Tag: mitch hibberd

2019 AFL Draft club review: Essendon Bombers

AFTER a trade period that saw Essendon largely retain most of its list despite the likes of Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia linked to other clubs, the Bombers headed into the draft to just fill some holes and improve their mid-table finish to a top four hopeful. Fans were keen to see at least one tall taken, as well as a potential goalkicking forward, but most importantly a big-bodied inside midfielder. Whilst the Bombers managed to achieve the first two aims, in the National AFL Draft, fans were concerned that they had not picked up the third. Then a day later, a mature-ager in Mitch Hibberd was selected to provide immediate support in the area.


National Draft:
30. Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
38. Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
56. Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
63. Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility

Rookie Draft:
10. Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown) | 191cm | 90kg | Inside Midfielder

It was rumoured from the outset that the Bombers were keen on Harrison Jones, a key position utility with high upside, and, conveniently a Bombers supporter. The 196cm tall has played back, forward and even in the ruck, with a sub-three second 20m sprint and an elite endurance base. While only standing at 78kg and viewed as a long-term prospect, the Bombers were confident enough to select him with Pick 30 – trading up to secure the talented tall. Essendon then doubled up on high potential big men with the selection of athletic star, Nick Bryan. While Bryan’s year was not as consistent as some would have hoped given his start, he showed during the finals series what he was capable of, picking up plenty of touches in the NAB League Finals Series and clunking the contested marks that he was not earlier in the season. Still a lot of room to build into his body, Bryan is worth the selection based on his upside, even if some might have considered it a bit of a reach on the night. With the premiership ruck considered in the top few rucks this year, it was too hard to pass up for Essendon who were in dire need of a quality back-up to Tom Bellchambers as Sam Draper continues to show great signs but unfortunately injured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Essendon met its small forward need at Pick 56 when it pounced on Dandenong Stingrays’ excitement machine, Ned Cahill. The 179cm forward has shown he is capable of playing through the midfield, but is much more damaging around goals with a good endurance base and ability to apply defensive pressure to the opposition. Whilst his best weapons are his offensive ones close to goal, Cahill can make opposition defenders nervous with his implied pressure and quick footsteps helped by his nimble movement. Along with Cahill, Next Generation Academy member Lachlan Johnson was picked up in what was an unusual set of circumstances. Tied to the Brisbane Lions through the father-son ruling thanks to his 300-game father Chris, the Lions had nominated him as a rookie prospect. It did mean any selection in the National Draft would trump the Lions’ offer and it was somewhat ironic that the Bombers chose to do so. Earlier, Essendon bid on Brisbane Academy prospect Keidean Coleman, but that bid was matched by the Lions.

In their only selection of the 2019 Rookie Draft, Essendon picked up Hibberd, in what was a blessing for Bombers fans. They wanted a big-bodied inside midfielder who could come in and play a role, and given Hibberd’s experience at AFL level, that is exactly what they got with the selection. The Williamstown midfielder needed just one year in the state league system before showing clubs he was more than capable of earning a second chance, this time with the red and black.

Overall, Essendon drafted for long-term, before grabbing Hibberd who could immediately fill a role in the midfield from early in the season. Do not expect many of the others to see too many games next year, with Jones and Bryan having to add size to their frame and develop their games further, while Johnson is coming off an ACL injury. Cahill is some chance throughout the season, but will be another who is more likely to impact in a couple of years.

VFL weekly wrap: Dolphins come close

ROUND 5 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) saw Essendon and Richmond remain the only two undefeated sides in the competition, with the Bombers occupying top spot on a mammoth percentage.

Northern Blues 12.17 (89) defeated North Melbourne 7.10 (52)

North Melbourne started off the better of the two sides and looked on track to record their first win of the season, before the Blues reeled them back in and put on a final quarter to remember, winning by 37 points. The Kangaroos led for the majority of the first half, only slipping up just before the main break. They wrestled the lead back at three-quarter time, however from that point on it was all the Blues as they kicked 6 goals to none. Sam Fisher and Dan Robinson had the most touches on the ground with 27, while Curtis Taylor and Noah Wheeler kicked three goals each.

Essendon 13.16 (94) defeated Geelong 7.10 (52)

The curtain raiser to the Country Match at the MCG was anticlimactic as the Bombers boosted their percentage with a 42-point victory. Essendon took the lead midway through the first term and never looked back. Trent Mynott kicked three goals for the red and black. Charlie Constable won 25 disposals while Ryan Abbott dominated in the ruck following Sam Draper‘s unfortunate ACL injury, kicking two goals from 19 disposals and notching up 37 hitouts.

Coburg 12.7 (79) defeated by Port Melbourne 12.13 (85)

With a score worm that looks like the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Borough recorded an almighty comeback win at Piranha Park. Trailing by 37 points at half-time, Gary Ayres’ men fought back to win by six points. It was Campbell Walker‘s goal that gave Port the lead, and they would hold on in a tense last five minutes to claim the four points. Steven Stroobants had kicked one of his four goals a minute earlier to give the Lions back the lead. Tom O’Sullivan had 30 disposals while Shannen Lange had 28 and kicked a goal. Liam Dickson was best afield for the home side with 25 disposals, closely followed by Marcus Lentini with 24.

Casey 8.11 (59) defeated by Footscray 11.10 (76)

Casey seemed to drop dead at half time, barely putting up a fight as they relinquished their lead and the four points to the Bulldogs. The Demons trailed by 25 points early in the first term but fought back to lead by 2 points at the main break. Footscray then booted four goals to none in the third term to set up the victory. Bailey Williams recorded 29 disposals, while Tom Boyd booted three goals as he continues his return to football. Sam Weideman responded to his AFL non-selection with two goals and 21 disposals in a solid outing for Casey.

Williamstown 4.10 (34) defeated by Richmond 12.13 (85)

The Tigers led from the first bounce to the final siren, securing a big win away from home against the Seagulls. Richmond restricted Williamstown to just one goal at the three-quarter time break as they romped to a 51-point win. Dan Butler and Jake Aarts kicked three goals each while Maibor Chol added two. Mitch Hibberd had 27 touches for the Seagulls as Sam Dunell and Patty Naish each recorded 23 disposals.

Sandringham 11.12 (78) defeated Frankston 12.4 (76)

Football returned to Moorabbin for the first time in over a decade as the Zebras turned around a half-time deficit to deny the Dolphins their first victory of the season. Frankston led by as much as 16 points early in the third term after Sandy led by as much at quarter time. It was the Zebras’ six goal third quarter that gave them the win, despite the Dolphins holding them scoreless in the final term. Luke Dunstan was best afield with 32 disposals and a goal, while David Armitage also kicked a goal to go along with his 25 touches. Dolphins captain, Josh Newman led from the front with 26 disposals. Frankston’s forward line showed glimpses of what’s to come as Yilber Zijai kicked four goals from four kicks, while Shem Tatupu slotted home three.

Bye – Box Hill, Werribee, Collingwood

Picture: VFL.com.au

2019 VFL season preview: Werribee ready to roar

IT is a new season and reigning premiers Box Hill Hawks are the team with a target on their back. We take a look at each of the 15 Victorian Football League (VFL) teams with plenty of new inclusions to excite fans ahead of the season, with Werribee and Port Melbourne tipped to be some of the top sides in the competition.

Box Hill Hawks

Last season: Premiers

The Hawks have brought in a number of big ball winners to their side with tall winger, Mason De Wit and strong mid/forward Jake Frawley heading to the brown and gold with outside runner, Boadie Motton from Gippsland Power. The Hawks have also picked up Nathan Mullenger-McHugh from the Western Bulldogs, and some experience out west in West Perth’s Luke Meadows. Add in Port Melbourne’s Damian Mascitti and the talented but relatively unknown Paddy Anderson from the Hampden League, and the Hawks have brought in some page and power up forward, as well as great midfield depth. Will Hams will be a loss with a number of other players out to play local footy, while former Sandringham Dragon, Georgie Nagle has headed to Port Melbourne. The reigning premiers have built on the list that took them to the cup last season and they are a team to watch in season 2019.

Casey Demons

Last season: Grand Finalists

The Demons have traded around Stingrays, with Riley D’Arcy, Goy Lok and Ali Zijai all heading to Frankston over the summer, but have brought in premiership Stingrays, Jai Taylor and Matthew Gahan for the 2019 season. Gahan offers good movement out of defence, while the lightning quick Taylor will no doubt make it easy for Casey’s social media team to regularly draw out highlights. Heath Briggs joins his brother at the Demons, while Nick Lowden has progressed from Gippsland among a couple of Port Melbourne recruits in Luke Tynan and Anthony Vella. With a few local league players also joining the side including a familiar name with Darcy Fritsch – brother of Melbourne’s Bailey – pulling on the red and blue. It was a heartbreaking loss in the Grand Final last season and the Demons will be keen to go one better this year with the additions.

Coburg Lions

Last season: 15th (Wooden spoon)

Change was afoot at Coburg over the summer with a match day team full of players coming in, and going out of the Lions’ doors. From a VFL perspective, Matthew Harman has crossed from the Northern Blues with Alex Federico to join former Northern Knights teammates, Braedyn Gillard and Mark Baker at the club, while fellow draft prospects last year, Mitch Podhajski – who returns on a full-time basis to the club – Jack Evans and Lucas Cavallaro all switch from Calder to Coburg. Evans and Cavallaro will provide good drive out of defence, while Podhajski will be a dominant force in multiple areas around the ground. Add in former Eastern Ranges outside midfielder Xavier Fry, a couple of Gold Coast NEAFL players in Brodie Foster and Harry Simington and Canberra Demons’ Jack Baker who was close to being drafted last season, and the Lions have really built some serious depth this year. Of the departures, Hisham Kerbatieh, Nick Mellington and Sean Gregory have crossed to the Seagulls, while Tom Condon will try his hand in the SANFL With Sturt.

Collingwood Magpies

Last season: 5th (Elimination final exit)

A relatively settled line-up, the Magpies will have a bitter taste in their mouth after coming close to a double chance, only to be knocked out in the elimination final by Essendon. Adam Oxley has hung around at the club after being delisted by Collingwood’s AFL side, while Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Campbell Hustwaite looms as a massive inclusion who could put his name up in lights with a big season, while Alex Spencer is the other addition coming from Port Melbourne. Marty Hore and Tom Jok were drafted by Melbourne and Essendon respectively, while Gus Borthwick also departs. The Magpies will hope for a better run of injuries this season with the VFL side stretched at times last year given the amount of AFL players required at AFL level.

Essendon Bombers

Last season: 8th (Preliminary final exit)

Essendon have strategically brought in a number of over-age prospects who did have draft interest over the past two years, with key defender Daniel Hanna and Oakleigh Chargers versatile tall, Matthew Day having plenty of draftable attributes but needing to iron out a few things. Jacob Atley will also share time between Essendon and Bendigo Pioneers in his bid to get drafted with Essendon considering him for an AFL list spot last year. Nick Hind was a whirlwind last season but he will now cross to Sandringham to play with St Kilda’s affiliate, while Alex Boyse also departed the club over the off-season after some draft interest. The Bombers have also picked up former Saint, Ray Connellan, as well as Werribee’s Kurt Aylett and Port Melbourne’s Josh Tynan who should all make important contributions to the club.

Footscray Bulldogs

Last season: 9th

Footscray has bolstered its side ahead of the 2019 season, only losing Jamison Shea to Southport, while Will Hayes got his chance for the Bulldogs’ senior side. Richmond’s Nathan Drummond and Geelong’s Ryan Gardner cross to the club after being delisted last season, while former Carlton AFL player, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow has made the move further west after a stint with Port Melbourne. Interestingly, the Bulldogs have raided St Kevin’s to top up their list, with Sam Barnett, Lachlan Farrugia, Gerard Gleeson and Billy Kanakis all signing onto the club this year. Footscray would hope that the inclusions will be enough to reach the finals after narrowly missing out last year.

Frankston Dolphins

Last season: 14th

The Dolphins had moments returning to the competition for the 2018 season, but ultimately just managed the two wins from 18 games in 2018. Unsuprisingly, Frankston has looked to Sandringham Dragons and Dandenong Stingrays for young talent coming through, while also picking up some former Dragons who were delisted by their respective AFL clubs. Nathan Freeman was a feel-good story last year for the Saints, but his AFL time came to an end, as did Sydney’s Angus Styles who was delisted after one year on the rookie list. Former Stingrays, Riley D’Arcy and Ali Zijai, and former Dragon, Goy Lok all return to Frankston, along with potential Brisbane father-son James Rendell, former Mentone Grammar captain, Harry Houlahan, and Stingrays duo, Aaron Darling – who has had two consecutive knee reconstructions – and Lachlan McDonnell who was unlucky to miss out on being drafted last season. The Dolphins will also help develop St Kilda ruck, Sam Alabakis who was allowed to play for Frankston given St Kilda’s ruck depth who will play at Sandringham.

Geelong Cats

Last season: 3rd (Semi-final exit)

Geelong has made minimal changes to its line-up for the 2019 season, with captain Tom Atkins pulling on the senior blue and white hoops so likely to roll through the VFL team this season, while former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder Aiden Domic, has crossed to Werribee. His Rebels teammate, Charlie Wilson joins the club and will provide some firepower in attack. Gippsland Power key defender Kyle Reid comes into the Cats line-up and with a good season could be a chance to be drafted as a 19-year-old given the Cats’ tendency to draft their own state league players and ageing key defenders, while Aaron Black stays at the club after being delisted. The Cats have also headed to the Goulburn Valley to recruit Nik Rokahr and Luke Smith from the Shepparton Bears. The Cats had a terrific season last year, but fell short in finals, exiting in straight sets at the hands of eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks.

Northern Blues

Last season: 12th

The Northern Blues have bolstered their line-up with some AFL experience, bringing in key defensive duo, Kieran Collins and Alex Johnson. Collins was close to getting a reprieve with the Blues in the AFL, but will bide his time for Carlton’s VFL affiliate, while Johnson was the feel-good story then the heartbreak story of 2018. After multiple knee reconstructions, the former Sydney defender has not given up hope of reaching the highest level again and it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the state league. Hawthorn’s Jonathan O’Rouke also joins the club with some unfulfilled potential, while South Croyden’s Frank Anderson was the name that had a few eyebrows raised when State Combine invites went out last year, but the talented former Eastern Football League star will now get the chance to step up at the higher level.

North Melbourne Kangaroos

Last season: 10th

Not a great deal of change out at North Melbourne, with Alex Morgan staying at the club despite being delisted by the AFL affiliate. Brendan Whitecross will provide invaluable experience after his time at Hawthorn, while former Sydney player, Daniel Robinson also joins the Roos for season 2019. Sam Parson crosses to the club from Box Hill Hawks, while key forward Michael Close, Liam Whelan and Steve Stroobants all depart. The Kangaroos were solid in their debut year last year, finishing 10th and pushing towards a finals birth at times. They did get smashed by the AFL Academy side early in the year, but once North Melbourne gelled, they showed what they were capable of in the competition.

Port Melbourne Borough

Last season: 7th (Elimination final exit)

The 2017 premiers bowed out in the first week of finals last year to eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks. Like most standalone clubs, the Borough have made plenty of changes to their list, with Kieran Strachan the headline departure after being picked up by Adelaide Crows. Robin Nahas has retired and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow heads to Footscray, while Lucas Cook and Luke Tynan have also left. Into the side comes former Collingwood premiership player, Jarryd Blair, as well as a host of Oakleigh Chargers including Charlie Beasley, Jake Gasper and Xavier Fry. Gasper will replace Nahas as the danger inside 50, while Blair and experienced VFL campaigner, Ben Jolley will be the hard men in the middle with the latter the biggest transfer of the summer. Matthew Signorello has returned to Victoria after being delisted by Adelaide, while former Melbourne player, Dion Johnston has also joined the club. Patrick Veszpremi will try his luck at state level again, returning from Pascoe Vale, while Tom Goodwin (Coburg) and Geordie Nagle (Box Hill Hawks) are some of the VFL talent that have changed clubs to Port Melbourne.

Richmond Tigers

Last season: 1st (Semi-final exit)

It was not a good September for Richmond fans at any level considering two minor premiership led to a straight sets exit and a preliminary final exit. After finishing on top of the table in season 2019, the Tigers looked like going all the way, but as they found out, finals is a different ball game, even for the light technicians and despite some controversy over the finals losses – one they were left in the dark and the second was a brilliance passage of play from Nick Hind in the dying seconds being the difference – they will look to rebound in season 2019.

Sandringham Zebras

Last season: 13th

The Zebras had a disappointing season in 2018, recording a bottom four finish and have subsequently overhauled plenty of their list ahead of the 2019 season. They have made Kai Owens a more full-time member of the side, while Sam Sofronidis, Anthony Seaton, Ryan O’Meara and Nick Stamatis all go through the pathway from Dragons to Zebras. Nathan Wright provides some AFL experience, as does Sam Gilbert who has experienced the atmosphere of AFL Grand Final Day, while Port Melbourne’s Dylan Atkins is another with state league experience invaluable to the Zebras cause. A host of local players round out a long list of additions for season 2019.

Werribee Tigers

Last season: 11th

The Tigers might not have had the best season, finishing in eleventh last year, but they had two players head north to ply their trade with the Gold Coast SUNS. Both Sam Collins and Josh Corbett were pre-listed by the SUNS and will forge AFL careers, while Andrew Hooper and Kurt Aylett both head to the Bombers’ VFL side. While they have lost some experience, the Tigers are arguably the team to watch in season 2019, with AFL experience galore, as well as some seriously talented state league and former TAC Cup stars. Michael Barlow and Max Spencer (Gold Coast), Oscar Junker and Daniel Nielson (North Melbourne), Timm House (Geelong) and Jackson Edwards (Adelaide) return after stints on AFL lists, Barlow the most recognisable name of the lot. Jake Riccardi and Scott Carlin join the club on a full-time basis after playing as 19 year-olds last season, while Ryan Hebron and Josh Clayton are NEAFL players who were in the draft conversation. Key position players, Tom Boyd and Hudson Garoni will straighten the Tigers up, while Western Jets have provided four players to the club, with ball winners, Connor Thar and Jack Watkins, key position utility Hamish Murphy and Nick Stuhldreier all coming to the club. The biggest recruit might be off the field, with 2004 AFL Premiership coach, Mark Williams taking the reigns at Werribee.

Williamstown Seagulls

Last season: 4th (Preliminary final exit)

The narrowest of defeats in the Preliminary Final to eventual premiers Box Hill Hawks might have stung over the summer had the National AFL Draft not rolled around.By the end of November, Williamstown’s Ben Cavarra – a player with a well-documented pathways journey – finally found an AFL home at the Western Bulldogs, while Lachlan Schulz and Brett Bewley remained teammates over in the west with Fremantle. By the AFL season start, Michael Gibbons would become a Blue, making it a mammoth four players drafted by the one club over the off-season, then club legend Ben Jolley departed for rivals Port Melbourne. The Seagulls will undoubtedly drop back a bit with the serious talent that has left the club, but will be proud of the development pathway provided. In saying that, they have brought in North Melbourne’s Mitch Hibberd and Collingwood’s Sam McLarty for some AFL experience, while Joel Ottavi, Nick Mellington, Hisham Kerbatieh and Nick Sing cross from other VFL clubs. From the TAC Cup, Stefan Radovanovic will provide speed and power for the Seagulls, while former Collingwood small Ben Kennedy also joins the club, A team to watch with interest to see how they go given the amount of experience out the door, but always a team to keep an eye on.


Premiers: Werribee
Runner-Up: Port Melbourne
Michael Barlow (Werribee)

Tasmania weekly wrap: AFL CEO visits state, outlines future direction

THIS week in Tasmanian football has seen the AFL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) visit the Apple Isle to address the current state of Tasmanian football while a number of Tasmanian AFL players have been named for the first round of the AFL season. Meanwhile Tarryn Thomas will have a chance to play for North Melbourne’s VFL side this season which starts next month.

AFL CEO visits Hobart

With just two days before the beginning of the 2018 AFL Premiership Season, AFL CEO Gillion McLachlan has visited Tasmania to address the state’s ongoing football issues.

McLachlan arrived in Hobart on Wednesday morning to meet with AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires along with state Premier Will Hodgman and outlined the future direction for Tasmanian football in a press conference at North Hobart Oval.

Those were:

  • An immediate injection of $200,000 to help the talent pathway in the state;
  • Subsiding the levies of all Tasmanian junior players; and
  • The announcement of a steering committee to navigate the future of the state’s football consisting of McLachlan, Squires, Carlton coach Brendan Bolton, St. Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt, former AFL Tasmania CEO Rob Auld, and AFL state and international league manager Simon Laughton.

McLachlan admitted that there were still challenges facing the TSL and said splitting the state league into conferences was not out of the question.

Tasmanians in the AFL | Round One:

A number of Tasmania’s AFL-listed players are looking to start their seasons with a victory this weekend while four players featured in last night’s season opener.

Richmond 17.19 (121) def. Carlton 15.5 (95) – Thursday March 22 at MCG

In the opening game of the 2018 AFL Premiership Season, Richmond started their premiership defense with a hard-fought 26-point victory over an impressive Carlton outfit.

Premiership Tasmanian’s Jack Riewoldt and Toby Nankervis where both impressive for the reigning premiers with Riewoldt finishing with four majors, while Nankervis won the hit-out battle with Matthew Kreuzer 33-23.

Carlton’s Tasmanian duo of Liam Jones and Levi Casboult stood at each end of the ground with Jones playing the majority of the night on fellow Tasmanian, Riewoldt.

Jones, well-known for his ability to intercept and read the play, finished with a combined 16 one-per centers and intercept possessions.

Casboult was relativity well held by the game’s best defender in Alex Rance, with the marking forward held to just the one goal and four marks.

Essendon v Adelaide – Friday March 23 at Etihad Stadium

While last year was a breakout for basketballer-turned-Crow Hugh Greenwood, the big-bodied midfielder has only been named as an emergency for tonight’s contest as he battles to return to full fitness following achilles surgery in November.

Fellow Tasmanians Tom Bellchambers and Josh Green have both been named in a new look Essendon line-up following the retirements of Jobe Watson and James Kelly and the inclusions of Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Adam Saad.

St. Kilda v Brisbane – Saturday March 24 at Etihad Stadium

Former Lauderdale and Glenorchy players Mitch Robinson and Jimmy Webster will again be opponents on Saturday when they face off in Melbourne.

Robinson returns after an injury-riddled 2016 campaign while Webster has been named off half-back and will look to use his elite foot-skills to provide the Saints with run from the back-50.

Gold Coast v North Melbourne – Saturday March 24 at Cazaly Stadium

After growing up in the chills of Tasmania, three homegrown talents will sweat it out in Cairns when Gold Coast host North Melbourne at Cazaly Stadium.

North’s tall timber Ben Brown will again be the main focus in attack for a rebuilding Roos while Kade Kolodjashnij will be looking to get back to his form of 2016 when he lines up with fellow Tasmanian and new Sun Lachie Weller in a new-look Gold Coast outfit in incoming coach Stuart Dew’s first game. 

Collingwood v Hawthorn – Saturday March 24 at MCG

Former Dodges Ferry and Hobart high-flyer Jeremy Howe will be the lone Tasmanian on the MCG on Saturday night when Collingwood host Hawthorn.

Howe has been named alongside forward-turned-defender Darcy Moore at half-back. 

Melbourne v Geelong – Sunday March 25 at MCG

In what shapes as one of the opening round’s most exciting games, the second-half of Tasmania’s AFL twins, Jake Kolodjashnij, will line-up for Geelong against the Dees at the MCG.

With fellow Tasmanian Cat’s Jackson Thurlow (injured) and Ryan Gardner (VFL) not named in the side’s 25-man squad, Kolodjashnij will be the lone Apple Isle product in the Geelong homecoming of superstar Gary Ablett.

Maverick Weller (St. Kilda), Mitch Hibberd (North Melbourne), Brody Mihocek (Collingwood) and Robbie Fox (Sydney) have all been named as emergencies for their respective sides.

Tasmania weekly wrap: AFL hits the Apple Isle while the 2018 TSL season takes shape

TASMANIA hosted the first JLT Community Series game and a number of Tasmanian State League (TSL) clubs announced key recruits for season 2018 in what was a big week of football in the state.

Demons kick off JLT Series in Hobart with victory over Roos:

Hobart played host to the first JLT Community Series game of 2018 last Saturday as a strong Melbourne outfit defeated North Melbourne were at Kingston’s Twin Ovals. The 53-point victory was highlighted by an impressive performance from Demons youngster Bayley Fritsch, who staked his claims for a round one debut, kicking three goals in the 19.10 (124) to 11.5 (71) victory.

After a tight first half, Melbourne burst away from a young North Melbourne team, using a strong breeze to open up a seven goals to one third quarter advantage going into the last before running away with the game. North’s Tasmanian products Ben Brown (two goals, nine disposals) and Mitch Hibberd (six disposals at 83 per cent efficiency) performed strongly in front of a rather disappointing crowd of 1957. The state is hosting another JLT game when Hawthorn take on Carlton on March 10 at UTAS Stadium in Launceston.

Brownlow Medalist slams Tassie fans:

In the wake of the disappointing crowd at Saturday’s game, former Western Bulldogs and Essendon player Adam Cooney slammed Tasmanian football fans for failing to show up to the game.

“There has been a huge uproar recently, calls for the AFL to step in and pour funding into Tasmanian football to help it survive, people saying there should be a team in Tasmania,” Cooney told SEN’s Sunday Brunch. “Given everything that is going on at the moment with Tasmanian football, people vote with their feet. “To get 1957 people to a JLT game, at any stage of the year, says to me people in Tasmania aren’t committed to the AFL.”

The 2008 Brownlow Medalist, who now performs a number of roles within the football media, believes the best way to show the AFL they want their own team is to show up when the AFL comes to town.

“If they want a team in Tasmania, and Tasmanian football is obviously struggling, why wouldn’t people vote with their feet, get 7,000 to the game, and show support for football in Tasmania?” Cooney said. “For people there to say, we want a team, we love watching AFL footy and we deserve a team. Then to have no one roll in, what does that say to the AFL?” “The AFL says, why waste our time, because they aren’t passionate about AFL football.”

Clubs announce new recruits ahead of TSL season:

A number of TSL clubs have taken to social media in the New Year to announce a number of key signings for the 2018 season.

Tigers FC have announced that former players Edward Burrows-Cheng and Luke Graham have returned to the club after stints in Queensland and Huonville respectively, while Hugh Johnson joins the club for the first time.

Clarence took to Instagram to announce the signings’ of Ryan Edmondson, Troy Cunliffe, Ryan Cowie and Fletcher Seymour. All four come after stints in local leagues, with Cunliffe the biggest signing of them all as the reigning William Leitch Medalist (league best and fairest) in the Southern Football League (SFL).

Revised TSL roster released along with launch of new app:

After the departures of Burnie and Devonport from the state’s premier competition, AFL Tasmania have released the revised TSL roster on the new competition app. North Hobart will host the season opener on Good Friday against the Tigers with the clash expected to draw a big crowd following a number of key Demons players crossing to the Tigers in the off-season.

The competition’s two northern-based sides will then do battle later that night when 2017 premiers North Launceston host Launceston at UTAS Stadium from 6:30pm. Cross-town rivals Lauderdale and Clarence will then close out Round 1 on Saturday March 31 at Lauderdale Oval with that clash kicking off at 2:00pm. Glenorchy have the bye.

Who will the Bulldogs draft?

The Bulldogs made an interesting trade to shuffle down the order, which perhaps indicates they were more keen on nabbing a big defender, as well as an extra midfielder. It was a shrewd move, as some of the players they like should still be available.

Pick 24 (originally 20)

The big fish: Kieran Collins

Collins is the second best key defender in the draft behind his team mate Jacob Weitering. He is a man-mountain who can out body most forwards, while also having the nous to run off his defender and fly across for an intercept mark. He’s not quick, but he reads the play well, which allows him to stay in touch with his opponent.

Plan B: Ben McKay

McKay is a 200 centimetre swingman who has played his best footy down back. He is a superb contested mark, with some real strength. McKay needs to work on his footskills and decision making, but as a key defender, he has the size and agility to match up with most forwards.

Pick 25 (originally 21)

The big fish: Mitch Hibberd 

Hibberd is a versatile defender/midfielder with some real athleticism. He’s a very good user of the football and he adds some extra run, which the Dogs rely on out of the back half. Hibberd could be a long-term replacement for the aging trio of Dale Morris, Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd.

Plan B: Tom Cole

Cole is a hard-nosed midfielder who can win his own ball, but he also makes the right decisions on the outside. He can play as a two-way defender, and he provides leadership too. The question over Cole is what is his standout skill? At this stage, he just looks like a very solid player in a few different areas.

Pick 35 (originally 30)

The big fish: Ben Crocker

Crocker is a classy medium forward who can really change a game with his marking. We’ve seen him kick clutch goals for Vic Metro and he provides great leadership for Oakleigh. The Dogs already have a versatile forward set up, and Crocker could further add to that depth.

Plan B: Harry Himmelberg

It’s likely the Giants would match a bid for Himmelberg, but it depends on where the bids come for Jacob Hopper and Matthew Kennedy. Himmelberg plays as a lead up third tall between the arcs. He’s reliable for a couple of goals per game and he’s been one of the most consistent players across the year.

Pick 47 (originally 51)

The big fish: Gach Nyoun

Nyoun is the athletic ruckman the Dogs need desperately, but at this stage he is more of a project player. He’s got a great leap and he always tries to put defensive pressure on when he can. Nyuon has a high ceiling, but he’s going to take a while to develop.

Plan B: Andre Parella

Parella is more developed physically than Nyuon, but again, he is still a young ruckman. He’s got some strength and he’s shown a few glimpses when he’s headed forward. Parella divides opinions among draft followers. Some think he may go in the national draft, where as others don’t think he can make it to the top flight, even as a rookie.

Who will the Roos draft?

Ben Crocker kicks the ball around the body. Photo: Supplied
Ben Crocker kicks the ball around the body. Photo: Supplied

The Kangaroos took a punt on Jed Anderson, but through some shrewd deals, they’ve ended up with three picks in the late first-early second round range. Last year, they took three players who all look comfortable as defenders, but whether they plan to use Ed Vickers-Willis and Sam Durdin in other roles is yet to be determined.

Pick 21 (originally 17)

The big fish: Jade Gresham

North Melbourne don’t have too many list deficiencies, so they should be looking at best available at most of their selections. Gresham can find plenty of the football as a midfielder, but he can also be used as a smart small forward or an accountable defender.

Plan B: Mitch Hibberd

The Roos could do with a versatile defender who can provide some rebound and play some time in the middle too. Hibberd is great overhead and he’s got a strong endurance base. He could make an impact right away, which is important for an aging side.

Pick 31 (originally 26)

The big fish: David Cuningham

Cuningham is a quick midfielder who has shown glimpses of brilliance for Oakleigh. He’s got explosive acceleration around stoppages, and he’s elusive in traffic. Cuningham can also head forward and hit the scoreboard.

Plan B: Aidyn Johnson

Johnson is a very quick and agile small forward who can hit the scoreboard in bunches. He applies defensive pressure and he can play in a variety of roles. Due to his injury struggles, we haven’t seen a lot of what he can do, but his speed could bridge the gap for when Brent Harvey eventually retires.

Pick 33 (originally 28)

The big fish: Ben Crocker

Crocker is a medium forward who marks really well over his head. He can finish nicely around the body at ground level, and he continually presents as a lead up forward. At his best, Crocker can use the ball with class and even provide some midfield relief.

Plan B: Mason Redman

Redman is a lead up medium forward who takes the ball at full stretch. He’s a nice user of the football and he’s got great size for a half forward. Redman is very quick off the mark, which makes him a very difficult player to match up against.

Pick 43 (originally 47)

The big fish: Mitch Brown

The Roos are looking at Nielson as the eventual key defender replacement for the likes of Michael Firrito and Scott Thompson, but he’s got a way to go before he develops. North Melbourne could look towards Brown as a stop-gap who can come in, take overhead marks and be used as a swingman option alongside Jarryd Waite to give them some versatility.

Plan B: Michael Hartley

Hartley could also be used to bridge that age gap in defence. As a pure key defender, Hartley reads the play well and he’s physical enough to play on the gorilla forwards, which would be crucial if they played Sydney or Geelong in the finals.

Winners from the AFL Combine

Charlie Curnow. Credit: Brian Bartlett
Charlie Curnow. Credit: Brian Bartlett

The AFL Draft Combine is done and dusted for another year. While many of the top prospects did not test with minor injury issues, there were a few guys who elevated their draft stocks. All the top ten results are listed at the bottom of the article.

Daniel Rioli
Rioli had the most to gain of anyone in this year’s draft pool. He’d shown a few signs, but recruiters needed to see if his athleticism matched his flare. Rioli tested well in just about everything; with a high relative vertical leap, the second quickest 20 metre sprint (2.89 seconds) as well as winning the repeat sprints, arguably a better test of speed than the 20 metre sprints. Rioli also had the equal sixth quickest three kilometre time trial and he had the third highest score in the clean hands test.

Josh Schoenfeld
He wasn’t a standout in the National Championships in the weak WA side, but Schoenfeld showed enough back then to look like a possible late National Draft prospect. He won both the beep test with an outstanding 16.2 (second highest of all-time) and he broke the three kilometre record, doing it in nine minutes and 15 seconds.

Jacob Weitering
Weitering had nothing to lose or gain from the testing, but everything we knew was confirmed. He ran a 15.1 beep test, good for fifth best. He also came third behind Mabior Chol and Gach Nyoun in the absolute standing and running jump tests.

Jade Gresham
Gresham is a fairly solid athlete, but his best work came in all three of the skills tests. He scored 5/5 in the goal kicking test, as well as hitting 26 out of 30 targets via hand. Gresham came sixth in the kicking test, hitting 21 of 30 targets.

Gach Nyuon
Arguably the best ruckman in the draft, Nyuon performed well in the leaping tests, equalling Nic Naitanui’s record in the absolute running vertical jump and coming second in the absolute standing vertical jump. What was even more impressive was his 2.95 20 metre sprint. We know he’s a good decision maker, but it was great to see his explosive power.

Alex Morgan
The 19 year-old missed plenty of football this year with injuries, but his terrific work across a range of tests at the combine would have helped tick a few boxes for recruiters. He had the second highest relative vertical leap, the quickest 20 metre sprint and the second best agility time.

Darcy MacPherson
The Bulldogs father-son prospect also missed plenty of football this year, but he performed well in a range of areas. His relative running vertical jump was seventh best, while his agility testing and beep test score both were in the top ten. He also came second in the clean hands test and third in the kicking test.

Mitch Hibberd
The Tasmanian blitzed the running tests, coming second in the beep test with a 15.4 and a 10.02 three kilometre time trial. He then got the highest score in the kicking test, with 24/30 and he also nail four out of his five shots on goal.

Charlie Curnow
It was a mixed bag for Charlie Curnow. He disappointed in the 20 metre sprint, with a time of 3.15. Speed was never his strong suit, but he would have hoped for a better time than that. Curnow came tenth in the kicking test, with 21 of 30, which was encouraging as his kicking has been question. He excelled in the endurance testing though, getting a score above 14 in the beep test as well as performing strongly in the three kilometre time trial.

Absolute standing vertical jump (cm)
Mabior Chol – 334cm
Gach Nyuon – 330
Jacob Weitering – 327
Andre Parrella – 325
Mitch King – 324
Jesse Glass-McCasker – 323
Jack Firns – 322
Matthew Flynn – 321
Callum Moore – 319
Eric Hipwood – 318

Absolute running vertical jump (cm)
Gach Nyuon – 362cm
Mabior Chol – 357
Jacob Weitering – 344
Andre Parrella – 342
Jesse Glass-McCasker – 340
Callum Moore – 340
Matthew Flynn – 339
Eric Hipwood – 338
Liam Jeffs – 338
Harry McKay – 337
Lachlan Tiziani – 337

Relative vertical jump (cm)
Jordan Snadden – 75cm
Alex Morgan – 71
Mitch King – 70
David Cuningham – 70
Lachlan Tiziani – 69
Oleg Markov – 69
Stephen Tahana – 69
Daniel Rioli – 69
Tom Doedee – 68
Jack Firns – 68
Matthew Kennedy – 68
Darcy Tucker – 68

Relative running vertical jump (cm)
Lachlan Tiziani – 97cm
Gach Nyuon – 94
Matthew Kennedy – 91
Mabior Chol – 90
Liam Jeffs – 90
Jordan Snadden – 90
Darcy MacPherson – 89
Blake Hardwick – 86
Hisham Kerbatieh – 86
Callum Moore – 86
Stephen Tahana – 86

20m sprint
Alex Morgan – 2.88 seconds
Kurt Mutimer – 2.88
Liam Jeffs – 2.89
Daniel Rioli – 2.89
Thomas Glen – 2.90
Declan Moutford – 2.90
Callum Moore – 2.91
David Cuningham – 2.91
Hisham Kerbatieh – 2.94
Jordan Snadden – 2.94

30m repeat sprints
Daniel Rioli – 24.15 seconds
Mabior Chol – 24.30
Oleg Markov – 24.32
Thomas Glen – 24.46
David Cuningham – 24.51
Jordan Snadden – 24.54
Wayne Milera – 24.61
Will Snelling – 24.64
Liam Jeffs – 24.74
Luke Partington – 24.76

Kieran Lovell – 7.90 seconds
Alex Morgan – 8.07
Clayton Oliver – 8.11
Aidyn Johnson – 8.15
Tom Doedee – 8.19
Jesse Glass-McCasker – 8.22
Oleg Markov – 8.23
Will Snelling – 8.24
Darcy MacPherson – 8.24
Ben Crocker – 8.25

Shuttle run (beep test level)
Joshua Schoenfeld -16.2 level
Mitchell Hibberd – 15.4
Darcy Tucker – 15.3
Declan Mountford -15.2
Jacob Weitering – 15.1
Matthew Kennedy – 14.12
Kieran Lovell – 14.10
Will Snelling – 14.10
Tom Cole – 14.10
Oleg Markov – 14.8
Darcy MacPherson – 14.8

Three-kilometre time trial
Joshua Schoenfeld – 9:15 minutes
Thomas Jok – 9:47
Mitchell Hibberd – 10:02
Declan Mountford – 10:04
Brayden Hackett – 10:06
Ben Keays – 10:09
Daniel Rioli – 10:09
Will Snelling – 10:10
Mason Redman – 10:12
Nash Holmes – 10:16

Clean hands test
Kieran Collins – 29 (out of a possible 30)
Darcy MacPherson – 28
Tyrone Leonardis – 28
Daniel Rioli – 27
Rhys Mathieson – 27
Mitch King – 27
Jade Gresham – 26
Bailey Rice – 26
Darcy Tucker – 26
Declan Mountford – 26
Kurt Mutimer – 26
Jordan Snadden – 26

Goalkicking test
Jade Gresham – 30 (out of a possible 30)
Nick O’Kearney – 30
Oleg Markov – 30
Clayton Oliver – 30
Kieran Lovell – 25
Tyrone Leonardis – 25
Matthew Kennedy – 25
Mitchell Hibberd – 25
Liam Jeffs – 25
Eric Hipwood – 25
Matthew Allen – 25
Nick Coughlan – 25
Mitch King – 25

Kicking test
Mitchell Hibberd – 24 (out of a possible 30)
Nick Coughlan – 23
Darcy MacPherson – 22
Thomas Glen – 22
Matthew Allen – 22
Jade Gresham – 21
Nick O’Kearney – 21
Rhys Mathieson – 21
Declan Mountford – 21
Jordan Snadden – 21
Ben McKay – 21
Charlie Curnow – 21

*Thanks to AFL.com.au for the statistics*