Tag: kaine baldwin

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they have most been looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in nearly all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture having already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

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

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

#26 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 186cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

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

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the bigtime, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talent a prospect as there is this year.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2020

THE VERDICT is in after another terrific month of football from the latest crop of budding AFL draftees. Victorian prospects remain starved of action, but the best and brightest from around the nation have been stamping their claims, making for some interesting movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s third Power Rankings edition for 2020, we extend our list out to 25 names, with key adjustments made to our initial July and August analyses. A certain West Australian key forward continues to rise steeply, while the Northern Territory gains a representative in the extended cut. All that, and more in our September Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

August Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

August Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

August Ranking: #9

Last Month: McDonald has been arguably the most consistent key position performer of all the players on this list; at the highest possible level, no less. He now sits second in the WAFL League goalkicking charts, having booted 13 goals across his five August/September outings. He boasts 20 goals in seven games overall, and has not yet failed to kick multiple goals. Even if he is having a quiet patch, McDonald has been able to make an impact and take full toll with what the Perth midfielders deliver his way. He will continue to provide a focal point as the Demons push for finals, with his conversion from range, marking on the lead, and one-on-one work deep inside 50 all excellent for his age.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

August Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another consistent performer, Grainger-Barras is still capable of delivering some ‘wow’ moments. Most recently, he produced a starring second half against McDonald and the Perth Demons, bouncing back from a lacklustre opening half to help Swan Districts power to victory. While he is still quite light for a key position prospect, Grainger-Barras showed he is not afraid to wear contact on that day, leaping for some incredible intercept marks while directly opposed to his State Under 18s teammate. He may get knocked around a touch, but loves a bit of niggle and stands up against mature bodies. Over the past month, the 18-year-old averaged 11.6 disposals and 5.2 marks per his five games, good enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

August Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

August Ranking: #5

Last Month: West Adelaide has managed Thilthorpe over the last two weeks as he nurses a groin complaint, bringing an end to his streak of nine-straight League appearances since Round 1. The bigman had been enjoying some time in a variety of roles; from his usual key forward post, to some added responsibility in the ruck rotation, and even venturing up onto a wing. In his four August outings, Thilthorpe was kept goalless thrice, averaging 11.8 disposals, four marks, and over 12 hitouts to be squeezed just outside of the top five. He still has runs on the board and hopefully gets back into the swing of things to finish off the SANFL season.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

August Ranking: #6

Last Month: Campbell returned to AFL Sydney Premier Division football this past weekend for Pennant Hills, booting a goal in the Demons’ 80-point victory over East Coast. That came after he turned out twice for the Sydney Swans Academy, helping his side claim Academy Series points over the GWS GIANTS Academy on both occasions. He looked a class above in those outings, able to win the ball at will through midfield, while showcasing his versatility and remaining a goalkicking threat going forward.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

August Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the Vics get on the park, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

August Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#10 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

August Ranking: #12

Last Month: Jones remains the sole South Australian Under 18 on this list to have turned out at League level for every round this season, as he goes from strength to strength. The Eagles are in the box seat to take out the minor premiership, with the Port Adelaide NGA prospect an established part of the side’s defence in a variety of roles. In his six outings since August 1, Jones has averaged 11.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, and four rebound 50s, returning to his best with 16 touches and eight rebounds against North Adelaide in Round 11. He has consistently been able to intercept, play both tall and small, and rebound effectively against mature bodies, bumping him up to #10.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#11 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

August Ranking: #13

Last Month: After his third and final Colts outing in early-August, O’Driscoll earned a Reserves berth in Round 5, before being immediately promoted to the League side. After a steady debut, O’Driscoll has racked up 20 and 15 disposals over the last fortnight, benefitting from being allowed an extended run through midfield. The 18-year-old has showcased his toughness and hard-running ability at senior level, leaving nothing left in the tank. He works hard for his possessions and is equally as relevant in his defensive duties for the most part. There has been some conjecture about his range, we feel his current form and future scope lands him just outside the top 10.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

August Ranking: #10

Last Month: Davies was set to line up for the Gold Coast SUNS in August’s Academy Series, but suffered an elbow injury which ruled him out of action early in the month. He faces a race against the clock to return in time for Broadbeach’s upcoming QAFL finals campaign, which begins next week for the minor premiers.

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

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

August Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

August Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury, but earned a National Combine invite for September 30.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

August Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Chapman is the only new player inside this month’s top 20, rising all the way up to #16 on the back of some impressive form. From Rounds 3 to 6 in the WAFL Colts, Chapman averaged a remarkable 25.8 disposals and 8.8 marks down back, enough to earn him a League debut this past weekend. The 18-year-old reeled in five marks among his 11 touches, making for a promising start to life at senior level. With the ability to mark and use the ball so efficiently for his size, Chapman is a player with plenty of desirable traits. West Perth is in the finals race, so hopefully Chapman can hold his League spot and impress under post-season pressure.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should Victorian prospects finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

August Ranking: #17

Last Month: Henry ran out for St Joseph’s all the way back in the first week of August, battling both with and against plenty of his Geelong Falcons teammates. The 187cm prospect booted two goals for Joey’s against Geelong College in a more forward-oriented role, and was also named among his side’s best players. He has since been inactive due to fixture cancellations and a lack of NAB League football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

August Ranking: #18

Last Month: Powell was teased with senior selection after amassing a whopping 47 disposals, 10 clearances, and two goals in Round 10, but continues to plug away at Under 18s level. It is there where the prolific midfielder has averaged nearly 36 disposals and nine clearances across his last five games, remaining atop the charts in both areas despite missing out in Round 9. The Double Blues maestro has also added goals to his game, booting seven from midfield in the last month. His numbers stack up as well as anyone in the draft pool, but whether he can maintain that output at senior level obviously remains to be seen.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#19 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

August Ranking: #16

Last Month: Another prospect who has flirted with senior promotion, Trew only really finds himself sliding down a few spots due to others’ promotions. Barring an injury-stricken outing at the start of August, the Swan Districts product has been at his ball winning best. Having returned from his lay-off due to concussion, Trew has averaged 27 disposals across his last three WAFL Colts outings. A senior berth may prove tough to crack given the Swans’ winning effort last time out, with only one more game in any grade possible due as the regular season comes to a close this week – Swan Districts have also not made finals in any competition. He did earn a National Combine invite though, and will have the opportunity to impress in Western Australia’s All-Star fixture pegged for October.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

August Ranking: #19

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#21 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

August Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#22 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Another entirely fresh face on our list, Carroll’s name is unearthed due to our expansion to an order of 25. That is not to say that he would not have featured otherwise, with the East Fremantle product a player who has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 188cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: This week will serve as Carroll’s last chance to earn senior selection before finals, though East Fremantle is only really in that frame across the Reserves and Colts grades. He would inevitably come into consideration after an outstanding performance against Claremont in Round 7, collecting 31 disposals and booting two goals as the Sharks knocked off their highly-fancied opponents. In five games over the past month, Carroll has averaged 23.4 disposals to put himself right among the top 20 mix. For us, he remains just outside it for now at #22, but has all the class to move on up.

>> Draft Watch

#23 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australia colours last year.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Poulter earned a call-up to the Eagles’ Reserves side in Round 10, booting a goal on debut and retaining his spot in the latest weekend of action. The League side will be tough to crack given its success this season, but the 190cm prospect will be keen to join fellow top-age gun, Lachlan Jones in the lineup. Prior to his promotion, Poulter averaged a tick under 28 disposals in his four Under 18s outings across August, generating plenty of forward momentum and hitting the scoreboard in two of those games. In that time, Poulter gained a big tick for his consistency and has found the ball in all areas of the ground, highlighting his versatility in production.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#24 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Walker returns to our rankings as we expand the list, and has produced a solid month of football. The Dockers NGA hopeful has averaged bang-on 20 touches and over six marks across five games in August/September, with 74 per cent of his disposals in that time released via foot. These numbers are quite good for a prospect of his type, who pops up rather than accumulates. His marking ability, combined with speed and poise across the ground makes him a dual-pronged defensive outlet with plenty of weapons. While he is able to impact further afield and even find the goals, we feel Walker has showcased his best form at half-back.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 78kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: After a long waiting period since his last NTFL outing in February, Jeffrey returned to action with the Gold Coast SUNS as part of August’s Academy Series. He took part in game two against the Brisbane Lions Academy, and built into the contest well after a steady start. Having initially lined up down back, where he looks a touch more impactful as he drifts across to intercept, Jeffrey was swung forward in the second half and booted a goal. He looked lively with his turn of speed and athleticism, despite some scratchy moments early on.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

It is no secret now that South Australian Brayden Cook is bolting into top 25 calculations, as the South Adelaide wingman/forward continues to impress at Under 18s level. He remains just outside our rankings as others have more runs on the board, but another month of similar form would make him hard to ignore.

Errol Gulden has been in serious form in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with 10 goals in his last three games – including a bag of six – putting him in the mix. West Australians Joel Western (Fremantle NGA) and Isiah Winder have also caught the eye, as the former made his return from injury, while the latter again earned a spot at League level for Peel Thunder.

Of the most unlucky Victorians to miss due to a lack of action, Bailey Laurie has previously featured in our top 20, while Hawthorn NGA prospect and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is also one to consider. Sandringham Dragons bigman Max Heath is a ruck prospect who lingers around the mark, along with Essendon NGA defender Cody Brand. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford also boast top 25 potential.

Back across in South Australia, small forward Corey Durdin made a short lived return from injury this week at SANFL League level, while Luke Edwards got back on the park in the Reserves. Zac Dumesny is still recovering from an ankle complaint, and all three are around the 30-35 range in our eyes.

All four Tasmania Academy hub members earned National Combine invites. Jackson Callow has been unleashed in a slightly different role down back, increasing his stocks of late in the TSL, with Oliver Davis proving consistent, and Patrick Walker continuing to show promising upside across half-back and on the wing.

Caleb Poulter – The Eagle soaring into first round contention

CALEB POULTER is hard to miss on the footy field. He is the big-bodied midfielder rapidly climbing his way up draft boards on the back of six outstanding SANFL Under 18s outings for Woodville-West Torrens (WWT). While a flowing mullet and rudely bright boots already make him easily identifiable, Poulter’s presence at the contest, overhead marking, and graceful coverage of the ground ensure he is truly unmistakable.

After earning a State Under 16s berth and contributing to the Eagles’ SANFL Under 18s premiership in 2019, the Adrossan junior decided to make the big move over to Henley High School in 2020. It would allow him to bridge the two-hour gap to and from training, the opportunity to consistently play alongside the likes of Bailey Chamberlain, Taj Schofield and roommate Zac Phillips, while also gaining a top-notch Year 12 education to boot.

Fast-forward through an arduous preseason and great bouts of uncertainty, Poulter hit the ground running this year with form that made him impossible to ignore. His Round 1 performance of 34 disposals, seven marks, 10 tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s, and a goal put him on the map with a Torrens University Cup MVP nomination, but his performances since have propelled him into first round calculations. Averaging 24.5 disposals, 6.0 marks, 5.8 tackles, 3.0 clearances, 5.0 inside 50s, and over a goal per game, Poulter is one of the most dynamic and dominant midfielders at the level right now.

Such form has warranted heavy opposition attention, as well as contact with AFL recruiters. But the soaring Eagles prospect is simply looking to find consistency in his game and iron out his areas of improvement. With fellow 2019 premiership Lachlan Jones plying his trade at League level, a rise up the SANFL grades is also on the cards for Poulter in his top-age campaign.

We caught up with the talented 17-year-old during the week to chat all things footy. Below are quotes from the man himself regarding a range of topics; from his journey to this point, dealing with uncertainty, and just why he supports two AFL clubs.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

JUNIOR FOOTY:

“It’s always been footy for me ever since I was growing up. Through AusKick and the juniors I’ve always had a passion for footy, just the competitive side of it. It’s always been footy for me.

“(WWT) Eagles invited me to all their country programs, whether that was Under 14s or Under 15s. It started to become serious in my Under 16s year, obviously playing as a Metro and Country team combined. Then last year for the Under 18s as a bottom-ager, coming into this year as a top-ager, and hopefully playing some senior footy.”

LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

INITIAL FEELINGS:

“It was obviously a surreal feeling. Me and the other boys had trained our asses off since November just to be told we don’t know when footy’s coming back. So it was quite surreal but we used the lockdown period to work on all our improvement areas. For me, it was my contested side of things, so I used that time to get in the gym and get busy so when footy did come back, I’d be ready to go.”

KEEPING CONTACT:

“It’s been pretty quiet with all the (AFL Academy) hub stuff lately. But we always touch base, whether that’s through Zoom or through Tony Bamford just having one-on-one meetings… We just try to stay connected in any way possible just in case there is a national carnival coming up at the end of the year.

“Like I said, it’s sort of quietened down now, but I know when the hub was around we did a lot of wellbeing meetings or group tasks just to benefit the team and make closer friends. Just that bonding side of things was quite big.”

RETURNING TO PLAY:

“I definitely think it’s a huge benefit for us, for myself and the other SA boys that really want to fly up the draft ranks. For Vic Country and Vic Metro not to play, I think recruiters are focussing on WA and SA players more than what they have in previous years. So I’m definitely trying to use that as a opportunity to just perform well and see what happens come the end of the year.”

SEASON 2020

STEPPING UP:

“Obviously in the preseason I worked pretty hard, whether that was out with the Eagles seniors or in the (AFL Academy) hub. I just worked on all my improvement areas and got all of them right. Then I just took some form from the preseason games earlier this year and took it on to this season so it’s been good. Hopefully I can stay consistent.

“I sat down with the senior coaches and we thought I’d just find some form in my own age group before I have the opportunity to hopefully go up and play some two’s or one’s footy. I just want to stay consistent and keep playing my role for the 18s, then hopefully later on in the season I can crack the senior side.”

MOVING SCHOOLS, TO ADELAIDE:

“I’m in Year 12. I moved from the country down to (Adelaide) last year to go to Henley High. All the boys there have been welcoming and they’ve obviously got a great football program so it’s been good so far.

“It was pretty challenging. My old school in the country, I was there until Year 11 and obviously making the move to Adelaide to go to a big school like Henley was quite nerve wracking at first… school has a great bunch of lads and we’re all a tight knit group. The coach likes for us to be tight so it’s been great training with them.

“The team’s led by players like Taj Schofield and Bailey Chamberlain, they’re great footy players and have had a great year so far. They’ve been great leaders for the younger boys coming through.”

ATTRACTING INTEREST:

“I’ve had a few Zoom meetings with AFL recruiters, a fair few clubs lately have been Zooming me. They obviously just want to get to know you as a person I guess, and as a player. They’ve been great, they just tell us if we need to work on anything.”

“I think it was against North (Adelaide) that I got thrown down back because I was getting a fair bit of attention from certain players, so I thought to break the tag the coach would put me in the backline to find a bit of the footy… It’s pretty hard having to have all that attention on me, I’ve had it for the past few weeks ever since my Round 1 performance. I just try to think about the play I guess and play my style of footy and hopefully things will pay off and the ball will come my way.”

PREFERRED POSITION:

“I definitely feel like I can benefit most for the team playing inside mid, then resting forward. But I think a big thing for me is my versatility, coaches like to put me in the backline sometimes and I can even play a bit of outside mid as well. So it’s good to have that versatility but like I said, I like playing inside mid then resting up forward like I have been this year.”

STRENGTHS:

“I’d bring physicality and competitiveness (to an AFL club). I love the hard ball so I think they’re the main two things that I bring, and obviously I’m quite an outgoing type of person so I think my personality would suit well with any bunch of boys. That’s definitely the three things for me and just overall, I’m hard working and never give up. They’re definitely the traits I like to be known by the most.”

TEAMMATES (STATE, SCHOOL, AND SANFL):

“I know there’s a lot of leaders out there like Riley Thilthorpe, playing League out at Westies this year. He’s someone who uses his experience in the hub from previous years to help out the younger boys and just get around them. So he was obviously a leader for us, and then you’ve got people like Luke Edwards and Kaine Baldwin, they were also great leaders. They definitely helped over preseason and in the hubs, it was good.

“(Lachie Jones) has been really good. He had a solid preseason with the senior boys and is fortunate enough to be playing one’s at the moment. He’s having a great year so hopefully he can stay consistent. He’s tied to Port so hopefully they can pick him up later on this year.”

BACK-TO-BACK?:

“I’m extremely excited, i just want to stay consistent and find the footy and obviously just benefit for my team and hopefully we can get a few wins on the board, crack finals and see what happens at the end of the year… going into preseason back-to-back premierships for myself and a few of the other boys was in sight. So hopefully we can work well as a team, all play out roles and see what happens.”

CALEB POULTER, THE PERSON

FAVOURITE AFL TEAM:

“I go for Geelong and Brisbane… My family always grew up going for Geelong so I went to Geelong, then when Brisbane drafted Cam Rayner and some others a few years back I sort of liked the way they play and they have a few young blokes who’re playing a good brand of footy lately.”

“I’m happy to go anywhere. All 18 clubs have a great culture and whatnot. I don’t really care where I end up, as long as I can get on an AFL list. I don’t really have any preferences, just anywhere really.”

ASPIRATIONS:

“Obviously I want to achieve good grades to get a high ATAR. If footy doesn’t work out or just as a plan B, going to uni to do something like human movement or physiotherapy definitely catches my eye.”

“On the field I just want to stay consistent and play a good style of footy and hopefully get drafted at the end of the season. Off the field it’s just to stay on top of my grades, to use my time management to get on top of my school, and then go to training and train hard. They’re the main things for me.”

MENTORS:

“My dad’s been a big support for me. He obviously played a fair bit of footy growing up and was pretty good so he gives me a lot of constructive feedback whenever I need it. And coaches like my 18s Eagles coach and the hub coaches have also been great mentors for my progression over the years as well. That’s definitely got me to where I am today, so I can’t thank them enough.”

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT
>> AFL Draft Watch: Caleb Poulter
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> 2020 SA Under 18s Squad Prediction

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2020

BUDDING AFL Draft prospects from around the nation have stamped their claims over the last month with football returning across multiple states, making for a top-end list boasting plenty of movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s second Power Rankings edition for 2020, we again stick to a list of 20 with only a few adjustments made to our initial July rankings. A certain West Australian key forward has pushed into the top 10, while a couple of South Australian midfielders have bolted in from the clouds to also warrant a spot each. All that, and more in our August Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

July Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

July Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

July Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

July Ranking: #5

Last Month: Grainger-Barras has picked up right from where he left off in 2019, slotting back into Swan Districts’ League side after making his senior debut last year. Across the first three rounds, he has averaged 9.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, and 2.3 tackles from half-back, with his most recent outing earning him best afield honours against Subiaco. The promising defender is so assured in the air and reads the game better than most, though can work on finding more of the ball to make even better use of his smarts and composure.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#5 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

July Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another key position player who is thriving at senior level, Thilthorpe has become a consistent figure up forward for West Adelaide’s League side. He has booted four goals across his six games thus far, finding the big sticks in half of his outings. The area Thilthorpe has impressed most in is his marking, having shown a terrific forward 50 presence and the ability to use his reach to take the ball at its highest point. He is difficult to stop when doing so, and doubles his threat with good ground level efforts. Yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck, though that may prove difficult as the Bloods sit at 1-4-1.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number six, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

July Ranking: #6

Last Month: Like many of the Swans Academy prospects, Campbell has been plying his trade in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, running out for the Pennant Hill Demons over the last three weeks. He booted six goals in his first two appearances and was named in the best both times.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

July Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

July Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#9 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

July Ranking: #20

Last Month: McDonald is the big riser this month having put his name in lights at WAFL League level. The 196cm key position forward put on a show in his senior debut with 16 disposals, four marks, and three goals, before going one-better in Round 2 to boot four majors from 15 disposals and seven marks. His marking strength both on the lead and one-on-one has been exceptional, as has his finishing. After a bye in Round 3, expect McDonald to continue to rise.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#10 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

July Ranking: #9

Last Month: Davies has managed to squeeze a QAFL game into his schedule, appearing for the Broadbeach Cats a fortnight ago and booting a goal in their 57-point win over Mt Gravatt.

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

#11 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Just slipping outside the top 10 due to McDonald’s rise is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

July Ranking: #10

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#12 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

July Ranking: #17

Last Month: Another SANFL League representative, Jones’ form has been enough to warrant a decent rise up our board. The solidly-built defender has cemented his spot at senior level, running out in all six of WWT’s fixtures thus far. While he has returned a few down games of under 10 disposals, Jones’ best is first round quality and indicative of a readymade player. Port fans and staff alike may want to downplay his value, but he looms as a prospect just outside of the top 10 range.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister Emma, is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

July Ranking: #13

Last Month: O’Driscoll has been plying his trade at WAFL Colts level, featuring in Rounds 1 and 2 before a bye most recently. He has been named as the Demons’ starting centre half-forward, but after a steady opening performance, looks to have returned to his usual form through midfield with 25 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in Round 2. Enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

July Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

July Ranking: #12

Last Month: While the competition has now been suspended, Reid managed to fit in three outings for Leongatha in the Gippsland League. He was named among the best for his two goals in the Parrots’ Round 2 win over Moe, and looks to be shuffling around to a few different positions as he has done previously. Hardly a slide, others in more competitive interstate leagues have just gone ahead of him.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

July Ranking: #16

Last Month: The Swan Districts midfielder has already matched his games tally from 2019, but had his most recent WAFL Colts outing cut short through injury. The bye comes at a good time for Trew as he works to wear off his concussion, but he has otherwise fared well in the junior competition. Across Rounds 1 and 2, Trew averaged 28 disposals, three marks, and five tackles in displays consistent enough to see him hold down the number 16 ranking.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

Another brother-of who should feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should he finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and school football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: As by far the most prolific Under 18s ball winner in South Australia, and potentially the entire country, Powell is proving impossible to ignore at this stage. He leads the competition for total disposals, clearances, and inside 50s after six rounds, averaging 37.2, 9.2, and 6.8 in those respective categories. Having also added goals to his arsenal most recently, Powell continues to add strings to his bow. Gaining much-deserved recognition after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#19 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

July Ranking: #18

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#20 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

July Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

Off the bat, Caleb Poulter and Heath Chapman are essentially number 21 and 22 on our list, making them the hardest to leave out of the top 20. Both have enjoyed impactful starts to their respective seasons; with Poulter a midfielder who packs presence in the SANFL Under 18s, and Chapman an intercept defender who has roamed further afield in the WAFL Colts. They are both terrific sizes, and have a range of weapons at their disposal.

Bailey Laurie and Brandon Walker are the two who slid out of the 20 from July’s rankings. It has been no real fault of their own, with the inactive Laurie a victim of others’ rises, while Walker has made a solid start to his WAFL Colts campaign but is ultimately just squeezed out.

Walker’s fellow Fremantle Next Generation Academy member, Joel Western has enjoyed a terrific start to the year to come into contention, but missed last weekend’s action through injury. Isiah Winder is another on the rise having earned his WAFL League debut for Peel Thunder, so keep an eye out for his name in future. Midfielder/half-back Jack Carroll is also in form, along with left-field ruck hopeful, Kalin Lane, but both are still just outside this kind of range.

The likes of Corey Durdin and Zac Dumesny linger around the top 30 for some given their SANFL League form, while Tariek Newchurch could be a first round smokey, but can work on becoming a more consistent threat. He and Jamison Murphy have been prominent for North Adelaide, while Bailey Chamberlain and Mani Liddy are hard to ignore at SANFL Under 18s level. Potential Adelaide father-son Luke Edwards also earned a SANFL Reserves call-up this month.

Down in Tasmania, Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis have made promising starts to their TSL campaigns. Of those who are around the mark, but cannot currently stake their claims due to a lack of top-level competition are Connor Downie, Eddie Ford, Jake Bowey, Sam Berry, and ruck bolter Max Heath. NT Thunder utility Joel Jeffrey has top 25 potential, as does Sydney Academy prospect Errol Gulden.

If you like the content that Draft Central provides and don’t want to miss any of it, then sign up to our subscriber list where you can be emailed out the latest AFL Draft Guide or sport-specific magazines, as well as the option to sign up to a monthly newsletter. Fill in the form below to subscribe and be notified!

2020 SANFL Round 3 Preview: Sides prepare to build momentum

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) is back again this weekend, with Round 3 kicking off and teams hoping to generate some momentum.

Central Districts vs South Adelaide

League: 

The Bulldogs and Panthers were both involved in tight finishes on Sunday, but ultimately failed to take home the two points. However, Central Districts recorded their first points of the new year after drawing with West Adelaide in the final match of round two. Moments before the Dogs and Bloods took to the field, South Adelaide mounted a remarkable comeback against the reigning premiers, Glenelg. Down by 45 points at three quarter time, the Panthers rallied to stem the margin to within a goal with two minutes left on the clock. The Bays held their nerve to survive an almighty scare, but South Adelaide would have drawn confidence from their ability to score heavily in quick succession. Central Districts also struggled early against West Adelaide. After trailing for all of the match, the Doggies piled on goal-after-goal in the last quarter and took the lead, only for the Bloods to square things up before the final siren sounded.

Central Districts’ reliable captain Luke Habel will again look to set his side up from half-back, after accumulating 23 disposals and five rebound-50s last weekend. Joseph Haines (22 disposals, seven marks and seven rebound-50s) played a similar role for South Adelaide, helping orchestrate much of South’s drive from defence, whilst also spending some time on the wing. He may be directed to pay close attention to Central’s Nicholas Lange after his strong performance. Last round, Panthers key defenders Jake Summerton and Ben Haren faced the daunting task of matching up against Glenelg’s dynamic duo Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds and fought admirably, restricting the gun pair to two goals each.

Veteran South Adelaide midfielder Joel Cross has started the season on fire, accumulating an equal league-leading 58 possessions in two matches. In the absence of captain Matt Rose, who will miss 12 weeks with a shoulder injury, Cross was typically prolific around the stoppages against West, finishing the outing with seven clearances. He could go head-to-head in the midfield with Bulldogs gun James Boyd, who has been excellent since returning to Elizabeth after a stint with Woodville-West Torrens. Jarrod Schiller managed just 14 touches against West, but his pressure around the contest and tackling were excellent. Meanwhile, Panthers midfielder Ben Heaslip got things moving for the blue and white, finishing with six inside 50s. He also used his strong 189cm frame to assert himself around the ball, laying seven tackles. Prized Panthers recruit Matthew Broadbent has made a strong first impression at Noarlunga. Despite having been deployed as an attacking-defender during his time at Port Adelaide, Broadbent has spent more time around the ball for South. Bulldogs ruckman Jonathan Marsh battled hard against dominant West Adelaide tall Andre Parrella and this week appears set to do-battle with 21-year-old Panthers ruckman Cameron McGree, who was soundly beaten by Tiger Jack Hannath in just his third game of league football.

The Panthers coaching staff will have been encouraged by the performances of their young small forwards so far. The talented Hayden Sampson continues to go from strength-to-strength, having booted three-straight in the Panthers loss. Fellow smalls Luke Bogle, Eamon Wilkinson and Liam Fitt each kicked two goals, as did full-forward Sam Overall. Although Beau McCreery was quiet against Glenelg, he was excellent on debut in round one. With luckless forward Daniel Menzel ruled out for the season with an ankle injury, Central Districts assistant coach John Butcher took it upon himself to lend a hand in attack. He booted three goals in the draw whilst potential draftee Corey Durdin and former-Blue and Crow Troy Menzel both nailed two. However wingman, Lange stole the show in just his second league match, booting four goals, laying six tackles and taking five marks. Instrumental in the Bulldogs comeback, Lange has emerged as one of the leagues best outside midfielders and poses a genuine offensive threat to South Adelaide’s on-ballers.

Needless to say, both sides will be hoping for fast starts in this encounter. The Panthers got through relatively unscathed in their round two encounter and could regain Malcolm Karpany for the battle at X Convenience Oval. For the Bulldogs, full-back Ryan Falkenberg will miss a month of football after sustaining a calf injury.

Reserves: 

The Bulldogs and Panthers reserves sides will lock-horns following the league match. The Bulldogs remain undefeated in the second-tier competition, after defeating West last weekend. Alternatively, South are still searching for their first scalp of the year after going down to Glenelg by 29-points. The Panthers will likely be without ruckman Damon Freitag, after he injured his ankle.

Under-18s: 

The Central Districts Under-18s will travel south to Flinders University Oval to clash with the Panthers late on Saturday morning. The Panthers midfield has been impressive so far, with rugged skipper Nick Kraemer impressing alongside ultra-talented bottom-agers Jason Horne and Matty Roberts. The brilliant duo, who starred for SA at last year’s Under-16 National Championships, are certainly two to look out for, having combined for a staggering 63 disposals, 22 marks, 18 tackles and 19 clearances in the loss to Glenelg. The Bulldogs can also lay claim to a promising bottom-aged midfielder in Austin McDonald. He has been the standout for the Bulldogs so far. The bottom-agers might steal the show in this one.

 

Glenelg vs North Adelaide

League: 

Only one team will remain undefeated after North Adelaide heads to the bay to face Glenelg on Saturday afternoon. Glenelg have prevailed by the skin of their teeth in their two matches, first defeating Norwood by three points before eclipsing the Panthers by five. The rejuvenated Roosters kicked off their campaign with a comprehensive win over West and backed it up with a narrow victory over the Redlegs. However the reigning premiers are without a doubt the team to beat and will be a tough challenge for Jacob Surjan‘s chargers, particularly away from home. The Roosters appear to be back to their free-flowing style of football which saw them win it all in 2018, but we’ll know for sure if they mean business if they can match it with the Tigers.

Tigers skipper Max Proud and Matt Merrett will likely be tasked with stopping threatening duo Mitch Harvey or Keenan Ramsey, with Chris Curran expected to provide his trademark rebound. New recruit Jackson Edwards has also performed well down back alongside teenager Luke Parks. For the Roosters, classy half-back Jarrad Almond and small defender Elliott Chalmers will play pivotal roles against their former side. Cameron Craig and Tanner Smith will attempt to nullify the influence of Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds. Young key defender Karl Finlay may also be called upon to provide support, whilst talented Roosters recruit Harrison Wigg will be looking to utilise his damaging left-foot to generate drive from the defensive 50.

The midfield battle is tantalising. After a slightly subdued start to the season, Magarey Medalist Luke Partington was back to his best on the weekend, nailing three goals and accumulating 35 disposals to go with six marks, nine clearances and six inside 50s. Matthew Snook has also been at his best in the trenches and currently sits equal-first in the league for disposals. Restricting their dominance at the stoppages will be the number one focus for Surjan and his coaching staff during the week. But after some handy off-season wheeling-and-dealing, the Roosters have a strong midfield of their own, led by vice-captain Andrew Moore and former-Hawk Billy Hartung. The pair have acclimatised well to SANFL football, with both proving their worth in the middle against the ‘Legs. But it has been inside midfielder Campbell Combe who has really impressed for North. Not only did he accumulate 29 touches against Norwood, but he also laid no-less-than 15 tackles. An old-school, in-and-under extractor, Combe and hard-nosed Glenelg midfielder Bradley Agnew are two of the league’s most ferocious tacklers and will be expected to fight hard for their sides in the middle. Despite being drafted by West Coast as a key position player, Matt Allen has proven himself in the guts for the Tigers and popped up to hit the scoreboard last week. Allen and fellow-recruit Billy Stretch have further added to a Tigers midfield which was already brimming with talent. Club captain Alex Spina, recruit Cameron Hewett and vice-skipper Tom Schwarz, who will play his 100th SANFL game, have also been strong across the midfield for the red and white. Glenelg’s Jack Hannath will have his sights set on continuing his strong early season form against North’s James Craig.

The Roosters and Tigers forward-lines feature some of the games most exciting talent. Glenelg’s attack in largely centred around tall timber Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds, who finished first and second in the league for goals last season. North Adelaide’s mosquito fleet, comprised of skilful young gun Frank Szekely, former-Blue Kym LeBois and speedster Robbie Young, have the potential to carve-up even the dourest of defences. Glenelg’s Cory Gregson, Marlon Motlop and Darcy Bailey are well-known threats forward-of-centre and will be a handful for the Roosters small defenders. Keenan Ramsey and Mitch Harvey have provided excellent service for North Adelaide over several years, with the latter converting two important set shots in last Saturday’s win. Lewis Hender will also be eyeing off another bag in his return to Glenelg, where he spent much of his junior career.

The two sides will by eagerly awaited the fitness tests of Alex Barns (North Adelaide) and Carl Nicholson (Glenelg) after they both suffered from concussion in last weekends respective triumphs. North may also regain Ben Jarman from an ankle injury. All eyes will be fixed on ACH Group Stadium on Saturday arvo for what appears set to be a cracking contest.

Reserves: 

The reserves will take to the field a couple of hours before the league sides do battle. Glenelg is yet to loose a match at league, reserves or Under-18s level so far in season 2020, but North Adelaide’s seconds will be full of confidence after beating a talented Norwood line-up by 15-points in hostile territory last Sunday. Keep an eye on promising draft hopeful Cooper Horsnell for Glenelg and North’s Harrison Magor.

Under-18s:

With draft prospect Kaine Baldwin set to miss a second-consecutive season after succumbing to another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, key forward Riley Holder stepped up, booting four goals in the win over South Adelaide. Prolific Sacred Heart College duo Lewis Rayson and Xavier Robins have made strong starts to the year in the yellow and black. Luke Edwards looks set to front-up for the Under-18s once again, however he could push for reserves selection off the back of a series of promising showings. North Adelaide’s Under-18s were beaten by a strong Norwood outfit in round two, despite the best efforts of skipper Jamison Murphy and midfielder Kallis Freer. Able to turn a game on its head, eye-catching forward Tariek Newchurch will certainly keep the Bays defenders on their toes.

 

Woodville-West Torrens vs Norwood

League: 

After loosing close encounters to Glenelg and North Adelaide, the Redlegs will be eyeing off their first win of the season when they head to Maughan Thiem Kia Oval on Sunday afternoon to face Woodville-West Torrens. The Eagles league-leading percentage helped them rise to third spot on the ladder following a comprehensive dismantling of the Double Blues last weekend.

Zac Richards was arguably Norwood’s best afield in the loss to the Roosters, gathering 29 disposals, ten marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound-50s in his role across half-back and through the midfield. He also kicked a goal to continue his strong start to the season. Cameron Shenton was also named in the sides best players after generating plenty of drive from defence and accumulating seven rebound-50s. Brad McKenzie was similarly effective coming out of defence, providing his side with nine rebounds. Key defender Cameron Ball will likely match up against one of the Hayes brothers and could receive some help by the potential inclusion of Michael Talia. Down back for the Eagles, the key defensive pairing of Jake Von Bertouch and Luke Thompson will be tasked with stopping Norwood taels Tom Pinyon and big-man Luke Surman. The experienced Patrick Giuffreda will be relied upon to blanket one of the Redlegs’ damaging small forwards, with recruit Pierce Seymour expected to provide plenty of bounce from the backline.

The midfield battle is likely the greatest strength of this Norwood side, with the likes of Mitch Grigg, Matthew Panos and Matty Nunn consistently ranked amongst the leagues best players. Along with new recruits Richard Douglas and Ryan Bastinac, Norwood has certainly benefitted from the scoreboard impact of their midfielders over the past few years. It certainly helps when are provided silver-service by dominant ruckman Sam Baulderstone. The experienced bigman was terrific around the ground against North, gathering 19 disposals, a goal, five marks and 34 hitouts. However his six clearances were perhaps most impressive. However Eagles ruckman Jarrad Redden and pinch-hitter Jack Hayes have been in some excellent form themselves, combining for 32 disposals, 49 hitouts and ten clearances between them against Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks last round. Eagles midfielders Jimmy Toumpas and Matthew Goldsworthy have hit some good form early on, with the former gathering 27 disposals, five tackles and five clearances against Sturt, whilst the latter nailed two goals from his 23 touches and eight inside-50s. The Eagles will need wingman Jake Comitogianni, mainstay Angus Poole, bash-and-crash inside midfielder Jesse Lonergan and reigning best and fairest Jordan Foote to be on their game if they are to match it with the talented Norwood on-ball unit.

Small forwards James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens) and Peter Bampton (Norwood) have both proven to be key components of their respective sides forward lines. Both genuine goal kickers, Rowe has started the season well, kicking six goals in two games, whilst Bampton has booted two. Nick Hayes and Jack Hayes have long been the focal point of the Eagles attack and will again prove a difficult match-up for Norwood’s key defenders, particularly in the air. Both are capable of hauling in big grabs and got plenty of time with ball in hand last week, combining for 31 possessions. Youngster Lachlan McNeil also got himself involved in his supporting role up forward, however he will wish he had converted his two behinds into majors. The Eagles simply must restrict the scoreboard impact of the Norwood midfielders, given their potency in-front of goal. Usually a defender, Von Bertouch booted three goals for the Eagles when moved from defence to the forward-line and adds to the threat posed by Woodville-West Torrens’ forward-line.

Norwood will be hopeful young gun Cole Gerloff and half-backman Nick Pedro can overcome their ankle injuries, whilst the Eagles’ Joseph Sinor and Angus Poole will face fitness tests after sustaining concussion and nose injuries in the win over Sturt.

Reserves: 

The two clubs reserves sides will play in the curtain raiser before the league sides do battle, in a re-match of the 2019 reserves Grand Final. The Eagles will certainly be seeking revenge for their loss in last years final day and again appear one of the teams to beat in the second-tier of SANFL football, having recorded wins over South Adelaide and Sturt to kick-off the new season. Meanwhile, Norwood’s title defence has started slowly, recording losses to the Tigers and Roosters in recent weeks.

Under-18s: 

The Redlegs Under-18s looked impressive in their win over North Adelaide on the weekend. Bottom-ager Cooper Murley was terrific in the midfield and up-forward and already appears one of the standouts of the under-18s competition. Prolific defenders Michael Cavallaro and Matthew Dnistriansky were everywhere in the opening fortnight of action, generating much of Norwood’s rebound from defence. For the Eagles, who remain winless, look out for SA Academy Hub member and potential Power father-son selection Taj Schofield.

 

Sturt vs West Adelaide

League: 

The Double Blues kicked just one goal in the second half last week and coach Nathan Grima will be demanding a response on home soil against West Adelaide. The Bloods, on the other hand, were left to rue some inaccurate kicking in-front of goal in the dramatic draw to Central Districts. However there were some encouraging signs shown by several of West’s youngsters.

The aerial work of key defender Sam Wundke was one of few bright-spots in Sturt’s 51-point loss at the hands of Woodville-West Torrens. He took three strong contested marks (five marks in total) and provided excellent rebound from the backline, finishing with eleven rebound 50s to go with 22 disposals. Young defender Malachi Lines didn’t get a lot of the ball (eight disposals) but showed some promise on debut. Veteran small defender Aaron Anderson was the standout down back for the Bloods, accumulating 26 disposals and three rebounds from defence. Elliott Dunkin also continues to show why he received some attention from AFL ranks towards the end of the 2019 season. His rebound from defence, athleticism and shut-down ability may worry the Double Blues forwards. Logan Hill was also good in the draw, whilst full-back Josh Ryan could be tasked with clamping down on Sturt forward Jake Sutcliffe.

Casey Voss was arguably Sturt’s best player on the weekend. Starting on-ball, the son of Brisbane great Michael, proved he belongs at the level in just his third league match. He racked up 24 touches and kicked a goal but it was the 19-year-old’s work around the stoppages which really stood-out, amassing seven clearances. Whilst much of the Bloods attention may be directed towards established on-ballers James Battersby, Mark EvansSam Colqhoun and Zane Kirkwood, they must be wary of newcomer Voss’ abilities around the contest. Voss’ on-ball partnership with fellow 19-year-old Jed McEntee would have impressed Grima. McEntee, a member of SA’s 2019 National Championship side, laid a game-high ten tackles to demonstrate his toughness and excellent defensive pressure. However West’s Kaine Stevens won’t be afraid to teach the fresh faces a few lessons around the ball. His 12 clearances, 26 disposals and five tackles proved invaluable in the Bloods engine room against Centrals. Josh Schiller has had a tough-run with injuries lately, but the inside midfielder’s toughness and contested-ball winning will be vital against Sturt’s talented on-ball unit. Former-Crows top-up player Jordon Boyle has been terrific in his new colours, collecting 55 disposals at 82 per cent efficiency in the opening two games on the wing for the Bloods. Dallas Willsmore‘s link-up ability has also been a feature of the Bloods game-style. The ruck battle between West Adelaide’s Andre Parrella and Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks is intriguing and could prove telling, given they sit first and second in the league for hit-outs, respectively. The athletic Fahey-Sparks has impressed so far in 2020. His tap-work has been strong (accumulated 33 hit-outs against Woodville-West Torrens’ Redden and Hayes last week) and his ability around the ground will get the better of many SANFL ruckman. However the 22-year-old Parrella will prove to be his toughest test yet. The big-man has had a monster start to the season, recording a whopping 92 hit-outs in two matches.

Up-forward, its hard to look past West Adelaide’s ultra-talented draft prospect Riley Thilthorpe. He kicked 1.2 against Central Districts and showed a willingness to get involved around the ground when helping out in the ruck, accumulating ten disposals, 15 hit-outs, five tackles and five marks (two contested). Thilthorpe and skipper Tom Keough, who booted three goals on the weekend, will prove a handful for a Sturt backline without premiership-duo Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans, who both retired in the off-season. Lydon Hupfield has started the year well as a small forward, providing the line-up with energy and goal-sense. Sturt has yet to see the best of boom-recruit Abe Davis, who has failed to fire so far in season 2020. However his strong frame will always ensure he is a danger in attack, along with smalls Josh Hone and Byron Sumner. Athletic tall forward Ash Johnson was electric on debut, taking four contested marks and booting three goals, however he was kept to just one kick against Woodville-West Torrens. However he still managed to break into the highlight real when he almost took an instant mark of the year contender. His liveliness up forward is infectious and presents as another threatening Sturt forward.

The Bloods didn’t pick up an injury during the clash with the Bulldogs, but young forward Josh Koster is still at least a fortnight away from returning from a hamstring complaint. Tom Harms will likely miss another game with a calf injury, but pocket rocket on-baller Tom Lewis could be included for his league debut after making the extended bench last weekend.

Reserves:

Sturt and Westies will play each other at Peter Motley Oval in a curtain-raiser to the league match. Sturt are still searching for their first win of the season whilst West will be looking to return to winning ways after being defeated by a strong Central Districts seconds by 35-points last weekend.

Under-18s: 

A couple of South Australia’s most talented junior midfielders will face-off when Sturt’s under-18s meet West Adelaide at Hisense Stadium. Sturt’s Tom Powell and Mani Liddy have been utterly dominant across the opening two rounds for the Double Blues. Both prolific but quite different in their playing styles, the duo will go head-to-head in an exciting battle against West Adelaide’s Bailey Chamberlain and Lachlan De Cesare. Also watch-out for Sturt forward Morgan Ferres, who bagged six goals against the Eagles. The Double Blues will go in as favourites and have emerged as front-runners of the Under-18s competition, alongside Glenelg.

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not on any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

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

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot here. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#5 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Grainger-Barras rounds out the top five; another tall, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has been squeezed out to number six at this point, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

>> Q&A

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

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

#9 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Rounding out the top 10 is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

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

#11 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Fremantle Academy.

>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

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

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess. He should make the step-up for Oakleigh once again having impressed late last year, while also cracking the Vic Metro line-up.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

2020 SANFL season preview: Can the Bays go back-to-back?

LAST year saw a drought-breaking year in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) with Glenelg taking home its first League premiership since 1986. The Tigers were able to bounce back from a loss earlier in the finals series to take out Port Adelaide in the grand final last year. The result also meant seven of the eight non-AFL affiliated clubs have won SANFL titles this turn of the century with only South Adelaide (1964) holding a drought longer than a decade from those sides. We take a look at the eight sides in contention for the 2020 SANFL premiership in order of ladder position last year (minus Adelaide and Port Adelaide).

GLENELG

Finished: Premiers
Wins: 13
Draws: 2
Losses: 3
Best & Fairest: Jesse White
Leading Goalkicker: Liam McBean & Luke Reynolds (53)

The reigning premiers return to the competition as deserving favourites in the new year, as the likes of Margarey Medallist Luke Partington and reigning leading goalkickers, Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds back in the yellow and black.

Over the off-season, the Bays have been able to bring in some young talent including former Crow Jackson Edwards who returns to South Australia, ex-Sydney Academy talent Luke Parks, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels forward, Mitch Martin. Unfortunately young star Kaine Baldwin will miss the season through another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. However, the Tigers have every reason to be buoyant about the season ahead.

After all, their list of ex-AFL talent is quite impressive, with names such as Cory Gregson and Billy Stretch alongside Luke Edwards. Expect the Tigers to be the team to beat in 2020.

STURT

Finished: 4th
Wins: 11
Draws: 0
Losses: 7
Best & Fairest: Sam Colquhoun
Leading Goalkicker: Josh Hone (35)

The Double Blues will be confident of a rise up the ladder in 2020 with a couple of handy pickups including talented high-flyer Jordan Houlahan who returns from the AFL, as well as another ex-Cat and Crow, Dean Gore.

Tom Lewis will provide some extra youth and inside hardness alongside the likes of outside movers, Josh Shute and Mihail Lochowiak who have been impressive in past years. Sam Colquhoun has been a star of the competition of late, and with last year’s leading goalkicker Josh Hone also coming back for 2020, Sturt will be competitive once again.

They have a lost a fair chunk of talent over the off-season including ex-AFL talent Danyle Pearce who opted to retire alongside four others including Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans. The Double Blues will likely need to time to adjust in the season.

NORWOOD

Finished: 5th
Wins: 11
Draws: 7
Losses: 0
Best & Fairest: Brad McKenzie
Leading Goalkicker: Peter Bampton (31)

The experience of the Redlegs after a grand final appearance the year before did not end up helping them get past the first week of finals in 2019. They have some serious big names on their list from best and fairest winner Brad McKenzie, to the likes of form AFL-listed talents Dom Barry, Lewis Johnston and Mitch Grigg.

A 2020 recruit in Daniel Johnston will help add some extra height to the side, and provide some firepower alongside the likes of Matthew Panos and Peter Bampton up forward. The biggest inclusion is former Crow, Richard Douglas, who should immediately be in the top five players across the league, whilst another ex-AFL talent in Ryan Bastinac announced yesterday that he would be joining the Redlegs after initially pulling out of the league due to commitments.

If the inclusions are anything to go by, Norwood will be the biggest threat to Glenelg’s crown and could well go all the way if their players remain fit throughout the season.

SOUTH ADELAIDE

Finished: 6th
Wins: 9
Draws: 2
Losses: 7
Best & Fairest: Joel Cross
Leading Goalkicker: Joel Cross (26)

All eyes will be on the Panthers in season 2020 as they try and crack into the top four on the back of some savvy recruiting. Former AFL talent, Matthew Broadbent will help South Adelaide to try and mount a case to rise up the ladder.

Along with the experienced duo, Canberra’s Tom Highmore and Sydney Swans Academy’s Ky McGrath were both vying for draft selection last year, and will be among those looking to take over from a number of Double Blues stars who have left the club. With Brad Crabb and Nick Liddle both exiting, Mark Noble joining his brother in Victoria and Emmanuel Ira also on the out, the main role of the recruits will be to support Joel Cross with some extra depth through the team.

Cross won both the leading goalkicker and best and fairest award last season, and with a young side that has a number of South Australians coming through the state team, the Panthers would be keen to bring through their next crop of players.

WWT EAGLES

Finished: 7th
Wins: 8
Draws: 0
Losses: 10
Best & Fairest: Jordan Foote
Leading Goalkicker: James Rowe (35)

The Under 18s premiers have now lost their array of young talent to the AFL, with the likes of Kysaiah Pickett, Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg among those who landed on AFL lists last year. They have brought in Kai Pudney and Mitch Mead from Port Adelaide’s SANFL side, whilst the big recruit might be Liam Buxton from Casey Demons.

It will be an interesting season for the Eagles who have some genuine elite talents through the side, including best and fairest winner Jordan Foote – an ex-AFL talent himself – and small forward James Rowe who made the transition to senior footy seamlessly.

They should be among the mid-table log-jam of teams to battle for a top four place, and with the senior experience still on the list after a seventh placed finish last year, they could well get it done whilst other teams are still trying to gel.

CENTRAL DISTRICT

Finished: 8th
Wins: 5
Draws: 0
Losses: 13
Best & Fairest: Jarrod Schiller
Leading Goalkicker: Troy Menzel (33)

One of the potential bigger improvers in season 2020, Central District has acquired the services of a second Menzel brother with Dan joining Troy at the Bulldogs. Troy was huge last season winning the leading goalkicker award and now the double trouble of the goalsneaks will make life difficult for the opposition. The big question mark will be losing the Neagle trio in Jydon, Jaxon and Matthew back to Wodonga.

Through the midfield, the other brother combination in Jarrod and Travis Schiller will be tough to combat again, whilst former Tiger, Ben Nason has crossed from Woodville-West Torrens. The Bulldogs have also brought in some big ball winners from Victoria, with Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild and Dandenong Stingrays’ Jack Toner joining the club along with former Stingrays’ goalsneak Jai Nanscawen for the 2020 season.

Given the talent on the list and two less sides, it would be a near-certainty that the Bulldogs reach the finals.

NORTH ADELAIDE

Finished: 9th
Wins: 4
Draws: 1
Losses: 13
Best & Fairest: Aidan Tropiano
Leading Goalkicker: Lewis Hinder (28)

The ninth placed Roosters have added some extra firepower in 2020 with the recruitment of former Adelaide and Gold Coast ball-winner Harrison Wigg and ex-Hawk and Roo, Billy Hartung. Along with another ex-AFL player in Andrew Moore, and hopefully a full season out of former Port Adelaide goalsneak Jake Neade, and the Roosters will look to rise up the ladder again.

Last year’s reigning premiers were always going to have a tough season after starting on negative points due to the 19th man saga, and losing a number of players to AFL level. They have gained one back in Robbie Young returning to the club. Unlucky overagers not to be drafted last year, Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder are back again and provide some height in the defensive end.

The recruits will need to take over from Aidan Tropiano who has headed west this season. The Roosters will rise up and expect them to contend for finals again.

WEST ADELAIDE

Finished: 10th
Wins: 2
Draws: 0
Losses: 16
Best & Fairest: Logan Hill
Leading Goalkicker: Jono Beech (21)

The only way is up for the Bloods and with a number of solid recruits alongside the potential number one AFL Draft pick, West Adelaide has what it takes to get off the bottom of the ladder. Riley Thilthorpe will be a much talked about name this year and the talented tall will get plenty of time in the League side in 2020.

The Bloods have also recruited a couple of over-agers and former Sydney Swans Academy members Hamish Ellem and Kyle Martin to provide some strength in attack. With Bailey Chamberlain another talented top-age teenager in the line-up, it will take some of the pressure off the likes of 2019 best and fairest winner, Logan Hill, as well as ex-Hawk Dallas Willsmore.

No doubt it will still be a tough year for the senior side with so many huge recruits to a number of other sides, but the youth in the team will give the Bloods great depth and help out across the board. They will need to overcome the losses of Jono Beech and Chris Schmidt this season who were both huge contributors to the team.

Draft Central predictions:

Premiers: Norwood
Runners-Up: Glenelg
Big Improver: North Adelaide

2020 SANFL club preview: Glenelg

GLENELG took the SANFL by storm in 2019, winning the clubs first league premiership in 33-years. The Tigers recruited well in the off-season, luring several former-players back to the club to bolster an already-talented lineup. Under coach Mark Stone, Glenelg appear well positioned to defender their crown in season 2020.

>>> CHECK OUT OUR GLENELG TEAM PAGE

>>> SANFL WOMEN’S GLENELG TEAM UPDATE

LEAGUE/RESERVES:

Glenelg certainly did not rest on its laurels in the off-season, bringing in a number of handy additions with AFL experience. Premiership captain Chris Curran departed the club, with fellow defender Max Proud set to fulfil the leadership responsibilities. Former Magpie and Swan Jesse White announced his retirement, teenager Will Gould headed north after being drafted by Sydney and Brad Close was picked up by Geelong. Josh Scott and Aaron Joseph also departed the club. Former Crow Jackson Edwards returned from Werribee to add more talent to a strong midfield core. Billy Stretch and Curtis McCarthy returned from Victoria and Matt Allen from West Coast. The ruck stocks also received a welcome boost with the signing of former Docker Jack Hannath. The Tigers also recruited youngsters Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels), Angus Cole (Bendigo Pioneers) and Luke Parks (Sydney Swans Academy).

Reigning Margarey Medalist Luke Partington is the headline act of the yellow and black on-ball brigade. Partington was simply brilliant last season, averaging 29 disposals (82 per cent efficiency), 4.4 marks, 5.5 tackles and 4.9 clearances. Matthew Snook, Brad Agnew and Jonty Scharenberg were all integral to the the Bays premiership success, with the former taking out the Jack Oatey Medal as best on ground in the grand final. Agnew laid 34 tackles in the Bays three finals and has emerged as a midfield aggressor. The inside grunt will be balanced out by the silky skills and class of Marlon Motlop. Recruits Stretch and Edwards are expected to further compliment the Bays outside presence. Up forward, dangerous duo Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds combined for 91 goals last season. McBean took out the Ken Farmer Medal by one goal, over medium-tall Reynolds. The energy and defensive pressure of Cory Gregson will again prove invaluable to the Tigers forward-line. Elsewhere, Former Docker Matthew Uebergang and Max Proud form a strong key defensive partnership, whilst Andrew Bradley has proven his worth in a number of roles over the years.

Glenelg’s reserves finished the regular season in fifth spot, earning them a finals berth. However they were easily accounted for by Central District in the first elimination. With a host of talented youngsters waiting in the wings, Glenelg will be hoping to make it deeper into the finals in 2020.

UNDER-18S:

Potential Crows father-son Luke Edwards, talented tall forward Kaine Baldwin and skilful utility Cooper Horsnell headline the Bays under-18 prospects for the upcoming season. Edwards featured prominently during last year’s National Championships, displaying plenty of football smarts and poise off the half-back line for South Australia. Strongly-built key forward Baldwin played just one match last season before rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). A genuine leader, scouts will certainly not have forgotten Baldwin’s terrific aerial prowess, strength and scoreboard impact. Horsnell has impressed onlookers with his courage and precise foot skills. All three are likely to be drafted and could make a push for senior debuts in 2020.

>>> GET TO KNOW GLENELG UNDER 18S

>>> LUKE EDWARDS AFL DRAFT WATCH

>>> KAINE BALDWIN AFL DRAFT WATCH

>>> MARQUEE MATCHUPS: CONNOR DOWNIE VS. LUKE EDWARDS

>>> MARQUEE MATCHUPS: KAINE BALDWIN VS. DENVER GRAINGER-BARRAS

Marquee Matchup: Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras

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

The next pair under the microscope hail from South and Western Australia respectively, with Glenelg’s Kaine Baldwin and Swan Districts’ Denver Grainger-Barras pitted against one another. Entering the key position department, Baldwin is an strong key forward who is near-unstoppable in the air and covers the ground well, while Grainger-Barras is a versatile defender who can play the lockdown role just as easily as an intercepting or third-up type. Unfortunately, both suffered injuries across their bottom-age year, with Baldwin ruled out after his first outing for 2019 with an ACL injury, and Grainger-Barras requiring shoulder surgery in the back half of the year.

Having both contributed to the spine of the 2018 Under 16 All Australian squad, this looms as a classic key forward versus key defender matchup which will likely take place at some point should the two run out for their respective states in the 2020 Under 18 National Championships. Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: May 30, 2002

Height: 193cm
Weight: 92kg

Position: Key forward

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002

Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Baldwin – 62cm
Grainger-Barras
– 63cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Baldwin – 77cm/71cm
Grainger-Barras
– 78cm/74cm

SPEED (20m)

Baldwin – 3.18 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 3.08 seconds

AGILITY

Baldwin – 8.54 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 8.19 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Baldwin – 20.8
Grainger-Barras
– 20.8

For players who are regarded as key position prospects at the junior level, they are both quite impressive athletically. Keeping in mind that Baldwin’s testing results came at the end of a year-long rehabilitation for his knee injury, he stacks up quite nicely. The aggressive forward returned a very respectable 20.8 yo-yo test score – identical to Grainger-Barras’ effort – which will only get better as he continues to rebuild and improve his tank.

Both athletes’ aerial prowess is reflected in their very even vertical jump scores, able to breach the 70cm mark off both feet off a rolling start, and 60cm standing. Grainger-Barras fared slightly better across the speed and agility tests, posting terrific times for a player of true key position height. Again, considering Baldwin is coming off a long-term knee injury, his agility time of 8.54 seconds is impressive, and the underwhelming 3.18-second 20-metre sprint can be excused as he usually covers the ground well over time and has decent pace off the lead.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

STATISTICS

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL UNDER 16s: 5 games | 21 disposals | 9.6 marks | 1.6 tackles | 4.4 inside 50s | 2.8 goals (14)

Grainger-Barras:

2019 WAFL COLTS: 7 games | 10.1 disposals | 3.7 marks | 2.1 tackles
2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 games | 12 disposals | 7 marks | 2 tackles | 2.5 rebound 50s

It is obviously difficult to compare statistics here given they have been extracted from different years and age levels, with Baldwin’s only game for 2019 cut short and at the SANFL Reserves level. Looking back at his SANFL Under 16 stats, and it is clear that Baldwin is a true centre-half forward, rather than that typically one-dimensional full forward. His ability to move up the ground and impact the play aerially is reflected in his averages of 21 disposals and 9.6 marks, while still maintaining a very good goal average of nearly three per game.

Grainger-Barras is just as capable in the air, but thrives more significantly in the sense that he can play his role so consistently well. He is a true defender’s defender, able to stop the opposition’s best key forward while breaking up the play with his reading of the ball in flight and marking skills. He may not see much of the ball, but typically uses it soundly and can get some rebound going on the back of his efficiency.

BEST GAME

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL Under 16s Rd 7 vs. Central District

29 disposals
11 marks (four contested)
2 tackles
6 inside 50s
4 goals

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

13 disposals
8 marks
1 tackle
1 rebound 50

The contrast may seem stark in terms of pure numbers, but these two performances stack up fairly evenly when put into context. Baldwin’s best game was selected from his 2018 Under 16 campaign, in a massive win where he managed season-highs in disposals (29) and goals (four). He may not have showcased his contested marking as well as in other games but still managed four, and really conveyed his mobility as he impacted up the field. His versatility as a key position player also shone through, able to pinch hit in the ruck at the junior level.

Grainger-Barras may have returned bigger numbers across his WAFL Colts campaign and sole League outing, but this quality performance against good opposition at the Under 18 national carnival was simply too good to overlook. Against elite-level talent above his age grade, the 195cm defender played a terrific role floating across the back half, while also keeping tabs on the likes of Elijah Hollands. His marking game and reading of the play were exceptional, and it was a performance which only solidified his status as one to watch for this year.

STRENGTHS

Baldwin:

Contested marking
Aggression
Strength
Impact
Ground coverage

Grainger-Barras:

Reading the play
Intercept marking
Athleticism
Defensive versatility
Composure

Both players, putting it simply possess the key strength of marking well, but do so in different ways. While Baldwin is able to crash packs and use his strong hands to clunk marks under heavy duress, Grainger-Barras is slightly taller and uses his athleticism to get to an array of contests, moving efficiently to intercept in the air. The reading of the play and intercept marking aspects go hand-in-hand, and also add to his defensive versatility. As already mentioned, the West Australian can play the lockdown defensive role well, but has great composure on the ball and can deliver it well out of danger, with his ability to play as a second or third tall in defence another string to his bow.

Baldwin’s aggression and strength contribute to that key asset of contested marking, with few keen to step in the hole and get in the way of his 91kg frame. His ability to pull of eye-catching moments and have a say further afield play into his high-impact style, with goals a bonus to the overall package he delivers. Of course, ground coverage is something that comes with his ability to venture out as a centre-half forward, and will only improve as he builds that endurance after a long lay-off.

IMPROVEMENTS

Baldwin:

Durability
Unknown versatility

Grainger-Barras:

Endurance
Offensive output

It is perhaps harsh to put durability and endurance as improvements to be made for either player, especially given the parameters surrounding Baldwin. But being able to prove his durability will be key, although recruiters have shown faith in many prospects who suffered long-term injuries during key years of their development. The question of versatility comes from Baldwin’s height, just below true key position size for AFL standards. Given he is working on perhaps even moving into the midfield, gametime will be key to proving his potential in that area.

Grainger-Barras’ offensive output could help him become an even more versatile defensive outlet, with his ball use already at an outstanding level. If he can be let off the chain and showcase those traits more by winning more of the ball across the backline, he could be such a weapon coming out of defence. It seems as if we are clutching at straws and that is often the case with high-end prospects, but there is always room for improvement.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Baldwin:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Michael Alvaro

Baldwin was another who had a greater impact than what his stat-line would suggest. His contested marking overhead was outstanding; both deeper forward in the first half, and higher up the ground as the game wore on. Baldwin found his way into the game in the second term when he booted his lone goal and missed the chance to add another within a minute. He continued on with an assist to Zac Dumesny in the third term before clunking a couple more contested marks to finish the day with seven overall from 15 disposals.

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Peter Williams

Another bottom-age tall who will hold the West Australian side in good stead for next year, he has some neat defensive and offensive attributes. He killed a contest at half-back with a great spoil across the line, and proceeded to be an intercepting defender throughout the game, saving a number of dangerous forward entries by dropping into the hole. Most importantly, he remained composed under pressure and looks like a promising prospect.

Squad predictions: 2020 South Australia Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro and Vic Country predictions, and today we take a look at South Australia’s (SA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

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

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

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the third squad prediction, with SA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged

DEFENCE

FB – Lachlan Jones, James Borlase, Isaiah Dudley*
HB – Will Schreiber, Jye Sinderberry, Zac Dumesny

Height looms as somewhat of an issue in our proposed defence, with versatile utility James Borlase the tallest of the lot at 189cm, joined in a key position post by the 188cm Jye Sinderberry. But that is not to say the chosen six lack in marking power or strength, with South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny a capable interceptor, while Lachlan Jones adds a good amount of grunt with his 184cm/88kg frame.

Glenelg’s Will Schreiber adds to the back six’s solidity, while diminutive bottom-ager Isaiah Dudley can fill a pocket at either end on account of his ground level pressure. Should the SA coaches look toward a more conventional key position structure, Riley Thilthorpe is a tall option who can play just about anywhere, but will more likely be used as a ruck/forward. Luke Edwards is another half-back option having played there during last year’s Under 18s carnival.

MIDFIELD

C – Bailey Chamberlain, Luke Edwards, Tom Powell
FOL – Riley Thilthorpe, Jamison Murphy, Taj Schofield

The Croweaters lay claim to one of the stronger and more diverse midfield groups, and we are excited about how this one stacks up. It was tough to whittle down the options, but the balance of this six looks about right.

On the outside, Bailey Chamberlain and Tom Powell provide some real dash and athleticism, and will also be able to rotate through the centre bounces with their speed/agility combination. There may be a slight query on Powell’s endurance coming off spates of long-term injuries, but he was impressive during preseason testing.

Forming the centre bounce core is arguably a group of four midfielders, with Thilthorpe a dynamic ruck option who fares just as well at ground level. While he may feature as a key forward or utility at times as he improves his ruck craft, the range of other options in that department means he can be utilised around the ground.

A couple of potential father-sons make their move into the middle, with Edwards a big-bodied inside type who compliments the smooth moving Taj Schofield very well. Edwards, who is also a very capable defender is a must in the midfield given Jamison Murphy and the remaining candidates stand no taller than 180cm. Murphy’s hard-at-it style means he should have no troubles on the inside though, and provides a great story as a former Australian Under-17 cricket captain.

FORWARD

HF – Tariek Newchurch, Kaine Baldwin, Jason Horne*
FF – Corey Durdin, Henry Smith, Lachlan Grubb

There are a couple of players who are simply essential choices in the final team; with Under 16 Division 1 MVP Corey Durdin slotting into a pocket, and returning key forward Kaine Baldwin a lock across half-forward. It was tempting to slot Thilthorpe in at centre-half forward, but Baldwin is just as capable there at 193cm and 91kg.

172cm pocket-rocket, Durdin is a terrific midfielder at Under 18s level, but is sure to find a home as a small forward at the next level – as justified by his form in said position for Central Districts’ League side. Baldwin has not played any footy for over a year due to an ACL tear, but is a contested marking phenom who can also roam further afield.

He will likely be joined up the spine by Henry Smith, a raw tall option who marks the ball at its highest point at over 200cm. At his feet and alongside Durdin in our side is Lachlan Grubb, another who has entered the senior realm for Centrals’ Reserves side. He is an impressive athlete, much like silky Adelaide NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch. Last year’s State Under 16s captain and MVP Jason Horne rounds out the six, a player already accustomed to playing above his age group and one who may also feature through midfield.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Caleb Poulter, Mani Liddy, Nicholas Kraemer, Ned Carey

This was a very difficult bench to select with a bunch of line-calls, as will become obvious with the depth listed below. Ned Carey features as the lone key position option, able to fulfil a ruck-oriented role alongside the likes of Thilthorpe and Smith while resting forward.

Caleb Poulter is a dynamic option who could well have made it onto the half-forward flank, much like how Nicholas Kraemer could enter the midfield fray and Mani Liddy could be utilised on either of the said lines. Kraemer is one who can add some strength through the engine room, while Liddy could feature there too having previously been pushed out to the flanks.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

A pair of smalls who will likely rotate through the squad include Henry Nelligan and Cooper Horsnell. Nelligan is a midfielder who is never far away from the action, able to find the ball with ease at 170cm. Horsnell is the more forward-inclined of the two, able to find the goals while adding the string of wing play to his bow.

Another 200cm key position option, Zac Phillips is from the Woodville-West Torrens program and could get a look-in as ruck or key forward depth. An impressive utility who may also come into consideration is Riley Holder, who posted very impressive numbers for Glenelg in a range of roles at 190cm.

Aside from the Academy-listed top-agers mentioned above, Glenelg quartet Kye DeanLuke Pedlar, Jordan Moore, and Reid Kuller are names who have floated around the system, while Bulldogs pair Samuel Falland and Lewis Cowham may also be thereabouts, along with Norwood tall Sam Duke and West Adelaide’s Harvey Bock. There are of course, many others who will come under consideration, but the Academy group is quite strong and difficult to look past.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

The top-agers for 2020 set the benchmark with a national carnival win in their Under 16s year, and while last year’s 16s crop could not achieve the same feat, there are certainly some bright talents who will feature in the future.

Cooper Murley and Matthew Roberts were equally difficult omissions from the starting squad given our stipulation of three bottom-agers, maximum, and a decent midfield core. An Under-16 All-Australian last year alongside Horne and Dudley, Murley is a highly talented small midfielder who can also move forward, while Roberts has similar versatility as a 182cm midfielder.

Arlo Draper and Lewis Rayson are another two bottom-aged prospects among the Academy ranks, and could both make a case for breaking into the side. Athletic tall forward Morgan Ferres could come into consideration among the key position ranks, though the stocks are already quite full in that department.

Harry Tunkin is a Prince Alfred College and Glenelg product who impressed at Under 16 level, while Port Adelaide father-son hopeful Jase Burgoyne is also coming through the ranks and could feature at some point before his top-age year.

>> SANFL U18 CLUB PAGES:

Central District // Preseason interviews
Glenelg // Preseason interviews
North Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Norwood // Preseason interviews
South Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Sturt // Preseason interviews
West Adelaide // Preseason interviews
WWT Eagles // Preseason interviews

>> SANFL U18 PLAYER FEATURES:

AFL Draft Watch:

Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:

Durdin vs. Campbell