THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this for another pocket podcast edition, this time assessing the elite readymade prospects poised to feature heavily at the top end of this year’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime top 10 talents, and why they are likely to make quick inroads at the top level.
For the sake of this podcast, we defined readymade players as those with a combination of choice of; elite talent, mature physical attributes, and great reliability/consistency in their styles of play. The absolute best players have at least one or two of these traits, and the list of players mentioned throughout the podcast fit that criteria.
Below is an ordered rundown of each topic ticked off.
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The traits that define a readymade player
Elite talent, mature physical attributes, reliability, consistency.
Who are the most readymade top 10 prospects, and why?
Nick Daicos – Starting from the top. Daicos is a player who provides exceptional talent at a remarkably consistent rate. His output each game is not only outstanding, but never drops and sees him finish nearly every outing as best afield. Collingwood fans’ excitement levels only rose when former coach Nathan Buckley remarked that Daicos could arguably have gotten a senior game as early as this year if eligible, so he will likely slot straight into the Magpies’ side. The only knock may be his durability, given he has been managed frequently throughout 2021, but he performs every time he takes the field.
Jason Horne-Francis – With a wealth of senior experience already under his belt, Horne-Francis is arguably a level above anyone else in the readymade category. As shown in his final SANFL League outing with South Adelaide, he already has all the ability required to play at the top level. In addition to that, his explosive physical make-up and aggressive style bode well for an immediate impact and sustained success amid the rigours of AFL competition. There is no doubt he will feature very early on in his debut season, barring unforeseen interruptions.
Ben Hobbs – Akin to Horne-Francis, Hobbs is exactly the kind of player you think of when compiling a list of readymade prospects. He is as competitive and hard at the contest as anyone in this year’s crop, able to prize his own ball and shut down the opposition’s prime movers with punishing tackles. He has the frame and bull-like style to suit senior football and has shown a terrific level of consistency when available this season. A high-level talent, kicking is arguably the area Hobbs will continue to work on most having also taken great strides in his outside influence.
Josh Ward – Reliability is the word which comes to mind when describing Ward, and he has been exactly that in 2021. His rise up draft boards has come on the back of that exact trait and the sheer consistency he has produced at such a high level of output. Ward has become a real asset on the inside across multiple squads and has the running capacity to find plenty of ball around the ground, with his clean skills and decision making capping off a well-rounded midfielder’s game. Should he get a shot in his maiden campaign, fans should endear quickly to his work-rate and effort.
Finn Callaghan – As classy as they come, Callaghan has made remarkable strides in his development to catapult himself into top five contention. He is already a good size and suits the modern day midfielder prototype, proving versatile and incredibly skilful. He moves with great poise and grace in traffic and when on the outer, can use his speed and penetrating kick to hurt the opposition. Having started out off half-back, before moving into midfield via the wing, Callaghan will likely do the same at AFL level and has the talent to learn on the go.
Talls taking longer to develop, a clichè? – Yes and no. We have seen talls like Riley Thilthorpe make an immediate impact, but others like Jamarra Ugle-Hagan take a little longer to hit their stride. Sam Darcy may be one at the top end who enters the elite level quickly, but should have time to hone his craft given the Western Bulldogs’ wealth of young talls. Mac Andrew is a very developmental type, while Josh Gibcus and Jye Amiss are others who have improved immensely in 2021 and should be given time to do that even more as senior footballers.
Given the amount of gametime lost in 2020/21, will players be less readymade? – The logical answer to this is yes, but last year’s draft class showed that the top-end talent will never really dissipate. Plenty of recent draftees made immediate impacts at the top level and while this year’s crop has essentially been interrupted throughout two years of maturation, we should see some achieve similar feats. The jump in levels may be profound, but the class of 2021 has already shown many marks of great improvement. It may be the depth of the draft that is effected most.