Tag: Luke Edwards

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft standouts: West Coast and St Kilda

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the fifth piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 9th and 10th placed teams in West Coast and St Kilda.

WEST COAST

#52 Luke Edwards
#57 Isiah Winder

R: Zane Trew

Luke Edwards played eight games in his first season at the Eagles and showed some promising signs. He collected 15 disposals on debut in Round 12 and followed up with 27 disposals in his second match against Richmond. The 19-year-old from Glenelg proved he is more than capable at AFL level playing both inside and outside midfield. Edwards has good composure for a young player making smart decisions with ball in hand. He went at 74 per cent disposal efficiency for the season (ranked above average) and he looks to be another quality asset to an already star-studded Eagles midfield.

West Coast’s pick 57 from the National Draft Isiah Winder played one AFL game in 2021, coming on as a medical sub against the Saints when Shannon Hurn got injured. Winder got five disposals for the game and joined the elusive first kick, first goal club with a nice little snap from the top of the goal square. Winder is a speedy and athletic forward with plenty of flair about him, it was unfortunate fans didn’t get to see more of him after he battled knee issues in the middle of year, before returning to play in the WAFL.

Rookie Zane Trew did not feature in the AFL this season but has played 10 games in the WAFL where he has averaged 17.9 disposals, 4.4 tackles and 1.8 marks. Trew is another young midfielder who will be looking to get his chance in the senior side next year.

 

ST KILDA

#26 Matthew Allison
#45 Tom Highmore

SPP: Paul Hunter

 

The standout selection for St Kilda was Tom Highmore, after being picked up from South Adelaide in the SANFL, he played 13 games for the year, locking himself into the side in the second half of the season. Highmore was an excellent intercepting defender with his marking ability, defensive pressure, and ball use some of his key attributes. He averaged 5.1 marks per game, including 0.9 contested marks (ranked elite) and 2.1 intercept marks (ranked elite). He also averaged 2.4 tackles (ranked above average), 1.9 spoils (ranked above average), and 5.9 intercept possessions (ranked above average), while he used the ball at 82.6 per cent (ranked above average).

There were some impressive performances from the 23-year-old mature-aged recruit, but none better than his Round 13 game against Adelaide. In that contest he had 22 disposals, nine contested possessions, 15 intercept possessions, 13 marks, three contested marks, eight intercept marks and four tackles. Highmore broke his hand in the Round 18 match against Port Adelaide which interrupted his end to the season, playing two of the last five games. With his form this season, he should get a good look at a full year in the senior team in 2022.

Another mature-aged recruit from South Adelaide was Paul Hunter. The 28-year-old was added to the squad as back-up for star ruck duo Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall, and after both players had interrupted seasons, Hunter was given his chances, playing seven games at AFL level. He might not have been the most dominant ruckman, but Hunter always gave it his all which was seen with his pressure and one percent efforts. He averaged four tackles per game (ranked elite), 15.4 pressure acts (ranked elite), 3.0 spoils (ranked above average), and 4.3 one percenters (ranked above average). He also kicked a goal against Richmond in Round five and West Coast in Round 19.

St Kilda’s other draftee was Matthew Allison who was selected with pick number 26 in the National Draft. The 195-centimetre key forward didn’t feature in the AFL this season but is a prospect for the future. The 19-year-old averaged 10.4 disposals and 3.0 marks in his eight VFL matches.

 

Picture credit: St Kilda FC

State league preview: SANFL and WAFL return sets up thrilling weekend of action

FOLLOWING a shortened round of action last weekend, state league football returns in full force as we preview a round of what should be exciting entertainment.

Victoria:

VFL action has plenty of enticing matchups scheduled for the weekend, with the first taking place at the Gabba tomorrow morning as Brisbane host Richmond in a crucial clash for both sides. With both sitting with a 2-2 record, Saturday’s match looms as a big one, as there is a big difference between 3-2 and 2-3. Both teams will come out ready to fire in what should make for a high quality matchup. Keep an eye on Lion Cam Ellis-Yolman, who was fantastic in his return to VFL last weekend. The big-bodied midfielder has plenty of talent and should prove dominant again when he faces the Tigers. Richmond big man Callum Coleman-Jones booted five snags last weekend, as his stock continues to rise, and will be a danger up forward on Saturday morning.

North Melbourne’s quest for a maiden 2021 win continues this weekend as they travel to Windy Hill to take on the Bombers on Saturday afternoon. Sitting at 0-5 to start the season, the Kangaroos will be desperate to get the monkey off their back and upset a Bombers side that will be using this game as a free hit in their minds. Young Roo Bailey Scott had a breakout showing last week with 28 disposals and will be looking to build on this moving forward. Bomber forward Patrick Ambrose kicked six goals against Frankston last round as he works his way into the season, so expect the Roos to pay close attention to him.

The VFL action moves to Sunday afternoon, where Hawthorn will head over to Ikon Park to take on Carlton in a clash which has plenty on the line for both sides. The Hawks had a big win over North Melbourne last weekend and scoring another victory this round would prove crucial in getting their season moving. Carlton sit just one win behind them – but have played one less game – and will be eager to stay with the pack ahead. Hawthorn forward Josh Morris walked away with a five-goal haul against the Roos and will be keen to hit the scoreboard as he pushes his claim for an AFL debut.

South Australia:

SANFL action kicks off on Saturday afternoon, as Sturt host Central District at Unley Oval, in a match that could shape the season of both sides. Central District remain cellar-dwellars on the bottom of the ladder, but a win this round could kickstart a season that has been underwhelming so far. Sturt currently sit in seventh place, but taking down the Lions could elevate them into the top five. Expect them to name an unchanged side, while the Lions have named a debutant in athletic Leek Alleer.

Hisense Stadium will host a vital clash as West Adelaide will welcome Woodville-West Torrens on Saturday afternoon. Just one win separates these sides, yet they sit four spots apart on the ladder, so a win would do wonders for both sides. Clearly the ladder is extremely tight after six rounds of action, so all it takes is a nice run of victories to shoot into the upper echelon. West Adelaide will regain premiership forward Jono Beech at centre half-forward, while the Eagles are yet to confirm any changes.

Two teams having contrasting seasons will clash in round seven, as Adelaide travel to Coopers Stadium to try and upset Norwood on Saturday afternoon. Adelaide’s season has been disappointing to date with a 2-4 record, while Norwood are sitting pretty with a 4-2 record. An upset seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened, and Adelaide have the firepower to do it. Norwood will be missing skipper Matthew Nunn, who will nurse an injured hamstring, while Adelaide will benefit from the additions of Elliot Himmelberg, Chris Hall and Daniel Jackson.

In an intriguing clash, Port Adelaide will face off against North Adelaide at Alberton Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Power and the Roosters are both coming off wins, and sit in fifth and sixth place respectively, so both sides will understand the importance of this clash in the context of their respective seasons. Port Adelaide will be stoked to regain the services of speedy defender Marty Frederick from AFL level, while the Roosters have not yet confirmed their changes.

Fans will have to wait until Sunday afternoon for the game of the round, as South Adelaide look to put an end to Glenelg’s undefeated streak at Flinders University Oval. Glenelg have started the season in blistering form to give themselves a 6-0 record after six rounds, but South Adelaide are just one win behind them, and have the best chance of anyone to cause an upset. Glenelg utility Brad Agnew will return to the side after overcoming an ankle injury, while South Adelaide may yet remain unchanged.

Western Australia:

The WAFL returns following last week’s hiatus due to a state game, and the round begins with Claremont travelling to New Choice Homes Park to take on East Fremantle on Saturday afternoon. Just one win separates these teams, so expect two refreshed sides to deliver a match of top-notch football action. East Fremantle have included backman Finn Gorringe into their starting 22 with the hope of shutting down Claremont’s dangerous forward line. Claremont are yet to confirm any changes to their lineup.

Also on Saturday afternoon, Peel Thunder will host West Perth at David Grays Arena in a game that holds an important result for both teams. West Perth sit two spots outside the top five, but a win here could see that gap close quite quickly, while Peel Thunder could shoot as high as third if other results go their way. Peel Thunder have regained Traye Bennell, Stefan Giro, Alex Pearce and Joel Western for the crucial clash. West Perth have included Tyler Keitel, Trent Manzone and Shane Nelson to their side.

South Fremantle’s rise up the ladder could continue on the weekend as they head to Mineral Resources Park to take on Perth on Saturday afternoon. South Fremantle have lost just the one game so far this season, and look in blistering form, so slowing them down seems a tough task. Perth have the challenge of completing this task, but following a week off, who knows what could happen? South Fremantle have brought in Jye Clark and Corey Hitchcock to bolster their midfield stocks, while Nick Suban and Dylan Main return for Perth.

Those following the ladder would know that this is a vital clash for both sides, as West Coast travel to Leederville Oval to take on East Perth on Saturday afternoon. Both teams are still searching for their first win of the 2021 season with a 0-5 record to start the year, and one of the sides will achieve that goal, while the other will see their season prospects begin to fade. West Coast’s chances will be greatly improved by the addition of AFL star Elliot Yeo, Nathan Vardy, Mark Hutchings, Kieran Hug, Luke Edwards and Luke Foley, while East Perth are yet to confirm their changes.

The final match of the seventh round of WAFL action sees Subiaco defend top spot on the ladder with a clash against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco’s grip on first place is slowly loosening with plenty of teams closing the gap that once saw them a game clear of the competition. A loss here would be devastating as they would surely be overtaken, so this will be playing on the mind of both sides. Swan Districts have included Lewis Jetta, Matt Riggio, Jesse Turner and Warwick Wilson as they load up for a big clash, while Liam Hickmott, Hayden Kennedy and Bailey Matera return for Subiaco.

Queensland:

QAFL’s eighth round of footy kicks off at Maroochydore Multisports Complex as Wilston Grange look to cause an upset against Maroochydore when the two sides face off on Saturday afternoon. Wilston Grange sit second last on the ladder at 1-5, so a win is desperately required to get their side back on track, but they face an uphill battle taking on the third-placed Maroochydore. Wilston Grange’s Hugh Fidler has been in ripping form over recent weeks and is expected to once again deliver a strong performance for his side. Also keep an eye on Maroochydore’s Jacob Simpson who has impressed over past few rounds.

Over at Jack Esplen Oval, Morningside will play host to Palm Beach Currumbin as the two teams clash on Saturday afternoon. Morningside are up with the top echelon of the competition with a 4-1 record as they continue to set themselves for a strong finals run later in the season, while Palm Beach Currumbin currently hold a 2-3 record, so there is a clear favourite in this matchup, but nothing is certain. Morningside’s Brad Hodge delivered his best performance of the year last round, so keep an eye on if he can back it up for a second consecutive week.

Noosa’s quest for a drought-breaking win continues this weekend as they head to Southside Toyota Oval to take on a struggling Mt Gravatt side on Saturday afternoon. At 0-6, Noosa couldn’t be sitting in a worse position, but they have a great chance to change that this round, with their Mt Gravatt opponents sitting with a 1-4 record. Noosa’s Aaron Laskey has worked his way into some strong form over the past few games, so expect him to catch the eye on Saturday.

Surfers Paradise’s climb up the ladder will face a tough task in round seven as they face off against Redland-Victoria Point at Totally Workwear Park on Saturday afternoon. Coming off a bye, Surfers Paradise will be refreshed and ready to go as they look to cause a crucial boilover, but Redland-Victoria Point have been strong this season and will prove a tough egg to crack. Surfers Paradise’s fortunes lie heavily on whether they can contain opposition forward Jacob Murphy, who is fresh off a bag of five goals.

The final game of the round will see Sherwood Districts clash with Labrador at Sherwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Labrador are right in the hunt for top spot on the ladder, while Sherwood Districts’ 2-4 record sees their side eager for a win. Labrador are expected to win, but the beauty of sport is the art of an upset, so expect an interesting clash, and if Sherwood Districts’ William Fletcher can maintain his current form, a boilover could be on the cards.

Tasmania:

Round eight of the TSL kicks off with an absolute beauty on Friday night, with North Launceston hosting Launceston in a grand final rematch at UTAS Stadium. Launceston were tested against Lauderdale last weekend, but ultimately found a way to win as they so often do. Their biggest threat comes in the form of North Launceston, who are hot on their tail with just the one loss for the year. Launceston will regain duo Brodie Palfreyman and Miller Hodge to boost their chances, while utility Tom Donnelly returns for North Launceston.

North Hobart will be chasing a second win of the year as they take on the Tigers at the Kingston Twin Ovals on Saturday afternoon. The Demons fell just a solitary point shy of upsetting Clarence last weekend, so this pain will be fresh in their minds as they look to rectify this. The Tigers have faded from their blistering form to start the year, and will need to be on top of their game if they are to hold off their opponents, but if Elijah Reardon can get off the chain, it should hold them in good stead.

The final game of the round sees Lauderdale head to Blundstone Arena to take on Clarence on Saturday afternoon. Clarence escaped with a one-point triumph over cellar dwellars North Hobart, which should prove a wake-up call that any team can win at any given time. Expect them to bounce back this weekend. Lauderdale took the fight right up to Launceston last round, in a performance that should give them plenty of confidence heading into this weekend, especially if Allen Christensen can fire like we all expect.

Picture credit: The Examiner

2020 AFL Draft recap: West Coast Eagles

AFTER entering last year’s draft at Pick 49, West Coast’s night opened all the way back at Pick 52 this time around as the Eagles signal their intent to stay within the premiership window. Three fresh faces entered the elite ranks overall, with some handy versatility and readymade types among the target areas West Coast identified. Having finished fifth on percentage and lost a home elimination final in 2020, the Eagles will be desperate to climb back into the top four with its strong and mature core remaining.

WEST COAST

National Draft:
#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Zane Trew (Swan Districts/Western Australia), Daniel Venables (Re-listed)

The Eagles were put on the clock in the third and final round, selecting South Australian Luke Edwards with Pick 52. Edwards is the son of Adelaide great, Tyson, but was overlooked by the Crows as a father-son nomination and thus eligible in the open draft to other clubs.

The Glenelg product was a standout bottom-ager at last year’s Under 18 carnival and went on to gain senior experience with the Bays this year. He gets a big tick for versatility; able to play off half-back, as an inside midfielder, or even rest forward, boasting clean skills and natural footballing nous as his key strengths. A readymade choice.

Just a handful of selections later, West Coast would have been thrilled to bring in local talent, Isiah Winder, a crafty small who can also play multiple roles and has outstanding athletic traits. The Peel Thunder talent gained some good traction after blitzing the West Australian draft combine, but had also previously showed his wares on-field with eye-catching displays in the WAFL League and Colts competitions.

Having started as a small forward with good goal sense and marking ability, Winder further utilised his speed and skill in 2020 as a midfielder, while also rotating off the flanks at either end. He had long been linked with West Coast’s first pick, but should prove a great value option just a few spots down the order.

Eagles staff would have been just as content with the coup of Zane Trew as a rookie, given he was considered one of the most unlucky players to have missed out on National Draft selection. He is a handball happy inside midfielder out of Swan Districts with great extraction ability and awareness in-close, but will be hoping to get an extended run after multiple injury setbacks.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Eagles draftee Isiah Winder trains in his new colours | Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft: Club by club

IF you are waking up to try and scroll through and find who your club’s newest players are, look no further as we piece together last night’s National Draft club by club. To check out the player profiles of each player selected, click below:

Adelaide:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Carlton:

#37 Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
#41 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

Collingwood:

#17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#19 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#23 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#30 Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#31 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#44 Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Essendon:

#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Fremantle:

#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Geelong:

#20 Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
#47 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59  Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Hawthorn:

#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Melbourne:

#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

North Melbourne:

#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Port Adelaide:

#16 Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)
#49 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Richmond:

#40 Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

St Kilda:

#26 Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sydney:

#4 Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
#5 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
#32 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

West Coast:

#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Western Bulldogs:

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

2020 AFL Draft: Pick by pick

AFTER an unconventional season of football, the 2020 AFL National Draft has come to a close with a number of young and exciting players finding their way to new homes for the 2021 season. Here is the full run down of picks, with the highly touted Jamarra Ugle-Hagan making his way to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 1.

Round 1

1 Western Bulldogs – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

2 Adelaide Crows – Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)

3 North Melbourne – Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

4 Sydney Swans – Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)

5 Sydney Swans – Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

6 Hawthorn – Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

7 Gold Coast Suns –  Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

8 Essendon –  Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

9 Essendon – Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

10 Essendon – Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

11 Adelaide Crows – Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)

12 GWS GIANTS – Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

13 North Melbourne – Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)

14 Fremantle – Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)

15 GWS GIANTS – Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

16 Port Adelaide – Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)

17 Collingwood – Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

18 GWS GIANTS – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

19 Collingwood – Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

20 Geelong –  Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

21 Melbourne Demons – Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

22 Melbourne Demons – Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

23 Collingwood – Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

24 Brisbane Lions – Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

25 Adelaide Crows – Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)

26 St Kilda – Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Round 2

27 Fremantle – Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)

28 Adelaide- Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

29 Hawthorn – Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)

30 Collingwood – Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

31Collingwood – Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

32 Sydney Swans – Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

33 Geelong – Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)

34 Melbourne – Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

35 Hawthorn – Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

36 North Melbourne – Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)

37 Carlton – Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)

38 Adelaide – James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

39 Essendon – Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

40 Richmond – Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy)

41Carlton – Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

42 North Melbourne – Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Round 3

43 Brisbane Lions – Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

44 Collingwood – Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

45 St Kilda – Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

46 Hawthorn – Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

47 Geelong – Nicholas Stevens (GWV Rebels)

48 Brisbane Lions – Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

49 Port Adelaide – Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)

50 Fremantle – Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

51 Richmond – Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

52 West Coast – Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)

53 Essendon – Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

54 Fremantle – Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

55 Western Bulldogs – Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)

56 North Melbourne – Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

57 West Coast Eagles – Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

58 GWS GIANTS – Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)

59 GWS GIANTS – Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens)

Value picks: This year’s potential AFL Draft sliders

YESTERDAY, we took a look at this year’s bolters – the players who have come from seemingly nowhere to put their names in lights as genuine draft chances. Now, we turn our attention to the potential sliders – those who have long been highly touted but for one reason or another, might find themselves sliding down draft boards. It is not necessarily a negative, with sliders like James Worpel, Jack Graham, Curtis Taylor, and Trent Rivers all making good impressions early in their AFL careers. Among one of the most even drafts in recent memory, there are bound to be a bunch of prospects who end up providing great value despite falling down the order, proving many a doubter wrong.

You can find full draft profiles for all the players mentioned in our 2020 AFL Draft Guide.

ALLIES:

The Allied states and territories (Northern Territory, NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania) are difficult to pin down for sliders, given the Northern Academies remove a bunch of prospects from the open draft. Nonetheless, there are some well known Tasmanian talents who could turn out to be handy late pick ups, among others.

Oliver Davis and Sam Collins were both named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side and had been pegged as ones to watch from an early age. They have since gone on to play regular NAB League football for Tasmania and proved key figures in their respective senior TSL sides this year. Davis is a reliable inside midfielder who has no trouble finding the ball, which helped him take out the 2020 TSL Rising Star award. Collins is a medium defender who can play above his size, soaring well to intercept while also providing good value on the rebound with his damaging left boot.

Fellow Tasmanian Jackson Callow could also be considered in this category as he has blazed a similar trail, but he is equally as likely to attract interest in the second round for any clubs keen on a readymade key position talent. One academy talent who has long been billed as one of his state’s brightest is Saxon Crozier, who is tied to the Brisbane Lions. He is a tall outside midfielder with good potential and a raking kick, but Brisbane have a bunch of academy products to keep tabs on. Thus, another club could snap him, Carter Michael, or a number of other aligned players up. That includes Brodie Lake, who Gold Coast lays claim to. The Suns have not yet committed to the Northern Territory native, but his versatility and athleticism point towards great upside at a gettable late range.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

Having been able to put together a near-full season of football, South Australia boasts arguably the deepest talent pool outside of Victoria, which typically provides over 50 per cent of drafted players. This batch of Croweaters also took out the Under 16 National Championships back in 2018, which marked a sign of just how good the upcoming talent would be. MVP of that carnival was Corey Durdin, a tenacious ground level player who racked up plenty of ball and impressed with his turn of speed. Having reached such lofty heights, Durdin was very quickly given opportunities at SANFL League level and has adjusted his game to transition from midfield work to becoming a small forward. That role is said to suit his 173cm frame better, but he still holds great value and senior experience as a potential late pick.

Among the decent list of early standouts also lies Zac Dumesny and Luke Edwards. While neither are particularly athletic types, they are both natural footballers who managed to crack the senior grade in 2020. Dumesny is a medium utility with quick and clean skills who is often utilised on a wing or half-back flank. Edwards is more of an inside type who rotates either forward or back into defence from midfield, and much has been talked about the Glenelg product given Adelaide refrained from committing to him as a father-son nominee in the National Draft. Opportunities may still present for the pair though, who were recognised as top talents early in their junior careers.

Others in a similar boat include Taj Schofield and Kaine Baldwin. Like Edwards, Schofield is father-son eligible and has garnered attention for much of his journey throughout the state pathways. He was poised to prove his top 30 potential in a more inside-leaning role this year, but remains arguably more comfortable on a wing or at half-forward with his silky skills and agility. Port Adelaide will hope the Woodville-West Torrens product slips through to the Rookie Draft. Baldwin looms as one of the hard luck stories of the draft given the early potential he showed, but was subsequently hampered by consecutive ACL tears. Despite not playing any competitive football for two seasons, he could be one to repay a club’s faith ten-fold if he can get on the park, with contested marking a truly dominant part of his game.

VICTORIA:

It is difficult to put a finger on just which Victorian prospects might slide, purely because none of them were able to add to their resumes as top-agers. Still, there are some who perhaps do not get the amount of plaudits they deserve – starting with Gippsland’s Sam Berry. The hard-working midfield bull addressed the stigma, in his own words, that he is slow at this week’s Victorian training session, but is rated by some clubs as a top 25 talent. His performances as a bottom-ager and high-level endurance will appeal to those clubs, who may either pounce early or trust that they can get him with a slightly later pick.

Clayton Gay was identified early as a prospect with good natural abilities, but was looking to iron out his consistency in 2020 as a key member of Dandenong’s side. His clean hands versatility to play up either end bode well for steep future development. Calder’s Jackson Cardillo is one who was recognised with selection in Vic Metro’s Under 17 side and the 2020 state academy hub intake, but did not earn a combine invite. He is a lively midfielder/forward with terrific, explosive athletic traits and plenty of room to grow.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

While Western Australia is another state to have put together a state league season, there are slightly less prospects in the slider category given how many of their highly rated talents have gone on to meet expectations. That is not to say the players mentioned here have not done so, but they could perhaps slide under the radar. Zane Trew seems to be the one most suited to this listing, a player who was well poised to push for top 25 status at the start of the year, but suffered injury setbacks and could not quite find the consistency required. He is a ball winning inside midfielder who uses the ball effortlessly by hand. Nathan O’Driscoll is rated as a top 10 talent by some clubs, but may instead find a home late in the first round or among round two. His upside includes a phenomenal work-rate and the balance to play both inside and out of midfield.

Featured Image: South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny is a potential draft slider | Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition

WITH this year’s AFL Draft less than a month away, the rumour mill has been in full swing as supporters turn their attention from trade period, to draft period. There is some early general consensus already, mostly pertaining to where prospects are ranked, but not necessarily where they may end up come draft time. In our November 2020 edition of AFL Draft Whispers, Draft Central takes a look at some of the key factors which may shape the top 10, as well as some of the queries pertaining to academy and father-son bids among the most compromised intake in history.

With pick one, Adelaide has selected…

Starting at the top, it is thought by many that the race for pick one honours has been narrowed down to two players. Given Adelaide boasts the first selection, local talent Riley Thilthorpe has been put forward as a safe choice, though Logan McDonald is marginally considered the better talent. Both are key forwards with senior state league experience this year who the Crows will be able to form their rebuild around. The ‘go home factor’ is a slight some Crows fans may have against McDonald, who is from Western Australia, though a local bias has hardly presented at the Crows previously and the 18-year-old seems to have no qualms about shifting interstate.

The other factor in this discussion is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, the consensus best prospect in this year’s pool who is tied to the Western Bulldogs. Adelaide could keep the Dogs accountable by bidding with pick one, but may seek to market their ties to the top selection by simply taking a player they can actually access. Elijah Hollands is another in contention, a midfielder with plenty of x-factor who is coming off a long-term knee injury and actually supports the Crows.

‘The fantastic five’

It is well known that along with McDonald and Thilthorpe, three other top-end prospects have formed a breakaway group which clubs are jostling to gain access to. Aside from Ugle-Hagan, who will find his way to the Western Bulldogs regardless of where a bid is placed, Hollands, Will Phillips, and Denver Grainger-Barras are the players who join the two aforementioned key forwards in this exclusive group.

Hollands, who suffered a serious knee injury during preseason, was touted as a potential challenger to the number one spot, and looks likely to be North Melbourne’s favoured pick. He is a tall midfielder/forward with serious game-winning attributes which include athleticism and scoreboard impact. Sydney’s top five pick is likely to come down to one of Phillips or Grainger-Barras, with interest in an inside midfielder growing, rather than the taller options. That of course brings Phillips to the fore, a 180cm ball winner who cut his teeth alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side.

What will Gold Coast look for with pick five?

The Suns were one of the big improvers in 2020, thanks in no small part to their top-end draftees who managed to make an immediate impact at senior level. With pick five, they have the chance to bring in another talent who may do the same next year. It seems the Queensland-based outfit will look to prioritise another midfielder, and Phillips would be the obvious choice as arguably the best pure ball winner available. Though, with growing talk that he may already be taken by the time Gold Coast gets on the clock, Geelong Falcons product Tanner Bruhn could be their man. He was Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018 and despite repeat injury setbacks, has shown his class through midfield when fully fit. Gold Coast is also able to pre-list Academy member Alex Davies, a tall clearance winner, but may look towards balance in acquiring the hard-running, 183cm Bruhn.

Will Essendon trade into the top two?

Though the Bombers have done well to secure the services of Peter Wright at little cost, the key forward slot remains an area which depth is desperately needed. Essendon currently holds picks 7-9 and could become the first team since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks in one draft. It would make for a hell of a story, though Adrian Dodoro will inevitably look to squeeze even greater value out of that significant hand.

With a wealth of high-level talls available at the pointy end of the draft, the Bombers may look to package a combination of their current top 10 picks to move up the order and gain access to one of those elite key position forwards. For example, North Melbourne may be a team of interest as they are in need of as much fresh talent as possible. Thus, the Roos could send pick two to Essendon in exchange for two of those top 10’ers in order to maximise their hand. It will unlikely be that simple, but that kind of thinking is perhaps what Essendon will have to do to obtain the likes of McDonald or Thilthorpe, who could become pillar key forwards in future.

Will Thilthorpe slide to Adelaide’s pick nine?

Plenty of talk has surrounded the proposed two-horse race pertaining Adelaide’s pick one (see above), but what happens to Thilthorpe should the Crows favour McDonald? Depending on the final order of the top 10, the South Australian may end up as this year’s slider despite being considered a top five or six talent. Essendon could be a potential suitor, though are said to have eyes on a certain other prospect in moving up the board, while the likes of North Melbourne, Sydney, and Gold Coast may look towards the midfielders available. Thus, Thilthorpe could slowly slip back to the Crows at pick nine, which would be a massive result for last year’s bottom side. A long shot, yes, but possible.

Will clubs take all of their Academy/father-son talents available?

In short, no. With cuts to list sizes, it just is not feasible for many clubs with rich academy cohorts to take every talent available to them this year. We saw with Brisbane in 2019 that if another club is interested in their homegrown products and the price is too high, they simply will not match the bid.

That may be the case for Brisbane once again, while Adelaide is another team of interest this year. The Crows have access to Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase through the NGA system, while Luke Edwards is a potential father-son choice. The latter is said to be weighing up whether to nominate for the open draft, and Adelaide’s current top-ended draft hand suggests it is only considering taking two of the three players.

Fremantle will look to secure NGA talents Joel Western and Brandon Walker. After the Dockers’ pick 12, they only have picks 32, 55, and a couple in triple figures to match any potential bids, so might get a little busy before their picks are locked in. Otherwise, they may prioritise one over the other. Collingwood is in a tricky spot too, with Reef McInnes attracting some added attention after his draft combine exploits. The bid will have to be fair on the Magpies’ end, and ideally after their current picks 14 and 16.

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Adelaide Crows

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Adelaide is first up, the team which finished last in 2020 and thus holds the power of wielding pick one in the draft. An inspired final month meant Crows fans were left with something to cheer about in the three-win campaign, and holding the competition’s ace card will only add to their excitement. It is the first number one pick Adelaide will use in its history and with many list needs to cover amidst a heavy rebuild, there is plenty of pressure on Crows staff to nail every move and selection. As it stands, they boast the highest total draft value index points of any club at 6832 – over 1300 more than the next-best club.

CURRENT PICKS*: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 56, 66, 80
* – denotes as of November 19

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PLAYERS:

James Borlase (NGA), Luke Edwards (father-son), Tariek Newchurch (NGA)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Ball-winning midfielder
Key forward depth
Ruck depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

It seems the race for pick one is down to two options; Logan McDonald and Riley Thilthorpe. Debate has raged over whether the Crows will opt to select McDonald, a West Australian key forward who bolted into top three contention this year, or to eliminate any threat of the ‘go home factor’ by snapping up local forward/ruck, Thilthorpe.

While nothing from McDonald suggests he would be unhappy to shift interstate, the argument for Thilthorpe goes that he is far less likely to move elsewhere in future and can prove a safe pillar for the Crows’ to form their rebuild around. While McDonald is arguably considered the better talent, this is the kind of thinking which may impact Adelaide’s choice.

If it were up to us, McDonald is the Crows’ man. They may also consider placing a bid on Western Bulldogs NGA product Jamarra Ugle-Hagan to keep the ‘Dogs accountable, as they would not think twice in matching for the athletic forward who is the consensus best talent in this year’s crop. Elijah Hollands looms as another option, the only midfielder of the bunch and one who could prove a perfect fit for Adelaide’s engine room with his size, x-factor, and ability to rotate forward.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Crows are likely to put pick one under lock and key, but have great potential for flexibility with their later picks. Pick nine could be split into two first rounders in order to maximise the amount of top-end talent brought in, perhaps even packaged up with one of their early second rounders. It may also be used to improve their hand in next year’s first round, as the 2021 intake looks like being a strong one.

Covering potential bids for all three eligible players in Borlase, Newchurch, and Edwards may be tough, so there could be work to do to ensure those bases are covered. Although, it seems more likely that only two of the three will land at Adelaide, especially with Edwards seemingly considering his options in the open draft. The Crows should be one of the busier clubs in terms of pick swaps both in the lead up to draft day, and as it goes live.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Who will the Crows take with pick one?

Will they bid on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan first?

Do they trade or split pick nine?

Do they trade into next year’s first round?

Will they take all three of Newchurch, Borlase, and Edwards?

Where will the bids come in for those three players?

Featured Image: (Retrieved from) Perth FC

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best AFL Draft hands

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro, this time to discuss which clubs hold the best hands heading into the 2020 AFL Draft.

While the indicative draft order is set to undergo a raft of changes in the build up to draft day (December 9), the discussion highlighted three teams which were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in terms of their pick hauls as of the end of trade period. Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney (GWS), and Essendon were the sides in question, though the positions of all 18 teams also came under the microscope; touching on pure draft value index points, flexibility and potential to trade, and likely academy or father-son selections.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Below is a recap of what makes the three aforementioned clubs’ draft hands so strong:
(All picks are as of November 18)

Adelaide
Picks: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 56, 66, 80

Having finished bottom, the Crows have all the power with pick one for the first in their history and will likely use it to gain one of Logan McDonald or Riley Thilthorpe. Afterwards is where it gets interesting, as Adelaide could opt to split pick nine or use it to get into next year’s top 10 as the 2021 crop looks a strong one. The Crows also have three prospects already tied to them in Tariek Newchurch (NGA), James Borlase (NGA), and Luke Edwards (father-son). As it stands, Newchurch is likely to attract the first bid and one for Borlase will hopefully come after their current pick 40. The Crows could be left with a tricky decision as to whether they match for Edwards, who is also flirting with nominating for the open draft. Either way, Adelaide must nail this intake and lay a strong marker for its rebuild.

GWS
Picks: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88

An exodus of sorts sees the Giants hold five picks within the top 30, four of which land among the first round. While the loss of Jeremy Cameron will be felt immediately, GWS has the opportunity to stock up with high-quality long-term options and avoid another steep drop off after finishing 10th in 2020. Alternatively, the Giants could use their picks in the teens to try and enter next year’s first round, or even sneak further into this year’s top 10 should a likely suitor wish to split their picks. Josh Green, the brother of Tom looks set to be the Giants’ sole academy selection this year but holds a value which will be relatively straightforward to match with one of their late picks, if necessary. GWS could be one of the busier clubs in the lead up to draft day and has plenty of potential to extract from its current hand.

Essendon
Picks: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87

The third of three clubs to currently hold a total points value of over 5000, Essendon may also become the first club since the expansion era to take three top 10 picks into the draft. What the Bombers decide to do with those picks is anyone’s guess given the flexibility afforded to them, and that there looms a few long-term list needs which require attendance. It seems as if they will opt to part ways with at least one of their top 10 selections, again either keen on next year’s crop or to expand their options in the first round. Another interesting scenario would be to package a couple of those picks to move into the top five, with Logan McDonald a prospect of particular interest. The Bombers also look set to bring in a couple of promising NGA talls in Cody Brand and Josh Eyre, with the latter potentially attracting a bid before the their current round three selection. There is likely enough cover for Eyre later on, though Essendon may also opt to bolster that late hand for any advanced bids.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Best readymade prospects
Best players under 175cm
Best midfielders over 190cm
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders