Tag: South Australia

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders

DASHING, daring outside midfielders are becoming increasingly important amid the current trend of contested, scrum-like styles of play, able to break the lines and change the course of games in a flash. Among this year’s crop lies a versatile bunch of outside types who can double in different positions, and while not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best outside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier outside midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
174cm | 66kg

Starting small, Bowey kicks off this list as one of the prospects who may sneak into top 20 calculations on draft boards, with plenty of desirable attributes to outweigh his 174cm/66kg frame. The Sandringham Dragons product is hard at it, able to take the ball cleanly and burst through congestion with his high-level speed and agility. He featured in 16 NAB League games last year stationed on his customary wing position, but is quite apt forward of centre and could even utilise his sharp foot skills off half-back.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia
188cm | 79kg

Another in the line of East Fremantle Under 18 prospects is Carroll, who comes in at a good size to compete across a range of positions. The West Australian’s precision kicking makes him damaging on the outside, while courage in the air and intercept marking prowess make him a half-back option. The 188cm prospect can also roll through midfield, but has quality traits on the outer and will more likely find a spot there should state representative duties come calling.

Saxon Crozier
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
189cm | 80kg

Crozier has been one of Queensland’s most highly touted 2020 prospects for a while now, and has cut his teeth as an out-and-out outside midfielder thus far. The tall, rangy Brisbane Academy product has filled out of late and has eyes on securing an inside role, but has arguably shown his best form to date on the wing. Crozier’s running capacity and ability to hurt the opposition when given time and space suit the outside role, and he has also adapted his skills to run off flanks at either end of the ground. He will be a leader among the talented Brisbane crop, and should prove a handy addition to the Allies squad.

>> Q&A

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
185cm | 83kg

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate may have eyes on more minutes on the inside, and boasts the ideal size for it, but is so good running on the outer that we simply had to include him in this list. Downie is set to skipper the Eastern Ranges side which lost in last year’s NAB League decider, with the experience of 14 games and a Vic Metro Under 18 outing under his belt. While he is not overwhelmingly quick, Downie loves to get the ball moving and finishes his line-breaking runs with penetrating left-foot bombs. His skills can be adapted to a half-back role, and he is no stranger to finding the big sticks, either.

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

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies
172cm | 68kg

Search the definition for pocket rocket and a picture of Gulden is what you are likely to find. The nippy Swans Academy hopeful does not let his size get in the way of making a big impact; as his smarts, agility, and ability to chain possessions allow him to carve up the opposition on the outside. While he could also be considered a small or half-forward, Gulden is just as capable of wreaking havoc from the wing and enjoys getting into space. He won the Under 16 Division 2 MVP in 2018, appeared four times for the Allies as a bottom-ager, and has already played senior footy. Look out.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Brodie Lake
Peel Thunder/NT Thunder Academy/Allies
186cm | 70kg

One of the Northern Territory’s brightest draft prospects this year is Lake, a tall midfielder who boasts great versatility and running power. He has twice featured in the Thunder’s Under 16 squad, taking out last year’s MVP award for his service through midfield and in defence. Lake has also plied his trade for Peel Thunder and at senior level for Southern Districts in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), lauded for his coachability, skills, and work rate. He will be one to keep an eye out for come the national carnival, and will be eligible to be taken by Gold Coast given its alignment to the Darwin academy zone.

Carter Michael
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
188cm | 74kg

A second Queenslander on this list, Michael may well find himself lined up on the opposite wing to fellow Brisbane Academy product, Crozier when it comes time to run out for the Allies. The 188cm prospect is a silky mover through traffic who boasts a penetrating left foot kick, and he may well be one to juggle time between inside and outside roles throughout the year, depending on which team he represents. He already has experience on the inside for the Lions at Under 18 level and is a leader among that group, but may be pushed out to the wing for the Allies where he can make an impact with his sharp decision making.

>> Q&A

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia
180cm | 73kg

Powell made an immediate impact upon his return to SANFL Under 18s action last week, collecting 34 disposals in Sturt’s Round 1 win over Central District. The speedy midfielder actually has quite a nice balance of traits given his mix of athleticism and ball winning ability, but may find his way into the South Australian lineup on the outside where his explosive burst will come in handy. It is pleasing to see Powell back on the park after an unlucky run with injuries in 2019, and he should quickly rise in stocks should his form persist.

>> Q&A

Taj Schofield
WWT Eagles/South Australia
178cm | 72kg

The son of Port Adelaide premiership player, Jarrad, Schofield is another South Australian prospect to have battled injury as a bottom-ager, but he is primed to make an impact in 2020. Power fans will be keeping a close eye on the 2020 father-son candidate, who is incredibly classy on the outside with eye-catching agility and short-range kicking. Schofield has been working on his inside craft, too, and featured among the Eagles’ Under 18 centre bounce quartet in Round 1 after starting up forward. The small prospect was named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side, where he represented Western Australia before making the move to SA.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of other prospects who could fit into the outside midfielder category, but are more effective in other roles from out perspective. Among them, the elite trio of Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Braeden Campbell are all players we deem to be of the balanced midfielder variety, along with the likes of Finlay Macrae and Bailey Chamberlain. Corey Durdin is one who would be considered more of an inside type, and we see him as a small forward in the long run in any case.

Speaking of, Sam Conforti will make the same transition for Bendigo, while West Australian pair Ira Jetta and Joel Western can roll through multiple positions, including on the outside, but look more suited to flank or pocket roles. Glenelg small Cooper Horsnell also has eyes on a role further afield, but remains in the small forward category.

There are a raft of defenders who move up the ground well and may, in future, be considered outside midfielders. NAB Leaguers Charlie Byrne and Nick Stevens have the ability to roll further afield, but seem to prefer their half-back posts, while Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Patrick Walker are in a similar boat. Queenslander Tahj Abberley is one who can play just about anywhere but has been billed as a small defender, and we like Ty Sears as a running half-back, too.

In the utility category comes the likes of Zac Dumesny and Campbell Edwardes. Dumesny made his SANFL League debut in 2020 and can operate on the wing or up forward, but looks like developing into a third tall in defence. Edwardes is as versatile as they come and is yet to lock down a specific role despite looking comfortable on the outside.

Of course, anyone else we may have missed could also appear in our previous analysis on inside midfielders.

Positional Analysis: Inside MidfieldersKey Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

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

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

>> 2020 SA U18 Squad Prediction

Glenelg vs. Norwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central District vs. Sturt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SANFL Player Focus: Corey Durdin (Central District)

IN a return to our Player Focus piece, we take a look at a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 1 of the competition, our eyes were on Corey Durdin who ran out for the Bulldogs in the opening match of the season against Sturt.

SANFL STATISTICS:

6 kicks
3 handballs
9 disposals
4 marks
7 tackles
1 clearance
1 behind

Durdin was the sole South Australian hub member running around in the game between the Bulldogs and Double Blues, and did not disappoint playing off half-forward and spending time in midfield. He might have only had the nine disposals, but his pressure work and highlights he showed throughout the match were eye-catching even against much bigger opponents.

His first touch was a clean scoop off the ground to a teammate that was unrewarded through the live statistics, with his handball looking smooth. He might not have had another touch for the term, but his running work – such as where he offered up a link with Troy Menzel – was constant. He won the ball midway through the term, but was immediately tackled.

He took his first mark 14 minutes into the second term where he stood his ground well at half-forward, and he passed nicely to Ryan Carnelly who was in a better position. It led to a series of passes ending up in the hands of star recruit, Daniel Menzel who slotted Centrals’ first of the contest. His other noticeable moment of the second term was another great mark, earning a goal assist for his kick to Chris Olsson, meaning already the teenager was lively in two scoring passages.

Moving into the second half, Durdin continued his good form from the previous quarter, laying a big bump to set the tone early. He had a really exciting play when he marked 55m out at the eight and a half minute mark of the term, but you could see he was in two minds with the kick. He had a chance to deliver to Menzel at full forward or have a shot at goal, and in the end it went between the two, over the top of Menzel and bounced through for a behind.

Durdin’s positioning at stoppages was really impressive, and he was able to work his way to the front position with his opponent later in the term. It worried his direct opponent who put the arms around him and Durdin received the free kick, then moved it on to Trent Goodrem who was one of Centrals’ best on the day.

Durdin took a strong mark in the first minute of the final term coming out of half-back with his hands outstretched and took it cleanly. He had no options upfield so had to pass back inside defensive 50, but neatly hit a teammate. Moments later he laid a great tackle in the middle of the ground to stop a Sturt opponent charge in his tracks.

Others who impressed from a young guns perspective were former South Australian Under 18s representatives in Jed McEntee and Lachlan Burrows for Sturt. McEntee was strong in midfield, and whilst at times his disposal could be inconsistent, his defensive work and work rate were terrific, laying nine tackles from 10 touches. Burrows had a purple patch in the second term with a few good contested marks and kicked a strong goal from the pocket.

A couple of mature-agers to watch were Sturt’s Ash Johnson and Central’s Nick Lange. Johnson booted three goals from five scoring shots, but was incredibly impressive in the marking contest, both on the lead with speed, and one-on-one with strength. He took seven marks from 12 touches and the 22-year-old shone in his first game at the state’s top level. Lange won 21 touches and took 14 marks running at an absolute elite 90 per cent disposal efficiency with a game-high 124 Dream Team points on his League debut.

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is West Adelaide talent, Abbie Ballard who had a massive game at South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s level in the opening round of the 2020 season, and despite her smaller size, attacks the ball with fierce intent and is not afraid to get her hands dirty.

Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Height: 159cm
Position: Inside Midfielder
Strengths: Contested work, tackling, clearances, consistency, accumulation

2020 SANFL Women’s stats: 4 games | 18.3 disposals | 2.0 marks | 4.0 tackles | 4.0 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s

2019 SANFL Women’s stats: 10 games | 16.1 disposals | 1.5 marks | 5.4 tackles | 4.1 clearances | 2.1 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goal

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 2 games | 5.5 disposals | 1.0 marks | 2.0 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 1.0 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds

The pocket rocket from West Adelaide had a breakout season in 2019 as a middle-ager when she won the West Adelaide best and fairest award. In 10 games she averaged 16 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and almost three inside 50s for the Westies, really announcing herself as one to watch coming into her top-age year. If anyone wondered if her exploits in 2019 were going to continue in 2020, fans did not have to wait long as Ballard racked up a competition-high 27 disposals and nine clearances in Round 1, as well as five marks, four tackles and three inside 50s leading her side to an impressive win over Sturt.

While she did not achieve the same numbers in the next three games, she still provided a fierce tackling presence and was able to win the ball in close and shovel it out to teammates on the outside. Her contested ball winning ability, and the knack of getting in the right spot to extract the ball from stoppages are among her strength, as well as her tackling. She is not a noted goal kicker – kicking just the one in 10 games last season – but she plays to her strengths and is not afraid to take on players much bigger than her.

Like many middle-agers at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, she was used sparingly across two games to give top-agers the best shot at being drafted in their 18-year-old year. Fast forward to 2020 though and expect she will have a much larger role assuming the carnival goes ahead.

With the SANFL Women’s set to kick off this weekend again, Ballard is one of a number of talented young guns in the league, and earned a place in our SANFL Under 22s side earlier in the year. Expect her to continue her form returning to competition after the long break.

Draft Central All-Star Team: North Adelaide Roosters

NORTH Adelaide Roosters have some elite players in their All-Star team of the AFL Draft era led by captain Wayne Carey who was the clear standout during the All-Star voting.

THE TEAM:

This balanced Roosters side has a number of well-established modern-day players mixing with a strong tier of up-and-coming future stars, supplemented by a handful of the greats of yesteryear. The likes of Jarman and Hart are household names at Prospect but a couple of young, talented former Roosters are hoping to make a name for themselves in the AFL, too. Having moved to Victoria prior to being drafted, Melbourne midfielder Jack Viney was excluded from consideration.

DEFENCE:

Current GWS Giants captain Phil Davis anchors the backline of the Roosters “best side of the AFL era”. Davis has been one of the competition’s premier key defenders for over a decade, leading the Giants to their first Grand Final appearance in 2019. In the back-pocket is former-Demon and Cat Jared Rivers, who played 194 games at AFL level as a serviceable defender. Premiership Crow and AFL Hall of Famer Ben Hart is one of the genuine stars of this Roosters side. A Crows club legend, Hart played 311 games in the tri-colours, winning two best and fairest awards and being named an All-Australian on four occasions.

Sean Wellman was an obvious inclusion for the role at centre-half-back, having appeared in 212 AFL matches, originally with Adelaide and later Essendon. A member of the ‘Dons 2000 premiership side, Wellman was a dual All-Australian. Although both still competing at AFL level, Power duo Sam Mayes and Ryan Burton have shown glimpses of their high potential in their 101 and 63 games respectively.

MIDFIELD:

Roosters and Crows great Andrew Jarman made his debut at SANFL level in the red and white at just 17 years of age, before going on to kick 92 goals in 110 games with the Crows. Centreman in the Crows team of the decade, Jarman was renowned for his lighting hands in tight and amassed 47 Brownlow votes during his time in the AFL. Dual Premiership Tiger Shane Edwards has rather-quietly racked up 255 games and 161 goals with Richmond. A vital cog in the Tigers recent successes, Edwards was named an All-Australian in 2018 and fits in on the wing of the Roosters side. Although just one year into his career, Connor Rozee is destined for stardom and slots in on the wing for North Adelaide. Runner-up to Sam Walsh for the 2019 Rising Star, Rozee is silky smooth, lightning fast and appears set to be one of the games best outside players in the coming seasons.

Mark Jamar was a regulation choice as the lead ruckman for North Adelaide, having played 160 AFL games, 155 of which came during his time with Melbourne. Despite the Demons struggles and a series of injury set-backs, Jamar was regarded as one of the league’s best ruckman and was named an All-Australian in 2010. Former-Power star Josh Francou has been named as a follower. A 156-gamer, three-time Showdown Medalist and inaugural member of the Power, Francou hit his peak in the early 2000s, finishing third and second in the 2001 and 2002 Brownlow Medal counts. Tough, contested-ball winning Swan George Hewett caps off a battle-hardened yet skilful on-ball unit for the red and white. Hewett is one of the most reliable negators in the competition, as shown by his second-placed finish in the clubs 2019 best and fairest count.

FORWARD:

Regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game, Carey is without doubt the star of this side. A dominating centre-half-forward, Carey played junior and reserves grade football with the Roosters before moving to North Melbourne and than the Crows. He kicked 727 goals in 272 games and collected 127 Brownlow votes. The Wagga product was a seven-time All-Australian, four-time best and fairest winner and two-time premiership player with the Kangaroos in the mid-to-late 90s. Swans forward Will Hayward has shown plenty of promise in his 53 AFL games and he gains selection on the half-forward flank. Darren Jarman joins his brother in the Roosters side. Jarman is a South Australian footballing icon, best known for his miraculous goal sense and for almost single-handedly dragging the Crows over the line by kicking five goals in the 1998 Grand Final. He kicked 386 goals in 230 games, 109 of which came with Hawthorn. Along with his three premierships and a best and fairest, Jarman was also a three-time All-Australian. Daniel Motlop adds serious x-factor to a forward line already oozing with talent. Ben Holland and his brother Nick complete the starting attack. Both were dangerous talls in their prime, kicking 179 and 239 goals respectively.

DEPTH:

Former-Crow Matthew Wright headlines the interchange options. A serviceable, nuggety small forward or rotating midfielder, Wright kicked 136 goals in 94 games with the Crows and 65 with the Blues. Brandan Parfitt has turned some heads in his first few seasons in the AFL with Geelong. Albeit difficult to break into a star-studded Geelong midfield, Parfitt has shown glimpses of his talent in 54 games. Jack Graham has played 39 games with Richmond and was a key contributor to the Tigers 2017 premiership victory. Pocket-rocket Matt Campbell offers an injection of speed and versatility off the bench. Chris Ladhams and Darel Hart also made the final cut.

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

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

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

PLAYER PAGE:

Corey Durdin
Central District/South Australia

DOB: April 14, 2002

Height: 172.1cm
Weight: 74.1kg

Position: Small forward/inside midfielder

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

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

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

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

2019 STATISTICS:

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

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

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

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

Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

>> Marquee Matchup: Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell

>> 2020 SA U18s Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

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

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

North Adelaide Player of the AFL Era: Vote for yours via our Instagram

NORTH ADELAIDE ROOSTERS are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The Murray Bushrangers All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Steele Sidebottom announced as the winner and captain of the Bushrangers’ All-Star side.

The Roosters have plenty of key position talent in their midst with North Melbourne champion, Wayne Carey the clear standout player. Darren Jarman and Ben Hart are other star players over the years who also find themselves as seeds heading into the vote.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Sunday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is Northern Knights starting on Monday. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

2020 SANFL club preview: North Adelaide

NORTH Adelaide will be itching to return to the field after a disappointing 2019 campaign which saw the club finish ninth. With premiership coach Josh Carr departing the club for Fremantle, former Power defender Jacob Surjan will take the reins of a revamped North Adelaide in 2020.

>>> CHECK OUT OUR NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

>>> SANFL WOMEN’S NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM UPDATE

LEAGUE/RESERVES:

The Roosters farewelled five premiership players in the off-season, including inspirational former captain Max Thring, who announced his retirement from senior football. Fellow on-baller Aidan Tropiano returned to his native Perth. Tropiano, a mainstay of the Roosters side, led the league in tackles last season and will leave a sizeable gap in the centre of the field. Mackenzie Slee, Maris Olekalns and Brock Castree also left Prospect, along with a number of ‘depth’ players. In desperate need of a midfield rejuvenation, an array of departures, North Adelaide turned to Victoria. Hawthorn premiership wingman Billy Hartung signed on and is expected to add plenty of run, carry and polish with ball in hand.

His outside polish is well-balanced by the toughness of inside midfielder Andrew Moore, who transferred from the VFL’s Box Hill Hawks. Having played 17 league games with the club during his time with the Power, the strong-bodied Moore will bring leadership and genuine contested-ball winning ability to the Roosters midfield set-up. The club also welcomed back premiership speedster Robbie Young after his AFL stint with St.Kilda. North Adelaide juniors Harrison Wigg, Kym LeBois and Cameron Hewett returned to Prospect following stints at AFL level and will be expected to slot into the Roosters senior side. Meanwhile, duo Elliott Chalmers and Sam Davis joined the club from Glenelg.

The Roosters will be led by newly appointed captain Alex Spina, who tragically missed out on a premiership medal in 2018 after breaking his collarbone in the highly controversial preliminary final victory over Woodville-West Torrens. Excellent midfielder Jarred Allmond will again be an integral component after being one of the clubs rare shining lights in 2019. A seasoned campaigner, the 29-year-old led the league for kicks last season, averaging 25 disposals, 6.7 marks and 6 rebound-50s in 18 matches. He will be supported in the midfield by Campbell Combe, who averaged 20 disposals and 5.7 tackles in 2019, and productive vice-captain Tom Schwarz, who averaged 24 touches, 4.3 tackles and 3.9 clearances.

Last season’s leading goal kicker Lewis Hender will continue to provide plenty of x-factor whilst lurking across the forward flanks. Keenan Ramsey will again team-up with Mitch Harvey in attack, however its the clubs small forward stocks which really attract attention. Exciting 20-year-old Frank Szekely turned heads during his debut season last year, whilst Keanu Miller, Jake Neade, Ben Jarman and Robbie Young combine to form a potentially-devastating combination around goal.

Defenders Mitch Clisby and Tanner Smith will be hoping to return to their 2018 form. The Roosters also have a couple of handy youngsters pushing for selection. Tall defenders Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder were unlucky not to be selected in last seasons draft and will be looking to push for regular selection having received a taste of senior action last year. Wingman Mason Neagle showed promise in his debut year and inside midfielder Harrison Magor will be looking build upon a 2019 which saw him win the McCallum Tomkins Medal as the best player in the SANFL Under 18s competition.

UNDER-18S:

North’s Under 18s side narrowly missed out on playing finals football last season after losing their last four home and away matches. Four Roosters have been named as the SANFL Under-18 competitions best player in six years, following Magor’s success. Although just two North Adelaide juniors were included in the SA Academy Hub for 2020, Tariek Newchurch and Jamison Murphy are both expected to feature prominently for SA at the National Championships.

A medium-forward or midfielder, Newchurch is eligible to join the Crows as a member of the clubs Next Generation Academy. He kicked 29 goals in 16 under-18 games last season and played one match with the reserves. Murphy is a tough inside midfielder who captained the Australian under-16 cricket side before setting his sights on football. His leadership, hard-at-it approach and excellent foot skills have seen him draw comparisons to Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge.

>>> GET TO KNOW NORTH ADELAIDE UNDER 18S

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

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

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

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

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

THE JOURNEY TO THIS POINT

MA: Nick, where did your footy journey start?

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

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

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

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

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

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


RISING THROUGH THE SA STATE ACADEMY

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

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

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

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

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

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


LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

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

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

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

What’d you cook for the family?

“I cooked burrito bowls.”

Nice, healthy?

“Yep.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE GAME OF NICK KRAEMER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GOALS FOR 2020 AND BEYOND

Are you studying at all at the moment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LIVING IN THE UNKNOWN

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

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

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

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

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

How long have you been back at training?

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

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

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

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

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


MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS

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

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

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

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

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

FLINDERS UNIVERSITY STUDY

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

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

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

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

>> MORE SA UNDER 18s CONTENT

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

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

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

2020 SA Squad Prediction
2020 Positional Analysis: Key Forwards

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

Marquee Matchup: Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras

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

The next pair under the microscope hail from South and Western Australia respectively, with Glenelg’s Kaine Baldwin and Swan Districts’ Denver Grainger-Barras pitted against one another. Entering the key position department, Baldwin is an strong key forward who is near-unstoppable in the air and covers the ground well, while Grainger-Barras is a versatile defender who can play the lockdown role just as easily as an intercepting or third-up type. Unfortunately, both suffered injuries across their bottom-age year, with Baldwin ruled out after his first outing for 2019 with an ACL injury, and Grainger-Barras requiring shoulder surgery in the back half of the year.

Having both contributed to the spine of the 2018 Under 16 All Australian squad, this looms as a classic key forward versus key defender matchup which will likely take place at some point should the two run out for their respective states in the 2020 Under 18 National Championships. Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: May 30, 2002

Height: 193cm
Weight: 92kg

Position: Key forward

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002

Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Baldwin – 62cm
Grainger-Barras
– 63cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Baldwin – 77cm/71cm
Grainger-Barras
– 78cm/74cm

SPEED (20m)

Baldwin – 3.18 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 3.08 seconds

AGILITY

Baldwin – 8.54 seconds
Grainger-Barras
– 8.19 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Baldwin – 20.8
Grainger-Barras
– 20.8

For players who are regarded as key position prospects at the junior level, they are both quite impressive athletically. Keeping in mind that Baldwin’s testing results came at the end of a year-long rehabilitation for his knee injury, he stacks up quite nicely. The aggressive forward returned a very respectable 20.8 yo-yo test score – identical to Grainger-Barras’ effort – which will only get better as he continues to rebuild and improve his tank.

Both athletes’ aerial prowess is reflected in their very even vertical jump scores, able to breach the 70cm mark off both feet off a rolling start, and 60cm standing. Grainger-Barras fared slightly better across the speed and agility tests, posting terrific times for a player of true key position height. Again, considering Baldwin is coming off a long-term knee injury, his agility time of 8.54 seconds is impressive, and the underwhelming 3.18-second 20-metre sprint can be excused as he usually covers the ground well over time and has decent pace off the lead.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

STATISTICS

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL UNDER 16s: 5 games | 21 disposals | 9.6 marks | 1.6 tackles | 4.4 inside 50s | 2.8 goals (14)

Grainger-Barras:

2019 WAFL COLTS: 7 games | 10.1 disposals | 3.7 marks | 2.1 tackles
2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 games | 12 disposals | 7 marks | 2 tackles | 2.5 rebound 50s

It is obviously difficult to compare statistics here given they have been extracted from different years and age levels, with Baldwin’s only game for 2019 cut short and at the SANFL Reserves level. Looking back at his SANFL Under 16 stats, and it is clear that Baldwin is a true centre-half forward, rather than that typically one-dimensional full forward. His ability to move up the ground and impact the play aerially is reflected in his averages of 21 disposals and 9.6 marks, while still maintaining a very good goal average of nearly three per game.

Grainger-Barras is just as capable in the air, but thrives more significantly in the sense that he can play his role so consistently well. He is a true defender’s defender, able to stop the opposition’s best key forward while breaking up the play with his reading of the ball in flight and marking skills. He may not see much of the ball, but typically uses it soundly and can get some rebound going on the back of his efficiency.

BEST GAME

Baldwin:

2018 SANFL Under 16s Rd 7 vs. Central District

29 disposals
11 marks (four contested)
2 tackles
6 inside 50s
4 goals

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

13 disposals
8 marks
1 tackle
1 rebound 50

The contrast may seem stark in terms of pure numbers, but these two performances stack up fairly evenly when put into context. Baldwin’s best game was selected from his 2018 Under 16 campaign, in a massive win where he managed season-highs in disposals (29) and goals (four). He may not have showcased his contested marking as well as in other games but still managed four, and really conveyed his mobility as he impacted up the field. His versatility as a key position player also shone through, able to pinch hit in the ruck at the junior level.

Grainger-Barras may have returned bigger numbers across his WAFL Colts campaign and sole League outing, but this quality performance against good opposition at the Under 18 national carnival was simply too good to overlook. Against elite-level talent above his age grade, the 195cm defender played a terrific role floating across the back half, while also keeping tabs on the likes of Elijah Hollands. His marking game and reading of the play were exceptional, and it was a performance which only solidified his status as one to watch for this year.

STRENGTHS

Baldwin:

Contested marking
Aggression
Strength
Impact
Ground coverage

Grainger-Barras:

Reading the play
Intercept marking
Athleticism
Defensive versatility
Composure

Both players, putting it simply possess the key strength of marking well, but do so in different ways. While Baldwin is able to crash packs and use his strong hands to clunk marks under heavy duress, Grainger-Barras is slightly taller and uses his athleticism to get to an array of contests, moving efficiently to intercept in the air. The reading of the play and intercept marking aspects go hand-in-hand, and also add to his defensive versatility. As already mentioned, the West Australian can play the lockdown defensive role well, but has great composure on the ball and can deliver it well out of danger, with his ability to play as a second or third tall in defence another string to his bow.

Baldwin’s aggression and strength contribute to that key asset of contested marking, with few keen to step in the hole and get in the way of his 91kg frame. His ability to pull of eye-catching moments and have a say further afield play into his high-impact style, with goals a bonus to the overall package he delivers. Of course, ground coverage is something that comes with his ability to venture out as a centre-half forward, and will only improve as he builds that endurance after a long lay-off.

IMPROVEMENTS

Baldwin:

Durability
Unknown versatility

Grainger-Barras:

Endurance
Offensive output

It is perhaps harsh to put durability and endurance as improvements to be made for either player, especially given the parameters surrounding Baldwin. But being able to prove his durability will be key, although recruiters have shown faith in many prospects who suffered long-term injuries during key years of their development. The question of versatility comes from Baldwin’s height, just below true key position size for AFL standards. Given he is working on perhaps even moving into the midfield, gametime will be key to proving his potential in that area.

Grainger-Barras’ offensive output could help him become an even more versatile defensive outlet, with his ball use already at an outstanding level. If he can be let off the chain and showcase those traits more by winning more of the ball across the backline, he could be such a weapon coming out of defence. It seems as if we are clutching at straws and that is often the case with high-end prospects, but there is always room for improvement.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Baldwin:

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Michael Alvaro

Baldwin was another who had a greater impact than what his stat-line would suggest. His contested marking overhead was outstanding; both deeper forward in the first half, and higher up the ground as the game wore on. Baldwin found his way into the game in the second term when he booted his lone goal and missed the chance to add another within a minute. He continued on with an assist to Zac Dumesny in the third term before clunking a couple more contested marks to finish the day with seven overall from 15 disposals.

Grainger-Barras:

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Peter Williams

Another bottom-age tall who will hold the West Australian side in good stead for next year, he has some neat defensive and offensive attributes. He killed a contest at half-back with a great spoil across the line, and proceeded to be an intercepting defender throughout the game, saving a number of dangerous forward entries by dropping into the hole. Most importantly, he remained composed under pressure and looks like a promising prospect.