Tag: Perth

WAFL League Player Focus: Logan McDonald (Perth) vs. Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts)

IT was a highly anticipated matchup that did not disappoint. Both Logan McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras are not only considered the best young players out of Western Australia, but loom as possible top five picks who have been mainstays in their respective League sides. They have both had some impressive performances, with McDonald second in the League for goals and Grainger-Barras closing in on the top 10 for marks in the competition.

In our latest Player Focus edition, we take a look at how the leading West Australian prospects fared as McDonald’s Perth took on Grainger-Barras’ Swan Districts in Round 8 of the WAFL League. The pair did not start on each other, as Nathan Ireland was tasked with manning McDonald early, but Swan Districts would give scouts what they wanted in the second half.

Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: April 4, 2002
Height: 196cm
Weight: 85kg

Position: Key Position Forward

>> Draft Watch
>> Round 2 Player Focus

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 14, 2002
Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key Position Defender

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Round 3 Player Focus

PLAYER FOCUS

STATS:
McDonald: 4 kicks | 2 handballs | 6 disposals | 3 marks | 1 tackle | 1 inside 50 | 3 goals
Grainger-Barras: 12 kicks | 4 handballs | 16 disposals | 8 marks | 3 tackles | 1 inside 50

Q1:

Even when McDonald and Grainger-Barras did not start on each other, a lot of their possessions in the first half where linked in some form. The first player to get involved was McDonald, who would almost take a strong grab on the wing. He dropped the mark at the last possible moment but quickly recovered, receiving a handball from good mate Nathan O’Driscoll and in-turn handballing to a teammate running past. Not too long after that, Grainger-Barras almost took an impressive mark in defence, which he began to stick eventually as he snapped up a nice intercept mark before kicking long to the wing. The ball would come back though, and making the most of it was that man McDonald. After taking a strong contested mark at the 50-metre arc, he would go back and slot a long bomb for his first goal of the game.

A few minutes later, McDonald almost took a strong contested mark inside 50, but again it spilled out on the way down. Grainger-Barras was the one to capitalise, sweeping on the loose ball, jumping over McDonald in the process, and handballing to a teammate. Grainger-Barras would have some more good moments soon after on the wing; first doing well in a one-on-one marking contest to nullify it, and a few moments later attacking the ball hard at ground level to gather and release a good handball. About a minute later, McDonald returned to the fray, using good bodywork to work his opponent under the ball. He would run onto the loose ball inside 50 but was well pressured from behind, and sent the dribble shot on a tight angle through for a behind.

A few minutes later both players would be linked again. Grainger-Barras gathered nicely in the middle but his kick out wide was poor, leading to a turnover. Not long after, he went to spoil the next aerial ball but did not kill the contest, which lead to McDonald kicking his second goal further down the ground from 15 metres out directly in front. Grainger-Barras wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, spoiling a marking contest well late in the quarter.

Q2:

The links between the two players continued into the second quarter, with Grainger-Barras attacking the loose ball hard from a defensive stoppage, but being met with a strong tackle. The ball would later be kicked to the leading McDonald, with Grainger-Barras working hard to come from the side to spoil but to no avail. It was a very strong lead and mark from McDonald, who would convert from the set shot nicely for his third and final goal.

At around the 17-minute mark it seemed the move had been made with Grainger-Barras going to McDonald. Grainger-Barras would earn a simple possession, being closest to an out-on-the-full kick deep in defence and booting the free kick long down the line. Late in the quarter, McDonald was very unlucky not to be paid a fantastic contested mark, contesting both Grainger-Barras and impressive ruckman Corey Gault on the wing.

Q3:

Everything form here on out was purely McDonald vs. Grainger-Barras, with Grainger-Barras hot on the heels of McDonald wherever he went. McDonald played centre half-forward which may have been a mistake in hindsight, for as hard as McDonald worked to give strong leads and provide a good outlet, the delivery to him was very poor and very rarely to his advantage. The first notable contest was on the wing where Grainger-Barras used good bodywork to work McDonald under the ball, gather nicely, and get a a scrappy left-foot kick forward. Not long after, Grainger-Barras took a nice intercept mark and this was the point where that side of his game would really start to shine, as he does it better than anyone else in his draft class.

Grainger-Barras is a competitor and despite his light frame, he is not afraid to go in hard not just to win his own ball, but to also tackle hard. He laid a strong tackle and a few minutes later he applied a great spoil on McDonald at half-forward – letting his opponent know about it and further adding to McDonalds growing frustration. Grainger-Barras is not afraid to stir the pot and get under his opponents’ skin, and at the earlier half time scuffle he made sure to get involved in some capacity.

The frustration wouldn’t go away for McDonald because not long after the aforementioned spoil, he again found himself outdone by Grainger-Barras, who took a very nice intercept mark going back with flight and following with a nice kick inboard. You couldn’t blame McDonald for the frustration, with plenty of kicks certainly not to his advantage, but credit also had to be given to Grainger-Barras to still show his strength as an interceptor while also manning up the most dangerous forward on the opposition.

Q4:

It did not take long for Grainger-Barras to get involved with a strong tackle on the wing that should have been rewarded, but he would get a free kick later on at McDonald’s expense. He would have to be considered lucky as their was not much in it, only further adding to McDonald’s frustrating second half. Not long after, Grainger-Barras again took a strong intercept mark on the wing and would kick long inside 50 to a one-on-one. McDonald did not drop his head and still competed hard, crashing one pack hard on the wing. A couple of minutes later, he would again compete hard in a marking contest inside 50 which would allow his smaller teammates to gather the crumbs. It won’t show on the stat sheet, but McDonald certainly worked hard to not only give an option on the lead, but also compete in the contest.

Grainger-Barras was in fine intercepting form for this quarter and he would take a brilliant intercept mark close to goal, before using the ball well with a long switch kick. Apart from his error early in the game, his kicking had been sensational, especially his longer kicks as he can really get under them. About a minute afterwards, McDonald would have another nice moment inside 50. Despite not getting a stat for it, he competed well inside 50 and a timely intercept from a handball would lead to his team gathering the loose ball and kicking a goal. McDonald really proved in the the last quarter that it’s his work inside 50 that’s most generous and advantageous for Perth and his final involvement, he would make a clean gather at ground level and handpass to a teammate close to goal. McDonald has proven this year that he is not only strong in the air but also nimble and clean at ground level for a taller player, and I expect he will hold more of his marks once he puts on some more size in the future. He was beaten by Grainger-Barras in the second half but you couldn’t have asked for more from him, and kicking three goals is certainly not a bad return.

Grainger-Barras wasn’t done yet though, as he had a really good two-minute patch not long after McDonald’s last involvement. He would take a lovely contested intercept mark flying in from the side in defensive 50, and again would release a long kick out from defensive 50 down the line. He competed really well on the wing where he took on a tackler and got a handball out in what was a great act of desperation, despite the game already being won. Not long after that he would put the exclamation point on his great game, taking an awesome intercept mark going back with flight and hurting himself in the process. That was certainly enough to give him a well earned rest anyway.

There was a fear going into the game that these two young guns wouldn’t line up on each other but not only did they line up on each other, they both managed to have very good games with Grainger-Barras perhaps having his best ever game at League level. He finished with 17 disposals and eight marks while McDonald again hit the scoreboard, kicking 3.1 as he firmly looks to finish among the top three in the WAFL goalkicking charts. Fellow draft fancy, O’Driscoll also had a great game backing up his brilliant outing last week, but this game was all about two young talents going head-to-head in McDonald and Grainger-Barras. They did not disappoint.

Power Rankings: September 2020 | July 2020 | August 2020
>> 2020 Western Australia Under 18s Squad Prediction

Featured Image: Leading WA draft prospects Denver Grainger-Barras, Logan McDonald, and Nathan O’Driscoll | Source: Michael Willson/AFL Media

WAFL League Player Focus: Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth)

IN continuing our extended Player Focus series, we take a look at a prospect who stood out recently in the West Australian Football League (WAFL). This week, in Round 7 of the League competition, we put Perth prospect Nathan O’Driscoll under the microscope, as he made his second top flight appearance for the Demons in their 26-point loss to reigning premier, Subiaco on Saturday.

PLAYER PAGE

Nathan O’Driscoll
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: May 17, 2002
Height: 187cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Midfielder/Utility

>> AFL Draft Watch: Nathan O’Driscoll
>> Marquee Matchup: O’Driscoll vs. Hollands

PLAYER FOCUS

Stats: 6 kicks, 14 handballs, 20 disposals, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 3 inside 50s

O’Driscoll had to wait a little longer to earn his spot in Perth’s League side, but despite an interrupted pre-season, he made is League debut last week and kicked the sealer in the Demons’ impressive win over Claremont. Able to play in numerous positions, it was forward and through the midfield that he was used against Subiaco. It was promising to see the 18-year-old get an opportunity to play midfield at League level and while he may lack the strength of more mature bodies, he didn’t lack the endeavour to compete, which would have pleased his coaches.

Q1:

O’Driscoll started the game forward and didn’t take long to get involved, winning the ball at half-back, having a nice run, and handballing to a teammate inboard. His next bit of play came less than a minute later, gathering nicely at half-forward and then balking an opponent to kick inside 50. Although the kick was scrappy, it was nice to seem him back himself to get around the opponent. He would show great attack on the ball for the rest of the quarter and despite not getting many opportunities across that period, O’Driscoll would later win the ball at a centre stoppage with a nice gather and quick clean handball. That kind of play later proved to be a key feature of his game.

Q2:

He was far more involved in the second quarter, starting with another run through the middle and finishing with a nice long kick inside 50. A few minutes later, he would attack the loose ball with a great pick-up at the forward 50 arc, but lost his footing on the move. His ground balls were again a feature later in the term, as he made a great gather at half-back in a stoppage situation and fired out a quick little handball to a teammate. Soon after, O’Driscoll nailed a great tackle in defensive 50, saving a scoring opportunity and winning the free kick. He received a 50-metre penalty and then quickly kicked long inside 50. A few minutes later, he won another holding the ball free kick with a nice chase and tackle at half-forward, but saw his team take on the advantage rule. Very late in the quarter, he would keep the ball in play with a kick off the ground very close to the boundary to gain some more meterage.

Q3:

O’Driscoll continued his good form and efforts in the third quarter working, into the backline and forward line. I hadn’t touched on it before, but his work-rate around the ground was outstanding the whole day, running hard both ways. He showed great attack on the footy deep in the forward line, winning the ball with a second effort and flicking a little handball out to his teammate. The hard running I touched on was influential in the same passage of play which lead to his good mate Logan McDonald kicking a goal. As Perth moved the ball along the wing, O’Driscoll was right there, streaming forward to become an option and continuing to work down the ground. Eventually, he got to the fall of the ball 20-metres out from goal, sweeping on the ball and then quickly firing out a handball to McDonald. This bit of play really highlighted everything about his game that stood out with his work-rate and clean hands.

Later in the quarter, he would gather the ball on the wing from a stoppage, going for a little run and handpassing over the top to a teammate. The ball spilled but he quickly mopped up with a strong second effort. He had a few more possession late in the quarter with his trademark clean gathers at ground level and quick, clean handballs – with one showing good vision from a stoppage.

Q4:

O’Driscoll’s last quarter was also superb, again getting to start in the midfield were he had fully deserved to be at that point in the game. He started the quarter well with a strong tackle, leaping straight at the hips showing good technique. His tackling had been strong all day and has also been a staple of his game for years. His attack on the ball was again superb in the last quarter and his endeavour again great. He contributed some desperate efforts in defence during the middle parts of the quarter, winning the ball through sheer desperation. Perhaps his biggest highlight of the game came with a strong contested mark at the defensive 50 arc. With pressure coming from behind, O’Driscoll stuck the mark outstretched, a grab which many young players wouldn’t be able to hold.

His purple patch continued, attacking the ball hard at a stoppage. Despite fumbling once, he would still gather the ball and handpass it off. Soon after, he again swooped on the loose ball and fired a nice long handball to a teammate. The game was lost, but he still put in some great efforts, especially in the forward zone – working hard to cut off the ball and cause a spoil. He almost took a great mark inside 50 coming from the side, and it was great seeing him still trying to win the ball. One of the last contests of the day was a stoppage on the wing where he just hunted the ball in flight and nailed the opponent from the hit-out with a strong tackle. I cant wait to see what he can do with that endeavour when he puts on some muscle.

Closing thoughts…

It was an outstanding game from O’Driscoll, who was instrumental in ensuring the game wasn’t a complete blowout. His efforts over the four quarters and enthusiasm really lifted his side. O’Driscoll finished the game with an equal team-high 20 disposals and also laid six strong tackles in a well balanced midfield display. Named second-best on ground by the coaches, I cant see him coming out of this Perth side any time soon, and look forward to seeing him continue to build on this game, showcasing his attributes. The youngster has grown 5cm since last year and could still grow even more. He should become a genuine tall midfielder, which is in vogue throughout the AFL right now.

Power Rankings: July 2020 | August 2020
>> 2020 Western Australia Under 18s Squad Prediction

Featured Image: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

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.

WAFL Colts Round 6 MOTR: Claremont vs. Perth

THIS week’s WAFL Colts match of the round was played between Claremont and Perth, with the Tigers continuing their unblemished premiership defence. Draft Central’s West Australian correspondent Lenny Fogliani was on hand to deliver a match report, and scouting notes on the most outstanding players throughout the clash.

>> SCROLL for scouting notes

MATCH REPORT:

Claremont remains undefeated in the 2020 Simply Energy WAFL Colts competition, after defeating the Perth Demons by 40 points at Revo Fitness Stadium.

Fremantle Dockers Next Generation Academy members Joel Western (24 possessions, three goals) and Samuel Alvarez (21 possessions, goal goal) starred for Claremont. They were well aided by Logan Young (27 possessions, 12 tackles), Zac Mainwaring (24 possessions, one goal), Jake Willson (21 possessions), Jacob Van Rooyen (15 possessions, two goals) and Kalin Lane (16 possessions, 22 hit-outs).

Perth’s Conor McPartland continued his magnificent season with another strong performance that saw him finish with 31 possessions, 14 tackles, five marks and four inside 50s. Zak Meloncelli (23 possessions, seven marks, seven tackles, four inside 50s), Deklyn Grocott (21 possessions, seven tackles), Zac Sanderson (19 possessions, six tackles) and Jaiden Hunter (18 possessions, 28 hit-outs) also competed strongly for the Demons.

In the early stages of the opening quarter, Mainwaring was able to break a tackle, before he spotted up Western inside attacking 50. Western then converted his set shot from 50 metres out on a difficult angle. Mainwaring then read the play well to get out the back and take an uncontested mark inside 50, before duly converting his set shot. Seconds before the quarter time siren, Oscar Morcombe took a great diving mark inside the Demons’ forward 50. He nailed the goal after the quarter-time siren to reduce the margin to four points.

Claremont’s Kieran Gowdie drilled through his first goal of the game early in the second quarter, after he took a strong contested mark inside 50. Western then kicked his second goal, when he collected the ball at about 55 metres out, before running to 45 metres and drilling through the goal. Moments later, Morcombe snapped through his second major. Just before half-time, Western added a third of his own, after he launched the ball from a set shot from just outside 50 metres.

After the main break, Daniel Hill was able to waltz into an open goal after taking an uncontested mark inside 50, reducing the margin to just seven points. Soon after, Dylan Mulligan spotted up Van Rooyen, who kicked his first goal from 40 metres out. Moments later, Van Rooyen cleanly collected the ball on the half-forward line, turned his opponent inside out, and then nailed his second goal. Gowdie then booted his second goal to give the Tigers a 25-point lead at three-quarter time.

Gowdie got proceedings underway in the fourth quarter, when he sent home a long-range set shot. Harry Quartermaine was able to take a contested mark inside Perth’s forward 50, before he duly converted for his first goal of the game. Jacquin Ciminata and Alvarez both kicked goals to put the cherry on top of the Tigers’ 40-point victory.

Next week, Claremont travels to New Choice Homes Park where the Tigers will take on a spirited East Fremantle outfit. On the other hand, Perth will be hosting a rampant Subiaco at Mineral Resources Park.

SCOUTING NOTES:

CLAREMONT

#2 Logan Young

The son of AFL Player Manager Colin Young, Logan was powerful in the midfield for Claremont, often using his big frame to bully his way around the stoppages. He finished with a team-high 27 possessions, a team-high 12 tackles, and four inside 50s.

#3 Zac Mainwaring

The son of the late Chris Mainwaring, Zac was dynamic for the Tigers, playing primarily as a forward pocket. He collected 24 possessions, took eight marks, recorded six inside 50s, laid four tackles and kicked a goal. One of the highlights of his game came early in the opening quarter, when he was able to break through a tackle before setting up Western for the opening goal of the game.

#4 Jake Willson

The Wembley Downs Junior was outstanding in the midfield for Claremont. Playing as the rover, Willson finished with 21 possessions, three tackles, two marks and two inside 50s.

#10 Joel Western

Returning from a hamstring injury, the Fremantle Dockers Next Generation Academy member was best afield for Claremont. He finished with 24 possessions, eight marks, five inside 50s, and three goals in a dazzling display as he looks to push back into top 30 AFL Draft contention.

#13 Samuel Alvarez

Another Fremantle Dockers Next Generation Academy member, Alvarez was dynamic on the wing for the Tigers, collecting 21 possessions, laying seven tackles, and kicking a goal in a brilliant performance.

#20 Logan Guelfi

The younger brother of current Essendon player Matt Guelfi, Logan was sensational on the half-forward flank for Claremont. He finished with 16 possessions, a game-high eight inside 50s and seven tackles.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen

The 17-year-old continued his good form with another solid performance. Against Perth, Van Rooyen finished with 15 possessions, five tackles, three marks, three inside 50s and two goals. One of the highlights of his game came in the third quarter, when he turned his opponent inside out, before drilling through his second goal of the game.

#28 Kalin Lane

The Denmark-Walpole product showed why he is one of the most promising ruckmen in this year’s draft pool with a strong showing against Perth. Lane finished with 16 possessions, 22 hit-outs and seven tackles.


PERTH DEMONS

#4 Zak Meloncelli

The Perth captain was at his inspiring best, playing primarily across the half-back line. His ability to intercept Claremont’s attacking entries, before providing attacking drive was crucial for Perth. His final statistics were 23 possessions, seven marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s.

#7 Conor McPartland

The 2016 WA U15s State Schoolboys’ representative continued his stunning season with another sensational performance. He finished with a game-high 31 possessions, a game-high 14 tackles, five marks and four inside 50s.

#12 Oscar Morcombe

In just his sixth game of WAFL Colts football, Morcombe played an invaluable role for the Demons. Playing as a link-up forward, Morcombe finished with 16 possessions, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and two goals. The highlight of his game came late in the first quarter, when he took a great diving mark just before the quarter-time siren. He went back and duly converted his set shot, after the siren, to get the Demons within four points of Claremont.

#15 Zac Sanderson

Playing primarily across the half-back line, Sanderson continued his good form with another strong performance. He accumulated 19 possessions, laid six tackles, took four marks and recorded two inside 50s against the Tigers.

#24 Deklyn Grocott

The Bassendean junior was lively on the half forward flank for the Demons, finishing with 21 possessions, seven tackles, and five marks.

#48 Jaiden Hunter

The Applecross junior showed why he is the in-form ruckman of the Simply Energy WAFL Colts competition with another powerful performance. Hunter accumulated 18 possessions, won a game-high 28 hit-outs, took five marks and recorded four inside 50s. His prominence comes despite boasting a smaller frame than many of his opposing rucks.

WAFL Colts Round 4 MOTR: East Fremantle vs. Perth

THIS week’s WAFL Colts match of the round was played between East Fremantle and Perth on Saturday, with the Demons overcoming the Sharks at Choice Homes Park. West Australian correspondent Lenny Fogliani was on hand to deliver a match report, and scouting notes on the most outstanding players.

MATCH REPORT:

In Round 4 of the 2020 Simply Energy WAFL Colts competition, Perth overcame East Fremantle by 11 points at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday morning.

The Demons now find themselves in fourth position, while East Fremantle are just one game outside of the top four.

Perth’s Conor McPartland was best afield against his former Club with 33 possessions, six marks, six tackles, five inside 50s and a goal in a powerful performance.

He was well supported by captain Zak Meloncelli (30 possessions, 12 marks, six tackles, three inside 50s), top draft hopeful Nathan O’Driscoll (22 possessions, three tackles, two inside 50s) and ruckman Jaiden Hunter (20 possessions, 44 hit-outs, seven marks, four inside 50s).

Mullewa product Edward Curley was the Sharks’ best player with 19 possessions, 10 tackles, three inside 50s and three goals.

Jack Carroll (20 possessions, five tackles, four marks, four inside 50s), Brandon Walker (19 possessions, two goals), Finn Gorringe (18 possessions, nine tackles) and Keanu Haddow (17 possessions, four marks) all contributed strongly for the Sharks.

It was a stalemate for the majority of the first quarter, taking until the 21st minute before a goal was kicked. It was Perth’s Daniel Hill who snapped the ball out of a pack to register the first goal of the game. Moments later, McPartland danced his way around an opponent, before he kicked a goal to give the Demons a 14-point lead at quarter-time.

Within the first minute of the second quarter, McPartland won a crucial clearance to kick the ball long inside attacking 50. Harry Quartermaine was able to take a strong contested mark, before he drilled through his first goal of the morning. At half-time the Demons held East Fremantle goalless and went into the main break with an 18-point lead.

The Demons started the third quarter with a bang, after Jack Evans and Quartermaine kicked goals. Curley scored the Sharks’ first goal after he sidestepped an opponent before popping through his first major for the day. Jayden Narrier then took an uncontested mark inside 50, before converting his set shot. In the 24th minute, Walker burst clear from a contest, before he checksided the ball through for a great goal, and reduced the margin to 23 points.

Curley got the Sharks off to a good start in the last quarter when he snapped through his second goal of the morning. However, soon after, Hill took an uncontested mark in the goalsquare before scoring his second goal. Blake Hughes converted a set shot from a tight angle to keep the Sharks in it.

Despite this, Harrison Hyde dribbled through another goal for the Demons. After winning a holding-the-ball free kick, Curley popped through his third goal from an extremely difficult angle. In the latter stages of the quarter, Walker smothered an attempted rebounding 50 by the Demons, before he snapped through his second goal, which was unfortunately a consolation.

Next week, the Demons host ladder-leaders West Perth at Mineral Resources Park, while East Fremantle has the bye.

SCOUTING NOTES:

East Fremantle:

#5 Edward Curley

The Mullewa product was extremely dynamic in the forward half for the Sharks. He accumulated 19 possessions, laid a game-high 10 tackles, recorded three inside 50s and kicked a game-high three goals. The highlight of his game came in the third quarter when he danced his way around an opponent before kicking his first goal of the morning.

#8 Finn Gorringe

The former Aquinas student was busy in the midfield for East Fremantle. Playing as the centreman, Gorringe finished with 18 possessions, nine tackles and two inside 50s in a workman-like performance.

#9 Brandon Walker

The Fremantle Dockers’ Next Generation Academy player was dynamic on the half-back line, often using his creative kicking skills to help propel plenty of the Sharks’ attacking opportunities. He finished with 19 possessions, five marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and two goals. His two goals were real highlights of the game – late in the third quarter, he burst from a stoppage before he checksided the ball through for his first goal. In the final stages of the last quarter, he smothered a Perth player’s kick, before he snapped through his second goal.

#13 Keanu Haddow

Another Fremantle Dockers’ Next Generation Academy member, Haddow was excellent in defence for the Sharks. The East Fremantle captain led from the front beautifully with 17 possessions, four marks and two tackles. In the final quarter, he was crunched in a Harry Quartermaine tackle and was forced to go off with what seemed to be a shoulder injury. However, he came back on the ground to try and inspire his team to victory – highlighting his toughness and leadership credentials.

#16 Jack Carroll

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

Perth:

#3 Daniel Hill

The 16-year-old was livewire for the Demons in the forward half. Originally from the Thornlie Junior Football Club, Hill finished with eight possessions, three tackles, two inside 50s and two goals in his WAFL Colts debut. The highlight of his game came late in the first quarter when he snapped the ball out of a pack for the opening goal of the game, and his first career goal.

#4 Zak Meloncelli

The Perth captain was inspirational for the Demons, often intercepting East Fremantle’s attacking entries, before setting his team into attack. He accumulated 30 possessions, took a game-high 12 marks, laid an equal team-high six tackles and recorded three inside 50s in a true captain’s performance.

#7 Conor McPartland

Playing against his former club, McPartland continued his blistering start to the season with another sublime performance. He finished with a game-high 33 possessions, an equal team-high six tackles, six marks, a game-high five inside 50s and a goal. The highlight of his game came in the first quarter, when he sidestepped an opponent before kicking a goal.

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll

The Northam product showed why he is one of WA’s leading AFL draft prospects this year with a brilliant performance. He gathered 22 possessions, laid three tackles and recorded two inside 50s in a strong display. His aggressive attack on the ball and man was inspiring. His decision-making and skill execution were also real features of his game.

#11 Harry Quartermaine

The Bullcreek-Leeming junior showed why he is the in-form key forward of the competition with another strong performance. He finished with nine possessions, three marks, three tackles, two hit-outs, one inside 50 and two goals. A highlight of his game came in the second quarter, when he took a strong contested mark, before kicking his first goal.

Picture: The West Australian

WAFL Player Focus: Logan McDonald (Perth)

IN a first amid our return to the Player Focus series, we take a look at a West Australian Football League (WAFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 2 of the competition, our eyes were on Perth key forward Logan McDonald, who kicked four goals in the Demons’ 21-point win over East Perth on Saturday.

PLAYER PAGE:

Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: April 4, 2002
Height: 196cm
Weight: 85kg

Position: Key Position Forward

WAFL LEAGUE ROUND 2 STATISTICS:

9 kicks
6 handballs
15 disposals
7 marks
2 inside 50s
4 goals

PLAYER FOCUS:

McDonald has been the talk out of the town, with the young key forward making his impressive debut last week. Having kicked three goals on that occasion, he backed it up again with an even better performance as he makes a seamless transition to WAFL League level. Not many expect young key forwards to make an impact against senior bodies, especially a player of McDonald’s build, but he certainly looked good enough in the contest to suggest he could really be a force up forward once his body matures in the years to come.

The Perth prospect impressed in the pre-season, even giving fellow high-end prospect Denver Grainger-Barras a run for his money in a scratch match against Swan Districts, slotting two goals. He then kicked three goals last week in his proper League debut, and this week he would kick the opening goal of the game in impressive fashion; holding out his opponent and taking a nice contested chest mark deep in the pocket, where he would then calmly slot a left foot snap. He also showed his impressive mobility at ground level soon after, showing great composure with the ball tight on the boundary, summing up his options well before handballing nicely to a teammate out the back.

It was overall a quiet first quarter despite the hot start, but McDonald started to get more involved in the second quarter and that started with a nice gather and sweeping handball. He then worked back inside 50 and was about to receive, but spent the ball before he earned it which ruined a certain scoring opportunity. Nonetheless, the whole bit of play showed good game sense and he would later make up for that mistake by leading at the ball in the pocket and showing his impressive leap to take a strong pack mark with sticky hands. He however unselfishly kicked inboard to a teammate who would miss the set shot, when he probably should have kicked it himself especially as he wouldn’t kick a behind all game.

His third quarter was also good and his first contest of the period foreshadowed how he would attempt a later mark with success, using his body on the wing to protect the drop of the ball. Although the first attempt was spoiled, it wouldn’t be spoiled the next time as McDonald used good bodywork to protect the space inside 50, before taking an impressive mark and then coolly slotting the set shot for his second goal of the game.

He would finish the quarter in impressive fashion, showing what he can do at ground level with a lovely, clean pickup at ground level to crumb a marking contest and then punt a quick kick on his left to gain meterage. He then followed up the kick to get front and square where he gathered nicely and handballed out wide to set up a scoring opportunity. It was a very slick bit of play that showed he is just as clean at ground level as he is overhead, adding to his overall package as a key forward.

It was the last quarter where McDonald really lifted and got his team over the line as East Perth started to make a surge. He couldn’t have started the quarter any better, clunking a strong contested mark where he used good bodywork to keep front position and take a lovely one-handed mark overhead. He would then snap the goal deep in pocket on his right foot this time for his third major. It was an incredible mark to take at League level, especially for a young key forward.

In the middle parts of the quarter, McDonald started to get up the ground on the wing, competing on the lead and working hard to contest the ball when it hit ground level. In one such situation, he would gather nicely and handball to a teammate, then run out to receive and brace for contact as he knew contact was coming. It was a very smart bit of play that you would expect a seasoned veteran to pull off.

A few minutes later he did well to break even at ground level after a marking contest on the wing. He attempted to hold the ball in to force a stoppage, and while the ball did spill out, he didn’t stop there as he went to gather the loose ball. From there, he showed clean hands at ground level to release a player in the corridor, which lead to a goal and perhaps the sealer which all came from his hard work and dedication to the contest at ground level.

If that goal was not the sealer, he made sure of the result by taking a great contested mark on the 50-metre arc and straight away put his hand up to let everyone know he was slowing the play down to take the set shot, which showed incredible game sense, confidence, and smarts – especially from a younger player. He didn’t even need to kick the goal for it to be an impressive bit of play but as easy as you like, he would then kick the set shot from 55-metres for his fourth goal which was also a game-high tally. It was a stellar way to end his game where his endurance and smarts really came to the fore in a last quarter tussle with plenty of heat in it.

That’s two games in a row now that McDonald has kicked a bag and also shown an ability to get up the ground, averaging 15 disposals in a shortened game to boot. He leads the WAFL for goals already and is quickly making a name for himself as a top-end prospect for the 2020 draft, with his ability to hit the scoreboard, take contested marks, and follow up at ground level. Perth have the bye this coming week but expect the opposition to start putting more time into this kid when they resume, as he has shown to be a damaging prospect, not just hitting the scoreboard but also setting up goals with his ground level play.

Picture: Perth Football Club

Draft Central All-Star Team: Perth Demons

PERTH Demons’ All-Star team has some serious quality key position players, as well as some electric smalls around the ground. One of the greatest ever key forwards in Lance Franklin earned the nod as the team’s captain thanks to your voting via our Instagram page.

TEAM

The team itself is solid without being outstanding, though there are quite a few underrated players in the side. The top-end elite talent is very strong, particularly in the key position areas, whilst a number of players can slot into multiple positions. The depth drops off towards the end, but there are some up-and-coming players who might have a say in the next few years to squeeze into the team.

defence 

The back six is highlighted by a couple of All-Australian talls in Darren Glass and Michael Johnson. Playing for opposite West Australian sides, Glass was one of the best full-backs of the modern era with four All-Australian nods and three best and fairests. He is paired up with Johnson who earned one All-Australian selection in his 244 games for the Dockers. A couple of talls who could also play against bigger opponents are Western Bulldogs’ Ryan Hargrave, and utility Scott Stevens who fill out the back pockets.

At half-back, a couple of midfielder-defenders slot in, with Tiger-turned-Docker Reece Conca and recently retired Pie-turned-Eagle Sharrod Wellingham rounding out the defensive end. Both provide plenty of speed and have some serious talent through there. Off the bench, Robbert Haddrill and Tendai Mzungu could play roles if required there.

MIDFIELD

The middle has some serious future talent in its onball group with Zac Fisher and Jaeger O’Meara likely to end their careers in the top five of Perth’s All-Time players at AFL level. Fisher has only played the 55 games but looks a natural at the level, while O’Meara has won a Rising Star and now he has overcome early injuries, is set to play his 100th game this year and be a star in Hawthorn’s midfield. They are joined by honest Fremantle midfielder Troy Cook, who won a best and fairest for the Dockers and played just shy of 200 games.

On the wings, a couple of tough players in their hey day, Richmond’s Mark Coughlan and Hawthorn’s Chance Bateman provide some extra depth across the ground. The midfield is quite deep, and the likes of David Myers and Steven Armstrong off the bench, and then Chris Mayne from half-forward gives it some flexibility when looking at the magnets. Sydney Stack might only have one season worth of experience, but he is another who could slot in through the forward half of the ground. Daniel Bandy might be a little undersized to play as the number one ruck, but he can also go forward and provide another target.

FORWARD

The front six is the most dangerous led by Franklin at centre half-forward. His career includes a whopping eight All-Australians, four Coleman Medals, one best and fairest, two premierships and a further three All-Australian 40-player squad nominations. A player who retired long before Franklin graced the field takes the other key position spot, with 200-game forward Earl Spalding booting 169 snags in 211 games.

The excitement machines in Collingwood utility, Leon Davis – a two-time All-Australian playing off half-back but was best known for his miraculous goals – is in a pocket along with high-flyer Winston Abraham best known for his mark at Manuka in 1999. Andrew McDougall is a third tall option in the other pocket, booting 50 goals in a short 43-game stint, while Mayne is at half-forward but could float into the midfield. Damon White is another key option who can influence off the bench.

DEPTH

The only 50-gamer to miss out on the side was Dion Woods (59 games), while Cruise Garlett (32), Brennan Stack (21) and Brad Fox (21) were the others to reach at least 20 games. Of the current players, Quinton Narkle (12 games prior to the season) and Ian Hill (eight) are among those talented ones expected to make the jump in the coming years.

2020 WAFL Club Preview: Perth

THE PERTH Demons will be aiming to end their long finals drought in 2020, after adding some exciting players to the already talented line-up.

Despite losing the likes of Clint Jones (retired), Cody Leggett (East Fremantle) and Cody Ninyette (South Fremantle), the Demons secured some big names in Chris Masten (West Coast), Fraser McInnes (West Coast), Brady Grey (West Coast) and Kieran Delahunty (NT Thunder) in its bid to play finals for the first time since 1997.

It is worth noting that the Demons only just missed out on finals in 2019, with their percentage (91.8%) inferior to that of West Coast’s Reserves (99.8%), and West Perth (97.5%).

Inspirational skipper Corey Yeo is set to lead the Demons again, while he will be supported by the likes of Lachlan Dennis, Christian Eyres, Brant Colledge, Michael Sinclair and Mitch Henderson. Other players to watch out for include Richard Bourne Jnr, Jacob Coniglio, Guy Langdon and young stars Regan Clarke, and Ethan Hansen.

The Demons’ Reserves team will be aiming to be back playing in finals for the first time since 2017. The Colts team, headed by notable players Logan McDonald and Nathan O’Driscoll, will be out to play in finals for the first time since 2016, when they won the minor premiership. While McDonald and O’Driscoll are clearly the leading players in the Colts line-up, other notable youngsters include Bailey Kane, Conor McPartland, and Jayden Narrier among others.

2020 League Coach: Earl Spalding

2020 League Captain: Corey Yeo

2020 Colts Coach: Michael Pratt

League Gains for 2020: Jack Amos (EP), Kieren Delahunty (NT), Liam Dellamarta (EP), Sam East (EP), Andrew Fisher (WCE), Brady Grey (WCE), Chris Masten (WCE), Fraser McInnes (WCE), Ryan Murphy (Claremont), Jacob Peletier (Subiaco), Jayden Quill (EF), Jack Richardson (CL) Sam Stubbs (Mt Gravatt), Kade Tombides (CL), Dylan Williams (Amateurs).

League Losses after 2019: Clint Jones (Retired), Cody Leggett (East Fremantle), Cody Ninyette (SF).

2020 NAB AFL State-Based Academy Players: Logan McDonald, Nathan O’Driscoll

Picture: Daniel Carson/Getty Images

Marquee Matchups: Elijah Hollands vs. Nathan O’Driscoll

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

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

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

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

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

PLAYER PAGES

Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: April 25, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Forward/balanced midfielder

Nathan O’Driscoll
Perth/Western Australia

DOB: May 17, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 76kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Hollands – 47cm
O’Driscoll
– 67cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Hollands – 60cm/59cm
O’Driscoll
– 86cm/80cm

SPEED (20m)

Hollands – 3.05 seconds
O’Driscoll
– 2.99 seconds

AGILITY

Hollands – 8.87 seconds
O’Driscoll
– 8.46 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Hollands – 21.2
O’Driscoll
– 21.8

Note: Hollands’ results derive from 2019 preseason testing.

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

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

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Hollands:

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

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

O’Driscoll:

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

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

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

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

BEST GAME

Hollands:

2019 NAB League Round 1 vs. Gippsland

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

O’Driscoll:

2019 WAFL Colts Round 14 vs. South Fremantle

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

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

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

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

PREVIOUS MEETING

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

Hollands:

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

O’Driscoll:

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

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

STRENGTHS

Hollands:

Overhead marking
Scoreboard impact
Athleticism
Versatility

O’Driscoll:

Contested ball
Kick penetration
Two-way impact
Explosiveness

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

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

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

IMPROVEMENTS

Hollands:

Consistency/accumulation
Post-injury durability

O’Driscoll:

Short/long-range kicking balance

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

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Hollands:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

O’Driscoll:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

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

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.

Picture: Michael Farnell – Sports Imagery Australia

>> 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