Tag: kysaiah pickett

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

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

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

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

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

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

2014:

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

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

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

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

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

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

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

A look ahead: The 21 top prospects for 2021

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

21 in 2021

The top contender:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the mix:

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

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

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

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

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 17: Green stars, Rivers comes up clutch as Demons stay alive

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend spilled back into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 16 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS)
STATS: 30 disposals (22 handballs), 2 marks, 3 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist

It is hard to believe that Green has only managed five AFL outings in his debut season, but he again made the most of some movement among the GWS midfield. Last year’s number 10 pick racked up a game-high 30 disposals, dominating at the coalface with 21 contested possessions and four clearances. His extraction work in-close was on point, and Green looks as comfortable as any first year inside midfielder in recent memory. His 191cm/89kg frame aids that, but the GIANTS Academy graduate proved he is more than just a brute with his game on the weekend.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
20 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 481 metres gained, 2 score involvements

Another high-end draft pick, Anderson continues to thrive despite somewhat of a taper in Gold Coast’s form late in season 2020. Having cut his teeth on the outside, the Oakleigh Chargers product has transitioned well to a more inside-oriented role in the back half of his debut campaign. It is a position where Anderson’s penetrative kick and forward thinking comes to the fore, as he sets his side on the front foot from midfield. Anderson also got his hands on the ball plenty of times once again, just reaching the 20-disposal mark and allowing the SUNS to enter dangerous areas.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
15 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 7 score involvements, 1 goal, 3 behinds

Pickett has been ultra impressive in his maiden senior campaign, and again proved a thorn in the opposition’s side in Round 17. The Demons sought a small forward with their selection of Pickett, but have received much more than tackling pressure and goal nous, as the South Australian also continues to prove his class with ball in hand further afield. He is often as creative and productive forward of centre as any player afield, but his radar was a touch off in front of the big sticks as he managed 1.3. The all-action prospect will undoubtedly put bums on seats in future.

Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
16 disposals (75% efficiency), 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements, 2 goals

The hero of an astonishing Melbourne triumph, Rivers is beginning to flourish in more advanced roles among the Dees’ set-up. A slider in last year’s draft, the West Australian is proving those who overlooked him wrong as one of the more seamless draftees to make the AFL transition. His ability to run, gun, and penetrate from behind the ball is already a known quantity, but add some scoreboard impact and midfield minutes from his latest outing, and you have a player with serious upside. His clutch goal late in the piece sealed Melbourne’s win, keeping its finals hopes alive with one round remaining.

Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)
21 disposals (76% efficiency), 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 score involvements

Adelaide pulled off a third-consecutive win over the weekend, booting Carlton out of finals contention and sending off Bryce Gibbs in style against his old side. The rebuild has proven long and strenuous throughout 2020, but the green shoots are beginning to appear, with the likes of Schoenberg reaping the benefits of added exposure at AFL level. Accustomed to contesting against mature bodies, the South Australian was productive both on the inside and outside of midfield. His clean hands and disposal, combined with solid defensive output at the contest make for a well rounded midfield package, which he again proved to be in his seventh senior game.

Others in action:

Brad Close (Geelong)
Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
Will Day (Hawthorn)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Mitch Hibberd (Essendon)
Finn Maginness (Hawthorn)
Flynn Perez (North Melbourne)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

Featured image: Melbourne’s Trent Rivers celebrates | Michael Klein/News Corp

Draft Central All-Star Team: Woodville-West Torrens Eagles

WOODVILLE-WEST Torrens Eagles are the final team in our All-Star Team of the AFL Draft era. The Eagles have a strong spine and plenty of speedy types as well as those who can hit the scoreboard regularly.

THE TEAM:

Matthew Pavlich, Michael Long, Brian Lake and Scott Camporeale are the headline acts in what is a formidable Eagles side. The side is loaded with tall talent and the height up forward would prove a nightmare for opposition defenders. Several players should consider themselves unlucky to miss out on selection in this strong Woodville-West Torrens lineup.

DEFENCE: 

Three-time Hawthorn premiership player and 2013 Norm Smith Medalist Lake was an obvious inclusion at full-back – a position he excelled in for the Hawks after spending eleven years at the Bulldogs. Lake was named an All-Australian on two occasions and won the best and fairest award in 2007 during his time at Whitten Oval. Nathan Bock was selected as his key position partner in defence, although the former Crow and Sun was also capable in attack. He had a terrific year in 2008, winning All Australian selection at centre-half-back and taking out the Malcolm Blight Medal as Adelaide’s best and fairest.

Fellow tall defender and former Tiger Paul Bulluss also earned a spot, having played 97 AFL games in the yellow and black. Current Crow Brodie Smith provides plenty of line-breaking run and carry from half-back and possesses one of the most lethal kicks in the competition. Former Power defender Matthew Broadbent takes out the other flank position and, like Smith, would provide plenty of rebound from half-back. The lock-down role would be handled by the 176cm Steven Sziller, who played 118 games with St. Kilda and 38 with Richmond. Former Crow, Ken McGregor is a player who can come off the bench and provide height at either end.

MIDFIELD:

The Woodville-West Torrens midfield is dominated by a a nice blend of speed and skill, as well as hardness. In the centre circle is Yorke Peninsula boy, Bernie Vince. Boasting excellent foot skills and an ability to impact the scoreboard, Vince played 129 matches with Adelaide and 100 with the Demons, winning best and fairest awards at both clubs. Vince did some of his best work as a tagger at Melbourne. Carlton champion Camporeale was a star on the wing in the navy blue before switching to cross-town rivals Essendon later in his career but has been ‘pushed’ into the centre given the two wingman in the side. A genuine goal kicker, ‘Campo’ booted 205 majors in 252 games, won a premiership in 1995 and was a best and fairest and All Australian in 2000. Strong-bodied on-baller Shayne Breuer also earned selection in the midfield rotation and will forever be known for kicking Port Adelaide’s first AFL goal, while Luke Dunstan rounds out the midfield rotation off the bench.

Both Essendon star Long and predominantly Melbourne – with a stint at Fitzroy – talent Steven Stretch run off the wings. Long won a Norm Smith Medal in the first of two flags and also made the All-Australian side twice, while Stretch won a best and fairest at the Dees. Coming off the bench, current Roo Jared Polec can fill a role on the wing, with his high metres-gained playing style suiting an outside role. Ruckman Sam Jacobs was a revelation in the tri-colours after being traded by the Blues. He played 184 games with Adelaide, was named in the All Australian squad of 40 on three occasions and is waiting to come off the bench to rotate with Matt Rendell. The Fitzroy ruck earned two All-Australian honours and two best and fairests to grab the starting position. Robert Shirley made a career on tagging for the Crows. A reliable on-baller responsible for shutting down the opposition’s best midfielder, Shirley played 151 AFL games and will rotate through the middle.

FORWARD:

Footballing legend Pavlich is the undisputed go-to man up forward. After being drafted in 1999, ‘Pav’ booted 700 goals in 353 AFL games for Fremantle and earned 126 Brownlow votes. A six-time All-Australian and six-time best and fairest winner, Pavlich was a shining light for the Dockers despite the club struggling for much of his career. High-flying former Crow Brett Burton provides a handy decoy option for Pavlich, but was an excellent key forward in his own right. He kicked 264 goals and took a plethora of spectacular grabs during his 177 games at West Lakes. Kent Kingsley is named at full-forward, having nailed an impressive 239 majors in 125 games, 110 of which came with Geelong.

Jay Schulz was also a regulation selection, having played 194 games and kicked 333 goals. Although the forward-line features four talls, they each possess different skill-sets and complement each other with different playing styles. Providing some much-needed speed at ground level is two-time premiership winning small forward Matthew Stokes. Although Glenn Freeborn played in a variety of positions, he was selected on a half-forward flank, having booted three goals for the triumphant Kangaroos in the 1996 Grand Final. Both McGregor and Rhett Biglands could rotate off the bench here, while Biglands could be the third ruck option for the Eagles as well.

DEPTH:

In terms of players just on the cusp of making selection, Scott McMahon (124 games) has the most games of those missing out, while Cameron Sutcliffe (109) and Paul Stewart (101) also reached the ton but just missed out on making it. In more recent times, Brennan Cox and Jack Lukosius are giving fans plenty to enjoy and no doubt in a few years will force their way into this side. Others who made their debuts this year include Kysaiah Pickett, Josh Morris, Harry Schoenberg and Andrew McPherson, with a number of other talents running around out of the Eagles’ program.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 11: Flanders debuts, Pickett shows his class

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend again spilled into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 11 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition, and Sam Flanders making his debut. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
STATS: 12 disposals, 8 contested possessions, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 1 clearance, 3 inside 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal, 1 goal assist

While his nous around goal has been evident since his first showings at the elite level, Pickett’s ability to act as the key link in Melbourne’s forward transitions came to the fore on Sunday. The diminutive South Australian is as creative as they come, using his speed, agility, vision, and elite disposal all at once to help the Demons remain potent on the attack. He isn’t shy to a high-flying mark, but Pickett’s work at ground level was exceptional in his side’s win over North Melbourne, and really gave the Demons a spark. He brings life to each possession chain he impacts, and should easily maintain his spot if he can consistently produce this kind of output.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
15 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements

With good mate Matt Rowell taking notes on the sidelines, Anderson has quietly gone about perhaps putting together the finest debut season of anyone this year. It has hardly been surprising given he was the number two pick, but Anderson continues to impact games and find plenty of the ball. He gets involved in transition while stationed on the wing, and has also chimed in with some work on the inside. His disposal may be a little rushed and raw at times, but Anderson is capable of gaining good meterage and getting creative in the forward half. He somehow seems to be flying under the radar.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
18 disposals, 89% disposal efficiency, 4 marks, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements

Another youngster who has been a real asset for his side since debuting is Day, who arguably looks as comfortable at the level as anyone in his draft class. He has shown to be reliable on the ball with terrific decision making, efficiency, and penetration by foot, while also doubling his impact with intercept marking in defence. The South Australian is the type of player you trust in possession when breaking forward, or even under pressure on the last line. Developing more of a one-on-one, defensive game will be the next step in his development at half-back.

Trey Ruscoe (Collingwood)
6 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 score involvements, 2 goals

His stats may not again tell the full story, but Ruscoe has hit the ground running upon earning a berth at AFL level. The 192cm utility has found a home up forward, where he pops up in important passages of play. The Magpies may have coasted home in the end, but Ruscoe’s two goals came at crucial junctures in the contest, and helped his side get on top of a plucky Adelaide outfit. Those majors came back-to-back in the third term, and boy did he love his handywork.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
20 disposals, 10 contested possessions, 1 mark, 4 tackles, 6 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Serong looks every bit the 200-game player that Fremantle would have signed up for having taken him with pick eight in last year’s draft. Much like Rowell at the beginning of the season, the Gippsland Power graduate has hardly looked out of place in the cut and thrust of midfield, with his contested game again shining against the Hawks. Not only did Serong extract, but he also continued to provide some real drive going forward for the Dockers, contributing plenty with his 20 disposals. Sharpening up his ball use to hit targets a touch more consistently, especially under pressure, will take him to the next level.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Brad Close (Geelong)
Sam Flanders (Gold Coast)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 8: Serong thrives in the Danger zone

18 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, with many of them enjoying their moments in the sun. There was plenty to take out of Round 8 for the class of 2019, as a bunch of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level and are continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
STATS: 22 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 337 metres gained, 1 goal

A few weeks back we saw Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield enter training to the backdrop of Kenny Loggins’ 1986 tune, Danger Zone. Clearly unawed, Caleb Serong showed on Monday that he does not care for such pomposity, nor wilt to the challenge of shutting out one of the game’s elites. The heart-and-soul midfielder was superb amid horrendous conditions, tasked with following the 2016 Brownlow Medalist, and keeping him to 18 disposals. While he competed with the Cats champ both physically and in the air, Serong also found 22 touches of his own and thrived on the tough stuff to lay seven tackles. To cap off a breakout display, the Gippsland Power graduate slotted home a pin-point goal on his left side to drag Fremantle past what would have been a record low score. He will undoubtedly be in line for a Rising Star nomination this week, and it is no wonder Dockers fans have quickly warmed to him.

Ned Cahill (Essendon)
7 disposals, 4 contested possessions, 1 mark, 5 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 2 goals

You would have already seen the cliched Cahill comparison after Essendon’s Ned soccered home his first league goal on the weekend, and the youngster’s two second half snags proved vital in the Bombers’ narrow win over Adelaide. The small forward’s stats may not flatter, but the energy he brings to what has previously been a stagnant Essendon lineup is noticeable. Cahill played his role to a tee in his second outing, popping up to hit the scoreboard and looking lively deep inside attacking 50.

Brad Close (Geelong)
14 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

The mature-age recruit was another small forward to have posed plenty of threats on the weekend, and joined the first goal club in Geelong’s rain-effected win over Fremantle. Despite the conditions, Close was able to find space inside attacking 50 and got his debut off to the perfect start with a well hit set shot conversion. The Glenelg product was one of the Cats’ most menacing forward options, constantly getting to the drop of the ball and getting involved in his side’s attacking forays. Add four tackles to the mix, and it was a pretty well-rounded maiden outing in the long-sleeved number 45 jumper.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
10 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

It was another lacklustre performance from the Hawks overall, but Day continues to show glimpses of his enormous upside nonetheless. Stationed in the defensive half for most of the match, Day seemed to read the play well and chimed in with some important intercept possessions. His marking overhead was sound, and he also provided a safe outlet under pressure on the rebound. While some turnovers (four) crept into his game in the face of the Swans’ ground level pressure, Day has already shown he is a capable user by foot. He seems a safe bet to remain in the Hawthorn lineup as the kids start to get an extended run.

Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
7 disposals, 7 contested possessions, 100% DE, 3 marks (2 contested), 3 inside 50s, 5 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

Back in the side in a big way, Georgiades continues to justify the faith shown in him after Port Adelaide used a first round pick to secure his services. The West Australian only stands at 192cm, but makes up the difference with a terrific vertical leap and pace on the lead. His hands were strong upon presentation on the weekend, clunking two contested marks as he provided a key link into attacking 50 for the Power. While his ability to create and get involved in attacking passages made him a solid part of his side’s structure, Georgiades crucially got on the board himself with a goal in the second term.

Others in action:

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Will Hamill (Adelaide)
Mitch Hibberd (Essendon)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Josh Morris (Hawthorn)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)
Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 7: Derbies, speckies, and worldie first goals

16 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft have already run out for their respective teams on the weekend, with a further two set to take the field tonight. There was plenty to take out of Round 7 for the class of 2019, as a bunch of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level and are now stamping their mark on the competition, while others impressed on their debuts. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
STATS: 15 disposals (12 kicks), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 7 score involvements, 1 goal

It isn’t the first time a 2019 SUNS draftee has taken out back-to-back star of the week nods, and Anderson has somehow flown a little under the radar in his development at AFL level. Last year’s second pick enjoyed arguably his most impactful outing in Gold Coast’s win over Sydney on Saturday, working hard both ways on the outer to win the ball in important areas, and provide a creative outlet going forward. He showed good awareness and work rate to sneak over the back for a goal, and was involved in seven all up, with his kicking game and ability to gain meterage now coming to the fore.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
19 disposals (74% DE), 8 marks, 3 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements

Day has slotted seamlessly into the Hawthorn setup, providing a safe outlet in the back half with his sound kicking game and ability to rack up uncontested ball. He may have turned the ball over eight times, but went at a solid rate of efficiency overall among his 19 disposals, and put the ball into important areas. He may have benefitted from a few short lateral and backwards kicks, but Day managed to penetrate both arcs and gained good ground for the Hawks in their loss to Melbourne. The next step will be finding a contested edge and improving his defensive game.

Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
10 disposals (80%DE), 3 marks, 4 inside 50s, 2 score involvements, 1 goal

There is plenty to like about Frederick, who made his AFL debut in a one-sided Western Derby. While the running went well and truly against his side, the South Australian showcased his phenomenal speed and was arguably one of the most dangerous Fremantle forwards throughout the contest. Frederick, aptly nicknamed ‘Rick’, managed to get on the board with his maiden elite level goal and looked to have an impact with each disposal, making for a promising start to his fledgeling career.

Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
14 disposals, 3 marks (2 contested), 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 clearance, 3 hitouts, 4 score involvements, 1 goal

Last year’s third pick made his first appearance back in the Melbourne side since his Round 2 debut, and looks to be gaining confidence. Jackson was another to boot his maiden AFL goal, starting as a key forward and rotating through the ruck to give Max Gawn a chop-out. The athletic tall continued to present well and clunked two contested grabs, making for a small glimpse into what he may produce in future. His ability to impact in general play was also evident, and will be a serious asset for Melbourne for years to come.

Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)
9 disposals, 3 marks, 1 inside 50, 4 score involvements, 2 goals

Another to join the first goal club was Weightman, with the electric small forward able to flush his first kick at the AFL level straight through the big sticks – from the boundary line, no less. But his first highlight came just moments before the successful conversion, with the Dandenong Stingrays graduate rising to take an eye-catching contested mark over his teammate. The stats may not flatter him, but Weightman was a dangerous figure around the ball and made the most of his touches, adding another goal and certainly catching the attention of those watching with his raw athleticism and skill.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Ryan Byrnes* (St Kilda)
Ned Cahill (Essendon)
Mitchell Hibberd (Essendon)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey* (Adelaide)
Josh Morris (Hawthorn)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)
Chad Warner (Sydney)

* – denotes yet to play.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 5: Pick one down, but draftees fly high

11 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. Top pick Matt Rowell may have been rubbed out early with a dislocated shoulder, but there was plenty to take out of Round 5 for the class of 2019 as plenty of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level. For the first time this year, none of the weekend’s debutants came from the most recent draft, but there promises to be plenty to come.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Hayden Young (Fremantle)

STATS: 15 disposals (10 kicks), 6 marks, 2 rebound 50s, 73% disposal efficiency

The stats may not overly flatter him, but Young is building nicely into is AFL career having returned another strong performance in Fremantle’s first win for 2020. Stationed in his usual defensive post, Young delivered 12 of his 15 disposals from the back half and did so with accuracy. His intercept marking ability is also coming to the fore as he gains in confidence, able to read the ball well in flight and have a crack backing into traffic. At four games into his elite level venture, the Dandenong Stingrays graduate is beginning to bring his best traits forward and has cemented his spot in the Dockers’ side.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)

18 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements

As good mate, Rowell went down, Anderson stepped up to deliver one of his better performances across his first five career games. Continuing in his role on the wing, Anderson got involved in the contest and managed to find the ball in important areas while also fulfilling his defensive duties with 11 pressure acts. The former Oakleigh Charger may have turned the ball over six times amid the heat of the contest, but has impactful touches and has the potential to have a big say once all the factors in his game click.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

15 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 2 score involvements

Ash is another who is beginning to click into gear having been granted ample opportunity upon his AFL berth, and he was among the GIANTS’ top 10 disposal winners in their win against Hawthorn on Sunday. Moving along the line from defence to the wing, Ash was able to penetrate the forward 50 in transition to show a glimpse of his attacking quality, while also providing a safe outlet in the back half. He won half of his possessions in contested situations too, displaying a good appetite for the contest and the rigours of the elite level.

Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

14 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 score involvements

Right behind Ash in terms of disposals was GIANTS Academy graduate, Green with 14. After a breakout game in Round 4 saw him earn a Rising Star nomination, the big-bodied midfielder continued on his ball winning ways to contribute some solid numbers to GWS’ Sunday salute. The GIANTS’ coaching staff has shown great faith in Green in allowing him to run through midfield, attending centre bounces where he thrives on the contested side of the game. He’s another who looks to be locking down a spot, and is providing ample cover some some absent GWS stars.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

10 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Following the example set by former Vic Country teammate, Young is Serong, who also played his part in Fremantle’s opening win for season 2020. The diminutive Gippsland Power product is another who has been thrust right into the engine room action at times, holding his own against big-bodied opposition and remaining relevant going both ways. He is proving more comfortable with ball in hand as time goes on, and it is positive that he manages to find it in the first place.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 4: Green shoots appear for GWS gun

13 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. There were a total of four debutants from last year’s cohort in Round 4, with others either holding their spots or returning to the line-up.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

STATS: 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 72% disposal efficiency, 2 marks, 7 clearances, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal

In a low-disposal game, Green was among the GIANTS’ top five ball winners as they snuck home to a thrilling win over Collingwood on home turf. Thrust straight back into the midfield fold, the GWS Academy graduate looked at home in his second AFL outing, getting stuck straight in with the tough stuff to notch 12 contested possessions and seven clearances. Last year’s number 10 draft pick was also able to boot his first goal at the elite level, and an important one at that given the final score.

Louis Butler (Western Bulldogs)

14 disposals (11 kicks), 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements

A Thursday night debut saw Butler collect 14 disposals in his usual defensive role, slotting in well across half-back and generating some decent forward momentum. While he kicked well below his usual rate at 21 per cent efficiency, the Sandringham Dragons product put the ball in dangerous areas, breaching either arc five times and having a hand in four score involvements as the Bulldogs downed Sydney.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

10 disposals, 9 contested possessions, 3 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 4 score involvements

After serving an avoidable suspension, Pickett returned to the Demons’ fold and was one of his side’s more lively forward 50 options. He was often Melbourne’s most dangerous outlet at the fall of the ball, wreaking havoc with his ability to hit the contest at full pace and extract, while also doing all the right things defensively. He may have hit five turnovers and could not quite find the goals, but you knew something was about to happen when Pickett neared the ball, and he brings a different dimension to the Melbourne team.

Matt Rowell (Gold Coast SUNS)

20 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 7 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 2 goals

Rowell may finally have been knocked off his ‘Star of the Round‘ perch, but still put in a performance worthy of the honour in his fourth AFL appearance. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate clicked over the 20 disposal mark once again and added another two goals to his haul, while proving a key cog in the SUNS’ engine room operations. Not many draftees have been able to match the grunt work of Rowell, who continues to put up fantastic tackle and clearance numbers to prove his two-way relevance.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

15 disposals (12 kicks), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal assist

Having kept his spot in the 0-4 Fremantle side, Young repaid the faith this week with arguably his best performance in three games at the elite level. Stationed in his usual half-back post, the 19-year-old provided a great glimpse of his damaging left-foot kick with a spearing goal assist pass as he cut through the corridor, while also contributing seven rebound 50s. As he adjusts to the pace and pressure of the AFL, Young has been able to better showcase his offensive game and join in the play going both ways.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)
Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)

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