Tag: reef mcinnes

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not on any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

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

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot here. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#5 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Grainger-Barras rounds out the top five; another tall, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has been squeezed out to number six at this point, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

>> Q&A

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

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

#9 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Rounding out the top 10 is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

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

#11 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Fremantle Academy.

>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

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

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess. He should make the step-up for Oakleigh once again having impressed late last year, while also cracking the Vic Metro line-up.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 13 – Chargers, Cannons win big

SIX different venues played host to the NAB League’s Round 13 fixtures in 2019, with a couple of big upsets kicking off the action, while Oakleigh and Calder came out big winners in their clashes against Country opponents. Some big names returned to the competition as the National Championships came to an end, and school football completed its bye rounds.

Western pulled off the weekend’s first upset victory, holding off a surge from Sandringham and its returning catalogue of big names to claim a nine-point win come the final siren. After Sandringham snuck ahead at half time, the Jets broke the game open with eight goals to one in a defining third term at Downer Oval. The Dragons would keep Western goalless in the last, but failed to make up the difference in time.

The small/tall pairing of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke split a combined 6.4 evenly for Western, while Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of three Dragons to boot two majors each. Fellow draftees Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, one), and Louis Butler (23) were other high-end Dragons to perform, while Carlton rookie Josh Honey was among Western’s best with 18 touches.

Northern ensured the unlikely victories would roll on early in Round 13, trumping Gippsland by 43 points on the road. Akin to Western’s effort, the Knights battled hard in the first half but only led by two points at the main break, only to boot eight goals to one in a dominant second half display to take the four points back home to Preston.

The versatile Knights forward trio of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess, and Sunny Brazier (both three) dealt most of the damage as the contest skewed to one side, while Carlton’s Sam Philp (24 disposals, one) goal finished behind only Adam Carafa (28 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Bottom-ager Sam Berry was Gippsland’s best in that department with 21 touches, while Saints draftee Leo Connolly had 18, and Philp’s Blues teammate Fraser Phillips, 13.

Murray could not quite keep the train going as it hosted the table-topping Eastern Ranges at Norm Minns Oval, falling four points short of its highly-fancied opposition. The Ranges managed to get out to a hot start, leading by 17 points despite wasting half of their 10 first term scoring shots. The lead was extended to 27 at half-time, but only worked to shift the Bushrangers into gear as they stormed home with a 6.6 second half to Eastern’s 3.0, as only wastefulness cost them in the end.

Ben Hickleton‘s season-best effort of four goals helped Eastern over the line, while Jimmy Boyer was one of two Bushrangers to notch three majors. Mitch Mellis put in a shift with two goals from 22 disposals, as he an Zak Pretty were beaten out only by Jye Chalcraft (29 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. In a rare instance, no 2019 draftees took the field in this fixture.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back to metropolitan territory, as Calder ran out comfortable 68-point winners against Dandenong at home. The Cannons shot out of the blocks with nine goals to two in the first half and despite being held well in the third term, prettied up the scoreboard with seven goals to nil in the final quarter to put an exclamation mark on the victory.

College punter Mason Fletcher booted four majors in this outing before his departure to the United States, joined by five Calder teammates as multiple goalkickers. Bottom-ager Ashton Williamson‘s three goals were a slight form of resistance for Dandenong, with Jack Toner another to stand up with 28 disposals. But it was Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay who led all comers on 32 touches, followed by bottom-age jet Jackson Cardillo (27, one goal).

Fast forward to Sunday, and Bendigo made its trip down to Tasmania worthwhile, downing the Devils by 29 points at Kingston Twins Oval. In a relatively low-scoring affair, the Pioneers were made to fight back from behind, booting six goals to Tasmania’s one in a one-sided second half effort. The win would also serve as redemption for Bendigo after going down to the Devils by two points in Round 7.

Exciting bottom-age Bendigo products Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell booted three goals each, while Jackson Callow was one of two multiple goalkickers for the home side. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness had 10 more disposals than the next-best player afield, racking up 34 while Pioneers Sam Conforti and James Schischka had 24 each. Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Oliver Davis also fared well with 19 touches apiece.

Oakleigh saw the round out with the biggest win of the lot, proving ruthlessly brilliant in front of goal to down and already lowly Geelong outfit by 87 points at Avalon Airport Oval. The Chargers led by over seven goals at the main break and never looked back, piling on a further 10 to Geelong’s three in the second half to finish with an incredible 20 goals and nine behinds en route to victory.

The forward partnership of Dylan Williams (five goals) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four) proved unstoppable, with the likes of Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) and Trent Bianco (24, two) also finding the big sticks and plenty of the ball. In a stacked Oakleigh side, Will Phillips and Lochlan Jenkins were also prominent with 21 touches each. Bottom-ager Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals) was among Geelong’s best alongside 2020 co-captain Cam Fleeton (19), while over-ager Charlie Sprague booted three majors.

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

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

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

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

>> CATCH UP ON ALL OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Q&A: Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

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

The classy midfielder was a standout at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, earning the MVP award in Vic Metro’s undefeated carnival-winning side. His form was enough to warrant selection in the back-end of Eastern’s run to the NAB League grand final, with Sonsie featuring six times and employed mostly on a wing or up forward. His eye for goal and clean skills make him a dual-pronged threat through midfield, able to hit the scoreboard and cause real damage with ball in hand, credit to his remarkable vision and smarts.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Tyler, you’re sitting this one out, what have you picked up?

TS: “I’ve got a back issue at the moment, yes.”

 

Has that hampered your preseason at all or is it more of a recent thing?

“It affected (preseason) at the start but I got into a bit more training lately… I should be back for Round 2 or 3.”

 

Coming off a really successful Under 16 National Championship, it must have been a great experience for you?

“Yes, it was a great experience with a lot of good people as well. Good boys.”

 

Where will you be looking to play as you keep breaking into the Eastern side, more forward or through midfield?

“Mostly through the midfield this year. Hopefully forward as well.”

 

How was it playing at NAB League level as a 16-year-old last year?

“Yes, (I had) a lot of mates there, it was a great experience as well to be in there. Really good.”

 

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

“Just more the defensive side of things. Defensive transitions, to get back and help the team out a bit more.”

 

Being in the Vic Metro hub, are you looking to break into the Under 18 side this year?

“Yes, definitely. I’ll try my best.”

 

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

Reef McInnes, Josh Clarke, Will Phillips and all them, they’re good kids.”

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 12 – Chargers gain on top three

ONLY one side managed to score more than eight goals in Round 12 of the 2019 NAB League season, with Oakleigh Chargers among the big winners having knocked off Sandringham en route to equal third. Ladder leader, Eastern remained a game clear with a win in its split fixture against Tasmania two weeks earlier, while Northern enjoyed the bye.

The round’s first game promised to be a corker, as Sandringham hosted a climbing Oakleigh side at Trevor Barker Oval. While neither side was at full strength, there were some notable top-agers in action and a raft of bottom-agers ready to prove their worth in the highly-anticipated contest. Oakleigh would overcome a half time deficit in the end to run out 18-point winners on the road, as the Dragons posted 1.8 in the final term.

Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was one of three Chargers to boot multiple goals, notching a game-high three from 10 disposals. Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith was joined by Oakleigh bottom-ager Reef McInnes as the leading ball winners, racking up 23 touches each with added time around the contest.

Heading into Saturday afternoon, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV)  got back on the winners list after a tight loss the round before, more than doubling Dandenong’s score to finish 28-point winners on the road. The Rebels were only behind at the first break, but fought back well at the scoring end to pile on five goals in the next term and set up a game-defining lead. A mere collective three goals were added in a lacklustre second half.

Mitch Martin and Harry Sharp led the scoring stakes with two goals each for the winners, as Martin played a particularly influential role. A pair of Stingrays, Jack Toner and Clayton Gay had the most ball though with 25 and 24 disposals respectively, while Mitchell Burgess was the sole Rebel to tick over 20 touches on the day.

Only 15 minutes later that same afternoon in Echuca, Murray got the better of Bendigo in another low-scoring slog. The Bushrangers were remarkably held goalless for the entire first half, and booted over two goals worth of behinds before finally finding the big sticks in term three. Their final effort of 3.22 was enough to carry them to a 10-point victory, despite Bendigo managing one more major.

Five Bushrangers kicked multiple behinds, with leading ball winners Jye Chalcraft (33 disposals, 0.3) and Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals, 1.4) among the main culprits, while Charlie Byrne provided a refreshing sense of accuracy to boot two-straight goals from his 18 touches. James Schischka saw most of the ball for Bendigo with 28 touches from defence, with Noah Walsh the next best on 23.

Gippsland survived a scare over as part of the Shepley Oval double-header, made to work for its four-point win over the languishing Geelong Falcons via an incredible final term comeback. The Falcons started strongly and led at all of the first three breaks to boast a 27-point buffer heading into the final term. But the Power would enact a 31-point turnaround in the final 25 minutes, piling on six goals after managing just two beforehand to sneak over the line. Zach Reid was the hero as he swung forward for the winning goal.

A bottom-aged Sam Berry was also a key player in the comeback, finishing with three goals from 20 disposals via the engine room as Gippsland’s leading ball winner alongside Leo Connolly. Chas Karpala managed the same feat for Geelong with a game-high 22 touches, followed closely by Charlie Lazzaro. 2020 Falcons co-captain Gennaro Bove also stood up with two goals.

The sole Sunday fixture saw two top eight Metro sides battle it out at Highgate Reserve, with Calder coming out a 22-point victor over Western – again, doubling its opponent’s total. The scoreboard at the first break looked like that of a soccer game as Calder led 4-3, with Sam Paea‘s second term goal the only one come half time. Eddie Ford booted Western’s first after the break, but the Cannons were too strong and kicked away comfortably.

Mason Fletcher booted a third of the winners’ six goals as the lone multiple goalkicker, with six others finding the big sticks overall. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay led all comers with 31 disposals as teammates Curtis Brown and Harrison Minton-Connell had 29 and 27 respectively. Daly Andrews managed 25 touches for Western, with Ford’s goal coming from a serviceable 21 disposals.

In a standalone fixture two weeks earlier, Eastern travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in an entertaining clash. The home side, not in a great vein of form, started strongly and matched it with Eastern for all of three quarters, but the eventual minor premier would skip away at the end, breaking to a 22-point victory on enemy territory.

Devils bigman Jackson Callow had a dominant first half, finishing with 4.3 from 14 disposals as the clear-best forward afield. Jamieson Rossiter (two goals) was a threat up the other end, while the trio of Mitch Mellis (33 disposals), Zak Pretty (23) and Lachlan Stapleton went to work in the engine room. Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania with 23 touches as the bottom-agers once again led the way.

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

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

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

PLAYER PAGE:

Reef McInnes

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

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

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

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

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Did not test.

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Star Game

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

2019 Under 17 Futures vs. Queensland

By: Michael Alvaro 

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

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

2019 NAB League Round 16 vs. Western

By: Peter Williams

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

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

2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Geelong

By: Joe Lee

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

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Archie Perkins

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

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

Allies:
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Metro Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place.

RULES:

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

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, but all players look likely to be available. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

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

DEFENCE

FB – Cody Raak (Western), Cody Brand (Calder), Wil Parker (Eastern)
HB – Joshua Clarke (Eastern), Nikolas Cox (Northern), Connor Downie (Eastern)

There’s a real Eastern Ranges flavour to the back six, with regional skipper and Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie a potential leadership candidate. Athletic Northern utility Nikolas Cox is another NAB League captain in line for those honours, and the two are joined across half-back by Josh Clarke.

The forward penetration Clarke and Downie provide makes for an exciting proposition, though Downie may well find his way up onto a wing or into the midfield in the final squad. The third Eastern product of the defence, Wil Parker can also add value on the rebound, but joins Bulldogs NGA candidate Cody Raak as a capable intercept marker inside defensive 50.

Essendon-aligned hopeful Cody Brand looks set to lock down a role at full back, making for a fairly sturdy last line. The combination of aerial threat and attacking ball use among the six bodes well for Metro, and should set the side up nicely.

MIDFIELD

C – Jake Bowey (Sandringham), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh), Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh)
FOL – Max Heath (Sandringham), Will Phillips (Oakleigh), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh)

If there was an Eastern feel to the defence, then the midfield is all-Oakleigh. Following on with the NGA theme too is Collingwood academy member Reef McInnes, who takes up a spot in the centre with eyes on fulfilling a more midfield-oriented role in 2020.

The familiar faces of Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae look set to join him at the centre bounces, as smaller outlets who can find plenty of the ball. On the outer, we’ve opted for a small combination with the 174cm Jake Bowey on one side, and 177cm Lochlan Jenkins on the opposite.

Should the Metro coaches opt for more grunt through the middle, the likes of Downie and explosive Sandringham product Archie Perkins could add some extra power, though the chosen core should have little trouble finding the ball. Max Heath is the chosen ruck, one of the few pure talls among the ranks at the moment.

FORWARD

HF – Archie Perkins (Sandringham), Liam McMahon (Northern), Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh)
FF – Jackson Cardillo (Calder), Ollie Lord (Sandringham), Eddie Ford (Western)

Akin to last year’s squad, the forwardline is one of the weaker areas of the squad – not for a lack of talent, but due to the lack of a pure small forward. The likes of Perkins, Bailey Laurie, Jackson Cardillo, and Eddie Ford all pack dynamism, speed, and smarts, but fall into the category of midfielder/forwards.

This forward bunch should also have no troubles in competing aerially, with the high-marking prowess of Perkins and Ford aided by vertically apt key position prospects Liam McMahon and Ollie Lord. Though at 193cm and 195cm respectively, the pair falls a touch short of traditional key position height, so may prove less impactful against some of the bulkier defenders one-on-one.

Within the starting lineup, Cox is also able to swing forward if needed, while Heath may well earn a rest up there in between his ruck duties. In terms of mid-sizers, Macrae and McInnes spent plenty of time forward for Oakleigh in 2019, while Downie is another who can find the goals.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Jack Diedrich (Eastern), Conor Stone (Oakleigh), Luke Cleary (Sandringham), Josh Eyre (Calder)

The interchange bench sees two remaining top-age Academy Hub members named, incidentally also providing good depth down the spine. Eastern’s Jack Diedrich and Calder’s Josh Eyre can play in key position posts, with Diedrich adding ruck depth and Eyre a more dynamic option around the ground.

Conor Stone could fill the traditional medium-forward void given his promising form in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, while Sandringham defender Luke Cleary is one of the few non-Academy choices, though his Under 17 experience and squad balance earns him a look-in.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

There are plenty of top-agers who will fancy their chances of cracking into the final squad, but there will always be the unlucky few who don’t. The beauty of having a carnival with multiple games means there is always room for rotation, so plenty of prospects should get their opportunity.

Under 16 representative Darby Hipwell was stiff to miss the Academy cut-off, and provide some great midfield depth. Oakleigh’s Fraser Elliot is a big-bodied mid who could also sneak in, but that midfield is hard to crack.

In terms of smaller options at either end, Lucas Failli could be the small forward Metro is searching for, with the agile 170cm Western product already boasting Under 16 and 17 representative honours.

Northern co-captain Ewan Macpherson skippered the Under 16 Metro side in 2018, and may be another small option. The potential Bulldogs father-son choice would fit in as a defender after his work for the Knights in 2019, though he is set on more midfield minutes in 2020. His Knights teammates Josh Watson, and fellow Under 16 rep Jaden Collins are others who are thereabouts.

Speaking of father-sons, Carlton may want to get a look at Charlie McKay (son of Andy, 244 games), who has impressed during preseason and provides a big body on each line.

Dragons pair Fraser Rosman and Lachlan Carrigan are others who may fly under the radar and into the side, along with raw Calder duo Jack Keeping and Matthew Allison. There are of course two more Academy members – Campbell Edwardes, and Sam Tucker – who could enter the fray, but are unlucky to miss our sides.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Having taken out the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, Metro has the luxury being able to top up its squad with a raft of capable bottom-age talents. MVP Tyler Sonsie is arguably the best of the lot, and could well find his way into the starting 18 on a wing or up forward.

Sonsie’s Eastern teammate Jake Soligo is another who may rise the ranks alongside him, while Vic Metro Under 16 squad member Lachlan Rankin is another handy outside type in the mix.

Sandringham dasher Josh Sinn is another who is capable of settling into the starting side, perhaps at half-back despite his midfield prowess. Potentially filling out the flanks is Nick Daicos, whose selection in the Academy Hub in his first year through the pathways speaking volume of his talent.

Twin talls Dante Visentini and Alex Lukic would provide key position depth up either end under normal circumstances, with Lukic the Under 16 All Australian centre half-forward. Others to gain that honour and Academy selection were Blake Howes, Youseph Dib, Lachlan Brooks, and Braden Andrews, who could all fill roles around the ground.

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

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

FB – Cody Raak, Cody Brand, Wil Parker
HB – Joshua Clarke, Nikolas Cox, Josh Sinn
C – Jake Bowey, Connor Downie, Finlay Macrae
HF – Archie Perkins, Liam McMahon, Bailey Laurie
FF – Tyler Sonsie, Ollie Lord, Eddie Ford
FOL – Max Heath, Will Phillips, Reef McInnes
INT – Felix Flockart, Lochlan Jenkins, Conor Stone, Jackson Cardillo

EMG
– Luke Cleary, Nick Daicos, Josh Eyre

Marquee Matchups: Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes

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.

A couple of academy hopefuls make up our next pair under review, with Cairns native Alex Davies tied to the Gold Coast SUNS, while Reef McInnes is the latest Oakleigh Charger connected to Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy (NGA). The two are virtually identical in size and have already played in opposing sides thrice across three different competitions, providing a decent data sample to this point. Neither player was able to participate in preseason testing due to injury niggles, but are raring to go should they be called upon.

Davies has long been one of Queensland’s hottest draft prospects, and is certainly now the SUNS’ most prominent academy member. The 191cm inside midfielder provides a big body at the stoppages, dominating the clearance stakes with his clean hands, strength, and poise in congestion. He has often been Queensland’s best player during representative duties to date, earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level and impressing last year in the Under 17 competition. Experience in the NAB League also bodes well for Davies, as he helped the SUNS take out the Academy Series in 2019.

His adversary, McInnes has plenty of similar attributes as an inside midfielder, but was forced to play up forward for Oakleigh for much of 2019 given the Chargers’ phenomenal midfield crop. The 192cm mover managed to take full advantage of his limited time in the engine room though, showcasing his ability to find plenty of ball as he also does for Scotch College in school football. McInnes also possesses terrific athleticism for his size, allowing him to come away cleanly from stoppage situations and get his side moving forward. Having played in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, he is also well versed in big games.

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

Alex Davies
Gold Coast/Allies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy

DOB: March 18, 2002

Height: 191.2cm
Weight: 84.6kg

Position: Inside midfielder

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Collingwood NGA

DOB: December 12, 2002

Height: 192.1cm
Weight: 83.8kg

Position: Inside midfielder/forward

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Davies:

4 games
18 disposals (49.3% contested possessions)
2.8 marks
3.5 tackles
3.8 clearances
2.8 inside 50s
1.3 rebound 50s
0.3 goals (1)

McInnes:

12 games
14.7 disposals (36% contested possessions)
3.9 marks
3.1 tackles
1.6 clearances
1.6 inside 50s
1.6 rebound 50s
0.5 goals (6)

There is often only so much you can read into statistics, and this is somewhat the case with either player here. While Davies’ sample size in the NAB League is three-times smaller than McInnes’, his key stats arguably better reflect his overall game as an inside type. The Queenslander’s 49 per cent contested ball rate, 3.8 clearances, and 3.5 tackles are indicative of his stoppage dominance, while his average of 2.8 inside 50s come from long roosts out of congestion. Over half (9.8) of Davies’ disposals across the four games were handballs though, further reflecting his distributive role.

McInnes’ key stats over 12 games are products of his varying roles in the competition as a bottom-ager, having been pushed out to the flanks given Oakleigh’s stacked squad. Still, McInnes managed three games of over 23 disposals with a high of 29 when utilised through midfield, and made good of his chances in the side nonetheless. McInnes’ deceptive athleticism also comes through in his average 3.9 marks and low contested possession rate, as he showed he could gain separation from his direct opponent in the forward half, while also proving strong one-on-one inside 50. From midfield, McInnes’ accumulation on the spread has arguably proven superior.

BEST GAME

Davies:

NAB League Rd 4 vs. Oakleigh

16 disposals
5 marks
6 tackles
1 clearance
3 inside 50s
1 goal

McInnes:

NAB League Rd 13 vs. Geelong

29 disposals
5 marks
7 tackles
4 clearances
5 inside 50s
2 goals

Either players’ best games display similar upside in their efforts, with two-way work rate, the ability to find the ball, and scoreboard impact all evident across the two performances. Davies’ disposal count may be a touch low at 16, but his well-rounded outing against McInnes and Oakleigh in last year’s NAB League beat out his two 22-disposal efforts. He worked around the ground well to notch six marks, while using his physical presence to also have a say on the defensive side of the stoppages.

McInnes had a blinder against Geelong during the middle of the season, racking up big numbers throughout a rare midfield berth. A game-high 29 touches featured four clearances, five inside 50s, and two goals, with the Chargers’ defensive work also notable as he laid seven tackles. McInnes’ 28 disposals against Western in his next NAB League appearance was a close second, but his goals against Geelong showcase the versatility in his game. Again, the accumulation factor looks good for McInnes in these instances.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

2019 NAB League Rd 4
Gold Coast 14.11 (95) def. Oakleigh 3.6 (24) @ Southport

Davies:

16 disposals
5 marks
6 tackles
3 inside 50s
1 goal

McInnes:

13 disposals
3 marks
1 clearance
3 rebound 50s

2019 Under 17 Futures
Vic Metro 10.11 (71) def. Queensland 6.7 (43) @ Ikon Park

Davies:

15 disposals
3 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
1 inside 50

McInnes:

24 disposals
3 marks
9 tackles
6 clearances
4 inside 50s
2 rebound 50s

The ledger after these two meetings looks reasonably square, with Davies having a greater say in their NAB League clash, while McInnes managed to get one back in their representative hitout. It is also worth noting that the pair also faced off in the Under 17s All Star fixture, with both prospects returning terrific performances.

Arguably the best game to look at is the Under 17 carnival clash, where McInnes’ Metro side trumped Davies’ Queenslanders on home turf. Reason being, both players were utilised in their natural inside midfield positions on that day and were easily in their sides’ best handful of players. Though he had nine less disposals, Davies nearly matched McInnes for clearances, but the Victorian was on a tear early with his impact around the ground.

Ironically, the game also worked to somewhat highlight their respective improvements to be made, which will be touched on further down the line.

STRENGTHS

Davies:

Contested ball
Clean hands
Distribution
Poise

McInnes:

Contested ball
Versatility
Strength
Agility

Given their similar position and ilk, the strengths of either player match up well. Both are fantastic in the contested ball stakes, able to use their size at the stoppages to burrow in and gain first use. But where Davies is superior with his clean hands and quick distribution, McInnes thrives with his repeated digs and ability to break away from congestion with either strength or agility.

Davies can be that clearance-first, or distributing midfielder – balancing his disposal by food and hand – while McInnes’ balance comes through in the sense that he can provide more of an outside presence to go with that ball-winning dominance.

IMPROVEMENTS

Davies:

Impact outside of the contest

McInnes:

Four-quarter consistency

As two high-end prospects with ideal athletic profiles and talent to boot, improvements are sometimes difficult to nail down. But there are a couple of areas to sharpen for either player, aimed at making them more complete midfielders.

Davies has said himself that getting to repeated contests and being on the move is an area he is improving on, with that impact outside of the contested situations theoretically allowing him to find more of the ball. While Davies is usually assured in possession, he can also blaze away at stoppages under pressure when a handball option does not present.

McInnes’ improvement comes from a desire to impact for four quarters, with his best football not always consistent throughout each game. Even in one of his best showings – against Queensland last year – McInnes started like a house on fire but faded towards the latter stages. Three NAB League outings of under 10 disposals also pertain to this point, and building a better tank through midfield could be a solution.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Davies:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early.

He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners.

He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

McInnes:

2019 Under 17 All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

Starting in midfield, McInnes proved he was more than an inside workhorse with his poise on the ball and sound decision making when hemmed in.

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

The Collingwood NGA hopeful went on to become influential up forward, finding separation on the lead and almost pulling in some strong marks.

It proved a shrewd move, as McInnes booted two goals; the first coming from a 50m penalty, and the second shortly after with a classy snap from the tightest of angles.

ACCOLADES

Davies:

2018 Under 16 All Australian
2019 Queensland Under 17 representative
2019 Australian Under 17 representative
2019 Under 17 All Star

McInnes:

2018 Vic Metro Under 16 representative
2019 Vic Metro Under 17 representative
2019 NAB League premiership player
2019 Under 17 All Star

FINAL WORD

There is not much to separate these two, who present as some of the finest inside midfield candidates for the 2020 AFL Draft. Both should come at a decent cost to their respective aligned clubs, though that often also works to push them down the pecking order come draft night.

McInnes’ work somewhat out of position to this point has been a blessing in disguise, adding versatility and a greater ability to impact around the ground to his well-rounded midfield game.

Davies is one of this year’s best contested ball winners though, and is rarely beaten in those stakes. While he can always work on adding strings to his bow, specialists are often hard to come by and many have been impressed by his kicking on the outer nonetheless.

We can only hope these two are able to get on the park this year to battle it out once again, potentially as direct opponents during either the NAB League or National Championships.

Gold Coast and Collingwood fans, rejoice.

Features:

For more on these two draft prospects, follow the links below.

Get to know Alex Davies
Reef McInnes Q&A

 

Marquee Matchups:

For more Marquee Matchups, follow the links below.

Sam Berry vs. Zavier Maher
Jackson Callow vs. Cameron Fleeton
Nikolas Cox vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Q&A: Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

The well-built inside midfielder/forward is also part of Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy (NGA), setting him up well to follow in the footsteps of graduates Isaac Quaynor and Atu Bosenavulagi as examples of the programs’ success, and the connection between Oakleigh and Collingwood.

While he was forced forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ stacked midfield options, McInnes is primed to use all of his 192cm frame back among the engine room this season should he get on the park. A stress reaction in his back was the only blight on his pre-season, with the youngster raring to go should football make a return.

Having stepped out on Grand Final day for the Under-17 Futures All-Star showcase, and played a part in Oakleigh’s premiership side, McInnes is already well versed in performing when it counts and looks likely to be a key figure for each side he suits up for in 2020.

Q&A:

MA: Reef, it looks like you’re sitting out the testing today, what have you picked up?

RM: “Yeah, unfortunately I’m not testing today, obviously it’s still just my back issue. “I’m fully healed now which is good to see but just not really risking it today with Round 1 coming up. It’s unfortunate.”

Other than the stress reaction, have you come up pretty well in the pre-season?

“Yeah. I got diagnosed with the stress fracture a couple of months ago but now since being put through the rehab it’s healed and (feels) a lot better which is beneficial for me so I’m looking forward to it.”

You were really impressive in your bottom-age season, what kind of a base has that given you now for your top-age year?

“I really enjoyed my bottom-age year. “Just being around some of the big names who got drafted last year. It’s just been a good experience being able to have that opportunity, and going through different programs like Vic Metro. “I’m just excited to see how the year goes and what’s ahead for me.”

With the stacked engine room last year, you got pushed out to the flanks – are you looking forward to getting back into a midfield role?

“I’d love to. “Midfield I think is my best position but honestly, wherever the team needs me I guess, I’m happy to play there. “But obviously midfield, I’d love that.”

It must be great to have some mentors like Isaac Quaynor at the Collingwood Next Generation Academy?

“It’s been awesome. “Just being able to associate with a couple of the coaches there, to have that experience to train with the AFL club and all that has been awesome. “Especially Isaac, knowing him personally as a mate of mine, he’s been able to guide me through and it’s been really beneficial. “Same with people like Will Kelly, those sort of boys it’s been really helpful for me just being around them.”

Does it help you set up some goals now being around those guys at the next level?

“Yeah, it’s been awesome. “Just to see my mates get to where their goals have taken them, hopefully one day that’s me but obviously I’ve got to keep working.”

What are some of those goals you’re setting up now?

“Obviously I’d love to play in the (national) carnival, to have a good shot at that would be awesome. “But obviously AFL’s the goal in the end for most of us boys who are here so if that happens, that’s awesome. “But if not, then I’ll keep working.”

Classic Contests: Flanders’ first half magic fails to halt Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides locked horns in a classic qualifying final at Ikon Park.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

NAB League Qualifying Final | Sunday September 1, 2019
Ikon Park, 1:30pm

Draftees in action:

Gippsland – Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Oakleigh – Nick Bryan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh finished the NAB League regular season just one game adrift from top spot at 11-4, enough to see them earn a week’s rest come wildcard round. They would meet in the qualifying final, the last fixture of the competition’s first post-season weekend, and produce an instant classic full of momentum swings.

Oakleigh boasted the would-be first and second picks of the 2019 draft, but the Power had a greater number of draftees on the park in this bout led by Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The key absence of skipper Brock Smith would prove vital though, with a certain bottom-aged Oakleigh star having a big impact on the game.

The Chargers stormed out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term, spearheaded by in-form forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at what proved to be the scoring end. Needing a spark at 23 points down in the first 15 minutes, the Power turned to Serong who provided a lift with his aggression from midfield.

But it was Trent Baldi who would have an even bigger say with his scoreboard impact, slamming home consecutive majors to keep Gippsland in touch. An opportunistic Reef McInnes goal late hurt the Power though, especially given they had kept Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell relatively quiet to that point. It would have to last.

The second period of play would belong to Flanders, who stole the show with one of the greatest 10-minute patches of elite junior football in history. Pushing forward, the dynamic first round draftee showed up his new Gold Coast teammates on the opposing side with four consecutive goals from over 10 touches to break the game open.

On a day where scoring was hard to come by, Flanders’ feats helped the Power pile on nine of the last 10 goals to claim a 23-point lead at the main break. The seven-goal term also went unanswered up the other end as the usually potent Oakleigh side would require a big lift come the second half with much of its bottom-age brigade standing up to that point.

Keeping with the ebb and flow of the contest, it was Oakleigh’s turn to get on top in the third stanza, but their four goals to two was not enough to reclaim the lead. But having created more clear-cut chances, the Chargers drew back to within single digits to give themselves a sniff heading into the final change, albeit if they had spurned a couple of chances to further cut the deficit.

Ugle-Hagan converted a third major early in the fourth quarter as the heavens opened, turning the game into an all-out slog. With goals hard to come by, Riley Baldi‘s major to push the margin out to over a kick looked a big one, but Oakleigh found avenues to the big sticks when they needed them as skipper Trent Bianco sunk a long bomb, and Nick Stathopoulos booted a screamer to seal the come-from-behind win.

Proving impossible to keep down, Rowell and Anderson led the disposal count among two others to lead the Oakleigh’s charge. Bottom-age jet Will Phillips also had 29 touches and added a goal for the winners, while Serong managed the same feat in a valiant effort for Gippsland. Flanders would finish with 27 disposals to go with his four second quarter goals, while St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly also hit the scoreboard from 23 touches.

Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade proved somewhat of a difference aside from the heavyweight battle through midfield, with the likes of Finlay Macrae, Bailey Laurie, and Ugle-Hagan producing the goods early on. Under the leadership of Bianco (24 disposals, one goal), they proved they were not just there to simply fill the numbers.

The Chargers would go on to claim a dominant grand final win over Eastern after comfortably accounting for Sandringham in the preliminary final stage, while Gippsland were done-over by the Ranges at the same mark after overcoming Western in the semi-finals. With a wealth of draftees coming from either side, they were two of the premier clubs of the competition and stand to have a great impact come draft time in 2020 as well.