Tag: rhett bazzo

2021 West Australian Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 West Australian Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with 33 players making the cut to represent their state at the upcoming National Championships. Selected to compete in games against South Australia (July 31) and the Allies (August 7), the squad features players ranging from their 19th year, to a gun 16-year-old who is also among the state’s Under 17 set-up.

The Black Ducks promise to be competitive at this year’s carnival, boasting a strong core of versatile key position prospects and dynamic midfield mix. AFL Academy members Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts), Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont), and Jack Williams (East Fremantle) are among the best talls available in this year’s draft crop, while Subiaco pair Matthew Johnson and Neil Erasmus are set to wax in midfield having also represented the national Under 19 Academy.

Fans of AFL clubs will also have specific players to keep an eye on, with father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects littered through the side. Exciting small forward/midfielder Jesse Motlop (son of Daniel) comes under Fremantle’s academy umbrella, while explosive East Perth mover Ethan Regan is one for Eagles. Melbourne also has a father-son in the mix, with Taj Woewodin (son of Shane) a promising midfield option.

East Fremantle produced the most members (eight) this time around, as the WAFL club continues to prove a strong breeding ground for draft eligible talent. East Perth is the next best with six players involved, including Regan and leading Colts goalkicker Jye Amiss (25 goals). There is plenty of competition for spots up forward, with swingman Bazzo likely to revert to a defensive post along with versatile 19-year-old Jaiden Hunter (Perth).

Hunter is one of a few top-agers to have earned League berths in 2021 after being overlooked at last year’s draft, with Perth teammate Jack Avery in that same boat, alongside midfielder-turned-defender Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle) and ruckman Jake South (Subiaco). Meanwhile, 18th-year talents van Rooyen and Johnson also broke through for their senior debuts before returning to the Colts grade.

After hitouts against South Australia and the Allies, WA is scheduled to take on Vic Country and Vic Metro in Victoria on September 24 and 29, to round out the National Championships.

Below is a preview of how the West Australian team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad.

FB: Jack Avery (P) – Rhett Bazzo (SD) – Finn Gorringe (EF)
HB: Jed Hagan (EF) – Jaiden Hunter (P) – Judd McVee (EF)
C: Corey Warner (EF) – Matthew Johnson (S) – Max Chipper (SD)
HF: Ethan Regan (EP) – Jacob van Rooyen (C) – Neil Erasmus (S)
FF: Jye Amiss (EP) – Jack Williams (EF) – Jesse Motlop (SF)
FOL: Jake South (S) – Josh Browne (EF) – Kade Dittmar (EP)

INT: Zac Fleiner (WP), Kaden Harbour (EP), Brady Hough (PT), Lochlan Paton (WP), Luke Polson (PT), James Tunstill (EP)

EMG: Oscar Armstrong (EP), Eric Benning (C), Ed Curley (EF), Richard Farmer (S), Jarrod McIlvinney (PT), Angus Sheldrick (C), Jahmal Stretch (C), Bryce Watson (SD), Taj Woewodin (EF)

FULL SQUAD:

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

Draft Central Power Rankings: June 2021

POWER Rankings are back. Draft Central’s first edition for 2021 features 25 of the nation’s best AFL Draft prospects, with plenty of football already played and the best yet to come. This year’s crop already shapes as being much different to that of 2020, as many more midfielders dominate the pointy end and a far more open pool sees only four of our selected group already tied to clubs. The race for number one honours is also heating up, currently down to two very worthy contenders. Find out who takes out the top gong and which prospects are on the rise in our June Power Rankings.

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

#1 Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as consistent scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne retains his crown midway through the year. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Still yet to turn 18, Horne boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him awarded with number one status in our eyes.

Season so far:

Horne has hardly missed a beat at SANFL League level for South Adelaide, turning in a consistent level of performance across his seven outings thus far. With added time spent at the centre bounces, he is finding more of the ball and averages a tick over 15 touches per game, including 2.9 clearances and 3.7 inside 50s. Horne has also found the goals in four of those appearances, making the most of his time inside attacking 50 as well. The 17-year-old’s form was good enough to warrant selection in the initial South Australian state squad, though he did not quite make the final cut. He also featured for the AFL Academy against Geelong VFL, proving a key figure in midfield with his attacking intent and maturity on the ball.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

#2 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to dominant displays.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a deeply talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. Daicos is banging down Horne’s door and may well break through as he continues to put runs on the board, in dominant fashion.

Season so far:

Daicos’ figures so far in 2021 are nothing short of remarkable. He leads the NAB League for disposals (average 35.5), kicks (22.3) and goals (nine total) having arguably been the best player afield in all four of his outings to this point. The 18-year-old has increased his disposal output with each passing game as a mainstay in Oakleigh’s midfield, though he has also rested forward at times and is capable of accumulating off half-back. Some of that forward time is down to management, as Daicos suffered a corked thigh in Round 1 and was held back from a VFL debut during the NAB League hiatus. He did turn out for the AFL Academy though, skippering the side and again proving the best among his peers.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3

#3 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to kick goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s best has been exceptional thus far. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Season so far:

Sonsie made a hot start to the season as Draft Central’s Round 1 NAB League Player of the Week. He hit the ground running with 34 disposals and two goals, proving damaging when on top. Across four NAB League outings this year, the 18-year-old has snared five goals from an average of 25 disposals and while he has not always been the best player afield, his class shone through in promising patches. Sonsie also represented Box Hill in the VFL, showing good signs in his state league debut with 24 touches and two well-finished goals, warming to the level steadily. His best has been great to watch, hence his current ranking, but sustaining that impact and doing it both ways is the next step.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#4 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top five of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a sound model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches the said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Season so far:

Starting in the SANFL Under 18s, Roberts put up outstanding numbers across his first three outings. As a key fixture in midfield, he averaged 32 disposals, 6.3 clearances, 7.7 inside 50s, and a tick under two goals per game to earn a richly deserved League call-up. He made a steady start to life in the top flight, ushered in via the front six for two games, averaging 9.5 disposals. School football then came calling, with Roberts captaining the St Peter’s First XVIII and proving one of the more productive campaigners of that competition.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

#5 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Half-Back/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the best technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside of late to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looks poised to return soon and play out a full season in the NAB League.

Season so far:

Sinn’s figures read as consistently as anyone across three NAB League appearances, with the 18-year-old gathering 20 touches in each. A kick-first type, he goes at around three-to-one in terms of ratio and has constantly looked to open games up via that method. While his efficiency has been hit and miss at times, Sinn’s intent and endeavour has been apparent in 2021. A steady start in Round 1 was capped off by a clutch goal late in the piece as Sandringham got up over Oakleigh, with the Dragons coaching staff pulling the trigger early on his midfield release. In Round 3, he was utilised there permanently and registered a whopping 10 inside 50s. He copped a stud to the calf and sat out the late stages of that game, but has been sidelined to this point with a hamstring strain sustained while training with the AFL Academy. The current Victorian lockdown may be a blessing in disguise for Sinn, who should return once the competition recommences.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

#6 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Wing
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A second Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has the potential to crack Sandringham’s stacked midfield and showcase his balance, though he will be seen moreso in the APS Football competition towards the middle and back-end of the year.

Season so far:

Chesser has featured in just two NAB League games for Sandringham thus far, with a knee complaint seeing him miss the Dragons’ Round 4 clash with Dandenong as well as the AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. He started slowly in his first hitout, but ended up playing a key role in the clutch moments to help lift his side to victory against Oakleigh, winning 23 disposals and five inside 50s. He was less prolific the following week in soggy conditions against Northern, booting a goal from 13 touches on the wing. While he hangs back well for handball receives on the outer, Chesser also showed he can dig in to win his own ball in those fixtures.

#7 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is the premier tall midfielder in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean hands around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Season so far:

Having been pegged for a League berth in Round 1, Johnson shook off injury to start his season through the Colts in Round 2. His output proved steady, averaging 17.5 touches and a goal per those outings before a promising display for the AFL Academy saw him finally crack the senior level upon his return to Subiaco. He only averaged 6.7 touches in his first three top flight outings, before regaining some ball winning form with 21 and nine tackles back at Colts level. His best has been shown in patches thus far, but his ceiling remains quite high. Dominating in midfield with higher numbers and translating his form to senior grades will be the next step.

#8 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

Snapshot: A lively forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Season so far:

In two games so far for the Murray Bushrangers, Rachele was able to show his blend on midfield and forward craft. Against Bendigo in Round 2, he spent more time in the engine room and snared 1.3 from 19 disposals, before coming to life as a more permanent forward in the next game against Geelong Falcons. Rachele’s special finishing ability was on full show as he snared four majors in the Bushies’ big win, running amok inside attacking 50. He copped a head knock in that game and was rested the next week after spending time training with Carlton.

#9 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

Snapshot: Williams is an athletic and versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals while rotating through the ruck, or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams is the first genuine tall to appear on our list. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 19 goals in six WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Season so far:

Williams has found the big sticks in each of his six WAFL Colts games this season, booting multiple majors in five of them with two bags of four and one five-goal haul the standout performances. He is yet to drop below 13 disposals and has stayed relevant in each game with his impact up the ground, proving a viable marking target with an average of six clunks per outing. While that marking prowess was tested against senior bodies in the Academy game, Williams’ rate of development is calling for a senior berth some time in the future.

#10 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 contention.

From one terrific marking player to the next, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture.

Season so far:

Gibcus has performed exceptionally well across four NAB League outings in 2021, maintaining a high standard and consistently bringing his superpowers to the fore. He has averaged 15.3 disposals, 6.3 marks, and five rebound 50s as a permanent defender for the Rebels, sometimes acting as the floating player back there and even moving onto dangerous marking targets. The 18-year-old looked well up to scratch in his appearance for the AFL Academy, taking on the kick-in duties at times and showing glimpses of his usual best.

#11 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Wing/Half-Back
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to end up in the top 10, and potentially top five come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back is difficult to stop at full flight, with his blend of straight line power and swift agility proving difficult to combat. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, but recently showcased his potential on the inside as the Dragons shifted their magnets.

Season so far:

Starting as a half-back who would roll up to the wing, Callaghan built on the promise he showed during preseason and at training in years gone by with a terrific NAB League debut. He gathered 19 disposals against Oakleigh and looked ominous, with his Round 4 and 5 performances cementing his top 10 potential. Callaghan booted a goal from 24 disposals against Dandenong, before shifting to the inside against Western to rack up a high of 31 touches. While he has played in midfield at school football level, that confirmation of his inside/outside balance rose his ceiling even further. He also built into the AFL Academy game, showing some dash on the outside.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

#12 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading academy talent.

Our top-ranked Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is quite clearly the best prospect out of the Northern Academies and a real first round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in the AFL Academy showcase.

Season so far:

Fahey confirmed his potential with a terrific showing for the AFL Academy against Geelong VFL in April, collecting 23 disposals and booting forward nine rebound 50s to take out the Presidents Medal. He was a vocal member of the defence in that game and showcased his leadership qualities, as one of the junior prospects who looked most invested in the contest. Fahey has also turned out for the GIANTS’ VFL side, making a steady debut with nine touches in Round 1 before managing 24 in Round 5 against Richmond. As expected, 16 of them were kicks and he clunked six marks in a showing of his ability to be a safe outlet and intercept threat in defence.

#13 Jacob Van Rooyen
Claremont/Western Australia | Tall Forward
16/04/2003 | 194cm | 88kg

Snapshot: Van Rooyen is a tall forward who presents well with strong hands overhead and a booming kick, but has also shown potential to move further afield.

Pegged as Western Australia’s best draft prospect and potentially the leading tall coming into the year, Van Rooyen continues to impress in 2021. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in last year’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis has halted his progress a touch, but Van Rooyen started out the season at League level and is pressing for a return after great form in the WAFL Colts.

Season so far:

Van Rooyen started his senior career in style, booting two goals from 12 disposals and four marks, before being held goalless in a couple of quieter outings. He was rested upon his glandular fever diagnosis, and eased back into action through the Colts grade. There, he regained his goalkicking form with three majors in managed gametime, before returning his best performance to date with 24 disposals, six marks and another three goals in Round 8 against East Perth. The 194cm prospect also got a run through midfield late in that game, having shown nice mobility in his movement up the ground and back towards goal.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

#14 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching athletic traits and plenty of upside.

Another prospect out of Subiaco who played in last year’s WAFL Colts premiership, Erasmus has built on his potential this year having come in as a potential first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 Grand Final, showcasing great speed and clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this season, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with that scoreboard impact also in his back pocket.

Season so far:

Mixing his time between the WAFL Colts and PSA competitions in Western Australia, Erasmus has been a standout through midfield. He averages bang on 28 disposals for the Lions across four games so far, incredibly with a high of 29 and low of 27. He has also taken almost eight marks per game and has been able to sustain his impact, while having the potential to burst to life at any given moment. Erasmus was also terrific for the AFL Academy as a medium forward, serving a reminder of his aerial skills and looking to have improved his disposal by foot – a growth area – as the game wore on.

#15 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Defender/Forward/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 197cm | 73kg

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing, but raw tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball well.

The apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top 15 pick made on potential, with that versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy has impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck in the NAB League, but has also had an eye-catching forward foray at school football level. Bulldogs fans, you have another on the radar.

Season so far:

Darcy made his NAB League debut in Round 3 against Eastern Ranges, immediately exceeding expectations in tricky conditions for a tall. He looked impressive with his leap in the ruck and down back, earning a steady 13 disposals and seven hitouts for the day. His stocks continued to rise in Round 4, as that marking prowess came into play against the Western Jets. Darcy clunked nine grabs and had 21 disposals, again as a key defender who pinch-hit in the ruck. He then ventured into the school football realm with Scotch College, translating his form to a forward role where he picked up a bag of five goals in one game, and continued to stand out as a dominant key position talent.

#16 Rhett Bazzo
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Tall Defender/Forward
17/10/2003 | 195cm | 81kg

Snapshot: A key defender who has adjusted to a forward role in 2021, Bazzo is fantastic in his aerial judgement and clean with ball in hand.

One of Western Australia’s many promising key position prospects, Bazzo made his name as a defender but has since shifted forward. As he did in the AFL Academy showcase, the Swan Districts product may well revert back to that defence post during state representative duties, but looks just as suited to playing an attacking role with his sound marking and use of the ball. He is another who claimed Under 16 All Australian honours in 2019, making him a well known quantity and one with plenty of class. Bazzo has shown just that in three WAFL Colts games to this point, while also turning out Guildford Grammar in the PSA Football competition.

Season so far:

Bazzo has proven his swingman potential in 2021 by finding the goals in bunches at each level he has played. He snared four majors during a preseason hitout and went on to boot two in each of his opening two WAFL Colts games, before finding similar form for Guilford Grammar at school football level. He was kept quiet in his most recent Colts outing, having just eight touches and being held goalless, but was a solid figure down back for the AFL Academy. His judgement of the ball in flight and intercept marking quality was clear in that game, as always, but Bazzo continues to add strings to his bow.

#17 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively, and in a ball-winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner has not been able to fully show his wares in 2021 due to injury, but is one who could break back into top 10 contention with a clean run at it. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety 17-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and will be itching to get back onto the field.

Season so far:

Hobbs’s sole full appearance for the NAB League season came in his side’s opening fixture, against the Geelong Falcons. He was a constant in midfield and proved his ball winning ability, notching 22 touches and five inside 50s while also laying eight tackles. His Round 4 return game against the Murray Bushrangers was cut short, but Hobbs again started in midfield, as he will likely do all year.

#18 Cooper Murley
Norwood/South Australia | Midfielder
20/06/2003 | 178cm | 70kg

Snapshot: A stylish forward runner, Murley holds his own on both sides of the contest and loves to break into attack with speed and slick ball use on the fly.

Murley is an exciting player in full flight, able to break forward quickly with gut running and terrific speed from midfield. He dominated the SANFL Under 18s competition last year and was part of Norwood’s premiership-winning team, showcasing his undeniable talent and upside. In 2021, his progress has been halted by injury, though the 17-year-old has already earned a Reserves berth and remains one of South Australia’s brightest prospects. Having made his return last week, he could well be one to rise up the board with a consistent run of form.

Season so far:

Starting out at Reserves level, Murley adjusted to the more mature bodies steadily with 13 disposals across his first two outings. He is one who will likely use his clean skills and forward run on the outer at senior level, or even as a high half-forward given his knack for finding the goals. Injury meant he could only partially participate in AFL Academy training before missing out on the showcase game against Geelong VFL, but Murley made his return to the SANFL Reserves with 10 disposals in a heavy loss. Watch for his progress as the season wares on.

#19 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with speed, agility and the ability to fly high, Goater is a prospect with great potential.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing or pinch-hit up forward. He is another who stakes his claim on upside, and shares similar traits with Essendon draftee Archie Perkins.

Season so far:

Featuring in midfield for Calder straight off the bat, Goater returned a promising first-up performance with 22 disposals against Western in the season opener. He showcased his ability to hit the scoreboard in the next two NAB League games, while bringing a touch of composure to his midfield craft by shifting his focus to be more of a distributor by hand. He did so again after the break against Bendigo, again starting in the middle before switching out to the wing. Goater also got a taste of VFL action in May, turning out for Essendon in Round 5 and booting a goal among his seven touches.

#20 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in the SANFL Under 18s this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who may feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Seasons so far:

Draper has been super consistent across his seven SANFL Under 18 appearances, averaging 23 disposals and over six clearances per game. He has only dropped below 20 touches once with a high of 27, while finding the goals in all bar two of his outings for the Panthers. He has proven an apt receiver at the stoppages, able to burst away for clearances while also using his leap and smarts around goal to impact the scoreboard. Like Horne and Roberts, he could be one to climb the grades if he continues to post such numbers.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus

#21 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position type who has rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew will have Melbourne recruiters a little nervous with his performances to date. He sits just outside our current top 20 but has that kind of potential, with raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever-improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Season so far:

Eyes quickly turned to Andrew after he collected 22 disposals, three marks and 11 hitouts on his NAB League debut, before going on to prove it was no fluke by impressing across another three outings. He found himself spending more time forward against the Sandringham Dragons in Round 4 and kicked a goal, but has some development left in his decision making and disposal by foot at times. He boasts clean hands and was better aerially than his averages of three marks and 14.5 hitouts suggest. The same could be said about his game for the AFL Academy, where Andrew was tried up either end before excelling in the ruck during term four, throwing his 200cm frame into each centre bounce with a phenomenal vertical leap.

#22 Ned Long
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
5/02/2003 | 192cm | 88kg

Snapshot: Long is a tall midfielder who navigates the contest with great agility for his size, and can also find the goals when resting forward.

A midfielder in that desired 190cm-plus mould, Long moves well through congestion and often has no trouble getting his hands on the ball. He featured in the 2019 Vic Metro Under 16 squad and was already a good size back then, seeing him play two games for Northern as a 16-year-old. The 18-year-old is one of the many Knights with solid running capacity, which bodes well for extended midfield time despite being able to hit the scoreboard while resting forward or drop back to impact aerially. He will swap his time between the NAB League and APS Football competitions, also representing Melbourne Grammar.

Season so far:

Long made a terrific start to his 2021 campaign, managing 26 disposals, nine marks and three goals against the Western Jets. That dominant display was backed up by 15 touches and a goal against stiff opposition in Sandringham, though his effort to lay nine tackles suited the wet conditions at Preston City Oval. Long’s final NAB League appearance before the break saw him return to his best, impacting both around the ball and close to goal with 25 disposals and another haul of three goals against Gippsland Power. He has since moved on into the APS competition, with promise of a late-season return to NAB League action.

#23 Joshua Browne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 185cm | 77kg

Snapshot: An ultra-consistent midfielder who runs hard and finds plenty of the ball, Browne is one of the most in-form midfielders nationwide.

Browne is a player whose form has made him hard to deny for a spot in the top 25, with his ability to win big numbers at a remarkable rate making him one of the most consistent performers in the draft pool at the moment. He has built on a promising bottom-age campaign with East Fremantle to hit new heights in the WAFL Colts competition, competing with grunt at the contest and running hard to accumulate around the ground in relentless fashion. He is also quite solid defensively on the inside and is the type of player you want on your side, especially among the centre bounce mix.

Season so far:

While his season as a whole has been outstanding, Browne has hit a purple patch over his last three outings with an average of 36.7 disposals in that time. He hit his season high of 38 touches in Round 8, distributing well by hand on the inside and looking to drive his side forward from where it matters most. Overall, he has averaged 32.5 disposals across six Colts games in 2021, while also showing similar form in his state’s Under 19 trial game. He could well be in for a promotion and should be one of Western Australia’s most prominent figures at the national carnival.

#24 Lewis Rayson
Glenelg/South Australia | Half-Back/Midfielder
14/01/2003 | 181cm | 74kg

Snapshot: Rayson is a lightly-built small defender who sparks attacks on the rebound, with his accumulative factor boding well for more time in midfield.

A dashing half-back who loves to take the game on and can open it up by foot, Rayson has made a terrific start to his 2021 campaign. The 18-year-old is slowly filling out his light frame but is not afraid to win his own ball and compete aerially, making him more than your average running defender. He missed out on AFL Academy honours but was a lock for his state’s academy hub and will likely be a key feature for the Croweaters come National Championships time. Rayson is also being trialled in midfield, where his ball winning ways have continued.

Season so far:

Rayson has been a mainstay in Glenelg’s Under 18s setup, playing six games so far with averages of 30.2 disposals, 7.2 marks, and a combined 7.6 breaches of either arc. Typically a rebounder accustomed to working in space, Rayson has been able to win just as much of the ball on the inside and still looks to be an attacking threat out of the middle. He is still quite light though and is improving his contested game, adding a handy string to his bow which already features some desirable traits.

#25 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg

Snapshot: A tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Season so far:

Wilmot’s numbers so far this NAB League season have been wonderfully consistent, twice registering 15 touches, and twice having it 16 times. His rebounding power is evident with an average of over four per game, and his running bounce total would also be a handy stat to look at given how often he has taken the game on running out of the back half. Wilmot has also shown pretty clean disposal despite the speed at which he operates, proving more than just a one-trick pony across half-back.

IN THE MIX:

There are plenty of prospects vying for position across a very even group past the 20-mark, with near-on another 20 capable of filling those five spots out to number 25. Dandenong Stingrays pair Connor Macdonald and Miller Bergman are among them, with the former a medium midfielder who has started the year well, and the latter a true utility who can use his clean kicking and marking ability off half-back, or up forward.

Almost inevitably, Sandringham also has another couple of prospects around the mark, with 190cm marking forward/wingman Blake Howes a player with plenty of upside, and rising half-forward Luke Nankervis also proving his worth as a genuine prospect this season. Both are developing types who suit a range of roles, and are really excelling with their versatility.

Other NAB Leaguers in the mix include Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers) and Josh Ward (Northern Knights), who both have wonderful skills and are clean with ball in hand. Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels) is a half-back who has recently been moved up to the wing, impressing with his kicking and competitiveness. Speaking of, Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib has proven up to the rigours of senior football, turning out in the VFL and cracking in across multiple roles with his mature body. Sam Banks is the Tasmanian to watch, a smooth and classy half-back who is currently out with a broken wrist.

A strong South Australian crop is fronted by the likes of Nasiah Wanganeen and Jase Burgoyne. The latter is a Port Adelaide father-son who has made his League debut, but both have strong family ties to the elite level. Adelaide NGA prospect Isaiah Dudley is another in that boat, with the diminutive midfielder-forward showing his terrific skills upon returning this season. Sturt key forward Morgan Ferres could be another to monitor, having also earned a senior berth in 2021.

Of course, the form of North Adelaide midfielder Hugh Jackson is hard to ignore, with his clean skills and ball winning ability catching the eye. In a similar vein, the exploits of hard running Swan Districts midfielder Max Chipper have also been noted, along with Jackson’s Roosters teammate Blayne O’Loughlin. The latter is also an Adelaide NGA prospect and an AFL Academy representative.

2021 WAFL Colts: Round 6 weekend wrap

THE 2021 WAFL Colts season rolled on into Round 6 on the weekend, with the four fixtures split evenly across Saturday and Sunday. On the latter day at Leederville Oval, both games were decided by less than two goals as Subiaco took out a grand final rematch over Claremont, and East Perth strengthened its position atop the table. We recap all the action and highlight the outstanding players in our weekly wrap.

WEST PERTH 3.0 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 8.5 (53)
SWAN DISTRICTS 4.3 | 6.5 | 7.7 | 10.7 (67)

Swan Districts moved up to second on the WAFL Colts table with a 14-point win over West Perth on Saturday, with a pair of midfielders enjoying a day out for either side. Swans running machine Max Chipper racked up 34 disposals and booted three goals in a best afield performance, as Falcons jet Luke Reilly followed closely with 32 touches and two majors. The latter also laid 10 tackles, a feat matched by prolific Swans midfielder Benjamin Hewett.

Key defender-turned-forward Rhett Bazzo also made a rare outing for Swan Districts during the PSA season, but was held goalless by Nat Dimanlig. The West Perth utility was forced into an improvised defensive role for this clash, and came up trumps despite his side’s loss. Lochlan Paton proved another to stand up for the Falcons, notching 26 disposals while again finding the goals. Speaking of, Zarne Robis finished as West’s only other multiple goalkicker, as Swans’ Noah Hannan also booted two majors.

GOALS:

West Perth: L. Reilly 2, Z. Robis 2, L. Paton, D. Dixon, I. Demarte, T. Ross
Swan Districts: M. Chipper 3, N. Hannan 2, B. Jones, B. Fawcett, L. Taylor, T. Metcalf, D. Jones

PERTH 1.2 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 7.5 (47)
PEEL THUNDER 2.1 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 (66)

Peel Thunder came out on top in the battle of winless sides on Saturday, defeating Perth by 19 points at Mineral Resources Park. Top Peel draft prospect Luke Polson showed his versatility with a massive 28 disposals and six marks, while also booting a goal in the win. Teammate Bodie Kitchingham led all comers alongside Perth rebound machine Jack Avery, as both players notched over 20 kicks each in their 31-disposal performances.

Harry Quartermaine (five goals) and Deklyn Grocott (25 disposals, two goals) scrounged all of Perth’s major scores, proving integral as the Demons fought to stay in the contest. Brady Hough was Peel’s lone multiple goalkicker, snaring three from 23 touches as he showcased a high amount of class through midfield. Ethan Donaghy also ticked over 20 disposals and found the big sticks for Peel, as Menno Inverarity (22 disposals) continues to prove prolific for Perth.

GOALS:

Perth: H. Quartermaine 5, D. Grocott 2
Peel: B. Hough 3, K. Levitt, J. Klepzig, E. Donaghy, R. Vidovich, J. Edwards, C. Bourke, L. Polson

SUBIACO 1.3 | 6.4 | 11.5 | 11.7 (73)
CLAREMONT 4.2 | 7.3 | 8.5 | 10.7 (67)

Reigning premier Subiaco took out Sunday afternoon’s grand final rematch, holding on to knock off Claremont by six points in a thriller at Leederville Oval. The result sees the teams essentially switch places, with Subiaco sneaking into the top five and the Tigers sliding down to sixth. Jacob Evitt and Jed Kemp highlighted their ball winning strength, leading all comers with 28 disposals apiece as the former also snared two goals. Talon Delacey was Claremont’s prime move, winning 26 touches and booting a major in typically eye-catching fashion.

Marking defender Blake Morris showcased his intercept and rebounding qualities with a game-high six marks among his 19 disposals, proving composed across half-back for the victors. Meanwhile, debutant Koltyn Tholstrup thrust his name into the spotlight with three goals, with the 15-year-old a lively forward not eligible to be drafted until 2023. Tyzreise Clark also snared a pair for Subiaco, as two Tigers matched that feat to top the Claremont scoresheet.

GOALS:

Subiaco: K. Tholstrup 3, J. Evitt 2, T. Clark 2, J. Quarrell, C. Dean, E. Bolton, B. Corderoy
Claremont: J. Farquharson 2, P. Coles 2, K. Blurton, T. Delacey, B. Ramshaw, D. Mulligan, J. Stretch, L. Tangney

SOUTH FREMANTLE 2.1 | 4.3 | 8.5 | 10.5 (65)
EAST PERTH 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 | 11.7 (73)

In the round’s final fixture, East Perth moved clear atop the WAFL Colts table with an eight-point win over South Fremantle at Leederville Oval, capping off an enthralling double-header. Jake Littleton (23 disposals) and Jayden Peak (20) joined Bulldogs ball winner Caleb Stephens as the only players to tick over 20 touches, with Peak also registering a major in the win. Teammate Oscar Armstrong (18 disposals, one goal) was in a similar boat, while Ethan Regan impressed with 10 marks.

Jye Amiss was typically reliable in front of the big sticks for the Royals, booting a game-high three goals. Meanwhile, Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) small forward Chase Bourne finished among a quartet of Bulldogs to snag two goals, as South fell just short of a fourth victory.

GOALS:

South Fremantle: L. Brandis 2, J. Plunkett 2, H. Elphick 2, C. Bourne 2, A. Fraser, K. Foster
East Perth: J. Amiss 3, T. Graham 2, J. Chadwick 2, J. Peak, O. Armstrong, J. Tunstill, S. Soka

Image Credit: Brian Conduit via West Perth Football Club

Scouting Notes: 2021 AFL Under 19 Academy vs. Geelong VFL

THE AFL Under 19 Academy suffered a 130-point thumping at the hands of Geelong VFL on Saturday morning, with the hosts flexing their muscle in the showcase fixture at GMHBA Stadium. Result aside, it proved an eye-opening opportunity for the nation’s brightest young talents to test their measure against seasoned operators. Our scouts were on hand in Geelong to deliver their opinion-based notes all 24 Academy players.

>> Match report: AFL Academy vs. Geelong VFL

#1-17 (By Ed Pascoe)

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide/SA)

The usually prolific North Adelaide prospect found the going a bit tougher against the Geelong VFL side but made his possessions count by both hand and foot and often looked composed under pressure. O’Loughlin showed great courage sitting in front of oncoming talls leading up at the ball where he was crunched.

#2 Austin Harris (Gold Coast/QLD)

The speedy defender tied to the Gold Coast Suns, Harris had some nice moments down back showing plenty of dare and dash with ball in hand, despite his light and small frame Harris still managed to get involved and even got a run on the wing late in the game. It is still up in the air which position will be his best going forward.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers/VC)

The exciting Murray forward took some time to get into the game but he certainly looked like the Academy’s most dangerous forward, looking dangerous whenever he got the ball or was in the vicinity. He kicked a great goal from beyond 50m after taking a lead up mark which was one of only two goals scored for the Academy. Rachele was skilful in the air and at ground level and his efforts to tackle were also a highlight.

#5 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/VM)

Not the game Sonsie would have wanted as he pushes for his claim in the first round of this year’s draft, the smooth moving midfielder from Eastern Ranges found the going tough against the bigger bodies in the Geelong midfield and was later moved to defence, yet still could not work his way into the game. Despite using the ball well when he got it, he did not get it enough to really make a big impact.

#6 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

The Collingwood father-son prospect continued his strong start to the year with another prolific game through the midfield leading his side as captain he also lead in disposals with 26. The smooth moving midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers was crafty around stoppages and smart around the ground just knowing where to be at all times and his skill by hand and foot was superb especially with some of his kicks inside 50 early in the game. Although he did not kick any goals as he usually does – he had a few missed shots showing great agility both times but just missing – it was another strong game from Daicos who continues to press his claim as the best prospect in this years draft pool.

#7 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers/VC)

The tough Bendigo defender/midfielder showed his usual traits as a clean and tough competitor with his sturdy frame and desperation on show. Starting down back it took a while for Hamilton to work into the game but got more involved with some midfield time in the last quarter.

#9 Jason Horne (South Adelaide/SA)

The impressive midfielder who has already tasted action against senior bodies at South Adelaide, took what he has learnt from that time into the Academy game showing great tackling intent and playing with a lot of maturity. Despite not being overly prolific with 13 disposals for the game, Horne made every touch count, looking impressive with his burst and clean hands at stoppages and his ability overhead with a strong mark at half-back in the second quarter showcasing his overall elite attributes.

#10 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/SA)

Coming off a 37-disposal game last week for South Adelaide, the tough midfielder was played forward all game for the Academy and although it was disappointing that he did not get a run in his favoured position, he managed to do some nice things and was perhaps his side’s most prolific forward. Roberts got to show his long left foot with a nice kick inside 50 and a 50m shot at goal in the first quarter. Although the shot was a behind, he would have likely had a more prolific game forward with a closer game and better service coming inside 50.

#11 Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles/SA)

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect from Woodville-West Torrens started the game in his usual role at half-back showing his clean hands and composure with ball in hand. Burgoyne would move to the wing in the second half which proved a good move as he started to win more of the ball although his kicking did not come off a few times he did well to try and create although he will want to work on his defensive side on a more consistent basis to better round out his game.

#13 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

Used on the wing and later forward, Rankin would not have a prolific day like his fellow forwards and wingmen, and despite his best efforts defensively, he would not get to show why he was a late addition to the Academy squad, with the small utility impressing at NAB League level for Oakleigh Chargers.

#16 Josh Fahey (GWS/NSW-ACT)

One of the few standouts for the Academy side, the GWS GIANTS Academy member offered plenty of drive from defence using his speed and long left foot to break the lines and it was no surprise that he took kick-outs with those strengths. He took one good intercept mark which could be considered low, but he played percentages and went with the fist multiple times to great success. Fahey showed great leadership qualities being vocal down back and he was prepared to work hard with and without the ball. Sharing some similarities to AA defender Michael Hibberd, he could be set for similar accolades at the next level. Speaking of accolades, he would win the Presidents Medal for his 23-disposal and nine-rebound 50 game.

#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (Glenelg/South Australia)

The athletic wingman from Glenelg did not win a lot of the ball, but he had some good moments by foot playing wing early in the game before moving back in the last quarter showing good composure and a nice spoil deep in defence was also good.

#19-31 (By Michael Alvaro)

#19 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco/WA)

The West Australian ended up being quite a handy addition to the Academy squad, able to show his worth in some nice pockets of play. He came to life during a second term purple patch, where his vertical leap and overhead marking were prominent. Erasmus rose well both on the lead and to intercept across half-forward, where he was posted for most of the game. He would later be shifted up onto the wing where he worked back more defensively, but arguably looked more dangerous in attack during the first half. Erasmus had a set shot attempt on goal fall shot in term two and took some time to eventually hit his targets by foot on the move, but returned a promising game overall.

#20 Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

Another late inclusion, Callaghan took some time to get up to speed with the pressure gauge set, but began to string together plays more indicative of his talent as the contest wore on. When given the opportunity, he showcased his long and penetrative left-foot kick, looking a touch more comfortable when streaming forward in space. The Sandringham Dragons bolter was a little fumbly below his knees which brought on more pressure than required, though he has the frame to beat opponents when going low and hard. Callaghan shifted to half-back in the final term and was released for a couple of trademark runs before breaching the forward 50 arc by foot. He is difficult to stop in full flight with that mix of size, speed and agility.

#21 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

On a tough day for Academy forwards, Howes returned a relatively quiet outing having been permanently employed among the front six. With a light frame considering his height, Howes could not quite burst free from tackles he normally would at Under 19s level, but competed well to win a couple of contests in the opening and closing terms. The first was a handy split at half-forward before dishing off to the running Lachlan Rankin, and the second was an instance where he had to cop contact to create a spill inside 50, as the ball was not delivered to his advantage. A good leaper with sticky hands, it was a difficult outing for Howes to show those traits.

#22 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/WA)

While injury scuppered his chances of an early-season League debut in the WAFL, Johnson put his hand up for such honours with a solid outing against mature bodies. Having played exclusively in midfield, the tall ball winner looks like being in the right shape to do so after his time off. He was the Academy’s third most prolific player, even with a disposal count of 13, showing clean hands and poise at the coalface. His one-touch potential was shown early with a beautiful half-volley gather at half-forward, before going on to take a strong overhead grab later in the first term. Johnson also notched a few clearances but was given little time to think about delivering anything more than a quick kick forward. His uncontested touches were polished though, and he looms as the prime tall inside midfielder in this crop.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/WA)

Arguably the leading key position forward among a raft of high-level midfielders in this year’s draft pool, Van Rooyen was posted permanently in the familiar centre half-forward position. The Claremont product competed well among a front six that was afforded few opportunities and less than ideal delivery. He presented up the ground and was unlucky not to have been paid a sliding mark on defensive wing in the first term. He would continue to gain separation while up the ground, even when his efforts went unrewarded, while also playing a hand in attempting to lock the ball in his side’s attacking 50 with pressure at the contest. Despite a frustrating outing at times, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ remains a frontrunner in his role.

#24 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/WA)

While he has swung forward to good effect in the WAFL Colts, Bazzo reverted back to his defensive duties for the Academy and built into the game well despite being handed tough assignments. A good reader of the ball, Bazzo was caught lacking early as he was caught behind, but saw that kind of positioning pay off later on as he chimed in with well-timed spoils and some terrific intercept marks inside defensive 50. He was under the pump at times given the speed of which Geelong moved the ball forward, but stood up in one-on-one battles against taller and more developed opponents, like Sam De Koning. His confidence seemed to grow with each defensive act, though he could do little at times as the Cats swept up relentlessly after the initial effort. Bazzo’s disposal, mostly by foot, was also assured on the last line.

#25 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels/VC)

The GWV Rebels defender is such a smooth operator on the last line, contributing wonderfully poised disposal on the rebound under a good amount of pressure. He was kept very busy inside defensive 50 and did his best to repel by foot, hitting targets both short and long on the rebound. Gibcus’ reading of the play is also sound, as he popped up to clunk eye-catching marks with nice timing and clean hands. In such a tough role deep among an under-siege defence, he was also impressive at the fall of the ball and swept up as per usual for the Academy. He should be one climbing draft boards after a stunning start to the year.

#27 Jack Williams (East Fremantle/WA)

It was somewhat of an almost day for Williams, who very nearly made the best of limited chances in the Academy forward line. The rising East Fremantle talent started with a strong mark on the lead, before booting his side’s first goal of the game with a wonderfully fluent set shot routine. He would go on to work up the ground and present well down the line, but could not quite hold his marks as he was met with contact by stronger-bodied opponents. Perhaps different umpires would have paid a couple of marks for the balls he got first hands to, but it was not to be for Williams. Still, his short moments were eye-catching despite the absence of end product after his first term goal.

#28 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays/VC)

One of the steepest risers in this year’s crop, the Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect proved his true first round potential. He played up either end and gained a good tick for his versatility, but well and truly came to life in the final term with an awesome showing in the ruck – despite the result being well beyond his side at that point. Andrew caught the eye with phenomenal vertical leaps at each centre bounce, with his first act of the final term a follow-up clearance. He highlighted his marking ability with a nice clunk in front, and showed off some finesse in the ruck with a wonderfully directed hit to the anchoring Jason Horne. Having started forward, the Dandenong Stingrays talent snared the first score of the game with a snap, before displaying clean hands on the move and flying well in his less fruitful move to defence. Demons recruiters will now be sweating on his potential after a string of terrific performances, if they were not already.

#29 Toby Conway (Geelong Falcons/VC)

Playing in his home region, Conway was afforded the starting ruck gig and got to battle it out with an AFL-listed big man in Darcy Fort. He would have learned some handy lessons in positioning and bodywork in each ruck contest, but Conway did his best to compete in those situations. He worked back to offer some aerial support to his defenders and even took an early mark from a long kick-in. Conway also rested forward and spent plenty of time deep in the final term without seeing too much action. He led well on one occasion but was spoiled from behind, unable to cap his outing with a goal.

#30 Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

One of two 19-year-old prospects afield, Moyle carried his promising NAB League form into this outing and competed well against stiff opposition. The Oakleigh Chargers big man rotated into the ruck and was not afraid to leap into or wrestle with his senior adversaries. He also did well to stay relevant as the ball fell to ground level, prizing a few clearances forward – even if they were rushed scrubber kicks. Moyle also had the confidence to grab from the ruck and took a nice mark from a kick-in during term two. Like Conway, he rested forward and was stationed there more frequently during the second half, but just lacked the mobility and composure to make a true impact in those attacking positions.

#31 Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels/VC)

The latest of inclusions in this Academy squad, Marris was relatively competitive in his late-notice opportunity and contributed some handy clean touches. Posted in defence as a small, the GWV product fared well in early one-on-ones without having too many wins, but showed his ability to find the ball in space with neat uncontested touches, mostly delivered by foot. He played his role well and should be one to gain some VFL opportunities, ironically enough with the Cats.

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

Full squad: AFL Academy to take on Geelong VFL on Saturday morning

THE AFL Academy is set to take on Geelong VFL tomorrow, making for an exciting curtain raiser to Saturday’s AFL clash between Geelong and West Coast. Bouncing down at 10:10am at GMHBA Stadium, the featured bout sees 24 of the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects granted with the opportunity to go head-to-head with a mature outfit containing plenty of elite level talent.

There has been a raft of changes to the original 21-man squad, announced in December of last year, as top-up players and injury replacements filter into the side. Among the inclusions are a good amount of tall prospects, with rucks Mac Andrew, Toby Conway, and Ned Moyle all earning call-ups for their promising NAB League form.

Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent Blayne O’Loughlin, the nephew of Michael, came in alongside Conway and Moyle, as did dynamic marking defender, Josh Gibcus. Skilled Oakleigh Chargers utility Lachlan Rankin is the latest inclusion, replacing Josh Sinn who pulled up sore after academy training this week.

Sinn’s Sandringham Dragons teammate Campbell Chesser has also been sidelined with a knee complaint, while Tasmanian Sam Banks (broken wrist) and Ben Hobbs will miss after sustaining injuries during the latest round of NAB League action. Braden Andrews and Cooper Murley will also sit out, sporting previous knocks.

The final couple of additions should add some dash and dare on the outer, with the fast-rising Finn Callaghan and Nasiah Wanganeen both getting their chance, while eye-catching West Australian Neil Erasmus was also rewarded for his early-season exploits.

Here’s a look at how the squad may line up:

FB: Blayne O’Loughlin, Rhett Bazzo, Josh Fahey
HB: Jase Burgoyne, Josh Gibcus, Finn Callaghan
C: Nasiah Wanganeen, Tyler Sonsie, Matt Roberts
HF: Matthew Johnson, Jacob Van Rooyen, Blake Howes
FF: Neil Erasmus, Jack Williams, Josh Rachele
FOL: Ned Moyle, Nick Daicos, Jason Horne

BENCH: Mac Andrew, Toby Conway, Cooper Hamilton, Austin Harris, Lachlan Rankin, Ned Stevens

INJURED: Braden Andrews, Sam Banks, Campbell Chesser, Ben Hobbs, Cooper Murley, Josh Sinn

Starting from the back, there should be plenty of drive to come from this lot. Recent inclusions, O’Loughlin and Callaghan are quite varied in terms of height, but both love to get going on the rebound and use the ball by foot. GWS Academy product Josh Fahey is another in that category, while potential Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne brings clean skills and plenty of versatility. Despite moving forward this year, Rhett Bazzo was the sensical full back choice, with Gibcus’ marking prowess also landing him a starting spot in the spine.

This team gets a big tick for versatility in the key position department, with Bazzo one of the many prospects who can shift roles. Fellow West Australian Jack Williams, named at full forward, has been known to swing back, while Gold Coast Academy tall Ned Stevens can arguably play on each line. He may be freed up to play at either end, given the rich ruck stocks available.

The magnets are likely to be shuffled elsewhere, too. Tall inside midfielder Matthew Johnson has been named at half-forward having endured an injury interrupted preseason, but will likely rotate through the engine room. Matt Roberts, named on the wing can also play on the inside but rests forward well and has terrific running capacity. Blake Howes (half-forward) is also known to roam a wing, while Josh Rachele and Erasmus are others with promising midfield craft.

Elsewhere, Cooper Hamilton is a solid figure who can be utilised up either end or in that midfield rotation, while small utility Austin Harris will look to use his smarts as a defender, forward, or wingman. Rankin is another in that boat, having previously played as a running defender or wingman, but more recently been utilised up forward.

Lastly, arguably the centrepiece of the lineup lies at the centre bounces. Top five candidate Tyler Sonsie joins clear pick one frontrunners, Nick Daicos and Jason Horne at the heart of the team, set to form a potent midfield trio for the Academy bunch.

Full squad:

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (SA) North Adelaide
#2 Austin Harris (Qld) Gold Coast Suns
#3 Cooper Murley (SA) Norwood*
#4 Josh Rachele (Vic C) Murray Bushrangers
#5 Tyler Sonsie (Vic M) Eastern Ranges
#6 Nick Daicos (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#7 Cooper Hamilton (Vic C) Bendigo Pioneers
#8 Ben Hobbs (Vic C) GWV Rebels*
#9 Jason Horne (SA) South Adelaide
#10 Matt Roberts (SA) South Adelaide
#11 Jase Burgoyne (SA) Woodville-West Torrens
#12 Sam Banks (Tas) Clarence*
#13 Lachlan Rankin (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#14 Campbell Chesser (Vic C) Sandringham Dragons*
#15 Josh Sinn (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons*
#16 Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT) GWS Giants
#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (SA) Glenelg
#18 Braden Andrews (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers*
#19 Neil Erasmus (WA) Subiaco
#20 Finn Callaghan (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons
#21 Blake Howes (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons
#22 Matthew Johnson (WA) Subiaco
#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (WA) Claremont
#24 Rhett Bazzo (WA) Swan Districts
#26 Ned Stevens (NT) Waratah/Gold Coast Suns
#27 Jack Williams (WA) East Fremantle
#28 Mac Andrew (Vic C) Dandenong Stingrays
#29 Toby Conway (Vic C) Geelong Falcons
#30 Ned Moyle (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#35 Josh Gibcus (Vic C) GWV Rebels

* – denotes injured

The game will be streamed live via the official AFL app and website. Keep an eye out for Scouting Notes on each Academy player, post-match.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

21 elite top-age prospects have been named in the 2021 AFL Academy squad, as the AFL reverts back to a condensed nationwide program. Previously, the intake entailed as many as 150 talents from around the nation being nurtured in their state hubs, but with cost cutting at the hands of COVID-19 the traditional model will be reinstated.

The squad, coached by former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer, is set to play a game against a Victorian state league side and participate in camps during the year. Players are still set to be added to the list with a number of spots left vacant, as the AFL and club recruiters collaborate to finalise the intake.

Among the standouts, current pick one frontrunner Jason Horne joins the likes of Collingwood father-son hopeful Nick Daicos in the squad. Horne has already gained senior SANFL experience with South Adelaide and has a wide range of weapons, including his speed, ball winning ability, and aerial prowess. Daicos, the son of Peter, has all the skill his pedigree would suggest and enters the elite pathway with a great reputation in the APS competition under his belt.

Victorians dominate the squad with 10 selections, with a far less compromised top-end highlighting the lucky dip that is the AFL Draft. Aside from Daicos, Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Austin Harris (Gold Coast, Academy), and Ned Stevens (Gold Coast, Darwin zone) are the only other selections with ties to clubs. In another shift from this year’s cohort, it looks set to be a talent pool consisting largely of midfielders at the top end.

>> A look ahead: 21 in 2021
>> 2021 AFL Women’s Academy

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence)
Rhett Bazzo (Western Australia/Swan Districts)
Jase Burgoyne (South Australia/Woodville West Torrens)
Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy)
Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers)
Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy)
Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels)
Jason Horne (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Matthew Johnson (Western Australia/Subiaco)
Cooper Murley (South Australia/Norwood)
Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers)
Matthew Roberts (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges)
Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy)
Jacob Van Rooyen (Western Australia/Claremont)
Jack Williams (Western Australia/East Fremantle)

Featured Image: Joshua Rachele looms as a top prospect in 2021 | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

A look ahead: The 21 top prospects for 2021

WHILE we are only a day removed from the 2020 AFL National Draft, Draft Central is already looking forward to the next crop of elite level hopefuls. This year’s AFL Draft Guide featured 21 of the best top-age prospects eligible to be drafted in 2021, providing pocket profiles and an insight into what to expect from a upcoming bumper crop. Clubs have already been jostling for position among next year’s order, as plenty of players do the same at the top end with their on-field efforts. We have already identified an early frontrunner, with a familiar father-son name not far off and plenty of variety in terms of representatives from each state and territory.

21 in 2021

The top contender:

Jason Horne (South Adelaide/South Australia)
21/06/2003 | 182cm/75kg
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Horne is the current frontrunner among next year’s crop after returning a sensational season of football. Having already established himself among South Adelaide’s Under 18 setup, he quickly came to dominate this year’s proceedings and earned a call-up to the senior side. He adapted well to the speed of the game playing mostly as a forward, soaring for high marks and backing his speed across the ground. The 2019 SA Under 16 MVP has very few weaknesses, but plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
21/02/2003 | 189cm/83kg
Midfielder/Utility

Somewhat a jack of all trades, Andrews plugged gaps on each line for Vic Metro at last year’s Under 16 championships; showing clean hands, a cool head, and match-winning abilities. Rates highly for upside.

Samuel Banks (Clarence/Tasmania)
2/04/2003 | 186cm/72kg
Midfielder/Half-Back

Arguably Tasmania’s leading 2021 prospect, Banks was the Under 16 Division 2 MVP last year and has already turned out for the Tasmania Devils Under 18 side. The balanced midfielder/half-back has also played senior football for Clarence, showing plenty of class while disposing by foot.

Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
17/10/2003 | 194cm/74kg
Tall Defender

One of Western Australia’s top talents heading into 2021, Bazzo is a versatile defender renowned for his intercept marking ability. He could well blaze a trail similar to that of fellow Swan Districts product, Denver Grainger-Barras having established himself among the Colts side and in the PSA competition this year.

Cooper Beecken (Glenelg/South Australia)
24/02/2003 | 188cm/72kg
Defender

A tall and rangy defender, Beecken staked his claim as a potential high-end prospect for 2021 with a promising showing in this year’s Under 18 All-Stars game. It capped off a solid season overall for the 17-year-old, who holds similarities to Will Day with his stature, marking and kicking abilities.

Lachlan Brooks (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
1/02/2003 | 179cm/75kg
Inside Midfielder

Brooks earned Under 16 All Australian honours after an outstanding carnival for Vic Metro where he showcased great grit and ball winning ability at the contest. He was looking to make his way into Sandringham’s side as a small defender this year, while also playing midfield for Brighton Grammar.

Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country)
27/04/2003 | 185cm/79kg
Half-Back/Wing

Hailing from Murray’s region, Chesser boards at Melbourne Grammar and is set to represent Sandringham during his NAB League stints. He is a rebounding half-back who can also provide dash off the wing, boasting great speed and a wicked boot on the outer.

Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
01/03/2003 | 183cm/72kg
Balanced Midfielder

He has only just entered the Oakleigh Chargers system, but Daicos is already well-known not only for his exploits with Carey Grammar in the APS competition, but also for his ties to Collingwood as a father-son prospect. He has terrific skills and ironically supports Carlton. Already a top five chance.

Arlo Draper (South Adelaide/South Australia)
30/01/2003 | 185cm/71kg
Midfielder/Forward

A smooth-moving type with plenty of upside, Draper returned a fantastic bottom-age season with South Adelaide to prove on of South Australia’s brightest 2021 candidates. He wins a good amount of contested ball while also providing marking and goal threats up forward.

Joshua Fahey (Gold Coast Academy/NSW/ACT)
11/11/2003 | 186cm/76kg
Half-Back/Outside Midfielder

While formerly tied to the GWS Academy, Fahey represented that of the Gold Coast Suns this year and showed fine form. He is a damaging rebound defender who gains plenty of meterage with his daring dash and raking left boot.

Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
15/09/2003 | 182cm/76kg
Inside Midfielder

There are few others who show quite the appetite Hobbs does for the contest, and soggy conditions at last year’s Under 16 championships saw him thrive. Having since made his NAB League debut, Hobbs continues to pump the ball forward and tackle hard at the coalface.

Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/Western Australia)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/80kg
Inside Midfielder

Subiaco Colts premiership player, Johnson developed well in 2020 to become one of his state’s leading midfielders. He has a terrific balance of aggression and class, able to win his own ball and carve ways around his opponents on the exit. Has great upside as a raw, tall ball winner.

Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
7/01/2003 | 195cm/86kg
Key Forward

Lukic is an athletic tall forward who fares particularly well close to goal. After leading the Under 16 Division 1 goalkicking with nine majors, he made his NAB League debut in a stacked Oakleigh side and showed plenty of promise. Has good speed and can compete at ground level.

Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/78kg
Midfielder/Utility

A hard-working midfielder who can play a role on each line, Molan brings a true team-first attitude. He made his NAB League debut last year and has some good upside given his size and versatility. One who you can rely on to compete.

Cooper Murley (Norwood/South Australia)
20/06/2003 | 177cm/66kg
Small Midfielder/Forward

Part of Norwood’s Under 18 premiership side, Murley already looks a class above the grade. His speed out of congestion, repeat forward running, and excellent skills made for scintillating viewing in 2020, making him a prime prospect for next year. Still has some filling out to do.

Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushranger/Vic Country)
11/04/2003 | 179cm/77kg
Small Midfielder/Forward

Rachele rightly took out the Division 1 and Vic Country MVP awards at last year’s Under 16 carnival, putting him firmly in the pick one race. He went on to average two goals per his four NAB League games, bringing plenty of x-factor up forward and spark through midfield.

Lewis Rayson (Glenelg/South Australia)
14/01/2003 | 181cm/64kg
Half-Back

A small defender who impacts in a big way, Rayson provides plenty of drive from half-back. His ability to read the play and break forward quickly in transition is a real asset, capped off by damaging use by foot.

Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/South Australia)
31/07/2003 | 183cm/76kg
Midfielder/Forward

Roberts is a standout wherever he plays and dominated both the school football and SANFL Under 18 scenes at times in 2020. He is capable of racking up huge numbers through sheer work-rate and competitiveness, while also posing a scoring threat when resting up forward.

Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
28/01/03 | 186cm/72kg
Half-Back/Midfielder

Was captain of Vic Metro’s carnival-winning Under 16 side in 2019 and adapted well between multiple roles. Originally employed as a half-back for his run and damaging use by foot, Sinn also thrived in midfield and somewhat of a wildcard. Has plenty of desirable traits and potential.

Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/01/2003 | 181cm/74kg
Midfielder/Forward

Another who has plenty of runs on the board already, Sonsie is silky smooth on the ball through midfield and dangerous around goal. He made his NAB League debut for minor premiers, Eastern Ranges after winning Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP award.

Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/Western Australia)
16/04/2003 | 194cm/88kg
Key Forward

A dominant key forward with terrific aerial presence, Van Rooyen is one of the leading prospects in his position for 2021. He booted 19 goals in 10 WAFL Colts games this season, finding the big sticks at least once in each outing.

In the mix:

In such a promising crop, there are plenty of names who could have easily squeezed into the initial list. From a Victorian perspective, the likes of Lachlan Rankin and Youseph Dib are two exciting talents from the Oakleigh Chargers who featured strongly in the Metro Under 16 squad. Dib is tied to Collingwood as an NGA and plies his trade both inside, on the wing, or up forward, while Rankin is a classy user off half-back. Blake Howes was another standout on the Metro end and has great upside as a high-marking, athletic forward.

South Australians have benefitted greatly from a full state league season, albeit improvised. Morgan Ferres is a tall forward with terrific athleticism and the ability to dominate at centre half-forward. Nasiah Wanganeen and Jase Burgoyne were others to show plenty in the SANFL Under 18s this year, with the latter the son of Peter Burgoyne and thus tied to Port Adelaide as a father-son. Isaiah Dudley, the cousin of Kysaiah Pickett also has links to a club already in Adelaide. He is small, but has plenty of talent and should not be forgotten after an injury-riddled year.

West Australian prospects also benefitted from a season of football, with the likes of Lochlan Paton and Judd McVee both getting some Under 18 midfield minutes. Paton is a solid mover who can roam forward, while McVee is an explosive stoppage player who can also move on the outer. Joshua Browne is another name right up there after his efforts for East Fremantle in 2020, with Max Chipper another to keep in mind as a clean outside user.

Featured Image: Jason Horne is our top pick for 2021 | Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

Out to impress: WAFL Round 8 preview

YOUNG talent continues to turn heads at state league level around the nation, and it has been no different across all three WAFL grades upon the competition’s resumption in 2020. As we roll into Round 8, Draft Central continues its new weekly preview format, highlighting some of the best up-and-comers who will be out to impress with each passing game. In our latest edition, Perth is set to blood another Colts standout, while a first round AFL Draft candidate has finally been named in West Perth’s League side.

>> SCROLL for fixtures and League teams

19-year-old midfielder Conor McPartland is set to become the latest Perth product to earn a League debut, named in the forward pocket among the Demons’ side to face Swan Districts. A prolific ball winner, McPartland required just one Reserves outing to earn a second promotion, having averaged 33 disposals across his five Colts games this year.

He joins fellow Colts talents Nathan O’Driscoll and Logan McDonald in the lineup, as well as Regan Clarke. After a terrific 20-disposal display last time out, O’Driscoll has been pegged for even more midfield minutes, while keen draft watchers will undoubtedly have their eyes peeled for the seemingly inevitable McDonald-versus-Denver Grainger-Barras matchup.

Grainger-Barras lines up for his seventh League appearance in 2020, set to grace the backline alongside Nathan Ireland. A trio of youngsters make up the Swans’ inclusions; as Thomas Edwards readies for his top flight debut, while Lachlan Riley makes his first League outing for the year, and Tarir Bayok reenters the fold. Draft hopefuls Zane Trew and Ty Sears have again been teased with promotion to the Reserves, while bottom-agers Rhett Bazzo and Max Chipper are again absent in the Colts grade.

Leading West Perth draft prospect Heath Chapman is another young gun preparing to make his League debut, after finally earning the call-up ahead of this weekend’s action. The 193cm defender has proven a class above at Colts level, averaging 23 disposals and over seven marks per his six games. Should be he let off the hook as a third tall in defence, expect his intercept marking and exceptional skills by foot to come to the fore.

Tristan Hobley, who made his League debut in Round 7, remains in the Falcons’ side, while Claremont prepares to unearth some fresh faces of its own. 18-year-old Max Spyvee comes in for his maiden top flight berth, while Anthony Davis and Tyron Smallwood make their respective returns for the Tigers. Jack Buller has been named as an emergency after impressing in the Reserves. Speaking of, Tyron Hindmarsh and Callum Johnson are set to remain in said grade alongside Victorian Matty Lloyd, while Kellen Johnson is a possible Colts inclusion pending recovery from his wrist injury.

Another Round 7 first-gamer, Liam Hickmott remains in Subiaco’s side as the Lions do battle with East Fremantle, with brother Wil named as an emergency. 19-year-old forward Nicholas Martin also holds onto his spot despite his first goalless outing for the year. Jai Jackson is another 19-year-old knocking on the League door, while Jacob Miller and Ben Reid find themselves back in the Reserves as Subiaco’s two outs.

Brynn Teakle comes in for his first taste of League footy for 2020 as part of at least one East Fremantle change, with another four players added to the Sharks’ extended bench. The 202cm 20-year-old is set to slot in up forward, while Durak Tucker plies his trade down back once again. AFL Academy guns Jack Carroll, Finn Gorringe, and Brandon Walker all seem close to promotions, while bottom-ager Judd McVee looks like being a key out for the Colts.

Much like the aforementioned Sharks trio, Jack Cooley and Harley Sparks are a couple of East Perth youngsters on the cusp of League berths. They are both poised to continue their push in the Reserves though, as they Royals take on South Fremantle on Saturday. The undefeated, ladder-leading Bulldogs have made four changes, with 22-year-old Jacob Warne making a one-and-done League outing as he comes back out of the side.

Manfred Kelly remains in the Reserves for South while Ira Jetta looks like missing another round of Colts action, much like Kade Dittmar for East Perth.

FIXTURES

League:

Subiaco vs. East Fremantle | Saturday September 5, 2:30pm @ Leederville Oval
Claremont vs. West Perth | Saturday September 5, 2:30pm @ Revo Fitness Stadium
South Fremantle vs. East Perth | Saturday September 5, 2:35pm @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Swan Districts vs. Perth | Saturday September 5, 3:05pm @ Steel Blue Oval

Reserves:

Subiaco vs. East Fremantle | Saturday September 5, 12:00pm @ Leederville Oval
Claremont vs. West Perth | Saturday September 5, 12:00pm @ Revo Fitness Stadium
South Fremantle vs. East Perth | Saturday September 5, 12:00pm @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Swan Districts vs. Perth | Saturday September 5, 12:20pm @ Steel Blue Oval

Colts:

Subiaco vs. East Fremantle | Saturday September 5, 9:30am @ Leederville Oval
Claremont vs. West Perth | Saturday September 5, 9:30am @ Revo Fitness Stadium
South Fremantle vs. East Perth | Saturday September 5, 9:30am @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Swan Districts vs. Perth | Saturday September 5, 9:500am @ Steel Blue Oval

Bye: Peel Thunder

LEAGUE TEAMS

Featured Image: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2020 WAFL Colts Round 1 – Subiaco vs Claremont

IN Round 1 of the Simply Energy WAFL Colts competition, Claremont started its premiership defence with a solid 13-point victory over Subiaco at Leederville Oval. There were a number of players who stood out for both clubs in our featured game, below were the most notable.

>> SCROLL for around the ground standouts

FEATURED GAME:
Subiaco vs. Claremont 

By: Lenny Fogliani

Subiaco:

#2 Jed Kemp

The nephew of West Coast great Dean Kemp, Jed was dynamic in the midfield and up forward for the Lions. He finished with 21 disposals, seven marks, three tackles, three inside 50s, and a goal in a dazzling display. His composure, decision-making and skills under serious duress were outstanding for someone his age.

#12 Matthew Johnson

The North Beach junior was outstanding through midfield for Subiaco. Playing as the centreman, Johnson racked up 24 disposals, recorded a game-high seven inside 50s, took six marks, laid four tackles, and kicked a goal in a powerful performance.

#13 Lachlan Vanirsen

A member of Subiaco’s Leadership group, Vanirsen tried his utmost to inspire the Lions to victory. He finished with a team-high 25 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, four inside 50s, and a goal in an inspiring performance. The highlight of his performance came in the third quarter when he kicked a running goal from 50 metres out to bring the Lions within 15 points of Claremont.

#34 Ezekiel Bolton

A cousin of Richmond premiership player Shai Bolton, Ezekiel was lively in the forward half for Subiaco. He gathered 11 disposals, laid four tackles, recorded four inside 50s, and kicked a goal.

Claremont:

#2 Logan Young

The son of AFL Player Manager Colin Young, Young was outstanding in the midfield for the Tigers. He was a bull on the inside, winning 22 disposals and laying a game-high 12 tackles in a powerful performance.

#3 Zac Mainwaring

The son of the late Chris Mainwaring, Zac was terrific for the Tigers playing across the half-forward line. He finished with 15 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s, three tackles, and two goals in a phenomenal display. He set the tone early for his team, winning several holding-the-ball decisions after applying great defensive pressure.

#6 Cameron Anderson

The 2019 WA U18s State Academy member was dynamic on the wing for Claremont, finishing with 17 disposals, five marks, three tackles, two inside 50s, and a goal.

#10 Joel Western

Arguably the best player on the ground, Western showed why he is one of the players to watch out for in this year’s WAFL Colts competition. He finished with a game-high 29 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three inside 50s, and a goal. His desire to take the game on with his speed and skill execution went a long way towards Claremont winning the game.

>> AFL Draft Watch: Joel Western

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen

The Wembley Downs Junior was a powerful presence in the forward line for Claremont, as he always presented a target for his midfielders to kick to. Playing at centre half-forward, Van Rooyen finished with 15 possessions, five inside 50s, four marks, two tackles, and a goal.

Around the grounds:

By: Michael Alvaro

Leading 2020 AFL Draft prospects Logan McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras made their mark at League level, with the former booting three goals on debut. McDonald was terrific up forward for Perth in the Demons’ 10-point win over Peel, booting an equal game-high three goals from 16 disposals and four marks. Up the other end and for Swan Districts, Grainger-Barras took five marks in his eight-disposal effort.

Back in the Colts grade, South Fremantle edged passed the highly fancied East Fremantle Sharks with a consistent team performance. Jacob Plunkett booted three goals for the Bulldogs, while Oscar Armstrong and Clayton Riley both managed a team-high 19 disposals. Shannon Neale was also terrific with 15 disposals, seven marks, 15 hitouts, and a goal. For the Sharks, Finn Gorringe and Jack Carroll each managed 26 touches, followed by Chris Walker‘s 22. His twin brother, Brandon was kept to 14 disposals and five inside 50s.

Callum Johnson was terrific for West Perth in its big win over Swan Districts, amassing a game-high 34 disposals, including eight marks, eight tackles, and five inside 50s. Lochlan Paton was the Falcons’ next best with 24 touches, while bigman Michael Mallard was dominant with 20 disposals, five marks, and 33 hitouts. Among the academy prospects, Heath Chapman had 15 disposals in a revised role for West Perth, while Zane Trew (25 disposals, five tackles), Ty Sears (24 disposals, seven marks), and Rhett Bazzo (17 disposals, 11 marks) were solid in a losing effort for Swan Districts.

The final Colts fixture for the weekend saw Perth scrape over the line by five points against Peel, thanks largely to seven goals from Harry Quartermaine. He and Jack Evans (three goals) combined for all 10 of the Demons’ majors in a remarkable display, while Conor McPartland managed three behinds from his mammoth 40 disposals, eight tackles, and eight inside 50s. Nathan O’Driscoll was utilised in a revised role, laying six tackles and taking five marks from his 13 touches, while Zac Sanderson and Zak Meloncelli both cracked the 20-disposal mark.

There were no such goal exploits for the Thunder, though Jonathon Ietto snagged two majors. Leading prospect Isiah Winder accumulated a team-high 32 disposals to go with seven marks and seven tackles, with Zach Rankin and Bodie Kitchingman the next best on 21 touches apiece. State Academy prospects Luke Polson (18 disposals, three marks) and Tyler Nesbitt (16 disposals, five tackles) were also solid.

Picture: Perth FC

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

Draft Diaries:
Zane Trew – Edition 1 | Edition 2
Jack Allen – Edition 1

AFL Draft Watch:
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Oliver Davis vs. Zane Trew
Elijah Hollands vs. Nathan O’Driscoll

WAFL weekend preview: Round 1 – State League football returns in the West

STATE League football officially returns to the West on Saturday as Round 1 of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) bounces down across all levels. Having taken the field in preseason scratch matches over the past fortnight, teams will finally get the chance to play for premiership points in 2020, while a bunch of fresh faces will be looking to begin life in the WAFL on the right note. Four different venues will be used across a super Saturday of action, hosting the first set of fixtures for each grade, with Reserves and Colts games jerking the curtain for League showcases in most cases.

>> SCROLL down for Rd 1 fixtures

Peel Thunder and Perth will play off in the technical League season opener, with the first bounce set for 2:00pm at David Grays Arena. Hayden Ballantyne and Josh Bootsma are among the familiar faces set to return to the top level for Peel, who will again be led out by Ben Howlett. The Thunder’s depth will be tested by a lack of Fremantle-listed players, but young Thunder products like Tyrone Thorne and Ryan Bennell should inject some flair to the lineup.

Speaking of youth, 2020 AFL Draft hopeful Logan McDonald is set to feature up forward for Perth, joined by fellow 2019 State Under 18s squad member Regan Clarke, and the debuting Kieran Delahunty. Skipper Corey Yeo looms as a major absentee, but the likes of Chris Masten and Brady Gray should provide plenty of top-level class. Nathan O’Driscoll will be one to watch at Colts level, as will Isiah Winder for Peel.

Moving on to the 2:30 League starts, and reigning premier Subiaco will look to kick off its flag defence in style against Claremont at Leederville Oval. The Lions carry over a 14-game winning run from 2019, as well as a nine-game streak over their traditional rivals – nearing a 74-year-old record. While the Tigers will again be lead into battle by Kane Mitchell, potential injury blows to Jye Bolton and star recruit Ryan Nyhuis threaten to unravel their season opener before it even begins.

Stalwart defender Jordan Lockyer is set to play his 100th League game, while Nicholas Martin, Will Hickmott and Andy Doyle are all in line to make their debuts for Subiaco having been named among the extended squad. Reigning Sandover Medalist Lachlan Delahunty and leading goalkicker Ben Sokol have both been named among the forward six, just two of the big names among Subiaco’s stacked lineup.

It may be the Tigers who hold the edge at Colts level though, as the likes of Joel Western and Kalin Lane are set to star, with the latter poised to take on 197cm 19-year-old Zac Caulfield in the ruck. Draft Central will provide scouting notes on this, our featured Colts game of the week.

A bunch of exciting ins will help Swan Districts go a long way to improving on its last-place League finish in 2019, but West Perth stands in the Black Ducks’ way at Steel Blue Oval, fresh off a finals campaign. Leading West Australian draft prospect Denver Grainger-Barras has been named at half-back for his second top level outing, while Victorian recruits Frank Anderson, Sam Fisher, and Deven Costigan are all set to feature having made the move from VFL unit, Northern Blues. Anderson and Fisher should thrive under the ruck craft of Corey Gault, as co-captains Tony Notte and Matt Riggio look to drive marked improvement from their side.

West Perth skipper Aaron Black has been named at the heart of the Falcons’ lineup, with much of the ball winning responsibilities falling on his shoulders, and those of midfield partner Shane Nelson. Reigning club champion Tyler Keitel will again play a key role as he continues to develop, and should thrive off the delivery of the aforementioned pair. Heath Chapman is the Falcons’ leading Colts prospect, but will have his hands full should the likes of Zane Trew, Ty Sears, and Rhett Bazzo all feature at the level, and not for the Reserves.

The Round 1 milestones continue as South and East Fremantle cap off the opening weekend’s League fixtures, with Bulldogs champion Haiden Schloithe penciled in for game 150. The inclusion of Ben Rioli will bring back some great memories and continue a rich history for his family at Souths, while the likes of John Levien, Jimmy Miller, Kye Barker, and Travis Abbott are others in line to make their debuts.

For the Sharks, boom recruit Cody Leggett slots straight in at half-back having made the much-publicised move over from Perth. Brodie Riach and Jordan Mills are others who may debut for East Fremantle, with reigning best and fairest Matthew Jupp named despite an interrupted preseason. 2019 leading goalkicker Luke Strnadica is also back, set to play a big role in the relatively inexperienced side led by bigman, Jonathon Griffin.

While last year’s second-placed League side will fancy itself against its rivals improvements, the Sharks may have the edge at Colts level. Twin Fremantle NGA prospects Brandon and Chris Walker have both been named in the East Fremantle side, along with State Academy hub members Finn Gorringe, and Jack Carroll. Luke Polson is one of the Bulldogs’ leading talents, although they may crucially be without midfield/forward gun Ira Jetta for this clash.

WAFL ROUND 1 FIXTURES

League:

Peel Thunder vs. Perth | David Grays Arena | 2:00pm
Subiaco vs. Claremont | Leederville Oval | 2:30pm
Swan Districts vs. West Perth | Steel Blue Oval | 2:30pm
South Fremantle vs. East Fremantle | Fremantle Community Bank Oval | 2:35pm

Reserves:

South Fremantle vs. East Fremantle | Fremantle Community Bank Oval | 12:00pm
Subiaco vs. Claremont | Leederville Oval | 12:00pm
Swan Districts vs. West Perth | Steel Blue Oval | 12:00pm

Colts:

South Fremantle vs. East Fremantle | Fremantle Community Bank Oval | 9:30am
Subiaco vs. Claremont | Leederville Oval | 9:30am*
Swan Districts vs. West Perth | Steel Blue Oval | 9:30am
Peel Thunder vs. Perth | David Crays Arena | 4:30pm

* – denotes Draft Central featured Colts game of the round

Picture: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian