Tag: Next Generation Academy

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders

DASHING, daring outside midfielders are becoming increasingly important amid the current trend of contested, scrum-like styles of play, able to break the lines and change the course of games in a flash. Among this year’s crop lies a versatile bunch of outside types who can double in different positions, and while not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best outside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier outside midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
174cm | 66kg

Starting small, Bowey kicks off this list as one of the prospects who may sneak into top 20 calculations on draft boards, with plenty of desirable attributes to outweigh his 174cm/66kg frame. The Sandringham Dragons product is hard at it, able to take the ball cleanly and burst through congestion with his high-level speed and agility. He featured in 16 NAB League games last year stationed on his customary wing position, but is quite apt forward of centre and could even utilise his sharp foot skills off half-back.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia
188cm | 79kg

Another in the line of East Fremantle Under 18 prospects is Carroll, who comes in at a good size to compete across a range of positions. The West Australian’s precision kicking makes him damaging on the outside, while courage in the air and intercept marking prowess make him a half-back option. The 188cm prospect can also roll through midfield, but has quality traits on the outer and will more likely find a spot there should state representative duties come calling.

Saxon Crozier
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
189cm | 80kg

Crozier has been one of Queensland’s most highly touted 2020 prospects for a while now, and has cut his teeth as an out-and-out outside midfielder thus far. The tall, rangy Brisbane Academy product has filled out of late and has eyes on securing an inside role, but has arguably shown his best form to date on the wing. Crozier’s running capacity and ability to hurt the opposition when given time and space suit the outside role, and he has also adapted his skills to run off flanks at either end of the ground. He will be a leader among the talented Brisbane crop, and should prove a handy addition to the Allies squad.

>> Q&A

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
185cm | 83kg

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate may have eyes on more minutes on the inside, and boasts the ideal size for it, but is so good running on the outer that we simply had to include him in this list. Downie is set to skipper the Eastern Ranges side which lost in last year’s NAB League decider, with the experience of 14 games and a Vic Metro Under 18 outing under his belt. While he is not overwhelmingly quick, Downie loves to get the ball moving and finishes his line-breaking runs with penetrating left-foot bombs. His skills can be adapted to a half-back role, and he is no stranger to finding the big sticks, either.

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

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies
172cm | 68kg

Search the definition for pocket rocket and a picture of Gulden is what you are likely to find. The nippy Swans Academy hopeful does not let his size get in the way of making a big impact; as his smarts, agility, and ability to chain possessions allow him to carve up the opposition on the outside. While he could also be considered a small or half-forward, Gulden is just as capable of wreaking havoc from the wing and enjoys getting into space. He won the Under 16 Division 2 MVP in 2018, appeared four times for the Allies as a bottom-ager, and has already played senior footy. Look out.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Brodie Lake
Peel Thunder/NT Thunder Academy/Allies
186cm | 70kg

One of the Northern Territory’s brightest draft prospects this year is Lake, a tall midfielder who boasts great versatility and running power. He has twice featured in the Thunder’s Under 16 squad, taking out last year’s MVP award for his service through midfield and in defence. Lake has also plied his trade for Peel Thunder and at senior level for Southern Districts in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), lauded for his coachability, skills, and work rate. He will be one to keep an eye out for come the national carnival, and will be eligible to be taken by Gold Coast given its alignment to the Darwin academy zone.

Carter Michael
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
188cm | 74kg

A second Queenslander on this list, Michael may well find himself lined up on the opposite wing to fellow Brisbane Academy product, Crozier when it comes time to run out for the Allies. The 188cm prospect is a silky mover through traffic who boasts a penetrating left foot kick, and he may well be one to juggle time between inside and outside roles throughout the year, depending on which team he represents. He already has experience on the inside for the Lions at Under 18 level and is a leader among that group, but may be pushed out to the wing for the Allies where he can make an impact with his sharp decision making.

>> Q&A

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia
180cm | 73kg

Powell made an immediate impact upon his return to SANFL Under 18s action last week, collecting 34 disposals in Sturt’s Round 1 win over Central District. The speedy midfielder actually has quite a nice balance of traits given his mix of athleticism and ball winning ability, but may find his way into the South Australian lineup on the outside where his explosive burst will come in handy. It is pleasing to see Powell back on the park after an unlucky run with injuries in 2019, and he should quickly rise in stocks should his form persist.

>> Q&A

Taj Schofield
WWT Eagles/South Australia
178cm | 72kg

The son of Port Adelaide premiership player, Jarrad, Schofield is another South Australian prospect to have battled injury as a bottom-ager, but he is primed to make an impact in 2020. Power fans will be keeping a close eye on the 2020 father-son candidate, who is incredibly classy on the outside with eye-catching agility and short-range kicking. Schofield has been working on his inside craft, too, and featured among the Eagles’ Under 18 centre bounce quartet in Round 1 after starting up forward. The small prospect was named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side, where he represented Western Australia before making the move to SA.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of other prospects who could fit into the outside midfielder category, but are more effective in other roles from out perspective. Among them, the elite trio of Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Braeden Campbell are all players we deem to be of the balanced midfielder variety, along with the likes of Finlay Macrae and Bailey Chamberlain. Corey Durdin is one who would be considered more of an inside type, and we see him as a small forward in the long run in any case.

Speaking of, Sam Conforti will make the same transition for Bendigo, while West Australian pair Ira Jetta and Joel Western can roll through multiple positions, including on the outside, but look more suited to flank or pocket roles. Glenelg small Cooper Horsnell also has eyes on a role further afield, but remains in the small forward category.

There are a raft of defenders who move up the ground well and may, in future, be considered outside midfielders. NAB Leaguers Charlie Byrne and Nick Stevens have the ability to roll further afield, but seem to prefer their half-back posts, while Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Patrick Walker are in a similar boat. Queenslander Tahj Abberley is one who can play just about anywhere but has been billed as a small defender, and we like Ty Sears as a running half-back, too.

In the utility category comes the likes of Zac Dumesny and Campbell Edwardes. Dumesny made his SANFL League debut in 2020 and can operate on the wing or up forward, but looks like developing into a third tall in defence. Edwardes is as versatile as they come and is yet to lock down a specific role despite looking comfortable on the outside.

Of course, anyone else we may have missed could also appear in our previous analysis on inside midfielders.

Positional Analysis: Inside MidfieldersKey Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

Q&A: Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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 Oakleigh Chargers’ Youseph Dib at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

There may not be much of the Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect at 172cm, but he is well-built for his size and makes up for it with tenacious two-way effort. After earning All Australian honours at last year’s Under 16 National Championships in a stacked Vic Metro side, Dib also managed to crack into the premiership-winning Oakleigh line-up for one outing late in the 2019 season.

While he is able to win his own ball and impact contests from as high as the wing or through midfield, Dib will more likely feature as a small forward for Oakleigh this year in between school football commitments with Caulfield Grammar. Read what the impressive bottom-ager had to say about his journey thus far and the year ahead in our latest Q&A.

>> CATCH UP ON ALL OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Youseph, how’s the day been for you so far?

YD: “Not too bad, it’s been a pretty long day. There’s a lot of boys out here, it’s good to see your competition and where everyone’s at. I’ve just got the yo-yo (test) left and then we’re good to go home.”

 

Is that one you’re looking forward to or dreading?

“Probably dreading. But one thing I’ve been working on in the off-season a lot is my fitness, so I’m excited to see where I’m at and see how I compare to before preseason.”

 

Coming off a really good Under 16 campaign, how did you enjoy the carnival up in Queensland?

“Yes, a good experience. I felt like the difference between our year and maybe some others was that our (group) really jelled well together. We had a really broad range of talent and as soon as we got on the ground, it didn’t take long for us to know each other. We just connected well and our chemistry was up there.”

 

There were plenty of fellow Oakleigh boys as well, did that make the connection easier?

“Definitely. We had about 10 or 11 there and I’ve been training with them for the last few months. But I also felt like we were leaders there and helped some of the other boys who didn’t have too many (others) from their regions. After a couple of training sessions everyone was all mixed together between regions which was one of the reasons why our chemistry was so high.”

 

Given you can go and win your own ball, which position do you see yourself fitting in best at Oakleigh now?

“I’ve been working a lot in the forward (group), so a small forward around some of the talls. I’m hoping to play a bit of midfield, a bit of wing. Playing up and down the ground and working on my fitness so I can be a bit more broad.”

 

You’d have some great mentors as part of the Collingwood Next Generation Academy, how has that been for your development?

“It’s been very good. Reef McInnes, who’s a year older than me as well, when I first came in I was pretty quiet and didn’t really know anyone and he really brought me in. Every training session he gets around all the younger boys with the new (Under) 15s coming in, he’s a very good leader. With ‘Daics’ (Nick Daicos) and Reef training at Oakleigh as well, it helps because we know each other so well… the NGA training has been pretty high-intensity which has been brought up a lot this year.”

 

What kind of goals are you looking to set out this year?

“Most of my year will be played out at school footy which I haven’t really done before, so I’m excited to see what the competition is like there and hopefully I can bring up my stats and fill out my role in the team. It’ll be a pretty long year (with) a lot of small goals, but my main goal from the off-season was my fitness. I’m excited to see what I’m like on the ground and where I’m at.”

AFL Draft Watch: Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state 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 East Fremantle prospect Brandon Walker, who is part of Fremantle’s booming Next Generation Academy (NGA) alongside twin brother, Chris. The classy, rebounding half-back has already impressed with his line-breaking speed, astute disposal, and vertical leap when intercepting from defensive 50. After earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level, Walker was a standout for Australia in its annual Under 17 fixture against New Zealand, and went on to become a mainstay for East Fremantle’s WAFL Colts outfit as a bottom-ager.

This year, the 184cm prospect will be looking to break into the West Australian Under 18 starting side having been named in the 2019 squad, while also resuming his climb up the WAFL ranks. He managed the second-best running vertical jump off the left side (94cm) across the nation during preseason, and is sure to showcase much more than just his incredible athleticism once the on-field action returns.

PLAYER PAGE:

Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia

DOB: October 17, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Half-back/midfielder

Strengths: Vertical leap, speed, decision making, reading the play, rebounding
Improvements: Consistency/accumulation

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 73cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 75cm/94cm
Speed (20m) – DNT
Agility – DNT
Endurance (Yo-yo) – DNT

DNT – Did not test

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

WAFL Colts Round 15 vs. Peel Thunder

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL U16s All-Australian defender showed why he is so highly touted for the 2020 AFL Draft with another polished performance. He accumulated 11 possessions, grabbed three marks and laid two tackles, while he also provided a heap of run from the defensive half.

WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. Swan Districts

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL Under 16s All-Australian member increased his draft stocks for 2020 with another superb performance. Against Swan Districts, Walker accumulated 16 possessions, took four marks and laid two tackles, playing primarily across the half-back line. His line-breaking capabilities, decision-making and disposal efficiency are all at a fantastic level for someone his age. He is a part of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy.

WAFL Colts Round 8 vs. South Fremantle

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL U16 All-Australian showed why he is already being touted as a possible first round draft pick in next year’s AFL Draft. Against the Bulldogs, Walker gathered 21 possessions, recorded five inside 50s, took four marks and laid four tackles to be one of the best players.

WAFL Colts Round 2 vs. Subiaco

By: Lenny Fogliani

The Fremantle Next-Generation Academy prospect was sizzling off the half-back line for East Fremantle. He finished with 15 possessions and five marks, showcasing the traits that made him an All-Australian last year. He used his speed to burn off opponents, was smart with his decision-making and elite with his foot skills.

WAFL Colts Round 1 vs. Claremont

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 WA U16s All-Australian was excellent for the Sharks, showing why he is so highly rated for the 2020 AFL Draft. He used his crisp disposal and electrifying speed from the half-back line to torch the Tigers. He finished with 11 possessions, five marks and three tackles.

>> 2020 WA U18s Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
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
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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

AFL Draft Watch: Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state 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 Claremont’s Joel Western, a member of the thriving Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA). The 172cm prospect is an excitement machine, catching the eye with his speed and agility away from the contest, combined with an innate ability to pull off improbably plays. While Western is more than capable of playing through the midfield at Under 18 level, roles off flanks at either end of the ground suit his physical makeup in terms of adjusting to the next level.

After his 23 disposals helped Claremont to Under 18 WAFL Colts grand final glory in 2019, the zippy Tiger became one of three players from his club to be included in the West Australian Academy hub. Western was a prime mover in his state’s 2018 Under 16 campaign, and was part of its 2019 Under 18 squad without playing a game. Having lit up preseason testing with top 10 results in each jumping category and the 20-metre sprint, Western is primed to break through this season as a key figure once again.

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 80cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L):
88cm/91cm
Speed (20m): 2.88 seconds
Agility: 8.47 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo):
21.5

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

PLAYER PAGE:

Joel Western

DOB: October 12, 2002

Height: 172.cm
Weight: 67kg
Position: Midfielder/small utility

Strengths: Athleticism, speed/endurance mix, versatility, x-factor, skill

KEY SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

The West Australian was one of Team Dal Santo’s better players on the day, showing good composure at half-back under pressure. He did go forward at times but looked more rushed going inside 50 with the odd turnover from a quick snap. He had a shot on goal but the kick went out on the full, and spent the second half in the defensive half of the ground, being a reliable player who picked up a number of touches back there trying to settle his team down.

2019 WAFL Colts Grand Final vs. Peel Thunder

By: Lenny Fogliani

The bottom-aged Fremantle Next Generation Academy member showed why he is one of the leading prospects from Western Australia for next year’s AFL Draft. He accumulated 23 possessions, and laid six tackles, often using his speed and skill to break Peel’s defensive zones.

>> Squad Prediction: 2020 WA U18s

>> Marquee Matchup: Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Kaine Baldwin

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
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
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

Squad predictions: 2020 Western Australia 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, and South Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at Western Australia’s (WA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • 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 to three spots in the starting 18
  • 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 fourth squad prediction, with WA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged
** – denotes 19-yo

DEFENCE

FB – Blake Morris (Subiaco), Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts), Rhett Bazzo* (Swan Districts)
HB – Brandon Walker (East Fremantle), Heath Chapman (West Perth), Ty Sears (Swan Districts)

The West Australian spine is one of the few to boast genuine talls in most key position posts, starting with Denver Grainger-Barras and Heath Chapman in defence. Both are terrific in the air and provide good versatility as talls, able to shut down opponents, impact the play aerially, and use the ball soundly out of defensive 50.

Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Brandon Walker‘s name will quickly be placed on the team sheet, with Ty Sears an agile outside mover who takes up the opposite half-back flank in our side. Making it three Swan Districts products in the back six is Rhett Bazzo, joined by WA’s 2019 Under 16 MVP, Blake Morris on the last line.

Both are good competitors in the air; with Bazzo a potential key position prospect at 194cm as a bottom-ager, while Morris is a late bloomer who can intercept with his high marking and shrewd reading of the play. The defence has a bit of everything, and should compete well on all levels with Grainger-Barras the centrepiece and leading draft prospect.


MIDFIELD

C – Jack Carroll (East Fremantle), Zane Trew (Swan Districts), Judd McVee* (East Fremantle)
FOL – Kalin Lane** (Claremont), Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth), Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle)

A trio of tough, big-bodied ball winners look likely to attend the centre bounces for WA, with Nathan O’Driscoll (187cm), Zane Trew (186cm), and Finn Gorringe (183cm) all inside types who can crack in and win the hard ball. O’Driscoll is a thumping left-foot kick and capable marker who may also feature across half-back, while Trew is perhaps an even better disposer by foot who also earned Under 16 All Australian honours in 2018.

Palming down to them could well be a true bolter in Kalin Lane, who featured in the 2020 AFL Academy intake despite only playing one WAFL Colts game for Claremont. The 202cm big-man is also the sole 19-year-old to feature in the side, and should be aided well by a couple of other talls in terms of ruck duties.

On the outside, Jack Carroll adds to the high-level kicking abilities to make it three East Fremantle prospects among the midfield group. He displayed his class in last year’s Under 17 All Stars showcase, and is joined on the opposite wing by Judd McVee, a bottom-aged small who has that classic burst out of the stoppages and may feature on the inside.


FORWARD

HF – Joel Western (Claremont), Shannon Neale (South Fremantle), Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder)
FF – Owen Dann (East Fremantle), Logan McDonald (Perth), Ira Jetta (South Fremantle)

There is plenty of versatility among the proposed West Australian forward group, with two genuine talls again slotting into key position spots, while each of the smaller options can also rotate through different roles. Among them, Joel Western is an exciting prospect who is part of Fremantle’s NGA and can rotate through the midfield, credit to his freakish skills and evasiveness.

Ira Jetta is another small who can also double as a midfielder at the Under 18 level, but has terrific goal sense and fills a spot up forward here. Owen Dann takes up the other pocket but can be thrown into defence, while Peel Thunder’s Isiah Winder slots in at half-forward – a player who catches the eye, and yet another sub-180cm mover who can shuffle further afield.

Logan McDonald is one of the leading key position prospects in the national talent pool and is simply a lock at full forward, having already represented the Black Ducks at Under 18 level in 2019. His athleticism, clean hands, and contested marking will put WA in good stead and he has grown to true key position height at 195cm. Shannon Neale, another late bloomer will rotate between the ruck and forwardline, able to compete in the air while also possessing good athletic traits at 200cm.

The flexibility of the side as a whole is stamped with that of the forward six here, with each player both versatile in their respective positions while being able to double in separate roles. With a couple of solid talls to help the smalls crumb, this group could also produce a handy highlight reel.


INTERCHANGE

INT – Luke Polson* (Peel Thunder), Kade Dittmar* (East Perth), Kellen Johnson (West Perth), Tyler Nesbitt (Peel Thunder)

A pair of bottom-agers head our interchange, which was a typically difficult one to whittle down. Luke Polson is a 195cm ruck/forward who can provide depth on either line, while Kade Dittmar is a hard-working and physical midfielder with a booming kick and the ability to play elsewhere if required. Polson’s Peel Thunder teammate Tyler Nesbitt rounds out the 22 alongside fellow top-age academy member Kellen Johnson, both medium-sized prospects who may feature at either end of the ground.


SQUAD DEPTH

There is a good amount of bottom-age depth in the West Australian ranks, and some top-agers outside of the AFL Academy bubble who could push their case for selection. Jack Hindle is the only top-age academy member to miss out on our 22, but will likely rotate through the side. Chris Walker, the twin brother of Brandon is another who may be thereabouts, while Jamison Ugle is a speedy type who could garner attention along with Subiaco’s Tyler Brockman as forward options. Talented 199cm ruck/forward Michael Mallard had a decent Under 16 campaign for WA, and is already a known quantity if selectors are looking for even more key position depth.

In terms of those eligible for the 2021 draft who feature in the academy hub, Max Chipper is a classy midfielder from the stacked Swan Districts squad. Matthew Johnson is a tall but raw prospect who can also play forward, and Mitchell Brown is another midfield option who may put his hand up. Rounding out the crop is Claremont’s Jacob van Rooyen and Richard Bartlett, both of whom featured for the Black Ducks in last year’s Under 16 national carnival.

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 WA U18s:
>> 2019 WAFL Colts Content

AFL Draft Watch:

Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll

Marquee Matchups:

Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Kaine Baldwin

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

Q&A: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/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 Oakleigh Chargers’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member is a mercurial talent, able to rip games apart with his high marking and extraordinary athleticism. While he as been utilised up either end of the ground thus far, the 194cm prospect looks most at home inside forward 50, where his sticky hands and pace off the lead come to the fore.

Having made the transfer over to Oakleigh’s region via a scholarship at Scotch College, Ugle-Hagan played an integral role in the Chargers’ 2019 NAB League premiership and is poised to once again juggle his time between school, NAB League, and representative commitments. Given he hails from Warrnambool, Ugle-Hagan will run out for Vic Country should an Under 18 national carnival go ahead.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Jamarra, how has the day been so far?

JUH: “It’s actually been a really good experience with all the other clubs, you can just see your competition. “It’s pretty good.”

 

You’re coming off an outstanding bottom-age year, how did you find the transition with Oakleigh and Scotch College?

“It’s been unreal. “Getting the scholarship with Scotch College, it’s a great opportunity. “Also coming here and getting the opportunity to play for Oakleigh Chargers is just really good.”

 

Obviously you’ve already drawn some attention with your connection to the Western Bulldogs, how do you keep on top of the hype?

“With all the hype, they’re just words. “It doesn’t get to my head.”

 

Being around some talented players from Oakleigh and the Vic Country Hub, who are some of the players you enjoy playing alongside?

“Obviously it was good to play with Rowelly (Matt Rowell), Ando (Noah Anderson), Dyl Williams, but I reckon it was good to play with the whole squad. Everyone has their different roles, but it was just an unreal experience, especially to win a flag at the end of the year.”

 

There’s a few fellow Indigenous boys alongside you in different teams, what’s that been like for you?

“It’s actually really good. Going to Scotch from like three hours away, and (Maurice Rioli Jnr) is coming from the NT, it’s pretty hard for us to keep track with homesickness and all that. But once you’re with all the boys it’s a big family.”

 

What are some of the goals you’re looking to tick off coming into your top-age season?

“Obviously you’d like to think of the draft, All Australian and all that, but I’m just thinking of the next training session because you look at Elijah Hollands, no one saw that (knee injury) coming. “You never know when your last training session is so I just think of the next training session really.”

 

Having played down back in the Under 17 Futures game last year, are you open to playing there or are you keen to nail down a forward role?

“I played back for Scotch College as a bottom-ager. “Obviously I loved it there so now seeing the different switch, it’s pretty good. I’d love to play back, I don’t mind.”

 

Are there any things you’re looking to work on?

“Obviously because of the hype, I’ve just got to keep doing the same thing because it just resets now. “So I’m just back to the bottom, and (will) just keep grinding.”

>> FULL INTERVIEW


Features:

Draft Watch
Marquee Matchup
2020 U18 Key Forwards
2020 Vic Country U18 Squad Prediction

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

AFL Draft Watch: Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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 the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft Watch is Oakleigh’s Reef McInnes, a Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) member who contributed to the Chargers’ 2019 NAB League premiership. The 192cm prospect was pushed out to the forward line at times last year, but thrived in his more suited role as an inside midfielder. One of his more notable outings came in that position for Vic Metro’s Under 17s side, but he was just as effective inside 50 for the Chargers and in the Under-17 Futures All-Star showcase.

PLAYER PAGE:

Reef McInnes

Height: 192.1cm
Weight: 83.8kg
Position: Inside midfielder/Forward

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 12 games | 14.7 disposals (36% contested possessions) | 3.9 marks | 3.1 tackles | 1.6 clearances | 1.6 inside 50s | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.5 goals (6)

Strengths: Contested ball, versatility, strength, agility
Improvements: Four-quarter consistency

>> Q&A: Reef McInnes
>> Marquee Matchup: McInnes vs. Davies

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Did not test.

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Star Game

By: Michael Alvaro

McInnes continues to step up in showcase games and did so here with a solid display of ball winning across the day. Starting in midfield, McInnes proved he was more than an inside workhorse with his poise on the ball and decision making when hemmed in.

He has surprising agility at times – much like GWS Academy product Tom Green and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps – which helps to get him out of trouble on top of his strength in the tackle.

He went on to become influential up forward, finding separation on the lead and almost pulling in some strong marks. It proved a shrewd move, as McInnes booted two goals; the first coming from a 50m penalty, and the second shortly after with a classy snap from the tightest of angles.

2019 Under 17 Futures vs. Queensland

By: Michael Alvaro 

The Collingwood NGA prospect looks to be another great find for the Magpies, and he had some sort of start to the game. McInnes was strong from the get-go, winning the very first clearance and working hard to impact a number of contests around the ground – he was involved in just about everything.

His clean hands, strength in the contest, and tackling made him the dominant inside midfielder, but his spread and props in traffic bode well for a well-balanced game. McInnes was a little quieter as the game wore on, but racked up 24 disposals, nine tackles, six clearances, and four inside 50s.

2019 NAB League Round 16 vs. Western

By: Peter Williams

One of Oakleigh’s best and was a bigger body in terms of height in the midfield for the Chargers. He had a massive first term and looked good around the stoppages, winning a number of big clearances from in close, and set up scoring opportunities with nice kicks inside 50.

He is able to get his hands free when tackled and had a shot on goal in the first term but his kick was rushed and it went to the left. McInnes showed good decision making ability when in congestion, picking the right option when handballing clear and stood tall against a number of opponents.

2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Geelong

By: Joe Lee

McInnes was dominant for the Chargers, highlighted by his two goals, 29 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s. The impressive display was a testimony to McInnes improved recent form and he was the best midfielder on the ground. With his draft stocks rising after outings such as the weekend, McInnes is one to keep an eye on for next year.

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Archie Perkins

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

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

Allies:
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

Marquee Matchups: Connor Downie vs. Luke Edwards

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 next pair under the microscope ironically played together twice last year; for the Australian Under 17 side in April, and in September’s Under 17 Futures showcase fixture. 2020 Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie and Glenelg’s Luke Edwards are those two players, having progressed through similar journeys despite hailing from different states. Both prospects are also already aligned to AFL clubs, with Downie a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, and Edwards eligible to nominate as an Adelaide father-son candidate.

Downie was an integral figure in Eastern’s run to last year’s NAB League grand final, proving a reliable and versatile member of the squad. He was also one of the rare bottom-agers to feature for Vic Metro in the 2019 National Championships, running out for his sole appearance against Vic Country to open the carnival. Having played mostly on a wing and off flanks at either end, Downie’s solid build and forward-driving attributes see him poised for more inside midfield minutes throughout 2020.

Edwards is a player in a similar boat, but instead looks to make a return to the engine room having been employed as a rebounding defender in last year’s Under 18 championships for South Australia. Remarkably, Edwards has not put on any height since his Under 16 campaign in 2018, but remains a big-bodied type through midfield at 187cm and 80kg. The son of Crows great, Tyson broke through to SANFL Reserves level for Glenelg as a bottom-ager and may well make the step up to League football as a top-ager when SANFL competitions return in June.

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.

PLAYER PAGES

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

DOB: May 31, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 83kg

Position: Outside midfielder/utility

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: January 12, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Downie – 64cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Downie – 78cm/63cm

SPEED (20m)

Downie – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Downie – 8.48 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Downie – 20.7

Note: Edwards did not participate in the scheduled South Australian preseason testing day.

Attempting to compare these two athletically via preseason testing data is obviously a fruitless task given Edwards did not participate in South Australia’s combine, but we can still extract something out of Downie’s results. The Victorian’s power off one side shows in the 15cm gap in his running vertical jumps, and he definitely uses that leap to compete in the air, while also boasting a penetrating left foot kick. Downie’s time of 3.11 second across 20 metres is not exactly flattering, but his constant forward movement and overlapping runs to chain handballs better show his ability to gain meterage in quick time. Additionally, a decent agility test time of 8.48 seconds allows Downie to evade opponents and is an area Edwards also thrives in through midfield.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Downie:

NAB League: 14 games | 16.4 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.6 inside 50s |  3.8 rebound 50s | 9 goals

Under 18 National Championships: 1 game | 9 disposals | 4 marks | 2 inside 50s | 2 rebound 50s

Edwards:

SANFL U18s: 8 games | 22.5 disposals | 4.4 marks | 5.8 tackles | 5.1 clearances | 4.6 inside 50s | 1 goal

Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 18.8 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.75 rebound 50s | 1.5 inside 50s

Downie may have been the slightly more capped player as far as these statistics go, but was able to showcase some of his best traits on the outside. His NAB League average of 16.4 disposals is a decent output for a bottom-ager, but his ability to impact along the line really comes to the fore in his combination of 3.8 rebound 50s and nine goals for the season.

Edwards’ more inside oriented role shines through in his SANFL Under 18 numbers, reflecting a dominant stoppage game going both ways with 5.1 average clearances, 4.6 inside 50s, and 5.8 tackles. His overall disposal output is also greater, and his slightly bigger frame has something to do with that at Under 18 level.

In terms of their National Championships form, Edwards proved his worth as a consistent contributor across all four games, while Downie could only crack one outing in the stacked Vic Metro side. Again, Edwards’ overall output is more significant, but this time in a different role across half-back as he upped his intercept/rebounding game and maintained similar tackling numbers.

It would have been handy to see the pair go at it when Vic Metro met South Australia, but we will have to wait until this year’s carnival – should one go ahead.

BEST GAME

Downie:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. GWV

23 disposals (14 kicks)
2 marks
3 clearances
7 inside 50s
2 rebound 50
3 goals

Edwards:

2019 SANFL U18s Round 14 vs. North Adelaide

32 disposals (22 kicks)
7 marks
10 tackles
9 clearances
9 inside 50s
1 goal

You will be hard-pressed to find a more complete midfield game that Edwards’ display in Glenelg’s Round 14 loss to North Adelaide; the prime mover won plenty of his own ball (32 disposals) both at the stoppages (nine clearances) and on the spread (seven marks), while staying relevant defensively (10 tackles) and impacting the play going forward (nine inside 50s, one goal). It is the kind of game which makes you think a permanent midfield move is a no-brainer for Edwards, and shows how far developed he is for his age.

Downie’s chosen game came in as one-sided a game as you’re likely to see, with Eastern holding its opponent to a total of five behinds while piling on 18.8 (116) in tricky Ballarat conditions. Downie was a key exponent of the onslaught, collecting a disposal tally two touches shy of his season-best, while impacting the play up either end and at the stoppages. His three goals were sweeteners, showcasing his penetrating kick from range as well as his underrated overhead marking in the face of a howling breeze.

STRENGTHS

Downie:

Versatility
Leadership
Kick penetration
Efficiency

Edwards:

Versatility
Contested ball
Reading the play
Efficiency

Conveniently enough, the two share a pair of identical strengths. The first listed for either player is versatility, something they will both be itching to further showcase in expanded roles should the action return in 2020. Edwards has gone from playing permanent midfield, to shifting to defence, to now being poised as a midfielder once again. Meanwhile, Downie is a damaging proposition all the way along the line from half-back, to half-forward, and potentially inside the engine room.

The other shared trait here is their efficiency, with Downie a safe bet on his left side, while Edwards is ruthless on his right. Downie seems to have a touch more penetration and loves to go long, but Edwards is a touch more accustomed to finding the best option and hardly making a mistake. Edwards’ disposal efficiency of 90 per cent, albeit with a much lower output, only proves his case as a poised user of the ball. Downie may waver a touch more, but can cut teams up with his metres gained and put the ball in more dangerous areas.

As captain of the Eastern region, Downie also gets a tick for leadership, and he could be in contention for the same honours at representative level given his experience there already.  Edwards’ remaining strengths tie into different roles on-field, with his contested game suited to midfield minutes, while reading of the play comes down to his defensive duties. Edwards’ frame also helps in one-on-one defensive situations too, adding to that intercept and rebound style from the back half.

IMPROVEMENTS

Downie:

Inside craft
Explosive speed

Edwards:

Explosive speed
Contested marking

The two again have similar improvements to make, and are ordered in terms of importance. Downie’s inside craft will need a lift if he is to spend more time at the centre bounces, with his chaining and penetrative style on the outside currently more suited to his skillset. He has the frame and class to make the move, but isn’t quite there off bottom-age form. Part of that will be adding an element of explosive speed, which is not currently reflected in his 3.11-second 20-metre sprint time. He covers the ground well over time, but needs that burst at the stoppages.

Similarly, Edwards has been working on that five-step burst in congestion to get away from would-be tacklers, with the pressure at the next level too much for pure strength to repeatedly handle. He can get away with being caught slightly in traffic against juniors, but will be brought down in those situations upon entering the elite system. Another area Edwards said he would like to work on during preseason is his contested marking, being able to crash packs and be an even more damaging interceptor.

Of course, it is often difficult and perhaps harsh to split hairs when looking for areas of improvement, but even the best prospects have room to grow to become more complete players.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Downie:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

Gave a glimpse into his role for next year with a mix of time between his usual wing/half-back position, and in the midfield. Downie’s willingness to get on his bike at every opportunity and move the ball forward was a feature, fitting the metres-gained role well on the outside. He would often dish off on the move and continue his run to get it back, ending his plays with a long kick forward on his customary left side. He may well continue his shift towards a more inside role and has the size to do so, but arguably looked more damaging on the outer as he has done all year.

Edwards:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great poise in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself. His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game. His smart handballs out of congestion were terrific in the second half, especially at centre bounces, and he would benefit from spending more time there.

FINAL WORD

Both of these talents have been highly-touted for a good amount of time, and rightly so. Edwards has the obvious and added pressure of being a father-son prospect identified from a young age, but has performed well in his own right and may even blaze his own trail by nominating for the open draft. Similarly, Downie is already linked to a club but should end up following through with the tie and will cost the Hawks a decent amount of draft points.

Lacking in a couple of athletic areas may see the two slide down the order, but Edwards is one who could be right up there should he stamp his claim as an inside midfielder. Downie’s versatility is a massive plus, as is his impact on the outside. While it would be tempting to see him also grow into an inside role, it seems his best traits fit the wing, or a half-back flank in particular.

Squad predictions: 2020 South Australia 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 a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro and Vic Country predictions, and today we take a look at South Australia’s (SA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • 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
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are limited to a total of three spots
  • 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 third squad prediction, with SA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged

DEFENCE

FB – Lachlan Jones, James Borlase, Isaiah Dudley*
HB – Will Schreiber, Jye Sinderberry, Zac Dumesny

Height looms as somewhat of an issue in our proposed defence, with versatile utility James Borlase the tallest of the lot at 189cm, joined in a key position post by the 188cm Jye Sinderberry. But that is not to say the chosen six lack in marking power or strength, with South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny a capable interceptor, while Lachlan Jones adds a good amount of grunt with his 184cm/88kg frame.

Glenelg’s Will Schreiber adds to the back six’s solidity, while diminutive bottom-ager Isaiah Dudley can fill a pocket at either end on account of his ground level pressure. Should the SA coaches look toward a more conventional key position structure, Riley Thilthorpe is a tall option who can play just about anywhere, but will more likely be used as a ruck/forward. Luke Edwards is another half-back option having played there during last year’s Under 18s carnival.

MIDFIELD

C – Bailey Chamberlain, Luke Edwards, Tom Powell
FOL – Riley Thilthorpe, Jamison Murphy, Taj Schofield

The Croweaters lay claim to one of the stronger and more diverse midfield groups, and we are excited about how this one stacks up. It was tough to whittle down the options, but the balance of this six looks about right.

On the outside, Bailey Chamberlain and Tom Powell provide some real dash and athleticism, and will also be able to rotate through the centre bounces with their speed/agility combination. There may be a slight query on Powell’s endurance coming off spates of long-term injuries, but he was impressive during preseason testing.

Forming the centre bounce core is arguably a group of four midfielders, with Thilthorpe a dynamic ruck option who fares just as well at ground level. While he may feature as a key forward or utility at times as he improves his ruck craft, the range of other options in that department means he can be utilised around the ground.

A couple of potential father-sons make their move into the middle, with Edwards a big-bodied inside type who compliments the smooth moving Taj Schofield very well. Edwards, who is also a very capable defender is a must in the midfield given Jamison Murphy and the remaining candidates stand no taller than 180cm. Murphy’s hard-at-it style means he should have no troubles on the inside though, and provides a great story as a former Australian Under-17 cricket captain.

FORWARD

HF – Tariek Newchurch, Kaine Baldwin, Jason Horne*
FF – Corey Durdin, Henry Smith, Lachlan Grubb

There are a couple of players who are simply essential choices in the final team; with Under 16 Division 1 MVP Corey Durdin slotting into a pocket, and returning key forward Kaine Baldwin a lock across half-forward. It was tempting to slot Thilthorpe in at centre-half forward, but Baldwin is just as capable there at 193cm and 91kg.

172cm pocket-rocket, Durdin is a terrific midfielder at Under 18s level, but is sure to find a home as a small forward at the next level – as justified by his form in said position for Central Districts’ League side. Baldwin has not played any footy for over a year due to an ACL tear, but is a contested marking phenom who can also roam further afield.

He will likely be joined up the spine by Henry Smith, a raw tall option who marks the ball at its highest point at over 200cm. At his feet and alongside Durdin in our side is Lachlan Grubb, another who has entered the senior realm for Centrals’ Reserves side. He is an impressive athlete, much like silky Adelaide NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch. Last year’s State Under 16s captain and MVP Jason Horne rounds out the six, a player already accustomed to playing above his age group and one who may also feature through midfield.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Caleb Poulter, Mani Liddy, Nicholas Kraemer, Ned Carey

This was a very difficult bench to select with a bunch of line-calls, as will become obvious with the depth listed below. Ned Carey features as the lone key position option, able to fulfil a ruck-oriented role alongside the likes of Thilthorpe and Smith while resting forward.

Caleb Poulter is a dynamic option who could well have made it onto the half-forward flank, much like how Nicholas Kraemer could enter the midfield fray and Mani Liddy could be utilised on either of the said lines. Kraemer is one who can add some strength through the engine room, while Liddy could feature there too having previously been pushed out to the flanks.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

A pair of smalls who will likely rotate through the squad include Henry Nelligan and Cooper Horsnell. Nelligan is a midfielder who is never far away from the action, able to find the ball with ease at 170cm. Horsnell is the more forward-inclined of the two, able to find the goals while adding the string of wing play to his bow.

Another 200cm key position option, Zac Phillips is from the Woodville-West Torrens program and could get a look-in as ruck or key forward depth. An impressive utility who may also come into consideration is Riley Holder, who posted very impressive numbers for Glenelg in a range of roles at 190cm.

Aside from the Academy-listed top-agers mentioned above, Glenelg quartet Kye DeanLuke Pedlar, Jordan Moore, and Reid Kuller are names who have floated around the system, while Bulldogs pair Samuel Falland and Lewis Cowham may also be thereabouts, along with Norwood tall Sam Duke and West Adelaide’s Harvey Bock. There are of course, many others who will come under consideration, but the Academy group is quite strong and difficult to look past.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

The top-agers for 2020 set the benchmark with a national carnival win in their Under 16s year, and while last year’s 16s crop could not achieve the same feat, there are certainly some bright talents who will feature in the future.

Cooper Murley and Matthew Roberts were equally difficult omissions from the starting squad given our stipulation of three bottom-agers, maximum, and a decent midfield core. An Under-16 All-Australian last year alongside Horne and Dudley, Murley is a highly talented small midfielder who can also move forward, while Roberts has similar versatility as a 182cm midfielder.

Arlo Draper and Lewis Rayson are another two bottom-aged prospects among the Academy ranks, and could both make a case for breaking into the side. Athletic tall forward Morgan Ferres could come into consideration among the key position ranks, though the stocks are already quite full in that department.

Harry Tunkin is a Prince Alfred College and Glenelg product who impressed at Under 16 level, while Port Adelaide father-son hopeful Jase Burgoyne is also coming through the ranks and could feature at some point before his top-age year.

>> SANFL U18 CLUB PAGES:

Central District // Preseason interviews
Glenelg // Preseason interviews
North Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Norwood // Preseason interviews
South Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Sturt // Preseason interviews
West Adelaide // Preseason interviews
WWT Eagles // Preseason interviews

>> SANFL U18 PLAYER FEATURES:

AFL Draft Watch:

Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:

Durdin vs. Campbell

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country 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 a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • 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
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old inclusions are 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 injured players 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.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the second squad prediction, with Vic Country’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Clayton Gay (Dandenong), Zach Reid (Gippsland), Cam Fleeton (Geelong)
HB – Nick Stevens (GWV), Ethan Baxter (Murray), Isaac Wareham (GWV)

There is a good mix of styles and talent among this back six, with some height, power, dash, and clean ball use all to come from these potential representatives. Versatile 202cm tall Zach Reid seems a lock for full back, able to also double as ruck aid.

Leadership candidate Cam Fleeton and Dandenong standout Clayton Gay provide sound reading of the play and aerial presence on the last line, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) pair Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid options off half-back. 19-year-old Wareham has already donned the Big V at under 18 level, but may earn another chance given injury curtailed his top-age season.

Ethan Baxter is the final member of the defence, a solidly-built Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) product who is a touch undersized (192cm) to play as a pure key defender, but makes up for it with strength. He could be utilised elsewhere, but we see him fulfilling a role down back.

MIDFIELD

C – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo)
FOL – Henry Walsh (Geelong), Sam Berry (Gippsland), Zavier Maher (Murray)

Zavier Maher may be the tallest of the Vic Country mids here at 184cm, but by no means will the chosen crop lack power or ball winning ability. Maher, Sam Berry, and Tanner Bruhn are all terrific at the centre bounces, with Maher and Berry the powerful types, while Bruhn is all class in congestion.

Berry can run all day, too, much like Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan on the outside. Ginnivan could also find a spot up forward like fellow wingman, Ryan Angwin, but the pair have really come on of late and should have no trouble in making an impact further afield.

Of course, Henry Walsh will likely be the one to provide first use to his midfield fleet as the primary ruck. The brother of Carlton Rising Star, Sam is quite apt at the centre bounces with his 201cm frame and is constantly working on his ground level work.

FORWARD

HF – Noah Gadsby (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo)
FF – Dominic Bedendo (Murray), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh), Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong)

This is hardly a forward six blessed with height or overwhelming strength, but that is not to say that it lacks marking power. Much like Baxter in defence, the high-flying Oliver Henry could play above his size as a focal point, though may be better suited to a third tall role. Highly touted Bulldogs NGA prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unbeatable off the lead at full forward, so is a lock for that spot.

Alongside him may be Dominic Bedendo, a fantastic athletic talent who can compete both in the air and at ground level, while Charlie Lazzaro occupies the other pocket. He is arguably predominantly more a midfielder, but has been adding strings to his bow as a small forward.

On the flanks, his Geelong teammate Noah Gadsby also slots in as a newcomer to the forward line, while raw Bendigo product Seamus Mitchell assumes a role familiar to him on the same line. The largely small make-up of this six is somewhat a product of the guidelines we put in place, as there are a few key position products across each age bracket who could easily add some height and strength to the structure.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Sam Conforti (Bendigo), Will Bravo (Dandenong), Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong), Blake Kuipers (Dandenong)

Filling out the side are some versatile options, with most of these prospects able to be utilised in many roles. Sam Conforti skippered the Under 16 Country side, and could well slot in as a small forward or wingman in this lineup. Dandenong’s Will Bravo is an exciting player who should also get a run up forward, providing a touch of speed and evasion while also being able to contribute in midfield.

Two more Stingrays cap off the side, with Bayleigh Welsh a midfielder the Dandenong program is high on, while athletic over-age swingman Blake Kuipers could be one to again sneak into the team as key position or ruck depth.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

Given this may be the only chance for draft-eligible top-agers to shine in front of recruiters in 2020, there will be plenty who come onto the radar of AFL clubs. Elijah Hollands and Noah Gribble are two who would have featured in the team, but unfortunately miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Academy prospect Josh Treacy is a key forward who could well fit into the squad having gained experience for Country at Under 17 level, with fellow tall options Mason Hawkins and Keith Robinson of Gippsland others who can fill that forward/ruck role.

In terms of smalls, classy Geelong co-captain Gennaro Bove may be in the mix, while nippy GWV forward Harry Sharp has also caught the eye alongside another Falcon, Blake Reid. Other options from the Geelong region include Charlie Brauer – another outstanding athlete – and Kyle Skene.

Speaking of athletes, Bendigo is high on elite runner Jack Hickman and could also see the likes of ex-Rebel Jack Tillig or Finn Ellis-Castle push into contention. Dandenong has a couple of products around the mark too, with Deakyn Smith and Jai Neal both likely to be considered.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Last year’s Under 16 side may not have produced pure results-based success, but there are a few fantastic prospects who should push into contention. Leading the pack is last year’s carnival MVP Josh Rachele, a damaging midfielder/forward who is incredibly skilled.

Ben Hobbs was his partner-in-crime through midfield and should also get a crack as one of many high-end GWV up-and-comers. Those include Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch, and Josh Gibcus, with the former two already boasting NAB League experience.

Fleet-footed Sandringham prospect Campbell Chesser was another to impress enough to break into the NAB League, while fellow Under 16 All Australians Toby Conway and Cooper Hamilton are also within the Academy bubble.

Given the focus will even more strictly be placed on draft eligible players, the likes of Ben Green, Connor Macdonald, Tom Brown, Justin Davies and so on will likely have to wait until next year to break into the Under-18 representative side.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-age seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

19-YEAR-OLDS

Possibly the most unlucky over-ager to miss out on our squads is Geelong’s Darcy Chirgwin, who was set to return to his original region after representing Sandringham in his draft year. After injury heavily interrupted his 2019 campaign, he should come into consideration once again.

Geelong teammate Jay Dahlhaus also suffered a long-term injury last year but should be back for more, while Murray prospect Sam Durham has shown a good rate of improvement as a latecomer to the code. Jai Newcombe is somewhat of a bolter having only now made the final cut at Gippsland, and could provide that inside presence with Chirgwin given he is yet to capture centre stage.

The two 19-year-olds we chose for both squads, Kuipers and Wareham, come into the category of players with great upside. Kuipers’ height and athleticism make him a handy option to fill gaps up either end or in the ruck, and his phenomenal testing performance puts him in good stead. Wareham is a solid athlete who will more so be looking for consistency after his top-age campaign last year.

With these additional top, bottom, and over-age prospects in mind, below is our potential best Vic Country squad without any provisions.

FB – Clayton Gay, Zach Reid, Cameron Fleeton
HB – Nick Stevens, Blake Kuipers, Ethan Baxter
C – Ryan Angwin, Tanner Bruhn, Jack Ginnivan
HF – Noah Gadsby, Oliver Henry, Seamus Mitchell
FF – Charlie Lazzaro, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Rachele
FOL – Henry Walsh, Sam Berry, Zavier Maher
INT
– Will Bravo, Dominic Bedendo, Ben Hobbs, Isaac Wareham