*
#16 Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT) GWS Giants
#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (SA) Glenelg
#18 Braden Andrews (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers*
#19 Neil Erasmus (WA) Subiaco
#20 Finn Callaghan (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons
#21 Blake Howes (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons
#22 Matthew Johnson (WA) Subiaco
#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (WA) Claremont
#24 Rhett Bazzo (WA) Swan Districts
#26 Ned Stevens (NT) Waratah/Gold Coast Suns
#27 Jack Williams (WA) East Fremantle
#28 Mac Andrew (Vic C) Dandenong Stingrays
#29 Toby Conway (Vic C) Geelong Falcons
#30 Ned Moyle (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#35 Josh Gibcus (Vic C) GWV Rebels

* – denotes injured

The game will be streamed live via the official AFL app and website. Keep an eye out for Scouting Notes on each Academy player, post-match.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

State Leagues Preview: All competitions in full swing

STATE league Aussie rules football is in full swing as we approach round four for most competitions this weekend. With eye-catching matchups galore, expect a weekend chock full of exciting clashes.

VFL

The new-look Victorian Football League (VFL) kicked off its 2021 season last weekend, with a different looking fixture than previous years. Interstate AFL affiliated clubs Gold Coast, Sydney, Brisbane and GWS joined the competition and shook things up a bit. Round 1 delivered what many Victorian football fans had been waiting for and expect more of this in Round 2.

Brisbane and Carlton face off this weekend with plenty of players looking to stake a claim at an AFL spot. Blue Will Setterfield is one to watch this weekend, after tagging Jacob Dawson last weekend. The former top five draft pick has found himself on the outer at Carlton as the club looks to settle on a best 22, and Setterfield’s new role as a run-with player could see him enter calculations once again. As for who he will tag, that question remains up in the air. Lions Rhys Mathieson and Devan Robertson both had stand out performances last week, so if not recalled, expect one of them to receive a bit of attention.

Rivals Collingwood and Essendon will also clash this weekend in the traditional ANZAC round. With AFL sides for this round not announced until later this weekend, the sides are not yet confirmed. Both clubs’ AFL affiliate have been struck with injuries so expect very different lineups to last weekend. If not selected for a recall, American Pie Mason Cox will be relishing the opportunity to tear the game apart this week. Dropped from the AFL side in the last couple of weeks, Cox will be eager to earn a return, and there is no better time to prove his worth than this weekend. Following a disappointing 11-goal defeat last weekend, Essendon will be looking to bounce back in Round 2. Don Andrew Phillips impressed in the ruck last weekend and will hope to continue this form.

The Gold Coast Suns and the Sydney Swans will do battle in a Saturday morning clash at the Council Training Oval. Both interstate sides will be continuing to adjust to life in the VFL instead of their respective competitions in their home states. Looking to put his hand up for a recall, Swans ruckman Callum Sinclair will be desperate to standout at VFL level and he started this last weekend, with 34 hitouts and 17 disposals. The Suns shouldn’t lose too many players to their AFL side with no fresh injuries so expect a similar lineup to last week. Suns recruit Rory Atkins had 26 disposals in his first game for the reserves last week and should prove a class above given his AFL experience.

 

South Australia

A Friday night match kicks off proceedings for Round 4 in the SANFL this weekend with West Adelaide hosting Norwood at Hisense Stadium. Following a 50-point loss last weekend, West Adelaide have made plenty of changes in an attempt to conjure a response out of their side. Last week’s inclusion Sam May has succumbed to a hamstring injury, while Josh Koster and Mitch Maguire have been omitted. Five players have been added to the 25-man squad, including potential debutants Nick Steele and Lucas Meline. Norwood have also made a statement at selection, with gun wingman Dom Barry dropped following the side’s disappointing 92-point loss in Round 3. Both sides will be desperate to improve on last week’s performance, and there is no better opportunity.

Central Districts will take on Adelaide at X Convenience Oval on Saturday afternoon as both sides look to improve on their 1-2 record. Central Districts will lose utility Fraser Fort to injury, opening up a spot for another big man to come into the side, which will be trimmed by three prior to the opening bounce. The Crows side is yet to be determined, with AFL emergencies to be added in the near future. Two outs have already been confirmed with former Richmond midfielder Daniel Jackson rested after a 21-disposal outing, while crafty forward Ben Davis injured.

South Adelaide will be looking to maintain top spot on the ladder with a win over this week’s opponents in Sturt, as they play host at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday. South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne has been named to line up in an AFL academy match this weekend, so the Panthers will be without him this weekend. Talented youngster Fraser Turner has been named on the extended bench and could make his debut. Sturt will be without former Crow Pat Wilson after the midfielder hurt his shoulder in the second term last round, and his return date is yet to be confirmed. In better news for Sturt, key defender Sam Smith will debut after an ACL injury ruled him out for 2020. Tasmanian Jared Dakin could also make his debut, named on the extended bench.

Glenelg will be looking to start the season 4-0 with a victory over Port Adelaide on Saturday, who are searching for their second win of the season. With no forced changes, Glenelg have named three potential debutants on the bench in the form of Brady Searle, Brodie Newman and Will Chandler, who have all performed strongly at reserve level. Port’s side will be heavily influenced by its AFL side’s line up, with only two named on the bench so far and the AFL emergencies yet to be added.

In the final game of the round, Woodville-West Torrens will welcome North Adelaide to Maughan Thiem Kia Oval in search of their third win. Woodville-West Torrens will gain some handy inclusions in the form of Troy Menzel and Angus Poole, but will lose Dane McFarlane to a calf issue. North Adelaide will be hoping to carry forward the momentum they gained after last week’s thumping 92-point win over Norwood. Someone will have to replace Frank Szekely who was injured in the win. In the frame for a debut is midfielder Kaine Mercovich, who will be hopeful he can make his first appearance at league level.

Tasmania

It’s a battle of the Bombers to open the round four action, with Lauderdale hosting North Launceston in an important clash for both sides. With both teams sitting at a less than desirable 1-2 record, the opportunity to move up the ladder with a win will make an exciting contest. Lauderdale have omitted pair Benjamin Steinbauer and Jarrod Westell and welcomed Joshua Williams and Sam Tilley after a three goal loss to Glenorchy last week. North Launceston have made four changes after last week’s loss to Clarence. Utility Tom Donnelly returns to the side following a stint in North Melbourne’s VFL side last week, while Jack Avent, Brandon Leary and Ryley Sanders join him in returning to the side. Oscar Van Dam, Daniel Withers, Angus Jefferies and Matthew Cossins are the outs.

Following a disappointing loss to Launceston last week, the Tigers have the chance to put themselves back on the winners list with a game against Glenorchy on Saturday, who are fresh off a win. The Tigers were humbled by the reigning premiers in round three and have made changes to rectify this. Thomas Dwyer and Benjamin Donnelly were dropped for in favour pair Marcus Gardner and George O’Neill. Meanwhile, Glenorchy have included Bayley Bester and Braidy Simpson for Cameron Goodsell and Darrean Wyatt.

A North Hobart side looking for their first win will have to take on the tough task of slowing down Launceston at North Hobart Oval this weekend. Launceston delivered a statement performance last week against the Tigers, showing the competition that they will once again be tough to stop, while North Hobart will still be thinking about their disappointing loss against North Launceston in round two. Fresh off the bye, they will be eager to notch their first win, and their five changes this week show this. Riley Higgins, Logan Elphinstone, Keegan Ryan, Isaac Mathewson and Dominic White have entered the side in exchange for Josch Bingham, Jonty Barwick, Nathan Hardy, Joshua Hilder and Austin Keeling. Launceston stand-in skipper and star midfielder Jake Hinds will not play due to suspension, while Miller Hodge and Jacob Boyd will also miss. They are replaced by Hamish Leedham, Colby McKercher and Zach Morris.

Queensland

Redland-Victoria Point and Palm Beach Currumbin will open the ANZAC weekend round in the QAFL at Totally Workwear Park on Saturday. Redland-Point Victoria fell to Labrador by just over three goals last round, and a second win on the board would make a huge difference, with the ladder positioning incredibly tight after three rounds. Full-forward Harrison Kerr kicked four goals last week and should attract the best defender this week, opening opportunities for other forwards such as Matthew Warren to back up his strong performance from last week. Palm Beach Currumbin found their first win of the season last week with a 27-point triumph over Noosa. Mitchell Johnson’s four goal haul has surely caught the eye of opposition coaches, who will put some work into stopping him.

Sherwood District will be keen to bounce back from last week’s disappointing performance with a win over the in form Broadbeach this weekend. Sherwood District were embarrassed by Surfers Paradise, eventually defeated by 88 points. Jack Austin was a shining light on a dark day and his teammates will be hoping he can back up this showing. Broadbeach continue to do their thing, knocking off Morningside by 53 points last weekend. Bradley Lowe will once again be dangerous on the wing after a best on ground performance.

Its fourth place taking on sixth place as Surfers Paradise hosts Labrador at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday in an important clash. Both sides sit on 1-1 on the season, and a win here would prove vital in regards to ladder position. Both sides found their way to over 100 points last weekend and this should be a high scoring affair once again. Will Labrador’s Blair Rubock get off the chain again after four goals last week, or will Surfers Paradise’s balanced forward line get the better of their opponents again?

A refreshed Winston Grange side will be eager to move themselves up the ladder as they host a Morningside team that will be out to make up for last weekend’s disappointing showing. Winston Grange had the bye last week and currently sit in ninth place on percentage, but a win would shoot them up into the top half of the ladder in no time. Morningside’s recent loss will be fresh in their minds as they will once again look for Nathan Colenso in the forward line, who has started the year with six goals in two games.

Noosa’s quest to find their first win of the season will be made all the more difficult as they take on the top of the table Maroochydore at the Maroochydore Multisports Complex on Saturday afternoon. Noosa put up a brave fight against Palm Beach Currumbin, but ultimately couldn’t muster enough scoring opportunities to keep up with their opponents and fell by just under five goals. Scoring will be a focal point as they take on a red hot Maroochydore side who have started the season 2-0. Forward Jake Warren will play a key role, kicking five goals in the first two games and will surely be looking to add to that tally this weekend.

 

Western Australia

West Perth will be looking to follow up last week’s heartbreaking loss with a win over East Fremantle this weekend to kick off round four WAFL action. West Perth were defeated by Subiaco by a devastatingly small margin, with Subiaco walking away three-point winners. The players will be still hurting from this, eager to put the result in the past with a win on Saturday. Sam Rotham will not be lacing up the boots for West Perth, with Tyson Moulton his confirmed replacement. East Fremantle are yet to confirm any changes to the side that defeated East Perth last weekend.

Swan Districts will clash with South Fremantle in what should be an exciting match, with both sides sitting on the same win/loss record. Both sides are 2-1 after three rounds, and are sitting in similar positions, with both notching a win last week. Swan Districts backman William Collins will return to the lineup and the club is yet to confirm who will make way. South Fremantle ruckman Brock Higgins will return for his side along with backman Jason Maskos with the bench yet to be finalised.

Claremont’s undefeated streak continued last weekend, as they sit 3-0 in second place on the ladder. They take on Peel Thunder, who were outplayed by South Fremantle to make them 1-2 on the season. Claremont’s Harrison Mccracken is fresh off a four-goal haul last weekend and should have a say in the scoring of this match. The team lineups are yet to be confirmed at time of publication.

Two sides in the midst of very different seasons, West Coast will be hopeful of handing Subiaco their first loss of the season, while finding their first win. Subiaco scraped past West Perth by less than a goal, as they show they can consistently find a way to win. West Coast are having a very different year, starting the season 0-3 as their lineup consistently changes with AFL selections. They will also have their hands full containing Subiaco duo Ben Sokol and Jordan Faraone, who combined for eight goals in the round three win. The team lineups are yet to be confirmed at time of publication.

The final game of the round has plenty of implications for the ladder, with eighth place Perth taking on 10th (and last) placed East Perth. If East Perth can muster a win, it could kickstart their season, while a win for Perth could put them in the top five. With lots on the line for both sides, expect a close battle.

SANFL Player Focus: No alarms in consistent start to season for Jason Horne

HIGHLY rated South Adelaide Panther Jason Horne backed up his 19 disposal and one goal effort in Round 1 in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) again with 16 disposals, one goal, six tackles, and four inside 50s on Saturday afternoon at Prospect Oval. Horne was set for a challenge coming up against the experienced North Adelaide Roosters in Jarred Allmond’s 200th League game, one of the various Roosters players to get physical with Horne throughout the contest.

He started the game in the middle and showed his already-accustomed comfortability with the bigger bodies of senior footy, consistently looking to engage body around stoppages and get first hands on it. Reigning Magarey Medallist Campbell Combe in particular worked to deter Horne from contesting but to little effect. Horne did a good job of getting to stoppages all game when playing on-ball, but at times was too overzealous in his attack. He would often move into a stalemate contest in a pack and leave his opponent at the stoppage open on the outside. After the first goal of the game, he moved forward and continued to spend seven to eight minutes on-ball, and then to half-forward.

He was a lead up target on centre wing twice in the first term but mis-kicks in blustery conditions did not favour him despite the separation from his opponent. When the ball was in his aerial vicinity, he displayed his leap and competitiveness to get hands on it without clunking those big marks he has shown he can. A brilliant chase down smother highlighted his manic defensive pressure in the forward half as he followed up cleanly to dispose of it through hands. Despite his age, he showed good volume in his tackles and bumps as he was able to move bodies when required.

He started in the middle to begin the second quarter and gravitated less to the drop of the ball, while still maintaining a strong front position. His spread from the stoppage was smooth as he got involved in a rebounding link. Although it perhaps was not the best choice to go to with his kick, he followed up well again to apply enough pressure to skew the North Adelaide kick. He covered good distance to get to stoppages again and found himself deep in defensive 50 unsure of what to do. After taking on a couple of tackles and only just handballing to no one in particular, the rebounded ball came straight back for a Roosters goal. He was again confronted by senior North Adelaide players as they let him know how they felt, but he showed good temperament and maturity to uphold a positive body language and strong intent as the game restarted.

Moving back forward he continued to try and be dangerous aerially, but the wind was making it hard. Horne then made something out of nothing as a pressured shot on goal hit the behind post after a nice gather. Despite his aerial efforts, he showed a good awareness of his role to play as a traditional half-forward pushing up at the centre bounce to open room behind him for his key forwards, and also working through most contests to get front and centre.

Horne would not get to another centre bounce in the second half as he spent most of his time at half-forward and looked his most dangerous in the third quarter. After some more confident push and shove, a classy one-handed pickup resulted in a point after kicking from 45 metres out under pressure. The physicality continued, and he was dropped by Allmond after some wrestling saw Horne on top and was able to receive the free kick. He slotted the set shot which was pivotal to the positive attitudes of his teammates as the Panthers ultimately won the game on the back of their third quarter effort. Immediately after, Horne missed a snap attempt on goal and continued to cause headaches for the Roosters. His defensive pressure remained, as did his workrate, finding space on multiple occasions with long sprints.

Looking to work on his field kicking inside 50 before the season, he found a teammate beautifully who dropped a mark which would have resulted in a set shot for goal, but a lot of his field kicking for the day was somewhat rushed out of stoppages and contests. He had 12 kicks and four handballs but when he had time, his skills were flawless.

Horne backed up his performance last week and played a quality role rotating through the middle and half-forward, and could have very easily had a three-goal game. South Adelaide will play Port next week as he will be challenged with some AFL-listed players.

State Leagues wrap: Easter Weekend opens seasons

STATE league men’s football returned across the weekend, with the SANFL, WAFL and TSL all back to full-strength competitions, whilst a standalone fixture in the QAFL went ahead despite some concerns, ahead of a blockbuster Round 2 next weekend.

QUEENSLAND:

Noosa Tigers had a promising return to the QAFL in the standalone Round 1 match despite going down in defeat, as Wilston Grange got up by one-point in a thriller. The league newcomers fought it out after being down by 14 points at the final break to boot 7.3 to 4.8 in the final term after a sluggish start, but it would not be enough in the 7.14 (56) to 8.7 (55) loss. Hugh Fidler and Max Hewett both booted two goals for the Gorillas, while Aaron Wilson starred with four majors for the Tigers. Corey Lobb (Noosa) ad Errin Wasley-Black (Wilston Grange) were their respective sides’ top players.

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

In the SANFL, all eyes were on Pick 1 contender Jason Horne, as he ran out for South Adelaide against the Crows’ reserves. The teenage talent racked up 19 disposals, six marks, four tackles and four clearances in the win, whilst it was ex-Crow Bryce Gibbs who stole the show with a match-winning 36 disposals, six marks and five clearances. Ex-Lion Sam Skinner had 17 disposals and booted two goals in the win, whilst Liam Fitt (four goals) was the busiest inside 50. Joel Cross (28 disposals, seven marks) and Hayden Sampson (25 disposals, 12 marks and one goal) were other to win plenty of the football in a massive 61-point smashing, while Crows’ reserves talent Hamish Latchford stepped up with 31 disposals, 12 marks and two clearances. Jackson Hately (25 disposals, 10 marks and two clearances) was the eye-catching one, as young talls Josh Worrell (20 disposals, five marks), Darcy Fogarty (14 disposals, three marks) and Fischer McAsey (14 disposals, six marks) also played.

It was not much better news for Port Adelaide’s reserves who also went down, losing to Norwood by 45 points. Father-son prospect Taj Schofield racked up 22 disposals, three marks and booted a goal, while Sam Mayes (28 disposals, seven clearances) and Jarrod Lienert (26 disposals, seven tackles) also worked hard. Matthew Nunn was unstoppable for the Redlegs with 39 disposals, five marks, 11 tackles and five clearances, whilst ex-Crow recruit Richard Douglas did as he pleased with 26 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, four clearances and a goal. Ex-Cat Jacob Kennerley also impressed with 24 disposals, five marks and six tackles, whilst ex-Hawk Paul Puopolo booted 2.3 from 19 disposals and three marks. Draft hopeful Jackson Callow booted 2.2 from 11 disposals and five marks on his SANFL debut, working well with Dom Barry (21 disposals, five marks and three goals) inside 50.

In the tightest game of the weekend, Central District toppled North Adelaide by nine points, in what saw 20 goals kicked in the first half. Whilst only nine more were kicked in the second half, the Bulldogs got up thanks to four goals from Justin Hoskin and Aiden Grace. Ethan East also slotted two goals, while ex-Oakleigh premiership player Thomas Graham kicked a goal from eight touches and two marks on his League debut. Ex-GWS GIANTS Academy member Harry Grant was also lively with 25 disposals, seven marks and six clearances, as Kyle Presbury (26 disposals, 13 marks), Brendan Dew (24 disposals, six marks) and Travis Schiller (24 disposals, six marks) were among eight players to reach 20-plus disposals. For North Adelaide, reigning Margarey Medallist Campbell Combe had 26 disposals, eight clearances and five tackles, while Jarred Allmond (31 disposals, six marks) and Aaron Young (15 disposals, four goals) were also impressive.

Woodville-West Torrens Eagles easily accounted for Sturt thanks to a massive seven goals to one final term to run away with the contest by 46 points in the end. The Menzel brothers booted seven goals between them, as Troy (four goals) and Daniel (three) had days out in their new colours. James Tsitas (29 disposals, three clearances and four tackles) and Riley Knight (26 disposals, seven clearances, six tackles and a goal) were both lively, as was ex-Bomber Kobe Mutch on debut with 21 disposals and nine marks. For Sturt, Tom Lewis was hard as usual around the stoppages on his way to 19 disposals and eight clearances, teaming up well with James Battersby (21 disposals, five clearances), while Casey Voss (20 disposals, six marks) and Josh Shute (17 disposals, 10 marks) were busy once again on the outside.

In the final game, Glenelg knocked off West Adelaide by 11 points, with Michael Virgin (32 disposals, 11 marks) and Luke Partington (31 disposals, five clearances) both racking up the ball. Matthew Allen (28 disposals, 11 marks and a goal) and Darcy Bailey (28 disposals, seven marks, six clearances, six tackles and two goals) were sensational, while Callum Park (26 disposals, six marks) and Matthew Snook (29 disposals, eight clearances) also found plenty of it. In the loss, Isaac Johnson slotted 3.3 from 23 touches and five marks, while Kieran Lovell‘s SANFL debut was a success with 22 disposals, five marks, four clearances and four tackles. Ex-Gold Coast Academy goalsneak Josh Gore kicked a goal from nine touches and impressively made 10 tackles in the loss, while Jonathon Beech was also good with two goals from 13 disposals and seven marks.

 

TASMANIA:

Reigning premiers Launceston kicked off its season with a big win over rivals North Launceston in a grand final rematch, defeating the Northern Bombers by 55 points at UTAS Stadium. Dylan Riley (three goals) and Jake Hinds (two) stepped up to the plate once again in the big win, as Michael Musicka and Cody Thorp slotted multiple goals as well. For the Bombers, Brad Cox-Goodyer was the standout, as Ollie Sanders kicked a goal and was amongst the best for the losers, one of a number of youngsters running through the team, while Thomas Bennett was also impressive.

Meanwhile the Tigers got off to the perfect start, holding their nerve against North Hobart in an 11-point victory. They led by 35 points at half-time, and whilst they still kicked the 13 scoring shots in the second half, only managed the 4.9, compared to the Demons’ 9.3. The Kingborough-based side had done enough though to win 10.18 (78) to 10.7 (67), with 19-year-old Zach Adams booting a goal and named best on ground. Max Collidge and Riley Ashlin were also impressive, whilst for the Demons, Jack Sandric was best-on with a goal, while Jye Menzie was among the young brigade who slotted a major.

In the other match of Round 1, Lauderdale also held on against a fast-finishing Clarence. Allen Christensen was the headline recruit, booting three first half goals to do all the damage as the Bombers led by 29 points at the final break. They only managed one behind in the last term as the Roos stormed home with 3.5 of their own, only to fall seven points short. Aside from Christensen, reigning league best and fairest Sam Siggins was named among the best with Nat Franklin. For the Roos, Ollie Davis continued his form from his draft year with a best on ground effort, as Ethan Jackson and Darcy Gardner were other youngsters to step up, while Josh Green slotted four goals in the loss.

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

The WAFL kicked off its season with some high-scoring thrillers, as every winner hit triple-digits, including a whopping 242 points combined between Claremont and Swan Districts. Every team scored at least 74 points, with the greatest margin being 32, during East Fremantle’s victory over Peel Thunder. In that match, Josh Schoenfeld brought his own football to Western Australia, with ex-Gold Coast Sun racking up 41 disposals, nine marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds in a whopping effort on debut for the Sharks. Ex-Blue Blaine Boekhorst had 26 touches, two marks and kicked a goal in the win, whilst ex-Saint and Pie Jonothan Marsh had 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and 2.1. It was the effort of Dillon O’Reilly looking to force his way back to the elite level with three goals from 14 touches, five marks and two tackles. For Peel, it was Sam Sturt who demanded a recall to the AFL with five goals from 12 disposals and four marks, while Joel Western had 13 touches, four marks and kicked a goal.

In other matches, East Perth’s Nick Robertson made a promising debut with 30 disposals, four marks and a goal returning from Brisbane, while another ex-AFL talent in Jackson Ramsay had 29 touches, five marks, seven inside 50s and a goal in a huge day out. Lachlan Delahunty racked up 23 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and three tackles for the winning side, as captain Leigh Kitchell drove the team through a massive 29 touches, 11 inside 50s and five tackles. Ben Sokol, Michael Braut and Aaron Heal all slotted three goals. Perth got past West Coast reserves in a 13-point outing despite nine goals between Isiah Winder and Nathan Vardy. Winder had five snags from 18 touches and five marks, while Vardy had a whopping 35 hitouts, 15 disposals and three marks to go with 4.1. Ex-Eagle Chris Masten racked it up against his old side with 29 touches, five marks and seven inside 50s, whilst ex-Saint Doulton Langlands (20 touches, four marks, three inside 50s and two goals), ex-Docker Brady Gray (27 disposals, eight marks and six inside 50s) and ex-Pie Josh Smith (23 disposals, seven marks, six inside 50s and a goal) all had big performances.

Meanwhile South Fremantle accounted for West Perth with Haiden Schloithe and Matt Parker having days out. Schloithe racked up his usual 30 touches, and had seven tackles, six inside 50s and two goals, while Parker had 26 touches, two marks five tackles and 11 inside 50s. Brandon Donaldson booted two goals from 25 touches and three marks in the win, whilst four West Perth players racked up 30-plus disposals. Aaron Black (36 disposals), Trent Manzone (35), Shane Nelson (34) and Blake Wilhelm (30) had leather poisoning with their ball-winning efforts, but it would not be enough to drag their sides across the line. Tyler Keitel and Keegan Knott both slotted four goals, whilst Cody Ninyette and Mason Shaw combined for nine majors in the win. Finally Claremont won by 24 points over Swan Districts in a 38-goal extravaganza. Alexander Manuel and Isaac Barton booted four and three goals apiece for the Tigers in the win, but it was top-age draft talent Jacob Van Rooyen who caught the eye with 12 disposals, four marks and 2.2 at senior level. Thomas Edwards (four goals) and Jesse Palmer (three) were both lively inside 50 for the Swans, whilst Sam Fisher (33 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Jesse Turner (34 disposals, 11 marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s) were the best in the loss. Jye Bolton suffered leather poisoning with a massive 39 touches, six marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and a goal, marginally ahead of teammates Bailey Rogers (36 disposals, one goal) and Ryan Lim (34 disposals, one goal).

 

Picture credit: David Mariuz / SANFL

State Leagues preview: Opening rounds kick-off across the country

IN a Draft Central first, we have streamlined a look across the nation with a number of state leagues returning to action over the Easter long weekend. Competitions in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all kick-off over the weekend and we preview them all in one convenient preview. At the time of publishing, only the South Australian and Tasmanian teams were out, with our West Australian and Queensland previews to come.

South Australia:

The much anticipated South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition kicks off starting tonight in a huge opening long weekend of action.

Tasmanian key forward Jackson Callow will be one to watch for Norwood tonight as they host Port Adelaide returning to the competition after a year off due to the COVID-19 restrictions regarding AFL non-selected players in state leagues. With ex-Geelong talent Jacob Kennerley and ex-Swans tall Michael Knoll returning to Coopers Stadium, the home team will be hard to beat. For Port fans, they will get a glimpse at recent draftees, father-son prospect Taj Schofield and key forward Ollie Lord, whilst the likes of Dylan Williams and Joel Garner are also named in there.

Speaking of ex-AFL talent, South Adelaide has bolstered its list with no bigger name than ex-Crow and Blue, Bryce Gibbs joining the Panthers. He joins ex-Cat Jake Tarca and ex-Lion Sam Skinner, whilst former State Under 18s player Damon Frietag has also joined the cause, Potential number one pick Jason Horne is the player many will turn in to watch, named on the bench to start 2021. Their opponents Adelaide is in the same boat to the Port Magpies, returning to the competition for 2021. Next-Generation Academy (NGA) member Tariek Newchurch is an exciting talent to watch named off half-back, with AFL-listed Crows Jackson Hately, Riley Thilthorpe and Fischer McAsey alongside another NGA draftee in James Borlase. Thilthorpe being named on a wing will be an interesting one to watch, showing off the 200cm key position player’s versatility.

Looking to the other Good Friday clash between Central District and North Adelaide, GWS GIANTS’ Academy member Harry Grant has crossed to the Dogs, with Tom Graham stepping up to League level after plying his trade with the Reserves following a 2019 premiership with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League. Tasmanian Aiden Grace arrives from Glenorchy, whilst the Bulldogs brother-duo of Travis and Jarrod Schiller will find plenty of the ball. Lachlan Grubb and Lewis Cowham are among the ones to watch in the Reserves side. For North Adelaide, reigning Margarey Medallist Campbell Combe will look to get his season off to a perfect start, with ex-Power and Suns talent Aaron Young joining the team, and former Under 18s state representative Dyson Hilder at full-forward.

In a mid-afternoon game at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, the Eagles will unveil ex-Crow Riley Knight, as well as former Central talents Daniel and Troy Menzel for their clash against Sturt. James Tsitas has remained in South Australia rather than head back to the VFL, while Kobe Mutch will complete a dominant midfield hoping to get back on an AFL list after his time at Essendon. Ex-Crow Patrick Wilson will don the Double Blues colours in 2021 and is straight into the midfield, with former Under 18s state representative Josh Shute also in the side for his League debut. Jordan Houlahan and Zane Kirkwood will once again be keen players for the visitors.

In the final game of the round, Glenelg hosts West Adelaide tomorrow evening. The Tigers have brought in two ex-AFL talents in former Swan Toby Pink, and North Melbourne tall Sam Durdin. Both will provide great versatility around the ground, and back-to-back leading goalkicker Liam McBean will start off another season back at full-forward. Margarey Medallist from a couple of seasons ago Luke Partington will return again for the Bays, as Cooper Horsnell could be among a number of junior players to step up to League level in Round 1. For West Adelaide, Kieren Lovell has joined the side after a stint with Tigers in the TSL last season, while Tom Murphy has been named in the side after his stint with North Melbourne. Josh Gore will be a very handy goalkicker inside 50, while over-age draft prospect Jye Sindeberry has been named at centre half-back for the match.

 

TASMANIA:

Looking down on the Apple Isle, the youth of the competition will be reduced when Tasmania Devils enter the NAB League competition after it was cancelled in 2020. Nonetheless, there are still some good young talents to keep an eye on, and established players who will stand up.

North Hobart kicks off its campaign against Tigers in what should be a fascinating contest. Youngsters Jye Menzie and George McLeod are among the ones to watch for the Demons, as they hope to topple a Tigers side that has lost key ball winner, Kieren Lovell to the SANFL. Lachlan Gadomski remains an important tall for the Tigers, with Sam Duigan a key inclusion for the Kingborough-based side.

In a massive 2020 Tasmanian State League Grand Final rematch, the two Launceston sides go head-to-head with North Launceston up against reigning premiers, Launceston. Young midfielder Ollie Sanders will play a crucial role on the inside, with plenty of chances over the off-season for the Northern Bombers, though Jay Foon and Brad Cox-Goodyer remain among the top players in the side, and Angus Jeffries another teenager to keep an eye on in 2021. Launceston will have its forward line combination of Jay Blackberry and Dylan Riley, as Jake Hinds will line-up again in midfield for the team.

The other match for the weekend is Lauderdale up against Clarence. The Bombers will welcome Allen Christensen to the side, with the ex-AFL livewire named in the middle, team up with Sam Siggins in there. Clarence have a ton of youth on display, led by last year’s Rising Star in Ollie Davis back again, alongside Ethan Jackson, Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes among others looking for a good 2021 season in the red and white.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

Peel Thunder vs. East Fremantle
Subiaco vs. East Perth
Perth vs. West Coast
South Fremantle vs. West Perth
Swan Districts vs. Claremont

QUEENSLAND:

Noosa Tigers vs. Wilston Grange Gorillas

Just the one match this weekend in a standalone clash between new Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) newcomers Noosa Tigers, and Wilston Grange Gorillas. The match, set to be played at Rococo Oval in Noosa, will have a 2pm start if it goes ahead. With much uncertainty around the COVID-19 outbreak in Queensland, there is yet to be confirmation the match will go ahead. The teams are also yet to be named due to the uncertainty around the outbreak.

Picture credit: Solstice Digital

Q&A: Jason Horne (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH Adelaide prospect Jason Horne is the current consensus for top pick out of the 2021 draft crop, credit to an outstanding season last year which saw him crack the Panther’s League lineup. Now part of the AFL and South Australia Under 19 academies, Horne is looking to cement such status with another big season. The combative midfielder has very few weaknesses and can also hit the scoreboard, making him a threatening option in the engine room. Fittingly, he is a Fremantle supporter who moulds his game on Nat Fyfe.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Cheesman chatted to Horne at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: How did you go at testing?

A: “Not too bad. The yo-yo was a bit disappointing, I think I got pulled out a bit early but I’m alright with that, I thought the day went pretty well.”

 

Can you tell us a bit about your footballing journey?

“I started playing footy in Under 7s for Salisbury North, I played there for a season then moved down here and played for (Christies Beach) since Under 8s I think. Then I played my whole junior career through there and came to South to play 13s, 14s, 15s and now 16s, 18s and seniors. So a pretty easy journey straight through all the development squads, it’s been good.”

 

How’d you find the experience of being promoted to League level in 2020?

“I thought it was a challenging step up but I really enjoyed it, took it onboard and thought it was a really good experience coming into this year.”

 

Did you enjoy competing against the bigger bodies?

“It was a bit difficult but I enjoyed the challenge and found ways to work around it I guess.”

 

What would you say your biggest strengths on the field are?

“I think my competitiveness and my contested footy, that’s the one big one that I think stands out a lot. My kicking and marking are two of my big (strengths) as well.”

 

What are you looking to improve on?

“I think I really need to improve on my leadership. Also, me and Boofa (Jarrad Wright) the League coach talked about my field kicking going inside 50, I just think that could improve a bit from last year. Then also my goalkicking, from my point of view I think it needs a bit of improvement.”

 

Do you anticipate some more midfield minutes this year having spent plenty of time up forward in 2020?

“Yeah, me and Boofa had a talk not long ago and we said we’ll have a bit more flexibility this year with our League team, getting ‘Gibba’ (Bryce Gibbs) and a couple of young fellas from the AFL clubs, so we think hopefully this year I’ll have a bit more midfield time as well as a bit up forward.”

 

Have any senior players in particular taken you under their wing at South Adelaide?

“I think Gibba’s the main one. He’s working with us young fellas and the 18s just to work on our development so he’s been a good mentor for us young boys and especially me, I’ve been spending a bit of time with him.”

 

How would you describe yourself off-field?

“I just think I’m a nice, respectful bloke. Good to have a laugh with and chat with.”

 

How do you go with balancing footy with other commitments?

“I’m working now five days a week so it’s a challenge but it’s helped me improve my time management.”

 

Is there anyone you mould you game on?

“Nat Fyfe. I like Nat Fyfe and I’ve been watching him for a long time so he’s the big one I model myself on.”

Image Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

21 elite top-age prospects have been named in the 2021 AFL Academy squad, as the AFL reverts back to a condensed nationwide program. Previously, the intake entailed as many as 150 talents from around the nation being nurtured in their state hubs, but with cost cutting at the hands of COVID-19 the traditional model will be reinstated.

The squad, coached by former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer, is set to play a game against a Victorian state league side and participate in camps during the year. Players are still set to be added to the list with a number of spots left vacant, as the AFL and club recruiters collaborate to finalise the intake.

Among the standouts, current pick one frontrunner Jason Horne joins the likes of Collingwood father-son hopeful Nick Daicos in the squad. Horne has already gained senior SANFL experience with South Adelaide and has a wide range of weapons, including his speed, ball winning ability, and aerial prowess. Daicos, the son of Peter, has all the skill his pedigree would suggest and enters the elite pathway with a great reputation in the APS competition under his belt.

Victorians dominate the squad with 10 selections, with a far less compromised top-end highlighting the lucky dip that is the AFL Draft. Aside from Daicos, Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Austin Harris (Gold Coast, Academy), and Ned Stevens (Gold Coast, Darwin zone) are the only other selections with ties to clubs. In another shift from this year’s cohort, it looks set to be a talent pool consisting largely of midfielders at the top end.

>> A look ahead: 21 in 2021
>> 2021 AFL Women’s Academy

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence)
Rhett Bazzo (Western Australia/Swan Districts)
Jase Burgoyne (South Australia/Woodville West Torrens)
Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy)
Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers)
Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy)
Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels)
Jason Horne (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Matthew Johnson (Western Australia/Subiaco)
Cooper Murley (South Australia/Norwood)
Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers)
Matthew Roberts (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges)
Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy)
Jacob Van Rooyen (Western Australia/Claremont)
Jack Williams (Western Australia/East Fremantle)

Featured Image: Joshua Rachele looms as a top prospect in 2021 | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

A look ahead: The 21 top prospects for 2021

WHILE we are only a day removed from the 2020 AFL National Draft, Draft Central is already looking forward to the next crop of elite level hopefuls. This year’s AFL Draft Guide featured 21 of the best top-age prospects eligible to be drafted in 2021, providing pocket profiles and an insight into what to expect from a upcoming bumper crop. Clubs have already been jostling for position among next year’s order, as plenty of players do the same at the top end with their on-field efforts. We have already identified an early frontrunner, with a familiar father-son name not far off and plenty of variety in terms of representatives from each state and territory.

21 in 2021

The top contender:

Jason Horne (South Adelaide/South Australia)
21/06/2003 | 182cm/75kg
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Horne is the current frontrunner among next year’s crop after returning a sensational season of football. Having already established himself among South Adelaide’s Under 18 setup, he quickly came to dominate this year’s proceedings and earned a call-up to the senior side. He adapted well to the speed of the game playing mostly as a forward, soaring for high marks and backing his speed across the ground. The 2019 SA Under 16 MVP has very few weaknesses, but plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
21/02/2003 | 189cm/83kg
Midfielder/Utility

Somewhat a jack of all trades, Andrews plugged gaps on each line for Vic Metro at last year’s Under 16 championships; showing clean hands, a cool head, and match-winning abilities. Rates highly for upside.

Samuel Banks (Clarence/Tasmania)
2/04/2003 | 186cm/72kg
Midfielder/Half-Back

Arguably Tasmania’s leading 2021 prospect, Banks was the Under 16 Division 2 MVP last year and has already turned out for the Tasmania Devils Under 18 side. The balanced midfielder/half-back has also played senior football for Clarence, showing plenty of class while disposing by foot.

Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
17/10/2003 | 194cm/74kg
Tall Defender

One of Western Australia’s top talents heading into 2021, Bazzo is a versatile defender renowned for his intercept marking ability. He could well blaze a trail similar to that of fellow Swan Districts product, Denver Grainger-Barras having established himself among the Colts side and in the PSA competition this year.

Cooper Beecken (Glenelg/South Australia)
24/02/2003 | 188cm/72kg
Defender

A tall and rangy defender, Beecken staked his claim as a potential high-end prospect for 2021 with a promising showing in this year’s Under 18 All-Stars game. It capped off a solid season overall for the 17-year-old, who holds similarities to Will Day with his stature, marking and kicking abilities.

Lachlan Brooks (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
1/02/2003 | 179cm/75kg
Inside Midfielder

Brooks earned Under 16 All Australian honours after an outstanding carnival for Vic Metro where he showcased great grit and ball winning ability at the contest. He was looking to make his way into Sandringham’s side as a small defender this year, while also playing midfield for Brighton Grammar.

Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country)
27/04/2003 | 185cm/79kg
Half-Back/Wing

Hailing from Murray’s region, Chesser boards at Melbourne Grammar and is set to represent Sandringham during his NAB League stints. He is a rebounding half-back who can also provide dash off the wing, boasting great speed and a wicked boot on the outer.

Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
01/03/2003 | 183cm/72kg
Balanced Midfielder

He has only just entered the Oakleigh Chargers system, but Daicos is already well-known not only for his exploits with Carey Grammar in the APS competition, but also for his ties to Collingwood as a father-son prospect. He has terrific skills and ironically supports Carlton. Already a top five chance.

Arlo Draper (South Adelaide/South Australia)
30/01/2003 | 185cm/71kg
Midfielder/Forward

A smooth-moving type with plenty of upside, Draper returned a fantastic bottom-age season with South Adelaide to prove on of South Australia’s brightest 2021 candidates. He wins a good amount of contested ball while also providing marking and goal threats up forward.

Joshua Fahey (Gold Coast Academy/NSW/ACT)
11/11/2003 | 186cm/76kg
Half-Back/Outside Midfielder

While formerly tied to the GWS Academy, Fahey represented that of the Gold Coast Suns this year and showed fine form. He is a damaging rebound defender who gains plenty of meterage with his daring dash and raking left boot.

Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
15/09/2003 | 182cm/76kg
Inside Midfielder

There are few others who show quite the appetite Hobbs does for the contest, and soggy conditions at last year’s Under 16 championships saw him thrive. Having since made his NAB League debut, Hobbs continues to pump the ball forward and tackle hard at the coalface.

Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/Western Australia)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/80kg
Inside Midfielder

Subiaco Colts premiership player, Johnson developed well in 2020 to become one of his state’s leading midfielders. He has a terrific balance of aggression and class, able to win his own ball and carve ways around his opponents on the exit. Has great upside as a raw, tall ball winner.

Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
7/01/2003 | 195cm/86kg
Key Forward

Lukic is an athletic tall forward who fares particularly well close to goal. After leading the Under 16 Division 1 goalkicking with nine majors, he made his NAB League debut in a stacked Oakleigh side and showed plenty of promise. Has good speed and can compete at ground level.

Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/78kg
Midfielder/Utility

A hard-working midfielder who can play a role on each line, Molan brings a true team-first attitude. He made his NAB League debut last year and has some good upside given his size and versatility. One who you can rely on to compete.

Cooper Murley (Norwood/South Australia)
20/06/2003 | 177cm/66kg
Small Midfielder/Forward

Part of Norwood’s Under 18 premiership side, Murley already looks a class above the grade. His speed out of congestion, repeat forward running, and excellent skills made for scintillating viewing in 2020, making him a prime prospect for next year. Still has some filling out to do.

Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushranger/Vic Country)
11/04/2003 | 179cm/77kg
Small Midfielder/Forward

Rachele rightly took out the Division 1 and Vic Country MVP awards at last year’s Under 16 carnival, putting him firmly in the pick one race. He went on to average two goals per his four NAB League games, bringing plenty of x-factor up forward and spark through midfield.

Lewis Rayson (Glenelg/South Australia)
14/01/2003 | 181cm/64kg
Half-Back

A small defender who impacts in a big way, Rayson provides plenty of drive from half-back. His ability to read the play and break forward quickly in transition is a real asset, capped off by damaging use by foot.

Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/South Australia)
31/07/2003 | 183cm/76kg
Midfielder/Forward

Roberts is a standout wherever he plays and dominated both the school football and SANFL Under 18 scenes at times in 2020. He is capable of racking up huge numbers through sheer work-rate and competitiveness, while also posing a scoring threat when resting up forward.

Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
28/01/03 | 186cm/72kg
Half-Back/Midfielder

Was captain of Vic Metro’s carnival-winning Under 16 side in 2019 and adapted well between multiple roles. Originally employed as a half-back for his run and damaging use by foot, Sinn also thrived in midfield and somewhat of a wildcard. Has plenty of desirable traits and potential.

Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/01/2003 | 181cm/74kg
Midfielder/Forward

Another who has plenty of runs on the board already, Sonsie is silky smooth on the ball through midfield and dangerous around goal. He made his NAB League debut for minor premiers, Eastern Ranges after winning Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP award.

Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/Western Australia)
16/04/2003 | 194cm/88kg
Key Forward

A dominant key forward with terrific aerial presence, Van Rooyen is one of the leading prospects in his position for 2021. He booted 19 goals in 10 WAFL Colts games this season, finding the big sticks at least once in each outing.

In the mix:

In such a promising crop, there are plenty of names who could have easily squeezed into the initial list. From a Victorian perspective, the likes of Lachlan Rankin and Youseph Dib are two exciting talents from the Oakleigh Chargers who featured strongly in the Metro Under 16 squad. Dib is tied to Collingwood as an NGA and plies his trade both inside, on the wing, or up forward, while Rankin is a classy user off half-back. Blake Howes was another standout on the Metro end and has great upside as a high-marking, athletic forward.

South Australians have benefitted greatly from a full state league season, albeit improvised. Morgan Ferres is a tall forward with terrific athleticism and the ability to dominate at centre half-forward. Nasiah Wanganeen and Jase Burgoyne were others to show plenty in the SANFL Under 18s this year, with the latter the son of Peter Burgoyne and thus tied to Port Adelaide as a father-son. Isaiah Dudley, the cousin of Kysaiah Pickett also has links to a club already in Adelaide. He is small, but has plenty of talent and should not be forgotten after an injury-riddled year.

West Australian prospects also benefitted from a season of football, with the likes of Lochlan Paton and Judd McVee both getting some Under 18 midfield minutes. Paton is a solid mover who can roam forward, while McVee is an explosive stoppage player who can also move on the outer. Joshua Browne is another name right up there after his efforts for East Fremantle in 2020, with Max Chipper another to keep in mind as a clean outside user.

Featured Image: Jason Horne is our top pick for 2021 | Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL