Tag: Murray Bushrangers

AFL Draft Watch: Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

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 at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. 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 Murray Bushrangers’ Elijah Hollands, an exciting forward/midfield prospect who remains right in the top 10 discussions, despite the fact he is sitting out 2020 after tearing his ACL during preseason. Having previously afforded most of his seasons to school football with Caulfield Grammar, Hollands was set for a full-time dig in the NAB League with Murray upon the completion of his Year 12 studies in 2019.

The 188cm Wodonga native has a knack for the mercurial, able to break games open with bursts of brilliance in the form of opportunist goals, bursting runs, or high-flying marks. Hollands was one of the rare bottom-agers to play all four national carnival games as a bottom-ager in 2019, and further proved his status as a high-end prospect with an eye-catching performance in the Under 17 Futures All Stars fixture.

While he spent most of his time as a forward or on the outside at the Under 18 level, the Murray product had eyes on moving into the midfield in his top-age season. His value over time in the engine room remains to be seen, but one thing for certain is that Hollands is a rare talent and one of the absolute best of his cohort.


Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: April 25, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Forward/midfielder

Strengths: Overhead marking, scoreboard impact, athleticism, versatility
Improvements: Consistency/accumulation, post-injury durability

2019 Statistics:

NAB League: 4 games | 17.0 disposals | 5.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (4)
Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 13.5 disposals | 2.3 marks | 5.5 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 5.3 inside 50s | 0.5 goals (2)

>> Feature: Elijah Hollands


Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
20m Sprint


Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a near-complete performance from the Team Brown captain, who booted two classy goals in his time between the midfield and forward line. His work rate in the engine room was top notch, digging in to win the ball himself and tackling hard going the other way with the opposition breaking.

Hollands also impacted the centre bounces from his starting position on the wing early on, proving clean and composed when the footy was hot. His first goal was a typical one, propping after he collected the loose ball and snapping home. The second was a show-stopper, slamming the ball through the big sticks from 55m out off a couple of steps. Is one of the leading prospects at this early stage, and narrowly missed out on best afield honours.

NAB League Round 14 vs. Northern

By: Scott Dougan

Hollands played through the Bushrangers’ midfield, as well as up forward where he was a regular target. Hollands had a big impact early on when he spoiled a marking contest after a poor kick-in from the Knights, resulting in Murray’s first goal of the game.

He had an electric 10 or so minutes in the first term, where he provided spark and x-factor around the contest. Hollands’ forward craft is one of his best attributes and it was evident during the match, with the talented bottom-ager finding plenty of space across half-forward.

Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Peter Williams

Is so exciting and not only does he have the offensive capabilities, but works hard defensively as well, laying a number of huge tackles in the forward half. Hollands has lightning hands in congestion and is able to win the hard ball and quickly dish off to a teammate before being dispossessed.

He had a huge highlight in the second term with an unbelievable goal out of nothing from a forward stoppage, roving Charlie Comben and booting the goal from just inside 50 close to the boundary line.

Under 18 Victorian Trials vs. Vic Metro

By: Ed Pascoe

Hollands was seriously impressive up forward, he was a constant threat and was often minded by one of 2019’s top prospects, Dylan Williams. He kicked his first goal in the first quarter running into open goal and he set up others with his kicking inside 50, all class.

One of his standout features was his ability to keep strong in the contest and get his arms up, and his second goal came from a classy snap goal 40 metres out in the third quarter. His best bit of play also came in the third quarter where he worked hard to keep the ball in play on a wing and used the ball well with a long handball to a running teammate inboard.

NAB League Round 3 vs. GWV

By: Peter Williams

A classy forward who just has that knack of finding the goals, he was disappointed in himself missing a few early chances, before kicking two for the game, including a natural instinct shot off the left to win the game for the Bushrangers. Hollands also shows good second efforts, giving off a quick handball before following up with a tackle immediately after.

NAB League Round 2 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Scott Dougan

Hollands was consistent over four quarters and never seemed to fade out of the contest. He was a solid target up forward for the Bushrangers, specifically in the final term when he had a couple of shots on goal that only failed to register a score because of the tough weather conditions. Hollands also displayed his athletic ability, footy smarts, and foot skills throughout the game.

NAB League Round 1 vs, Gippsland

By: Peter Williams

The bottom-age talent showed his class early inside 50, winning a number of possessions on the outside and using his long kicking ability and was one of the top ball winners in the first half. He missed a few opportunities to capitalise from set shots, finishing the game with 1.3, but he timed his leads well, protecting the drop zone with his timing. He was quieter in the second half, but his first half showed the potential he has not only as a forward, but further up the ground as well.


>> Marquee Matchup: Hollands vs. O’Driscoll
>> 2020 Vic Country U18s Squad Prediction


Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

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

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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

Marquee Matchups: Elijah Hollands vs. Nathan O’Driscoll

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Murray’s Elijah Hollands and Perth’s Nathan O’Driscoll – have already gone head-to-head, matching up in representative action at Under 16 and Under 18 level, while also playing on opposing sides during last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star fixture. Both are among their state’s leading draft prospects for 2020, with Hollands in the conversation for number one pick honours before suffering a season-ending knee injury, while O’Driscoll has the all-round game to push for first round selection.

Hollands, who was one of the few bottom-agers to feature in all four national carnival opportunities, last year also cracked the Bushrangers’ Under 18 side as a 16-year-old. He played three times in 2018 and backed it up with another four outings in 2019, averaging nearly 17 disposals and over a goal per game in the NAB League in between his school football commitments with Caulfield Grammar. Having already graduated from school, Hollands was primed to feature full-time for Murray in his usual midfield/forward role, hoping to showcase his match-winning abilities.

O’Driscoll was another bottom-aged prospect to make an early break into the Under 18 state squad, running out three times for the Black Ducks across last year’s carnival. Playing mostly as a running half-back/wingman, the Perth product averaged 16 disposals and 6.7 tackles as he adjusted seamlessly to the step-up in competition. O’Driscoll was also a mainstay in the Demons’ Colts side, averaging over 25 disposals in his seven appearances in more of a midfield-oriented role. Both he and Hollands were set to see more midfield minutes in 2020, but could well have also met in a half-back/half-forward duel in this year’s National Championships.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.


Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: April 25, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Forward/balanced midfielder

Nathan O’Driscoll
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: May 17, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder



Hollands – 47cm
– 67cm


Hollands – 60cm/59cm
– 86cm/80cm

SPEED (20m)

Hollands – 3.05 seconds
– 2.99 seconds


Hollands – 8.87 seconds
– 8.46 seconds


Hollands – 21.2
– 21.8

Note: Hollands’ results derive from 2019 preseason testing.

Obviously these results are essentially incomparable given all of Hollands’ scores come from his bottom-aged preseason, but O’Driscoll’s efforts from earlier this year give a good insight into his overall athletic package. Both are powerful and well-built athletes, with O’Driscoll proving as much in his near-elite results across the board; posting terrific running vertical jump scores, a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint, very serviceable agility time of 8.46 seconds, and a high-end yo-yo test score of 21.8.

O’Driscoll’s rare combination of speed and endurance is exactly what AFL recruiters yearn for, while his explosive capabilities prove he is well equipped to keep up with the speed and rigours of senior football. While his 2019 results may not speak to it as such, Hollands is not lost on the same attributes, boasting a similarly high-level speed and endurance base. His vertical jumping results are entirely unflattering and thus far from indicative of how he plays. Hollands would arguably feature right up there with O’Driscoll at this point in time if not for his knee injury, but that remains to be seen.


20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test




2019 NAB League: 4 games | 17.0 disposals | 5.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (4)

2019 Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 13.5 disposals | 2.3 marks | 5.5 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 5.3 inside 50s | 0.5 goals (2)


2019 WAFL Colts: 7 games | 25.1 disposals | 4 marks | 7.6 tackles | 0 goals

2019 Under 18 National Championships: 3 games | 16 disposals | 1.7 marks | 6.7 tackles | 3 clearances | 2.6 inside 50s

The slight differences in roles across these two prospects are evident in their 2019 statistics, with O’Driscoll showing a higher output in terms of disposals and tackles, while Hollands has the edge in forward 50 penetration and scoreboard impact. It is much easier to find the ball across half-back, but O’Driscoll is exceptional at it with his contested work and intercept marking abilities, while also being able to showcase his ball winning prowess with a touch more midfield time than Hollands – particularly at WAFL Colts level.

In a much more forward or outside oriented role, Hollands managed to find space well and work almost as a centre half-forward at times with his marking strength. His two-way work rate is also evident in his tackling numbers, while that all-important ability to find the goals shines through across all levels. Hollands may see less of the ball, but creates high-impact plays forward of centre. That is not to say O’Driscoll cannot do the same, with his kick penetration particularly damaging on the rebound.



2019 NAB League Round 1 vs. Gippsland

15 disposals (12 kicks)
10 marks
3 tackles
4 inside 50s
1 goal, 3 behinds


2019 WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. South Fremantle

28 disposals (14 kicks)
7 marks
12 tackles
10 inside 50s

Our chosen game for both players may seem odd given they returned outings with more disposals or goals respectively, but we feel these were their most balanced performances.

Hollands began his 2019 season strongly against good opposition and while his 1.3 may have proven costly in a three-point loss to Gippsland, he was dangerous as ever. The Bushrangers’ 15 disposals were thereabouts with his career average across all levels, but his impact came in his ability to provide an aerial presence (10 marks) and cover the ground well from half-forward with four inside 50s, while also heading back towards goal effectively to put four scores on the board.

O’Driscoll’s chosen game stood out despite having cracked the 30-disposal mark in a seperate outing, and had another level of value given it came in a winning effort. This was a monster performance from the Demons gun, picking up 28 disposals from midfield and pumping the ball forward relentlessly with 10 inside 50s, while remaining relevant around the ground with seven marks, and on the defensive side with 12 tackles. All of O’Driscoll’s damaging traits and work rate were on show in this fixture, and may be a pointer of what’s to come should he be let off the chain through the engine room more often.


2019 Under 18 National Championships
Vic Country 6.10 (46) def. by Western Australia 7.9 (51)


14 disposals
2 marks
7 tackles
1 clearance
4 inside 50s
1 rebound 50


21 disposals
4 marks
6 tackles
1 clearance
4 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

This was of course the game made famous by Regan Clarke‘s match-winning goal for the Black Ducks, and Hayden Young‘s elite switching kick which put him on the map (if he wasn’t there already). Employed off half-back, O’Driscoll arguably fared the better of the two, showing great dash on the outside and delivering the ball forward with aplomb. Hollands, who was manned at times by Denver Grainger-Barras, still managed to make a menace of himself up forward with a touch more ground level play, but failed to find the big sticks in this outing.



Overhead marking
Scoreboard impact


Contested ball
Kick penetration
Two-way impact

It will be difficult to adjust these strengths for Hollands across the year despite being billed for more time in a different role, but O’Driscoll’s four traits listed below translate well across both his half-back and midfield assignments. While Hollands’ overhead marking and scoreboard impact hint at a very forward-oriented mindset, he is just as capable as O’Driscoll on the defensive end when need be, with the mix of speed and smarts from both players aiding such efforts.

Hollands’ athleticism and strong build bode for more time in the engine room, and O’Driscoll has arguably better proven his worth in said position with his ability to hunt the ball and really burst away from stoppages. Hollands thrives on being able to position well and outclass his direct opponents, while O’Driscoll uses the same attribute when stationed in defence to intercept aerially. Hollands is more of an attacking threat in that sense, using his clean hands to burrow through at ground level, while also marking in dangerous areas.

Both players are also great kicks of the ball and while Hollands can sure up his kicking for goal at times, is usually a sure bet in terms of length and accuracy. O’Driscoll’s pins are absolute weapons in terms of penetrative ability, and make him a two-way asset in any position.



Post-injury durability


Short/long-range kicking balance

Part of Hollands’ improvements are listed by no fault of his own, with the question of durability and endurance often attributed to those who suffer severe knee injuries. A preseason at the elite level should cover that issue, with his work-rate and professionalism usually no issue. In terms of moving seamlessly into a more permanent midfield role, he’ll need to up his numbers and find the ball more consistently. O’Driscoll is a difficult one to list improvements for given his well-roundedness both athletically and skills-wise, but finding a balance in his short and long-range kicking options will be key to his effectiveness going forward. He sometimes blasts the ball forward from midfield, but is such a great target-finder when allowed more time.



2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a very near-complete performance from the Team Brown captain, who booted two classy goals in his time between the midfield and forward line. His work rate in the engine room was top notch, digging in to win the ball himself and tackling hard going the other way with the opposition breaking.

Hollands also impacted the centre bounces from his starting position on the wing early on, proving clean and composed when the footy was hot. His first goal was a typical one, propping after he collected the loose ball and snapping home. The second was a show-stopper, slamming the ball through the big sticks from 55m out off a couple of steps. Is one of the leading prospects at this early stage, and narrowly missed out on best afield honours.


2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Spread well to win the ball in all thirds of the ground and found plenty of it, particularly early. He took a strong mark at half-forward in the first term and then won a lot of his touches at half-back as the game turned against his side. He would play the defensive side of the wing to mop up and kick long, providing a release option for his side going forward.

Q&A: Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Murray Bushrangers’ Josh Rachele at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The electric midfielder/forward was a standout at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, captaining Vic Country en route to earning the Kevin Sheehan Medal as Division 1 MVP. His form warranted a call-up to the Bushrangers’ NAB League side, where Rachele booted eight goals in four games in the back-end of the season. With a full athletic package and freaking skills to boot, the 178cm prospect is set to hit the ground running again in 2020, representing Murray and his new school, Caulfield Grammar once football resumes.



MA: Josh, have you had a good day so far with the testing?

JR: “Yes, so far it’s been pretty good, a good experience. I hit a couple of PB’s (personal bests) which is alright but overall the Murray boys have been doing pretty (well) which is good.”


Coming off a MVP-winning Under 16 campaign as captain, what has it been like moving into the Murray Under 18s program?

“Obviously there were a lot of high hopes for this season so the main goal is to just play well early. I’ve had a pretty good preseason so far, the first couple of goals will be to get into the Vic Country squad and hopefully play a game. But really, just to develop my game as well.”


Where do you see your best position being, having played through the midfield and up forward thus far?

“I’d probably say at the moment probably that fifth/sixth role, that forward-flanker who gets up the ground, then goes deep. Next year I’ll hopefully get a few more minutes in the midfield but this season, hopefully just through the forward line.”


Who are some of the Murray-listed players you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“Number one would have to have been Elijah Hollands, but it’s unfortunate with his ACL (injury). But just to learn off him this year, he’s going to do a bit of coaching at Vic Country and the Bushrangers so he’s going to have eyes, just watching me and I’ll ask for advice, especially with the resilience he’s going to have to build.

“Also Zavier Maher, he’s probably going to be in the leadership group at Caulfield Grammar this year. He’s been a big part of my Caulfield journey so far and I’ve been doing a lot of extras with him.”


What has the transition to Caulfield been like?

“I think there was about four or five Murray Bushrangers guys already there so that made my move pretty easy. I knew a few day-schoolers already but that main connection with the Bushrangers boys helped me move in pretty smoothly.”


It must be great also having a connection with your Under 16 teammates, moving into this year and your top-age season in 2021?

“Yes, next year will probably be one of the biggest years of my life. A lot of high expectations really, but (I’ll look to) have another good preseason and start early. No major goals, just to get into the Vic Country squad again and move from there.”


Are there any other little goals you’re looking to tick off?

“We have the Australia (Under 17) game coming up in April, so that will be a goal just to play well there and get a win with the boys which would be an unreal experience. Then to play the Under 17s game on Grand Final day, that’s it really.”

Squad predictions: 2020 Allies Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with carnival likely to take place in October. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the championships come around, but with a few stipulations in place. We began with our Vic Metro, Vic Country, South Australian, and West Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at the potential Allies line-up.


  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • The inclusion of bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it is limited
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the fifth and final squad prediction, with the Allies’ talent broken down line-by-line. The Allies squad is made up of talent from NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.


FB – Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Peel), Jack Johnston (Gold Coast), Patrick Walker (Tasmania)
HB – Charlie Byrne (Murray), Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast), Sam Collins (Tasmania)

Two Gold Coast Suns Academy members make up the heart of our proposed Allies defence, with genuine talls Jack Johnston (195cm) and Ryan Pickering (199cm) slotting into key position posts. The additions of Brodie Lake and Sam Collins contribute even further to the height and marking power of the defence, with Collins’ intercept and rebound qualities also valuable assets.

Collins’ fellow Tasmanian Patrick Walker should provide similarly astute ball use from defence at a shorter range, while Murray product Charlie Byrne also likes to push further afield and deal damage by foot. The back six should have no trouble competing aerially on the defensive side, while being able to yield an attacking threat on the turnover.


C – Saxon Crozier (Brisbane), Oliver Davis (Tasmania), Carter Michael (Brisbane)
FOL – Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast), Alex Davies (Gold Coast), Braeden Campbell (Sydney)

Queenslanders take up four of the six midfield spots in our Allies side, with Brisbane Lions Academy members Saxon Crozier and Carter Michael starting on either wing, while 201cm ruck Thomas Hofert has been tasked with tapping down to Gold Coast Academy teammate Alex Davies at the centre bounces.

There is plenty of grunt in the engine room trio of Davies, Braeden Campbell, and Oliver Davis; with Davies the tallest of the lot (191cm) as that pure big-bodied type, while Davis (182cm) is another extractor who comes in at a similar build to the speedy and versatile Campbell (180cm).

The likes of Crozier and Michael may fancy a run through the middle but seem well suited to the outside, with a number of flankers and depth options in our squad also able to pitch in. Still, we feel this is the best mix, and one which gives the Allies a great chance to compete strongly in the area in which each contest begins.


HF – Errol Gulden (Sydney), Josh Green (GWS), Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder)
FF – Marco Rossmann (Sydney), Jackson Callow (Tasmania), Blake Coleman (Brisbane)

In a similar vein to the defensive mix, this forward six provides good versatility and some great marking power. Jackson Callow is the centrepiece at full forward, a physical key position type who is near-unstoppable with his contested marking, and may well take on ruck duties inside forward 50. Josh Green, brother of GWS draftee Tom, is a 192cm utility who can play up either end. He slots in at centre half-forward for now on account of his aerial ability.

The diminutive but brilliant Errol Gulden comes in on a forward flank but will have eyes on moving up to a wing, with fellow Swans Academy product Marco Rossmann a solid medium type who may also run through the midfield. In the opposite flank to Rossmann is exciting forward Blake Coleman, who along with Northern Territory prospect Joel Jeffrey, provides clean hands and a terrific goal sense. With silver service likely to come from a strong midfield core, this forward mix could do some damage at the national carnival when on song.


INT – Marc Sheather (Sydney), Jared Dakin (Tasmania), Tahj Abberley (Brisbane), Maurice Rioli Jnr (NT Thunder/Oakleigh)

This interchange group is, well, incredibly interchangeable with the group of depth players listed below, but all bring something different to the side. Jared Dakin makes the cut as the only over-ager in the squad given he garnered interest at last year’s draft, and he’ll provide a good ball winning boost.

Tahj Abberley and Maurice Rioli Jnr add some x-factor and smarts at ground level as part of the rotational group. Abberley is likely to play as a small defender but is just as capable up forward or through midfield, while Rioli could well be the genuine small forward that the side is missing. Rounding out the chosen 22 is Marc Sheather, another versatile medium type who can play well above his size at either end given his athleticism.


There remains a decent crop of top-agers who narrowly missed the cut, and some bottom-aged talent which will inevitably squeeze into the team minus any stipulations. Among the most unlucky to miss were AFL Academy hub members Rhys Nicholls and Aidan Fyfe, who could both slot in as half-backs or outside types. Kye Pfrengle is another defensive option who will get a look-in, while Jack Briskey and Jack Driscoll are taller types who should also rotate through the same line. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Lui and Ryan Eyers are prospects who may also be thereabouts.

In terms of top-agers outside of the AFL Academy intake, Tasmania’s Isaac Chugg is a terrific athlete, while Devils teammates Will Harper and Jye Menzie are well known to selectors. Sydney’s Pierce Roseby is a tough small who thrived in NSW/ACT colours, as did Max Pescud in the Maroon of Queensland.

Moving on to over-agers, and Tasmanian over-ager Hamish Allan would help the ruck stocks at 206cm, with GIANT-turned-Knight Liam Delahunty another tall who remains among the Under 18 ranks. In terms of Queensland-based 19-year-olds, the likes of forward movers Bruce Reville, Josh Gore, and Hewago Paul Oea have already shown plenty of promise.

Finally, an exciting group of bottom-aged talent is set to cause some selection headaches, lead by Tasmanian gun Sam Banks. He, and Tasmanian teammate Baynen Lowe impressed at Under 16 level enough to warrant NAB League selection in 2019. Queensland Under 16 MVP Austin Harris will also push his case as a small defender, while GIANTS Academy members Sam Stening and Josh Fahey are hard to deny, as is big Queensland forward Noah McFadyen.


Brisbane Lions Academy
Gold Coast SUNS Academy
Sydney Swans Academy
Tasmania Devils

AFL Draft Watch:

Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

Marquee Matchups:

Jackson Callow vs. Cam Fleeton
Braeden Campbell vs. Corey Durdin
Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes
Errol Gulden vs. Jake Bowey

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards


South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Draft Central All-Star Team: Murray Bushrangers

THE Murray Bushrangers could be the most balanced All-Star side of the entire exercise. There are quite literally no weaknesses in the side, and plenty of depth, with an almost perfectly balanced 24-player squad. If anything there might be a touch too much height, but that height has flexibility, and with a balance of hardness, class and midfielders who can slide back or forward, this team would be incredibly hard to beat.


Looking across the 24-player squad and it is madness in terms of the balance. A number of talls are capable of playing up either end, they have a couple of 200-game rucks, and then a nice combination of inside and outside midfielders who rotate forward or back. A key forward trio that could worry nearly any opposition side and then some more talls and smalls coming off the bench to impact, it is a coach’s dream.


Starting with the defence, picking two key position defenders was difficult. In the end, the best of Ben Reid locks down the centre half-back position given his dominance prior to injury, and then teaming up with Alipate Carlile who will make his opponent accountable, is a good combination. If the opposition is taller, they could throw Jarrad Waite down there, or even Sam Reid or Justin Koschitzke who start on the bench but can play across all three lines.

While Reid, Carlile and the others are not overly quick, they don’t need to be, because you just have to look at the mediums and smalls surrounding them. Joel Smith is the reliable back pocket who is often underrated but won two All-Australian awards and a best and fairest, standing as the only past player of the four small-medium types. Alongside him is Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow, Collingwood’s Jack Crisp and GWS GIANTS’ Zac Williams.

They might not have the accolades between them that others have – just Harbrow’s one best and fairest – but everyone can picture the elite ball use coming off half-back as well as the speed going down the field. If the opposition has a dangerous small forward, then Ben Matthews can come on playing as a defender or midfielder off the bench.


Picking a starting five group of onballers is not an easy task in this side, and even changed right up to the point of publishing. The ones who simply have to be there are Steele Sidebottom – who was voted the Best Player of the AFL Draft Era by you, the public, on our Instagram channel – and Brett Deledio on the wings – with three All-Australians and four best and fairests between them – as well as David Mundy onball as the Bushrangers’ games record holder at AFL level with 316. He also has an All-Australian and best and fairest to his name, and has broken Richmond hearts twice in the last 30 seconds of the game – including once after the siren.

The final two midfield spots were given to Brisbane-turned-Port Adelaide midfielder Tom Rockliff who has put in a body of work over the years and earned two best and fairests and an All-Australian. Joining him for the final spot is Clayton Oliver who is yet to reach 100 games, but has two best and fairests and an All-Australian to his name. Daniel Cross was one who initially was battling with Oliver for the spot, but the upside of Oliver is phenomenal and he earns a place in the side. Even the ruck spot has depth with Steven King the standout thanks to an All-Australian and two best and fairests in 240 games, ahead of Josh Fraser who played more than 200 matches after being a number one pick.

Also able to rotate through midfield is Jack Ziebell and Adem Yze who find their way into the team off half-forward flanks, whilst Crisp and Williams can float through there too. Many of those midfielders – particularly Sidebottom and Deledio can also spend time forward and hit the scoreboard.


If you thought the talent slowed by the forward six, you would be wrong. The talls of Barry Hall, Fraser Gehrig and Waite might look too top-heavy, but they are countered by the mediums and smalls of Ziebell, Yze and Steve Johnson. The latter might even have a case for the best medium forward of the modern era, winning three All-Australians, a Norm Smith and booting 516 goals in 293 games. But this forward line is so strong he only comes in as the third highest goal kicker.

The top honour belongs to Hall with 746 goals in 289 games, ahead of Gehrig with 549 from 260. Between them they have six All-Australians, two Colemans and a best and fairest. Add in Waite with a casual 377 goals and imagine the former Blue and Roo taking the third best defender each week. Whilst Ziebell and Yze could push into the midfield, both can play deep or high as forwards, making them unique goal scoring options.

Throw to the bench, and aside from Fraser and Koschitzke who could roll down there, Sam Reid and Jamie Elliott provide another tall and small option inside 50. Elliott in particular provides some dynamic play in the air or at ground level as that small forward with great pace and hurt factor. Ben Reid is one who can be thrown forward – as shown in recent years – to further stretch the defence.


The most unlucky one is Ben McEvoy who could squeeze onto the bench in exchange for Fraser. One might have already been impressed by the depth, but there were a number of solid role players who have carved out 100-game careers such as Shaun Atley (197 games), Sam Wright (136), Taylor Duryea (132) and Shannon Byrnes (131). If any of King or Fraser go down, the Bushrangers have some great depth in the ruck position that would make any other side in this All-Stars series envious thanks to Hamish McIntosh and Robbie Campbell. The remaining 100-gamers to miss out include Jarman Impey, Kayne Pettifer and Sam Rowe, with Impey a chance to force his way in if he continues his consistent work now with the Hawks.

Murray Bushrangers Player of the AFL Era: Vote for yours via our Instagram

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The GWV Rebels All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Adam Goodes announced as the winner and captain of the Rebels’ All-Star side.

The Bushrangers are right up there with the very best top-end talent. In fact, it was incredibly hard to seed with so many talented award-filled CVs that could provide voters with the most even set of voting to-date. In the end, Steve Johnson and Barry Hall earned the nods as the top two seeds, but any number of players could come out victorious from the voting.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Wednesday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is North Adelaide Roosters starting on Thursday. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/Eastern Allies)

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 Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, a ball-winning midfielder with a high work rate across the ground.

Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/Eastern Allies)

Height: 166cm
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Accumulation, clean hands, tackling pressure, contested marking

2019 NAB League Stats: 8 games | 15.8 disposals | 3.9 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.5 inside 50s | 1 goal

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 3 games | 11 disposals | 2.7 marks | 2.7 tackles | 2.0 inside 50s

Hailing from Griffith, a rural town in New South Wales, Favell already makes a massive sacrifice to play the game she loves with more than three hours from Griffith to Wangaratta – where the Bushrangers play a number of home games – and more than five hours to Melbourne. While restricted to only two games this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Favell showed enough in her middle-age year to suggest she has the talent to continue to grow in her game.

She burst onto the scene for Murray Bushrangers in the NAB League Girls competition, winning 15.8 disposals, 3.9 marks and 3.3 tackles per game. Watching her on the field, it is clear she has a high work rate because she would continually pop up in different areas of the ground after being up the other end only moments early. In one particular game against Dandenong Stingrays at Shepley Oval, Favell had the ball on a string early as she won plenty of it through midfield. As she rotated into other positions she had less of it, but her work rate and involvement on the game never dropped because she might give off a handball at half-back and then receive the ball at half-forward less than a minute later.

Her efforts saw her called into the Eastern Allies side again where she had been identified as a talent previously. She played the three games and while she spent less time onball and had to play against higher quality opposition, she still maintained a firm double-digit disposal count and impressive tackle effort. In terms of her game style, Favell has no trouble finding the ball when in the middle, and her tackling pressure and clean hands are standout traits. Despite standing at 166cm, Favell is one of the stronger players overhead for her size, not often needing a few bites to clunk grabs.

While Favell’s work rate allows her to often find space on a wing or at half-forward, she can push hard defensively to win the ball at half-back or even deeper in defence. Hard to beat in the air, Favell can outwork her opponents and give her teammates the run in transition needed to set up attacking forays. While it is unknown what football might be on the horizon, if the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships do go ahead, it is hard to look past Favell when talking about the Eastern Allies players to watch.

Q&A: Tom Brown (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Murray Bushrangers’ Tom Brown at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The Mooroopna junior impressed both in the V/Line cup for Murray and Under 16 National Championships for Vic Country, showcasing terrific smarts around goal and clean movement from half-forward. The 184cm prospect also possesses great agility, and proved as much with a 8.10-second time at pre-season testing.

With promising athletic traits and the experience of running out in the Under 18 NAB League competition already under his belt, Brown looks set to have an impact in his bottom-age year – should competition get underway. In developing his inside game, Brown may also feature further afield as he develops.



MA: Tom, how’s the day been so far?

TB: “The day’s been real great, thanks. “Loving it, all the boys are getting good results, just seeing where we’re at and it’s just a really good starting point for the year I reckon.”

Which are some of the tests you see yourself excelling in at the moment?

“I think the agility is probably my best test.”

Do you think that transfers to your talent on the field?

“Yeah I reckon it does. “I reckon it shows that I can duck and weave in packs and at the contest I can get away from my opponent easier.”

You had a pretty successful Under 16 National Championships last year, did you enjoy the experience in Queensland?

“That was a good time. “Everyone, they’re good fellas there and we played some real solid footy. We were just unlucky not to get three wins I reckon. But we did our best and it was a great experience.”

It must be awesome playing alongside the skipper and MVP of that team, Josh Rachele at Murray as well?

“I’ve been playing with him since juniors so we’re real good mates and yeah, just loving it. “I love that he’s getting the recognition that he deserves and doing well.”

Who are some of the other boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“I was looking forward to playing with Elijah Hollands but he’s out now. “I think Zav Maher too.”

Are you looking to lock down a specific role this year, perhaps in the forward half?

“I’m looking to just move around and find somewhere else maybe to play. “I love the forward line but don’t know how long I’ll be able to last there.”

What are some of the things you’re looking to develop in your game at the moment?

“I’m really just looking to develop my contested ball. “I think I need to work on that and also just running, running patterns and stuff like that.”

And are you setting any goals for the year?

“I just want to get the Bushies to finals I reckon, get into finals and see how deep we can go with that.”

Marquee Matchups: Sam Berry vs. Zavier Maher

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

This edition features a pair of prospects who have ironically been teammates at representative level over the last two years, with Sam Berry and Zavier Maher both part of Vic Country’s Under 16 and 17 setups. Pending the resumption of all sport, the two were set to team up once again in Vic Country’s Under 18 side given they are both part of the Academy hub, but would eventually face-off in the NAB League and APS school football competitions.

Gippsland’s Berry is a hard-working, hard-nosed midfielder who can accumulate big numbers on the inside. The 180cm jet is solidly built and impressed with his two-way running across 10 NAB League outings in 2019, while also turning out for Melbourne Grammar in between his Power outings. Having honed his craft alongside the likes of Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders within his region, Berry is primed to take over the reigns as a leader in his top-age season.

His counterpart, Maher also boasts an impressive resume having run out six times for Murray in 2019 after making a return from injury through school football with Caulfield Grammar. The powerful 184cm Bushranger also took on the opportunity to train with Richmond in the off-season alongside Caulfield and Murray teammate, Elijah Hollands. Coming off his first ever full pre-season, Maher looked set to really excel through the engine room at all levels with some serious talent surrounding him.


Sam Berry
Melbourne Grammar/Gippsland Power/Vic Country

DOB: February 12, 2002

Height: 180.6cm
Weight: 81.4kg

Position: Midfielder

Zavier Maher
Caulfield Grammar/Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: May 5, 2002

Height: 184.2cm
Weight: 82.6kg

Position: Midfielder



Berry – 65cm
Maher – 71cm


Berry – 80/89cm
Maher – 73cm/80cm

SPEED (20m)

Berry – 3.19 seconds
Maher – 2.96 seconds


Berry – 8.24 seconds
Maher – N/A


Berry – 21.7
Maher – N/A

Note: Maher did not partake in the agility or endurance tests due to injury

The pair returned some seriously impressive results in the athletic stakes, posting elite numbers in a range of tests. While Maher edged Berry in the standing vertical jump, the Gippsland product managed to pip his counterpart of both feet in the running jumps. Maher’s excellent sub-three second 20m sprint time really sets him apart from Berry, showcasing his real burst of power in shorter movements. Berry excels over time and with repeat effort, putting in an elite endurance score of 21.7 – his personal best – on the Yo-yo test. A hip niggle prevented Maher from completing the final two tests, although Berry’s scores are hard to beat in any case.




10 games
17.7 disposals (53% contested)
2.7 marks
6.5 tackles
7.3 clearances
3.8 inside 50s
1.3 rebound 50s
0.6 goals (6)


6 games
10.5 disposals (58% contested)
2.0 marks
3.0 tackles
3.2 clearances
2.8 inside 50s
0.6 rebound 50s
0.3 goals (2)

The stats show that Berry had a slightly greater output in his bottom-age season at NAB League level, proving consistent over a greater number of games. Some of that may come down to the strength of Gippsland’s side in comparison to Murray in 2019, although you still have to find the ball yourself as Berry so often did.

Berry’s exceptional numbers in tackling and clearances showcase his work-rate going both ways at the stoppages, with a contested ball rate of over 50 per cent also ideal for an inside midfield type. Maher actually slightly exceeds him in that area with 58 per cent of his possessions contested, but it is the only key stat which he beats Berry in.

The spread of either players’ numbers suggest their strengths lie in very similar areas, making for an even match-up should the two go head-to-head.



2019 NAB League Rd 12 vs. Geelong

20 disposals (16 kicks)
18 tackles
9 clearances
2 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s
3 goals


2019 NAB League Rd 13 vs. Eastern

15 disposals (10 kicks)
3 marks
4 tackles
5 clearances
7 inside 50s
1 goal

Either players’ true strengths truly come to the fore when taking a glance at their best NAB League outings in 2019. Berry’s 18 tackles and nine clearances against Geelong are a testament to his endurance and desire at the contest, while Maher’s five clearances and seven inside 50s against Eastern are credit to his metres gained style and penetrating kick.

The two games are also true to form for both players’ overall stats, with Berry’s output greater overall in most areas, but Maher still having a profound impact on the game with his damaging disposal. It is worth noting that Berry’s performance was extra-impressive given he also booted three goals. This was a game where Gippsland came back from 27 points down at three-quarter time to win, and consecutive final term goals from Berry played a major part in that.



Two-way work rate
Contested ball


Explosive speed
Metres gained
Kick penetration
Vertical leap

The areas which set either player apart have already been delved into, and there are subtle differences between the two which make them unique. While they are both a similar size, powerful, and apt in the contested stakes, the way they go about it is very different.

Maher uses his power and explosive speed to break away from congestion and rack up meters, while Berry uses his strength and agility to break free, while also staying in the hunt going the other way. Berry’s impact is felt over time, and he is always a presence credit to his endurance base, while Maher has those bursts of energy where he can break the lines and set his side on the front foot.





Short field kicking

Like all draft hopefuls, these two prospects have a few areas which they are looking to fine-tune. Berry’s speed stands out as one, with his 20m sprint time not indicative of his power in the short term. At pre-season testing, Berry said his repeat speed and ability to chain up for handball receives as the ball enters the outside are what he is working on.

One of Maher’s improvements is something that is slightly out of control, with durability there on account of his injuries as a bottom-ager. But with a full pre-season under his belt, he looks on track to rectify that. Maher is also working on the fundamentals; being clean with the ground balls for his inside game, while also honing his short field kicking.

Leadership is an added aspect Maher is hoping to develop, and he has already taken fellow Murray prospect Josh Rachele under his wing at Caulfield Grammar.



Berry was his team’s standout player with his grunt work in the middle setting the tone for the day.

His work rate with and without the ball was impressive and that carried on for the four quarters.

He would also hit the scoreboard with his goal coming from reading the play to mark 40 metres out and slot the nice goal.

His clearance work was great but it was also his skill with ball in hand that stood out, and despite looking like the type to just win the hard ball and bomb it, he actually took the time to hit his targets on both feet.


Maher combined well with fellow midfielder Sam Berry to not only win plenty of the ball but also offer something a little different with his ability to get forward and take the game on.

The Murray product covered plenty of ground and played a good mix to win his own ball but also work hard to get around the ground on the outside, which showed with his seven marks, three rebound 50s and seven inside 50s.

The inside 50s especially late in the game stood out where he often hit his targets and lowered the eyes.



2018 Vic Country Under 16 representative
2019 Vic Country Under 17 representative


2018 Vic Country Under 16 representative
2019 Vic Country Under 17 representative
2019 Under 17 Futures All Star representative


It is often difficult to place players like this pair on draft boards in comparison to one another given the different traits that they offer – while they are similar in so many ways, they set themselves apart in others. At this point in time, it is a case of placing a consistent, hard-working midfielder against one who perhaps catches the eye more, but in less-consistent bursts. Ceiling is often what analysts look to when comparing players and while Maher may have the edge in that area given his athletic base, Berry has greater runs on the board in terms of production. A truly interesting matchup, and one we hope to see if/when football returns.

Classic Contests: GIANTS hold off Bushrangers in tight contest

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Murray Bushrangers and GWS GIANTS Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides met for the first official time in the NAB League competition.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 5.7 | 7.7 | 11.11 (77)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 4.5 | 6.8 | 8.11 | 12.16 (88)

NAB League Round 6 | Saturday May 4, 2019
Albury Sports Ground, 1pm

In a battle of the border, Murray Bushrangers took on the GWS GIANTS Academy having had a number of players who represented both sides over the years. A perfect example was Nick Murray on the GIANTS’ team as the overage had played for the Bushrangers in defence for the years prior. Heading into the match, neither team had set the world on fire, having both played four games and won just one, with the Bushrangers holding a 12 per cent lead over the GIANTS in 13th to 14th on the NAB League Boys ladder. The two players touted as top 10 picks coming into the match were Bushrangers’ Lachlan Ash and GIANTS’ Tom Green who both would end up in the orange and charcoal by year’s ned.

Green made an early statement with a strong mark and goal two minutes into the contest, in what would be a rare appearance up forward. With Harry Grant converting the first of what would be three majors, the GIANTS raced out to a 13-point lead midway through the quarter before Jimmy Boyer and Hudson Kaak broke the Bushrangers’ drought with back-to-back goals in 90 seconds. The visiting team kicked away again with two goals in the last five minutes to lead by 13 points at quarter time.

The Bushrangers needed a response early, and like Green in the first term, this time is was Ash who stepped up with a big goal to give his team confidence. After a couple of near misses, Boyer booted his second of the game to level the scores. Liam Delahunty and Jye Chalcraft traded goals before Grant found his second and the GIANTS had a seven-point buffer at the main break.

Josh Green and Jeromy Lucas booted the first two goals of the term as the GIANTS dominated the third stanza of the match, leading by as much as 22 points at one stage, with 2.3 to 0.0 on the board. Luckily for the Bushrangers, they managed to grab some momentum back going into the final break as Kaak and Mitchell Holt found the big sticks. With the deficit back to a manageable 10 points, it was well and truly game on in the final term.

GIANTS’ Lucas Conlan kicked the all-important first goal of the term, before Chalcraft capitalised with his second and the margin was back to 13 points. A couple of misses and then a third Grant goal had the GIANTS back out to a 20-point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock. With a scoreline of 10.15 inaccuracy was an issue for the visitors despite the solid advantage. Lachlan Sykes kept the Bushrangers hopes alive with an important goal, but back-to-back misses, this time from Ash and Chalcraft left Murray with some work to do at 11 points down. With seven minutes remaining, Matthew Hamblin booted his second and the game was as good as done with a couple of late goals to Cam Wilson and Boyer either side of Conlan’s second was not enough to get their side over the line.

It was no surprise to see Tom Green at the top of the disposal count with a mammoth 37 touches, 11 clearances, three marks, five tackles, five hitouts, two inside 50s and a goal in a best on ground performance. Lucas was not too far behind with 33 touches, seven marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Ed Perryman picked up 31 disposals, nine marks and six rebounds out of defence. Up forward, Grant booted three majors from 23 touches and eight marks while laying eight tackles, as Liam Delahunty was busy with 21 disposals, seven marks, three tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal. Murray had five rebounds from 10 touches and four marks against his former side, while Conlan and Josh Green both booted multiple goals.

Ash was one of three players to record the most disposals, teaming up with fellow midfielders, Dylan Clarke and Cameron Wild. All three had 27 disposals, and combined for 13 marks and eight clearances. Ash also had the five inside 50s and a goal, while Boyer was the most lively in the forward half with three majors from 22 disposals, five marks and three clearances. Sam Durham (22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s) and Charlie Byrne (20 disposals, three tackles and nine rebounds) also found plenty of the ball, while Chalcraft (14 touches, four marks) and Kaak (eight touches, three marks) booted two goals each.

The win was the GIANTS’ last match in the Academy Series, finishing with a 2-3 record, while the Bushrangers would go on to finish ninth, only to narrowly bow out to Dandenong Stingrays in Wildcard Round.