Tag: South Australia

Exciting Schirmer strives for consistency in 2021

SOUTH Adelaide high-flyer Gypsy Schirmer is striving to become a more consistent player in 2021, with the exciting prospect now firmly on the draft radar after a breakthrough 2020 campaign. Schirmer’s X-factor and versatility helped her crack South’s senior lineup and her state’s Under 18 All-Star fixture last year, with inclusion in this year’s AFL Women’s Academy a richly deserved honour based on great potential.

The soon-to-be 18-year-old is known for her ability to play just about anywhere, but is looking to nail down a spot up forward while rotating through midfield. With outstanding athletic traits such as a sizeable vertical leap and swift closing speed, it was no surprise to hear Schirmer say she wants to “play more like” a certain iconic Carlton spearhead.

“It’s kind of a generic one but I think what Tayla Harris has, we share similarities,” Schirmer said. “We’re both tall players, but we both work really hard up and down the ground, and we’re quite dangerous wherever we play. “I want to play more like her.”

“I don’t really know (where my best position is), I’ve been thrown around a little bit. “I love the forward line, I really love the craft there and feel like I could really develop as a player but I’m also looking forward to developing my midfield abilities. “I got introduced to the wing last year which was a bit different but I really enjoyed it there too, so probably up forward and in the midfield is my best position.”

Perhaps much like Harris, Schirmer is also looking to more consistently showcase her talent having moved past interruptions and shaken off some injury concerns. Currently known as more of an impact player who takes full toll with each possession, the South Adelaide product also has eyes on a more grand end prize.

“I think (my goal) is just to play some consistent footy,” she said. “I have had some injury interruptions so getting some consistency, playing my role and getting to do what they want me to do at South. “Then progressing into this (AFLW Academy), playing some state footy and travelling if we’re allowed to, kind of progressing from there and if all goes to plan hopefully the draft at the end of the year.”

It has been a steep rise for Schirmer, who has only been playing football for four years. Having started out being coached by her father at Christies Beach Football Club, the youngster quickly made her way into representative squads and is now thriving under South Adelaide’s tutelage – with plenty more to come.

“I started footy four years ago,” she said. “I wasn’t really interested in playing with the boys so I waited until my local club got a women’s team, which was 2017 I think. “I was lucky enough to have my dad as my coach which was really cool as it made it easy to get driven to things.

“I started at Christies Beach Football Club down south and then got into the Under 15 state All Schools League. “I enjoyed that a lot, that was my second year of footy.

“From there started making more sides and play for South Adelaide women’s now, I’m really excited – we’ve got a good squad there. “I’ve had a few injury blows with my ankles that have kind of been screwing me up a bit but I’ve really enjoyed programs like this and hopefully I’m fit for a whole year and see what’s to come.”

With commitment to the game and pathway opportunities now at an all-time high, juggling football with studies amidst a pandemic has been admittedly “challenging” for Schirmer. With the transition to university in her sights, she says regaining a manageable balance will be an interesting prospect.

“I finished Year 12 last year so going in and out of school all the time depending on what the situation was, but also having to balance training and stuff like that, I feel like I did get quite a good training-school balance by the end of it,” she said. “But definitely with uni I’ll be interested to see how it goes.”

If preseason testing is anything to go by, Schirmer is ready to hit even greater heights in 2021 as one of South Australia’s most promising female draft prospects. Her next point of call will be in South’s hoops as they take on North Adelaide at Coopers Stadium, opening the season on February 26 in a grand final rematch.

Image Credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Lishmund looks to the one-percenters

NORWOOD youngster Alana Lishmund hardly looked out of place last year in her debut SANFL Women’s season. In 2021, the exciting midfielder-forward is turning towards the one-percenters and focusing on her strengths as she strives to become one of South Australia’s next AFL Women’s products.

“Personally, (my goal is) to just keep up the one-percenters,” Lishmund said. “Then looking towards the end of the year, it’s just getting drafted.”

The Hope Valley junior has juggled multiple sporting commitments in the past but has now “cut it back”, focusing on the native code through Norwood’s development program.

“I’ve been playing (football) for about five years,” she said. “I started off locally at Hope Valley and then I’ve been at Norwood for a couple of years coming up through their development program.

“Before this year I played two sports and I was juggling that, but this year I kind of cut it back because I used to play soccer.”

Lauded for her ability to play both deep forward and further afield, Lishmund brings plenty of X-factor to the table with punishing tackling pressure and an eye for goal. Her performance rotating through the forwardline in last year’s South Australia Under 18 Girls All-Star fixture was a particular highlight, putting her on the draft radar in 2021.

While Lishmund has found success in those areas of the ground, says she is happy to play “anywhere”, with a couple of key strengths aiding that kind of versatility.

“I usually like to be rover, so in the centre,” she said. “But (I can play) really anywhere, up forward or on the wing too.

“As a left footer, I know not many people have that so that’s kind of a strength of mine. “I’ve got some pace as well, (I’m) pretty fast.”

Off the field, Lishmund describes herself as a “pretty outgoing, friendly, bubbly” character and it shows in her vigour once the white line is crossed. Honest could be another descriptor, especially after her assessment of how preseason fitness testing panned out.

“Going through everything we had to do, I was very happy with it,” she said. “I was a bit ripped off in a couple of runs when it came to the yo-yo, but all good other than that.”

Lishmund and her Redlegs are set to kick off their 2021 SANFL Women’s season against West Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Friday, February 26. The first bounce is at 7:45pm.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

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

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

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

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

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

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

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

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

2020 AFL Draft recap: Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE went into the 2020 AFL Draft holding all the power with pick one and knowing it would need to absolutely nail each pick or movement as its rebuild continues. Armed with the greatest draft points total of any side coming in, the Crows were able to bolster their midfield stocks, fulfil the pressing need for a genuine small forward, and obtain one of the best tall prospects available to form their list regeneration around. With all bar one of Adelaide’s picks originally hailing from South Australia, there was a real local feel to this draft haul.

ADELAIDE

National Draft:
#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Pre-Season Draft: Jackson Hately (Greater Western Sydney)

Rookies: Bryce Gibbs (Adelaide), James Borlase (NGA), Tariek Newchurch (NGA)

Adelaide had no problem relinquishing its pick one status in using it to place a bid on Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, which was inevitably matched. Having subsequently slid back to the second selection, the Crows were delighted to snare local bigman Riley Thilthorpe, a genuine key forward who can also rotate through the ruck. National recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie shared the view that Thilthorpe had long been the best player for his age group in the State, helping confirm the feel-good local choice. Out of West Adelaide, the 201cm talent should prove a pillar of Adelaide’s rebuild and with senior experience under his belt, will likely be given early opportunities if fit.

The Crows then pulled one of the shocks of the first round by pouncing on Luke Pedlar with pick 11, an explosive inside midfielder who may begin his career up forward. The Glenelg product was also captain of this year’s Prince Alfred College side and while injury cut his season short, Pedlar showed enormous quality at each opportunity. The Crows obviously rated him highly and were happy to act at such a high cost with the likes of GWS and Fremantle lurking within the next few picks. The lone Victorian of the group, Sam Berry is another hard-working midfielder who will add to Adelaide’s ball winning stocks, likely to provide great value at pick 28. Speed is his main knock, but his effort and endurance are high-level.

From one bolter in Pedlar to another in Brayden Cook, the Crows obviously did their homework on the vast array of SANFL products this year. The South Adelaide wingman/forward came from seemingly nowhere to enter draft contention this year with 26 goals in 13 Under 18 games. He has grown nicely and shown an equally steep rate of development; with overhead marking, goal sense, and creative nous his main weapons. Mature-age small forward James Rowe rounded out the Crows’ National Draft intake at pick 38, right after Carlton nabbed Corey Durdin. The Woodville-West Torrens goalsneak booted 38 majors this year to top the SANFL charts, showcasing impressing natural smarts and ability inside 50 to suggest he could slot into the Crows’ starting side immediately.

Adelaide also got their man in Jackson Hately, who returns home after quitting GWS at the end of this season. The tall midfielder fits the Crows’ need for midfield depth and is an absolute steal at effectively no cost in the preseason draft. A sense of deja vu came over fans as Bryce Gibbs was called out with pick one, only this time in the Rookie Draft and purely for administrative reasons. He will be moved onto the inactive list and remain retired in 2021. The Crows also managed to land their two NGA products in James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch through Category B listings, a terrific result given their levels of talent and potential to develop.

Featured Image: Riley Thilthorpe dons Adelaide’s tricolours | Credit: Getty Images

South Australia announces 2021 state talent hub

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) yesterday announced its 2021 State Talent Hub, consisting of Under 17 and 18 squads. As the AFL steps away from its national hub-based academies, South Australia has designed its own state program around the two age groups to better prepare talent for next year’s Under 17 and 19 National Championships. The 50-player Academy allows players access to a concentrated high-performance program which is set to commence next month, with another camp due in January next year.

>> SCROLL TO VIEW THE U17 & U18 TALENT HUBS

Among the prominent names in the Under 18 squad is Jason Horne, who has made his claim as the current 2021 number one pick frontrunner. The South Adelaide midfielder has already gained SANFL League experience and shone with his speed and aerial marking. Fellow Panthers Matthew Roberts and Arlo Draper are other high-end prospects to feature, while Norwood premiership player Cooper Murley would also have been one of the first names picked.

There are a few notable players already tied to clubs too, with the likes of Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Isaiah Dudley (Adelaide, NGA), and Blayne O’Loughlin (Adelaide, NGA) all earning selection. Jase is the son of Port premiership player Peter, while Dudley is the cousin of Melbourne livewire Kysaiah Pickett, and O’Loughlin is the nephew of Sydney champion Michael.

In the Under-17 crop, Jaiden Magor looms as an early leader having starred in SA the Under 17 Futures game this year. Austin McDonald is another ball winning midfielder at the top end having already established himself as a key cog in Central District’s engine room, while Kobe Ryan is an outside type with terrific run and Westies teammate Tyson Coe featured at the 2019 Under 16s championships as an under-ager. Will Verrall and Isaac Keeler are a couple of exciting, mobile talls, and the latter is tied to Adelaide’s NGA.

2021 South Australia Under 18 State Talent Hub:

Oscar Adams | Glenelg

Zac Becker | Sturt

Cooper Beecken | Glenelg

Jase Burgoyne | Eagles

Brayden Calvett | Eagles

Lukas Cooke | Eagles

Matt Dnistriansky | Norwood

Arlo Draper | South Adelaide

Isaiah Dudley | Central District

Morgan Ferres | Sturt

Cody Gilchrist  | Central District

Jason Horne | South Adelaide

Declan Hortle | Sturt

Jonte Hunter-Price | Eagles

Hugh Jackson | North Adelaide

Cade Kennedy  | West Adelaide

Hugo Kittel | Sturt

Shay Linke  | Central District

Alastair Lord | Norwood

Cooper Murley  | Norwood

Blayne O’Loughlin | North Adelaide

Jarrod Parish | Glenelg

Lewis Rayson | Glenelg

Matt Roberts | South Adelaide

Will Spain | Sturt

Hugh Stagg | Glenelg

Nasiah Wanganeen | Glenelg

Jay Watson | Eagles

Luca Whitelum | Central District

James Willis | North Adelaide

2021 South Australia Under 17 State Talent Hub:

Shaun Bennier | North Adelaide

Max Blacker | North Adelaide

Fraser Bone | West Adelaide

Oliver Britten-Jones | Sturt

Hayden Brokensha | Glenelg

Hunter Carter | Eagles

Tyson Coe | West Adelaide

Adam D’Aloia | Eagles

Isaac Keeler | North Adelaide

Harry Lemmey | West Adelaide

Jaiden Magor | South Adelaide

Austin McDonald | Central District

Taj Rahui | Norwood

Kobe Ryan | West Adelaide

Nick Sadler | Sturt

Lachlan Scannell | Glenelg

Brodie Tuck | Central District

Riley Verrall | Norwood

Will Verrall | South Adelaide

Tyson Walls | Norwood

Featured Image: Jason Horne in action for South Adelaide | Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: South Australia

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

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. South Australian talents on the precipice are the first to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after an entertaining year of SANFL football.

Below are pocket profiles of each player, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

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

KEY FORWARDS/RUCKS:

Ned Carey | Norwood
13/06/2002 | 198cm | 89kg

Carey has spent most of 2020 on the sidelines due to nasty injury niggles, but was a tall prospect of interest coming into the year having been included in the SA state academy hub. He can play in the ruck or at either end of the ground, is mobile for his size, and capable of taking big contested grabs.

Daniel Fahey-Sparks | Sturt
7/01/1998 | 196cm | 92kg

As somewhat of an undersized ruck, Fahey-Sparks covers the ground well and doubles as a forward threat. The 22-year-old’s strong athletic base and added League experience saw him really come into his own during 2020, proving dominant in the air and confident around the ground.

Riley Holder | Glenelg
18/12/2002 | 190cm | 84kg

The shortest and most forward-oriented player of this lot, Holder proved to be a reliable target for Glenelg and Sacred Heart in 2020. He is below true key position height at 190cm but has a strong frame and covers good ground, ensuring he is difficult to halt on the lead and in contested marking situations. Was included in this year’s state academy hub.

Zac Phillips | WWT Eagles
15/08/2002 | 200cm | 80kg

The rangy Eagles bigman made the move down to Henley High this year and performed well there while also juggling his SANFL Under 18 duties. He was his side’s primary ruck option and fared well at the centre bounces with his directional work, but is still improving on his strength, forward craft, and ability to have a greater impact around the ground.

SMALL FORWARDS/MIDFIELDERS:

Lachlan Grubb | Central District
7/12/2002 | 173cm | 69kg

Some may remember him taking out the 2019 SANFL Grand Final sprint, but Grubb is much more than merely a sprinter. His pace certainly helps when breaking lines and taking the game on, while also making for some punishing closing speed in the attacking half. As a December-birth, Grubb still has plenty of upside and development left but has already featured at League level.

Cooper Horsnell | Glenelg
19/04/2002 | 174cm | 68kg

Another who falls into the forward/wing category, Horsnell played out a full season among Glenelg’s Reserves setup in 2020 and also showed his wares by hitting the scoreboard during the Under 18 All-Stars fixture. He is a creative user on the fly who works hard up and down the ground, while also posing a threat close to goal. Had early interest as a state academy hub member.

Henry Nelligan | Norwood
7/03/2002 | 170cm | 69kg

Nelligan proved plenty of doubters wrong with his performances after missing out on a draft combine invite. The hard-working midfielder played a key role in Norwood’s SANFL Under 18s premiership and also gained senior experience earlier in the year. He is not overly quick, but is a natural ball winner who thrives at ground level and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Beau McCreery | South Adelaide
19/4/2001 | 184cm | 84kg

A 19-year-old prospect who has garnered attention on the back of a super SANFL League campaign which saw him boot 19 goals in 15 games. He was selected in the Under 18 All-Stars fixture come season’s end where he spent time rotating between the midfield and forwardline. McCreery gets stuck in on the defensive end and can often provide a spark just when his side needs it.

James Rowe | WWT Eagles
19/09/1999 | 173cm | 73kg

One of the most talked about mature-age hopefuls in this year’s crop, Rowe is a natural footballer who knows where the goals are. He was the equal-leading SANFL League goalkicker this year after earning a state combine invite in 2019 and played a vital role in Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership triumph. The 21-year-old looks ready as ever and would appeal to clubs crying out for a small forward.

DEFENDERS:

Dyson Hilder | North Adelaide
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

A key defender with great poise, Hilder has worked hard since missing out on draft honours last year. He again rotated between the Roosters’ League and Reserves sides after gaining some experience in 2019, showcasing some of his best attributes at senior level; namely a strong marking ability and reading of the play from behind the ball.

Rhyan Mansell | WWT Eagles
4/06/2000 | 182cm | 75kg

A small-medium defender who has come on leaps and bounds this year, Mansell allayed late injury concerns to help Woodville-West Torrens take out the premiership flag. The Tasmanian native was a key rebounder out of the back half and showed good skills with ball in hand, while also bringing a hard edge to the side. It could be his year after being overlooked twice.

Callum Park | Glenelg
19/01/2001 | 190cm | 74kg

An outside-leaning utility who can carve up the opposition by foot on he wing or across half-back, Park served a reminder of his talents in 2020 after being overlooked in last year’s draft. He is still quite lean but measures up at a good height and has great upside, with his rebounding ability particularly effective for the Bays. His versatility will also appeal to recruiters.

Luke Parks | Glenelg
18/04/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Another who was unlucky to be overlooked at last year’s draft, Parks has taken to senior SANFL football with aplomb since making the move to Glenelg in 2020. The Sydney Swans Academy graduate impressed this year with his athleticism and courageous intercept marking in the back half, and has a good frame to keep up with the rigours of League football.

Jacob Wehr | WWT Eagles
184cm | 71kg

The stylish half-back finally broke through to the League grade in 2020 and became a hit among Woodville-West Torrens highly touted team. Kicking is his greatest asset, with the left-footer able to hit targets both short and long to act as a key playmaker in the back half. Interest has grown in the 22-year-old this year having come from a fair way back.

MIDFIELDERS:

Daly Andrews | South Adelaide
22/02/2000 | 184cm | 81kg

Andrews has made improvements after missing out on draft honours for two years running, credit to his work-rate and willingness to succeed. The Victorian moved to South Adelaide in 2020 after NAB League experience with the Western Jets and added superb midfield balance to the Panthers’ side. He is now a readymade size and has built great consistency, with speed and kick penetration highlights of Andrews’ game.

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

A balanced ball winner with break-neck acceleration, Chamberlain was a clear standout among West Adelaide’s struggling Under 18s side. After proving a class above for much of the season and racking up plenty of possessions, he moved up to the Reserves grade and was eventually rewarded with a League debut. He is still quite light and can improve his kicking on the run.

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

A strong inside midfielder who thrives in contested situations, Kraemer overcame injury troubles to make an impact in the back-end of the season. He is a leader among the Panthers’ group who bases his game on Josh Kennedy and prides himself on his defensive acumen – so much so, that he even succeeded in a move to defence. He has been working hard his speed and overall running capacity as a midfielder.

Mani Liddy | Sturt
20/02/2002 | 181cm | 79kg

A tough inside type who can also rotate forward, Liddy loves to compete and wins plenty of the ball at stoppages. He formed a near-unstoppable combination with first round prospect Tom Powell in 2020 and was consistently among Sturt’s best players at Under 18s level. His ability to stand up in tackles, shrug off opponents, and release slick handballs are all key features of his game.

Lachlan McNeil | WWT Eagles
9/02/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

McNeil is another who proved plenty of doubters wrong in 2020 after being overlooked as a top-age draft prospect last year. Since, he slotted straight into Woodville-West Torrens’ League side and became one of the competition’s best young players, adding terrific balance in his play from midfield. He is a handy ball winner who usually contributes neat disposals and can play inside or out.

Jamison Murphy | North Adelaide
9/12/2002 | 180cm | 85kg

A talented junior cricketer made of leadership material, Murphy opted to chase another type of red ball in 2020 as he committed to football. He is a solidly built inside midfielder who also plies his trade in defence, entrusted with kick-in duties on account of his composure and clean disposal. He also proved to be an apt decision maker, showing good awareness in the back half despite not being the most athletic type.

Featured Image: Nicholas Kraemer gets a kick away | Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2020

THE PENULTIMATE edition of Draft Central’s 2020 Power Rankings is in, as AFL Draft combines, All-Star fixtures, and state league finals from around the country have all now been wrapped up. Victorian talents finally got to show their wares, albeit only for combine tests, but gave a glimpse into how they have grown and developed without any on-field action this year. It sees a bunch of shuffles made, with a couple of big movers and sliders among our top 30, while two key defenders make their push for the top 10.

There are no completely fresh faces from the list compiled in our October edition, as the top five shapes up quite consistently to see most of the movement made between ranks 10 and 20. Nearly a third of the 30 players featured in our analysis are already tied to AFL clubs, only further confirming the tag this year’s crop holds as the most compromised ever. All that, and more in Draft Central’s November Power Rankings update.

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

>> 2020 Draft Profiles

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 195cm | 90kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 195cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the combine testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He has long been the consensus number one choice, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

October Ranking: #1

Last Month: Ugle-Hagan was able to showcase his athleticism at the Vic Metro Draft Combine, registering terrific results across the board. He again ran a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint and weighed in six kilos heavier than in preseason, hinting at his development in strength which will be important as he enters the AFL system as a tall forward. He remains the consensus number one, despite seeing no on-field action in 2020.

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

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

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

October Ranking: #2

Last Month: Hollands earned an invite to the Draft Combine but while he is said to be recovering well from his ACL injury sustained during preseason, was not quite ready to participate. He should be ready to go early next year and holds his spot at number two, as he has done all year.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player. He booted 21 goals in nine WAFL League games this year, an outstanding return.

October Ranking: #3

Last Month: After helping Perth to its first WAFL League finals series in over 20 years, McDonald also performed well at the Western Australia Draft Combine; registering a time of 3.029 seconds over 20 metres, and 6:33 over 2km to showcase his speed-endurance mix. He also booted multiple goals in the first WA Under 18 All-Stars game, but missed the second with calf soreness.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

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

October Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to impress at the WA Draft Combine with terrific results in the vertical jumps, speed, and agility tests. He also performed on-field in both WA Under 18 All-Star showcases, assuming his usual key defensive post and intercepting well before being thrown forward to boot a couple of goals in game two. He remains quite lean, but is super athletic and a lock for top five status.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 180cm | 80kg

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

October Ranking: #5

Last Month: Rounding out a rather settled top five, Phillips cut quite a powerful figure at the Vic Metro Draft Combine. He registered a 2.91-second 20-metre sprint time, while also faring well in the 2km time trial (6:38), which is shown in his toe away from congestion, and ability to run all day. Phillips firms as arguably the best pure midfielder in the draft.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they were most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe was almost always among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

October Ranking: #6

Last Month: The South Australian big man has not been able to finish off his year as he would have liked, sidelined since Round 9 of the 14-game SANFL season, while also deemed unable to participate in his state’s Draft Combine and Under 18 All-Stars clash. Groin niggles have been the cause of his injury concerns of late, with that durability factor looming as a potential dampener to his top five hopes. It hasn’t set him any further down our list though, as he is still one of the more versatile key position options.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

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

October Ranking: #8

Last Month: Bruhn seems to have achieved a clean run since his preseason setback, looking strong at the Vic Country Draft Combine with a solid 2km time of 6:40. He also fared well in the vertical jumps, which is not particularly a key feature of his game, but rather showcases the athleticism he is capable of producing with a full bill of health. He moves up a spot and can hopefully build some more consistency going forward.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#8 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 75kg

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

October Ranking: #7

Last Month: Campbell’s Pennant Hills Demons were knocked out in week one of the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with the Swans Academy youngster booting a goal in that particular game. He finished with nine from six games overall, while twice being named among the Demons’ best. At the NSW/ACT Draft Combine, Campbell again showcased his high-level speed and agility, but registered a 2km time of over seven minutes.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list as he pushes for top 10 honours. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in all bar one of the Eagles’ fixtures this year. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

October Ranking: #9

Last Month: Jones became a SANFL League premiership player in October, finding his groove come finals time to average 16.7 disposals and 4.3 marks in the postseason. He also capped off an outstanding 16-game season by winning mark of the year, but was managed as the SA Draft Combine and Under 18 All-Stars fixture came around. His on-field performances proved plenty though, showcasing his wares as a potential top 10 talent.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 Round 8

#10 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 83kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status come draft time, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there at the next level. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions. He managed to run out for Leongatha’s Under 18s in July before the season was called off, proving a rare appearance for a Victorian prospect.

October Ranking: #14

Last Month: Reid strengthened his standing as a potential top 10’er at the Vic Country Draft Combine, faring typically well in the vertical jumps with feats of 82cm off either foot. He also registered a 2km time of 6:39, showcasing outstanding mobility and endurance for a player of his size.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#11 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen steeply into top 15 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 192cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide a dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

October Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman put in a couple of solid showings in the Western Australia Under 18 All-Star matches, taking up his usual post at centre half-back. While he is an attacking threat from his own half, Chapman was also forced to show his defensive wares in game two as he matched up on Denver Grainger-Barras, who had swung forward. At the WA combine, Chapman achieved an outstanding 2km time of 6:20, which translates to his repeat running and chain possessions in rebounding forays. He makes another move up to #11.

>> Draft Watch

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic to add releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove a lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

October Ranking: #12

Last Month: The SUNS Academy prospect has been out of action since injuring his elbow in early-August, seeing him miss the Academy Series, Broadbeach’s run to the Senior QAFL Grand Final, and also sit out the Queensland Draft Combine. It will not stop him from proving Queensland’s best talent this year, en route to being pre-listed by Gold Coast.

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

#13 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 87kg

A 200cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

October Ranking: #11

Last Month: Cox remains a player with enormous upside despite not featuring on-field in 2020. He was a feature at the Vic Metro Draft Combine, notching a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint, while also completing the 2km time trial in 6:03. That rare athletic base for a player of his size sees him stick within our top 15, even as he shuffles down a couple of spots.

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

#14 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

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

October Ranking: #10

Last Month: A shoulder injury kept O’Driscoll from running out in the WA Under 18 All-Star fixtures after previously managing a handful of senior games for Perth in the WAFL. In between, the 18-year-old midfielder returned some outstanding results across the board at the WA Draft Combine; namely a 6:23 2km time, and 2.931 seconds over 20 metres. He falls a touch as others rise, with his range still contentious among draft watchers.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

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

October Ranking: #15

Last Month: Baldwin has been inactive all year after partially tearing his ACL on the eve of the 2020 season, but was sighted helping out at the SA Draft Combine despite not participating. He keeps his spot at #15, though that will likely be far from indicative of his final draft range given the severe injury concerns.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 188cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 188cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

October Ranking: #17

Last Month: Despite not being able to prove himself on-field, Henry is a player who is being talked up right among the top 10 conversation. Given these are Power Rankings, and not a Phantom Draft, he remains just outside that range for now on what he produced last season. He performed solidly across the board at the Vic Country Draft Combine, getting a nice tick for his already evident athleticism and upside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 188cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage and impact are key traits which often prove hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in both departments.

October Ranking: #18

Last Month: Another being talked up near the top 10 range, a lack of football in 2020 has Perkins perched around the 15-mark in our estimation. He could really be anything at the next level though, so don’t be surprised to see him rise in stocks as draft time approaches. Another incredible athlete, Perkins registered ridiculous scores in the vertical leaps (over 90cm off both feet), 20-metre sprint (2.93 seconds), and 2km time trial (6:23) to only confirm his status as one of the most promising talents available in the first round.

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

#18 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 193cm | 86kg

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

October Ranking: #13

Last Month: Arguably a harsh slider on this list, McInnes still very much ranks highly in our eyes. He is a first prospect on pure talent, but will more likely attract a bid within the second round. He has done all he could to prove his worth this year despite not playing any football, showcasing his power at the Vic Metro Draft Combine with a 20m sprint time of 2.78 seconds. No, that is not a typo. He cut a pretty lean figure at said event too, and looks to have kept in good shape despite a 2km time trial result of 7:10.

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

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

October Ranking: #19

Last Month: It was a tough call not to push Poulter even higher up the board after his outstanding display in the SA Under 18 All-Stars clash. Fresh off averaging 21 touches in the Eagles’ SANFL Under 18 finals series, the tall midfielder was so classy in midfield with wonderfully clean hands and disposal. Going back a bit further, he also performed well in each test at his state’s Draft Combine and is surely knocking on the door of first round status.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 175cm | 75kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the big time, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talented a prospect as there is this year.

October Ranking: #29

Last Month: Gulden is clearly the biggest riser this month after making the most of his time on-field in Sydney’s Premier Division competition. The diminutive midfielder showcased all his craftiness to help UNSW Bulldogs into a Grand Final and was named among the best players in the decider. Having snared 16 goals in his eight senior games, Gulden also came runner-up in the league’s best and fairest count, proving he can match it with more mature bodies. He ticks a lot of boxes and was able to showcase his endurance with a 2km time of 6:32 at the NSW/ACT Draft Combine. Swans fans and recruiters will be sweating on where a bid for Gulden comes, as he continues to push towards top 20 status.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – akin to Lachie Neale‘s development.

October Ranking: #21

Last Month: While unable to help steer Sturt to premiership glory in the SANFL Under 18s, Powell still finished the season as the competition’s most prolific ball winner. He lead the disposal and clearance stakes, averaging over 34 and nine in the respective categories to stamp his claim as one of this year’s premier midfielders. He put in a solid shift for a well-beaten side in the SA Under 18 All-Stars game, but did not test at the Draft Combine as he navigated finals time.

>> Feature (April) (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 186cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

October Ranking: #22

Last Month: Macrae holds his spot and could well push even higher considering how close this kind of range is. While he is another Victorian who was robbed of a top-age season, the classy Oakleigh product has grown nicely to 186cm/78kg and put in an outstanding 2km time of 6:17 at the Vic Metro Draft Combine. That side of the game is what he does well as a consistent ball winner, compared to the ultra-explosive components.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One who has bolted into first round contention, Carroll has plenty of suitors in said range. Coming into his top-age season, the West Australian was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light, is not afraid to win his own ball before using his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic and effectively dispose of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

October Ranking: #23

Last Month: Carroll had his season cut short by a broken wrist in mid-September, meaning he missed out on the WA Under 18 All-Stars games and East Fremantle’s brief WAFL Colts finals stint. It did not stop him from testing at his state’s Draft Combine though, posting terrific results in each test but not completing the 2km time trial. It is enough to hold the #23 spot, though he is another with plenty of potential to rise.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

October Ranking: #24

Last Month: Cook did not quite finish the season as he would have liked, kept scoreless for the first time in 2020 as his side bowed out of the SANFL Under 18 finals. His previous body of work still stands up though, having led the league for goals and contested marks across a dozen outings. He could well be a top 20 talent given the profound impact he brings and the steep rise he has enjoyed this year. Cook performed solidly at the SA Draft Combine, but was managed and missed out on the Under 18 All-Stars match.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but proved primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 185cm prospect should not be forgotten in top 25 discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. He was a lock for the WA engine room this season in representative games and returned a good output when fully fit.

October Ranking: #20

Last Month: Trew was frustrated once again this year by some injury niggles, the latest of which (soreness) kept him from running out for game two of the WA Under 18 All Stars fixtures. He had his moments through midfield in game one without dominating, perhaps the product of his side being soundly beaten. Trew did manage to showcase some of his power at the Draft Combine though, registering a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint and vertical leaps of over 80cm off either side.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#26 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Key Position Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 30, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks certain to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

October Ranking: #25

Last Month: Jeffrey has not had much to do over the last month having already participated in Queensland’s Academy Series and Draft Combine. He showed glimpses of his athleticism during the fitness testing, running a 3.020-second 20-metre sprint but still requiring some work on his endurance base. He has great potential and versatility, with his ranking hardly relevant to the draft as Gold Coast will pre-list him without cost – a massive get for the SUNS.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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

October Ranking: #27

Last Month: Laurie holds his spot at #27 and is a player who could well have lit up the field in 2020. Ultimately, we were unable to see what he could do after a promising 2019 NAB League finals series, but the Victorian showed his wares at the Vic Metro Draft Combine with improved results in the 20-metre sprint (3.06 seconds) and 2km time trial (6:24).

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

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

October Ranking: #26

Last Month: Walker was unable to build on his fantastic WAFL Colts season after sustaining a fractured foot in late-September. It meant he did not test at the WA Draft Combine, nor compete in the Under 18 All-Stars showcases, perhaps allowing Dockers fans to breathe a sigh of relief as the talents of their NGA product have been kept a touch under wraps.

>> Draft Watch

#29 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 189cm | 83kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 189cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

October Ranking: #28

Last Month: Ford has grown a few centimetres since preseason and seems to be filling out nicely, coming in at 189cm and 83kg at the Vic Metro Draft Combine. The leading Western Jets product also showed off his athleticism at the event, notching a 94cm running vertical jump and 20-metre time of 2.95 seconds. We know how that translates to his form up forward, but it remains to be seen whether he can consistently provide the same excitement through midfield.

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

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

October Ranking: #30

Last Month: Western was best afield in game one of the WA Under 18 All-Stars, before dislocating his finger in game two and thus bringing an end to his year. The crafty small was also managed as his peers performed at the Draft Combine on account of having to lead Claremont to a second-straight WAFL Colts Grand Final appearance. He has done all he could on-field, and awaits a matched bid from Fremantle to stay at home base come draft time.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent All-Star fixtures and combines served as a nice refresher as to some of the names who may have flown under the radar this year. Despite not testing, Hawthorn NGA product and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is a player close to the top 30 mark, as is diminutive midfielder Jake Bowey. Fellow Victorians Sam Berry and Conor Stone may also be considered in the second or third rounds, along with underrated midfielder Zavier Maher.

There are a few rucks who may also push their case, with Kalin Lane a late bloomer coming off an outstanding WAFL Colts campaign, while fellow West Australian Shannon Neale is a terrific athlete who also doubles as a key forward. Victorians Henry Walsh (the brother of Sam) and Max Heath are also worth mentions as they continue to develop, though do not have the same recent form to show having not been able to play in 2020.

South Australians who remain close include the likes of Zac Dumesny, Corey Durdin, and Luke Edwards, all of whom have long been highly-touted prospects. Adelaide NGA product Tariek Newchruch is coming off a promising All-Stars showing, as is NT native Brodie Lake, who holds ties to Gold Coast as part of its Darwin zone. Blake Coleman is another aligned to a club, arguably Brisbane’s best academy graduate this year.

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare two of the most exciting and similar medium-forward available in this year’s crop.

The players under our microscope are South Adelaide’s Brayden Cook, and Oakleigh Chargers’ Conor Stone. They measure up virtually identically in terms of size and athletic attributes, with both prospects having also enjoyed steep rises on the back of their on-field performances. Cook has come from the clouds this year to consolidate his standing as a draft bolter, while Stone burst onto the scene with promising showings in the Chargers’ 2019 NAB League premiership team. Their claims to dual-position status as deep forwards who can also play on the wing adds another air of similarity, making them an ideal pair to set alongside one another.

To listen to the comparison in full, click here.

Here are the respective players’ pocket profiles:
(Click on their names highlighted in red to read their full draft profiles)

Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: July 18, 2002
Height: 189cm
Weight: 82kg

Strengths: Versatility, athleticism, goal sense, smarts/evasion, overhead marking, game-winning ability, decision making/creativity

Improvements: Finishing consistency, strength

Conor Stone
St Kevin’s/Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: April 22, 2002
Height: 188cm
Weight: 81kg

Strengths: Goal sense, finishing, athleticism, vertical leap, smarts/anticipation, endurance

Improvements: Untapped versatility, explosive speed, consistent impact/output

Here’s how they match up athletically:

Cook:

Standing Vertical Jump – 58cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 72cm/74cm
Speed (20m) – 3.103 seconds
Agility – 8.45 seconds
Endurance (2km) – 6:48

Stone:

Standing Vertical Jump – 67cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 73cm/83cm
Speed (20m) – 3.10 seconds
Agility – 8.67 seconds
Endurance (yo-yo) – 21.5

Ultimately, there are a few points of difference which separate these two prospects. It should also be pointed out, in the interest of fairness, that Cook’s testing data has been pulled from the recent South Australian Draft Combine, while Stone’s results are from preseason as he awaits the Vic Metro combine on October 31. Furthermore, Cook has been able to push his case massive in 2020 with a full season of football, while Stone has been made to wait it out on the sidelines like all other Victorian prospects this year. Like Cook, he could well have been another to push into top 25 calculations with a big top-age campaign.

Though they measure up at essentially the same height/weight and play the same role, clubs will find little areas which have them leaning towards one player more than the other. At least at NAB League level, Stone has proven more of a forward/wingman, whereas Cook has proven to start on the wing before shifting forward. Both are capable of kicking big bags of goals and can take eye-catching overhead marks, while their smarts at ground level bode for outstanding forward craft. Stone has a strong athletics background and arguably boasts a greater endurance base, but Cook is a touch lighter and more nimble across the ground in open play.

At this point, and by no fault of Stone, Cook is potentially ahead in terms of draft stocks having been able to prove his worth on-field more recently. Time will tell whether that is the case come draft day, which looms on the week of December 7. Both look like second round candidates.

Scouting Notes: 2020 South Australian Under 18 All-Stars

THE 2020 South Australian Under 18 All-Stars and Under 17 Futures took to Thebarton Oval on Friday night, performing in their final showcase for the year. While a number of highly touted top-age draft prospects were unable to take the field, other big names were able to show their class. In the main event, Team Grundy defeated Team Hurn 12.18 (90) to 4.12 (36), while Team Smith held on to beat Team Ebert 9.6 (60) to 7.10 (52) in the curtain raiser.

Draft Central Football Editor, Michael Alvaro was on hand to take note of the standout players and familiar names who impressed across both games. For the full teams and replays of either game, click here.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Under 18 All-Stars – Team Grundy (Red) vs. Team Hurn (Yellow)

Team Grundy:

#4 Jase Burgoyne

One of a half-dozen Team Grundy bottom-agers, the 2021-eligible Port Adelaide father-son prospect showed off some of his best traits in patches. Able to adapt on each line, the smooth moving son of Peter boasts plenty of upside, but remains quite raw and light-on at 184cm/62kg. He was able to show nice agility in traffic and evasive techniques which helped him keep clear of closing opponents. Much of his work was done in general play, but he is known to be a strong accumulator who can utilise his sound short kicking game to help his side maintain possession.

#6 Will Spain

Another bottom-ager on Team Red, Spain popped up with some nice moments throughout the game. The diminutive Sturt midfielder was mostly utilised on the outer, where he was able to get his legs pumping with ball in hand and provide quick linkage between the arcs. He conveyed a good work-rate to get back and take a relieving diving mark inside defensive 50 during the second term, but showed his best form when taking the game on and gaining repeat possessions with his line-breaking run.

#7 Blayne O’Loughlin

O’Loughlin is a 2021-eligible prospect who is sure to provide Adelaide fans with continued hope, given he is tied to the Crows’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). There may not be much of the 172cm defender, but he packs a punch. He was able to compete well in his usual defensive post, proving strong at ground level and rebounding quickly once he had snapped up possession. While stationed a touch deeper than usual, O’Loughlin’s penetration by foot was somewhat replaced by his sound decision making, as he was able to find shorter options. He was even entrusted with the kick-ins at times, much like he has been with North Adelaide.

#8 Henry Nelligan

The 2020 SANFL Under 18s premiership player had a case for being best afield, as his sheer work-rate and ability to accumulate possessions across the ground took full toll. Nelligan is one of the most consistent players among his South Australian peers in terms of pure ball winning; able to win it at ground level, in space around the ground, or even on the lead up forward. His craftiness forward of centre came to the fore, with a beautifully improvised snap to Tom Emmett in the second term making for a nice goal assist. He also had chances to find the goals himself, but saw a set shot and attempt on the run dragged wide, while a quick snap in the final term was rushed over. His second efforts and clear footballing smarts make up a lot for what he lacks in size, and it seems he had a point to prove having missed out on a National Combine invite.

#11 Lachlan Grubb

Perhaps another National Combine omission with a point to prove, Grubb seems to have gained a great deal of confidence having turned out at senior level. The speedy forward brought exactly that to the contest, breaking the lines and proving a menace going inside 50. While he missed multiple chances to get on the scoreboard himself, Grubb assisted goals to Zac Dumesny in the second term and Cooper Horsnell in the fourth, while also unselfishly hitting up Tom Emmett on the fly when he could easily have sunk a shot from 35 metres out. But arguably his biggest play of the night came via a three-bounce dash on the wing during the third term, where he showcased his high-level sprinting ability to burn an opponent and deliver inside 50. A solid outing, he just needs to refine that finishing product.

#12 Daniel Fairbrother

Fairbrother is another Norwood premiership player, and one who has also gained some valuable senior experience. In a defensive role which he looks comfortable in, the top-ager was able to prove his worth with ball in hand on the back of some clean kicks and composed touches. He is the type of player you want to be exiting the defensive 50, and was a strong contributor across half-back.

#15 Max Clifton

Another solid contributor, Clifton popped up with glimpses of his best form in each quarter. In the first term, it was his courage to mark strongly overhead and willingness to move the ball on immediately which stood out. In the second stanza, the midfielder showed nice agility and was difficult to tackle. After half time, he had more of an impact inside attacking 50 with a set shot attempt which went wide, followed by an assist to Nasiah Wanganeen who tapped-in a snap on goal from point-blank range.

#16 Mani Liddy

The hard-nosed Sturt midfielder proved a fast starter, nearly snaring two impressive goals within the opening term. He did manage to claim Team Grundy’s first major, taking advantage from a free kick inside 50 and finishing with aplomb on the checkside. He almost followed it up with a snap moments later, but could not find the same spark as the contest wore on, rotating between the midfield and forwardline.

#17 Cooper Beecken

Arguably the most impressive bottom-ager afield, Beecken is a light and athletic 190cm defender who boasts many similarities to Hawthorn’s Will Day. The Glenelg prospect proved very clean and composed in possession across the back half, chiming in with timely intercept marks and mopping up at ground level. He seems to cover the ground well too, able to float into good positions in the defensive arc and help initiate rebounding forays. Having spent a good chunk of his season turning out for Sacred Heart, Beecken has emerged as an early top 25 prospect ahead of his draft eligible year in 2021.

#20 Zac Dumesny

The highly touted South Adelaide prospect was back to his best in this contest, taking up a spot on the wing and even rotating through the inside at times during the second half. Dumesny’s third quarter was arguably his best; as his clean hands, sharp skills, forward running capacity, and intercept qualities all came to the fore. He got forward well to become an option in said term but hit the post with his 30-metre set shot, and was also sighted marking on the defensive goal line during the following stanza. A typical Dumesny play was evident in the second quarter, as he gathered superbly on the half-volley at pace and flicked out a releasing handball to Caleb Poulter on the run. Top effort overall, one of the best afield.

#21 Riley Holder

Another prospect out of Sacred Heart and Glenelg, Holder proved dangerous inside attacking 50 with his strong aerial marking and sound conversion in front of goal. He booted three majors overall, with all three coming from set shots. Two of them were claimed in the opening term, as Holder’s ability to gain separation on the lead and hold onto marks on the move helped earn those scoring opportunities. He sunk a third after half time by presenting well once again, capping off a handy display up forward.

#22 Nic Couroupis

Couroupis is an over-ager who has flown a little under the radar, but came to prominence with some nice plays in this outing. The strongly-built midfielder spent a lot of time in defence, utilising his overhead marking ability to relieve some contested situations in the back half. He had a nice attacking moment too, with a well-taken mark in the corridor helping him continue his run and provide Tom Emmett with a goal assist just before the half time siren, while his kicking game was also generally sharp.

#33 Caleb Poulter

Far and away the best and most classy player afield, particularly in the first half, Poulter may well have cemented his first round status with this performance. The 192cm midfielder started at the centre bounces and made an impact straight away with a couple of clearances right out of the middle. He was simply cleaner and more effective than any other player, extracting beautifully and hitting a teammate with nearly every disposal. His ability to release long handballs from congestion has always been a key trait, and one particular pass from the centre bounce found Zac Dumesny on the wing, who hardly had to break stride to gather. It is difficult to do justice to his impact in the first half, with his silk and poise on the ball proving a class above the rest. Hardly reliant on pure strength, Poulter proved elusive and athletic in his craft. He was quieter after the main break, but had done plenty to prove his worth beforehand.

#34 Tom Emmett

About a month shy of his 19th birthday, Emmett looks a mature type in terms of his physicality and willingness to compete. At 186cm/86kg, the Sturt forward provided great presence inside 50 and finished with a game-high four goals. He was particularly aggressive at opposition kick-ins, reading the play well to intercept and even snaring a turnover goal that way. His long-range set shot conversion right on the half time siren showed his finishing ability, and some Reserves experience this year seems to have boosted his stock back down at Under 18s level.

Team Hurn:

#3 Corey Durdin

The Central District product found some form in spurts as he returned from repeat hamstring injuries, though it was a tough night to be a Team Hurn forward. As has always been the case with Durdin, his ground level efforts were terrific; not only digging in to win his own ball, but also applying strong tackles, smothers, and attempting to accelerate away. The 173cm prospect moved high up the ground in search of possession and attended some stoppages in general play, before moving into the centre bounces during the final term. He was most prominent during the last quarter, showing good toe away from congestion and finding a couple of teammates inside 50 with neat kicks.

#4 Bailey Chamberlain

Having staked his claim for Westies’ Under 18s as a primary ball winner, Chamberlain showcased his balance with a decent performance on the wing. He played there upon earning a senior call-up and was able to utilise his speed in transition to help link Team Hurn inside attacking 50. He tended to shift into the corridor at times, which proved a dangerous ploy when his teammates found him and he was able to accelerate forward. Chamberlain’s kicking at speed remains a touch scrappy, though back-to-back forward thrusts in the final term proved he is capable of finding his targets, but just needs to do so more consistently.

#7 Xavier Robins

Somewhat of a bolter in this year’s talent pool, Robins comes from good pedigree and possesses some handy weapons at half-back. The dashing defender was in the thick of the action early, mostly sighted attempting to repel Team Grundy’s attacks within the defensive arc, and darting kicks forward. While still a touch light, Robins has great speed and repeatedly worked all the way up to half-forward to move his side into attacking 50. While it didn’t always come off, Robins GPS data should show some solid numbers from those efforts.

#8 Liam Hamilton

It was somewhat of an ‘almost’ performance from Hamilton, who ended up with plenty of chances inside forward 50 but could not quite come away with a major score. The South Adelaide top-ager found the ball in dangerous positions nonetheless and was particularly lively in the second half. Perhaps his biggest stumbling block was the distance many of his shots came from, with some falling short from around 40 metres out, while others went wide either on the run or at a closer range. With a more refined finishing ability, Hamilton could have ended up with a bag of goals.

#9 Tom Powell

It often takes a keen watcher to observed Powell’s true impact in midfield, as many of his disposals are easily missed on the inside. The 2020 McCallum Tomkins Medallist showcased his wonderfully clean and quick hands in congestion, keeping his hands up in tackles and flicking out accurate passes to his runners. He just always seems to be able to get a handball away at the ideal time and is one of the most effective stoppage players in this year’s crop. His biggest impact was arguably felt in the early stages, but he also finished well and was able to accumulate at either end in between.

#11 Tariek Newchurch

Plenty was made of Newchurch’s starting position on the wing for Team Hurn, though he did not quite have the overall impact he would have liked. He was first sighted making a darting run inside attacking 50, not afraid to go backwards to find space before delivering well across the arc. Newchurch then popped up with a couple of nice moments in the second and third terms, forced right into the defensive half to take a strong intercept grab overhead, and tracking back to take another in the following quarter. He looked to move the ball on and generate some attack with his pace, but it was a tough night for the men in yellow. Plenty of Crows fans will be excited to get Newchurch on board as an NGA selection.

#13 Brodie Lake

Lake was arguably his side’s most impressive player and was Team Hurn’s sole goalkicker for the best part of three quarters. The Northern Territory native was outstanding in the first half, booting a couple of classy majors and impacting the play from midfield. While rotating forward, he first latched onto a Luke Edwards kick on the lead and sunk a lovey set shot from 40 metres on a tough angle. His second goal was a party trick, converting a checkside attempt from a fair distance out on the boundary line. He also laid a fantastic tackle in the first term to force a stoppage in his defensive goalsquare, exemplifying his work-rate. Lake faded a touch in the second half, but his early moments would have stuck clear in the memory of onlookers.

#14 Nicholas Kraemer

The big-bodied South Adelaide midfielder had his top-age season interrupted by injury, but has fared well upon his return with plenty of time in defence. That was no different in this game, as Kraemer was able to bring great physicality and cleanliness to an under-siege back six. He was busy to start with and had an impact through midfield, but arguably did his best work down back with intercepts and hard work at ground level. It would not have been easy to compete so consistently given the one-sided nature of the game, but Kraemer stood up and was generally reliable with ball in hand, even from the kick-ins.

#15 Beau McCreery

Team Hurn’s only 19-year-old afield, McCreery provided some good spark for his side working up the field from his forward post. He was even thrown into the midfield during the second half having suffered from a lack of service inside attacking 50. The lively South Adelaide product got involved going forward, and his highlight for the game came via an outstanding run-down tackle in the second term to earn possession back.

#16 Luke Edwards

Edwards is one of the many South Australian prospects to have been highly touted from a long way out, especially given his father-son ties to the Adelaide Crows. He somewhat reverted back to a familiar state-level role in this outing, rotating between the midfield and backline for Team Hurn. He provided Brodie Lake with his side’s first goal in the opening term and was generally safe in his disposal via foot. Having won a clearance or two, most of Edwards’ contributions came in defence as he took the kick-ins and looked to calmly distribute out of the back half. He did run into trouble with a couple of turnovers from defensive 50, but worked to recover the ball and was a solid figure overall.

#24 Nathan Hearing

Fresh off his best afield SANFL Under 18s Grand Final performance, Hearing took on the ruck duties once again at 195cm. He is a competitive unit, able to claim the ball out of the ruck and pump it forward, or compete at ground level to help his midfielders with a physical presence. He missed the chance to cap off his game with a goal in the final term, sending a set shot wide.


Under 17 Futures – Team Ebert (Blue) vs. Team Smith (Yellow)

Team Smith managed to hold off Team Ebert in the Under 17 Futures fixture, with a bunch of promising 2021 and 2022-eligible prospects strutting their stuff at Thebarton Oval. As is often the case in showcase games, particularly at the end of a strenuous season, a raft of players popped up in patches throughout the contest to provide a taste of what’s to come in terms of South Australian talent.

For the Yellow side, Jacob Lochowiak was physical in midfield, while also proving dangerous within the attacking half. Eagles prospect Brayden Calvett had an enthralling battle with Isaac Birt on the wing, as both players showcased their line-breaking speed and forward running. Lachlan Scannell is a prospect to watch for 2022, as he rotated with fellow 16-year-old Kobe Ryan from half-back to the wing. Tyson Coe is another from that crop, and his work in midfield and defence was solid. Tyson Walls was a lively figure up forward, with Harry Tunkin doing some nice early work down back and through midfield. Sturt’s Brad Jefferies was able to find the ball as he moved forward from the middle, while Shaun Bennier was a dangerous figure inside 50 despite some conversion worries. Bigmen Adam Heath and Declan Hortle were also prominent, with the former presenting well from his starting forward post, while the latter booted two majors in his ruck/forward role.

Twin tall forwards Harry McInnes (three goals) and Luca Whitelum (two) were terrific targets for Team Ebert, with Glenelg’s McInnes mostly stationed inside 50 while Whitelum presented up the ground. James Willis‘ acceleration away from congestion was an eye-catching feature through midfield, and he was supported well by classy 16-year-old Jaiden Magor. Another 2004-birth, Austin McDonald also found plenty of the ball, while Isaac Keeler showed some promising athleticism in the ruck. Cade Kennedy was a handy member of the midfield/forward rotation, with Lachlan Thomas a threatening link into attacking 50 along with Blake Hansen.

Featured image: Nicholas Kraemer gets a kick away for Team Hurn | Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Grand Final wraps

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS (WWT) took out both senior South Australian National Football League (SANFL) premierships on Sunday, defeating North Adelaide in the League and Reserves Grand Finals at Adelaide Oval. Meanwhile, Norwood’s even team spread helped the Redlegs take home the Under 18s flag.

With young guns impressing at state league level, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our final edition for the year, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade. Amid make-or-break situations in dramatic season finales, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

LEAGUE:

WWT EAGLES | 1.1 | 10.3 | 12.8 | 13.9 (87)
NTH ADELAIDE | 3.4 | 4.4 | 5.6 | 7.6 (48)

Woodville-West Torrens converted its minor premiership into a League flag after defeating North Adelaide by 39 points at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon. Just a fortnight removed from their semi final defeat to the Roosters, the Eagles soared to victory on the back of a nine-goal to one second term. The match-defining period saw WWT inflict a 50-point turnaround, inspired by three goals to Jack Oatley medal winner, Jordan Foote en route to seven unanswered majors. North was unable to truly recover from there, with a pair of late consolation goals only slightly trimming the final margin.

As has been the case all season, a bunch of promising young types excelled for the Eagles. Competition leading goalkicker, James Rowe has attracted a heap of elite level interest after a fantastic season, which he capped off with two goals from 15 disposals. Jacob Wehr is another in the same boat, and he was strong once again with 19 disposals, six marks, and five tackles. Defender Rhyan Mansell proved his worth with eight marks from 19 touches, joined down back by Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones (18 disposals, five marks). Up the other end, VFL import Sam Lowson snared 1.2, while Ben Jungfer‘s mid-finals senior promotion yielded seven disposals and plenty of promise.

Former Adelaide and Gold Coast player Harrison Wigg was among North Adelaide’s best, notching a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight tackles and seven breaches of either arc. His rating for effort was arguably matched by 2020 Magarey Medallist Campbell Combe, who got his hands dirty with 15 disposals, seven clearances, and a game-high 10 tackles. Will Combe managed a goal from his 10 touches, while 19-year-old defender Karl Finlay justified his senior selection once again with 13 disposals, three marks, and five tackles.

RESERVES:

WWT EAGLES | 2.1 | 3.5 | 5.8 | 8.11 (59)
NTH ADELAIDE | 2.2 | 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.8 (44)

The Eagles’ Reserves provided the perfect base for their League teammates to build off, trumping North Adelaide by 15 points in a tense decider at Adelaide Oval. 20-year-old Mitch Mead earned the Bob Lee Medal as best afield, as he snared a goal from 15 disposals and laid a whopping 15 tackles. While the Roosters snuck ahead during the first and second terms, they could not catch the Eagles back up after half time as fresher legs perhaps prevailed for the premiers.

An injury to key midfielder Harrison Magor in the first term meant North was always going to be up against it, though Lee Minervini showed just why he has played at League level this season with 20 disposals, nine tackles, six clearances, and a goal. He formed a strong partnership with 2020 Reserves Magarey Medallist Dakota Nixon, who also managed 20 touches. Patrick Davies was another to impress up forward with two majors from 19 disposals, while Dyson Hilder had it 16 times and clunked seven marks.

For the triumphant Eagles, Ethan Haylock clearly led all comers with 27 disposals, topped by five clearances and a goal. Jackson Lee also contributed a handful of clearances among his 21 touches, while former Port Adelaide rookie Kai Pudney showed his class at the level with 17 disposals and a goal. But it was Mead, the son of Port champion Darren who stole the show and best afield honours.

UNDER 18s:

NORWOOD | 4.4 | 5.7 | 11.10 | 15.13 (103)
STURT | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.5 | 8.5 (53)

The best two SANFL Under 18s sides went head-to-head in this year’s decider at Thebarton Oval, but it was Norwood who claimed a second victory in three weeks over minor premier, Sturt to claim the premiership flag. Kicking towards the wind-favoured end, the Redlegs put together four goals in the opening term to set up a two-goal buffer, and proceeded to strangle any form of Sturt attack in the following period. The Double Blues seemed to grow increasingly frustrated as the contest wore on, with Norwood’s astute defensive structure and quick transitional play allowing them to stay on top. Undisciplined acts followed as the umpires kept their whistles up, with Norwood cruising home to an emphatic 50-point win.

Redlegs ruckman Nathan Hearing was named best afield after bombing forward 11 clearances from his 21 disposals. Teammates Henry Nelligan (28 disposals, 1.3), Xavier Tranfa (19 disposals, two goals), and Harlee Chandler (19 disposals, six tackles) were not far behind either. Nelligan worked hard to accumulate around the ground, while Tranfa’s majors came in quick succession to break the game open, and Chandler proved a very handy finals addition. Ethan Schwerdt also booted two goals from midfield, while pacy 17-year-old Cooper Murley managed 1.3, and bigman Finn Heard provided a terrific target en route to bagging three majors. Up the other end, co-captain Sam Duke was solid as ever, leading a phenomenal team effort from his side.

Mani Liddy was arguably Sturt’s best in a losing effort, particularly early as he finished with 18 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. If not, Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase (22 disposals, eight marks) was a worthy candidate having brought some serious fire and physicality to the contest, albeit a touch overzealous. Malachy Carruthers‘ ball use off half-back was quality as he booted forward nine rebound 50s from 21 touches, while usual suspect Tom Powell found the most ball with 25 disposals and a goal. Skipper Ned Walter tried hard with five rebound 50s in a tough gig from defence, with Morgan Ferres (15 disposals, six marks, one goal) a lively target leading up the field. Will Spain also had an impact, digging in at ground level and laying a game-high seven tackles.

Featured Image: Eagles coach Jade Sheedy holds aloft the 2020 SANFL League premiership trophy | Credit: SANFL