Tag: Luke Parker

Anderson rides the wave of a long footballing journey

THERE are few junior footballers who have experienced a journey quite like that of Angus Anderson. The Sydney Swans Academy captain hails from Sawtell, a coastal town in northern New South Wales, but has ticked off a plethora of other destinations en route to earning a National Draft Combine invite this month.

The six-hour drive to Sydney initially made it difficult for the 18-year-old to regularly participate with the Swans Academy, but he put his name in lights this year after spending a preseason with the Southport Sharks VFL side, and earning a spot on their supplementary list.

“I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be the skipper for the Swans Academy,” Anderson said. “It’s a great honour really, especially since I’m not down there every weekend, so it just shows that the coaching staff and the team have had faith in me.”

Anderson travelled three hours up to the Gold Coast to train with Southport, ticking off a third state on his list of destinations. The second was Victoria, where he lived with his aunty and uncle while linking with the Eastern Ranges’ Under 16 NAB League program. In Melbourne, he also spent a term at Box Hill Secondary College and is currently completing his Year 12 studies back home in lockdown.

With a diverse range of experiences, Anderson has also been able to lean on a bunch of highly renowned coaches and staff. Among them are former AFL players, along with current and former NAB League coaches; including Jared Crouch and Chris Smith (Swans Academy), Leigh Clarke (Box Hill Secondary), Sean Toohey (Eastern Ranges), and Jarrod Field (Southport).

Also on that list of mentors is Anderson’s Victorian father, who coached him locally “all the way through” to senior level at the Sawtell-Toormina Saints, making him “a big influence” over his footballing career.

From enjoying the surf in the “laid back” town of Sawtell to “maturing as a person” while living with his aunty and uncle in Melbourne, Anderson has learned plenty over the last few years and gained a ravenous work-ethic. That trait translates to his football, where the big-bodied midfielder showcases a great appetite for contested ball.

“I feel like my contested ball is my strength,” Anderson said. “I’m a big-bodied mid who can win the ball and I’m slowly developing my outside game. “I can run out games well for a big-bodied mid, I like the physical aspect of AFL so I can tackle, and my hands around the ball and my ability to use both sides (are strengths).”

While leading the Swans Academy in a three-game NAB League stint this year, Anderson averaged 24 disposals, 3.5 tackles and a goal per game, as one of his side’s standout performers. Having already gotten a taste of senior football, he went on to represent the Swans at VFL level, and earned selection in the Under 19 Allies squad. Still, there is plenty the youngster is working on.

“I have heaps of areas I’m focusing on,” he said. “I feel like since I’m a bigger-bodied mid, I’ll be paired up with a couple of smaller mids occasionally. I’ve been working on my pack marking and I get to drift down forward I’ve been working on my goalkicking as well.”

Swans star Luke Parker is a player Anderson looks to mould his game on, while also noting the likes of Christian Petracca, Dustin Martin, Patrick Cripps, and Marcus Bontempelli as some of his favourite players. As one of just five NSW-ACT natives to earn a combine invite thus far, he is one step closer to joining them in the big leagues.

“Especially if I look back at myself at the beginning of the year, these achievements have been so big and I’ve been so proud of myself that I’ve made it this far,” he said. “It’s a huge honour to be a part of the initial 90 for the combine. “From a little kid coming from northern New South Wales, a little coastal town. “Barely anyone has been this far so it’s a huge honour.”

For now, Anderson is enjoying some of the extra down time he gets to relax in between school, going out for a surf every day and itching to get back on the park should the opportunity await.

He sought to thank all of his mentors and coaches along the way, Southport and the Sydney Swans for the opportunities they presented, and AFL North Coast for their support over the years.

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Dandenong Stingrays vs. West Adelaide

OUR next All-Star Team battle is between Victoria and Adelaide, as the Dandenong Stingrays and West Adelaide face-off. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Carlton full-forward, Brendan Fevola (Dandenong Stingrays) and Adelaide champion, Mark Ricciuto (West Adelaide).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded sixth (Dandenong Stingrays) and 11th (West Adelaide) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face the Port Adelaide Magpies.

STRENGTHS:

The Stingrays have a number of strengths, but it is hard to look past the spine. With Trent Croad and Justin Leppitsch holding down key defensive positions and Tom J. Lynch and Fevola being the twin towers up forward, they have enough talls to control the airways. Further to that, they have one of the best small forwards of all time in Stephen Milne, and a ridiculously deep midfield with Matthew Boyd, Luke Parker and Nathan Jones providing the hardness, and Lachie Whitfield, Adam Treloar and Dylan Shiel providing the run.

The West Adelaide starting 18 is very strong, particularly in midfield and defence. Ben Rutten and Sam Fisher form a stingy key position pairing down back, supported by the likes of Rory Laird and Beau Waters among the six. It gets even better in the engine room, led by skipper Ricciuto, who is joined by fellow Brownlow medalist Adam Cooney on the ball. Adelaide 300-gamer Tyson Edwards is also among the action, while Shaun Rehn was a straightforward choice for the ruck duties.

WEAKNESSES:

The Stingrays do not have too many weaknesses in the line-up with a real honest group of players across the field. If you were to be picky, you would say another small forward or two would be handy, because aside from Milne and Shane Savage – who realistically has been turned into a defender – the Stingrays are relying on their midfielders to rotate up forward.

Scott Welsh featured as an 188cm centre-half forward for the Bloods, though he has swapped with Rhys Stanley up forward, and pure excellence of Tony Modra. While the starting 18 is very solid, West Adelaide’s bench depth is decent, but does not feature as many world beaters.

SUMMARY:

Both these sides have elite key position talent and would have some dream matchups across the field. Dandenong has a bit more depth and a better balance across midfield and in defence, while the Bloods have a more potent small forward line. Expect the Stingrays to win, but it would be close.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
Dandenong Stingrays
West Adelaide
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Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Dandenong Stingrays vs. Central District Bulldogs

OUR next All-Star Team battle is one between a Victorian club and a South Australian club, in the Dandenong Stingrays and Central District. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Brendan Fevola (Dandenong Stingrays) and Shannon Hurn (Central District).

TEAMS:

Dandenong comes into the tournament as the sixth seeds here, boasting an incredibly talented line-up with very few flaws. The Stingrays take on a Central District outfit that has some serious talent with a nice balance between inside and outside players, and is seeded 27th.

STRENGTHS:

The Stingrays have a number of strengths, but it is hard to look past the spine. With Trent Croad and Justin Leppitsch holding down key defensive positions and Tom J. Lynch and Fevola being the twin towers up forward, they have enough talls to control the airways. Further to that, they have one of the best small forwards of all time in Stephen Milne, and a ridiculously deep midfield with Matthew Boyd, Luke Parker and Nathan Jones providing the hardness, and Lachie Whitfield, Adam Treloar and Dylan Shiel providing the run.

Central has one of the best rovers of the modern era in John Platten, as well as the super boot of Hurn coming off half-back. The forward line is no doubt the strongest area for the Bulldogs, with Justin Westhoff and Michael O’Loughlin seriously difficult to contain, while Derek Kickett and Gilbert McAdam provide the class. Peter Vardy becomes a third marking option inside 50, while Stuart Dew is a big game performer and cannot be underestimated inside 50.

WEAKNESSES:

The Stingrays do not have too many weaknesses in the line-up with a real honest group of players across the field. If you were to be picky, you would say another small forward or two would be handy, because aside from Milne and Shane Savage – who realistically has been turned into a defender – the Stingrays are relying on their midfielders to rotate up forward.

Central does not have the depth to match it with the better sides, and while a number of players in their starting side are pretty good and some are among the best of their time – Platten and O’Loughlin in particular – the depth drops off. They would likely be able to match it with sides for a while, but once the opposition class steps up there might be a problem.

SUMMARY

The Stingrays are seeded sixth and expected to advance, but Central is probably a step ahead of those seeded below them so would provide a challenge, particularly if the midfield could get on top.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
Dandenong Stingrays
Central District
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Draft Central All-Star Teams: Dandenong Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays’ depth in terms of talent beyond its best-ever side is quite impressive. It made it incredibly hard to selected just 24 players, with no less than 34 100-gamers already on the books and a number of others quickly making their way there. With Brendan Fevola voted the Best Player of the AFL Era, he leads a team that has very few weaknesses. The midfield and spine is superb, with some quality defenders, and one of the best small forwards of the AFL era also making the team.

THE TEAM:

The Stingrays have very few weaknesses in the squad we have picked, though an over abundance of quality midfielders means they have a couple sliding into the half-forward roles. If there is an area that slightly lacks it would be in the small-medium forward demographic with one of the best in Stephen Milne, but then a drop off to Shane Savage as the next best small-medium forward. The Stingrays are lucky however, because they have a lot of goal-scoring midfielders who can make up the difference and with a mix of accountable and offensive defenders, it would make it tough to kick a winning score against them.

DEFENCE:

The defence is led by three-time premiership player, Justin Leppitsch who is joined in the key position spots with Hawthorn and Fremantle’s Trent Croad. While Croad could play at either end, the fact the team has a couple of elite talents in the forward line means he is best suited on the last line of defence. Michael Hibberd will have the freedom to play that attacking style which really stood out over the past few years – despite a down year last year – because 268-gamer Chris Newman and one-time All-Australian and best and fairest winner, Adam McPhee take the defensive roles. Austinn Jones is an underrated player despite notching up 226 games and two All-Australians and competes a strong back six. On the bench, Nick Haynes is ready to step up in a key role if required, while Chad Morrison could play off half-back or through the middle.

MIDFIELD:

Absolute A-grade quality that has depth for days. Led by three-time best and fairest winner and All-Australian, Matthew Boyd alongside current Sydney star, Luke Parker – who has two and one of those accolades respectively – the onball brigade is further strengthened by former Melbourne captain, Nathan Jones. He has three best and fairests himself, and even just looking at this trio, you can picture them not even needing a midfield coach with the drive and determination they would bring.

Picking the wingers was incredibly difficult because it was obvious that a couple needed to slide into the forward line. Adam Treloar and Dylan Shiel ended up being those players given they have the capacity to hit the scoreboard. The chosen wingers were former number one pick, Travis Johnstone, and GWS GIANTS rising star Lachie Whitfield because of their ability to run all day long. The depth does not just end on the field, with fellow elite gut-runner, Tom Scully on the bench alongside Essendon’s Adam Ramanauskas.

In terms of the rucks, Jeff White was the standout to earn the starting spot thanks to an All-Australian and a best and fairest from 268 games and 113 goals, while David Hille (197 games, 153 goals and a best and fairest) was the second option. In what is probably a coach-killer at the selection table, Toby Thurstans rounds out the bench due to being a premiership player (110 games) but also booting three goals from 11 touches and six marks in Port Adelaide’s 2004 premiership triumph over Brisbane. He might have the lowest games tally of anyone in the team, but has the flexibility to play forward and there are only the two key forwards, and standing up on the biggest stage counts for plenty.

FORWARD:

A tale of two parts inside 50, with two genuine Coleman Medal chances in most years, but a lack of small options. Brendan Fevola and Tom J. Lynch provide a real good combination of talls with the stay-at-home full-forward who could flick the switch in a moment, and a lead-out contested marker who has the capability of working hard up the field and also hitting the scoreboard. Treloar and Shiel, who may not be forwards but deserved to be in the side, are  Milne and Savage. Milne played 275 games and booted 574 goals with two All-Australians in his time at the Saints, and has a case to be one of the best small forwards of the modern era. Savage does not have the same accolades yet, but has also played as a defender after being a defensive forward. On the bench, Thurstans can provide a pinch-hit role to give Fevola or Lynch a spell, while providing extra height in there.

DEPTH:

As mentioned in the introduction, there are 34 100-gamers for the Stingrays so it meant 10 players who reached the century mark missed out on a spot in the side. Ryan Bastinac (164 games) is the most capped player who would be the first emergency in this scenario, while talls who have been maligned but also played some quality football in patches such as Andrejs Everitt and Levi Casboult are thereabouts.

In defence, Kris Massie and Dylan Roberton were also on the verge of making it in, while Carlton’s Darren Hulme worked hard in his 110 games. Twins, Ryan and Nathan Lonie were renowned for their 50-plus metre goals on the run, while Andrew Williams and Steven Salopek were the other 100-gamers to miss out.

Looking at current players who missed out, expect the likes of Zak Jones (90 games), James Harmes (91) and Nic Newman (51) to be in contention in the future, while Jacob Weitering (76) would be eyeing off Croad’s spot at full-back. Much more recently, Josh Battle, Hunter Clark and Luke Davies-Uniacke are others who have already made promising stars to their careers and have between 20-30 games to their name.

NSW/ACT weekly wrap: Demons go down; Giants stand tall

CANBERRA had a tough opener to the season, while GWS Giants and Sydney split their results in the AFL over the Easter long weekend.

Demons go down in standalone opener

Canberra Demons kicked off their North Eastern Australian Football League (NEAFL) season over the Easter break, but unfortunately it was not a Good Friday for them, as they suffered an 82-point loss at the hands of Southport. The Demons were competitive early, trailing by 10 points at quarter time, but a six goals to two second term broke the game open, with the Sharks heading into the main break 35 points adrift. Another six goals to two in the third term ultimately snuffed out any chance of a comeback, before a tighter final term saw the Demons hold the Sharks to just two goals, while booting one themselves.

Tom Highmore was named the Demons’ best in the heavy defeat, while Lucas Meline, Mitchell Hardie, Kade Klemke and Nathan Oakes were also among the top Canberra players on the day. Ben Fulford was the sole multiple goal kicker for the Demons, while the Sharks had 12 individual goal kickers.

The match was a standalone fixture for the NEAFL, replacing their fixture on April 14. This weekend Canberra faces Sydney University at Allinsure Park, while Sydney Swans and GWS Giants clash in a curtain raiser to their respective sides’ AFL match.

Giants stand tall, while Swans shocked in Sydney

GWS Giants remain undefeated despite a huge scare from Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday. The game was marred early by shocking injuries to Tim Broomhead (broken leg) and Tom Scully (ankle), with both sides forced to use their reserve tanks for energy. The Giants ran out the game stronger after leading by just one point at the final break, with the Magpies also missing key target Darcy Moore for the second half, leaving them two rotations down for half the match.

Among the key contributors for GWS were Jeremy Cameron and Stephen Coniglio up forward, with the latter turning the game with two final-quarter goals. Others that stood up were Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel, Lachie Whitfield and up-and-coming star Jeremy Finlayson who picked up 23 disposals in his best career game to date. In the end, the Giants got home by 16 points with a 15.5 (95) to 12.7 (79) victory over the Pies.

The result was not as pleasing for Sydney, as the Swans were outplayed by the Power on Easter Sunday. Lance Franklin continued his fantastic form, with four goals from 15 disposals and five marks, while Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh and Luke Parker showed their experience when the game was hot, all finding plenty of the football. The next generation of Swans stars in Isaac Heeney and Harry Cunningham were also impressive, while Oliver Florent racked up 20 disposals. Their efforts could not get them the four points however, with Sydney going down 14.10 (94) to 10.11 (71) to a Power side that looked every bit a premiership contender.

2015 Draft Profile: Ben Keays

Ben Keays (Queensland/Redland)

Height: 185 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Position: Midfielder/medium forward
Strengths: Workrate, stoppage work, scoreboard impact, marking
Weaknesses: Point of difference, right foot
Player comparison: Luke Parker
First year impact: High

Kicking: Above average
Marking: Above average
Endurance: Above average
Speed: Average

Statistics

Queensland (TAC Cup): four games, 20.3 kicks, 13.3 handballs, 33.5 disposals, 11.3 handball receives, 66 per cent disposal efficiency, seven marks, 4.5 tackles, 0.5 goal

Queensland (under 18 championships): three games, 16.3 kicks, 12.3 handballs, 28.6 disposals, 81 per cent disposal efficiency, five marks, 2.3 tackles, 1 goal

Brisbane have a bargain in this kid. Ben Keays is a dominant inside ball winner who has shown on multiple occasions that he can go forward and create havoc. Keays is a member of the Brisbane academy who is an instant replacement for Jack Redden and James Aish.

Last year Keays was an unknown quantity. He came out of practically nowhere to dominate the under 18 championships as an bottom-ager. He averaged 23 disposals, five tackles, five marks and two goals a game in the under 18 championships. This statline was unprecedented in the Queensland side, which lead him to be selected into the under 18 All-Australian team and the Queensland MVP. This form he carried into the NEAFL and in the TAC Cup. Later in the year, he was selected into the AFL Academy level two after his dominant performances through last year.

This year he has made a statement this year with his performances with the AFL academy. In the first game against Werribee he had 21 disposals in a losing side against the bigger bodies. In the very next game he had 24 disposals against the Northern Blues and kicked a goal. These performances were important in order to lay the foundations for an important year ahead.

Keays then went on to impress at TAC Cup level in his first outing with a 43 disposals and 15 handball receives effort – his best for the season. He continued that form throughout his TAC Cup campaign to average 34 disposals, 11 handball receives, five tackles and seven marks.

Keays carried this strong form into the championships and impressed thoroughly. He was smart, clean, composed and lead by example, helping them collect the division two title. He played more midfield minutes this year compared to last year and it shone through on his statline. He averaged 29 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s, five marks at an outstanding 81 per cent efficiency. This championships gave him a second under 18 All Australian guernsey, division two title and the Queensland MVP. An impressive CV if you consider he was not in the AFL Academy program before 2015.

Where Keays stands out is his workrate. He is the type of player who will make sure he can get the most out of himself on the field and make the extra effort most people won’t.

He has also shown glimpses of what he can do forward of centre. Keays has an innate ability to go one-on-one forward. He is strong in a one on one contest and can take a grab. This allows him to play deep and be a key target for a team or maybe a potential match winner Dustin Martin style. As a high half-forward he creates drive and can have moments where you think he could tear a game apart. This was on full display in his bottom-age year where he dominated the forward line for the Queensland side.

His marking is one of his best features and allows him to make an impact around the ground. With his contested marking excellent for his size.

Although the previously mentioned traits are important, his stoppage work is pivotal to his game – Keays is a extremely smart player. He does not bully players out of the contest like other contested ball winners, he uses his great agility and weaves through the stoppages taking the ball with him.

Keays at his best can win massive amounts of the ball by ripping it from the other players arms and racking up clearances. This was evident in the first game of the under 18 championships when he had 11 clearances and a game-high 16 contested possessions.

Even though Keays’ strengths are all good, he lacks an elite trait. He is not an elite ball winner, he is not particularly athletic and he does not have elite skills. He’s a jack-of-all trades in sense. This is not to knock on how good he is, but it is a reality check for those expecting a superstar.

Keays is also remarkably one sided kicked. Keays uses his left foot kicking extremely well but in situation where he could easily go onto his right instead tries to weave his way around opponents or use his left foot when there’s an opponent coming from the left. If Keays can start using his right foot, it would add another string in his bow as a player.

Keays as a whole is an exciting prospect who can play round one and make an impact. He’s a hard-working, goal-kicking, marking, stoppage specialist who is going to play a big role for the Lions in 2016.

Under the guidance of midfield coach and club legend Simon Black, we could see a 150 plus gamer who will be apart of the next phase of the Lions’ rebuild. Luke Parker is someone to compare Ben Keays to, as a solid midfielder who can impact stoppages, take marks, go forward and potentially be a match winner down the track. As much as the other 17 clubs would like, Keays will be a Brisbane Lion and become a key player in the future.