Tag: Rhylee West

AFL Draft review: Western Bulldogs

HAVING bettered their draft hand during the trade period, the Bulldogs sought to bolster their midfield flexibility with their first three picks in the National Draft, while granting opportunities to two deserving VFL guns later on and strengthening their defensive stocks with rookie and Category B selections. With ready-made prospects in vogue, only three of the Dogs’ picks were genuine under 18s.

National Draft:

 

Bailey Smith – Inside Midfielder

The Sandringham Dragons skipper enjoyed a stellar year, often times spoken of as the best midfielder in the draft behind first selection, Sam Walsh. Smith broke well into top 10 contention on the back of an outstanding campaign with Vic Metro in the National Championships where he was crowned their MVP – capped by a three-goal effort against Vic Country on the hallowed MCG turf. Despite shining predominantly through the midfield this year, Smith found a home in his bottom-age season as a dashing half-back, and even proved his worth up forward when required with Vic Metro. An achilles injury ended his season prematurely and saw him miss the TAC Cup finals, but in his two games in the competition, Smith led the league in average contested possessions and clearances, exemplifying his style of play. As a consistent ball winning machine with a terrific attitude and leadership capabilities, Smith is a player who can slot straight into the Bulldogs lineup across any line and make an impact from the get-go.

Rhylee West – Inside Midfielder/Forward

Father-son gun Rhylee West has giant shoes to fill, but looks to be keen to hit the ground running having taken his father, Scott’s original number 14 guernsey. The Dogs would have been pleased to see West slip just outside of the first round having not received an invitation to draft night, settling with a well valued selection in the mid-20s that they were never going to pass up. Standing at just over 180cm, West is a tough midfielder who uses power and agility to prize the ball from contests and break away through traffic with poise. West showed his ability to drift forward with good work rate for Vic Metro over four games in the National Championships after starring in the midfield for Calder, and he may well have to start his AFL career forward of centre given his strength and nous at stoppages around goal. Partnered with Smith, West will form a key part of the talent-stacked Bulldogs midfield for years to come and looks every bit ready for the next level.

Laitham Vandermeer – General Defender/Outside Midfielder

With two prized picks out of the way, the Bulldogs were clearly confident of snaring Vandermeer at a slightly later pick after trading down in a deal with Fremantle. Vandermeer is one of two overagers taken by the Dogs out of the TAC Cup, with the 19 year-old proving his worth over a consistent 2018 season with Murray Bushrangers. Having also represented Vic Country over all four games, Vandermeer showed overall improvement in his game after being overlooked in his top age year. The dashing outside player breaks lines from either half-back or a wing, with his slick ball use and athleticism making him a damaging prospect. He lacked somewhat of an x-factor often found in outside players, but has provided a consistency this year that was too good to refuse. Vandermeer could find game time in his first year given he is another year on, and would provide handy flexibility.

Ben Cavarra – Small Forward/Midfielder

This season will stand as the year that Ben Cavarra finally earned his spot on an AFL list. The diminutive Williamstown forward has changed his game of late, developing into an effective small forward after proving himself as a ball-winning midfielder over a Morrish Medal winning TAC Cup year and multiple seasons in the VFL with Frankston and the Seagulls. Cavarra’s mix of elite speed and endurance makes him dangerous inside 50, with his smarts allowing him to both find space and the big sticks with ease. The constant knock on Cavarra has been his size and hurt factor by foot, and despite his new role making that less of a factor, Cavarra has worked hard on making his game more complete. Having done everything in his power to prove himself to AFL recruiters, Cavarra can now reap the rewards and could well find himself in the side early on, perhaps even alongside fellow sub-173cm player, Caleb Daniel in the midfield.

Will Hayes – Midfielder

With the final selection in the National Draft, the Dogs continued their trend of taking readymade players late on by snapping up their very own VFL product, Will Hayes. A balanced midfielder, Hayes earned a State Combine invite on the back of a best and fairest winning year that saw him earn votes in 17 of his 18 VFL games. A keen accumulator, Hayes averaged 26 disposals to lead Foostcray’s count, but he also works hard going the other way in his tackling and overall work rate. Hayes is another who could break straight into the Dogs’ lineup with his readymade body, and will look to impress with his smarts after building his frame over the pre-season.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Lachlan Young – General Defender

The second 19 year-old taken by the Dogs, Young was a consistent part of Dandenong’s TAC Cup premiership-winning back six. A competitive, team-first defender, Young showed enough in his overage year to warrant selection in the first round of the rookie draft as a versatile prospect with the potential to move up the ground. Young is strong overhead and while he would be looking to find the ball more often, is an effective user by foot coming out of defensive 50. With some time in the VFL, Young can fill out and hone that versatility, while also improving on tackle numbers that AFL coaches so often look towards.

Jordon Sweet – Ruckman/Key Forward

20-year old North Adelaide premiership ruckman, Jordon Sweet is a good value project player who can provide cover if required. While he is raw at this stage, rookie picks are low risk and he should gain some valuable experience in the VFL to set him up for a crack at the next level. Hard to miss with his height and dreadlocks, Sweet is not afraid to take the game or opponents on, and flicks out handballs often as he follows up competitively. He may take time, but is a crafty versatile pick.

Cat B Rookie:

 

Buku Khamis – General Defender

The Dogs would have been thrilled to have Khamis slip through the National Draft, with many valuing him well inside the top 40 throughout the year. Clean in the air and by foot, Khamis lays claim to the lowest clanger kick percentage of any notable TAC Cup draft prospect, and has a relatively complete defensive game given he can both intercept and rebound. Despite all of his rapid improvement, Khamis is still quite raw as a late-comer to the game, and will benefit from some time in the system to further develop with the opportunity to replace the likes of Dale Morris and Matthew Suckling in a young defence. Talent and footy aside, Khamis is also an incredible story of perseverance having moved to Australia in 2006 from South Sudan, and it’s great to see him get a well deserved chance.

Summary:

The Bulldogs picked up a raft of versatile midfield options across their five National Draft selections, with another key feature of their draft haul the selection of readymade and mature-age prospects. With depth across each line achieved and a midfield set for the future, the Dogs also picked up a project ruckman, as well as some prototypical defensive cover that could prove handy in years to come.

2018 National AFL Draft selections

THE 2018 National AFL Draft selections and club by club selections as they happen today will appear here:

Round 1:

1 – Carlton – Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
2 – Gold Coast – Jack Lukosius – (WWT Torrens/South Australia)
3 – Gold Coast – Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)
4 – St Kilda – Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
5 – Port Adelaide – Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)
6 – Gold Coast – Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
7 – Western Bulldogs – Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
8 – North Melbourne – Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)
9 – Adelaide – Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)
10 – Sydney – Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
11 – GWS GIANTS – Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
12 – Port Adelaide – Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
13 – Collingwood – Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
14 – GWS GIANTS – Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)
15 – Geelong – Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)
16 – Adelaide – Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
17 – Fremantle – Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
18 – Port Adelaide – Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
19 – Carlton – Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
20 – Richmond – Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
21 – Brisbane – Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
22 – GWS GIANTS – Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

End of Round 1:

23 – Gold Coast –  Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

Round 2:

24 – GWS – Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)
25 – Sydney – James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26 – Western Bulldogs – Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
27 – Melbourne – Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)
28 – West Coast – Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
29 – Collingwood – Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
30 – Adelaide – Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
31 – West Coast – Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)
32 – Fremantle – Luke Valente (Norwood/Western Australia)
33 – Melbourne – James Jordon (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
34 – GWS GIANTS – Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/NSW-ACT)
35 – West Coast – Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
36 – Brisbane – Thomas Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
37 – Western Bulldogs – Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
38 – Essendon – Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
39 – West Coast – Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
40 – Brisbane – Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
41 – St Kilda – Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
42 – Brisbane – Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)
43 – Richmond – Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Round 3:

44 – Sydney –  Justin McInerney (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
45 – Western Bulldogs – Ben Cavarra (Williamstown VFL)
46 – North Melbourne – Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
47 – St Kilda –  Matthew Parker (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
48 – Geelong – Ben Jarvis (Norwood/South Australia)
49 – North Melbourne – Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)
50 – Geelong – Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)
51 – Sydney – Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
52 – Hawthorn – Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushangers/Allies)
53 – Melbourne – Aaron Nietschke (Central District/South Australia)
54 – St Kilda –  Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
55 – Brisbane – Noah Answerth (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Round 4:

56 – Melbourne – Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
57 – Fremantle – Lachlan Schulz (Williamstown VFL)
58 – Richmond – Fraser Turner (Clarence/Tasmania)
59 – Fremantle – Brett Bewley (Williamstown VFL)
60 – Essendon – Noah Gown (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
61 – GWS GIANTS – Connor Idun (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
62 – Richmond – Luke English (Perth/Western Australia)
63 – Hawthorn – Matthew Walker (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)
64 – Adelaide – Lachlan Sholl (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
65 – Geelong – Darcy Fort (Central District/South Australia)
66 – Carlton – Finbar O’Dwyer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
67 – St Kilda – Robert Young (North Adelaide/South Australia)
68 – Geelong – Jake Tarca (South Adelaide/South Australia)
69 – North Melbourne – Joel Crocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Round 5 onwards:

70 – Carlton – Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
71 – Gold Coast – Caleb Graham (Gold Coast Academy/Queensland)
72 – Essendon – Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
73 – Port Adelaide – Riley Grundy (Sturt/South Australia)
74 – Geelong – Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
75 – Melbourne – Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
76 – Port Adelaide – Boyd Woodcock (North Adelaide/South Australia)
77 – Collingwood – Atu Bosenavulagi (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
78 – Western Bulldogs – Will Hayes (Footscray VFL)

*Clubs matched bids to secure father-son or academy prospect

Club by Club Players:

Adelaide: Chayce Jones, Ned McHenry, Will Hamill, Lachlan Sholl
Brisbane: Ely Smith, Thomas Berry, Tom Joyce, Connor McFadyen, Noah Answerth
Carlton: Sam Walsh, Liam Stocker, Finbar O’Dwyer, Ben Silvagni
Collingwood: Isaac Quaynor, Will Kelly, Atu Bosenavulagi
Essendon: Irving Mosquito, Noah Gown, Brayden Ham
Fremantle: Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schulz, Brett Bewley
Geelong: Jordan Clark, Ben Jarvis, Jacob Kennerley, Darcy Fort, Jake Tarca, Oscar Brownless
Gold Coast: Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Jez McLennan, Caleb Graham
GWS GIANTS: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Xavier O’Halloran, Ian Hill, Kieren Briggs, Connor Idun
Hawthorn: Jacob Koschitzke, Mathew Walker
Melbourne: Tom Sparrow, James Jordon, Aaron Nietschke, Marty Hore, Toby Bedford
North Melbourne: Tarryn Thomas, Curtis Taylor, Bailey Scott, Joel Crocker
Port Adelaide: Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Riley Grundy, Boyd Woodcock
Richmond: Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Ross, Fraser Turner, Luke English
St Kilda: Max King, Jack Bytel, Mathew Parker, Nick Hind, Robert Young
Sydney: Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot
West Coast: Xavier O’Neill, Luke Foley, Bailey Williams, Jarrod Cameron
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Smith, Rhylee West, Laitham Vandermeer, Ben Cavarra, Will Hayes

AFL Draft preview: Western Bulldogs

AFTER winning the 2016 premiership, the Western Bulldogs have dropped down the table, missing out of the finals series, and turning over a number of players to leave them with a few spots to fill in their side. Class, speed and pressure are the three areas the Dogs could improve on, and it will be no surprise to see them target these areas at tomorrow’s AFL draft. They could also do with a mature-aged ruck, but that could come in the Rookie Draft as much as the National Draft.

List needs:

  • Outside midfielder
  • General defender
  • Small-medium forward
  • Ruck

Draft Picks: 7, 27, 32, 45, 63, 75, 82

The Western Bulldogs hold pick seven, and you expect them to get their man, Bailey Smith with the selection. The Sandringham Dragons captain is a terrific leader with all the areas they are looking for packaged into one. Without a pick until 27, you expect they will opt for a Smith over teammate, Ben King who is expected to be available, however if Port Adelaide throw a curveball and select Smith instead, the Bulldogs will think long and hard about King. Jye Caldwell is likely to be the next midfielder in line, and one that also ticks the three boxes required, however he may not be on the board with Gold Coast keen to snap him up with their third selection. Not much has been spoken about the Dogs trading, but logically, they could do a deal with the Suns involving a pick swap to move one place higher and guarantee themselves one of Smith or Caldwell, but whether it is worth it is another story. Chayce Jones could be an outside option for the Dogs as well, should both Smith and Caldwell be off the board.

The picks in the second round are likely to be used for a combination of Rhylee West – a father-son prospect – and one other player, with a bid not likely to come in the first round. As it stands, West has not been invited to the AFL National Draft, which Dogs fans should breathe a sigh of relief as it means a club is not intending to bid on him in that first round at this stage. It is anticipated the nuggety midfielder/forward will cost them their pick 27 – which will push them back to the 30s after other bids – but they could be lucky enough to just pay up their pick 32. With Next Generation Academy member, Buku Khamis most likely coming attached to pick 45, the Dogs will need the one other selection – class and speed the preference. Some of the names who should be on the board at that stage who tick those boxes are Dandenong Stingrays’ Will Hamill, who also has interest from Melbourne and St Kilda, South Australian endurance runner, Jacob Kennerley, Tasmanian winger, Fraser Turner and Northern Knights’ midfielder, Tom McKenzie.

The Bulldogs only have the four senior list spots available as it stands, and have stockpiled extra picks if West or Khamis cop earlier than expected bids. It is anticipated at worst that pick 45 might be knocked back a little, as might pick 63, but ultimately, they may well be done and dusted by the mid-late 50s tomorrow night.

2018 AFL Draft Central Phantom Draft

WE are now just three days away from the first pick being called in the 2018 AFL National Draft, and at AFL Draft Central, we have put our heads together and put forward our Phantom Draft, based on how some of the picks can fall. A few things to note:

  1. The pick numbers are different to the currently assigned picks due to bidding. We included bidding so Sydney matched a bid on Nick Blakey, Collingwood matched bids on Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly, Western Bulldogs matched bids on Rhylee West and Buku Khamis, GWS GIANTS matched a bid on Kieren Briggs, and so on and so fourth. That is why the pick numbers are not the same as the current pick numbers for clubs
  2. There was no live trading that took part – we did not want to overcomplicate the process, so we just opted for a nice simple Phantom Draft
  3. We have only included the first four rounds, so don’t fret if you only see clubs like Essendon having two picks, or Fremantle not picking up Jason Carter – we looked at list spots and anticipated numbers, so Carter was going to be Fremantle’s next pick outside the first four rounds.
  4. We have not included any rookie upgrades in the Phantom Draft, most of which will likely come outside the first four rounds anyway.
  5. No coaches were assigned to individual teams, instead it was a group effort with a variety of supporters chipping in their thoughts based on their contacts as well as club needs, with multiple South Australian and West Australian writers also involved – this is opinion-based.

 

Adelaide:

#9 Connor Rozee
#15 Jackson Hately
#19 Luke Valente
#26 Bailey Williams
#66 Hugo Munn
#73 Zane Barzen

Adelaide went with a distinct South Australian feel to it, taking the Croweaters’ three best midfielders from the National Under 18 Championships in Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately and Luke Valente. Rozee and Hately in particular could well go earlier, with St Kilda (pick four) and Gold Coast (pick six) considering the silky midfielder. It was an easy choice when Rozee was at pick 9, as was Hately who the Crows would be rapt to get at that selection. With the midfield sorted, Adelaide opted for talls after that, snaring Dandenong tall, Bailey Williams with #26, as well as local forward, Hugo Munn, and the exciting Zane Barzen from the Murray Bushrangers who can play a medium-tall role at half-forward.

Brisbane:

#21 Curtis Taylor
#34 Ely Smith
#35 Connor McFadyen
#53 Tom Berry

A few fan favourites made their way to Brisbane in the draft, with Cam Rayner’s best mate Curtis Taylor seeming a good selection at pick 21. With Xavier Duursma off the board, Taylor is another one the Lions are rumoured to like, and he adds a point of difference inside 50 with plenty of scope. Then they targeted big bodies, with Ely Smith and Tom Berry – brother of Jarrod – while also matching the bid on Academy prospect, Connor McFadyen. They are at the stage where they do not need to fill too many holes, and just beefed up their midfield and forward lines with some bigger bodies who have versatility as well.

Carlton:

#1 Sam Walsh
#61 Tyron Smallwood
#64 Sam Fletcher
#69 Ben Silvagni

Carlton was tricky to pick for late, after clearly selecting Sam Walsh with the first pick. Walsh is the standout midfielder in the draft crop, and Blues fans should be thrilled to have him coming on board, as a safe, 200-game player and future captain. He is joined by mid/forward, Tyron Smallwood who just oozes X-factor and looks like great value late, as well as inside midfielder Sam Fletcher who bleeds for any club he plays for. Wrapping up the draft with father-son selection Ben Silvagni, Blues fans should be pretty pleased with the value they have received considering their late picks.

Collingwood:

#18 Isaac Quaynor
#25 Will Kelly

A bit of a straight forward draft for Collingwood with Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly both heading to the club. The Magpies had no problems matching the bids, though there is a chance they go into deficit for 2019. Either way it will not stop them matching the pair who sure up the club’s defence. Collingwood will use a third pick – likely to be in the late 80s by the time bids and passes have shuffled up the order, with the Magpies contemplating a roughie from Western Australia – perhaps the unlucky Jack Mayo or Patrick Farrant to help strengthen their tall stocks.

Essendon:

#37 James Rowbottom
#57 Riley Bowman

Just the two picks inside the four rounds for Essendon, but no fear Bombers fans, along with a potential Shaun McKernan rookie upgrade, the Bombers are likely to take one or two more selections. They could target someone like a Nick Hind who has speed to burn and already knows the club well having played for the Bombers’ VFL side. But in the two selections Essendon did make, they went for the inside strength of James Rowbottom, and the ruck depth provided by Dandenong’s Riley Bowman, a couple of need-based selections for the Bombers in the Phantom Draft.

Fremantle:

#18 Ian Hill
#36 Sydney Stack
#45 Tom Lewis
#56 Damon Greaves
#72 Aaron Nietschke

Fremantle went local for its picks, going West Australian for three, and a couple of South Australian boys as well. Fremantle fans seem divided on whether or not to select Ian Hill with the first rounder, but do not let an injury-interrupted season put you off, he is a genuine star. The Dockers also selected fellow West Australian, Sydney Stack to add class to the side, as well as half-back Damon Greaves. Fremantle are also rumoured to be interested in Sturt midfielder, Tom Lewis, while also taking a punt on the consistent Aaron Nietschke with the final selection in this Phantom Draft. They then can select Jason Carter with a later selection or as a free hit in the rookie draft.

Geelong:

#14 Riley Collier-Dawkins
#49 Josh Kemp
#50 Charlie Sprague
#63 Oscar Brownless

Geelong made four picks in our Phantom Draft, picking up big-bodied inside midfielder, Riley Collier-Dawkins and two hybrid forward options in Josh Kemp and Charlie Sprague, before picking Oscar Brownless with their final selection. The father-son prospect can play midfield or forward, while Kemp adds a defensive element to the forward 50, and Sprague adds the attacking element which gives them plenty of scope for the future.

Gold Coast:

#2 Jack Lukosius
#3 Izak Rankine
#6 Jye Caldwell
#31 Jez McLennan
#33 Jacob Koschitzke
#71 Matt McGannon

Gold Coast always had a strong hand coming into the draft, and much like we expect in the real thing, selected Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Jye Caldwell with their first three selections. They add to their talent inside 50 and strength through the midfield. Later in the draft, the SUNS sured up their defence, picking half-back flankers, Jez McLennan and Matt McGannon, alongside All-Australian key position defender, Jacob Koschitzke. It means the SUNS picked up a tall at either end and added bucket loads of skill on the flanks.

GWS GIANTS:

#10 Jordan Clark
#13 Chayce Jones
#22 Ned McHenry
#23 Kieren Briggs
#51 Tom Sparrow

GWS GIANTS filled a number of needs in selecting players with varying skill sets and versatility that enables them to play a number of roles during a match. Jordan Clark and Chayce Jones are your clean, outside ball users who can slot practically anywhere on the field, Ned McHenry is your forward pressure player who loves the physicality of the game, and Tom Sparrow late represents value as a burst midfielder. The GIANTS also matched a bid of Academy prospect, Kieren Briggs who slots into the ruck ranks which have been wearing thin given Rory Lobb’s departure.

Hawthorn:

#52 Noah Gown
#60 Irving Mosquito

They will have another selection late, but along with Next Generation Academy member, Irving Mosquito, Hawthorn took a punt on key forward, Noah Gown. The Gippsland Power teammates reunite at the Hawks and immediately add to the forward half of the ground with Jarryd Roughead coming to the twilight of his career, while Mosquito adds that forward pressure. Both are players who with the right development could certainly be great value players at these selections.

Melbourne:

#29 Xavier O’Halloran
#32 Will Hamill
#38 Toby Bedford
#54 Will Golds

Melbourne has one of the more well-rounded teams and we targeted best available, with a focus on speed and outside run. Vic Metro captain, Xavier O’Halloran adds leadership and can play midfield or forward, while Will Hamill and Will Golds are classy outside ball users. Hamill will likely play off half-back and Golds off a wing, while Next Generation Academy player, Toby Bedford will cause headaches for opposition coaches inside 50.

North Melbourne:

#11 Tarryn Thomas
#30 Bailey Scott
#62 Angus Hanrahan

North Melbourne had the three selections in the first four rounds, and will also be picking up Joel Crocker with the club’s last selection. In the first four rounds, they matched bids on Next Generation Academy prospect, Tarryn Thomas, and father-son prospect, Bailey Scott. Both are top talents who will be great inclusions to a midfield that could do with a dose of outside speed and versatility. Angus Hanrahan late is a developing forward who can play midfield and add another dimension inside 50.

Port Adelaide:

#5 Ben King
#12 Zak Butters
#17 Xavier Duursma

Just the three early picks for Port Adelaide, selecting Ben King with pick five after brother Max was gone, while Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma add versatility and clean skills. Butters has great class and will play off half-forward or along a wing until he bulks up, while Duursma is equally lightly built and will play off a flank at either end or along a wing in time. Both know how to use the ball exceptionally well and have plenty of upside for the future.

Richmond:

#20 Liam Stocker
#42 Jack Bytel
#55 Tom McKenzie
#59 Harry Reynolds
#67 Brayden Ham

Richmond will look to target bigger bodies at the coalface, so expect a couple of these types of names to land at the Tigers. Liam Stocker has long been linked to Punt Road, while Jack Bytel seems a no brainer at pick 42. Tom McKenzie adds a different type of midfielder with their next pick, having speed and the ability to play off half-back as well. Reynolds is similarly able to play off half-back or through the midfield, and has that prototype body size. With the final pick, Richmond took a punt on overager Brayden Ham who has elite athletic traits and can play anywhere on the ground.

St Kilda:

#4 Max King
#40 Fraser Turner
#47 Durak Tucker
#58 Zac Foot
#70 Joe Ayton-Delaney

St Kilda fans have been keen to secure midfielders, and while it still looks like Max King will be the first selection, they cannot be unhappy with a genuine franchise key forward who as an added bonus, supports the Saints. Throw in the outside run of Fraser Turner and Zac Foot, while Joe Ayton-Delaney comes off a half-back flank and might not make it to pick 70, but he was there in this draft and would be fairly quickly swooped upon. Durak Tucker is another player who will add some composure down back with nice athleticism and offers value at pick 47 if the Saints are so inclined to pick up the West Australian.

Sydney:

#6 Nick Blakey
#43 Laitham Vandermeer
#44 Tom Joyce
#48 Jack Ross

Sydney made four rather savvy selections in the draft, taking Academy prospect, Nick Blakey after matching a bid inside the top 10, then selecting three very different players with the three selections remaining in the 40s. They picked up overage speedster, Laitham Vandermeer, small inside bull,  Tom Joyce, and dual balanced midfielder, Jack Ross, all of whom are arguably more readymade than many of their contemporaries at the same draft region.

West Coast:

#24 Sam Sturt
#27 Luke Foley
#41 Jarrod Cameron
#65 Mitch Podhajski
#68 Dillon O’Reilly

West Coast heads to the draft coming off a premiership, so targeting players who can fill depth for future years is important, and we looked at a variety of players to fill certain roles. They pick up draft bolter, Sam Sturt with their first selection, as well as overager, Luke Foley who remains in his home state. They were forced to match a bid for Jarrod Cameron at pick 41, but that seems straight forward, while picking up the readymade Mitch Podhajski, and local key forward, Dillon O’Reilly.

Western Bulldogs:

#8 Bailey Smith
#28 Rhylee West
#39 Jacob Kennerley
#46 Buku Khamis

The Western Bulldogs got their two club-tied players through matching bids with father-son midfielder, Rhylee West and Next Generation Academy prospect, Buku Khamis. The Bulldogs also picked up the man they have been heavily linked to in Bailey Smith with their first selection and outside runner, Jacob Kennerley with their second round pick a #39. All could contribute during the 2019 season if the coaching staff are so inclined, so it is a readymade draft haul for the Dogs.


*Among those taken in the next 20-odd picks included the likes of Hayden Sampson, Oscar Chapman, Daly Andrews, Mitch Riordan, Noah Answerth, Lachlan Sholl, Will Kennedy, Joel Crocker, Jason Carter, Riley Grundy and Kyle Reid, with some mature agers including Nick Hind, Brett Bewley and Darcy Fort also there.

AFL Draft Central Final 2018 Power Rankings

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#1 Jack Lukosius (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

Many seem to be somewhat writing the talented tall off a little given he is not kicking five goals from 20 touches and 10 marks every single week against senior bodies. As far as we are concerned, the skillset and ability he has both athletically and physically is unbelievable, and if he was playing in the Under 18s instead of the League, you would be seeing those kind of numbers each and every week. When the opposition know you are a talented kid, they will make sure they work harder to stop you, and Lukosius has done a terrific job, but just tired towards the end of the year which is more than fair. He has the capability to be a star key forward, key defender or midfielder and for his size, most people just cannot hit targets like he can, and move as well as he can. He has not lost his number one position all year, and both he and Walsh are the clear standouts come the draft month.

#2 Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The safest pick in the National Draft bar none. It is easy to see why Carlton would select him with pick one, and in terms of midfielders he just ticks practically every box. To poke holes in his game you have to get nitty gritty, but honestly, he is just a keeper and a future leader. He will add bucketloads to that Blues midfield both on and off the field, and looks every bit a 200-game player. Just a talented midfielder who you know what you will get each and every week, and if there was a genuine way to have two number ones in this list he would be there. Walsh has not moved from this spot all year, and it is easy to see why.

#3 Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Most agree he is the X-factor of the draft. No doubt that Rankine has all the tricks a player could want, and can literally produce plays that no-one else in the draft could. He can kick bags of goals as a small forward, dominate through the midfield with his speed and agility, and take a game away from the opposition in a matter of minutes. His endurance and consistency are areas that could continue to develop, and he is prone to the odd brain fade in terms of discipline with 50m penalties as such, but as we like to say – it is the price you pay for greatness, and in terms of upside and sheer brilliance, Rankine is the number one in that department.

#4 Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

It is not too often a kid who does his ACL after playing just one TAC Cup game still goes in the top five, but here we are. He was never going to fall too far given his athleticism and ability to just dominate games. Just ask the Oakleigh Chargers defence who had not answers to stop him – when Will Kelly was a forward – and he monstered undersized defenders with his massive vertical leap and contested marking. He booted 8.6 in windy conditions that day at RAMS Arena, and genuinely had a laugh with the ball delivered to him with ease. If he gets a big pre-season in and more strength work done, he could be a very scary prospect up forward.

#5 Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Missed seeing him strut his stuff in the second half of the TAC Cup season after that achilles injury put an end to his year. A consistent inside midfielder with great speed and elite endurance, Smith is as safe as Walsh in terms of picks, and if a team could somehow pair the two together, then that cements a terrific culture at that particular club for the future. A natural leader who is a high accumulator of the football, a massive clearance winner and a bone-crunching tackler, Smith is a top five player who like the others at the top-end of this list, could easily be pick one in most other drafts. Terrific selection.

#6 Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The third Sandringham Dragons player in the top six, Ben King has put together a terrific season for Haileybury and showed off what he is capable of for Sandringham late in the year despite having less opportunities with limited inside 50s for the Dragons. He can play at either end, and showed after a great season in defence last year, and now up forward this year, that he will fill a void wherever needed. The fact he could be this far down is remarkable given he could genuinely be a pick one in a lot of drafts. A 200cm key position utility who can run the 20m sprint in under three seconds? Yes please.

#7 Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

He has had comparisons to ‘Buddy’ Franklin, and they are not too far-fetched with Blakey having the size of a key forward, but the smarts and athleticism of a midfielder. He is a huge inclusion to the Swans outfit, and could play early on, but the Swans will be sure to bulk up his wiry frame before subjecting him to monster key defenders. Expect him to play an outside role with some time in the midfield before he can bulk up and eventually take over from ‘Buddy’ inside that forward 50. Not a huge accumulator, but boy does Blakey have some nice tricks, and some high X-factor which will excite Swans fans.

#8 Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)

A good season really threw the light utility into high-end draft calculations, with Rozee always thereabouts, but shooting up after a good SANFL League finals series with North Adelaide. Some were wondering what had happened after a quiet National Under 18 Championships, but South Australia threw the bigger bodies in the middle, and Rozee played on flanks, using his elite kicking skills to hurt opposition sides. He is another who will need time to fill out, but he has some promising upside if he can fulfil it. A great character as well, Rozee will ensure he gets the best out of himself which is why Gold Coast would be considering him with pick three.

#9 Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)

North Melbourne fans have been waiting for Thomas for some time since he burst onto the scene as an Under 16s player for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships – showing just how gifted he was at that time. He has not waivered from the top 10 in our eyes, and just has massive upside. He is the cleanest player in the draft at ground level with velcro hands, and he oozes class all over the field. He is light, but well built in terms of height, and once he fills out and develops further at AFL level, he will be a star. Genuine X-factor talent and a fully fledged top 10 player, even if a bid comes outside that mark.

#10 Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)

The 180cm Tasmanian is the smallest midfielder to slot into the first round, but like many others, he does not have too much to fault about his game. Aside from the occasional decision, Jones tends to use the ball well, is one of the best kicks in the draft crop, wins his own ball, runs and has elite athleticism, can kick goals or play off half-back. In short, his game is fairly close to complete and we would probably argue he would be in top five talks if he was five centimetres taller. No reason Jones cannot go top 10 on draft night though, and while he could slide through to the second round, it would be an absolute steal for any club that selects the future captain.

#11 Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)

Hately is the South Australian balanced midfielder who just ticks a lot of boxes. He hardly does a thing wrong, yet does not receive the same plaudits as some of the other state representatives. He accumulates the football, can play inside or out, is a clearance expert and uses it consistently by hand or foot. He could walk into a lot of sides early on, and have an impact which could be a great boost for those sides needing a readymade midfielder who has already played senior football against bigger bodies. A player not to discount because he has a lot to offer and he will no doubt show that early on in his career.

#12 Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Unlike some of the other midfielders in the first round, Collier-Dawkins does not have the consistency, but what he does have is the upside. He is that prototype midfielder, built like Patrick Cripps but with Adam Treloar’s burst speed. He is not a huge accumulator of the football, but he can certainly do some amazing things with it, and he has a long, penetrating kick which he uses when up forward or bursting out of a stoppage. He needs to show it on a more consistent basis, but his hurt factor and upside is as good as anyone in the draft. He is a long-term prospect who fans will enjoy watching over the years.

#13 Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Another “Mr Consistency” with a lot of the top midfielders in the draft not having too many major deficiencies in their games. Duursma rarely had a bad game in season 2018, leading the Gippsland Power to a surprise preliminary final, and performing well for Vic Country in defence. He can slot in nearly anywhere on the field, uses the ball well and moves nicely in transition. He is light but can win the contested ball or be the runner on the outside. He also knows how to hit the scoreboard, often picking up speed during a series of quick handballs and unloading from just inside 50 on the run for an important goal.

#14 Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

One of the most consistent players in the draft crop, and you would not be completely silly to suggest he could be the third best midfielder in the draft without injuries hampering his year. He is being talked up as a top 10 prospect and deservedly so. There is not too much to tweak with Caldwell’s game, and if he can get in a big pre-season, the sky is the limit. He can play inside, outside or up forward, and we dare say he would be easily in the top 10 if he had been able to show off his ability more consistently this season. Nonetheless he looms as a very good pick-up for any club that selects him. A great leader too.

#15 Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

One of the top-age draft bloomers who was self-admittedly a fair way off 12 months ago, has turned it around to be a genuine first round prospect in 2018. He is tough as nails and despite multiple injuries – both pre and during games, Stocker battled through admirably. In the absence of Dragons skipper, Bailey Smith late in the year, Stocker stood up terrifically and added another dimension to Sandringham’s midfield brigade. He wins the contested ball, gets to the outside and has a penetrating kick. Once he can further improve his endurance, he could take his game to another level as well.

#16 Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)

One of a number of players who burst onto the draft scene after a terrific National Under 18 Championships. Could well go top 10 by draft night, but he is rated inside the top 20 safely. He is a creative half-back who moves well and just keeps winning the football. In time, he will be expected to progress onto a wing potentially, but he has made the defence his own throughout the championships. He has the ability to hit-up some terrific pinpoint passes, but it is his decision making and composure, as well as his positioning that sets him aside as a general defender. Likely to be the first natural medium defender picked in the draft.

#17 Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs father-son could receive a bid in the top 20, but is likely to be in that early second round. The Dogs will match and he will head to the kennel where his father, Scott became a legend. Very similar to his father, West is small in stature, but stands tall in heart and determination, with his clean hands, ability to read ruck taps and move through stoppages among the top features in his game. He also knows how to play forward as either a leading forward, or a crumber, and that is where he will start his career before ultimately progressing into the midfield. He might be the 180cm, but he can still do some serious damage in the midfield.

#18 Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)

We refuse to drop the exciting small forward/midfielder outside the top 20 despite him seemingly dropping on rankings everywhere. He has far too much X-factor and while 12 months ago he was talked up as a top five pick, his inconsistent season through various injuries and some form dips see him drop to late first round. The West Australian teams are perfectly situated to select him in the draft, and he is another natural born leader. With his cousins, Stephen and Brad already in the purple, Fremantle might look to add to the family tree at the club, with his skills and decision making among the best out there.

#19 Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member will be a gift to the Magpies with Collingwood expected to very quickly match any bid that comes in. He is an outstanding leader, with great athleticism, good run and carry, and decision making. But his biggest strength is his football IQ, that is often not rewarded by looking at highlights, but the work he does off the ball to shut down gaps in play, or intercept balls that float through the middle of the ground – in some instances Quaynor would come off his opponent to dash at a ball and not break stride. He could easily play senior football next year, replacing Sam Murray off half-back.

#20 Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A kid who other than those deep in recruiting circles, many would not have heard of three months ago, now slots into the top 20. He is a medium forward who is good overhead, has elite athleticism and just competes for the football in the air or at ground level. He lacks endurance given he missed the cut for the initial Stingrays’ squad, but has not put a foot wrong since after strong performances for Peninsula Grammar in the APS. With game smarts and creativity in spades, Sturt has great upside that clubs would be excited about developing. Still raw, the forward is a player that will take time, but could be easily worth the wait.

#21 Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Rated much higher throughout the year, Williams’ inconsistent season at times has him drop a little to just outside the top 20. He is a player who could be snatched up with a first round pick, but is more likely to be top 30 more so than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of anyone, and he clunks contested marks strongly. Williams has had some worries in front of goal, with confidence and inconsistencies forcing him to miss some gettable shots. He can play ruck or down forward, but is more likely to settle into a key position forward role while giving a chop out in the ruck from time to time.

#22 Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Butters had an early finish to the 2018 season, given the shoulder injury ended his year. He is a fantastic talent with high upside, and can play through the midfield or up forward. He has that touch of class about him and while he is as light as they come, he does not waiver in his attack on the ball. There is no doubt he is more of a long-term prospect with his body size, but he could play forward early in his career, before progressing into the midfield down the track. He is a player that you want to have the ball in his hands, and Butters is the type who will create a nice following because of his good decision making and skill execution in the forward half.

#23 Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Jets and Vic Metro captain has been a consistent player in season 2018, playing both on the inside, outside and up forward. O’Halloran has terrific athleticism, with fantastic acceleration, speed, agility and endurance, as well as an insatiable work ethic that sees him get the best out of himself. He is strong overhead and can penetrate through zones with his kicking, and he is a player who will be considered for the first round, but should not come too much later.

#24 Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

A composed user of the football at half-back, McLennan’s National Under 18 Championships performances threw him into the spotlight and has earned his place inside the top 25. With all the talk around South Australia’s top four, as well as Valente, McLennan has gone about his business well, and is that defender who should be available to most clubs, and a player that will be reliable for years to come. Has SANFL League experience too with Central District, not looking out of place against men, and showing off his elite kicking skills. Adelaide might want to pounce with their last first round pick, but there will be no shortage of clubs in the market for a “quarter-back”.

#25 Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)

Despite being a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Bailey Scott chose to follow his father and head to Arden Street, with the Kangaroos having first chance to snare the consistent youngster under the father-son bidding system. The Kangaroos won over Scott ahead of the Suns, and Cats, with Scott likely to play up forward early on before progressing into the midfield. He has nice offensive and defensive traits, and despite not looking at smooth as others, he uses the ball well and can hit the scoreboard. Some clubs rate him inside the top 20 – a bid will likely come shortly after, with Scott not escaping into the 30s without being claimed.

#26 Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The nuggety midfielder/forward might not be the tallest player, but he has all the heart and ability you would want from a player. Not afraid of a scrap, and just attacks the contest with vigour, McHenry offers a club plenty of versatility with his agility and smarts outweighing his 174cm height. He knows where the goals are up forward and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand and executes by hand or foot. A player predicted to drift into the second round because of the size knowing he will have to play outside or as a small forward, McHenry looms as another bargain for clubs past pick 20.

#27 Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The X-factor from the Cannons has had an up-and-down year, which is what is the question mark hanging over him, but no-one could dispute his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft. He struggled for consistency, but when he was “on” he was really on, and could turn a game with a massive quarter of multiple goals. He stood up to be an important player at times through the championships, and looms as one of those players where clubs will be eyeing off each other to see who grabs him first. Taylor has great upside that could result in a genius pick down the track if he drifts to the second round as expected.

#28 Luke Valente (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian MVP and captain led from the front in the National Under 18 Championships, and despite injury curtailing his year, Valente showed enough to suggest he could even push into the first round. At his best he is a top 20 player, and it showed when Valente received an invitation to this year’s AFL National Draft, meaning he is highly likely to be taken in that first round. A natural born leader, aside from some athleticism,  there is not too many faults with his game and expect him to be one of the safest picks in the draft crop with his attack on the ball and willingness to get his hands dirty, second to none.

#29 Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

The over-age midfielder has found his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He has a consistent base week-in, week-out and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year despite battling injuries at times, and was solid through the National Under 18 Championships. Expected to be the third or fourth West Australian drafted behind Ian Hill and Jordan Clark, and perhaps Sydney Stack.

#30 Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)

The top GIANTS Academy prospect had a year to remember through the Academy Series and the National Under 18 Championships, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for both the GIANTS and Allies, while also named ruck of the All Australian side. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base, and ability to just compete and do all the defensive things, and ground work/second efforts to perfection. He is not the most mobile player, but with a frame that is readymade for senior football, Briggs is highly rated both internally and externally, and is expected to receive a bid in the second round.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.

AFL Draft Central November 2018 Power Rankings: 16-30

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. While even for us the top 60 would change regularly based on more discussions and re-watching footage, we take a look at our top 60, looking at our 30-45 players today. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

Our 46-60 rankings can be found here. Our 31-45 rankings can be found here.

#30 Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)

The top GIANTS Academy prospect had a year to remember through the Academy Series and the National Under 18 Championships, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for both the GIANTS and Allies, while also named ruck of the All Australian side. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base, and ability to just compete and do all the defensive things, and ground work/second efforts to perfection. He is not the most mobile player, but with a frame that is readymade for senior football, Briggs is highly rated both internally and externally, and is expected to receive a bid in the second round.

#29 Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

The over-age midfielder has found his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He has a consistent base week-in, week-out and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year despite battling injuries at times, and was solid through the National Under 18 Championships. Expected to be the third or fourth West Australian drafted behind Ian Hill and Jordan Clark, and perhaps Sydney Stack.

#28 Luke Valente (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian MVP and captain led from the front in the National Under 18 Championships, and despite injury curtailing his year, Valente showed enough to suggest he could even push into the first round. At his best he is a top 20 player, and it showed when Valente received an invitation to this year’s AFL National Draft, meaning he is highly likely to be taken in that first round. A natural born leader, aside from some athleticism,  there is not too many faults with his game and expect him to be one of the safest picks in the draft crop with his attack on the ball and willingness to get his hands dirty, second to none.

#27 Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The X-factor from the Cannons has had an up-and-down year, which is what is the question mark hanging over him, but no-one could dispute his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft. He struggled for consistency, but when he was “on” he was really on, and could turn a game with a massive quarter of multiple goals. He stood up to be an important player at times through the championships, and looms as one of those players where clubs will be eyeing off each other to see who grabs him first. Taylor has great upside that could result in a genius pick down the track if he drifts to the second round as expected.

#26 Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The nuggety midfielder/forward might not be the tallest player, but he has all the heart and ability you would want from a player. Not afraid of a scrap, and just attacks the contest with vigour, McHenry offers a club plenty of versatility with his agility and smarts outweighing his 174cm height. He knows where the goals are up forward and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand and executes by hand or foot. A player predicted to drift into the second round because of the size knowing he will have to play outside or as a small forward, McHenry looms as another bargain for clubs past pick 20.

#25 Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)

Despite being a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Bailey Scott chose to follow his father and head to Arden Street, with the Kangaroos having first chance to snare the consistent youngster under the father-son bidding system. The Kangaroos won over Scott ahead of the Suns, and Cats, with Scott likely to play up forward early on before progressing into the midfield. He has nice offensive and defensive traits, and despite not looking at smooth as others, he uses the ball well and can hit the scoreboard. Some clubs rate him inside the top 20 – a bid will likely come shortly after, with Scott not escaping into the 30s without being claimed.

#24 Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

A composed user of the football at half-back, McLennan’s National Under 18 Championships performances threw him into the spotlight and has earned his place inside the top 25. With all the talk around South Australia’s top four, as well as Valente, McLennan has gone about his business well, and is that defender who should be available to most clubs, and a player that will be reliable for years to come. Has SANFL League experience too with Central District, not looking out of place against men, and showing off his elite kicking skills. Adelaide might want to pounce with their last first round pick, but there will be no shortage of clubs in the market for a “quarter-back”.

#23 Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Jets and Vic Metro captain has been a consistent player in season 2018, playing both on the inside, outside and up forward. O’Halloran has terrific athleticism, with fantastic acceleration, speed, agility and endurance, as well as an insatiable work ethic that sees him get the best out of himself. He is strong overhead and can penetrate through zones with his kicking, and he is a player who will be considered for the first round, but should not come too much later.

#22 Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Butters had an early finish to the 2018 season, given the shoulder injury ended his year. He is a fantastic talent with high upside, and can play through the midfield or up forward. He has that touch of class about him and while he is as light as they come, he does not waiver in his attack on the ball. There is no doubt he is more of a long-term prospect with his body size, but he could play forward early in his career, before progressing into the midfield down the track. He is a player that you want to have the ball in his hands, and Butters is the type who will create a nice following because of his good decision making and skill execution in the forward half.

#21 Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Rated much higher throughout the year, Williams’ inconsistent season at times has him drop a little to just outside the top 20. He is a player who could be snatched up with a first round pick, but is more likely to be top 30 more so than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of anyone, and he clunks contested marks strongly. Williams has had some worries in front of goal, with confidence and inconsistencies forcing him to miss some gettable shots. He can play ruck or down forward, but is more likely to settle into a key position forward role while giving a chop out in the ruck from time to time.

#20 Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A kid who other than those deep in recruiting circles, many would not have heard of three months ago, now slots into the top 20. He is a medium forward who is good overhead, has elite athleticism and just competes for the football in the air or at ground level. He lacks endurance given he missed the cut for the initial Stingrays’ squad, but has not put a foot wrong since after strong performances for Peninsula Grammar in the APS. With game smarts and creativity in spades, Sturt has great upside that clubs would be excited about developing. Still raw, the forward is a player that will take time, but could be easily worth the wait.

#19 Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member will be a gift to the Magpies with Collingwood expected to very quickly match any bid that comes in. He is an outstanding leader, with great athleticism, good run and carry, and decision making. But his biggest strength is his football IQ, that is often not rewarded by looking at highlights, but the work he does off the ball to shut down gaps in play, or intercept balls that float through the middle of the ground – in some instances Quaynor would come off his opponent to dash at a ball and not break stride. He could easily play senior football next year, replacing Sam Murray off half-back.

#18 Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)

We refuse to drop the exciting small forward/midfielder outside the top 20 despite him seemingly dropping on rankings everywhere. He has far too much X-factor and while 12 months ago he was talked up as a top five pick, his inconsistent season through various injuries and some form dips see him drop to late first round. The West Australian teams are perfectly situated to select him in the draft, and he is another natural born leader. With his cousins, Stephen and Brad already in the purple, Fremantle might look to add to the family tree at the club, with his skills and decision making among the best out there.

#17 Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs father-son could receive a bid in the top 20, but is likely to be in that early second round. The Dogs will match and he will head to the kennel where his father, Scott became a legend. Very similar to his father, West is small in stature, but stands tall in heart and determination, with his clean hands, ability to read ruck taps and move through stoppages among the top features in his game. He also knows how to play forward as either a leading forward, or a crumber, and that is where he will start his career before ultimately progressing into the midfield. He might be the 180cm, but he can still do some serious damage in the midfield.

#16 Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)

One of a number of players who burst onto the draft scene after a terrific National Under 18 Championships. Could well go top 10 by draft night, but he is rated inside the top 20 safely. He is a creative half-back who moves well and just keeps winning the football. In time, he will be expected to progress onto a wing potentially, but he has made the defence his own throughout the championships. He has the ability to hit-up some terrific pinpoint passes, but it is his decision making and composure, as well as his positioning that sets him aside as a general defender. Likely to be the first natural medium defender picked in the draft.

Future stars fly high on big day of testing

MANY players stood out on the third day of the National AFL Draft Combine, with a couple of huge efforts across the board. Among the top performers were Tasmanian, Chayce Jones, Dandenong Stingrays stars, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams and Will Hamill, Murray Bushrangers midfielder, Ely Smith, South Australians, Connor Rozee and Izak Rankine, and Geelong Falcons’ Ned McHenry and Sam Walsh. Northern Knights’ Tom McKenzie also took out the 20m sprint.

Draft bolter, Sturt took out the running vertical jump (right) with a massive 91cm jump, while Stingrays teammate, Williams recorded 94cm on his left. Smith was the highest flyer from a standing start, recording 77cm, five clear of teammate, Laitham Vandermeer, and South Australian tall, Ben Jarvis. Jones finished second in both running vertical jumps, while Rozee and Gippsland Power captain, Xavier Duursma also impressed in the category.

McKenzie, Rozee and Hamill were the three fastest 20m sprinters on the day, while Rankine took out the agility test ahead of Western Bulldogs father-son prospect, Rhylee West and Western Jets captain, Xavier O’Halloran. In the Yo-Yo test, it was a Falcons duo with McHenry ahead of Walsh, with West Australian Luke English also finishing equal second.

NATIONAL AFL DRAFT COMBINE RESULTS

Standing vertical jump:

Ely Smith – 77cm
Laitham Vandermeer – 72cm
Ben Jarvis – 72cm
Izak Rankine – 70cm
Irving Mosquito – 68cm
Bailey Scott – 68cm
Isaac Quaynor 67cm
Connor Rozee – 67cm
Buku Khamis – 67cm
Chayce Jones – 66cm
Will Hamill – 66cm
Charlie Sprague – 66cm
Xavier O’Halloran – 66cm
Rhylee West – 66cm
Riley Grundy – 66cm
Connor Idun – 66cm
Bailey Williams – 66cm

Running vertical jump (right foot):

Sam Sturt – 91cm
Chayce Jones – 85cm
Xavier Duursma – 83cm
Ely Smith – 82cm
Isaac Quaynor – 81cm
Riley Grundy – 81cm
Xavier O’Neill – 81cm
Connor Rozee – 79cm
Rhylee West – 79cm
Irving Mosquito – 78cm
Noah Answerth – 78cm

Running vertical jump (left foot):

Bailey Williams – 94cm
Chayce Jones – 91cm
Connor Rozee – 88cm
Laitham Vandermeer – 88cm
Ely Smith – 86cm
Isaac Quaynor – 86cm
Will Hamill – 86cm
Ben Jarvis – 86cm
Xavier O’Neill – 84cm
Zac Foot – 84cm
Jackson Hately – 84cm
Bailey Scott – 84cm

20m sprint:

Tom McKenzie – 2.904 seconds
Connor Rozee – 2.91 seconds
Will Hamill – 2.914 seconds
Izak Rankine – 2.93 seconds
Connor Idun – 2.945 seconds
Bailey Williams – 2.946 seconds
Xavier O’Neill – 2.957
Xavier O’Halloran – 2.96 seconds
Ben King – 2.965 seconds
Sam Sturt – 2.966 seconds

Agility:

Izak Rankine – 8.039 seconds
Xavier O’Halloran – 8.063 seconds
Rhylee West – 8.216 seconds
Will Hamill – 8.222 seconds
James Blanck – 8.258 seconds
Chayce Jones – 8.270 seconds
Ben Jarvis – 8.308 seconds
Connor Rozee – 8.326 seconds
Ely Smith – 8.328 seconds
Sam Sturt – 8.396 seconds

Yo-Yo test:

Ned McHenry – level 22.2
Sam Walsh – 22.1
Luke English – 22.1
Will Golds – 21.8
Xavier O’Halloran – 21.6
Oscar Brownless – 21.6
Will Hamill – 21.4
Ely Smith – 21.4
Jez McLennan – 21.4
Lachlan Sholl – 21.4
Fraser Turner – 21.4

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 35:

 

September rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius looked tired in the now-infamous SANFL Preliminary Final where the Eagles gave up a seven-goal lead to North Adelaide to be bundled out of the finals series. After a long season, the talented utility has earned a nice break and expect him to test well at the National Draft Combine this week.

 

September rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh’s Falcons side was knocked out in the elimination finals stage, but the ball magnet still had a day out, collecting 28 touches, three marks, four clearances, four inside 50s and booting a goal. He is now the favourite to go at Carlton’s first pick, with Walsh locked into a top two selection.

 

September rank: #3

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Given West Adelaide missed out on finals, Rankine has not played in the past month, but the excitement machine did win a handy payout on Grand Final, taking out the ‘Dash for Cash’.

 

September rank: #4

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

 

September rank: #5

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

King played both finals and looked dominant against the Murray Bushrangers, hauling in 11 marks (six contested) from 19 disposals, and booting five goals from 10 scoring shots in a clear best on ground performance. He was more subdued against the Dandenong Stingrays in the Dragons’ Preliminary Final loss, amassing 11 disposals, four marks (one contested) and booting two goals from limited opportunities.

 

September rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith missed the past month due to an achilles injury.

 

September rank: #11

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Has been one of the most talked about prospects in the past month, and is the first player to break into the top seven since early in the season. A real chance to go in the top three, Rozee has been all class, taking speckies and shining on the biggest stage. He had the nine touches on Grand Final day, but played his role in North Adelaide’s premiership, a week after amassing 15 disposals and seven marks in the Preliminary Final comeback against Eagles.

 

September rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Has been out of action due to injury and will miss the rest of the season.

 

September rank: #8

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

With the League team eliminated from the finals race, Hately headed back to the Reserves where he tore it up, collecting 20 disposals and six clearances in the Preliminary Final loss to Norwood, after racking up 27 touches and seven clearances a week earlier. Firmly in the race for the top 10, yet could be the fourth South Australian taken, which is a remarkable result for the National Under 18 Championship winning side.

 

September rank: #9

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas was ultra-impressive in North Launceston’s Tasmanian State League premiership, booting two goals and named among the Bombers’ best in the 30-point win over Lauderdale. One who should test well at the National AFL Draft Combine.

 

September rank: #13

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker held his head high during the finals series, amassing 18 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and two clearances in Sandringham’s Preliminary Final loss to Dandenong when he was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury. A brave effort and one of a Morrish Medallist who will surely find a home in the top 20.

 

September rank: #20

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, Collier-Dawkins was terrific throughout Oakleigh’s finals series after a quiet month in August. Collier-Dawkins had 19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and one goal in the Grand Final loss, after a near best on ground effort of 26 disposals, four marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal in the Preliminary Final win over Gippsland Power the week before.

 

September rank: #14

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

One of the few Power players to hold his head high in Gippsland’s horror Preliminary Final loss to Oakleigh Chargers. He had 18 disposals, three marks, six clearances, eight tackles and four inside 50s. A consistent season has come to an end, and is a player who is expected to test well in the National AFL Draft Combine this week.

 

September rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams had a solid, without being outstanding finals series and still looms as a genuine first round tall for a finals side that is out of reach of the top echelon talls. His vertical leap was on show in the Grand Final win over Oakleigh Chargers, taking five marks from 12 disposals and two goals, as well as nine hitouts.

 

September rank: #15

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

West has not played since the last Power Rankings, but holds his spot at 15 and expect him to cost the Western Bulldogs a top 25 selection.

 

September rank: #16

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Despite his season finishing in early September, Jones has held his place in the top 20. While he had a quiet elimination final, he did finish the season averaging 23.3 disposals, 17.7 kicks, 5.6 handballs, 2.4 marks, 8.3 clearances and 6.6 tackles from seven games, while booting five goals. A really good all-round player with a deadly kick and top leadership.

 

September rank: #11

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

Has missed the past month and a half of football due to injury and has slipped as others have stood up over the past couple of months. Still a value pick and a first round selection who will add leadership and skill to any AFL side.

 

September rank: #17

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor had a quiet Grand Final, beaten a few times by draft bolter, Sam Sturt, but he also showed off his versatility, going into a couple of centre square bounces, and even having a shot on goal. Given Oakleigh’s dominant first two finals, Quaynor did not have a lot to do in the back half, but had the 14 touches, two clearances and four rebounds in the Chargers’ huge win over Gippsland Power.

 

September rank: #24

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Clark was huge in Claremont’s League Elimination Final, taking 10 marks from 15 disposals and laying four tackles, before having 13 disposals and one mark in his side’s Semi-Final loss to West Perth. Very skilful and a draft bolter after the National AFL Under 18 Championships, not completely out of the realms of possibility to be taken ahead of state teammate, Ian Hill.

 

September rank: #19

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

Has been on ice after shoulder surgery in July. Still an unbelievable talent that has serious X-factor.

 

September rank: #21

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

O’Halloran’s season came on an end in the worst possible way from a team perspective, going down by 20 goals to Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination finals. He was one of only a couple of Jets who could hold their head high, as he never stopped trying for 18 disposals, five marks, five clearances and five tackles, as well as a long-range goal to try and keep the Jets positivity up. A natural leader.

 

September rank: N/A

A huge draft bolter out of Peninsula Grammar, Sturt is a medium forward who is good overhead, an unbelievable kick, and so dangerous inside 50. He added another dimension to Dandenong’s forward line in the finals series, and proved crucial from the final round of the TAC Cup season, through to the Grand Final. It is hard to make the top 30 of this list at this point of the season after not being considered earlier in the year, but his form has been a huge upward trend.

Past month:

A terrific last four games of the season, Sturt booted 11 goals from four games, which included three finals for Dandenong. In the Grand Final he was strong earlier, showing too much speed for Isaac Quaynor, and his strength overhead was a highlight. He finished the Grand Final with 15 disposals, six marks and two goals and has well and truly pushed into top 25, if not top 20, contention.

 

September rank: #22

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings and remains one of those players hard to place. Taylor could easily go top 15 if a team takes a punt on him, but will be somewhere in that top 25 range.

 

September rank: #30

He was a new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, and McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

Much like Hately, McLennan dropped down to the Reserves for Central District after the League side was knocked out of the finals race at the end of the regular season. In his final game, McLennan picked up 15 disposals and four marks, as well as two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds in the Bulldogs’ loss to Norwood. In the semi-final win over Glenelg, McLennan finished with 23 disposals, six marks (two contested), six tackles, two inside 50s and four rebounds, playing a more contested brand of football and standing up against the senior bodies.

 

September rank: #18

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

Has only slipped as others jump up, McHenry did not have the ideal Elimination Final after a huge Wildcard Round performance against Calder Cannons. In the Falcons’ loss to Gippsland Power, McHenry had the 18 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and nine tackles, standing out with his defensive pressure, but not quite having the influence of the week before. Still one likely to land in the top 30, but like many at his height, size can work against him. A value mid-draft pick.

 

September rank: #25

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings after a hamstring injury ended his year at quarter time of the Pioneers’ loss to Western Jets. Does not have too many weaknesses, and is another who is hard to place. Top 15 on quality, it will depend on where the clubs see him as he could be a really value pick for a premiership contender.

 

September rank: #19

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Foley overcame a quad injury to return for the WAFL Colts finals series, and what an impact he had. Foley finished the second semi-final with 22 disposals, five marks and two goals against Swan Districts, before doing it again in Subiaco’s premiership win over the same opposition. He had 22 disposals, seven marks and laid six tackles on Optus Stadium, a ground he may well become very familiar with in the future. Readymade option for clubs who are searching for a midfielder to slot straight in.

 

September rank: #27

The Collingwood father-son prospect continues to bolt up the order with a fantastic second half of the year, following on from the National Under 18 Championships. He can play both defensive and offensive roles, finding a good balance between playing one-on-one and running off his man. A good size with some development left in him in terms of size, Kelly will be a big bonus for Collingwood to assist in that defensive half of the ground. Can also play forward but his work in defence is considered far superior.

Past month:

Narrowly missed out on being a premiership player this year in the TAC Cup, but has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Expected to cost Collingwood the equivalent of a second round pick, Kelly matched it with Bailey Williams early in the Grand Final and has been good both one-on-one and as a loose defender floating back to assist teammates. Had 19 disposals, five marks and four rebounds, while also being thrown into the ruck, winning seven hitouts.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who has divided opinions this year, but has had a sensational second half of the season for Swan Districts. He was a five-goal hero at the National Under 18 Championships for Western Australia, and while he is lightly built, is a member of West Coast’s Next Generation Academy. Looms as a player whom the Eagles will need to match a bid for, and is the brother of Lion, Charlie. More physically advanced than his brother and having more of an impact in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Booted two goals from 11 disposals and two marks in the Grand Final defeat to Subiaco, while also laying four tackles. Had a quieter Preliminary Final with just seven touches, with his best final coming in the Qualifying Final where he booted four goals to be a dominant force inside 50. One who with a consistent second half of the season and any past worries behind him, is a genuine talent in the front half of the draft.

 

September rank: #29

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs has not played since the GIANTS got knocked out of the NEAFL finals race, but all eyes will be on the big man at the National AFL Draft Combine. His endurance in particular is one area to keep an eye on given he rarely takes a break on-field. The best pure ruck in the draft crop.

 

September rank: #28

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has not been able to get out on the park in the past two months due to bone bruising in the knee and others have risen. A quality get if he did land this late, expect somewhere in that second round.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who is a member of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy, Bedford has improved as the season went on. He is a player who showed some impressive signs pre-National Championships, but the experience of playing with Vic Country made him improve further in the second half of the season. Played most of the TAC Cup season with Melbourne Grammar in the APS, but has the agility and X-factor that just make draft watchers take note.

Past month:

Bedford is a player who might just drop behind Melbourne’s first pick, but it would not be unconceivable for him to be bid on just ahead of their first selection. Very light and needs to add strength to his frame, he is very quick with ball-in-hand, and can work his way out of trouble with ease. Great goal sense, and defensive pressure, Bedford is an ideal small forward who can pinch hit through the midfield.

 

September rank: #30

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott has not played in the past month since being awarded the Suns’ Academy Player of the Year. One who continues to bring intrigue about his future, still being available for three clubs, and many expect a decision to be made soon. Gold Coast the expected favourite given location.

 

September rank: N/A

The Brisbane Lions Academy member has been in this region for most of the season, having a consistent year. He is built to play senior football from early on, and has rotated between midfield and forward for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships. Very strong overhead and knows how to kick a goal, it will be interesting to see how he tests at the National Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month, but McFadyen managed the five games with Brisbane in the NEAFL, averaging eight disposals and 3.4 marks per game. Still has a bit to work on, but is developing nicely for the Lions.

 

September rank: N/A

In the final place in the 35 for October, another Perth player makes his way into the rankings, with the very balanced Sydney Stack slotting in. He has the hardness of an inside midfielder, combined with the skill of an outside player, with the endurance being the big question mark over Stack. He missed the first National Under 18 Championships due to needing to improve training standards, but since then he has really impressed, both for the rest of the championships, and for Perth in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month due to Perth not making the WAFL Finals, but in his final three games, Stack made the League side, picking up 12, 13 and 17 disposals respectively, holding his own against senior bodies, and with a full pre-season is one to watch.

 

IN THE MIX:

#36 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia) Outside Midfielder, 184cm, 76kg
#37 Ely Smith (Murray/Vic Country) Inside Midfielder, 188cm, 86kg
#38 Riley Bowman (Dandenong/Vic Country) Ruck, 198cm, 82kg
#39 Buku Khamis (Western/Vic Metro) General Defender, 190cm, 81kg
#40 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia) General Defender, 186cm, 74kg

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

FOUR teams advanced through to the finals in the Wildcard Round and our writers were on hand to take notes on how some of the combine invitees and Under 17 Futures players went in the knockout weekend.

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

Started the game really strongly and even though he had the two goals to his name, he could have had more. After starting quietly in the past two weeks, it was great to see him up and about creating space. He was leading hard up at the footy and looked really dangerous. Importantly, he was zipping around inside 50 forcing ground level pressure as well, including acts that would not be recorded on a stats sheet. Faded out of the game in the last term, so is still looking for that four quarter effort, but got the Cannons going early and was still a target in the third term.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Was under siege in the final term and ended as one of the Cannons best in defence. He had a couple of moments he would want back again such as trying to kick the ball off the ground instead of picking it up late, but when coming off half-back he looked good. Earlier in the game he had an absolute elite pass across his body coming out of defence hitting up a teammate on the wing. Saved a certain Oscar Brownless goal, jumping up on the line and getting finger tips to it as Brownless’ snap sailed through midway through the last term.

#20 Rhylee West

Did not win a truckload of the ball like he can do on some occasions, but had a high impact per possession game. His stoppage work was first class and his ability to move through congestion seamlessly, was a highlight. He kicked a ripping goal off hands at a stoppage to bend it around the post and in, and just has those highlight-worthy moments. Also made sure the likes of Sam Walsh and Ned McHenry knew he was up for the fight, pestering his opposition fellow AFL Academy members.

#23 Daniel Hanna

Returned to the side after some experience with Essendon’s Victorian Football League (VFL) side, and was one of the top players in the first term. His composure and cleanliness at ground level was good, and he took a number of intercept marks dropping into the hole. It also released Lachlan Sholl and the like to play more free with their game-style off half-back. He almost had a horror moment dropping what appeared to be a standard uncontested mark in the final term, but the kick was called back and he would have breathed a sigh of relief. Showed some promising signs in that key defensive post.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

Did not have his most prolific game, but just stands up when he is called to do so. Kicked an early goal in the opening term and provides a target when forward, or a big body around the stoppages in the middle.

#57 Josh Kemp

An exciting talent who looked very good in the opening term, flying for marks and backing up his highlight-worthy moments with good pressure plays. He had just three touches after quarter time, drifting right out of the game, but does have some exciting traits – that vertical leap being one.

 

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

A terrific game from McHenry, possibly his best for the season. He might have had just the 20 touches, but his ability to stand up when the game was on the line and with the Cannons focused on Sam Walsh, McHenry was terrific. He kicked Geelong’s first major of the game and then nailed the first of the final term – the most important of the game because of the balance between the sides with Calder leading by 11. He swung the momentum back in Geelong’s favour, and was fierce around the stoppages and just turned it on in the second half to be a crucial player.

#20 Brayden Ham

Did not have the scoreboard impact he has had in recent weeks, starting in defence then moving forward in the second half – a trend which has become the norm for Ham over the past month in particular. Ham also spent time in the midfield and did not look out of place around the stoppages. He uses the ball well, has a high impact per possession count, and takes the game on with his blistering speed and huge tank. Had a big third term presenting up the ground and had an opportunity to cut the final break deficit to six with a set shot from tight in the pocket, but just missed. Has become an important player in the Falcons’ outfit.

#22 Sam Walsh

Had limited influence compared to past weeks, but you can never keep him down entirely, showing his class on multiple occasions throughout the four quarters. The big thing with Walsh is, when he cannot impact offensively, he gets his hands dirty defensively, and can switch between the roles. He knew he was copping close attention on the weekend, so he turned it back on his opponents and instead laid multiple tackles and had one of his better defensive games. Walsh’s massive tank allows him to cover the ground and run opponents into it, so he managed to still find the pill in each third of the ground.

#30 Oscar Brownless

Booted a couple of goals and played what has become a typical Oscar Brownless game. Not always the cleanest player, but he just works hard time and time again. He was in the thick of the action when Calder let the Falcons know they were up for the fight, and Brownless booted his goals when the game was hot early. It was his tackling pressure that stood out, locking the ball in and restricting his opponents from an easy exit. Had a snap out of nothing to put the Falcons up by six midway through the last term, but it was touched on the line by Lachlan Sholl.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Such a smart player, he is that hybrid forward who leads out, can take strong marks, but is not lost to the contest when it hits the ground. If anything, his best piece of play was a touch that will not get a statistic, but it was a deft tap on to Ned McHenry in the final term who burst away and nailed the all-important first goal of the quarter. Did not have heaps of opportunities, but nailed a terrific set shot goal in the opening term. Had a goal assist in the final term with a nice chip pass to Jay Dahlhaus 15m out rather than having a snap.

#39 Connor Idun

Had a quiet game up forward, while still presenting. Went into the ruck to start the final term and had an immediate impact by contesting at ground level, and his follow-up work earned him a free kick for a tackle on Rhylee West. Finished with the 10 hitouts, using his body well at throw-ins. The highlight for mine was his tackle in the final term on Lucas Cavallaro leading to Charlie Sprague winning the spilled ball and setting up a Jay Dahlhaus goal.

#41 Cooper Stephens

Showed off his spacial awareness and vision in tight with some fantastic deft handballs to teammates on the outside. He has that knack for not overdoing it, and was able to turn on a dime under pressure. The most eye-catching thing about Stephens is his ability to just play within the tempo of the game because he can blaze away and kick long when required, or take weight off the kick and retain possession for his side when it is needed. Kicked a goal in the final term showing his class, with a snap off one step and using pure instinct.

 

Northern Knights vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie

McKenzie brought clean hands to the loose ball and delivered effectively by foot inside 50, having seven effective kicks for the day. McKenzie was unlucky not having his work rewarded through the passage off his seven deliveries inside 50, but regardless his work rate did not waiver. His 20 disposals for the day and 16 uncontested possessions stand as a testament to his ability to cut off the footy (six marks) and create space upfield. Though grabbed a few times, McKenzie did not get dispossessed or brought to ground, withstanding the waves of GWV’s abuse. His invite to the National Combine stands as no surprise when he stand outs as possibly the match’s best player in the losing side.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa positioned well around the stoppages, boasting loads of second efforts. He did his best to clean up some of the sloppy work out of the stoppage, laying tackles in succession in the first half. He finished with four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds and tied game high 14 contested possessions (Sam Philp). He was unlucky not to hit his shot at goal around the body, but that seemed to be the theme for the Knights’ day.

GWV:

#14 Jed Hill

Hill kicked the first and only goal for the Rebels in the first quarter off a strong lead into the goal square. He followed it up with a second, kicking off GWV’s 37-point second quarter. Hill’s impact continued up the ground, moving swiftly with the ball and creating space with short, effective kicks. Despite not kicking a goal in the second half, Hill kept a strong forward half presence. He worked well around the contest and took three marks (one contested) for the day. He was unlucky not to kick the day’s best goal after taking the ball and kicking from the boundary on the run. If it was not touched on the line, it would have been his.

#21 Izaac Grant

Took a brilliant intercept mark through the passage in the third, opened the ground and delivered the ball well by foot. His delivery by foot was impressive, picking his man well and hitting them up with short, sharp kicks (7 effective kicks). Despite this efficiency, Grant’s two shots on goal both resulted in behinds. Regardless, he helped create these opportunities, which was something the Knights had a lot of trouble doing. Constantly first to the football, Grant snatched up an impressive eight marks (one contested), getting in front of man with a good burst of speed while showing off strong hands over head. He judged the flight of the footy well, especially those hurried out of their defensive 50.

#24 Matty Lloyd

Lloyd delivered the ball well by foot along the wing, easily breaking down the Knights’ forward trap. Six minutes into the second he found space 45 metres out and landed his first goal. Lloyd’s work by foot was immense, delivering the ball well up the field with 10 effective kicks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 20 disposals. He was pivotal in creating opportunities at goal, even flexing his own talents in front as well. He boasts good composure despite pressure from the Knight’s forward line. This became more evident in the fourth as he collected the ball off the deck from a poor kick and slotted his second goal for the day.

 

Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews had a quiet first half but he had one good moment in the first quarter making a nice run and penetrating kick down the line. Andrews started to lift as the team did in the third quarter, he laid a nice tackle and had a few runs on the wing and kicking long effectively on a few occasions. He finished the game well with some nice run around the ground. He had a running shot at goal which he just missed and showed good attack on the contest in the backline winning the hard ball cleanly and dishing off the handball which was a fair effort with the recent rain making the ball harder to handle. Andrews finished with 14 disposals and four inside 50s.

#24 Josh Honey

He has a touch of class with the way he goes about it. Does not need a lot of the ball to have a high impact on the game and is similar to a fellow Jet, in Zak Butters, Can hurt the opposition when he gathers it inside 50, and finished with one goal from 14 disposals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

O’Halloran like his teammates had a quiet first half, but he had a great bit of play late in the first quarter bursting from the stoppage with a penetrating kick, then following up bursting away from the opposition and a nice handball out wide. O’Halloran lifted his side in the third quarter to give his team the lead going into the last quarter, he managed to win the ball inside and outside the contest with a few nice kicks on his opposite foot and some hard ball gets at stoppages getting out of tackles with sheer willpower. His best piece of play came in the last quarter where he was able to drift forward to impact a marking contest he would then follow up with a hard tackle and follow the ball up another 25 metres before getting involved in the attacking chain and kicking back inside 50 on his left foot, this really showed off his desire for the contest. O’Halloran finished with 17 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

#38 Buku Khamis

Khamis took the no-fuss approach to his game against Eastern laying plenty of spoils and only running off when necessary. He took plenty of intercept marks during the game, including one in the last quarter showing great courage coming back with the flight and taking a nice grab. Khamis used the ball well on his trusty left foot often hitting targets long and short. Khamis only had nine disposals but he also had five tackles showing off his fantastic defensive work and he will need to bring that next week with the potential matchup against a dangerous Oakleigh forward.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Radovanovic played a consistent game over the four quarters playing a number of roles for the team in the midfield and down back and up forward. Radovanovic showed plenty of run throughout the game with a few give and gets from the back half and he used his speed to get separation around the ground. Radovanovic has a running shot at goal but missed in the last quarter which involved his trademark dash, a goal would have been reward for effort. Radovanovic finished the game with 15 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

 

Eastern:

By: Michael Alvaro

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

The bottom-ager was industrious as usual in the engine room, extracting from congestion and tackling hard. He was a regular at the stoppages and found most of his ball there, and while he has a good work rate to get there, Stapleton would do well to find more ball on the outside, too. The midfielder finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was at his productive best across the day, starting on the wing and zipping around the outside of stoppages to compile 31 quality possessions. While he won a good amount of his own ball, Mellis was most often either a link in the chain or the one to push the ball out into space, receiving handballs 16 times and taking four marks. The bottom-ager was one of the better users on the day too, going at 77 per cent overall, and particularly standing out with his 88% handball efficiency. Mellis’ best moments came when gathering and flicking out handballs quickly, while he also darted a nice kick inbound in the opening term which caught the eye.

#31 James Blanck

It’s rare that Blanck ever troubles the statisticians too heavily, but his impact is more often than not valuable. He started off a little shakily with a dropped mark inside defensive 50, but quickly bounced back to show his composure and excellent decision making – reading the ball well in the air and coming off his man to good effect. His intercept mark in the opening quarter led to a Ranges goal, and Blanck found himself in the right spot to intercept once again in the following term to provide the catalyst for another opportunity. He finished with a nice one on one mark in the final term to cap off a solid, but not perfect day.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Murray:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Jordan Butts

It was a solid outing by the overage forward who was born on the last day of the millennium, despite not hitting the scoreboard. He plays in front and constantly presents on the lead, giving his midfielders an option to lower their eyes to. It saw him take a respectable eight marks from his 18 disposals, proving to possess strong hands on occasions. He is a nice field kick for his size too, hitting Boyer inside 50 earlier in the game with a brilliantly weighted pass. Butts was a tad fumbly at times below his knees, but produced enough moments to suggest he has improved.

#5 Ely Smith

The prolific big-bodied midfielder won a game high 29 disposals and was making his presence known in and around the stoppages as usual. He is incredibly strong and at times is happy to run directly through an opponent, knowing they won’t be able to hold him, instead of attempting to get around. This successful tactic often left Bendigo opponents on their backsides, as Smith forcefully broke through to continue running or release the ball by hand. While his possessions were not always influential or pretty, he has that knack of finding the ball and does all he can to get it forward.

#6 Will Chandler

The bottom-aged New South Welshman still does not turn 17 for a few months, but is showing promising signs in the forward half. He leads to dangerous positions and loves to turn onto his left boot. It could have been a very fruitful day if he was more accurate in front of goal, kicking three behinds, but is coming along nicely and he is one to look out for next year.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen continues to drift in and out of games, but those occasional glimpses of talent are forever making you think what ceiling he possesses and what he can become at the next level. He has natural instincts that you really cannot teach, as shown when he snapped a lovely left foot goal in the first term, movements that are not generally associated with 193cm kids. He kicked a second goal from a well read intercept mark inside 50, but was missing for long periods in between. The talent is there.

#9 Mathew Walker

The GWS Academy prospect generally gives hints of the attributes that are transferrable to the next level, but he displayed those skills on a more consistent basis on Sunday. Whether it was forward or at the stoppages, he had an impact on the game, collecting 21 disposals, seven clearances and most importantly hit the scoreboard with three goals. He has genuine goal sense inside 50, slicing the goals with a snap, inside out banana on the run and a lovely long set shot. He was clean in the contest or at the stoppages, often getting forward of centre and kicking efficiently to scoring positions. While he does not appear to be blessed with great pace, he has a solid frame to grow into and could become a bit of a bargain later in the draft.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash is going to be a player highly sought after in 2019 and did not do anything to hurt that reputation on Sunday. Starting in defence, he got in ball winning positions and made excellent decisions as we’ve become accustomed to. He spent more time forward as the game went on, kicking two goals including a brilliantly crumbed effort in the third term. He is underrated in the air too, taking two contested marks and competing whenever the opportunity presented. Exciting talent.

#16 Nick Murray

The Murray Bushrangers skipper is a tad underrated when discussing the key position defender options for the upcoming draft, despite earning himself a state combine invite. His strength is reading the ball in the air, where he is capable of taking high intercept contested marks as shown twice on Sunday. If he cannot mark the ball, he looks to impact a contest with aggression, generally killing the ball and taking bodies with him. While clubs want their KPDs taller than 193cm these days, he still could have something to offer if he ends up on a list.

#18 Hudson Garoni

The thick-framed key position forward started the game in a lively manner, presenting up to the ball and was often rewarded on the lead. He hit a nice pass inside 50 and looked to be playing a very team oriented role by feeding his teammates as opposed to kicking the goals himself. He took a particularly strong contested intercept in the third term, but drifted out of it a little as time wore on. Still ended up with 18 disposals and seven marks, but was goalless.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

The underage Boyer looks a solid prospect for next year, despite having quiet patches on Sunday. He spent time in defence and forward, getting on the end of a pass inside 50 during the second which he couldn’t convert. He is a really well balanced player and appears a calming influence with ball in hand.

#26 Riley Bice

Starting mostly on the wing, Bice is a player the Bushrangers want with ball in hand. He is an exquisite left foot kick and makes great decisions too. He has good height at 185cm and despite being extremely light, tackles hard as shown in the fourth term. He doesn’t win huge amounts of the ball, but doesn’t have to as he’ll make things happen more often than not. He is an interesting player who probably just needs one big outing to get more clubs on board.

 

Bendigo:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Jye Caldwell

Caldwell was the player most came to see at Ikon Park, with the highly touted midfielder starting the game superbly showing his class with his kicking to teammates advantage and his work by hand often hitting them with speed and precision. He had a nice bit of play in the middle of the ground where he stood up in a tackle and managed to keep his composure and fire out a nice handball. Caldwell looked every bit a first round prospect before injury struck again with another hamstring injury very late in the first quarter, Caldwell had six disposals in the first quarter and looked set for a productive game.

#8 Brodie Kemp

Kemp was left to fill the hole that Caldwell left after his injury, Kemp was the main playmaker for Bendigo showing off his class in the contest. He dropped an easy mark in the first quarter but his spin out of trouble to follow up was sublime, Kemp came off in the second quarter looking wobbly which spelled disaster for Bendigo but he managed to come back and better than ever playing behind the ball using his smarts and play making ability. He showed plenty of dash which was impressive for a bottom age player standing at 193cm, despite one poor kick his kicking was sublime out of defence and his follow up work to try and tackle was admirable. Kemp finished with 23 disposals, eight marks and seven tackles, and he was the clear best player for Bendigo and he looks to be their number one prospect in the 2019 draft.

Weekend Wash-up: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

WILDCARD Round is done and won, and four sides are out of the premiership race. While Geelong Falcons, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets advance to the finals, Calder Cannons, Northern Knights, Eastern Ranges and Bendigo Pioneers seasons are over.

 

Calder Cannons 8.7 (55) defeated by Geelong Falcons 8.8 (56)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

In one of the games of the year, and for a second week in a row, the Geelong Falcons snare a come from behind victory against the Calder Cannons to eliminate them from the finals race. Struggling to capitalise with their scoring shots in the third, the Falcons turned the tables in the final term, kicking three goals to one and winning from an 11-point deficit at the break. The Cannons’ big third quarter effort put them ahead and gave them the largest lead of the game. Neither team was ever out of the race, but in the end, it was a behind and the Falcons’ defensive pressure that snatched away the victory.

Cooper Stephens was instrumental with three rebounds, four inside 50s, five clearances, a game-high 27 disposals and a final quarter goal. Co-captain Sam Walsh finished similarly with four rebounds, three inside 50s, five clearances and 26 disposals racking up an impressive 16 contested possessions. Sam Conway dominated in the ruck with 27 hit outs, beating the Cannons’ total hit outs of 25 on his own. Jay Dahlhaus (16 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and two goals), Oscar Brownless (18 disposals, four clearances and two goals) and Ned McHenry (20 disposals and two goals) impressed in front of goals, with Doyle Madigan (23 disposals, 15 contested, four clearances and two inside 50) also proving very dominating.

Will Jury had a strong performance with a game high 16 contested possessions (19 disposals), three marks (one contested), five clearances and six inside 50s. Lachlan Sholl (23 disposals, six marks, two inside 50s and one clearance), Brodie Newman (13 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Daniel Hanna (16 disposals and seven marks) all presented strong overhead. Curtis Taylor (11 disposals and five marks) and Jake Riccardi (12 disposals, three marks, six hitouts, three clearances and four inside 50s) kicked two goals each, while Jacob Martin (17 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Rhylee West (12 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and one goal) were among the best for the Cannons. 

 

Northern Knights (3.4.22) defeated by Greater Western Victoria Rebels (14.7.91)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Finals are now well and truly over for the Northern Knights after being handed a smashing by the GWV Rebels at MARS Stadium. Though only a point between them come the second quarter, the GWV lifted to produce a 37-point second quarter, with seven shots on goal to two. The third proved just as disappointing for the Knights with just the one point scored for the quarter, summing up a rather dismal performance with 21 scoring shots to seven.

Riely Ranieri’s work in the Rebels’ defensive half was extremely pivotal in their win, racking up 19 disposals (11 contested), four clearances, and seven rebounds. Matt Schnerring boasted a team-high 22 disposals, moving the ball well with three inside 50s and two rebounds, and contributed to their big second quarter with a late goal. Matty Lloyd capped off a solid game with 20 disposals and kicked two big goals, with Scott Carlin close behind on 19 disposals, five clearances and two goals of his own. Jed Hill and Harrison Butler also put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford (11 disposals, 27 hit outs, four clearances and three inside 50s) performed well in the ruck alongside Darcy McEldrew (18 hitouts).

Despite their poor showing, the Northern Knights still had plenty of strong performers on the day. Sam Philp had a game-high 23 disposals and dominated out of the stoppages with 9 clearances. Philp moved the ball well to collect six inside 50s for the match. Similarly, Tom McKenzie delivered well with his seven inside 50s, showcased his strong hands (six marks) and got a bit of footy with 20 disposals. Adam Carafa (four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds), Josh D’Intinosante (three clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds), Jackson Davies (four clearances, four inside 50s and three inside 50s) and Braedyn Gillard (10 contested possessions, three clearances and three inside 50s) also had considerable impacts.

 

Western Jets 12.12 (84) defeated Eastern Ranges 7.4 (46)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets survived an early Eastern Ranges onslaught to claim a 38-point win and earn their spot in the TAC Cup final eight. The sixth-place Jets had every reason to be nervous coming into the game against second-last Eastern given both sides outside of the top eight beat their more fancied counterparts in the previous day’s play, and that fear would have been heightened as the Ranges stormed out to a first half lead. Three first half majors to bottom ager Ben Hickleton put Eastern in good stead, as they put on five straight goals to open the game and kept Western goalless in the second term to hold a 16-point buffer at the main break.

Their run came to a grinding halt once the ball went down to start the third term, as key Western ball-winners Xavier O’Halloran and Morrish Medal runner-up Connor Thar came into the game, with Stefan Radovanovic solid down back and Emerson Jeka providing a target forward of centre. Western jetted into the lead with four goals to none in the third term, and kept their form in the last as they piled on another five to Eastern’s one.

For the winners, O’Halloran (17 disposals, four tackles) stepped up when it counted, while Thar (32 disposals, six tackles, four marks nd one goal) was arguably their best. The Western forward line was dangerous as ever too, with Daniel Pantalleresco and Jeka claiming three majors each, while 23rd man Cassius White was also dangerous, booting two.

In one of Eastern’s better displays, Kye Quirk continued to rack up the possessions with 24 touches, 10 handball receives and six marks, while Joel Burleigh and Xavier Fry were their main ball-winners with 32 touches each. Bottom ager Hickleton also impressed with his three goals, finding himself in good areas inside 50.

The Jets now face an in-form Oakleigh side full of stars in the first week of finals, while Eastern’s season ends on the back of a fighting effort.

 

Murray Bushrangers 9.18 (72) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 6.9 (45)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers rounded out the TAC Cup wildcard round with a comfortable, yet wasteful 27-point win over Bendigo Pioneers. Having been booted out of the top four in the last two rounds, the Bushies looked to have learned a lesson from the previous wildcard games as the favourites broke out to a 22-point lead to open the game, keeping the Pio’s goalless.

To Bendigo’s credit, they didn’t give in and hit back with three goals of their own in the second term to reduce the margin to 12 points at the main break. Neither side could really snatch a good run of momentum, as the buffer stayed at a steady three-four goals going into the final break – with Bendigo’s accuracy (6.4) keeping them within reach in quarters two and three as Murray complied a wasteful 5.8 in comparison.

But the class of Murray proved too much as they held on with a further 1.5 in the fourth quarter to shut out the trying contest and their nagging opposition. Ely Smith continued his good form in the midfield to be named Murray’s best with 29 disposals and six tackles, while Mathew Walker (21 disposals, nine tackles, six marks and three goals) was not far behind. Zane Barzen and Lachlan Ash were the Bushranger’s other multiple goal kickers with two each, with the latter also gathering 20 disposals in a more advanced role.

For Bendigo, Jacob Atley was the clear standout up forward as he collected 21 disposals and marked well while claiming half of his side’s six goals. Liam Marciano was also industrious with his 27 disposals, six tackles and five marks and one goal, while Bailey Henderson (22 disposals and six marks) was also solid. Jye Caldwell also showed some brilliant glimpses before unfortunately injuring his hamstring.

Murray will go on to face the Sandringham side which snatched their top-four spot in what looks like being a tantalising contest.