Tag: sanfl under 18

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 2

WITH the return of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) comes our usual series of scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. We turned our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a heavy focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors also plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so also get a look-in.

Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinion of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.

West Adelaide vs. Central District

By: Michael Alvaro

West Adelaide:

#2 Harvey Bock

It was a hit-and-miss day for the defender, who would probably have been made to feel like the umpires were out for him at times given some of the unlucky free kicks he conceded. Nonetheless, Bock was able to use his power and strength in one-on-one contests across the back half, while also constantly looking to get on the move with ball in hand. He got his intercept marking game going in the second and third terms, and took on some of the Bloods’ kick-in duties. Bock finished with 15 disposals and three marks in a solid outing.

#5 Lachlan De Cesare

De Cesare has kicked off his 2020 campaign well, and was arguably Westies’ best afield in a losing effort. The diminutive midfielder is an absolute workhorse through the engine room, digging in for repeat efforts at ground level, tackling hard, and spreading well to provide an outlet option for his teammates. That strong endurance base allowed De Cesare to accumulate strongly across the day, notching a game-high 26 disposals, including four marks, eight tackles, eight clearances, and a goal.

His lone major came from a free kick which was converted after the quarter time siren, and that scoreboard impact also translated to a goal assist in the following term. De Cesare could have added another to cap off his day, too, spurning an easy chance running into the open goalsquare with a soccered attempt which crashed into the post. Still, his courage and work ethic were terrific to watch.

#6 Bailey Chamberlain

Another Westies star who had an up-and-down kind of day, Chamberlain was on the receiving end of some fair opposition attention at the stoppages, making it difficult for him to generate his usual running game. The balanced midfielder still managed to rack up 24 disposals in a strong performance, often hunting the hot footy and pumping the ball forward under pressure. Chamberlain did well to mix handballs into his use, with one particular flashy flick deftly struck over his shoulder, showcasing great awareness and skill.

The one query on Chamberlain’s game, which he is working on well, has been his kicking at speed. While his penetration is no issue and he managed to boot a nice goal on the run, Chamberlain blazed away at times and overcooked a few balls going forward. His effort and desire are not the be questioned though, as he fought to the final siren for the Bloods on a frustrating day.

#18 Riley Thilthorpe (League)

West Adelaide ran rampant early against the Bulldogs, with Thilthorpe at the centre of much of the Bloods’ early dominance. He put through the first score of the game with an opportunistic snap, before sending Isaac Johnson through for Westies’ first major, and adding one of his own with a left-foot snap from just inside the attacking 50. Thilthorpe was caught behind at times and did not exactly receive silver service in his key forward post, but constantly found a way to impact the contest aerially and follow-up well at ground level.

The 200cm bigman also rotated through the ruck in the second half having previously taken those duties inside 50, using his height to palm the ball down to teammates. He had another terrific snapped goal snatched from him as his teammate gave away a free kick, and a strong contested mark at the death gave a glimpse into what the future may hold for Thilthorpe. Once he can find confidence in flying for those marks set up in better positions, he will prove a force to be reckoned with.

>> Round 2 Player Focus: Riley Thilthorpe

Others: Cade Kennedy proved a handful around the stoppages alongside his fellow, hardened midfield maestros, collecting 19 disposals and nine clearances while also laying eight tackles and finding the big sticks one. Bottom-age forward Hugh Desira was also handy despite being held to nine touches, displaying good footy smarts, clean use, and agility.

>> WEST ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE


Central District:

#7 Christopher Tidswell

In what was a highly contested and pressurised game, Tidswell provided some nice dash to break open the play and get the ball moving quickly for Centrals. The left-footer was just as clean at ground level as he was in his disposal by foot, utilising his short-range game well while also looking to penetrate as he wheeled onto that preferred left side. The rebounding defender moved up to the wing in the second half, sneaking forward to claim a goal out the back, before spurning a later shot despite a nice showing of agility.

#13 Austin McDonald

It is no wonder the 16-year-old has been thrust right into the centre bounces despite playing above his age grade, with the Bulldogs trusting his ball winning abilities against some of the league’s strongest midfielders. McDonald was once again a constant around the stoppages, racking up a team-high 25 disposals and five clearances to continue his consistent Under 18 form. He may not yet have the size to bustle away from congestion, but remains nicely composed in traffic and can accumulate either by winning his own ball, or through hanging on the outside for a handball receive. Add five tackles and breaches of both arcs to his statline, and you have a rather complete midfield display.

#15 Lewis Cowham

Like McDonald, Cowham has been a regular for Centrals through midfield, providing value going both ways at the stoppages. The small ball winner is athletically gifted, and showed a couple of nice flashes of his agility and explosive speed despite the contested nature of the game. Cowham was often directly opposed to Chamberlain at the centre bounces, and did well to quell his opponents’ run away from the contest. His second efforts and pressure around the ball were important, as was a nice goal assist via hand to Aidan Mudge in the final term.

#31 Corey Durdin (League)

It was another typical Durdin performance at the senior level, with the diminutive forward hitting the scoreboard and finding a decent amount of ball forward of centre. In a quiet first term for most of his Bulldogs teammates, Durdin went searching further afield for the ball, while working back hard towards goal. He booted his side’s opening major with a free kick conversion towards the end of the first term.

Durdin’s closing speed and tackling pressure were outstanding, and he constantly stationed himself in the right areas to impact at ground level or provide an outlet for his teammates. His second goal came after half time from another free kick deep inside 50, and the small ball winner also got a run through the centre bounces. He looked extremely lively late when the game was on the line, popping up in all areas of the ground and having a big impact despite not always hitting his targets moving forward. 14 disposals, five marks, and two goals make for good reading in terms of stats, and Durdin is certainly making a splash at senior level.

Others: 22-year-old talent Nicholas Lange lit up the second half in the League grade, coming to life after half time with four goals to very nearly drag Centrals over the line. For the Under 18s, Leek Alleer showed promising signs as a raw key forward, booting two goals and having a hand in others while showcasing his impressive athleticism. Michael De Jonge booted three majors, all of which were important to the win, while Aidan Mudge, Shay Linke, and Luca Whitelum were others to find both the goals and plenty of ball.

>> CENTRAL DISTRICT TEAM PAGE

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg

By: Tom Cheesman

South Adelaide:

#9 Jason Horne

Horne is one of the leading 2021 draft prospects and impressed once again. His work at the stoppages was outstanding, as he read the hitouts to perfection and applied plenty of pressure around the ball. His ability to work back and help the defence also stood out, particularly in the first half. He showed some explosive speed away from the contest at times, and using this explosiveness more regularly is the next step in his development. Horne finished with 31 disposals, 12 clearances, eight marks and nine tackles.

#10 Brayden Cook

Cook spent a lot of time on the wing, and his ability to work back into defence stood out. He took multiple intercept marks to halt the Tigers’ attacks and showed great agility around the ground for a prospect his size. His kicking was a bit inconsistent, but that should improve with more experience at Under 18 level. Cook was arguably best on ground at half time, but was much less prominent in the second half. He finished with 17 disposals, 10 marks (five contested) and three inside 50s.

#13 Tom Barrett

Barrett was an x-factor for the Panthers up forward. He did not play in Round 1 but made the most of his opportunity here, applying plenty of pressure (four tackles) and kicking two nice goals. His forward craft was a highlight as he had multiple score involvements, but he struggled to get involved once the ball left his forward post. He will be an exciting player to watch as the year unfolds.

#18 Zac Dumesny (League)

Dumesny had a very solid game for the Panthers. He was a standout in the first term, collecting six disposals in the backline and setting up a goal with a beautifully weighted kick into the forward 50. Dumesny was quieter in the second quarter, but moved to a wing for the second half where he found more of the ball and nailed a set shot from 35 metres out. The top-ager was composed with the ball in hand and hit the majority of his targets by foot. He also took a couple of nice intercept marks, which could develop into a feature of his game with more experience at half-back. He finished with 15 disposals, six marks, four rebound 50s and three tackles.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Roberts was South’s best player on Saturday, finding plenty of the ball and using it well with his reliable left-foot kick. He worked off his opponent to collect many uncontested marks, continually helping his side transition the ball from defence to attack. The 2021 prospect was brilliant at stoppages, using his 183cm frame to hunt the ball and dish it out to teammates. He did get caught holding the ball once due to a lack of awareness in the third term, but this was one of very few mistakes he made all day. Roberts finished with an imposing statline of 32 disposals, 14 marks, seven clearances and nine tackles.

#35 Thomas Highmore (League)

Highmore looks like he belongs at League level. The 21-year-old held his own in one-on-one contests and took several intercept marks across the four quarters. At 193cm, he has great size and was entrusted with the kick-in duties on multiple occasions. He did make a couple of mistakes late, but that is to be expected of someone in just their second SANFL League game. The 22-year-old finished with 15 disposals, five marks and two tackles.

>> SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE


Glenelg:

#13 Luke Pedlar

Pedlar spent a lot of time up forward for the Tigers, finishing with 17 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s. He showed plenty of aggression when hunting the ball and his opponents, and he displayed great strength and power at the contest. His ball use was poor at times in the first half, but he redeemed himself with a brilliant spearing ball in the final term to set up Holder for a goal. He might want to work on his hangers during the week, as he attempted a couple in the final term that unfortunately did not come off.

#21 Riley Holder

Holder was best on ground and clearly the difference between the two sides. He was a major presence at centre half-forward for Glenelg, clunking four strong contested marks. The highlight was a brilliant mark (and goal) in the third term when his side desperately needed it. He showed composure in front of goal too, kicking four goals straight including a nice left foot snap early in the contest. His strong hands and reliable set shot make him a major asset for the Tigers and a prospect to watch in 2020.

#22 Lewis Rayson

Rayson was great for Glenelg, finishing with 31 disposals and ten marks. He spent most of his time at half-back and played a quarterback-style role, getting the ball out the back and finding targets with his clean left-foot kick. Rayson was calm and composed with ball in hand and linked up with teammates to transition the ball forward on many occasions. He was also tough at the contest, collecting many contested possessions and applying eight tackles.

#25 Luke Edwards

Edwards had a strong day, working hard around the ground to collect 29 disposals and eight marks. The son of Adelaide Crows champion, Tyson showed his flexibility by spending time up forward and rolling through the midfield whenever his side had an important clearance to win. Edwards has proven in the past that he is also handy down back. He was reliable with the ball in hand and, excluding a poor set shot in the final term, made very few mistakes across the four quarters. Listed at 187cm, Edwards has great size and should push to play higher levels of footy later in the season.

>> GLENELG TEAM PAGE

Norwood vs. North Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

The bottom-ager was arguably best-on-ground for the Redlegs in their 27-point triumph. It was easy to see how the small forward/midfielder gained All-Australian selection as a 16-year-old. He showed plenty of his trademark speed and tenacity but was also exceptionally clean with his foot skills. Despite being on the skinny side, he cracked in hard whenever required, gaining a free-kick in the opening term simply by going in lower and harder than his Roosters opponent.

Also in the first term, he read a wayward kick-in well and used his bust of speed to accelerate away before dishing off a clean handball inboard. Murley also showed his class with a precise forward 50 entry with his non-preferred. He kicked the goal of the day in the second quarter after crumbing beautifully and dribbling home a ripping goal from the pocket, all whilst being tackled. He already looks a step above Under 18s level, finishing with 24 disposals and three goals.

#6 Michael Cavallaro 

Small defender, Cavallaro was prolific and clean in his role across half-back throughout the contest. He exhibited excellent footy smarts and positioned himself well to take a handful of intercept marks. He may be only small in stature but orchestrated a number of the Redlegs’ drives from defence with his crisp foot skills and sound decision making.

A highlight was when he engaged in a series of back-and-forth handballs before spinning around on his trusty right and showing skill and vision to spot up a teammate on the other side of the ground, setting his side up for a transition from defence. Cavallaro finished with 30 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and three rebound-50s.

#30 Finn Heard 

Four goals to key the forward proved to be the difference in this clash at Coopers Stadium. Heard got goal-side of the contest and strolled straight into the goal-square to nail the game’s first major, however his work in the air ensured he was the most impactful tall on the ground. He could’ve had an ever bigger bag had he converted two set-shots from gettable distances.

However his foot skills, both in general play and in-front of goal, were largely sound. Heard was rewarded for his ability to work his way to the front of contests when he collected an opportunistic mark from a quick-snap inside 50, resulting in a shot at goal. He nailed two majors in the final term to solidify Norwood’s lead. Heard concluded the outing with nine disposals, seven hit-outs and seven marks – two of which were contested.

Others: 

Like a number of his teammates, on-baller Mitchell Trepka was able to work his way into some favourable positions and finished with 28 disposals, six marks, three tackles and three clearances in a solid all-round showing.

Prolific defender Matthew Dnistriansky combined well with fellow defender Cavallaro. Both were able to slice-apart the Roosters with their pin-point kicking and ability to cut-off forward entries. After gathering 30 touches, Dnistriansky currently sits second in the competition for total disposals, behind Sturt duo Mani Liddy and Tom Powell. The designated kicker-role certainly seems to suit the skillset of Dnistriansky, who has started the campaign well.

Benjamin Ianniello showed a couple of really encouraging signs throughout the match, including his aerial strength, athleticism and willingness to put his body on the line. Built in a similar mould to current Crow Will Hamill, Ianniello moved well and accumulated 24 touches and seven marks. The tackling-pressure of Jack Saunders was also valuable in the Redlegs’ triumph.

>> NORWOOD TEAM PAGE


North Adelaide:

#9 Jamison Murphy 

Co-captain, Murphy showed why he is a sought-after prospect, providing a strong inside presence and collecting 21 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three clearances. He appeared physically stronger than the other midfielders out there and used his strong frame to bullock his way through several contests, including the opening stoppage where he dished out a handball despite being tackled.

However, it was his sublime foot skills which would have really caught the eye of recruiters. The former national cricket captain proved he is quite capable of launching the ball in excess of 50 metres without hassle. Murphy was also precise by foot and showcased excellent vision to spot up Tariek Newchurch on the wing with a booming right-foot kick.

The highlight, however, was when he took an intercept mark in the middle of Coopers Stadium and hit a teammate with a beautifully-weighted kick in a tight-position on the forward flank. Had the kick been overcooked or off-target, it would have almost certainly resulted in a turnover. Murphy spent the majority of the game around the ball but also spent some time in the forward line and on the outside of the contest – highlighting his handy versatility, which has seen him draw comparisons to Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect looked ominous whenever the ball was in his vicinity. As draft watchers have come to expect from Newchurch, his skills at ground-level were excellent. The forward’s burst of speed threatened to break the game open on a couple of occasions and his tackle numbers don’t reflect the pressure he inflicted on Norwood defenders.

He was thrown on-ball at stages and showed a willingness to get involved in the play instead of simply camping out in the forward-50. He laid a wonderful tackle to earn a free-kick inside 50 in the second term, but the resulting set shot hit the post. Newchurch showed class and composure when he gathered the ball deep inside-50 and snapped a brilliant goal under duress. While he probably didn’t have the four-quarter impact he would have been after, there’s no denying the talented Newchurch will feature prominently for SA at the upcoming National Championships.

#24 Kallis Freer

The midfielder was prolific and showed a couple of desirable traits despite North Adelaide’s loss. Whenever he had even an inch of space, Freer looked to use his acceleration to generate a forward entry for the red and whites. His willingness to take the game on was encouraging, as was his aerial ability. Freer took a couple of strong grabs above his head but also laid a couple of ferocious tackles at ground-level and accumulated five clearances.

A standout moment came on the North Adelaide forward flank when Freer took a contested mark on the second-grab and pin-pointed Tariek Newchurch with a laser-like inboard kick. He finished the game as the leading possession winner on the ground for his side with 25, along with six marks, four tackles and eight inside-50s.

Others:

Hugh Jackson showed run and dash across the midfield and accumulated his fair share of the ball, finishing the match with 23 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and seven inside-50s.

Despite his side being under-the-pump at various stages of the game, athletic defender Lam Simon offered scouts a glimpse of his raw talent. His chase-down tackle in the first term earned a holding the ball free-kick and his subsequent kick was weighted beautifully, allowing Freer to stream inside-50. He held his own in most of his one-on-one contests and battled hard to gain front-position.

Another prospect tied to the Crows through the clubs Next Generation Academy, Simon concluded the outing with 15 disposals, eight marks (two contested) and three tackles. Charlie Dowling showed some strength overhead while the inside work of Matthew Borg (13 disposals, eight tackles and four clearances) was impressive.

>> NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

Sturt vs. WWT Eagles

By: Ed Pascoe

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

Carruthers was classy down back, often the main rebounder for Sturt in setting up most of their drive from defence. He started the game well with a nice intercept mark, showing he had that in his arsenal to go with his rebounding ability. Carruthers wasn’t afraid to turn defence into attack with any chance he could, often running past a stoppage for the receive and using his run-and-carry to gain meterage and kick long and accurately up the ground. He finished the game with 23 disposals, five marks, and six tackles, backing up his impressive Round 1 performance as he stakes claims to be one of South Australia’s best rebound defenders for the 2020 draft. 

#15 Mani Liddy 

Liddy again had a dominant performance through the midfield, working well with fellow hard nuts Tom Powell and Brad Jefferies. His quick and clean hands at stoppages, and ability to win clearances have been second to none so far in the Under 18s season.

Not much more can be said about his inside game as it was a typical Liddy performance, but it was the few times he got on the outside that impressed and that is what should help him stand out. Both instances came in the third quarter; the first was from good positioning just outside 50 to receive and then kick long to the hotspot, and secondly from the opposite side he was able to receive, put on the afterburners to then steady and kick a lovely running goal. Liddy finished the game with 29 disposals, seven clearances, four tackles and a goal in another strong midfield performance. 

#18 Tom Powell 

It was like déjà vu watching Powell, who had another incredible game through the midfield. He really is just a machine at stoppages, winning the ball at will. Powell’s style isn’t fancy – you wont see him bursting out of stoppages – but what you will see is an extremely efficient midfielder who is clean at gathering the ball and even cleaner with his delivery by hand, whether that’s on his left or right which not many players have.

Powell’s kicking and ability on the outside would be the main focus area for him as his inside game is just about flawless and with the amount of footy he wins he could really turn that into a more damaging package, like Lachie Neale. Powell finished the game with 35 disposals (21 handballs), seven clearances and five tackles backing up a his 34 disposals last week. 

#32 Morgan Ferres 

Ferres was the dominant forward on the ground, proving a handful in the air and on the lead with his impressive leap, judgement, and contested marking coming to the fold. Ferres did it all in his six goals, adding variety with the standout goal being a running effort – even taking a bounce before steadying with a classy finish in the first quarter – and the other a lovely snap from the boundary in the third term.

He was a handful all game but mostly in the third quarter where he marked everything in sight, whether that was out on the lead or by way of his great judgement from behind. One of the better aspects of his game was not just his ability close to goal, but also his ability to get up the ground and take strong marks up on the wing. Ferres finished the game with 17 disposals, nine marks and kicked 6.2, with two set shots also falling short. The talented Ferres, who isn’t eligible to be drafted until 2021 will certainly be one to watch for years to come. 

Others: Jefferies was yet again a standout for Sturt, plying his trade among the talent-rich engine room. He is a tough, bottom age inside type who had 30 disposals, six tackles, and four clearances in this outing.

>> STURT TEAM PAGE


WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield

Schofield had an improved showing after his quieter game last week. The talented Port Adelaide father-son prospect again showed his class and skill which really stands out amongst his peers. Schofield, who looks best on the outside with his elite kicking and composure, was able to have an impact on the inside wining some classy clearances and also laying some strong tackles at the coal face.

It’s on the outside where he still showed his best attributes with some beautiful passes inside 50, one even on his opposite foot in the second quarter. His best bit of play came in the third quarter, winning the ball at half-back where he showed great composure under pressure and was able to weave around multiple opponents with his agility and speed. He would then finish with a classy handball to a free teammate. Schofield finished the game with 20 disposals, six clearances, and seven tackles in a strong performance. 

#7 Caleb Poulter 

Although he wasn’t quite able to match his outstanding performance last week, Poulter was still arguably his side’s most dangerous player – especially inside 50 where he was a a threat on the lead and at ground level. Poulter again showed some rare abilities for a player of his size with his tackling and clean hands at ground level again impressing. He really hunts the opposition with his tackles and is willing to make repeat efforts, which is nice to see.

His efforts in the air were also impressive as he was always leading up hard and willing to crash packs to get the ball to ground. You can imagine him having even more impact in that area when he puts on more size. Poulter kicked two classy goals in the third quarter, with the first coming from a brilliant pick-up on the run at his feet and then kicking a lovely snap goal. The second was also a snap goal with little time to think about it, showing his natural talent. Poulter finished the game with 16 disposals, seven tackles, five marks, and kicked 3.1 in another great performance. 

#19 Zac Phillips 

The talented tall again showed some signs of brilliance early in the game, taking a strong contested mark up forward. Despite having his set shot fall short, he would later take another great mark at half-back where he flew in from the side, showing great judgement and also quickly switching the play to show his footy smarts for a tall. 

Again his hitout work was good, often winning the contests comfortably when he did go into the ruck, but overall his follow-up work in the ruck wasn’t where it was last week and he really needed to capitalise on his early dominance in the air. If he can do what he did in the first quarter, every quarter, then you will have some sort of player for the future. Phillips finished the game with six disposals, two marks, two tackles, and 27 hit outs. 

#31 Jase Burgoyne 

The talented father-son prospect for Port Adelaide was again classy down back with his clean hands, skills, and composure standing out. Burgoyne was also used on the wing a little bit, but looked best down back where his composure and ability to read the play had the most effect. Burgoyne seems to do really well under pressure which is promising for a light and developing player who isn’t eligible to be drafted until 2021, and he certainly looks like a player to watch for that draft. Burgoyne finished the game strongly to claim 22 disposals, five marks, and five tackles in another classy display. 

Others: Liam Ueding is a bottom-age defender who boasts clean skills and great work ethic, with his second efforts coming to the fore for the Eagles. He finished with eight disposals, two tackles, and four rebound 50s.

>> WWT EAGLES TEAM PAGE

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

>> July Power Rankings

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

AS if you needed any reminder, state league football returned this past weekend with all South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades kicking off season 2020. In this year’s first edition of Caught the Eye, we highlight the key performers from each Under 18 side who stood out in the opening round of action. For extended profiles on each player, click on their names highlighted in red, and for our full scouting notes, click here.

>> 2020 SA U18 Squad Prediction

Glenelg vs. Norwood

Xavier Robins
Glenelg | Half-back
2/09/2002 | 182cm | 72kg

Stats: 26 disposals (19 kicks), 6 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 8 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Robins comes from decent pedigree as the son of former Melbourne and Richmond player, Haydn, and could be a dashing defender to keep an eye on. He was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018 and while he is outside of the current academy bubble, could push for state selection if his form continues – especially given a shortage of options in his position.

Cooper Murley
Norwood | Balanced midfielder/forward
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 66kg

Stats: 20 disposals (14 kicks), 4 marks, 3 tackles , 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: While he is quite light-on, there is no doubting Murley’s hunger for the contest. His speed and agility often get him out of trouble anyway, and the bottom-ager pulled off a couple of incredible passes going forward which he placed perfectly between opposition defenders. He earned Under 16 All Australian honours for a reason, and may creep into the Under 18 state squad in an outside role or up forward.

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

Tariek Newchurch
North Adelaide | Forward/Midfielder
21/07/2002 | 181cm | 73kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 4 marks, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Be prepared to hear plenty more about Newchurch, who looms as a potential first round candidate. That may prove a bittersweet statement for Adelaide fans, with the Crows set to claim first dibs on the Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect. His evasiveness and ability to break games open make him an eye-catching prospect, and one who should put together a decent highlight reel by season’s end.

Bailey Chamberlain
West Adelaide | Balanced midfielder
26/06/2002 | 179cm | 70kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain… he was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: It was a hell of a start to the season from Chamberlain, who put in an incredible first half display. His burst from the contest, ability to cover the ground, and aggression make him a well balanced midfield prospect. While he is the Bloods’ primary ball winner through the inside at Under 18 level, expect him to feature a touch more on the outside given his pace and slight frame as he climbs the grades or slots into the state squad.

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles | Midfielder/forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 7 marks, 10 tackles, 7 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Undoubtedly the player of the round across the Under 18 competition, Poulter continues to rise as a bolter in the South Australian field. While he has some filling-out to do, Poulter is the ideal size for a modern day midfielder at over 190cm, and has all the athletic traits to also thrive up forward as many champion midfielders do at the next level. If he continues to return such well-rounded performances as this one, don’t expect to see him remain at the Under 18 level for long.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide | Inside midfielder
3/04/2002 | 185cm | 82kg

Stats: 19 disposals (14 kicks), 6 marks, 9 tackles, 3 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. He played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: The Panthers have such a versatile engine room, and Kraemer is arguably the leader of it given the talented bottom-agers around him. At 185cm, he is built well and does all the tough stuff around the stoppages, remaining relevant going both ways. He played every Under 18 game last year en route to a Grand Final appearance, but should have eyes on climbing the grades in 2020 and slotting into the state side once again.

Central District vs. Sturt

Austin McDonald
Central District | Inside Midfielder
1/01/2004

Stats: 27 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 12 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “(McDonald) was terrific around the stoppages… he was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: It was hard to believe that McDonald is an Under 16 player watching him go about it on the weekend, and bringing it to some of the better Under 18 midfielders in South Australia. His willingness to hunt the ball, extract, and work both ways was impressive, and we will surely see much more of the same over the next couple of years.

Tom Powell
Sturt | Balanced midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 7 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “The Sturt midfielder was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval… akin to fellow on-baller Mani Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Powell was certainly raring to go after missing large chunks on 2019 through injury, and started the season on the right foot. His burst from the contest was on show, as was his ability to accumulate with a game-high 34 disposals. He was on a different level to much of his opposition on the weekend, and while it would be interesting to see him go up against a strong Eagles midfield next week, expect to see Powell make his way up the ranks soon if his form persists.

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

WITH the return of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) comes our usual series of scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. While a bunch of juniors plied their trade at higher levels in Round 1, we turned our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a heavy focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line.

Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinion of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.

Glenelg vs. Norwood

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#12 Xavier Robins

Robins is the son of former Richmond and Melbourne defender, Haydn, and impressed across the same line for Glenelg on Saturday. The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.

He had a big third term and broke to all the right places inside defensive 50, displaying sharp skills through his kick-in duties and providing a reliable rebounding outlet. He finished with 26 disposals, which included 19 kicks and eight rebound 50s.

#13 Luke Pedlar

Like Robins, Pedlar is a top-aged prospect outside of the current state academy hub, but was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Pedlar showcased his explosive burst out of congestion and desire to hunt the ball, racking up a game-high 28 disposals while also laying six tackles and pumping four clearances forward.

He boasts a penetrating left side but can sure up his short-range game at speed. Pedlar also showed a good work-rate while employed up forward, working well up the ground and using his pace to get back quickly. He capped off a terrific outing with a goal at the start of the fourth term, slamming the ball home on the run.

#22 Lewis Rayson

One of his region’s leading 2021 draft candidates, Rayson assumed his usual role across half-back and even snuck forward to snap through a goal in the final term. The bottom-ager is light-on, but is sure to evade opposition heat while in possession with terrific speed and agility.

At times, Rayson’s willingness to move the ball on and turn defence into attack saw his disposal come undone, but he provided reliable use once he slowed himself down. The 181cm prospect was another to position himself well across the backline, picking up 16 disposals in a solid performance.

#25 Luke Edwards

It was somewhat of a surprise not to see Edwards named at a higher grade to start the season, but he took it all in his stride to be one of Glenelg’s better performers. Another to rotate through the midfield and forwardline, Edwards displayed terrific vision and clean use by hand at the centre bounces, while proving strong in one-on-one contests up forward. He was often first to the ball at stoppages too, an invaluable trait for inside types.

While the Adelaide father-son candidate displayed intelligence by hand, he blazed away with his kicks at times and missed a couple of attempts on goal. His work rate inside forward 50 to find space and manufacture those opportunities was commendable, though, and he also managed to dish off a nice assist to Pedlar in the final term. Edwards finished with impressive statistics of 22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances, and four inside 50s.

#33 Will Schreiber

Another big body to float through the midfield at 190cm, Schreiber arguably looked more comfortable down back where he could better utilise his strength and shrewd reading of the play. He was caught holding the ball on two occasions early in the piece, but adjusted his previous flat-footedness in the second half while adding fends to his stoppage craft.

Schreiber looked to have regained a deal of confidence as the game wore on, winning a couple of nice one-on-one aerial battles and correcting his short-range kicking with more time on the ball in the defensive half. The versatile prospect positioned expertly behind the ball to intercept, and ended up hauling in a team-high seven marks.

#39 Riley Holder

It is easy to forget that Holder is just 190cm with the way he plays, providing that focal point at centre half-forward while also pinch-hitting in the ruck. He took a big pack mark in the first term to set the tone for Glenelg, duly converting the set shot before impressing further with his strength and marking on the lead. Holder had a slightly quieter second half, but was a solid target working up the ground with his strong hands. The utility finished with 1.2 from 13 disposals and six marks (four contested).

Others:

Lucas Schultz worked well in tandem with Holder inside forward 50, booting a game-high four goals from 12 disposals and six marks as another marking option. Jaden Grosser was Glenelg’s other multiple goalkicker, finding the big sticks twice from midfield while also providing hardness at the ball. Hagan Wright and Kye Dean were others to have moments around the contest, with Riley Drum a solid figure in defence and bottom-ager Nasiah Wanganeen classy on the outer.

>> GLENELG TEAM PAGE


Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking. While he grassed a couple of attempts on the fly, Murley pulled off a couple of terrific passes to targets inside 50; the first coming on the end of a 1-2 handball chain to assist Finn Heard‘s goal, and the second a pass which perfectly split multiple Glenelg defenders.

Murley’s lateral vision and smarts around the contest are high-level, boding well for more midfield time despite being a bit light at 66kg. He looked lively inside forward 50 too, particularly in the third term despite not finding the goals himself. The 2019 Under 16 All Australian ended up with 20 disposals and four marks in a promising display.

#9 Alastair Lord

Another bottom-aged small to impress was Lord, who triggered much of Norwood’s forward motion from defence. The 177cm prospect was sound at ground level, sweeping up the loose balls and darting around opponents to find the space to effectively move the ball on. He positioned well to intercept too, proving an apt rebounder with his composed distribution after cutting off opposition forays. Lord finished with 19 disposals, eight marks, and six rebound 50s.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Was Norwood’s designated kicker in defence having been tasked with the kick-in duties, and did well to find targets consistently on a tough day for the Redlegs’ back six. He played somewhat of a sweeper role inside defensive 50, mopping up when needed while spreading well to provide an outlet for his teammates. While Dnistriansky often took the safe option via foot, he was a reliable figure and notched a team-high 25 disposals (22 kicks) to go with nine marks and 10 rebound 50s.

Others:

Michael Cavallaro (22 disposals, eight marks) and Daniel Fairbrother (21 disposals, 10 marks) were others to work hard around the ground for Norwood, while Jack Saunders provided solid presence around the ball with 16 touches, as well as team-highs in tackles (eight) and clearances (seven).

>> NORWOOD TEAM PAGE

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

By: Peter Williams

North Adelaide:

#9 Jamison Murphy

The North Adelaide co-captain was busy from the first bounce until the final siren, winning plenty of touches through the midfield. His best work was done in close, but predominantly it was his vision and use by hand that opened up the game for his teammates. When tackled, Murphy was strong, able to stand up and either shrug off the tackler or get the ball free to a teammate.

Along with his inside work, Murphy’s big first half included setting up goal scoring opportunities for his teammates, and he did all the one percenters required such as blocks or shepherds. In the third term, Murphy took a goal-saving mark on the last line of defence, and then later on was able to win the ball inside 50 and put it into his teammate’s path running inside 50.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques. He took a strong mark despite front-on contact about 40 metres out on a 45-degree angle, but his shot drifted to the left. His ability to get out of trouble was evident in the second term by earning a free kick for being held at half-forward.

The second half was something special though, as Newchurch stepped up to boot three goals, the first of which came eight and a half minutes into the third term. He received the handball and snapped around his body under pressure and then six minutes later kicked another one from a bit further out but with the same technique to sail home. Later in the term he took a great mark on the lead with his hands stretched in front of him, but the shot drifted across the face. His third goal game was the sealer when he lead out inside 50 to take a strong grab and put it straight through the middle. Not only did he finish the game with his execution, but he also applied pressure to opponents inside 50.

Others:

Leo Coates had a huge start to the game with a couple of strong marks and a long-range goal (almost two) in the first term. He was quieter after that, but showed signs he has improvement in him. Kallis Freer won a heap of the ball, racking up 27 touches, four marks, three clearances and three tackles to be the Roosters’ number one ball winner on the day. Samuel McTaggert booted a goal off a great crumbing effort and has a great burst of speed. Charlie Dowling and James Willis were very strong around the stoppages.

>> NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE


West Adelaide:

#2 Harvey Bock

A player who really stood out across the ground, Bock was particularly impressive in the defensive 50. His disposal was effective and he covered the ball well in transition. Often attacking the loose ball with vigour, Bock presented as an option to teammates, and seemed to have the smarts to find space and be a kick and a half behind the play for the quick opposition kick forward. He took a terrific drifting intercept mark to stop a forward marking, chopping off the kick inside 50 by reading it so well.

#5 Lachlan De Cesare

He had a huge game for the Bloods and showed some terrific skill around the ground, teaming up well with Chamberlain. De Cesare was able to read the ball well in flight, chopping off a pass going inside 50 and used the ball well coming out of defence. He kept presenting and won a fair chunk of the ball through midfield, giving off some neat handballs and allowing his teammate to clear it. De Cesare has a good centre of gravity to swivel the hips and try and get free when tackled. He just finds space around the ground and does it well.

#6 Bailey Chamberlain

A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain who could have been mistaken for the Energiser Bunny for his ability to cover ground and really cause headaches for opposition. He was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.

At times his kicking was not perfectly executed, but his work by hand was terrific, often winning the ball in tight and freeing up teammates on the outside. What really stood out about Chamberlain was his ability to read the stoppages and often duck around the back of an opponent to win the ball from the ruck tap and exit the stoppage before others were aware he was off and running. His work rate and ability to put on the jets and burst away from an opponent, backing himself in was strong. If he irons out the kicking a bit more, he has a lot of other boxes he has already ticked.

Others:

Dylan White was another big performer in a low-scoring game, kicking three goals from 19 touches, five marks and four tackles to be the dominant forward for the Bloods. The other South Australian hub member Jye Sindeberry played in the game, but had a quieter outing with seven disposals and one mark.

>> WEST ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

By: Ed Pascoe

WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield 

Despite not having his usual output, the Port Adelaide father-son prospect was classy with ball in hand, rarely making a bad decision by hand or foot and keeping composed when in possession. Playing more of an outside role, he showed plenty of signs as to why he is rated one of the better ball users in this year’s draft. It was overall a quiet outing by his standards, finishing the game with 14 disposals, three clearances and four tackles. 

#7 Caleb Poulter 

It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye. 

Poulter showed great agility and clean hands at ground level which was impressive for a 190cm-plus player, but even with his attacking side coming to the fold it was also his defensive game which stood out as he was always prepared to tackle despite looking gassed late in the game, but you couldn’t fault that. Poulter finished the game with 34 disposals, seven clearances, seven marks, 10 tackles, and a goal to be the standout player not just for this game, but for the whole round in general. 

#19 Zac Phillips 

The big ruckman/key forward Phillips looked imposing early, taking a strong mark on the wing and also kicking a lucky goal later in the first quarter, getting over the top and quickly kicking the goal before getting run down. Phillips would add to his tally with some good pressure up forward before getting the rewards with a nice dribble goal. Phillips showed good follow up work in the ruck and his hit outs where often to his teammates’ advantage. He finished the game with 11 disposals, three clearances, two goals, and 24 hit outs. 

#31 Jase Burgoyne  

Another Port Adelaide father-son prospect but for the 2021 draft, Burgoyne was clean and classy down back; showing good agility and composure and often using the ball neatly by hand and foot. Burgoyne showed a good ability to not only create from defence with his skill and class, but also defend well and knew when to get back to man up on an opponent, Burgoyne looks an exciting talent for the 2021 draft and he finished the game with 22 disposals, four marks, and countless rebounds from defence. 

>> WWT EAGLES TEAM PAGE


South Adelaide: 

#9 Jason Horne  

Horne will certainly be in discussions for the pointy end of the 2021 draft as the talented midfielder displayed of plenty of his tricks that make him a complete midfielder. Horne certainly isn’t one-dimensional, showing his ability overhead with one mark in particular in the first quarter, going up with great courage.

His ability to work forward and back is impressive, complementing his attack at the footy at stoppages and his explosiveness with and without the ball to hold him in good stead. He could have had greater output if he was able to convert his opportunities around goal, finishing the game with 21 disposals, three clearances and 10 marks.  

#21 Matthew Roberts  

A talented midfielder who is highly rated for the 2021 draft, Roberts started the game in unfamiliar territory up forward. While he couldn’t quiet have his usual impact in that position, he certainly started to build up his game, getting to move into his favoured midfield position as the game went on.

With his output improving, so did his ability when he did have go back forward, kicking a nice set shot goal late in the gameRoberts finished the game with 21 disposals, four clearances, and a goal in a well-rounded performance. 

#33 Arlo Draper  

Another talented South Adelaide prospect for the 2021 draft, Draper looked all-class up forward with his skill and athleticism on show. Draper kicked the first goal of the game with a nice snap and although he wouldn’t add to the tally, he did set up plenty of other scoring opportunities with his decision making and skills forward of centre.

Playing mostly as a third tall forward, Draper did well to get up the ground and make and impact, and he is the type of player you want with ball in hand with his ability to create and run with the ball. Draper finished the game with 17 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.  

#35 Nicholas Kraemer  

Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. Kraemer played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield. 

Kraemer’s best isolated bit of play came with a strong overhead mark and then a quick long handball forward which almost lead to a good team goal. Kraemer looks set to be a handy addition to the South Australian state side if those games go ahead, finishing with 19 disposals, four clearances, six marks, and nine tackles. 

>> SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

Central District vs. Sturt

By: Tom Wyman

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald 

Barossa Valley junior, McDonald took it right up to the talented Sturt midfield. The 16-year-old was terrific around the stoppages, finishing with 12 clearances and 27 disposals. He was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already. Expect to see him feature prominently for South Australia soon enough.

#15 Lewis Cowham

It was a tough day for Central Districts, but midfielder, Cowham was among his side’s best. He imposed himself early by laying a strong tackle on Mani Liddy which was perhaps unlucky to be called a high free-kick against. He was industrial throughout the contest, particularly with his hands in-tight, finishing with 27 touches. Cowham and teammate, McDonald battled hard and stood-out for the Bulldogs, who were ultimately outclassed by a talented Sturt side. 

>> CENTRAL DISTRICT TEAM PAGE


Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

Carruthers was one of the Double Blues’ best performers on the day. He exhibited excellent composure in the backline and showed flashes of his neat skillset in a well-rounded performance. His marking was also a highlight, with Carruthers positioning himself well to cut off several of the Bulldogs’ forward entries. He concluded the match with 25 disposals, eight marks and six rebound-50s.

#13 Bradley Jefferies 

Jefferies was a strong presence for the Doubles Blues throughout the contest. In a predominantly inside-midfield role, he provided excellent support for Academy Hub duo Liddy and Tom Powell. A highlight was when he nailed a right-foot snap for Sturt’s second major of the match. He finished the game with 24 disposals and seven marks.

#15 Mani Liddy 

Prolific SA Academy Hub member, Liddy was a dominant presence on the inside of the Double Blues’ midfield all day. Tough and relentless at the contest, Liddy started well, winning the ball in the coalface before dishing off a neat handball to William Staples, who nailed the game’s first goal. Later in the first term, he gave another handball to Jordon Cocks who kicked truly.

His neat skills by hand really stood out all day. Even when being tackled by his Bulldogs opponents, he was clean and helped get the ball moving Sturt’s way on numerous occasions. Arguably best-on-ground, Liddy finished with 32 disposals and is firming as a first-choice midfielder for South Australia during the upcoming National Championships.

#18 Tom Powell 

Recruiters will be encouraged to see Powell have some success early on in the season, given his recent battles with injury. The Sturt on-baller was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval, finishing with 34 touches. Akin to fellow-on-baller Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.

While he put together a very strong game, it could have been even better had he converted some of his attempts on goal. Expect to see more of Powell in the Reserves later in the season, as he appeared a cut above Under 18 level against the ‘Dogs. 

#22 Ned Walter 

In his distinctive black helmet, Walter showed strength and skill across the half-back line for Sturt. He almost took a mark-of-the-year contender from a kick-out and his hands overhead were strong across the four quarters. He produced an excellent intercept spoil in the second quarter to break-up a potential Bulldogs inside-50. After a strong outing, Walter has emerged as one to watch in defence. 

#32 Morgan Ferres 

Ferres presented well all game for the Double Blues and was the side’s go-to marking option across half-forward. He took a number of contested grabs and appears to have excellent aerial ability. However, I really liked Ferres’ cleanliness at ground level as well. He dished off several neat handballs to get the Blues going inside-50. Booted a game-high three goals and could have finished with a handful.

James Borlase (Reserves)

The potential Crows NGA prospect was named at full-back for the Sturt reserves, having played eight matches at the level last year. At 191cm and 88kg, Borlase is strongly-built and able to hold his own against the bigger bodied forwards – a trait which will certainly help his case for senior selection later in the year.

Against a relatively strong Central Districts outfit, Borlase’s performance was encouraging. He spent considerable time matched-up against athletic 196cm tall forward Leek Alleer. While Alleer possesses serious speed and a high leap, he was largely nullified by the lock-down abilities of Borlase. He took a number of kick-ins as well, a testament his improving skillset.

Tom Lewis (Reserves)

Returning from an ACL injury which saw him miss the entire 2019 season, Lewis was back to his hard-at-it ways which proved invaluable for SA during its undefeated National Championships in 2018. Viewed by many draft watchers as being unlucky not to be picked up in his first draft eligible year, Lewis was tough at the ball throughout the match.

He attacked every contest with ferocious intent, often smashing into and bouncing-off opponents in-tight. He tackled with vigour, attempting to rip the ball out on several occasions. Expect to see Lewis be given a few games in the reserves before making the step-up to senior football for the Double Blues.

>> STURT TEAM PAGE

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

2020 SANFL Club Preview: Woodville-West Torrens Eagles

ANOTHER side seeking redemption in 2020 will be Woodville-West Torrens (WWT), led by incoming coach Jade Sheedy and new standalone skipper Luke Thompson after an unexpected SANFL League finals miss in 2019. The Eagles boast plenty of depth and some youngsters ready to crack the senior grades, with their committed leaders also among the best in the competition. We take you through the ins, outs, and important players at WWT this season.

>> CHECK OUT OUR WWT EAGLES TEAM PAGE

LEAGUE/ RESERVES:

The Eagles’ Reserves and Under 18s may have both made their way to grand final berths in 2019, but the League side missed finals with a negative record (8-10) in its last campaign, and will be keen to jump straight back into the top five. With a coach set to make his senior debut in the role and a new-look leadership group to boot, supporters should be confident of seeing a rise in their sides’ stocks in 2020. WWT is often lauded for its strong depth and junior program, with a bunch of talent again set to emerge after six players moved on to AFL lists last year.

An original list of seven recruits has been adjusted to six on the eve of the season, with Victorian bigman Liam Buxton opting to remain in his home state amid the current climate. A powerful key forward and ruck option, the former Casey Demon was set to provide a crucial outlet for star goalkicker Jack Hayes, who may also rotate through the ruck this season.

Another player set to be challenged in terms of roles is 2019 leading goalkicker James Rowe, who seems poised to spend a touch more time through midfield after catching the eye of AFL recruiters and earning a state combine invite. Rowe was named in last year’s SANFL team of the year alongside former Sydney Swan Jordan Foote, who is also the Eagles’ reigning club champion. The duo is set to run through the engine room alongside the enforcing figure of Jesse Lonergan, who will be third in line as a leader behind Thompson and Joseph Sinor.

In terms of those already within the ranks who could act as new recruits are Jimmy Toumpas and 2019 Under 18 state representative Lachlan McNeil. Toumpas battled injury throughout his return season to WWT last year, running out six times at League level, while McNeil is a ball winning midfielder who notched 13 Reserves appearances in 2019. Jamie Coff could be another youngster to make the step-up to League football alongside McNeil as a key position option. Fan favourite Jared Petrenko could also feature late in the year, but in not fully committed to playing as of yet having discussed the possibility of returning in a mentor role.

Adding to the youthful depth of the squad are a range of fresh recruits, with the return of Eagles junior Kai Pudney also a welcome addition. Pudney spent just one year on Port Adelaide’s rookie list before making his way back to Woodville Oval. Rhyan Mansell, the cousin of North Melbourne youngster Tarryn Thomas makes his way over from Tasmania with plenty of hype, while Pierce Seymour is an incoming versatile defender who made his League debut for Adelaide last year. Damien Hill, Jake Johansen, and Mitch Mead round out the inclusions.

On the flip-side, no less than 15 players have left the Eagles with six of them moving up to AFL level. The good news is that WWT lost only two players to rival SANFL clubs, but the bad news is that one of them is James Boyd, who heads to Central District alongside Bulldogs junior Ben Nason. 200-gamer Scott Lewis‘ loss will be felt as one of two retirees, with bigman/reality TV star Seb Guilhaus also ending his time in the league. Brothers Jack and Cooper Gaffney will return to the local level, along with a trio of other fringe squad members.

With a solid and experienced core, strength through midfield, and a notable spine, WWT should be a side to jump straight back into the finals race. As will be touched on below, the beauty of the squad is that there will be a number of emerging talents hungry to make an impact in the senior grades, and juniors primed to flourish as they continue to develop. With strong results at Reserves and Under 18 level, the League team should prosper in 2020.

UNDER 18s:

After taking home both the minor and post-season premierships in 2019, expectations will be high on the Eagles’ typically strong Under 18 group. Another five prospects feature in the State Academy hub, led by the likes of Taj Schofield and Lachlan Jones, who are Port Adelaide father-son and Next Generation Academy hopefuls respectively. Schofield is a classy small midfielder who will look to transition into an inside role, while Jones is a well-built defender whose readymade frame may well see him feature early at League level. Jase Burgoyne is another who will hope to end up at Alberton as a 2021-eligible father-son candidate – the son of Peter and brother of Trent.

Twin talls Zac Phillips and Henry Smith are both promising and raw types, with Phillips more of a key position forward, while Smith thrives in the ruck. Caleb Poulter is the fifth hub member, a versatile type who is somewhat of a late bloomer having represented South Australia at Under 16 level in 2019 as an over-ager. It will be difficult for the Eagles to top last year’s effort, but the core of players is there and should shine if not snatched up by the senior sides.

>> GET TO KNOW: WWT Eagles Under 18s
>> DRAFT WATCH: Taj Schofield

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

2020 SANFL Club Preview: West Adelaide

AFTER a tough 2019 season where injuries and the mid-season losses of John Noble and Will Snelling hampered their campaign, the West Adelaide Bloods will look to scrape themselves off the bottom of the SANFL ladder as state football returns. The road to redemption begins against last year’s ninth-placed side, North Adelaide, a team which Westies picked up one of their two wins against in 2019.

>> CHECK OUT OUR SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

LEAGUE/ RESERVES:

The Bloods have certainly been busy during the off-season, bringing in over 10 fresh faces to the squad in hopes of gaining a big performance boost. While the likes of 2019 leading goalkicker Jono Beech and former skipper Chris Schmidt are significant losses, West Adelaide has managed to hold onto a decent core of its rebuilding list and had most of its turned-over players head either interstate or into retirement – not into the hands of rival clubs.

The incoming crowd have come in bunches from right around the country, with young St Albans pair Matthew McKenzie and Hayden Elliot crossing over from Victoria for a taste of state league football, while graduates of the Sydney Swans and GWS GIANTS Academies will also make the transition to South Australia. Of them, Hamish Ellem is a well-built key forward who competes at ground level, joined by sharp-kicking half-back Kyle Martin out of the Swans’ system, while athletic midfielder Lachlan Squire crosses from the GIANTS’ ranks.

Pace and squad depth were also on the agenda come recruiting season, with Josh Koster and Sam Davidson completing transfers from Glenelg and Port Adelaide respectively, providing great running power alongside Jordon Boyle (Adelaide) and Ed Allan (Sturt). Stuart Tavener was a best and fairest winner at local level with Plympton last year, and boosts the ruck stocks at 202cm as somewhat of a late bloomer. Capping of the recruits is another expansive get, with Domonic Grant making the move from NT Thunder.

Much of the leadership responsibilities will again fall on captain Tom Keough and last year’s club champion Logan Hill, with young talents like Elliot Dunkin and Dallas Willsmore continually improving and 13 Under 18 products training with the senior side. Consistent figure Kaine Stevens is again set be a factor, forced to shoulder much of the heavy lifting through the engine room given the Bloods’ losses in that position.

A last-place League finish in 2019 means the only way is up for West Adelaide, with a run of five-straight losses to end the year a big chance of being snapped right off the bat. At Reserves level, improving on seventh spot should also be a realistic goal, with finals football not far off if both sides can showcase cohesion early and follow the example of its notable leaders. Watch for some exciting talent to emerge, and expect some big improvement from the Bloods.

UNDER 18s:

Contrary to the form shown by their senior teammates, West Adelaide’s Under 18 prospects finished second in 2019 with a 12-6 record and on the back of seven wins in their last eight regular season outings. The Bloods’ finals campaign did not quite go to plan as they exited in straight sets to each of the eventual grand finalists, but having a first round draftee (Will Day, Hawthorn) come out of the system would have been exciting.

The junior side may ironically suffer from the high-end talent it boasts, with top 2020 draft prospect Riley Thilthorpe already a figure in the League side, while fellow State Academy hub members Bailey Chamberlain and Jye Sinderberry cracked the Reserves grade as bottom-agers. Thilthorpe is a dynamic ruck/key forward who dominates aerially and covers the ground like a midfielder, while Chamberlain is a lightning-quick midfielder, and Sinderberry a dour defensive type who can play above his size.

Elsewhere, Harvey Bock is a prospect outside of the current academy bubble who may get a look-in, while Under 16 captain Tyson Coe and fellow standout Kobe Ryan have all the talent to make the step-up to Under 18 level this year.

>> GET TO KNOW: West Adelaide Under 18s

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

AFL Draft Watch: Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Central District product Corey Durdin, a diminutive midfielder/forward with plenty of quality. The 172cm prospect has already cracked SANFL League level, and ran out for three of South Australia’s Under 18 National Championship games last year as a bottom-ager. While his class as an inside midfielder is evident against opponents of his own age – see his SANFL Under 18 and State Under 16 form – Durdin is poised to make an impact at the next level as a zippy small forward with great ground level presence and goal sense.

PLAYER PAGE:

Corey Durdin
Central District/South Australia

DOB: April 14, 2002

Height: 172.1cm
Weight: 74.1kg

Position: Small forward/inside midfielder

Strengths: Smarts, versatility, toughness, ball winning, evasion
Improvements: Size/strength

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 67cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 76cm/81cm
Speed (20m) – 3.15 seconds
Agility – 8.74 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.6

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 STATISTICS:

SANFL U18s: 6 games | 21.5 disposals (76% efficiency) | 4.2 marks | 4 tackles | 5.3 clearances | 6.7 inside 50s | 1 rebound 50 | 0.2 goals (1)

Under 18 National Championships: 3 games | 7.3 disposals | 0.7 marks | 4 tackles | 1.3 clearances | 1.6 inside 50s | 1.3 goals (4)

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

The pocket rocket had some highlight plays to suggest he can be a damaging player when he is on, and generally used it pretty well despite not racking up a heap of it. He has that great burst of speed that can burn off opponents and showed it early running down the middle but unfortunately only had a one-on-three option to kick to, which he did pretty well to put it to his teammate’s advantage to at least nullify the contest.

He almost kicked a dribbler goal late in the first term but just missed, then made up for it with a great outside-of-the-boot goal two minutes into the second term. Was quieter in the second half as Team Brown controlled possession in the front half, but the forward still had a lovely straight kick down the middle, and had a scoring chance in the final term but it hit the woodwork.

Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Michael Alvaro

Was by no means a big game from the bottom-ager in terms of his disposal output (just seven), but he continues to show little bursts of form in a forward role. There isn’t much of him at 173cm, but Durdin cracks in against bigger bodies and tackles hard – boding well for his inside midfield craft. He showed his class with a snapped goal from a forward stoppage in the first quarter, and caught the eye with a clean pick up and spin on defensive wing in the following term.

>> Central District Team Page
>> Central District Season Preview
>> Get to know: Central District U18s

>> Marquee Matchup: Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell

>> 2020 SA U18s Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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

2020 SANFL Club Preview: South Adelaide

AFTER narrowly missing out on finals in both senior grades for the second time in three years, South Adelaide will return to the well in 2020 led by senior coach Jarrad Wright, and aided by shrewd recruiting from around the nation to make up for some massive, experienced losses.

>> CHECK OUT OUR SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

LEAGUE/ RESERVES:

The 171-game Port Adelaide veteran Matthew Broadbent headlines South Adelaide’s list of offseason recruits, set to bolster the Panthers through midfield and on the defensive line. Former Swan James Rose was another ex-AFL signing poised to return to SANFL football, but the 24-year-old will unfortunately have to miss the season on the back of heavy interruptions. Adding to that blow, Keegan Brooksby‘s homecoming has also been delayed by another opportunity at AFL level, this time with Hawthorn.

While Broadbent’s experience somewhat makes up for the other two would-be’s, that level of talent looked likely to be a key part of South’s next finals push. The retirements of 200-gamer Brad Crabb and five-time best and fairest Nick Liddle leave much of the leadership responsibilities on the shoulders of co-captains Matt Rose and Joel Cross, while the defections of Abe Davis (Sturt), Emmanuel Irra (Norwood), and Mark Noble (Werribee) to chase other opportunities will also hurt.

With two-time Margery Medalist, reigning club champion and leading goalkicker Cross spending more time up forward, the inclusions of Ben Sawford and Ky McGrath look to be shrewd ones in strengthening the Panthers’ midfield depth. Sawford makes the cross over from Glenelg alongside Brad Potter, while 2019 NEAFL team of the year defender Tom Highmore will make the transition from out East alongside McGrath. Henry Kerinaiua is another addition who will add value to the side, an eye-catching goalsneak from the Northern Territory who comes in off a solid season with Waratah.

On top of a highly-touted Under 18s group looking to transition into the senior ranks will inevitably come last year’s junior state representatives, with the likes of Daniel Sladojevic, Damon Freitag, and Darnell Tucker all players who already boast experience at Reserves level, and may be up for League selection in 2020. Players like Joseph Haines and Reece Milsom are also continually improving, and Malcolm Karpany is another who will constantly be running amok, putting the Panthers on track to mounting a top five charge.

UNDER-18s:

Coach and talent manager Mark Clayton will have the pleasure of leading a very promising Under 18s group throughout a shortened 2020 campaign, though the talent of some of South Adelaide’s state academy members may push them into the senior ranks.

Leading 2020 draft target Zac Dumesny will inevitably be a key member of the team alongside Nick Kraemer, an inside midfielder who played every game in the Panthers’ grand final run last year. 2019 State Under captain and MVP Jason Horne is one of the best talents of his own cohort, and is complemented well by the versatile Matthew Roberts and Arlo Draper among the bottom-aged ranks.

>> GET TO KNOW: South Adelaide Under 18s
>> GET TO KNOW: Nicholas Kraemer

2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

Get to Know: Nicholas Kraemer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH ADELAIDE boasts a handful of Under 18 products within this year’s State Academy hub, and one of the deeper overall lists for its junior age bracket. Among the Panthers’ top-age stars gunning for AFL Draft contention in 2020 is Nicholas Kraemer, a big-bodied inside midfielder who has been a mainstay in the South Australian (SA) state system. The 185cm prospect was in line to make his senior footballing debut this year after running out for a Reserves trial match during preseason, but like all prospects around the nation, was forced to momentarily put his aspirations on hold.

But with SANFL football set to return on June 27, and an unconfirmed national carnival looming in October, Kraemer and his fellow South Australians will get to strut their stuff soon enough. Kraemer has done plenty of that throughout his journey already, playing in every game of South Adelaide’s run to the 2019 SANFL Under 18 Grand Final, while also taking part in SA’s championship-winning Under 16 campaign a year earlier. This season, he is hoping to play every game for the SA Under 18 side as a key figure.

While he is most comfortable through midfield, Kraemer is able to play up either end of the ground credit to his defensive prowess and physical presence, but is looking to improve his endurance and speed to better impact through the engine room. As one of the rare Under 18 hopefuls to have already completed his schooling, Kraemer has been able to channel his focus into football while juggling a job at his family business, and has plenty of people to lean on as he strives to prove any doubters wrong.

Draft Central’s Michael Alvaro chatted with the promising youngster during lockdown about his journey so far, the lockdown experience, goals for the future, and plenty more. Check out how the Reynella junior is tracking along in anticipation of his return to the footy field.

THE JOURNEY TO THIS POINT

MA: Nick, where did your footy journey start?

NK: “Firstly, I played footy for my own local footy club. My cousin started playing there when he was young and I was probably about three years old. We didn’t know where to go so we just chose that footy club and I ended up playing there for three years.

“Then I started playing basketball as well, so I was heavily involved in basketball and one of my best mates there played for Reynella footy club so I went and played there. I played Under 13s, 14s, and 15s with South Adelaide and was still playing basketball at that time but it began to get too busy so I had to choose a sport.

“At about 15 I chose footy instead of basketball, played for South and luckily enough got asked to play for the State Under 16s, we were lucky enough to win that (championship) as well which was a good experience. Then I played 18s as a bottom-ager last year, made the grand final and now I’m playing 18s again.”

Having played every game in a side which made the SANFL Under 18 Grand Final, how did you rate your bottom-age year?

“I thought I played pretty well. I was a little bit slow at the start and then I found my mojo and stopped overthinking things. I started playing footy and not worrying so much, that’s when I started to find some form and the team started finding some form.

“We lost a fair few close games at the start and I think we went 8-0 to make the grand final. I felt like I had a bit of a slow start but pulled it in and finished off pretty strong I reckon.”


RISING THROUGH THE SA STATE ACADEMY

How has coming through the SA state system been for your development?

“I feel like it’s been really good. Playing 16s and being with the boys there, everyone’s familiar with each other at the minute and through the hub, everyone’s been so close and the standard have been so good so it makes you better.

“Everyone wants to get better but the standards are so high that you’re just pushing yourself so hard to match everyone. I feel like my development has gone a little bit further this year just being in that hub, and my fitness has grown heaps. It’s been really good this year and I’m enjoying it so far.”

You had a good group in that 2018 Under 16 squad who have come with you all the way to your Under 18 year, who are some of the boys you like to feed off and are familiar with?

“Probably Luke Edwards and Riley Thilthorpe. They’re very senior boys; Riley’s playing League at the moment and knows what he’s talking about, Luke plays a similar role to me – we play inside mid and can go down to half-back.

“I’m getting to learn off him and watch what he does as well, they’re probably the main two I try to watch, see what standards they bring and try to follow them in training.”


LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

Have you been able to keep in touch with the academy during lockdown?

“Yes. We’ve got a page where we can report what we do. With all this lockdown and footy being away we’ve had to post on there what we’ve been doing over the break; so what our gym workouts are, our conditioning workouts.

“(Under 18 Coach) Tony Bamford got us to cook dinner for the family and clean up, so everyone had to cook for their families and post it on there. We’ve got a group chat and we all stay pretty close with each other, and with the group chat it drives you to do your work instead of being left behind. It’s (helping to) keep in touch and get you motivated to keep doing your fitness and gym work so it’s been really good.”

What’d you cook for the family?

“I cooked burrito bowls.”

Nice, healthy?

“Yep.”

Some of the other states have been given tasks like picking out a player to base your game around, have you been given similar activities?

“We’ve done them. We’ve also had to (answer) ‘If we had to quarantine for two weeks, who would we quarantine with?’ – a coach and two players. We’ve had to base our game on AFL players and say why and all that sort of stuff.

“There’s always little activities that the coaches put in place so you’re not bored and you’re not forgetting about stuff so it’s good.”

How have you gone about keeping fit during lockdown, do you have a home gym?

“I’ve got a home gym in my lounge room. Funnily enough, my next door neighbour has a bench with a bench press, leg press and everything. We’ve borrowed it for the minute so he’s been really helpful with that.

“And just going for runs, I’m still keeping fit and keeping busy, if I’m bored I’ll just go into the gym and just do little things to keep my mind off other things.”


THE GAME OF NICK KRAEMER

Who have you chosen as the player you want to base your game on?

“I chose Josh Kennedy from Sydney. I feel like he’s a real inside mid which I play like at the minute. He’s a contested player, he gets his hands on the ball first and gives it out to the speedsters so I feel like that’s what I’m doing. I watch what he does, where he runs, and that sort of stuff.”

You’ve got the clearance game down pat, what are some of the things you see as your strengths at the moment?

“I’d probably say clean hands and I defend pretty well. I’m clean at ground level and I’m more of a defensive player than attacking. I feel like basketball has helped with that and defending people through basketball has got my one-on-one defence down pat and working really well. Those two are probably my biggest strengths.”

In terms of improvements, is getting generally fitter the main area?

“Yes, endurance and speed would be the two main weaknesses that I’ve been working on, growing up and getting feedback from coaches. I’ve got a sprint coach at the minute that I work with and I’m trying to work on that acceleration, the 0-5 metre sprint.

“Then endurance, as a midfielder you’ve got to be able to run so I’ll just keep developing my endurance so I can run and get to more contests.”


GOALS FOR 2020 AND BEYOND

Are you studying at all at the moment?

“No, I finished Year 12 last year. Mum and Dad have a gardening business so I work with them basically every day at the minute.

“I’d like to be a police officer if footy doesn’t pan out so this year was just to focus on footy and then next year if things don’t go well then I’ll apply for that and it’ll be my goal for next year as well as trying to make it in footy as well.”

Did you feel, coming into the year that being able to solely focus on footy would be an advantage for you?

“100 per cent. I reckon I had stuff to prove to everyone and that was probably my biggest motivation to show what I’ve been working on over the break. Coming into January over the Christmas break, I just wanted to show everyone what I’d been working on so now that it hasn’t panned out I’ve been able to develop my endurance a bit more so when footy does come back, I can just prove to the coaches what I’ve been doing.”

Do you have any idea of what level you’re going to be playing this year, firstly with South Adelaide and then with the state side?

“Hopefully (I’ll play for the SA Under 18s), that’s the goal. I did play one game of Reserves footy before all this happened. I played a trial match for the Reserves and had been training with the seniors before that.

“I got a Reserves gig and then the goal was to just make the state team and play every game. Hopefully that still goes ahead and I can play a couple of senior games too.”

In terms of your role, do you think you’ll still be working that inside midfield job, or will you be looking to move around the field?

“I feel like that’s my strongest area, inside mid. But I’m happy to go wherever, I can play a high half-forward which I played in the Reserves game and I liked.

“But then also playing that defensive role which is well-known to me, so inside mid and back are probably the likely two roles that I’ll play this year but we’ll see what happens with that forward role.”

Do you have any goals you’re looking to tick off, team-wise or individually?

“Team-wise is to hopefully go one better than we did last year and individually, probably just to make the state team. The overall goal is to get drafted but there’s little goals in front of that to make it come true. Just playing for the Under 18s first and if I get a gig in the Reserves or League, to play well there and crack into the state team, play well there have an impact in those games.”


LIVING IN THE UNKNOWN

What was it like at the start of lockdown knowing you might not be able to get on the park at all, having that unknown?

“The first two weeks it was a bit disappointing in a way that you don’t know what’s going to happen, or how then future’s going to unfold. But then after you get over the wall of not knowing what’s going to happen, you just get on your bike and start doing what you’re being told to do. We’ve had a program we’ve had to follow so I’m just doing that and doing extra stuff to be able to come back better than I was before.

“So it was a bit disappointing but then again, it was a good way to work on the stuff you’ve not been able to do because of the workload beforehand.”

On the flipside, you must’ve been pretty pumped to see the news of SANFL competition returning, what was your reaction to it?

“It was just very exciting to know that it was going to be coming back and it came back sooner than what we thought. Just excitement overall to be able to come back and train, see the faces at South, see the boys that we haven’t seen in a couple of months… and now play games, improve and hopefully make that state team.”

How long have you been back at training?

“Three weeks. Two weeks of non-contact with 10 people. We’ve had two sessions, an early session and a late session, the oval has been split up into thirds.

“This week has been the first contact training where we’ve been able to actually start tackling so this week’s been a lot better than the last couple where we’ve actually played some sort of footy.”

Is being able to play senior football at this stage an advantage for you over the interstate prospects?

“I feel like it’s good. Giving that exposure to young kids coming through where they can prove that they can play against bigger bodies and if they’re good enough, hold their spot and play there.

“That’s a goal for everyone and guys like Corey (Durdin) and Riley (Thilthorpe) have gone really well up there so hopefully they can keep playing well.”


MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS

Are there any key mentors who you look up to at the moment, whether it be through the state system, at South Adelaide, or your family?

“My whole family. My sister is a police officer, she pushes me to be the best I can be. She’s basically like a second mum, being a cop. Then my brother, he used to play footy when he was younger and gave it up to work more but he’s been helping me a lot with going out and having someone to kick with. My dad has been helping me a lot with that as well, we’ll go out and have a kick. Mum’s just the emotional support, she’s always there for me.

“I don’t really have a role model at AFL level because I kind of just want to model my game on myself, if that makes sense. But watching the big players and how they play is very eye-opening. Mark Clayton as well from South Adelaide has helped me a lot through the three years I’ve been with him and Tony (Bamford) has helped me a lot too, but family is probably the biggest role model at the minute.”

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for contributing to your footballing journey?

“I’d just like to thank South Adelaide mainly, they’ve been a big impact on how I’ve grown. Reynella footy club, where I’ve come from have also helped me a lot. And my family, all the coaches I’ve had – everyone’s been influential. The AFL hub academy, all the boys there have helped me a lot with growing, being a better player and a better person as well.”

FLINDERS UNIVERSITY STUDY

You partook in a study with Flinders University, can you tell me a little about that?

“It was about goalkicking. Dr Sam Elliott did a study on how juniors and seniors think through their routine and how they overthink things. We went in there and he told us what to do, we had sunglasses with cameras on them and all sorts of things where he could record stuff to make his study more accurate. It was pretty good, pretty interesting stuff.”

Do you have any results, has your goalkicking improved or was it good to start with?

“I feel like the further you go out, 30 metres is probably where everyone is most comfortable, but the further you go you start to think about kicking the ball too hard. I think the study has helped me with going through my routine, not trying to hit the ball so hard and picking out a target behind the goals to aim for.”

>> MORE SA UNDER 18s CONTENT

Central District | Get to know
Glenelg | Get to know
North Adelaide | Get to know
Norwood | Get to know
South Adelaide | Get to know
Sturt | Get to know
West Adelaide | Get to know
WWT Eagles | Get to know

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

2020 SA Squad Prediction
2020 Positional Analysis: Key Forwards

Preseason Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo test

Marquee Matchups: Connor Downie vs. Luke Edwards

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope ironically played together twice last year; for the Australian Under 17 side in April, and in September’s Under 17 Futures showcase fixture. 2020 Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie and Glenelg’s Luke Edwards are those two players, having progressed through similar journeys despite hailing from different states. Both prospects are also already aligned to AFL clubs, with Downie a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, and Edwards eligible to nominate as an Adelaide father-son candidate.

Downie was an integral figure in Eastern’s run to last year’s NAB League grand final, proving a reliable and versatile member of the squad. He was also one of the rare bottom-agers to feature for Vic Metro in the 2019 National Championships, running out for his sole appearance against Vic Country to open the carnival. Having played mostly on a wing and off flanks at either end, Downie’s solid build and forward-driving attributes see him poised for more inside midfield minutes throughout 2020.

Edwards is a player in a similar boat, but instead looks to make a return to the engine room having been employed as a rebounding defender in last year’s Under 18 championships for South Australia. Remarkably, Edwards has not put on any height since his Under 16 campaign in 2018, but remains a big-bodied type through midfield at 187cm and 80kg. The son of Crows great, Tyson broke through to SANFL Reserves level for Glenelg as a bottom-ager and may well make the step up to League football as a top-ager when SANFL competitions return in June.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

DOB: May 31, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 83kg

Position: Outside midfielder/utility

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: January 12, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Downie – 64cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Downie – 78cm/63cm

SPEED (20m)

Downie – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Downie – 8.48 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Downie – 20.7

Note: Edwards did not participate in the scheduled South Australian preseason testing day.

Attempting to compare these two athletically via preseason testing data is obviously a fruitless task given Edwards did not participate in South Australia’s combine, but we can still extract something out of Downie’s results. The Victorian’s power off one side shows in the 15cm gap in his running vertical jumps, and he definitely uses that leap to compete in the air, while also boasting a penetrating left foot kick. Downie’s time of 3.11 second across 20 metres is not exactly flattering, but his constant forward movement and overlapping runs to chain handballs better show his ability to gain meterage in quick time. Additionally, a decent agility test time of 8.48 seconds allows Downie to evade opponents and is an area Edwards also thrives in through midfield.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Downie:

NAB League: 14 games | 16.4 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.6 inside 50s |  3.8 rebound 50s | 9 goals

Under 18 National Championships: 1 game | 9 disposals | 4 marks | 2 inside 50s | 2 rebound 50s

Edwards:

SANFL U18s: 8 games | 22.5 disposals | 4.4 marks | 5.8 tackles | 5.1 clearances | 4.6 inside 50s | 1 goal

Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 18.8 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.75 rebound 50s | 1.5 inside 50s

Downie may have been the slightly more capped player as far as these statistics go, but was able to showcase some of his best traits on the outside. His NAB League average of 16.4 disposals is a decent output for a bottom-ager, but his ability to impact along the line really comes to the fore in his combination of 3.8 rebound 50s and nine goals for the season.

Edwards’ more inside oriented role shines through in his SANFL Under 18 numbers, reflecting a dominant stoppage game going both ways with 5.1 average clearances, 4.6 inside 50s, and 5.8 tackles. His overall disposal output is also greater, and his slightly bigger frame has something to do with that at Under 18 level.

In terms of their National Championships form, Edwards proved his worth as a consistent contributor across all four games, while Downie could only crack one outing in the stacked Vic Metro side. Again, Edwards’ overall output is more significant, but this time in a different role across half-back as he upped his intercept/rebounding game and maintained similar tackling numbers.

It would have been handy to see the pair go at it when Vic Metro met South Australia, but we will have to wait until this year’s carnival – should one go ahead.

BEST GAME

Downie:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. GWV

23 disposals (14 kicks)
2 marks
3 clearances
7 inside 50s
2 rebound 50
3 goals

Edwards:

2019 SANFL U18s Round 14 vs. North Adelaide

32 disposals (22 kicks)
7 marks
10 tackles
9 clearances
9 inside 50s
1 goal

You will be hard-pressed to find a more complete midfield game that Edwards’ display in Glenelg’s Round 14 loss to North Adelaide; the prime mover won plenty of his own ball (32 disposals) both at the stoppages (nine clearances) and on the spread (seven marks), while staying relevant defensively (10 tackles) and impacting the play going forward (nine inside 50s, one goal). It is the kind of game which makes you think a permanent midfield move is a no-brainer for Edwards, and shows how far developed he is for his age.

Downie’s chosen game came in as one-sided a game as you’re likely to see, with Eastern holding its opponent to a total of five behinds while piling on 18.8 (116) in tricky Ballarat conditions. Downie was a key exponent of the onslaught, collecting a disposal tally two touches shy of his season-best, while impacting the play up either end and at the stoppages. His three goals were sweeteners, showcasing his penetrating kick from range as well as his underrated overhead marking in the face of a howling breeze.

STRENGTHS

Downie:

Versatility
Leadership
Kick penetration
Efficiency

Edwards:

Versatility
Contested ball
Reading the play
Efficiency

Conveniently enough, the two share a pair of identical strengths. The first listed for either player is versatility, something they will both be itching to further showcase in expanded roles should the action return in 2020. Edwards has gone from playing permanent midfield, to shifting to defence, to now being poised as a midfielder once again. Meanwhile, Downie is a damaging proposition all the way along the line from half-back, to half-forward, and potentially inside the engine room.

The other shared trait here is their efficiency, with Downie a safe bet on his left side, while Edwards is ruthless on his right. Downie seems to have a touch more penetration and loves to go long, but Edwards is a touch more accustomed to finding the best option and hardly making a mistake. Edwards’ disposal efficiency of 90 per cent, albeit with a much lower output, only proves his case as a poised user of the ball. Downie may waver a touch more, but can cut teams up with his metres gained and put the ball in more dangerous areas.

As captain of the Eastern region, Downie also gets a tick for leadership, and he could be in contention for the same honours at representative level given his experience there already.  Edwards’ remaining strengths tie into different roles on-field, with his contested game suited to midfield minutes, while reading of the play comes down to his defensive duties. Edwards’ frame also helps in one-on-one defensive situations too, adding to that intercept and rebound style from the back half.

IMPROVEMENTS

Downie:

Inside craft
Explosive speed

Edwards:

Explosive speed
Contested marking

The two again have similar improvements to make, and are ordered in terms of importance. Downie’s inside craft will need a lift if he is to spend more time at the centre bounces, with his chaining and penetrative style on the outside currently more suited to his skillset. He has the frame and class to make the move, but isn’t quite there off bottom-age form. Part of that will be adding an element of explosive speed, which is not currently reflected in his 3.11-second 20-metre sprint time. He covers the ground well over time, but needs that burst at the stoppages.

Similarly, Edwards has been working on that five-step burst in congestion to get away from would-be tacklers, with the pressure at the next level too much for pure strength to repeatedly handle. He can get away with being caught slightly in traffic against juniors, but will be brought down in those situations upon entering the elite system. Another area Edwards said he would like to work on during preseason is his contested marking, being able to crash packs and be an even more damaging interceptor.

Of course, it is often difficult and perhaps harsh to split hairs when looking for areas of improvement, but even the best prospects have room to grow to become more complete players.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Downie:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

Gave a glimpse into his role for next year with a mix of time between his usual wing/half-back position, and in the midfield. Downie’s willingness to get on his bike at every opportunity and move the ball forward was a feature, fitting the metres-gained role well on the outside. He would often dish off on the move and continue his run to get it back, ending his plays with a long kick forward on his customary left side. He may well continue his shift towards a more inside role and has the size to do so, but arguably looked more damaging on the outer as he has done all year.

Edwards:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great poise in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself. His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game. His smart handballs out of congestion were terrific in the second half, especially at centre bounces, and he would benefit from spending more time there.

FINAL WORD

Both of these talents have been highly-touted for a good amount of time, and rightly so. Edwards has the obvious and added pressure of being a father-son prospect identified from a young age, but has performed well in his own right and may even blaze his own trail by nominating for the open draft. Similarly, Downie is already linked to a club but should end up following through with the tie and will cost the Hawks a decent amount of draft points.

Lacking in a couple of athletic areas may see the two slide down the order, but Edwards is one who could be right up there should he stamp his claim as an inside midfielder. Downie’s versatility is a massive plus, as is his impact on the outside. While it would be tempting to see him also grow into an inside role, it seems his best traits fit the wing, or a half-back flank in particular.

Squad predictions: 2020 South Australia Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro and Vic Country predictions, and today we take a look at South Australia’s (SA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

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

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the third squad prediction, with SA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged

DEFENCE

FB – Lachlan Jones, James Borlase, Isaiah Dudley*
HB – Will Schreiber, Jye Sinderberry, Zac Dumesny

Height looms as somewhat of an issue in our proposed defence, with versatile utility James Borlase the tallest of the lot at 189cm, joined in a key position post by the 188cm Jye Sinderberry. But that is not to say the chosen six lack in marking power or strength, with South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny a capable interceptor, while Lachlan Jones adds a good amount of grunt with his 184cm/88kg frame.

Glenelg’s Will Schreiber adds to the back six’s solidity, while diminutive bottom-ager Isaiah Dudley can fill a pocket at either end on account of his ground level pressure. Should the SA coaches look toward a more conventional key position structure, Riley Thilthorpe is a tall option who can play just about anywhere, but will more likely be used as a ruck/forward. Luke Edwards is another half-back option having played there during last year’s Under 18s carnival.

MIDFIELD

C – Bailey Chamberlain, Luke Edwards, Tom Powell
FOL – Riley Thilthorpe, Jamison Murphy, Taj Schofield

The Croweaters lay claim to one of the stronger and more diverse midfield groups, and we are excited about how this one stacks up. It was tough to whittle down the options, but the balance of this six looks about right.

On the outside, Bailey Chamberlain and Tom Powell provide some real dash and athleticism, and will also be able to rotate through the centre bounces with their speed/agility combination. There may be a slight query on Powell’s endurance coming off spates of long-term injuries, but he was impressive during preseason testing.

Forming the centre bounce core is arguably a group of four midfielders, with Thilthorpe a dynamic ruck option who fares just as well at ground level. While he may feature as a key forward or utility at times as he improves his ruck craft, the range of other options in that department means he can be utilised around the ground.

A couple of potential father-sons make their move into the middle, with Edwards a big-bodied inside type who compliments the smooth moving Taj Schofield very well. Edwards, who is also a very capable defender is a must in the midfield given Jamison Murphy and the remaining candidates stand no taller than 180cm. Murphy’s hard-at-it style means he should have no troubles on the inside though, and provides a great story as a former Australian Under-17 cricket captain.

FORWARD

HF – Tariek Newchurch, Kaine Baldwin, Jason Horne*
FF – Corey Durdin, Henry Smith, Lachlan Grubb

There are a couple of players who are simply essential choices in the final team; with Under 16 Division 1 MVP Corey Durdin slotting into a pocket, and returning key forward Kaine Baldwin a lock across half-forward. It was tempting to slot Thilthorpe in at centre-half forward, but Baldwin is just as capable there at 193cm and 91kg.

172cm pocket-rocket, Durdin is a terrific midfielder at Under 18s level, but is sure to find a home as a small forward at the next level – as justified by his form in said position for Central Districts’ League side. Baldwin has not played any footy for over a year due to an ACL tear, but is a contested marking phenom who can also roam further afield.

He will likely be joined up the spine by Henry Smith, a raw tall option who marks the ball at its highest point at over 200cm. At his feet and alongside Durdin in our side is Lachlan Grubb, another who has entered the senior realm for Centrals’ Reserves side. He is an impressive athlete, much like silky Adelaide NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch. Last year’s State Under 16s captain and MVP Jason Horne rounds out the six, a player already accustomed to playing above his age group and one who may also feature through midfield.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Caleb Poulter, Mani Liddy, Nicholas Kraemer, Ned Carey

This was a very difficult bench to select with a bunch of line-calls, as will become obvious with the depth listed below. Ned Carey features as the lone key position option, able to fulfil a ruck-oriented role alongside the likes of Thilthorpe and Smith while resting forward.

Caleb Poulter is a dynamic option who could well have made it onto the half-forward flank, much like how Nicholas Kraemer could enter the midfield fray and Mani Liddy could be utilised on either of the said lines. Kraemer is one who can add some strength through the engine room, while Liddy could feature there too having previously been pushed out to the flanks.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

A pair of smalls who will likely rotate through the squad include Henry Nelligan and Cooper Horsnell. Nelligan is a midfielder who is never far away from the action, able to find the ball with ease at 170cm. Horsnell is the more forward-inclined of the two, able to find the goals while adding the string of wing play to his bow.

Another 200cm key position option, Zac Phillips is from the Woodville-West Torrens program and could get a look-in as ruck or key forward depth. An impressive utility who may also come into consideration is Riley Holder, who posted very impressive numbers for Glenelg in a range of roles at 190cm.

Aside from the Academy-listed top-agers mentioned above, Glenelg quartet Kye DeanLuke Pedlar, Jordan Moore, and Reid Kuller are names who have floated around the system, while Bulldogs pair Samuel Falland and Lewis Cowham may also be thereabouts, along with Norwood tall Sam Duke and West Adelaide’s Harvey Bock. There are of course, many others who will come under consideration, but the Academy group is quite strong and difficult to look past.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

The top-agers for 2020 set the benchmark with a national carnival win in their Under 16s year, and while last year’s 16s crop could not achieve the same feat, there are certainly some bright talents who will feature in the future.

Cooper Murley and Matthew Roberts were equally difficult omissions from the starting squad given our stipulation of three bottom-agers, maximum, and a decent midfield core. An Under-16 All-Australian last year alongside Horne and Dudley, Murley is a highly talented small midfielder who can also move forward, while Roberts has similar versatility as a 182cm midfielder.

Arlo Draper and Lewis Rayson are another two bottom-aged prospects among the Academy ranks, and could both make a case for breaking into the side. Athletic tall forward Morgan Ferres could come into consideration among the key position ranks, though the stocks are already quite full in that department.

Harry Tunkin is a Prince Alfred College and Glenelg product who impressed at Under 16 level, while Port Adelaide father-son hopeful Jase Burgoyne is also coming through the ranks and could feature at some point before his top-age year.

>> SANFL U18 CLUB PAGES:

Central District // Preseason interviews
Glenelg // Preseason interviews
North Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Norwood // Preseason interviews
South Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Sturt // Preseason interviews
West Adelaide // Preseason interviews
WWT Eagles // Preseason interviews

>> SANFL U18 PLAYER FEATURES:

AFL Draft Watch:

Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:

Durdin vs. Campbell