Tag: Oakleigh Chargers

Confident Chargers looking sharp despite preseason disruptions

OAKLEIGH Chargers regional talent operations lead, Jy Bond says his troops are “looking sharp” ahead of what is set to be a whirlwind 2021 NAB League Girls season, starting February 6. The Chargers have undertaken a changing of the guard with Bond now overseeing both the girls and boys programs, and new coach Jason Davenport tasked with the same duty. Despite an elongated break and some disruptions during preseason, Bond says he is happy with the progress shown ahead of season proper.

“It’s been pretty interesting, obviously coming back after COVID having hired a coach (Marco Bello), then that coach left then we had to hire a new one (Davenport)… so that was pretty disruptive,” he said. “Having said that, the boys and girls still had a pretty good preseason and they’ve been working hard. “The girls looking really sharp, which is great. They’ve been training well, we’ll probably have a pretty competitive team again with a fair few top end talents running around so we’re pretty confident.”

With no time for practice matches, each region is relying on match-simulation and intraclub hitouts to help bring their players back up to speed after nearly a whole year away from competitive action. Expectations are being tapered, but after a promising 2020 campaign was cut short, the Chargers are hopeful they can compete at a high level once again.

“We’re putting no pressure on the girls,” Bond said. “We’ve said from the start it’s about enjoyment, developing and having fun. We’re not really worried about the score, we’re more worried about the girls getting out there and having a having a crack because they haven’t played in around 10 months.

“We’re not really expecting them to come out and play at their best straight away, but we’re hopeful that with a few weeks they’ll be back at sort of the level where they left off last year.”

“We’ve just got to make sure that we look after the health and well-being of the girls and we’re not really prepared to put them into that sort of match situation so early, but we’ll do a lot of match simulation and small-sided match practice at trainings to make sure they’re right for Round 1.”

While on-field success was difficult to measure in just two games, albeit with an average winning margin of 76 points, Oakleigh can still put a sizeable tick next to 2020 given its presence at the draft. Three Chargers were selected within the first 26 picks of the AFL Women’s draft, adding to the six graduates taken within 23 picks on the men’s side. In the modest words of Bond, it made for a “pretty good result” overall.

Alice (O’Loughlin) was a bit of a surprise packet, we knew that she was definitely capable,” he said. “I know (former coach) Luke O’Shannessy was a big wrap for her, she’s definitely got a great athletic profile and it seems like she’s going really well down at North Melbourne. “We were obviously pretty confident of Mimi (Hill) going quite high. She’s just been an exceptional player for us over the last two years and then Joanna Lin, I think I was quietly confident about Joanna and I know Luke and I we do really love the way she went about it. “I watched a couple of games last year and I was really impressed with her courage… she’s definitely got something to offer so for her to go to Collingwood was a great result.”

Despite the turnaround of top-age guns the departure of some promising multi-sport athletes, Oakleigh is well-stocked across the board. Arguably atop the region’s talent pool is Charlie Rowbottom, the sister of Sydney midfielder James. She is one of many draft-eligible prospects Bond identified as promising after putting in strong preseasons.

“We’ve got Charlie Rowbottom, probably one of the most talented girls on our list at the moment,” Bond said. “Kalarni Kearns is another one who’s thereabouts, Amanda Ling is strong midfielder that we’re hopeful that will develop this year, Stella Reid is another player who has shown an exceptional amount of skill and ability to read the play over summer, Taylah Morton we’re looking to play in a few different roles this year, (and) Eliza James is definitely up there, she’s had a great preseason. “So we’ve certainly got some talented girls running around, we’re pretty excited with the girls to be honest.”

Others on the radar, albeit not yet of draft age include some potential father-daughter selections. 2004-births Gabriella Rawlings (daughter of Jade) and Jemma Rigoni (Guy) are part of the program along with Jasmine Fleming, the daughter of former Australian Test cricketer, Damien. Another middle-ager, Ruby Vanden-Boom is a developing tall who the Chargers will also look to utilise this season. She is quite “raw” according to Bond and also competes as a high-level rower.

Fleming, a promising cricketer, is one of a few players who will be rested for this weekend’s preseason testing event, but Bond says there are no glaring injury clouds over the squad heading into Round 1. The leadership group has been voted on by the players, set to be announced at the club’s jumper presentation night shortly.

Featured Image: Charlie Rowbottom in action last year | Credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

2020 AFL Draft recap: Melbourne Demons

MELBOURNE’S rollercoaster 2020 season ended in a ninth place finish and the lingering feeling of disappointment, but a sense of assuredness was somewhat restored as the Demons managed to gain two first round picks in this year’s draft. The move to trade back up the order and bring in a trio of top 35 talents marked a job well done, as a couple of classy smalls were joined by a developable tall prospect in what was an all-local draft haul. With a couple of spots potentially remaining open on the outside and in Melbourne’s front half, these players may well get a senior chance in their debut seasons.

MELBOURNE

National Draft:
#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Nil.

Consecutive first round picks opened the show for Melbourne, who looked to have had running machine, Max Holmes snatched from under their noses by Geelong immediately beforehand. Nonetheless, his former Sandringham Dragons teammate Jake Bowey marked a great first selection followed by a slight slider in Bailey Laurie, who was linked to GWS’ picks in the teens.

Bowey is a tough 175cm prospect with clean skills and great speed and agility. He can play a number of roles but made the wing his own as a bottom-ager and also has the potential to develop as a small forward. Laurie is similarly brilliant skill-wise, particularly by foot, known to carve up the opposition with his baulks and forward carry. The 179cm Oakleigh Chargers graduate achieved premiership success with the side in 2019 and along with Bowey, should have fans quickly warm to him.

The selection of Fraser Rosman, another Sandringham product, proved Melbourne’s final point of call at the draft and was a more prospective pick than the previous two. At 194cm, Rosman is an athletic marvel with great speed, endurance, and vertical ability which translates to his versatility. His size suggests he can own the forward 50 arc in future, but Rosman is also capable of rolling further afield. He has had little exposure with only two NAB League appearances last year, with his draft bolt coming on the back of promising preseason performances.

Melbourne was one of the rare sides not to make any rookie selections, meaning its three-pronged National Draft haul were the only fresh faces taken in after trade period. With Bowey and Laurie, the Demons have added some much-needed class going forward in support of 2019 draftee Kysaiah Pickett, while Rosman could become a fearsome key forward in the long-term, but has great flexibility otherwise.

Featured Image: Melbourne’s fresh faces from the 2020 AFL Draft | Credit: (Retrieved from) @melbournefc via Twitter

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan vs. Logan McDonald

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare arguably the two best key forward prospects in this year’s AFL Draft pool.

The players in question may well also be the best two overall prospects out of the class of 2020. They are of course Oakleigh Chargers’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Perth’s Logan McDonald. Despite being robbed of a top-age season, Ugle-Hagan remains the consensus number one prospect this year, while McDonald catapulted himself into top five calculations with an incredible WAFL League campaign in which he led the goalkicking charts early on. Though they predominantly play similar roles, they do so in such different styles which makes a comparison between the two all the more interesting.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

The discussion was led by pitting the pair head-to-head across a range of categories, which are listed below. A name in green denotes the player being deemed superior in that category, while orange denotes the opposite. That is not to say that either player is lacking in any of these areas, but is rather a method of conveying which one of these prospects is specifically better than the other in each department.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country

Height: 195cm
Weight: 90kg
DOB: April 4, 2002

Player Profiles

(For full draft profiles on either player, click on their names highlighted in red)

Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia

Height: 196cm
Weight: 86kg
DOB: April 4, 2002

Ugle-Hagan

Vertical Leap

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Speed

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Agility

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Endurance

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Contested Marking

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Field Kicking

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Set Shots

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Ground-Level Work

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Defensive Pressure

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Consistency

McDonald

Ugle-Hagan

Upside

McDonald

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare two of the most exciting and similar medium-forward available in this year’s crop.

The players under our microscope are South Adelaide’s Brayden Cook, and Oakleigh Chargers’ Conor Stone. They measure up virtually identically in terms of size and athletic attributes, with both prospects having also enjoyed steep rises on the back of their on-field performances. Cook has come from the clouds this year to consolidate his standing as a draft bolter, while Stone burst onto the scene with promising showings in the Chargers’ 2019 NAB League premiership team. Their claims to dual-position status as deep forwards who can also play on the wing adds another air of similarity, making them an ideal pair to set alongside one another.

To listen to the comparison in full, click here.

Here are the respective players’ pocket profiles:
(Click on their names highlighted in red to read their full draft profiles)

Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: July 18, 2002
Height: 189cm
Weight: 82kg

Strengths: Versatility, athleticism, goal sense, smarts/evasion, overhead marking, game-winning ability, decision making/creativity

Improvements: Finishing consistency, strength

Conor Stone
St Kevin’s/Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: April 22, 2002
Height: 188cm
Weight: 81kg

Strengths: Goal sense, finishing, athleticism, vertical leap, smarts/anticipation, endurance

Improvements: Untapped versatility, explosive speed, consistent impact/output

Here’s how they match up athletically:

Cook:

Standing Vertical Jump – 58cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 72cm/74cm
Speed (20m) – 3.103 seconds
Agility – 8.45 seconds
Endurance (2km) – 6:48

Stone:

Standing Vertical Jump – 67cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 73cm/83cm
Speed (20m) – 3.10 seconds
Agility – 8.67 seconds
Endurance (yo-yo) – 21.5

Ultimately, there are a few points of difference which separate these two prospects. It should also be pointed out, in the interest of fairness, that Cook’s testing data has been pulled from the recent South Australian Draft Combine, while Stone’s results are from preseason as he awaits the Vic Metro combine on October 31. Furthermore, Cook has been able to push his case massive in 2020 with a full season of football, while Stone has been made to wait it out on the sidelines like all other Victorian prospects this year. Like Cook, he could well have been another to push into top 25 calculations with a big top-age campaign.

Though they measure up at essentially the same height/weight and play the same role, clubs will find little areas which have them leaning towards one player more than the other. At least at NAB League level, Stone has proven more of a forward/wingman, whereas Cook has proven to start on the wing before shifting forward. Both are capable of kicking big bags of goals and can take eye-catching overhead marks, while their smarts at ground level bode for outstanding forward craft. Stone has a strong athletics background and arguably boasts a greater endurance base, but Cook is a touch lighter and more nimble across the ground in open play.

At this point, and by no fault of Stone, Cook is potentially ahead in terms of draft stocks having been able to prove his worth on-field more recently. Time will tell whether that is the case come draft day, which looms on the week of December 7. Both look like second round candidates.

Glimpses enough to show O’Loughlin’s talent

TWO games, two rare accolades. The journey of Alice O’Loughlin is one that is certainly unique in the sense that she has only played two matches in three years at the Oakleigh Chargers, due to other sporting commitments and injury. When she looks back on it, she considers it a remarkable feat to have played one game and then made the Under 16s Vic Metro squad, then only added one more game this year to earn an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to get those opportunities with the very limited game time they’ve seen me play,” O’Loughlin said. “Especially given this season I was hoping to string a few games together and really create a name myself, and get myself out there but I am very fortunate of what I’ve got to do with only two games.”

O’Loughlin has never been far from a sport whether it be a round ball or even oar, which has taken up a lot of her teenage years. After just the one bottom-age game in 2018, last year was meant to be a big year for the middle-ager, but her season was wiped out by an ankle injury. Fast forward to 2020 and after playing the first game, missed the second due to rowing commitments and then the season was postponed.

“I’ve always loved all my sports as long as I can remember so I’ve tried to get my hands on all sports whether it’s basketball, netball, rowing and school sports,” O’Loughlin said. “That means I’ve had to juggle footy with all of them so I haven’t really given footy my biggest footy. “But I’ve loved it, it’s always been my favourite sport and essentially once the pathway I was really excited to see where I could take it.

“Having all those sports, I never really got to play that many games,” she said. “Especially for Oakleigh, because I’ve been in the Oakleigh program for three years or four years. I’ve only ended up playing two games, which I probably would have liked to have changed that but I suppose we can’t now.”

Having played at Kew Comets since she was eight-years-old, O’Loughlin has been lucky enough to play football her whole life, it has just been one of a number of sports that she has juggled with a full platter throughout her journey. She cites the creativity of the game and playing with mates as some of the main attributes that attracted her to Aussie rules in the first place, “everyone working together to win games and thus winning a premiership”.

Having not played for the Chargers in two years, O’Loughlin was pleased to run out in Wangaratta against the Murray Bushrangers back in Round 1 where she booted three goals in a big win.

“I was really excited because I had an ankle injury the previous season so that knocked me out of the whole season,” O’Loughlin said. “Then so I was just really excited to get a few games together but that obviously got cut short because of COVID. “I was really excited to just go out there and just have fun with it. “It was really good game and good to get the win.”

Her experience with Vic Metro was a fond one, and whilst overwhelming considering others had played more games at the level, she thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It was really good opportunity to play alongside the best talent. But yeah it was a great experience for me,” O’Loughlin said. “I must admit I was a bit nervous, and I suppose coming into a new environment I did get a bit nervous and I would have liked to have played a lot better in the Vic game, but it was just a great learning experience.”

While rowing had caused her to miss a number of football commitments – including the Chargers’ trip down to Tasmania for the Devils’ first ever home game – O’Loughlin said it had helped her over the journey.

“It really helped me with my fitness in footy,” she said. “I’ve always tried to balance the two but then after my ankle injury the main reason why I did rowing to gain fitness up again and that strength. “Then transferred that over into footy but then didn’t get the chance to.”

As someone who knew she needed a full season to prove herself, O’Loughlin said she was “devastated” when presented with the news that the season had been called off.

“I banked on having a good season and stringing a few games together,” she said. “I was pretty devastated and didn’t really know what to think at the time but I mean there’s nothing you can really do about it at the time but perform when you get the opportunity too.”

O’Loughlin’s strengths include her skills and reading of the play, which has developed over a decade of playing footy, even if it has not been at NAB League level. Her main goal at the moment is landing on an AFL Women’s list in next week’s draft and hoping to build her game further in an elite environment.

“It would be amazing just to get the opportunity to be put in a professional environment and just to have a preseason because I’ve never really got to have a full footy preseason, or full footy season so really seeing where I can take my skills when I have a full season under my belt,” O’Loughlin said.

Lin fast to transition into football

JOANNA Lin was not convinced about starting competitive Australian rules football at first, despite a friend referring her to it back in Year 10. While the future Oakleigh Chargers’ talent enjoyed playing it during her school breaks at recess and lunch, it took a little while – and some extra prodding from her friend – for her to take the plunge and join her local club, Bulleen-Templestowe. When her friend first asked her to come join, it was more of a “maybe” and put it on the backburner.

“I was like ‘oh yeah’, I’ve played a bit in primary at recess and lunch and I always thought about playing it, but girls could only play up to a certain age, I didn’t really pursue it,” Lin said. “Then she was like ‘you should come to one of our trainings and see how that goes’. “I was like ‘oh maybe’ then as time went by, the plans you make with your friends but don’t end up happening.

“I didn’t really think much of it until recess and lunch, she came up to me and said ‘hey I mentioned to the team manager about you and they asked if you could come’ and I was like ‘oh woah that’s sick’. “Then I showed up for my first training at the club and that was just a really good environment. “I decided to play and went from there.”

It turned out to be a wise decision as Lin quickly caught onto the sport and described Oakleigh as “one big family” and definitely a step up from local football. As an outside running player, Lin has been thrown around in a few positions during her career.

“At local I played mainly half-forward so it was always going up the field and also considered through the midfield rotation as well,” Lin said. “I really enjoyed the running aspect, being able to run off players and just run down the field.”

Last year was Lin’s first season with the Chargers, and as a middle-ager, she was coming in with less experience than many others. Despite her lack of experience, she put together a terrific season culminating in her polling the most votes for her side at the NAB League Best and Fairest night and making Team of the Year.

“That was insane,” Lin said. “I was just playing how I played and so when it came to the night, I was just kind of confused what I was doing there because there were so many girls there that were really much better and everything so I was very confused. “But I was really grateful when I saw the votes and I was like ‘oh wow’ and I was the top one for Oakleigh. “It was really weird but very grateful for it.”

Not only has Lin been able to transition from one school footy into elite junior footy, but it is transitioning from one part of the ground to the other that really stands out.

“I think my strengths are probably the transition through the backline to the forward line because I’m kind of like on the wing,” Lin said. “The kick out, best position to kick to, that’s probably my best strength, in transition.”

Right now Lin is aiming to build her strength to impact more in aerial contests, because she said to become a better player she has to “compete better in the one-on-ones”. While her season was cut short this year, Lin has had plenty of favourite football memories, including the three-peat she won at her local club.

“It was really good to win three premierships in a row with those girls there and just the same (like Oakleigh) it’s like a family there, it’s probably my favourite memory,” Lin said.

After a huge first season, Lin earned a spot in the AFL Women’s National Academy, something she has cherished and was certainly not expecting when she was told last year.

“It was crazy because I got the email after my exam last year for maths,” Lin said. “I was kind of down because I didn’t go as well as I thought I’d go (in the exam). “Then I got the email for it and I was like ‘woah what is this?’ and I was with some of my mates and they were celebrating and I was in shock.

Being invited to that, it’s been very helpful,” she said. “It’s been a great experience, been able to meet the other girls who are pushing to get drafted this year and become really close to them. “That has been a really good part of my career so far.”

Lin draws inspiration from those very teammates who help her become a better player and in return she tries to do the same as she strives to get to the highest level she can, whether it be the AFL Women’s or VFL Women’s, just making the most out of her footballing journey.

“I don’t know if this sounds a bit cliche but probably the people around me like my teammates (are my inspiration),” she said. “Watching them work on their skills and become a better player themselves, it pushes me inside to become a better player and I can help the team more as well.”

As for what being drafted next week would mean, Lin knows it would be something special for her in what has been such a promising journey thus far.

“It would mean a lot,” Lin said. “It would be like a lot of the effort and hard work that I’ve put into my footy throughout all these years has helped.”

Micallef driven by passion to achieve her dream

OAKLEIGH Chargers defender/midfielder Amber Micallef quintessentially lives and breathes football. It is her “coffee in the morning” that keeps her focused. The talented teenager earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite and spoke to Draft Central about her hopes and dreams of playing at the elite level.

“The reason why I kept playing AFL is because of the passion of it,” she said. “I wake up to it every day and it’s sort of like a job for me. “I wake up and I have a passion for, I love for it. And I guess it gives me that drive and that optimism that I see in everyday life. “In a way, it’s like my coffee in the morning. “If I go out and kick a footy or play a game of footy, it just brings my hopes up a little bit.”

Micallef is one of those aspiring AFL Women’s footballers who tasted footy as a child, but then took a different path – in this case, basketball – before returning to the sport she loved once a pathway, and more opportunities opened up.

“I never really had that luxury like a couple of the girls, how they’ve been playing for a long time,” Micallef said. “I did Auskick when I was about five for about a season. “Then I got asked to play five games for Bulleen Bullants in the YJFL competition. “And then after those five games, I played basketball for 10 years. “There was no footy in that.”

Fast forward to her high school days, and a chance conversation steered her back to the oblong-shaped ball sport.

“When I was in Year 8, my friends said ‘hey, we’re gonna do school footy, are you interested?’. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll give it a shot’, and from school footy we all loved it, even though most of my friends came from basketball like me. “Then we had this new club, coming up with Beverley Hills. They were going to start a new girls competition, and a couple of my friends were thinking about it and asked to me to join.”

Micallef did just that, and while it was a little different at first, Micallef was familiar with kicking the footy from her junior days and had the fitness and athleticism to match it with others thanks to not only her basketball, but her cross country and athletics as well. What really won her over however, was the community spirit and team atmosphere.

“I love it how it’s a team sport,” Micallef said. “And you know, we train twice a week. “We spend a lot of time with each other and really get to know each other on a personal level. “So I love the competition of it too. “I love how you could play anywhere on the ground if you want to, how you can tackle people, you can run and it’s also a really good for fitness, too. “But more so. I just love the community of it. I love the vibe of it, too.”

Her pathway into Oakleigh was a little more conventional, invited to play at the Chargers in the Under 15s development program. Playing as a midfielder then, Micallef was expecting to make the transition into the NAB League Under 18s side in the same role, but then there was a change.

“I got asked to play in the backline, and I was really unsure because I never really played any defensive work, or played in the backline in general,” Micallef said. “Oakleigh trained me up for about four years and I’ve been playing in the backline and a little bit of in the midfield this year, too, “Which was really cool.”

Micallef was a fast learner and soon she earned a spot in the Vic Metro Under 16s team, following up from representing her state in the Under 15s School Sports Victoria (SSV) side. She described the feeling of running out on GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country as an “awesome experience” and visibly noticed the rise in skill level from both sides compared to her local competition and even NAB League.

Her pathway to follow her dream was tracking nicely as she was putting together consistent performances for Oakleigh each week, playing nine games in her middle-age season, and then averaging a career-high 14 disposals per game in her two games in 2020. Then it all came to a grinding halt. The season was postponed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. At first, Micallef said she was not too worried, expecting it to return at some stage, before the realisation hit her following the official cancellation in July.

“Well, at the start, I really didn’t believe that it was gonna get cancelled,” Micallef said. “I guess I was always optimistic. “So when it first got called off, I was like, ‘Oh, it’ll come back in a week’ and then a week led to ‘It’ll come back in a month’ or ‘come back in a few months’. “I never really expected it to get called off. “When it got cancelled, that’s when I realised ‘Oh, it’s really not coming back’.

Immediately the natural leader tried to get around her teammates and keep the positivity going and make sure everyone was in the best form of their lives with other opportunities – such as the AFL Women’s Draft Combine – still a possibility.

“I’ve always been training through that,” Micallef said. I always went around the girls saying, ‘you know, you always got to have high hopes, keep on training, you never know what opportunity will come up’, but yeah, it was a bit devastating to hear that the whole competition got called off. “Everyone was in the same boat, so it’s like you control what you control, and you can see how you want to see it.”

Micallef rates her tackling, stoppage work and vision as her greatest strengths, particularly capable of playing behind the ball or through the midfield when required. She is looking to tweak some of her fundamental skills such as her opposite foot kicking, contested marking and fitness, which is what she has done over the break. But for her, it was not being able to play out the season which had promised so much after Oakleigh recorded back-to-back massive wins over Murray Bushrangers and Tasmania Devils prior to the season ending.

“Oakleigh this year was probably the most memorable for me, even though it was only two games,” Micallef said. “We went to Wangaratta in Round 1 against Murray Bushrangers. “By that first game, that first win, I could see, out of all the training stuff that we did a couple of bonding sessions that we did, I think that one hit home for a lot of us and we sort of had a feeling ‘you know what? We actually might win this this season’.

“It was just a really good feeling. “And then going into Tasmania, I’ll say it was one of my favourite games to play. “Even just representing Oakleigh against Tasmania was a great feeling, and I could see a lot of the girls would be the same highlights for them.”

Micallef has always been an analyser of sport, watching others intently to try and learn everything she can about being the best possible player she can be in football. Whether it is teammates or opponents, she always wants to be the best and thrives on learning off others to reach their levels.

“I’ll say my journey of football I never really had an athlete or a celebrity I looked up to. It was more so my teammates on the field, especially when I started in junior level,” Micallef said. “I used to play against Ellie McKenzie a lot, and she used to dominate, as she still does now. “But I used to look up to her and say, ‘why can’t I do that? Why can’t I do what she’s been doing?’ “And then especially going into Oakleigh Chargers, you have Nicola Xenos, Gemma Lagioia, even Mimi Hill. “They’re just amazing players and I’m just like, ‘why can’t I do what they can to do?’ “What they’re doing now, I want to be the best, like them.”

So how exactly does Micallef try and emulate those she wants to match at the level?

“I try to train as much as I can, especially with Mimi,” Micallef said. “I like to watch back on vision and see how each of them play. “So when we went played against Northern Knights, I watch how Ellie McKenzie moved. “Or, Mimi at training, like try to see through her eyes what she sees on the field. “So I always tried to create what they’re doing and always improve on what I need to improve, to be like them.”

As a Rising Star for Marcellin Eagles, and then finishing second overall in the YJFL Division 2 League Best and Fairest and Team of the Year, Micallef’s goal for 2020 was to build confidence. Along with spending more time in the midfield, Micallef just wanted to play the best football she could. As well as watching Tayla Harris and her beloved Blues in the AFL and AFL Women’s for enjoyment, Micallef keeps a sharp eye on how the defenders play to see if she can implement any strategies into her own game.

As for her own personal football memory, it was the Round 1 game this year, but more so for the off-field result rather than the on-field one, though that was the icing on the cake as well.

“Playing in Wangaratta, my nan came along, she lives in Corowa, which is in New South Wales, so she barely comes to watch my games,” Micallef said. “It was just really nice for her to come to that game in particular and actually see me in the midfield and me kicking the ball to my teammates getting goals and overall I was just really happy with the game. “I think she saw I was happy, and it made me happy that she was happy.”

Now Micallef is edging closer to fulfilling her dream to reach the elite level. If she is able to achieve that, then it will be something special, but also seen as a job half done as she looks to always improve.

“It will mean all the hard work that I put in, all the blood, sweat and tears and all the people around these you supported me will finally pay off,” she said. “It’s not totally finished, I’ll always want to improve on stuff and improve on my game. “But I think it would be an absolute dream.”

AFL Draft Watch: Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Oakleigh Chargers and NT Thunder prospect, Maurice Rioli Jnr. He is the son of late Richmond great, Maurice Rioli, and is eligible to be taken by the Tigers in this year’s draft under the father-son rule. As his pedigree would suggest, the 18-year-old is an excitement machine out on the field, boasting electric pace, sharp skills, and an uncanny knack of finding the goals. While he stands at just 173cm, Rioli is not afraid to get stuck in, boasting a high contested possession rate and applying smothering defensive pressure as he rotates forward through the midfield.

Having moved down to Victoria this year to complete his studies at Scotch College, Rioli was also keen to run out for Oakleigh in the now-scrapped NAB League competition. Nonetheless, he remains one of the sole prospects based in the Southern state to have completed a season of football in 2020, after he helped St Mary’s qualify for this year’s NTFL Grand Final in a memorable post-season.

PLAYER PAGE:

Maurice Rioli Jnr
Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies

DOB: September 1, 2002

Height: 173cm
Weight: 73kg

Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, smarts, goal sense, defensive pressure, creativity
Improvements: Consistency/sustained impact

2019 NAB League averages: 3 games | 11.3 disposals | 1.3 marks | 6.3 tackles | 3.0 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

>> Feature: Maurice Rioli Jnr

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 60cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 62cm/78cm
Speed (20m): 2.98 seconds
Agility: 8.11 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.5

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

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Tasmania Devils

By: Alex Gibson

The way this bottom-ager plays, it is no surprise he is a Rioli. His presence of silky skill was complimented beautifully by his dashing speed. Although he did not have huge numbers, his possessions were damaging thanks to his precise vision and ability to lower his eyes. A run-down tackle at the start of the third quarter got the crowd up on its feet.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Tasmania

By: Michael Alvaro

The latest of the Rioli clan, Maurice has all of the traits you would expect given his pedigree. While he did not find a heap of the ball in the forward half, he looked dangerous in possession and started the game off perfectly with a snap after slipping his opponent. While he is still very raw, Rioli has plenty of talent to work with and is not afraid to pull off a party trick at full pace. At 173cm, he is not quite yet ready for a spot in the midfield, but was given a run at a centre bounce in the third quarter.

Featured Image: Maurice Rioli Jnr in action for St Mary’s | Source: Keri Megelus/News Corp Australia

>> 2020 AFL National Draft Combine List
>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction

>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings
>> September 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Murray Bushrangers vs. Oakleigh Chargers

OUR next All-Star Team battle is between two Victorian clubs, in the Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Collingwood midfielder, Steele Sidebottom (Murray Bushrangers) and West Coast counterpart, Luke Shuey (Oakleigh Chargers).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded fourth (Murray) and 13th (Oakleigh) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face the winner of Northern Knights and Swan Districts.

STRENGTHS:

Where do you start with the Bushrangers? The balance they have across the field is ridiculously good. They have a nice balance of midfielders, plenty of depth at key positions, and a plethora of hard and skilful midfielders. That is before you get to a forward line containing Fraser Gehrig, Barry Hall and Jarrad Waite who provide a three-prong attack to die for. The midfield of Sidebottom, Clayton Oliver, David Mundy, Tom Rockliff and Brett Deledio is just perfect for matching up on any other midfield.

The Chargers have an elite midfield that bats really deep, from the inside talents of Jack Macrae and Dan Hannebery with Marc Murphy, to the outside run of Shuey and Andrew Gaff. The forward line is damaging with the likes of Robbie Gray, Toby Greene, Jordan De Goey and Jack Billings joining Luke Power. With Darcy Moore as centre half-back and Josh Gibson coming across as the third tall, the defence should have great intercepting ability, whilst Todd Goldstein will control the ruck.

The battle of the midfields would be unbelievable, though the Bushrangers would back their defence in against a dynamic Chargers’ forward line.

WEAKNESSES:

There really is not one on paper for the Bushrangers. Genuinely their depth goes beyond the squad of 24, with the initial team featuring Josh Fraser who could also come in and replace one of the rucks going around. The only question mark might be the durability of some players with the Reid brothers – Ben and Sam – as well as Jamie Elliott and Justin Koschitzke all having their injury troubles over the years.

The Chargers lack a little in defence, with Bret Thornton the second best key position player, and the depth for small defenders being a little weaker than other sides. Their forward line is undersized, though still provides X-factor, but would need to use the ball well with a lack of height in there.

SUMMARY:

In this match-up you would expect the Bushrangers to stretch the Chargers’ backline, but at the same time, the speed of the Chargers forward line would trouble the taller defenders there, meaning there is every chance one of the Bushrangers’ key position stocks would drop out and a small come in.

Which team would you pick?
Murray Bushrangers
Oakleigh Chargers
Created with Quiz Maker

All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era: Which club is the best of the best?

EVERY year, a new crop of AFL Draft talents rise up and make waves at AFL level. Some clubs such as Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons are referred to as ‘footy factories’. Others are less well known, but nonetheless vital in providing players with their start to the AFL.

Over the past couple of months, Draft Central has gone through all of the NAB League, SANFL and WAFL clubs and tried to determine the best 24-player squad for their respective clubs. The captains and vice-captains were determined by the public through Instagram voting. Now, it is up to the public to decide which All-Star Team is the greatest of the lot. That’s right, the 30 teams from Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia are going head to head in a knockout draw.

Which teams are competing?

NAB League [12]: Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons, Western Jets
SANFL [9]: Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens
WAFL [9]: Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, South Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth, Subiaco, Swan Districts, West Perth

How will it work?

Each day at 10am, we will publish the two All-Star Teams of the AFL Draft era, and the public will be able to vote through the article, Facebook and Twitter, with the overall winner moving through to the next round.

Given there are 30 teams, two sides who we have picked out as the top two seeds – East Fremantle and Geelong Falcons – will have the bye in the opening round, with the other 28 teams seeded appropriately similar to the All-Star Player voting (3rd against 28th, 4th against 27th etc.).

Who is up first?

The first All-Star Team battle is between a couple of metropolitan sides who we have seeded 16th and 17th in the draw. They both have some absolute elite stars, but Calder Cannons and Western Jets will begin the voting on Monday. They will be followed by the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges on Tuesday, before a cross-state clash sees third seed Port Adelaide Magpies tackle Peel Thunder.