Tag: midfielders

PODCAST EXPLAINER | The Midfielder’s Draft

THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this week for another pocket podcast edition, this time breaking down why the upcoming AFL intake has been deemed a midfielder’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime midfielders available, and why they are likely to feature at the pointy end.

Among the group of likely first-rounders, the team broke prospects into three different categories to get a better understanding of how each of them play, and perhaps help fans narrow in on the exact type of ball winner they want their club to pursue. In this week’s explainer, we delve into said categories and the players which suit them respectively.

Podcast link: Click here!

PODCAST AGENDA

FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS

The top two

It is no secret that Nick Daicos and Jason Horne-Francis are regarded by many as the top two prospects in this year’s draft, and they just so happen to both be midfielders. While clear of the competition, they are very different types and have varying weapons which they lean on.

Daicos is an accumulator who offers an outrageously consistent output with his work-rate, unrivalled smarts, and team-oriented play. While he brings class and grace, Horne-Francis is more of a bull at the coalface with his explosiveness and noted aggression at both ball and carrier. He can open games up with penetrating kicks and high marks, bring his impact per possession to a high level.

The safe/reliable picks

Reliability is a major factor in what clubs look for in their potential draftees, and there are a selection of midfielders which can certainly offer as much among the 2021 crop. For much of the pathway, Ben Hobbs has been one who looks ready to go with his mature frame and strength in contested situations now complimented by hard running and consistent disposal outputs.

Fellow Victorian Josh Ward has added inside elements to his game this season to rise into top 10 contention, complimenting his running ability and wonderfully clean skills with some real grunt in midfield. Over in Western Australia, Neil Erasmus has put up exceptional numbers at PSA and WAFL Colts level, while Matthew Roberts has taken well to senior football in the SANFL.

While Hobbs, Erasmus and Roberts have all battled injury this year around their runs of form, all four players here are the types who will perform each week and look safe bets as 200-game players for the future. They are reliable, tough, and hard-working, so should provide great value in the first round.

The classy types

Many clubs will value midfielders who can not only win the ball at a good rate, but also use it well. This year, there are a few who fit this category with enviable class on the ball and elite decision making which really puts them above many others in the draft class.

Arguably atop the list, and one who could fit a range of categories is Finn Callaghan. The Sandringham Dragons powerhouse has been a big improver this year, developing from a half-back and wingman to become an outstanding centre bounce operator. At 189cm, he has the build of a modern day midfielder but moves so gracefully in traffic, never rushed and always able to manufacture a bit of space before delivering effective disposals.

Tyler Sonsie is a prospect who fits this mould perfectly, and was considered a top five candidate coming into the year. Injury has interrupted his campaign, but the Eastern Ranges midfielder is as poised as they come in possession with top level vision and skills coming out of congestion. His ability to roll forward and find the goals is another string to his bow, and an important point of difference.

Another couple of dynamic types with plenty of class are Matthew Johnson and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. While one has slid a touch as the other has risen this year, there is no denying that both players use the ball beautifully by foot and are two of the more elite kicks going around. At 193cm, Johnson features more at the centre bounces and moves well in traffic, while Wanganeen-Milera has tricks on the outside and can carve up the opposition in space.

The versatile/hybrid types

Hybrid is a bit of an in-vogue word at the moment, but in this sense we’re talking about the players who are versatile and can impact in other areas of the ground before eventually becoming more permanent midfielders, or pinch-hitting there.

There is a good handful of first round talent which suits this mould, starting with South Australian Arlo Draper. He fares well at stoppages and can certainly get his hands on the ball there, but adds a point of difference with his ability to take marks and kick goals up forward. He has been more of a midfielder-forward at Under 18s level, but has spent more time among the front half in senior grades.

Prominent Sandringham Dragons pair Josh Sinn and Campbell Chesser are players who have notable outside traits, including their speed, line-breaking ability, and kicking skills. Both have developed across half-back and the wing, but can just as capably play on the inside and are true metres-gained assets in all roles.

Along with the above pair, Josh Rachele has been a standout throughout the pathways and while he has more often been used as a half-forward for Murray and Vic Country, can certainly impact with his speed and skill in midfield. From small to tall, Josh Goater is a big-bodied type on the inside who can essentially play anywhere. He has clean hands and unreal athleticism, which boded well for his most recent move to half-back with plenty of run and intercept marking.

DEPTH – OTHERS TO CONSIDER

It’s not just a midfielder’s draft in the first round, with many top ball winners rising into contention or remaining around the mark. There is a healthy scattering of players from different regions, offering a diverse range of skills and mostly being available in the open draft.

Zac Taylor and Mitch Knevitt offer very different styles, but both were in sensational form before the latest Victorian lockdown. Dandenong Stingrays pair Judson Clarke and Connor Macdonald are smaller types with terrific craft, while Jake Soligo is another in that mould. Elsewhere, St Kilda fans with have their eyes on exciting NGA pair Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens, while Northern’s Ned Long is one to keep an eye on.

Western Australia’s engine room has proven very strong in representative hitouts, with a good mix of hardened inside types and accumulating outside runners. Josh Browne is as consistent as they come, while Corey Warner offers some forward drive on the outer, and Taj Woewodin is a Melbourne father-son candidate with nice traits. On the inside, Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick are absolute bulls, with Dittmar’s East Perth teammate James Tunstill another to consider.

Port Adelaide has its own father-son prospect in Jase Burgoyne, who is a really classy type. He is quite light-on though, and may have to lean on his versatility to play off half-back before entering the midfield fray. Elsewhere, Hugh Jackson had an outstanding first half of the season to put his name in the spotlight, and Cooper Murley arguably possesses top 25 talent, but has been struck down by injury for much of the year.

Pocket Podcast | The Midfielder’s Draft

THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this week for another pocket podcast edition, this time breaking down why the upcoming AFL intake has been deemed a midfielder’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime midfielders available, and why they are likely to feature at the pointy end.

Among the group of likely first-rounders, the team broke prospects into three different categories to get a better understanding of how each of them play, and perhaps help fans narrow in on the exact type of ball winner they want their club to pursue. Below is an ordered run sheet for all the topics covered.

Podcast link: Click here!

Podcast Agenda:

  • The top end – first round prospects
    • The top two – Daicos and Horne-Francis
    • The safe/reliable picks – Hobbs, Ward, Erasmus, Roberts
    • The classy types – Callaghan, Sonsie, Johnson, Wanganeen-Milera
    • The versatile/hybrid types – Draper, Sinn, Rachele, Goater, Chesser
  • Depth – those also in contention

Stay tuned to Draft Central, as tomorrow we’ll have an explainer piece to accompany your listen.

>> Top 30 Ranked: September Power Rankings

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best midfielders over 190cm

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 to compare and contrast the best midfielders over 190cm available in this year’s AFL Draft pool. It is a prototype which is in vogue at the moment among AFL circles, with clubs keen to uncover the next Nat Fyfe, Patrick Cripps, or Marcus Bontempelli with tall midfielders who are contested beasts and can take ahold of games.

For the most part, the discussion centred around three key draft talents in said category; Alex Davies, Reef McInnes, and Caleb Poulter. Each of them are regarded as top 25 talents in this year’s crop and shape as the three best 190cm-plus midfielders. Unfortunately for the sake of most fans, both Davies (Gold Coast) and McInnes (Collingwood) are already tied to AFL clubs through their respective academy systems. Davies is set to be pre-listed by the Suns, while Oakleigh’s McInnes could attract a bid between picks 15 and 25. That leaves Poulter, a South Australian bolter of sorts who is the ideal hybrid type and may have clubs fighting over his services in the late-first to early-second round.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

PLAYER PROFILES

(click on their names highlighted in red for full draft profiles)

Alex Davies
Gold Coast Academy/Allies

Height: 192cm
Weight: 85kg
DOB: March 18, 2002

Plays… almost exclusively on the inside as a primary ball winner.

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Height: 193cm
Weight: 86kg
DOB: December 12, 2002

Plays… at both ends when required, but thrives on the inside with his size and athleticism.

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia

Height: 192cm
Weight: 79kg
DOB: October 12, 2002

Plays… inside, outside, and up forward with great presence and class.

Other players who entered the discussion include:

Josh Green – brother of Tom who is also tied to the GWS Academy, can play key position or inside midfield.
Lachlan Carrigan – Sandringham wingman who is developing quickly, runs well and has a damaging kick.
Saxon Crozier – Brisbane Academy product who is versatile but outside leaning, and boasts a thumping boot.
Aiden Fyfe – Gold Coast Academy wingman/half-back who is highly athletic and may attract interest from other clubs.

The likes of Elijah Hollands (189cm), Archie Perkins (188cm), Jack Carroll (187cm), and Nathan O’Driscoll (187cm) were among the first round candidates to narrowly miss the 190cm cut, but are similarly tall midfielders who could provide the same kind of value as those listed above.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

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

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The top non-aligned midfielders

OVER the last week, 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 fourth edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss the best midfielders who are not already aligned to AFL clubs, available in this year’s crop.

Three Victorian prospects in said category were identified as clear top 10 candidates; namely Elijah Hollands, Will Phillips, and Tanner Bruhn. While all slightly different players, clubs in the market for the best midfielders available inside the top 10 will most likely look no further than this trio. There were a bunch of others mentioned as first and second round candidates in the ‘pure’ midfield mould, including the likes of Finlay Macrae, Tom Powell, and Zane Trew. Also around the top 25 mark are some types who, like Hollands, can impact just as profoundly in other positions. Those include Caleb Poulter, Nathan O’Driscoll, Archie Perkins, and Jack Carroll.

To listen to the podcast in full, click here.

Below are pocket profiles on each player, split into respective categories:

The top 10’ers:

Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Hybrid | 188cm | 85kg | 25/04/2002
Range: 1-5

The most highly touted of the lot, Hollands’ true midfield value remains somewhat unknown given he has spend a year on the sidelines – not only due to a lack of competition, but also a long-term knee injury. He remains a top five candidate and was poised for greater midfield minutes in 2020 having cut his teeth as a game-winning forward with terrific athleticism and X-factor.

Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Balanced | 180cm | 79kg | 22/05/2002
Range: 3-10

Arguably the best pure midfielder of the bunch, Phillips is a tough and consistent ball winner who won last year’s NAB League premiership with Oakleigh, running alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson at the centre bounces. His clean hands in extraction and short burst of acceleration make up much of his play, and Phillips is also lauded for his character on and off the field.

Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Inside | 182cm | 73kg | 27/05/2002
Range: 5-10

Bruhn has endured his fair share of injury setbacks since bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old. He brings class to each contest, able to win the ball at ground level and gain great meterage from tight spaces. The 18-year-old is coming off just two NAB League appearances in 2019 and another knee issue early this year, but remains a reliable option within the top 10 range.

The pure midfielders:

Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Balanced | 184cm | 75kg | 13/03/2002
Range: 12-20

The half-brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jack, Macrae is the kind of player you want delivering the ball into attacking 50. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player oozes class and a beautiful side-step, which which aids his delivery on both sides of the body. He was squeezed out of the midfield at times last year, but can rack up plenty of possessions on the inside and outside.

Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
Inside | 183cm | 74kg | 2/03/2002
Range: 15-25

One of, if not the most consistent and prolific possession getters in this year’s pool, Powell enjoyed a stellar 2020 season which saw him earn the McCallum Tomkins Medal as the best SANFL Under 18s player. Averaging over 30 disposals for minor premier, Sturt, Powell has shot into first round contention and boasts wonderfully quick hands at the contest.

Zane Trew (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
Inside | 185cm | 80kg | 26/04/2002
Range: 20-30

Trew is a strong-bodied type who consistently wins plenty of the ball at stoppages and is renowned for his use of the ball by hand. The West Australian has spent a fair amount of time on the sidelines, but has good two-way presence on the field with his ability to extract, deliver eye-catching releases, and tackle hard. He remains within top 25 calculations.

The hybrids:

Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
Balanced | 187cm | 78kg | 17/05/2002
Range: 20-30

One whose range is hotly debated among draft followers, O’Driscoll is fresh off a season which ended in a WAFL League finals appearance. The 18-year-old overcame an interrupted preseason to showcase his hard-running ability and value on either the inside or outside of midfield. At 187cm, has great upside given his athleticism and versatility.

Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Fwd/In. Mid | 186cm | 77kg | 26/03/2002
Range: 12-20

Potentially the best athlete of the lot, Perkins is a prospect with plenty of upside given those explosive athletic traits and his strong tendency to hit the scoreboard. He played at half-forward, on a wing, and through the engine room as a bottom-ager, with eyes on consolidating that midfield role in 2020. He is the type who bustles through congestion with bursting speed.

Caleb Poulter (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Fwd/Bal. Mid | 192cm | 79kg | 12/10/2002
Range: 15-25

A late bloomer of sorts, Poulter has rocketed into first round calculations on the back of a season where he dominated the Under 18s and earned a Reserves berth. The Eagles product provides great presence on both sides of midfield and is as stylish as they come, able to clunk big overhead marks or kick long-range goals. At 192cm, he is the prototype modern day midfielder.

Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Def/Out. Mid | 187cm | 76kg | 20/12/2002
Range: 15-25

Having previously proven his worth off half-back and on the wing, Carroll was able to improve his standing this year with some time at the centre bounces during his WAFL Colts campaign. His season was ultimately cut short by a wrist injury, but he was able to show good consistency and class on the ball. He is a December birth too, meaning he may have plenty of good development left.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman

AFL Draft Watch: Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

IN the midst of football’s long-awaited return, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty has changed between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is East Fremantle prospect Jack Carroll, a classy midfielder who uses the ball cleanly moving forward. Having cut his teeth across half-back and on the outside, the 17-year-old has also proven his ability to find the ball as a centre bounce feature in 2020. Carroll’s clean hands and agility allow him to weave through traffic and release efficiently via hand or foot, while his potent left side comes to the fore on the outer. With some promising WAFL Colts form this year, the top-ager has risen into first round calculations as he knocks on the door of senior promotion.

PLAYER PAGE:

Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia

DOB: December 20, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: Midfielder/Half-Back

Strengths: Poise/class, efficiency, agility, versatility, scope
Improvements: Inside game

2020 WAFL Colts averages: 7 games | 22.9 disposals | 3.9 marks | 3.4 tackles | 3.6 inside 50s | 0.9 goals (6)

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

SCOUTING NOTES:

2020 WAFL Colts Round 7 vs. Claremont

By: Lenny Fogliani

Arguably the best player on the ground, the Chapman Valley product finished with 31 possessions, four marks, four inside 50s and two goals in a powerful performance. His ability to get out of congestion and find a teammate in space was a real feature of his game.

2020 WAFL Colts Round 4 vs. Perth

By: Lenny Fogliani

The Chapman Valley product was his busy self through midfield for the Sharks. Playing as the ruck-rover, Carroll collected 20 possessions, laid five tackles, took four marks, and recorded four inside 50s in a polished display. His decision-making combined with his beautiful kicking skills make him an attractive midfield prospect.

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Made a quiet start but worked into it with a strong mark at half-back late in the second term and opened the game right up. Had a courageous marking attempt to spoil it away in the middle of the ground against Eddie Ford, then played in the forward half of the ground with midfield minutes in the second half. He fired a no-look handball out to space late in the third term for a teammate to run onto at the centre stoppage, then proceeded to find plenty of the ball through the middle. He finished the game with a nice kick off the left on the run for a consolation goal midway through the last quarter.

2019 WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. Swan Districts

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2017 WA U15s State Schoolboys representative continued his fine season for the Sharks with another sensational performance. Against the Swans, Carroll collected 21 possessions, laid four tackles and took two marks to be one of the Sharks’ best midfielders on the day.

Featured Image: Jack Carroll against West Perth | Credit: Pixell Photography

>> 2020 Western Australia U18s Squad Prediction
>> Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders
>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Charlie Byrne
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden
Patrick Walker

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tariek Newchurch
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Oliver Henry
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jake Bowey
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Zane Trew
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2020

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

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

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

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

July Ranking: #1

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

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

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

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

July Ranking: #2

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: #3

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

July Ranking: #5

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: #4

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

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

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

July Ranking: #6

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: #7

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

July Ranking: #8

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

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

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

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

July Ranking: #20

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

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

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

July Ranking: #9

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

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

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

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

July Ranking: #10

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

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

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

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

July Ranking: #17

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

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

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

July Ranking: #13

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: #11

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: #12

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

July Ranking: #16

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

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: NR

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

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

July Ranking: NR

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

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

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

July Ranking: #18

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

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

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

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

July Ranking: #14

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

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

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

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

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

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

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AFL Draft Watch: Caleb Poulter (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) prospect Caleb Poulter, a player who is bolting into first round contention for this year’s draft. The big-bodied midfielder/forward has real hurt factor, able to punish the opposition with his penetrating boot, knack for finding the goals, and tackling pressure. His presence is always noticeable, and strong overhead marks only add to the highlight reels he seems to produce each game.

After five impressive SANFL Under 18s outings thus far, Poulter has become one of the Eagles’ most fancied draft prospects and may well continue to climb the state league ranks. He has really come on as of late, having only represented South Australia’s Under 16 side last year. His form warranted selection in the SANFL Under 17 Futures fixture, and he has shone ever since.

PLAYER PAGE:

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia

DOB: October 12, 2002

Height: 190cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: Midfielder/Forward

Strengths: Presence, scoreboard impact, overhead marking, tackling, kick penetration
Improvements: Four-quarter consistency, blazing away

2020 SANFL Under 18s averages: 5 games | 24.2 disposals | 6.2 marks | 6.8 tackles | 2.8 clearances | 5.0 inside 50s | 1.0 rebound 50s | 1.2 goals

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 58cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 78cm/69cm
Speed (20m): 3.14 seconds
Agility: 9.01 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2020 SCOUTING NOTES:

SANFL Under 18s Round 5 vs. Glenelg

By: Michael Alvaro

Poulter just has such a remarkable presence on the field, and he is impossible to miss when the ball enters his area. Starting in midfield, his clearance work was sound and he got to work with some brilliant handballs out of congestion, showcasing his rare vision. Throughout the game there were bursts through traffic, strong overhead grabs, and some crunching tackles to stop Glenelg’s counter attacks in their tracks.

Despite copping a knock in the third term, Poulter remained involved. He did not quite manage to find the goals, but that was not for a lack of trying – even from distance. His kick penetration is obviously great, but he can sure up his short-range game a touch to prevent simply blazing away.

SANFL Under 18s Round 4 vs. North Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Poulter has been one of the more prolific Under 18 players after four rounds, but struggled to make his usual impact on this occasion as his magnet was thrown up and down the team whiteboard. He made a quiet start and never quite got going, but looked dangerous early as he burst through congestion and released some typically shrewd handballs.

His kick penetration was still on point, and Poulter managed to contribute some clean touches along the line, but was often blanketed in general play by North Adelaide’s pressure. He had the chance to regain some confidence after earning a holding the ball free kick inside 50, but spurned the set shot wearing only one boot. Having been tried on all three lines, it seems Poulter has the greatest impact as a midfielder who can rotate forward.

SANFL Under 18s Round 3 vs. Norwood

By: Tom Cheesman

Big-bodied midfielder, Poulter was a shining light for the Eagles in their loss, collecting 29 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and two goals. He was incredibly dangerous when playing up forward, creating havoc both in the air and on the ground. Poulter’s marking ability was on show on Saturday, as he was rarely out-marked and was frequently a go-to option for his side coming out of defence. His disposals can be rushed and wayward at times, but his left-foot kick is terrific whenever he has time to compose himself before delivering to a teammate. A nice goal from 50 in the third term showed that his kick has great range too.

SANFL Under 18s Round 2 vs. Sturt

By: Ed Pascoe

Although he wasn’t quite able to match his outstanding performance last week, Poulter was still arguably his side’s most dangerous player – especially inside 50 where he was a a threat on the lead and at ground level. Poulter again showed some rare abilities for a player of his size with his tackling and clean hands at ground level again impressing. He really hunts the opposition with his tackles and is willing to make repeat efforts, which is nice to see.

His efforts in the air were also impressive as he was always leading up hard and willing to crash packs to get the ball to ground. You can imagine him having even more impact in that area when he puts on more size. Poulter kicked two classy goals in the third quarter, with the first coming from a brilliant pick-up on the run at his feet and then kicking a lovely snap goal. The second was also a snap goal with little time to think about it, showing his natural talent. Poulter finished the game with 16 disposals, seven tackles, five marks, and kicked 3.1 in another great performance. 

SANFL Under 18s Round 1 vs. South Adelaide

By: Ed Pascoe

It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye. 

Poulter showed great agility and clean hands at ground level which was impressive for a 190cm-plus player, but even with his attacking side coming to the fold it was also his defensive game which stood out as he was always prepared to tackle despite looking gassed late in the game, but you couldn’t fault that. Poulter finished the game with 34 disposals, seven clearances, seven marks, 10 tackles, and a goal to be the standout player not just for this game, but for the whole round in general. 

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

>> 2020 South Australia U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

AFL Draft Watch: Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Peel Thunder’s Isiah Winder, an exciting small who has eyes on a WAFL League debut. The Peel prospect shone with four goals throughout the Thunder’s 2019 Colts finals campaign, and has hit the ground running this season in a more advanced role up the field.

Winder has collected 26 and 32 disposals in his two outings to date, while still being able to find the goals. He is a constant threat up forward with his sticky hands, evasion, and goal sense, while also being able to utilise his speed, agility, and smarts to impact through midfield. He looms as a serious bolter for this year’s AFL Draft as he continues to put runs on the board.

PLAYER PAGE:

Isiah Winder
(Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

DOB: May 16, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Goal sense, speed, clean hands, x-factor, upside
Improvements: Consistency

2020 WAFL Colts averages: 2 games | 29 disposals | 6 marks | 7 tackles | 2.5 inside 50s | 1 goal

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 WAFL Grand Final vs. Claremont

By: Lenny Fogliani

The bottom-aged prospect showed why he finished in the top 10 of the Jack Clarke Medal with a sizzling performance. He finished with 10 possessions, four marks, two inside 50s and a goal. The highlight of his game came in the second quarter when he stepped his way around an opponent before he snapped through his second goal.

Picture: Aaron Kirby/Coastal Times

>> 2020 Western Australia U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

AFL Draft Watch: Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Sturt’s Tom Powell, the most prolific ball winner in this year’s SANFL Under 18s competition after four rounds. The handball happy Double Blues gun leads the league for disposals (34.5 per game), clearances (10), and inside 50s (six), putting him right up there for draft contention. His remarkable form comes off the back of a heavily interrupted bottom-age campaign and hip surgery in November, but he has come back better than ever.

While Powell is a master of extraction and distribution, his fitness testing results point to him being quite the explosive athlete. Having worked on his running ability and strength during preseason, Powell is beginning to look more and more well-rounded with each passing performance, and is firming as a true bolter among this year’s crop.

PLAYER PAGE:

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia

DOB: March 2, 2002

Height: 180cm
Weight: 73kg

Position: Inside Midfielder

Strengths: Accumulation, contested ball, handball efficiency, awareness
Improvements: Strength, repeat running

2020 SANFL U18s stats: 4 games | 34.5 disposals | 3.0 marks | 4.3 tackles | 10 clearances | 6.0 inside 50s | 3.3 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

>> Q&A: Tom Powell

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 71cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 88cm/89cm
Speed (20m) – 3.04 seconds
Agility – 8.35 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2020 SCOUTING NOTES:

SANFL U18s Round 4 vs. South Adelaide

By: Ed Pascoe

Mr Consistent, Mr Prolific, you could also call him the best young midfielder in South Australia at the moment as he again had a huge game as he continues to catch the eye of scouts. Powell again was a ball magnet both at stoppages and on the outside where he found the ball with ease and again used it cleanly and sharply – especially by hand.

Powell’s kicking has been the one area that has only been ok, but he managed to hit a fantastic pass inside 50 in the last quarter and if he can do that more often, he could become an even bigger threat. Powell finished the game with 36 disposals, four tackles and 11 clearances and is showing no signs of letting up this year as he pushes his case to recruiters for this year’s draft.

SANFL U18s Round 3 vs. West Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Powell was far and away the best afield, setting himself apart with an unmatched ball winning ability, and consistent impact on the contest where it mattered most. The balanced midfielder is one of the finest exponents of the handball in this year’s crop, and would have run very close to 100 per cent efficiency in that area – something he has been known to achieve on recent form. But what was perhaps most pleasing about Powell’s game on Saturday was the added dimensions to his craft; showcasing his improved work on the spread, and aptitude in running with the ball, and a higher output by foot.

While Powell’s agility and awareness at the contest remained, it was clear that the confidence he gained throughout a dominant third term allowed him to better take the game on with some daring dash away from the contest and sharp disposal on the end of it. He was nothing short of dominant in against the relatively small Westies midfield, collecting a monster 39 disposals, 14 clearances, and eight inside 50s. All the pieces of the puzzle seem to be falling into place, with Powell’s potential being met after long stints on the sideline last year.

SANFL U18s Round 2 vs. WWT Eagles

By: Ed Pascoe

t was like déjà vu watching Powell, who had another incredible game through the midfield. He really is just a machine at stoppages, winning the ball at will. Powell’s style isn’t fancy – you wont see him bursting out of stoppages – but what you will see is an extremely efficient midfielder who is clean at gathering the ball and even cleaner with his delivery by hand, whether that’s on his left or right which not many players have.

Powell’s kicking and ability on the outside would be the main focus area for him as his inside game is just about flawless and with the amount of footy he wins he could really turn that into a more damaging package, like Lachie Neale. Powell finished the game with 35 disposals (21 handballs), seven clearances and five tackles backing up a his 34 disposals last week. 

SANFL U18s Round 1 vs. Central District

By: Tom Wyman

Recruiters will be encouraged to see Powell have some success early on in the season, given his recent battles with injury. The Sturt on-baller was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval, finishing with 34 touches. Akin to fellow-on-baller Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.

While he put together a very strong game, it could have been even better had he converted some of his attempts on goal. Expect to see more of Powell in the Reserves later in the season, as he appeared a cut above Under 18 level against the ‘Dogs.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT
>> 2020 South Australia U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Geelong Falcons’ midfielder Laura Gardiner, one of the most prolific ball winners of this year’s cohort.

Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Height: 165cm
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Contested ball, accumulation, tackling, consistency

2020 NAB League stats: 2 games | 34.5 disposals | 2.0 marks | 11.5 tackles | 5.0 inside 50s | 3.0 rebound 50s | 0.5 goals (1)

2019 NAB League stats: 10 games | 13.1 disposals | 1.0 marks | 5.3 tackles | 1.7 inside 50s | 0.3 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1)

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 3 games | 11.7 disposals | 0.3 marks | 5.3 tackles | 2.0 clearances | 2.3 inside 50s | 0.3 rebound 50s

Like many prospects heading into their top-age seasons, Gardiner has thrived upon being unleashed in a more primary role for her NAB League side. After being utilised out on a wing and rotating through the engine room across 10 outings in 2019, Gardiner has blossomed into a bona fide elite inside ball winner – albeit from what a two-game sample size suggests.

Her form last year was enough to earn a berth in the Under 18 Vic Country squad, where she ran out thrice for the ‘Big V’ alongside a raft of fellow Falcons, averaging of over 11 disposals and five tackles per game. Again, with the likes of Lucy McEvoy almost permanently running through the middle of the park, Gardiner was made to find form in other positions.

In 2020, she and Darcy Moloney found their groove as the prime movers in Geelong’s side, returning dominant individual performances against good opposition. Gardiner’s two-way work rate was evident, able to dig in and extract her own ball, while ensuring the opposition would have little time in possession with her tackling pressure.

Against Gippsland in Round 1, the 165cm prospect racked up a round-high 38 disposals and laid 14 tackles, with a goal serving as the cherry on top as the Falcons got up by 33 points. The monster performance earned Gardiner the first Draft Central Player of the Week nod for 2020, and she backed it up with 31 touches against reigning premier, Northern in Round 3.

That kind of ball winning consistency is rare, especially within 15-minute quarters. While her ability to extract and release from the stoppages is terrific, Gardiner’s value does not just stop there, with a sound work rate and added dimension of outside accumulation making her a well-rounded midfield prospect.

Should the NAB League Girls get back on the park in 2020, expect Gardiner to be at the forefront of Geelong’s forward drive once again, picking up right from where she left off.

>> NAB League Girls Rd 1 POTW: Laura Gardiner