Tag: rookies

2020 AFL Draft recap: Melbourne Demons

MELBOURNE’S rollercoaster 2020 season ended in a ninth place finish and the lingering feeling of disappointment, but a sense of assuredness was somewhat restored as the Demons managed to gain two first round picks in this year’s draft. The move to trade back up the order and bring in a trio of top 35 talents marked a job well done, as a couple of classy smalls were joined by a developable tall prospect in what was an all-local draft haul. With a couple of spots potentially remaining open on the outside and in Melbourne’s front half, these players may well get a senior chance in their debut seasons.

MELBOURNE

National Draft:
#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Nil.

Consecutive first round picks opened the show for Melbourne, who looked to have had running machine, Max Holmes snatched from under their noses by Geelong immediately beforehand. Nonetheless, his former Sandringham Dragons teammate Jake Bowey marked a great first selection followed by a slight slider in Bailey Laurie, who was linked to GWS’ picks in the teens.

Bowey is a tough 175cm prospect with clean skills and great speed and agility. He can play a number of roles but made the wing his own as a bottom-ager and also has the potential to develop as a small forward. Laurie is similarly brilliant skill-wise, particularly by foot, known to carve up the opposition with his baulks and forward carry. The 179cm Oakleigh Chargers graduate achieved premiership success with the side in 2019 and along with Bowey, should have fans quickly warm to him.

The selection of Fraser Rosman, another Sandringham product, proved Melbourne’s final point of call at the draft and was a more prospective pick than the previous two. At 194cm, Rosman is an athletic marvel with great speed, endurance, and vertical ability which translates to his versatility. His size suggests he can own the forward 50 arc in future, but Rosman is also capable of rolling further afield. He has had little exposure with only two NAB League appearances last year, with his draft bolt coming on the back of promising preseason performances.

Melbourne was one of the rare sides not to make any rookie selections, meaning its three-pronged National Draft haul were the only fresh faces taken in after trade period. With Bowey and Laurie, the Demons have added some much-needed class going forward in support of 2019 draftee Kysaiah Pickett, while Rosman could become a fearsome key forward in the long-term, but has great flexibility otherwise.

Featured Image: Melbourne’s fresh faces from the 2020 AFL Draft | Credit: (Retrieved from) @melbournefc via Twitter

Rookie Rundown: The picks you might have missed

THE 2020 AFL National and Rookie Drafts have been run and done, with plenty of fresh faces entering the elite system despite limited exposure, opportunities, and football this year. Often times, the best gems and values picks are found in the Rookie Draft and this year is no different, with a bunch of selections not read out during the official event seeing hot prospects get their chance. We take you through some of the names who have snuck onto lists via pre-listing or Category B eligibility, perhaps flying under the radar having been confirmed away from the glamour of draft night.

>> NATIONAL DRAFT: Club-by-club picks
>> ROOKIE DRAFT: Full order

Gold Coast is arguably the team with most relevance to this kind of category, with a total of five pre-listings made as part of the Suns’ draft concessions. Top 25 talents Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey made their way onto the primary list, with the former an academy product and the latter aligned through Gold Coast’s access to the Darwin zone. Davies is a tall inside midfielder who thrives at the contest with great poise and clean extraction, while Jeffrey is an athletic swingman who stands out aerially and has great upside.

Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe are other academy graduates who were called out during the Rookie Draft, both promising to add some outside run and class to the Suns’ squad. Their listings were somewhat of a formality, but also show the growth of Gold Coast’s talent program. International scholarship holder Hewago Paul Oea earned a Category B slot after being overlooked last year, potentially bringing great speed and excitement to the forward half. ‘Ace’, as he is affectionately known, hails from Papua New Guinea and represented the Allies during last year’s Under 18 championships.

Another Queensland academy product in Carter Michael also earned rookie selection, pre-listed by Brisbane having been an integral part of the Lions’ pathway setup. The versatile midfielder’s selection slipped under the radar and was only announced after the fact, but he has long been linked with a spot on the Lions’ list. He is a Category A rookie, while Irish convert Deividas Uosis has been listed as a Category B prospect. The Lithuanian-born athlete was announced as a Lions coup early in 2020, but will only officially join their list come 2021.

Will Shaw was somewhat of a surprise get by GWS, with Marc Sheather Sydney’s only other academy selection after matching bids for Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden. Shaw is a former Giants Academy member who played for both Murray and Bendigo in the NAB League but was overlooked as a top-ager before getting his chance with the Giants, who value his outside run and class. He was eligible for selection as he falls in the Giants’ NSW zone. Sheather is a versatile option for the Swans who can play above his size up forward, down back, or even through midfield. He has athletic traits which appeal and a readymade kind of build. Both are said to have been put into Category B slots.

Adelaide wasted little time in announcing the Category B listings of Next Generation Academy (NGA) members James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch, who managed to slip through past the National Draft. Both are fast-developing talents, with Borlase a strongly-built defender who is the son of 246-game Port Adelaide champion Darryl, while Newchurch is a zippy small forward with x-factor and a wonderful eye for goal. They are far from the finished product, but could play a part in the Crows’ rebuild having capped off a massive overall draft haul.

Elsewhere, a couple of monster basketball converts also earned Category B selection, with Paul Tsapatolis landing at Geelong and Mate Colina snapped up by Richmond. Melbourne NGA prospect Deakyn Smith carries some interest after missing out on this intake, but will train with the club in hopes of nabbing a spot in future. Port Adelaide father-son Taj Schofield was one who did find a home in the Rookie Draft after the Power committed to him, adding great value at essentially no cost.

Featured Image: Gold Coast Category B rookie Hewago Paul Oea | Credit: SUNS Media

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Vic Metro

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under -17 showcase games last year. Outsider talent from the Vic Metro regions is next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty of prospects around the mark despite missing a full year of football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft Guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CALDER CANNONS:

Jackson Cardillo | Midfielder/Forward
03/07/2002 | 186cm/78kg

One of the more unlucky players to miss out on a draft combine invite this year, Cardillo has plenty of traits which should appeal to recruiters. With explosive speed, great agility and a penetrating kick, the Calder midfielder showed a good amount of promise across 18 NAB League outings as a bottom-ager.

EASTERN RANGES:

Jack Diedrich | Ruck/Forward
17/09/2002 | 199cm/88kg

A developing ruck/key forward, Diedrich was included in this year’s Vic Metro academy hub on the back of just three NAB League appearances in 2019. The raw 199cm tall has some strength to build and production to lift, but has nice upside as he fares well both in the air and at ground level.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS:

Liam Delahunty | Tall Utility
13/02/2001 | 190cm/90kg

One of the 19-year-olds in contention, Delahunty was set to make the move to Victoria this year to suit up for Northern in the NAB League and North Melbourne in the VFL. He instead turned out again for GWS in the Academy Series, showcasing his athleticism and versatility as a tall defender who can also swing forward.

Lachlan Gawel | Forward/Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm/79kg

Another who missed out last year and was set to switch to Northern, Gawel has the kind of upside recruiters like despite only having a small sample size to show. He has exciting athletic attributes and can make things happen on the ball both up forward and potentially from midfield in future.

Josh Watson | Midfielder
21/10/2002 | 182cm/82kg

A likely type who showed his wares in the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, Watson could have been one to really come on in 2020. He has shown his capacity to find a good amount of ball and get it moving forward with his booming left boot. Having played on the outer, he can also move to the inside of midfield.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

Fraser Elliot | Inside Midfielder
05/07/2002 | 188cm/88kg

While he was squeezed out at the pointy end of the season, Elliot proved an important part of Oakleigh’s premiership midfield with his ability to extract and compete at the coalface. He is a big-bodied type who was forced to adapt in other roles at times, but would have been looking forward to permanent midfield minutes in 2020.

Lochlan Jenkins | Midfielder
23/02/2002 | 178cm/79kg

Another key midfield cog in Oakleigh’s stacked 2019 premiership side, Jenkins is a smaller type who finds plenty of the ball and goes about his business with intent. Along with Elliot, he shone in the absence of Oakleigh’s stars during the mid-part of the season and ended up registering 18 impressive games.

Sam Tucker | Key Defender/Forward
07/01/2002 | 197cm/87kg

A swingman of sorts, Tucker is one who was poised to make a big impact in 2020 with a full NAB League season. He is a solid marker of the ball who can impact at either end of the ground, but looked to be settling nicely into a key defensive role. He is already a nice size for it, too.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS:

Felix Flockart | Ruck/Tall Utility
05/11/2001 | 200cm/79kg

Another 19-year-old prospect, but one who has not gained a massive amount of elite-level exposure. After impressing for Brighton Grammar in last year’s APS season, Flockhart was set to join Sandringham’s NAB League and VFL programs, hoping to continue his steep rate of development as a lean and versatile tall with great upside.

Darby Hipwell | Inside Midfielder
15/08/2002 | 181cm/80kg

Having very narrowly missed the cut for this year’s AFL Academy intake, Hipwell took it in his stride and looked to prove his doubters wrong in 2020. Drawing inspiration from past teammates, the inside midfielder has worked hard on improving his outside game to better complement his contested ball winning ability.

Oscar Lewis | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 192cm/75kg

A bolter from last year’s crop who was set to go around once again, Lewis is a raw type with good potential. At 192cm, he is a prototypical athlete with strong running ability on the outside, whether that be carving off half-back or the wing. He would have looked to improve his production and contested work.

Charlie McKay | Midfielder/Defender
09/08/2002 | 186cm/80kg

McKay loomed as one to watch for Carlton fans in 2020 given his ties to the club as the son of 244-game Blues champion, Andrew. He remains father-son eligible and has some nice traits, including hardness at the ball and his ability to play both through midfield or in defence. Could come into greater contention with a full year in 2021.

WESTERN JETS:

Lucas Failli | Midfielder/Small Forward
14/09/2002 | 170cm/73kg

Failli may be small, but packs a punch as a zippy ball winner who can also impact up forward. His size, smarts and agility bode for more time in attack should he get to the next level, with his defensive work-rate also suitable for that small forward role.

Cody Raak | Tall Defender
08/11/2002 | 191cm/77kg

Another Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect tied to the Western Bulldogs this year, Raak is a developing defender who reads the play well and shows sound composure on the ball. He may be building up to key position size and would prove a handy developmental type for the Bulldogs’ Category B rookie list.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 17: Green stars, Rivers comes up clutch as Demons stay alive

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend spilled back into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 16 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS)
STATS: 30 disposals (22 handballs), 2 marks, 3 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist

It is hard to believe that Green has only managed five AFL outings in his debut season, but he again made the most of some movement among the GWS midfield. Last year’s number 10 pick racked up a game-high 30 disposals, dominating at the coalface with 21 contested possessions and four clearances. His extraction work in-close was on point, and Green looks as comfortable as any first year inside midfielder in recent memory. His 191cm/89kg frame aids that, but the GIANTS Academy graduate proved he is more than just a brute with his game on the weekend.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
20 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 481 metres gained, 2 score involvements

Another high-end draft pick, Anderson continues to thrive despite somewhat of a taper in Gold Coast’s form late in season 2020. Having cut his teeth on the outside, the Oakleigh Chargers product has transitioned well to a more inside-oriented role in the back half of his debut campaign. It is a position where Anderson’s penetrative kick and forward thinking comes to the fore, as he sets his side on the front foot from midfield. Anderson also got his hands on the ball plenty of times once again, just reaching the 20-disposal mark and allowing the SUNS to enter dangerous areas.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
15 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 7 score involvements, 1 goal, 3 behinds

Pickett has been ultra impressive in his maiden senior campaign, and again proved a thorn in the opposition’s side in Round 17. The Demons sought a small forward with their selection of Pickett, but have received much more than tackling pressure and goal nous, as the South Australian also continues to prove his class with ball in hand further afield. He is often as creative and productive forward of centre as any player afield, but his radar was a touch off in front of the big sticks as he managed 1.3. The all-action prospect will undoubtedly put bums on seats in future.

Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
16 disposals (75% efficiency), 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements, 2 goals

The hero of an astonishing Melbourne triumph, Rivers is beginning to flourish in more advanced roles among the Dees’ set-up. A slider in last year’s draft, the West Australian is proving those who overlooked him wrong as one of the more seamless draftees to make the AFL transition. His ability to run, gun, and penetrate from behind the ball is already a known quantity, but add some scoreboard impact and midfield minutes from his latest outing, and you have a player with serious upside. His clutch goal late in the piece sealed Melbourne’s win, keeping its finals hopes alive with one round remaining.

Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)
21 disposals (76% efficiency), 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 score involvements

Adelaide pulled off a third-consecutive win over the weekend, booting Carlton out of finals contention and sending off Bryce Gibbs in style against his old side. The rebuild has proven long and strenuous throughout 2020, but the green shoots are beginning to appear, with the likes of Schoenberg reaping the benefits of added exposure at AFL level. Accustomed to contesting against mature bodies, the South Australian was productive both on the inside and outside of midfield. His clean hands and disposal, combined with solid defensive output at the contest make for a well rounded midfield package, which he again proved to be in his seventh senior game.

Others in action:

Brad Close (Geelong)
Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
Will Day (Hawthorn)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Mitch Hibberd (Essendon)
Finn Maginness (Hawthorn)
Flynn Perez (North Melbourne)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

Featured image: Melbourne’s Trent Rivers celebrates | Michael Klein/News Corp

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Round 12 wrap

WITH young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) wrap to the performances of youth throughout all three grades. There is plenty to unpack in our third altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior competitions, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade in Round 12.

>> SCROLL for full results 

Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) is again the talk of SANFL town, after drubbing reigning League premier, Glenelg by 78 points to put one hand on the minor premiership. 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil was again terrific among a raft of key Eagles ball winners, collecting 24 disposals in the win. Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate Lachlan Jones contributed to the defensive effort seeing the Bays held to just four majors, and he even added a huge specky to his highlight reel. Fellow defender Rhyan Mansell managed 14 touches, but comes under an injury cloud at the unideal time with his Achilles complaint. Glenelg’s Luke Parks (13 disposals, six marks) and Callum Park (14 disposals, nine rebound 50s) were both kept busy down back in the heavy defeat.

2020 AFL Draft hopefuls Luke Edwards (Glenelg) and Caleb Poulter (WWT) battled it out in the Reserves, as the Eagles again came away comfortable winners. Fellow Under 18s Cooper Horsnell and Ty Murphy have also enjoyed two’s berths for the Bays, along with Victorian mainstay Mitch Martin and 18-year-old Brady Searle up forward. WWT midfielder Harrison Dawkins was also named for a well-earned promotion. While the Eagles have already secured finals qualification across both senior levels, Glenelg’s youngsters like Edwards, Horsnell, and Murphy could spill back into the Under 18s side should the Tigers sneak into the top four there.

Speaking of the Under 18s, the Eagles pulled off a hat-trick of victories over their yellow and black counterparts, securing a thumping 93-point win on Saturday. Port fans will be buoyed to see father-son prospects Jase Burgoyne (2021-eligible) and Taj Schofield (2020) lead the ball winning stakes with over 30 disposals each, as both also hit the scoreboard in their midfield rotation. Max Litster (29 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) was again prominent, while bigmen Henry Smith and Zac Phillips both managed two goals apiece. Frazer Bradley (26 disposals, six marks) found the most ball for Glenelg, while Kye Dean and William Watts continued their solid form.

Elsewhere, South Adelaide and North Adelaide both bolstered their spots in the top four; as the Panthers preyed on Westies, and the Roosters crowed in a win over Central District. Daly Andrews’ promising start to SANFL League life continued with another 16 disposals and one goal, while 17-year-old Jason Horne was terrific for 15 touches and a major of his own in the Panthers’ victory. 2020 National Combine invitee Thomas Highmore also made a steady return from injury. North Adelaide key defender Dyson Hilder, whose League return saw Karl Finlay go the other way, was solid with 11 disposals and seven marks as his Roosters got up.

There was also some good talent running around for the Panthers at Reserves level, with another National Combine invitee in Phoenix Spicer among them. The speedy small forward/midfielder booted two majors and was among his side’s best players as South romped to a 71-point win. Draft hopeful Zac Dumesny was also listed to make his return from injury in the two’s. Prolific Westies midfielder Bailey Chamberlain narrowly missed League selection, but was part of the Reserves squad alongside Jye Sinderberry. Leading prospect Riley Thilthorpe was billed to slot back into the League lineup, but was a late scratching on account of his niggling groin complaint.

The Bloods’ Under 18s made South Adelaide earn its victory, pushing the Panthers for most of the game. Michael Laudato and Zac Venning combined for 54 disposals, 20 marks, and 12 rebound 50s in a busy defence, while Cade Kennedy and Dylan White worked hard through the engine room with over 20 touches and seven clearances apiece, and Luke Young snared three goals up forward. South’s depth proved too strong though, as the likes of Max Clifton, Luke Mitton, Dylan Brown, and Liam Hamilton all proved productive, while draft bolter Brayden Cook booted two goals and Nick Kraemer finally got back on the park.

Like the Panthers, North Adelaide enjoyed a big Under 18s win of its own, downing Centrals to the tune of 94 points. Among the goalkickers were Kyle Brazell and Matthew Borg, who each also found plenty of the ball, while bigmen Leo Coates (four goals) and Isaac Keeler (two) also impressed. There were no multiple goalkickers for the Bulldogs with some classy personnel missing, though Wyatt Ryan put in another mammoth performance with 26 disposals, 11 marks, and 32 hitouts. Lachlan Grubb was also an outstanding performer at Reserves level, booting five goals in Centrals’ win.

Back in the League frame, Norwood kept its finals hopes alive with a razor-thin win over Sturt, won off the boot of VFL recruit Nikolaus Rokahr. The Redlegs have been hampered by injuries, but that has only allowed youngsters like Daniel Fairbrother to get an extended run at senior level. He collected 19 disposals in his third senior game. Sturt swingman and potential Adelaide NGA prospect James Borlase missed due to school football commitments, though Tom Lewis continues to impress having gathered 18 disposals in the loss.

The Doubles Blues rocketed clear atop the Under 18s ladder as well, demoting Norwood to third with a 56-point triumph. Unsurprisingly, Tom Powell collected a team-high 33 disposals, but was outdone by Norwood’s Michael Cavallaro (34), who returned from Reserves duties. Ben Ianniello, who also has Reserves experience, collected 28 touches for the Redlegs, while Cooper Murley again ticked over the 30-mark. Henry Nelligan was also terrific with three goals from 26 touches despite the loss. He was one of the unlucky players to miss out on a National Combine nod though, alongside Sturt’s Mani Liddy, who contributed 24 disposals and a goal.

RESULTS

League:

West Adelaide 8.7 (55) def. by South Adelaide 17.13 (115)
Norwood 10.16 (76) def. Sturt 11.7 (73)
WWT Eagles 16.15 (111) def. Glenelg 4.9 (33)
North Adelaide 15.20 (110) def. Central District 12.6 (78)

Reserves:

West Adelaide 8.2 (50) def. by South Adelaide 18.13 (121)
Norwood 1.3 (9) def. by Sturt 13.20 (98)
WWT Eagles 14.17 (101) def. Glenelg 5.5 (35)
North Adelaide 9.16 (70) def. by Central District 13.9 (87)

Under 18s:

Central District 3.4 (22) def. by North Adelaide 17.14 (116)
Sturt 16.9 (105) def. Norwood 7.7 (49)
South Adelaide 12.15 (87) def. West Adelaide 10.4 (64)
Glenelg 5.4 (34) def. by WWT Eagles 18.19 (127)

Featured Image: Eagles forward James Rowe (front left) celebrates with teammates | Source: Cory Sutton/SANFL