Tag: tariek newchurch

AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition

WITH this year’s AFL Draft less than a month away, the rumour mill has been in full swing as supporters turn their attention from trade period, to draft period. There is some early general consensus already, mostly pertaining to where prospects are ranked, but not necessarily where they may end up come draft time. In our November 2020 edition of AFL Draft Whispers, Draft Central takes a look at some of the key factors which may shape the top 10, as well as some of the queries pertaining to academy and father-son bids among the most compromised intake in history.

With pick one, Adelaide has selected…

Starting at the top, it is thought by many that the race for pick one honours has been narrowed down to two players. Given Adelaide boasts the first selection, local talent Riley Thilthorpe has been put forward as a safe choice, though Logan McDonald is marginally considered the better talent. Both are key forwards with senior state league experience this year who the Crows will be able to form their rebuild around. The ‘go home factor’ is a slight some Crows fans may have against McDonald, who is from Western Australia, though a local bias has hardly presented at the Crows previously and the 18-year-old seems to have no qualms about shifting interstate.

The other factor in this discussion is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, the consensus best prospect in this year’s pool who is tied to the Western Bulldogs. Adelaide could keep the Dogs accountable by bidding with pick one, but may seek to market their ties to the top selection by simply taking a player they can actually access. Elijah Hollands is another in contention, a midfielder with plenty of x-factor who is coming off a long-term knee injury and actually supports the Crows.

‘The fantastic five’

It is well known that along with McDonald and Thilthorpe, three other top-end prospects have formed a breakaway group which clubs are jostling to gain access to. Aside from Ugle-Hagan, who will find his way to the Western Bulldogs regardless of where a bid is placed, Hollands, Will Phillips, and Denver Grainger-Barras are the players who join the two aforementioned key forwards in this exclusive group.

Hollands, who suffered a serious knee injury during preseason, was touted as a potential challenger to the number one spot, and looks likely to be North Melbourne’s favoured pick. He is a tall midfielder/forward with serious game-winning attributes which include athleticism and scoreboard impact. Sydney’s top five pick is likely to come down to one of Phillips or Grainger-Barras, with interest in an inside midfielder growing, rather than the taller options. That of course brings Phillips to the fore, a 180cm ball winner who cut his teeth alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side.

What will Gold Coast look for with pick five?

The Suns were one of the big improvers in 2020, thanks in no small part to their top-end draftees who managed to make an immediate impact at senior level. With pick five, they have the chance to bring in another talent who may do the same next year. It seems the Queensland-based outfit will look to prioritise another midfielder, and Phillips would be the obvious choice as arguably the best pure ball winner available. Though, with growing talk that he may already be taken by the time Gold Coast gets on the clock, Geelong Falcons product Tanner Bruhn could be their man. He was Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018 and despite repeat injury setbacks, has shown his class through midfield when fully fit. Gold Coast is also able to pre-list Academy member Alex Davies, a tall clearance winner, but may look towards balance in acquiring the hard-running, 183cm Bruhn.

Will Essendon trade into the top two?

Though the Bombers have done well to secure the services of Peter Wright at little cost, the key forward slot remains an area which depth is desperately needed. Essendon currently holds picks 7-9 and could become the first team since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks in one draft. It would make for a hell of a story, though Adrian Dodoro will inevitably look to squeeze even greater value out of that significant hand.

With a wealth of high-level talls available at the pointy end of the draft, the Bombers may look to package a combination of their current top 10 picks to move up the order and gain access to one of those elite key position forwards. For example, North Melbourne may be a team of interest as they are in need of as much fresh talent as possible. Thus, the Roos could send pick two to Essendon in exchange for two of those top 10’ers in order to maximise their hand. It will unlikely be that simple, but that kind of thinking is perhaps what Essendon will have to do to obtain the likes of McDonald or Thilthorpe, who could become pillar key forwards in future.

Will Thilthorpe slide to Adelaide’s pick nine?

Plenty of talk has surrounded the proposed two-horse race pertaining Adelaide’s pick one (see above), but what happens to Thilthorpe should the Crows favour McDonald? Depending on the final order of the top 10, the South Australian may end up as this year’s slider despite being considered a top five or six talent. Essendon could be a potential suitor, though are said to have eyes on a certain other prospect in moving up the board, while the likes of North Melbourne, Sydney, and Gold Coast may look towards the midfielders available. Thus, Thilthorpe could slowly slip back to the Crows at pick nine, which would be a massive result for last year’s bottom side. A long shot, yes, but possible.

Will clubs take all of their Academy/father-son talents available?

In short, no. With cuts to list sizes, it just is not feasible for many clubs with rich academy cohorts to take every talent available to them this year. We saw with Brisbane in 2019 that if another club is interested in their homegrown products and the price is too high, they simply will not match the bid.

That may be the case for Brisbane once again, while Adelaide is another team of interest this year. The Crows have access to Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase through the NGA system, while Luke Edwards is a potential father-son choice. The latter is said to be weighing up whether to nominate for the open draft, and Adelaide’s current top-ended draft hand suggests it is only considering taking two of the three players.

Fremantle will look to secure NGA talents Joel Western and Brandon Walker. After the Dockers’ pick 12, they only have picks 32, 55, and a couple in triple figures to match any potential bids, so might get a little busy before their picks are locked in. Otherwise, they may prioritise one over the other. Collingwood is in a tricky spot too, with Reef McInnes attracting some added attention after his draft combine exploits. The bid will have to be fair on the Magpies’ end, and ideally after their current picks 14 and 16.

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Adelaide Crows

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Adelaide is first up, the team which finished last in 2020 and thus holds the power of wielding pick one in the draft. An inspired final month meant Crows fans were left with something to cheer about in the three-win campaign, and holding the competition’s ace card will only add to their excitement. It is the first number one pick Adelaide will use in its history and with many list needs to cover amidst a heavy rebuild, there is plenty of pressure on Crows staff to nail every move and selection. As it stands, they boast the highest total draft value index points of any club at 6832 – over 1300 more than the next-best club.

CURRENT PICKS*: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 56, 66, 80
* – denotes as of November 19

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PLAYERS:

James Borlase (NGA), Luke Edwards (father-son), Tariek Newchurch (NGA)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Ball-winning midfielder
Key forward depth
Ruck depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

It seems the race for pick one is down to two options; Logan McDonald and Riley Thilthorpe. Debate has raged over whether the Crows will opt to select McDonald, a West Australian key forward who bolted into top three contention this year, or to eliminate any threat of the ‘go home factor’ by snapping up local forward/ruck, Thilthorpe.

While nothing from McDonald suggests he would be unhappy to shift interstate, the argument for Thilthorpe goes that he is far less likely to move elsewhere in future and can prove a safe pillar for the Crows’ to form their rebuild around. While McDonald is arguably considered the better talent, this is the kind of thinking which may impact Adelaide’s choice.

If it were up to us, McDonald is the Crows’ man. They may also consider placing a bid on Western Bulldogs NGA product Jamarra Ugle-Hagan to keep the ‘Dogs accountable, as they would not think twice in matching for the athletic forward who is the consensus best talent in this year’s crop. Elijah Hollands looms as another option, the only midfielder of the bunch and one who could prove a perfect fit for Adelaide’s engine room with his size, x-factor, and ability to rotate forward.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Crows are likely to put pick one under lock and key, but have great potential for flexibility with their later picks. Pick nine could be split into two first rounders in order to maximise the amount of top-end talent brought in, perhaps even packaged up with one of their early second rounders. It may also be used to improve their hand in next year’s first round, as the 2021 intake looks like being a strong one.

Covering potential bids for all three eligible players in Borlase, Newchurch, and Edwards may be tough, so there could be work to do to ensure those bases are covered. Although, it seems more likely that only two of the three will land at Adelaide, especially with Edwards seemingly considering his options in the open draft. The Crows should be one of the busier clubs in terms of pick swaps both in the lead up to draft day, and as it goes live.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Who will the Crows take with pick one?

Will they bid on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan first?

Do they trade or split pick nine?

Do they trade into next year’s first round?

Will they take all three of Newchurch, Borlase, and Edwards?

Where will the bids come in for those three players?

Featured Image: (Retrieved from) Perth FC

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best AFL Draft hands

OVER the past few weeks, 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, this time to discuss which clubs hold the best hands heading into the 2020 AFL Draft.

While the indicative draft order is set to undergo a raft of changes in the build up to draft day (December 9), the discussion highlighted three teams which were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in terms of their pick hauls as of the end of trade period. Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney (GWS), and Essendon were the sides in question, though the positions of all 18 teams also came under the microscope; touching on pure draft value index points, flexibility and potential to trade, and likely academy or father-son selections.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Below is a recap of what makes the three aforementioned clubs’ draft hands so strong:
(All picks are as of November 18)

Adelaide
Picks: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 56, 66, 80

Having finished bottom, the Crows have all the power with pick one for the first in their history and will likely use it to gain one of Logan McDonald or Riley Thilthorpe. Afterwards is where it gets interesting, as Adelaide could opt to split pick nine or use it to get into next year’s top 10 as the 2021 crop looks a strong one. The Crows also have three prospects already tied to them in Tariek Newchurch (NGA), James Borlase (NGA), and Luke Edwards (father-son). As it stands, Newchurch is likely to attract the first bid and one for Borlase will hopefully come after their current pick 40. The Crows could be left with a tricky decision as to whether they match for Edwards, who is also flirting with nominating for the open draft. Either way, Adelaide must nail this intake and lay a strong marker for its rebuild.

GWS
Picks: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88

An exodus of sorts sees the Giants hold five picks within the top 30, four of which land among the first round. While the loss of Jeremy Cameron will be felt immediately, GWS has the opportunity to stock up with high-quality long-term options and avoid another steep drop off after finishing 10th in 2020. Alternatively, the Giants could use their picks in the teens to try and enter next year’s first round, or even sneak further into this year’s top 10 should a likely suitor wish to split their picks. Josh Green, the brother of Tom looks set to be the Giants’ sole academy selection this year but holds a value which will be relatively straightforward to match with one of their late picks, if necessary. GWS could be one of the busier clubs in the lead up to draft day and has plenty of potential to extract from its current hand.

Essendon
Picks: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87

The third of three clubs to currently hold a total points value of over 5000, Essendon may also become the first club since the expansion era to take three top 10 picks into the draft. What the Bombers decide to do with those picks is anyone’s guess given the flexibility afforded to them, and that there looms a few long-term list needs which require attendance. It seems as if they will opt to part ways with at least one of their top 10 selections, again either keen on next year’s crop or to expand their options in the first round. Another interesting scenario would be to package a couple of those picks to move into the top five, with Logan McDonald a prospect of particular interest. The Bombers also look set to bring in a couple of promising NGA talls in Cody Brand and Josh Eyre, with the latter potentially attracting a bid before the their current round three selection. There is likely enough cover for Eyre later on, though Essendon may also opt to bolster that late hand for any advanced bids.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Best readymade prospects
Best players under 175cm
Best midfielders over 190cm
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

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: The best academy & father-son hauls

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 discuss which AFL club shapes as boasting the strongest combined academy and father-son hauls.

The Next Generation Academy (NGA) and Northern Academy programs have garnered plenty of attention as we prepare for what will arguably be the most compromised AFL Draft in history. Adding fuel to the fire, consensus number one prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is a Western Bulldogs NGA product, while fellow potential top 10 picks Braeden Campbell (Sydney) and Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide) are also already aligned to clubs. Add to that Gold Coast’s pre-listing rights and access to the Darwin zone, as well as some handy father-son prospects overall, and around a quarter of the likely draft pool will include club-aligned juniors.

It got our editors thinking, ‘which club lays claim to the strongest academy and father-son pool?’. We outline the strongest eight hauls, and touch on a few others to look out for in the latest pocket podcast.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Here are some of the strongest likely academy and father-son hauls:

Sydney:
Braeden Campbell (Academy) | 181cm/75kg | Midfielder/Forward | Range: 8-15
Errol Gulden (Academy) | 175cm/75kg | Outside Midfielder/Small Utility | Range: 15-30

Gold Coast:
Alex Davies (Academy) | 192cm/85kg | Inside Midfielder | Range: 10-15
Joel Jeffrey (Darwin Zone) | 192cm/80kg | Tall Utility | Range: 20-30

Fremantle:
Joel Western (NGA) | 172cm/68kg | Midfielder/Small Forward | Range: 25-40
Brandon Walker (NGA) | 184cm/75kg | Medium Defender | Range: 25-40

Port Adelaide:
Lachlan Jones (NGA) | 186cm/89kg | General Defender | Range: 7-12
Taj Schofield (F/S) | 178cm/72kg | Outside Midfielder/Forward | Range: 35+

Western Bulldogs:
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA) | 195cm/90kg | Key Forward | Range: 1-5
Ewan Macpherson (F/S) | 181cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder | Range: Late/Rookie
Cody Raak (NGA) | 190cm/78kg | Defender | Range: Rookie

Adelaide:
Luke Edwards (F/S) | 188cm/83kg | Inside Midfielder/Utility | Range: 30-45
Tariek Newchurch (NGA) | Small Forward/Midfielder | Range: 30-45
James Borlase (NGA) | 192cm/93kg | Tall Utility | Range: 40+

Brisbane:
Blake Coleman (Academy) | 181cm/79kg | Small Forward | Range: 30-45
Carter Michael (Academy) | 188cm/74kg | Balanced Midfielder | Range: 40+
Saxon Crozier (Academy) | 190cm/80kg | Outside Midfielder | Range: Late-Rookie

Essendon:
Cody Brand (NGA) | 196cm/87kg | Key Defender | Range: 30-50
Joshua Eyre (NGA) | 198cm/85kg | Tall Utility | Range: Late/Rookie

There are plenty of others who loom as solid options not only aligned to the clubs listed here, but also to others around the league. Additionally, the selections above are not indicative of those clubs’ entire available pools, but rather the top prospects who have garnered the most attention.

Elsewhere, Reef McInnes is arguably a first round talent who may slide to the 20-30 range for Collingwood, another from their NGA program. Connor Downie is a proven quantity out of the Eastern Ranges, a line-breaking outside mover who boasts a penetrating left boot and is tied to Hawthorn through its NGA. Of course, another prospect who has already garnered plenty of attention is Maurice Rioli Jnr, the son of late Richmond and South Fremantle great, Maurice Rioli. He is a hard-tackling small forward with terrific goal sense and will most likely be picked up as a Richmond father-son, despite also qualifying for Fremantle under the same rule, and Essendon via the NGA.

Expect to see most of the above names find homes at AFL level in 2020, and for the inevitable top five bid on Ugle-Hagan to shape the pointy end of the draft. About a third of the top 30 names could well come from academies, bringing out plenty of baulking and bluffing in the bidding process. As we have seen in previous drafts, being aligned to a club does not always mean you will end up there, so those with big hauls will undoubtedly be made to pay a pretty price for their products.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

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

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 14

THE TOP junior prospects from South Australia rolled on into Round 14 of the SANFL Under 18s competition, with a number of standouts continuing to emerge. In this edition of Caught the Eye, we have again compiled a list of the best and most promising performers from across the weekend, with one representative from all eight SANFL clubs. For extended profiles on each AFL Academy member and National Combine invitee listed, click on their names highlighted in red. For our full weekend scouting notes, click here.

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

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

Stats: 27 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Poulter proved once again that he is a class above Under 18s level… in this game, he always followed up his possessions and attacked the ball with ferocity. He frequently pushed back to help the defence and provided a strong marking target when required. Although he made a couple of skill errors early, he cleaned this up as the game wore on. Poulter kicked two majors for the day, including a goal of the year contender in second term.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Having completed a solid school football campaign and a stint in the Reserves, Poulter looks primed to make an impact during the Under 18s finals series. The tall midfielder showed off all of his athletic prowess during Wednesday’s South Australian combine, and continues to thrive on-field. His consistency has been remarkable this year, putting him within reach of a potential first round draft shout. 190cm, goalkicking midfielders who can mark and run well are in vogue at the moment, making Poulter a highly-fancied prospect among this year’s pool.

Austin McDonald
Central District | Midfielder
1/01/2004

Stats: 32 disposals (24 kicks), 4 marks, 4 tackles, 12 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “McDonald was the Bulldogs’ best player on the day. He is a hard-working midfielder who reads stoppages well and finds plenty of the ball around the ground. His tackling was fantastic, as he never let players run past him and won free kicks for holding the ball. McDonald won many loose balls because he simply attacked it harder than his opposition, and he also has great vision and composure under pressure.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: The 16-year-old capped off a remarkable Under 18s season on Saturday with one of his best performances to date. He was again Centrals’ most prolific ball winner, something which has come so naturally despite his age, size, and the fact that the Bulldogs only won four games this year. McDonald looms as one of South Australia’s top midfield prospects for the 2022 draft, but there remains plenty of room for improvement and a long way to go, yet. Such consistency does not go unnoticed, though.

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

Cade Kennedy
West Adelaide | Midfielder/Small Utility
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 71kg

Stats: 21 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 5 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Another talented bottom-ager to impress for the Bloods was midfielder, Kennedy, who once again showed why he is one of South Australia’s leading small midfield prospects for next season. Kennedy gave it his all at each contest, cracking in hard against some of Norwood’s strong-bodied on-ballers. Although his work in-tight was the highlight, Kennedy was also able to impact the play away from the stoppages. He tackled hard as always and was rewarded with a holding the ball free kick early in the first term.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Kennedy is another player who has managed to shine among a side which has lost most of its games, with his work-rate and tenacity ensuring he has an impact on each contest. He was up against it on Saturday given the depth of Norwood’s midfield, but constantly gets his hands on the ball and wills himself out of congestion with pace, while also getting his hands dirty with defensive acts. Should he hit the 180cm mark as a top-ager and truly take over the Bloods’ midfield, it will go a long way to putting Kennedy within draft contention in 2021.

Jack Saunders
Norwood | Midfielder
11/02/2002 | 178cm | 71kg

Stats: 29 disposals (20 kicks), 8 marks, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 5 goals, 2 behinds

Our scouts said: “Saunders was the clear best-on-ground in Norwood’s comprehensive triumph. He started in the middle and impressed with his breakaway pace. Although his foot skills have been questioned by some throughout the course of the season, his kicking was precise for much of the contest against West Adelaide. His tackling pressure remained high for the entirety of the contest and Saunders was able to break the game open with his burst running and intensity around the ball. He used his strength well one-on-one while up forward and harassed the ball carrier relentlessly, but his impact on the scoreboard was what separated his game from the rest.”  – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Saunders’ senior experience has clearly done his confidence and form a world of good, taking his game to another level as he dropped back down into the Under 18s setup. The hard-running midfielder put on a show for Norwood and will likely make them a finals force in the coming weeks, with some terrific class on the inside allowing him to run the show on the outer. As are scouts suggested, Saunders did it all, but it was his five goals which truly set his game apart. He would have been a smoky for South Australia’s state squad, and is a reliable player with good qualities at SANFL level.

North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

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

Stats: 17 disposals (13 kicks), 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 4 goals

Our scouts said: “The Crows NGA product was electrifying in the first quarter, having four shots on goal in the early stages of the game and kicking two of them. His pressure and efforts without the ball stood out all game, with a big chase down tackle in the middle of the ground exemplifying that. He looked dangerous moving up the ground and in the middle with his pace and core strength, managing five clearances during his time in the midfield. He could have been a little wiser at times to not blaze away around goals kicking a couple out on the full, but his efforts are nonetheless exciting.” – Eli Duxson

Verdict: Newchurch’s first term is exactly what would have Crows fans most excited about nabbing their NGA talent come draft time. The small forward set the game alight, producing a raft of scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates. At his best, that’s the kind of freakish, game-winning quality Newchurch provides. It was pleasing to see him put in a more consistent performance, with some midfield time also allowing him to show off a different side to his game. He remains one of the better small forward options in this year’s pool, but his ties to Adelaide should stave off would-be bidders in the top 30.

Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide | Midfielder/Utility
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 76kg

Stats: 28 disposals (22 kicks), 13 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 4 goals

Our scouts said: Undoubtedly a best on ground performance for the hard-working midfielder… Roberts was active at stoppages but spread well to find space often, finding a lot of ball between the arcs during slow play from the Panthers. His preferred left boot looked as clean as it gets, although he did look reluctant to go on his right side on one occasion. He normally had enough time and space to steady on his left though. Roberts’ poise going inside 50 was classy, but he was also very effective being on the receiving end from forward entries. A great game for him as he will look to carry that play into finals.” – Eli Duxson

Verdict: Roberts is another player set for a huge finals series, with the Panthers bottom-ager already a potential top 10 prospect for next year’s draft. He simply works harder than most others, accumulating the ball at will while holding a great presence around the ball, and being able to find the goals from range. He has a good balance of class and grunt, with his no-fuss style, red hair, and shared initials among the other traits which help draw comparisons to Matt Rowell. He may not reach the exact same heights, but Roberts is a dependable player who has picked up from where he left off after completing his school football duties.

Nasiah Wanganeen
Glenelg | Wing
22/02/2003 | 187cm | 69kg

Stats: 13 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “While the lively wingman looked a little proppy on a couple of occasions, he still managed to have an impact and put his leg speed to good use. Wanganeen’s ability to close while chasing and apply manic defensive pressure is undoubtedly one of his key strengths, though he could not quite utilise that same factor going the other way. The bottom-ager tracked back well in the early stages, but found more ball forward of centre in the second half with much of the sting sapped from the contest.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: The stats hardly did justice to Wanganeen’s game on the weekend, as one of Glenelg’s more impactful players. His closing speed was a particular highlight despite only registering three tackles, and it was great to see him hold a consistent endeavour throughout the contest despite Sturt getting well on top. The bottom-ager is usually most damaging going forward with his speed and raw talent, so look forward to catching more of that as he moves into his top-age campaign next year.

Malachy Carruthers
Sturt | Half-Back/Utility
11/05/2002 | 183cm | 69kg

Stats: 34 disposals (27 kicks), 15 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “It is not hard to see why Carruthers earned a national combine invite, as the sharp-kicking defender proved a class above with his use by foot in what was otherwise a turnover-heavy contest. The top-ager broke the game open with his ability to hit targets in the corridor, putting Sturt in the best possible position to attack. His pin-point delivery to runners allowed them to continue in their stride, opening up the stale, short-kicking trend of the game. As somewhat of a loose outlet, Carruthers was also able to generate some run through the corridor himself via handball receives, while dropping back into defensive 50 as a relieving option. Another string to his bow is intercept marking, with some nice floating grabs making for a complete highlight package.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: One who has somewhat flown under the radar is Carruthers, who has hardly missed a beat since returning from school football duties with St Peter’s. Having returned to the SANFL fold with Sturt, the top-ager has sent a reminder of his draftable talent with some outstanding form. It was no different on Saturday, with his game-high disposals and marks tallies backing up his perceived impact. Not only can Carruthers break the game open by hitting attacking options via foot, but he also has the work-rate to chain his possessions or provide a safe outlet deep in defence. His pacy runs through the corridor also catch the eye, with intercept marking yet another highly desirable trait for the half-back. There’s plenty to like about what Carruthers presents, and a big finals series should further consolidate his draft stocks.

Featured Image: Sturt’s Malachy Carruthers in action for St Peter’s | Credit: Brenton Edwards/The Messenger

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18s Squad Prediction
>> 2020 Power Rankings: September | July | August

SANFL League Player Focus:
Rd 1 – Corey Durdin
Rd 2 – Riley Thilthorpe
Rd 3 – Lachlan Jones
Rd 8 – Jason Horne & Lachlan Jones

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
James Borlase
Bailey Chamberlain
Brayden Cook
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tariek Newchurch
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Henry Smith
Riley Thilthorpe

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

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL – Round 14

ROUND 14 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we again turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so they also get a look-in.

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

>> Power Rankings: September Edition

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

By: Tom Cheesman

WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield

Schofield put together a strong performance at Prospect Oval on Saturday. He is a silky midfielder that never fumbles and is willing to do the little things such as smothering and blocking to help his team. His work rate was fantastic in this game, as he ran into space on numerous occasions to take uncontested marks. Schofield’s skills were consistently good, highlighted by a beautiful spearing kick to half-forward in the second quarter. He also displayed some nice forward craft when he produced a clean front-and-centre crumb and set up a Henry Smith goal in the third term. Schofield finished with 25 disposals, six marks, eight inside 50s and two clearances.

#7 Caleb Poulter

Poulter proved once again that he is a class above Under 18s level with 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four tackles. He has great size and rotates between midfield and forwardline. In this game, he always followed up his possessions and attacked the ball with ferocity. He frequently pushed back to help the defence to help out and provided a strong marking target when required. Although he made a couple of skill errors early, he cleaned this up as the game wore on. Poulter kicked two majors for the day, including a goal of the year contender in second term where gave a forward handball, pushed hard to get the hands back and then casually drilled the drop punt from 50 metres out on the boundary.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

With 31 disposals for the day, under-ager Burgoyne was the leading ball winner for his side. He rotated between half-back and midfield, where he was able to break away from opponents with speed. His first couple of steps are incredibly quick, and from there he becomes very difficult for opposition players to tackle. Burgoyne has great hands overhead and a nice leap, as shown when he took a beautiful mark at half-back in a one-on-one in the second term. He also looks to switch or kick the ball into the corridor whenever possible to open up the game for his side offensively. Burgoyne capped off the strong performance with a clever snap goal from a stoppage in the final term.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald

McDonald was the Bulldogs’ best player on the day. He is a hard-working midfielder who reads stoppages well and finds plenty of the ball around the ground. His tackling was fantastic, as he never let players run past him and won free kicks for holding the ball. McDonald won many loose balls because he simply attacked it harder than his opposition, and he also has great vision and composure under pressure. McDonald finished with 32 disposals, 12 clearances, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#37 Cody Gilchrist

Gilchrist was a standout for the Bulldogs, particularly early in the contest. He provided a great presence up forward with some fantastic leads at the ball carrier. It is always important for a key forward to be reliable when kicking for goal, and Gilchrist was very dependable on Saturday. He nailed three majors including a beautiful set shot from the boundary in the third term. Gilchrist finished with 11 disposals and three marks to go with his three goals.

#39 Wyatt Ryan

Ryan has had a good season in 2020, and this continued at Prospect Oval. He had a great battle with Eagles ruckman Zac Phillips, as both men displayed fantastic body-work and tap craft when they were in the middle. Ryan was a dominant force around the ground, as he often provided an option coming out of defence and gave quick hands to teammates running past to start some attacking play. He also got involved in link-up chains out of stoppages, applied strong tackling pressure, and demonstrated that he has a good field kick for a man his size. Ryan kicked a goal from a set shot in second term after some poor Eagles defending allowed the ball to bounce through. He finished with a very impressive statline of 25 disposals, 25 hitouts, nine marks, five clearances and five inside 50s.

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

West Adelaide:

#1 Charlie Pridham

Despite his smaller stature, Pridham was one of West Adelaide’s best performers at ACH Group Stadium. Primarily deployed on the wing and through the midfield, he made an immediate impact on the game at the first couple of stoppages, where he was able to read the tap and break free from his opponent to dish off an effective handball. He cracked in when it was his turn to go, laying six tackles. Although he was out-bodied at times in one-on-one contests, Pridham will look to add some size in the off-season and build on this encouraging performance ahead of the 2021 season. He finished the contest with 19 disposals, six tackles and three rebound 50s.

#4 Cade Kennedy

Another talented bottom-ager to impress for the Bloods was midfielder, Kennedy, who once again showed why he is one of South Australia’s leading small midfield prospects for next season. Kennedy gave it his all at each contest, cracking in hard against some of Norwood’s strong-bodied on-ballers. Although his work in-tight was the highlight, Kennedy was also able to impact the play away from the stoppages, finishing with six inside 50s. He tackled hard as always and was rewarded with a holding the ball free kick early in the first term. One of his side’s shining lights in what has been a challenging season, Kennedy concluded the final minor round game with 21 disposals, four tackles and five clearances.

#10 Eduard Van den berg

The strongly-build defender gave it his all despite facing an onslaught of Norwood inside 50s. Van den berg was strong in the one-on-one contests and asserted himself on the game with a couple of strong tackles. He was once again handed the kick-in duties and used his raking left foot to deposit the ball beyond the defensive 50 arc. Van den berg’s short kicking was also precise for the most part. He finished the final game of the season with 27 disposals, three tackles, four clearances and a game-high 12 rebound 50s.

Others:

Small forward Connor Blackwell booted three of West’s five goals for the game, making the most of limited opportunities inside 50. He applied plenty of pressure on the ball handler inside 50, finishing the game with seven disposals and five tackles. Centre half-forward Luke Young provided a lead-up target down the line, finishing with 11 disposals, four marks and a couple of tackles. Luke Heitmann and Thomas Faulkner shared the ruck responsibilities and combined for 23 hit-outs. After spending much of the season playing school football, Hamish Dunkin returned for the Bloods’ final game and had some nice moments running between the arcs, finishing with ten disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

>> MORE WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

The talented midfielder has pieced together a wonderful bottom-aged season, however he didn’t quite have the impact he would have liked agains the Bloods on Saturday; finishing with 15 disposals, one goal and three inside 50s. He made a couple of uncharacteristic errors, including an errant kick out-on-the-full and fumble at ground level. However, he attacked the contest at speed and was still able to have some eye-catching moments through the middle, showing off his elite speed and high endurance. With the likes of Michael Cavallaro, Ethan Schwerdt, Daniel Fairbrother and Jack Saunders joining he and Henry Nelligan in the Redlegs’ midfield rotation, Murley didn’t get the on-ball minutes he has become accustomed to across the season. However, expect him to be prominent in Norwood’s finals campaign.

#4 Henry Nelligan

One of the competition’s most relentless and consistent ball winners, Nelligan was at it again at The Bay. He was everywhere early on, winning clearances and also contributing in attack. He was very clean at ground level and used it efficiently by hand and foot on most occasions. He, like several other Norwood midfielders, was able to get forward and impact the scoreboard to compliment his ball-winning capabilities through the middle. Nelligan has been fantastic since returning to Under 18s level and finished the game with 33 disposals, one goal, four marks, six clearances and ten inside 50s.

#6 Michael Cavallaro

The Redlegs have certainly welcomed the return of Cavallaro to the Under 18s lineup. He added some much needed composure and clean disposal to the side, complimenting the speed of Cooper Murley and Jack Saunders and in-and-under ball-winning of Henry Nelligan. He had numerous intercept possessions, where he was able to use his elite football smarts to cut-off the West Adelaide attack. Crucially, the wingman/half-back also made the most of his opportunities in front of goal, nailing three majors for the game to go with 21 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s. Expect his poise and decision making to have a impact as the Redlegs enter finals.

#13 Marcus Roberts

Roberts made another strong contribution through the midfield and up forward for the victors. He dribbled home an easy goal out the back of the stoppage late in the first quarter to extend his sides lengthy lead. He also worked well with the other talented Norwood midfielders and provided some strong clearance winning when on the ball. Roberts finished with 28 disposals, five marks and five clearances in the Redlegs’ 83-point hammering.

#21 Jack Saunders

Saunders was the clear best-on-ground in Norwood’s comprehensive triumph. He started in the middle and impressed with his breakaway pace. Although his foot skills have been questioned by some throughout the course of the season, his kicking was precise for much of the contest against West Adelaide. After booting a couple of behinds, he slotted his first major via a set shot from 30 metres out directly in front. Later on, his terrific run down tackle was rewarded with a free kick, which he converted after originally looking to pass it off. His tackling pressure remained high for the entirety of the contest and Saunders was able to break the game open with his burst running and intensity around the ball. He used his strength well one-on-one while up forward and harassed the ball carrier relentlessly, but his impact on the scoreboard was what separated his game from the rest. Saunders finished with 29 disposals, five goals, eight marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s.

Others: 

It was an ‘all played well’ type of game for the Redlegs, who finished off the minor round in the best way possible. Ethan Schwerdt made a strong contribution through the midfield, winning 25 disposals, one goal, seven clearances and six inside 50s. Xavier Tranfa booted two goals within a minute up forward and looms as a potential wildcard in attack over the next couple of weeks. The booming leg of Sam Duke was on display down back, launching a couple of kick-ins close to the centre circle. The athletic Benjamin Ianniello provided some run-and-carry from half-back and used the ball well across a variety of distances. He managed 15 disposals, a goal and four marks. Regular ruckman Nathan Hearing spent more time in attack this week and was able to clunk a couple of trademark contested marks. Daniel Fairbrother made a positive return to the Under 18s after his stint with the Norwood League side. He took a little while to get involved but worked his way into the game nicely, taking several intercept marks and using the ball typically well. Fairbrother concluded the outing with 12 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

By: Eli Duxson

North Adelaide:

#5 Leo Coates

It was a relatively quiet game for the key forward who had to push up the ground more than usual to make an impact. He finished with just the nine disposals, but six marks and six tackles are indicative of his effort. He worked into defensive 50 to assist with rebounds on a few occasions but could not find the same space he found around the ground inside forward 50. He would have liked to have more of an impact on the scoreboard, but his efforts around the ground are commendable.

#12 Hugh Jackson

The crafty wingman put together a very handy game for the Roosters as he ended up with 20 disposals, one goal, and seven marks. He showed early a delicate poise on his trusty left boot, poise that he would continue all game with 90 per cent of his disposals being kicks. His work rate was impressive as he often filled holes in defensive 50 from the wing, while working forward to threaten goals. Some silky agility and evasion to get around a couple of defenders was a highlight in his first half of play. He looked to impact the scoreboard more in the second half and managed to do so after drilling a set shot. Jackson looked clean below his knees and with his disposal all game.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

The Crows NGA product was electrifying in the first quarter, having four shots on goal in the early stages of the game and kicking two of them. He finished with four goals from his 17 disposals and was finding space on the lead and around the contest. His pressure and efforts without the ball stood out all game, with a big chase down tackle in the middle of the ground exemplifying that. He looked dangerous moving up the ground and in the middle with his pace and core strength, managing five clearances during his time in the midfield. He could have been a little wiser at times to not blaze away around goals kicking a couple out on the full, but his efforts are nonetheless exciting.

#28 Matthew Borg

Borg was a little quieter than his usual output, but he toiled away in the midfield all game to finish with 15 disposals, four tackles, and five clearances. He was not far off enjoying a big game as he was often there or thereabouts, fumbling at times or being overlooked for handball receives. Borg scraps on the inside but looks the most dangerous when following up, with his repeat efforts a key feature of his game. He made good decisions with ball in hand and should be pleased with a fine season.

#29 Zyton Santillo

The nuggety Santillo capped off a solid season with 20 disposals and a goal playing out of the forward half. His agility was on show early as he lost his defender who was hot on his tail quite easily, but was also very impressive with his disposal. He was deliberate and accurate through either handballs or kicks as he recorded 10 of each. Despite his height, he found plenty of space and proved to be a good option as a link player going forward, his disposal efficiency being a key in that. He also showed a wise ability to hold space at stoppages to be an outlet player, doing so on multiple occasions.

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

Another serviceable game for the 19-year-old in one of North Adelaide’s key defensive slots, as he ended the game with 12 disposals and five marks. As he continues to grow in confidence, he looks to become more attacking and involved in forward moving plays, while also continuing the sturdy defensive side of his game. His reading of the flight of the ball was again reliable with a few thumping spoils killing the play. Finlay was an option on kick-ins for the Roosters, marking twice outside 50 to continue the ball forward. An ambitious yet perfect kick into the corridor is also indicative of his confidence levels growing and with finals to play, it will be exciting to see what he can do.

Others:

The Under 18 season is over for the Roosters, but Jayden Davison finished a consistent year with 28 disposals and six clearances while James Willis (18 disposals, six clearances) and Kallis Freer (16 disposals, one goal) were also solid. Other Adelaide NGA products in Lam Simon (nine disposals) and Blayne O’Loughlin (eight disposals) did not enjoy the attacking liberties they usually do, with the South Adelaide forwards keeping them accountable and the South midfielders looking for better options than the long bomb in hope. Dyson Hilder played in the seniors again and was challenged defensively, but still managed to play a role.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#10 Brayden Cook

The medium forward was South Adelaide’s primary option going forward and could have very well kicked a bag. He finished with 2.5 from his 12 disposals and looked threatening whenever he was near it all game. Competing aerially is no issue for his height as he makes the most of a strong vertical leap to throw himself at the contest. Though he had just the three marks, he was able to get separation from his direct opponent on several occasions, with misguided entries or another defender preventing more shots on goal. His five behinds did not come from poor shots either, missing a couple of set shots narrowly, but he proved he was able to dob them with a 35-metre set shot from the boundary giving him his first major for the game. Naturally playing a bit more between the arcs, he showed a strong ability to push up the ground to provide an option, as well as be efficient once the ball hits the deck. A serviceable game in the end, but not far off a huge one.

#20 Zac Dumesny

In his first game this season in the Under 18s to help the Panthers qualify for finals, Dumesny accumulated in the back half amassing; 33 disposals (26 kicks), and 11 marks. It was a forgettable start to the game for him though with two turnovers from poor kicks in South’s defensive 50 directly resulting in goals, and another leading to a behind. Although he found a lot of the ball, a lot of his disposals were relatively easy being from taking the kick-outs, last touch out of bounds kicks, or getting it back from sideways chips. He was often loose defensively and was able to provide run out of the backline and rebound to effect, as his kicking became very clean and effective. He was useful with his attacking setups out of the back half but being given a tougher task defensively would appear to stretch him. It would be interesting to see how he plays in the midfield going forward, as with no tackles and clearances, he appeared most comfortable on the outside and was quite useful there.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Undoubtedly a best on ground performance for the hard-working midfielder as he ended up with 28 disposals, four goals, 13 marks, and eight inside 50s. Roberts was active at stoppages but spread well to find space often, finding a lot of ball between the arcs during slow play from the Panthers. His preferred left boot looked as clean as it gets, although he did look reluctant to go on his right side on one occasion. He normally had enough time and space to steady on his left though. Roberts’ poise going inside 50 was classy, but he was also very effective being on the receiving end from forward entries. His first goal came in the first term from a lead up mark and set shot goal, while his second came from a 25-metre penalty, advancing him to the goal square after putting his head over it. His final two goals came at a crucial time in the final quarter as it pushed the lead slightly out of reach for North Adelaide. His third goal would have travelled the best part of 60 metres, as he kicked the next one soon after from a quick snap out of pack on his opposite boot, proving he is capable when needed on his non-preferred. A great game for him as he will look to carry that play into finals.

#33 Arlo Draper

The fleet-footed Draper worked himself into the game nicely finishing with 17 disposals, two goals, eight marks, and five tackles. He played mostly half-forward and pushed up the ground to be an option around the centre of the ground and with his pace and aerial ability, he showed good versatility as he was able to gather cleanly off the ground as well. He kicked a very nice set shot from 40 metres on the wrong side for a right footer after finding space. Draper found space all game with ease and had a stint on the ball in the final quarter to show off his dash. Draper showed he is a bit of a utility and his team will be hoping he can continue to put up performances like this one, a solid game all round.

#35 Nick Kraemer

Kraemer started the game on Tariek Newchurch who was on fire early, but built himself into the game to finish with 19 disposals and seven marks out of South’s defensive end. The pace of Newchurch proved to be a little too much, but Kraemer was able to use his strength in static contests to halve them. His ball use was generally sound and he looked to provide some run off half-back at times as well. With a decent balance between kicks and handballs (12 kicks, seven handballs), he showed a level head under pressure and often made good decisions.

#35 Tom Highmore (League)

The 22-year-old from Canberra continued to show his class out of the defensive half for the Panthers, putting up another respectable game with 19 disposals, seven marks (four contested), and three rebound 50s. In his return game from a thigh injury, his intercept marking ability was on display in the first term, taking a nice contested one-handed mark, and reading the Roosters’ rebound the best to chop off a Harrison Wigg bullet. That particular play highlighted his ability to read the play and the flight of the ball, popping up at important times on several occasions. He courageously backed into oncoming traffic in the second quarter to take another impressive mark. Highmore’s kicking was tidy as usual, hardly putting a foot wrong as he was entrusted with kick-out duties a couple of times. He took aggressive positions in marking contests and was strong defensively, having to do battle with Keenan Ramsey (seven disposals, no goals) for most of the game. Highmore’s positioning when playing as a loose allowed him to set up rebounds, but more importantly fly and impact contests when necessary. This performance certainly would not have done any harm to his draft stocks.

Others:

A win cemented South Adelaide’s place in the finals for the Under 18s and while the inclusion of Dumesny was handy, players like Harry Spacie (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Max Clifton (20 disposals, one goal, seven inside 50s) stepped up as they enter finals footy. Luke Mitton was quieter than usual with just the six disposals, while William Verrall dominated the ruck battle with 30 hitouts. Williamstown Seagull Daly Andrews continues to play a role in the seniors since crossing the border, finishing with 13 disposals, six tackles, and a goal late in the game. He enjoyed good midfield minutes and worked hard on the inside all game having usually been cited as an outside threat.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Glenelg vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#1 Harry Tunkin

The diminutive and tough Glenelg midfielder/forward led his side for disposals, earning 24 to go with six marks, seven tackles, and three clearances. Coming off a solid school football season, the bottom-ager has slotted straight into the Bays’ side and performed well. He works hard for each possession and that was no different on this occasion, as he burrowed in time after time to try and generate some forward momentum for his side. He also found a good amount of ball while up forward too, but up at half-forward rather than close to goal. The only real knock on Tunkin’s effort was his kicking at times; often bombing out of congestion or scrubbing the ball forward in a rush. With another year to sharpen that tool, Tunkin should be a reliable outlet for Glenelg.

#2 Nasiah Wanganeen

While the lively wingman looked a little proppy on a couple of occasions, he still managed to have an impact and put his leg speed to good use. Wanganeen’s ability to close while chasing and apply manic defensive pressure is undoubtedly one of his key strengths, though he could not quite utilise that same factor going the other way. The bottom-ager tracked back well in the early stages, but found more ball forward of centre in the second half with much of the sting sapped from the contest. 13 disposals and three tackles far from do justice to his true form on Saturday in what was a tough game for the Tigers.

#19 Jayden Davis

Another reliable Glenelg bottom-ager, Davis was below his best of the weekend but popped up with some nice contributions. The midfielder again showcased his clean hands, able to hold onto overhead marks while also collecting the ball well at ground level. He booted a superb set shot goal from around 50 metres out in the third term and generally used the ball neatly around the ground. Having returned a solid overall campaign, Davis has plenty to build on in 2021 – his draft year.

#25 William Wiseman

Shock, another bottom-ager who stood up for the Bays on Saturday. Wiseman was terrific in all areas of the field, not afraid to inflict the force of his 192cm/102kg frame on opponents in his vicinity. His first signs of form were made while rotating through the ruck, following up well at centre bounces to win strong holding the ball free kicks. The bigman went on to lay four tackles overall, with much of his impact in the second half coming through a raft of contested marks. Utilised at either end of the ground, Wiseman was able to control the airways and in particular, pump the ball out of an under-siege defence during the final term. He has some nice traits to build off, especially if he grows a few more cm’s.

#32 Jarrad Parish

Parish was a mainstay down back for the first three terms, working well to intercept and provide a cool head on the last line for Glenelg. The 188cm prospect even attended the centre bounces in the final term as Glenelg looked to shuffle the magnets and extract more ball through midfield. He struggled a touch in that department, but was sound when stationed behind the ball, even adding kick-in duties to his aerial work. Parish finished with 15 disposals (13 kicks) and eight marks.

Others:

There were plenty who rotated through the Bays’ engine room, with the likes of Oscar Clark (23 disposals) and Henry McAuliffe (23 disposals, five clearances) both working hard throughout the game. Bailey Durant saw plenty of ball down back alongside Brodie Edwards, while the likes of Hugh Stagg, Jesse Boag, and Jaden Grosser all showed good signs. Jarman Sigal had a terrific final term down back too, covering well as Parish moved further afield.

>> MORE GLENELG CONTENT

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

It is not hard to see why Carruthers earned a national combine invite, as the sharp-kicking defender proved a class above with his use by foot in what was otherwise a turnover-heavy contest. The top-ager broke the game open with his ability to hit targets in the corridor, putting Sturt in the best possible position to attack. His pin-point delivery to runners also allowed them to continue in their stride, opening up the stale, short-kicking trend of the game. As somewhat of a loose outlet, Carruthers was also able to generate some run through the corridor himself via handball receives, while dropping back into defensive 50 as a relieving option. Another string to his bow is intercept marking, with some nice floating grabs making for a complete highlight package. The half-back finished with 34 disposals and 15 marks on a dominant day.

#11 Will Spain

As he has done all season, Spain put in another solid shift for the Double Blues, rotating well through midfield as a well-balanced small option. The bottom-ager not only put his head over the ball, but was able to find more possessions on the outer with his hard running and clean hands at ground level. Add speed to the equation, and Spain was able to produce some nice breakaway plays from congestion. A well-struck set shot goal in the final term capped off a decent day, as Spain finished with 20 disposals, eight marks, and five tackles.

#13 Bradley Jefferies

Jefferies has been another terrific inclusion back into the Sturt lineup after school football commitments, and thrived once again from the engine room. The bottom-age talent was a mainstay through midfield and won his fair share of clearances (10), though lacked some depth on his kicks out of congestion at times. Jefferies also snuck forward on many an occasion and was unlucky not to hit the scoreboard. That lack of strength in his kicks perhaps cost him, as his range of snapped attempts did not have the required bend or whip around the corner to squeeze through the big sticks. Still, 34 disposals, 10 clearances and three behinds makes for a great midfield outing by anyone’s standards. He should be another to watch for next year’s South Australian draft crop.

#17 Mani Liddy

Arguably Sturt’s premier established top-age player in the absence of Tom Powell, Liddy was again able to find the ball at will; racking up 34 disposals, 10 marks, and five clearances. While some of those touches were had in the latter stages as Sturt looked to control the pace of the game, Liddy still worked hard to get to the right positions and won a mountain of his own ball earlier on. The nuggety midfielder showed good strength to stand up in tackles and distribute from the clinches, but could perhaps have sent clearances forward more often instead of handballing to space, or a teammate under pressure. His short kicking was usually sound, though he saw a few fall short while on the move as he looked to stab them into the wind. Liddy’s attempts to fend and burst from stoppages was also noticeable, and bodes well for his scope of improvement. A second term set shot conversion proved the cherry on top of his performance.

#27 Ned Grieve

Grieve was again a key fixture in defence for the Double Blues, able to impact aerially with sound intercept marking, while also moving the ball into transition via foot. Whether he was cutting across the contest or standing up in one-on-one situations, Grieve managed to clunk 13 marks in his 25-disposal outing, while also contributing to Sturt’s short chains in the back half. With another strong performance, the top-ager is well primed for a big finals series with the minor premiers.

Others:

Ned Walter was another strong defensive outlet alongside Grieve, taking 10 marks while penetrating either arc five times each. Jacob Lochowiak showed some eye-catching athleticism, with his vertical leap helping him present forward of centre. Ethan Field rotated through the middle to find plenty of ball, while Morgan Ferres made the most of his chances to boot three majors up forward.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Featured Image: Sturt’s Will Spain in action against Glenelg | Credit: Phil Radoslovich/SANFL

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Round 14 wrap

WITH young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) wrap to the performances of youth throughout all three grades. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior competitions, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade in Round 14. Heavy finals ramifications were in place during the ultimate regular season round, which saw the cream truly rise to the top.

Norwood vs. West Adelaide

League: Norwood 6.11 (47) def. by West Adelaide 8.9 (57)
Reserves:
Norwood 5.7 (37) def. by West Adelaide 9.14 (68)
Under 18s:
Norwood 18.12 (120) def. West Adelaide 5.7 (37)

West Adelaide finished both its senior seasons on a high, defeating Norwood in the League and Reserves grades. While the results saw Westies steer clear of the last-place Redlegs Reserves, the Bloods still finished bottom of the League and Under 18s ladders with a combined three wins in either competition. Norwood was the best of the rest at League level, and missed out on top spot in the Under 18s by percentage only after a second-straight win.

The top flight debuts of Bailey Chamberlain and national combine invitee Jye Sinderberry were made memorable, as the two Westies young guns performed solidly in their side’s win. Chamberlain racked up 17 disposals and booted a goal playing on the wing, while Sinderberry managed 12 touches from defence. Lachlan Squire and fellow NSW/ACT recruit Hamish Ellem were also part of the Bloods’ victory. Norwood’s Jack Heard made up another debut for the weekend, notching 14 disposals and five marks for the Redlegs.

Nicholas Couroupis, Cooper Gilbert, Michael Laudato, and Hugo Kelly were among the young Bloods to contribute as West Adelaide saluted to the tune of 31 points at Reserves level, trumping a Norwood team which also boasted some young talent in the form of Mitchell Carroll, Alexander Scali, Lachlan Falco, and Nathan Maunder, the former two of whom booted a goal each.

The junior Redlegs got one back with an 83-point thumping of Westies, headlined by 29 disposals and five goals from the returning Jack Saunders. Henry Nelligan (33 disposals, one goal) was another small to find plenty of the ball, while Xavier Tranfa and Michael Cavallaro joined Saunders in booting multiple goals from over 20 touches. Westies’ tough season ended bluntly, though Eduard van den Berg (27 disposals, 12 rebound 50s) and Cade Kennedy (21 disposals, five clearances) were among those to finish their consistent campaigns in good form.

Central District vs. WWT Eagles

League: Central District 13.10 (88) def. WWT Eagles 13.6 (84)
Reserves:
Central District 13.9 (84) def. WWT Eagles 6.6 (42)
Under 18s:
Central District 9.9 (63) def. by WWT Eagles 16.12 (108)

Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) officially secured the League minor premiership on Saturday despite a shock loss to Central District, with gun small forward James Rowe also tying for the competition’s leading goalkicker award. The Bulldogs also triumphed in the Reserves to secure a minor premiership of their own in front of the second-placed Eagles, while WWT’s Under 18s are every chance to go back-to-back having secured third spot.

Rowe’s sole major and three from Coburg VFL recruit Sam Lowson were not enough to help the Eagles finish the League regular season with a win, though there were some promising young performers. Among them, former Port rookie Kai Pudney managed 20 disposals, followed by 18 from 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil. Northern Territory product Ben Jungfer will also hope to have secured his finals place after 11 touches. Jackson Kelly (21 disposals, 10 tackles, one goal) and Jack Toner (19 disposals, six marks, one goal) were both terrific for the winners, finishing their senior campaigns off well along with the Bulldogs overall.

Lachlan Grubb and Nicholas Lange snared two goals apiece as the Centrals two’s got up by 42 points, doubling their opponents’ total score in the process. But it was 2019 Oakleigh Chargers premiership player Thomas Graham who was named best for the victors in a terrific performance. Thomas is the son of former Hawthorn and Richmond player, Mark Graham, and was eligible to be drafted to the Hawks via the father-son rule.

As usual, the Eagles managed a good spread of performers as their Under 18s secured a comfortable win, led by usual suspects Jase Burgoyne (31 disposals, one goal) and Caleb Poulter (27 disposals, two goals). Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield was in the thick of it, Jordan Kasianowicz booted four majors, and tall pair Henry Smith and Zac Phillips both fared well aerially while hitting the scoreboard. 16-year-old Austin McDonald capped off a stellar season with 32 disposals and 12 clearances against stiff opposition, aided by Lewis Cowham (30 disposals, 10 clearances) and bigman Wyatt Ryan, who matched his hitout haul (25) with disposals.

Sturt vs. Glenelg

League: Sturt 9.13 (67) def. by Glenelg 12.8 (80)
Reserves:
Sturt 7.16 (58) def. Glenelg 8.2 (50)
Under 18s:
Sturt 13.15 (93) def. Glenelg 3.4 (22)

Equal League leading goalkicker, Liam McBean‘s four majors led the Bays to a confidence-building win heading into finals, though it was Sturt who took the points across the Reserves and Under 18s fixtures. Having snuck into the top four, the Tigers’ premiership defence is alive, but their season came to an end in the two remaining competitions. Conversely, the Double Blues will boast finalists in both those grades, with the Under 18s finishing top, but the League side left behind in sixth while the Reserves claimed third.

Glenelg over-ager Callum Park will bring some good form into finals, having managed 19 disposals (17 kicks) and 11 rebound 50s from his usual defensive post. Double Blues ruckman Daniel Fahey-Sparks ended his own season in commanding fashion, winning a monster 49 hitouts to go with his 18 disposals, seven marks (four contested), five clearances, and one goal.

Despite five goals from Nicholas Leck and a raft of young contributors, the Bays’ Reserves couldn’t repeat the feat. Riley Holder and Xavier Robins both played their first games at the level for Glenelg, while the likes of Luke Edwards, Ty Murphy, Cooper Horsnell, Hagan Wright, and Mitch Martin made up the Bays’ youthful core. Anzac Lochowiak and Beau Schwarze both found the big sticks in a winning Sturt side which also boasted Josh Shute and Tom Emmett.

Three Sturt guns racked up 34 disposals each as the Double Blues won comfortably in the Under 18s; with Malachy Carruthers working hard to also claim 15 marks, Bradley Jefferies snaring 10 clearances, and Mani Liddy adding a goal to his tally. Bigman Morgan Ferres booted three majors as he looks to impact during the postseason. Harry Tunkin (24 disposals, seven tackles) was busy for Glenelg, leading the disposal count in front of three teammates – Oscar Clark, Bailey Durant, and Henry McAuliffe – who all managed 23 touches.

South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide

League: South Adelaide 13.9 (87) def. North Adelaide 6.9 (45)
Reserves:
South Adelaide 8.7 (55) def. by North Adelaide 12.8 (80)
Under 18s:
South Adelaide 14.10 (94) def. North Adelaide 11.12 (78)

South Adelaide pulled off a confidence-boosting win over fellow finals bound League side, North Adelaide, while also securing finals at Under 18s level with another quality victory over the Roosters. North managed to get one back in the Reserves though, only cementing the status of their two senior sides in the postseason.

Mature-age national combine invitee Thomas Highmore provided a reminder of his class with 19 disposals and seven marks (four contested) from defence, while Victorian recruit Daly Andrews booted a goal from his 13 touches. For North, Karl Finlay was one of their best young performers with 12 disposals and five marks, as former Gold Coast listed player Harrison Wigg impressed with 23 disposals and seven marks for the Roosters.

Zac Dumesny made his return via the Under 18s, helping his Panthers lock in a top four spot with 33 disposals (26 kicks) and 11 marks. Bottom-ager Matthew Roberts had a day out with four goals from 28 touches, while Harry Spacie (23 disposals, 10 marks) was also handy, and Nicholas Kraemer (19 disposals) was another to return strongly. Draft bolder Brayden Cook booted 2.5 from his 12 disposals. Jayden Davison (28 disposals, six clearances) was again a top performer for the Roosters, while Hugh Jackson and Zyton Santillo both ticked over 20 touches and found the goals. Adelaide NGA gun Tariek Newchurch capped his season with four majors in a more consistent display.

Featured Image: North Adelaide’s Harrison Wigg is shut down by South Adelaide’s Daly Andrews | Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

Out to impress: SANFL Round 14 Preview

THE final round of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) action is here, with a host of young talent looking to impress for what could potentially be the final time on the field this year.

Bloods midfielder Bailey Chamberlain has been forced to wait patiently for his League debut after being named in the selected side for several weeks without managing to make the final cut. However, the draft hopeful from Roxby Downs has been named on the wing for West Adelaide’s final game of the season. Joining him in the senior side is defender Jye Sinderberry, who is also in line to make the step up to League level after spending time in the reserves and under-18s throughout the season. Strong overhead for his size, Sinderberry has been named on the half-back flank for the Bloods’ Friday night clash with Norwood at The Parade.

Promising key forward Luke Young will lead the Bloods forward-line into battle for one last time in 2020 when they take on the Redlegs at ACH Group Stadium in the under-18 competition, The Faulkner-brothers, Ed and Thomas, will also front-up for West Adelaide, alongside promising bottom-aged midfielder Cade Kennedy and hard-nosed defender Edward Van den berg.

Norwood teenager Daniel Fairbrother has performed well at senior level since debuting several weeks ago. Although he has been excluded from the Redlegs League side due to personal reasons, the defender has been included in the club’s under-18 squad. With the Redlegs well-placed ahead of the under-18 finals series, Fairbrother will reunite with midfield trio Jack Saunders, Cooper Murley and Henry Nelligan. Dominant key forward Finn Heard and defenders Alastair Lord and Michael Cavallaro will also front-up for the Redlegs, who boast an impressive core group.

Woodville-West Torrens teenager Ben Jungfer has retained his place in the Eagles side as they look to continue their winning ways against the Bulldogs before tackling the finals series. The Northern Territory native and Sacred Heart College product performed well on debut last week, winning 19 disposals and looking comfortable against seasoned campaigners.

The Eagles won’t risk potential top ten draft pick Lachie Jones, who suffered a slight ankle injury in the resounding victory over West Adelaide last round. Woodville-West Torrens have named a strong under-18s side for their clash with the Bulldogs. Currently sitting in third place on the ladder with eight wins, the Eagles’ league-high percentage sees them perched narrowly above the Roosters and Panthers, who will go head-to-head in a tantalising match-up at Prospect Oval.

Despite playing in the All Schools Grand Final with Henley High School during the week, Taj Schofield, Jase Burgoyne and Zac Phillips will all be expected to play a major role, as will Caleb Poulter, who returns to the side after spending a couple of weeks with the reserves.

Victorian Jack Toner has been named on the bench for Central Districts when they take on the high-flying Eagles at their native Elizabeth Oval. Lachlan Grubb will again play with the Bulldogs reserves, who sit at the top of the ladder approaching the finals. At under-18s level, imposing ruckman Wyatt Ryan, highly-impressive 16-year-old Austin McDonald and smooth-moving on-baller Luigi Mondello will do battle for the final time this season, missing out on a finals berth despite victory over Glenelg last weekend.

Sturt wingman Josh Shute could play his first League game in the famous double blue when the club locks horns with Glenelg at the friendly confines of Peter Motley Oval. However, James Borlase will not feature at any level this round, after leading Prince Alfred College to victory during the week. The Double Blues under-18s will be without ball-magnet Tom Powell for their ACH Group Stadium encounter with the Tigers. In his absence, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will look to continue their strong seasons as the side readies itself for finals football.

Glenelg have promoted speedster Xavier Robins to the reserves after he impressed upon returning to the SANFL ranks in the loss to Central Districts. He joins fellow draft-hopefuls Cooper Horsnell, Luke Edwards, Hagan Wright and school-mate Riley Holder in the squad. Following a standout showing in the All Schools competition with Prince Alfred College, Harry Tunkin will look to back it up at under-18s level, alongside Cooper Beecken, Harry McInnes and Nasiah Wanganeen.

In the final match of the home and away season, the Panthers will host fellow finalists North Adelaide. South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne will miss the match with a calf strain, but defender Tom Highmore has been named to return to the side after he missed last round with a minor thigh issue. With the Panthers under-18s required to beat the Roosters in order to qualify for the finals, utility Zac Dumesny has returned to play his first under-18s game of the year. Named on the interchange bench, he joins the likes of match-winning forward Brayden Cook, impressive bottom-aged midfielder Matthew Roberts, ball-winner Max Clifton and forward-flankers Liam Nye and Liam Hamilton in the selected side.

The Roosters have thrown their support behind the tall defensive duo Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder, who have both spend considerable time at League level this season. The white-hot North under-18s have named a settled side for their must-win clash. James Willis, Matthew Borg and Jayden Davison will do much of the heavy-lifting in the midfield, with the likes of Kyle Brazell and Zyton Santillo looking to wreak havoc on the wings and up forward. Crows Academy duo Lam Simon and Blayne O’Loughlin will hold back the fort in defence, leaving the dangerous Tariek Newchurch, strong-marking key forward Leo Coates and talented small Kallis Freer to impact the scoreboard in attack. The ruck combination of Adam Heath and Isaac Keeler is also set to play a major role in what shapes up as a thrilling contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 7:40pm @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 2:10pm @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 2:20pm @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 2:15pm @ Flinders University Stadium

Reserves:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 5:00am @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 11:15am @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 11:40am @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 11:35am @ Flinders University Stadium

Under-18s:

West Adelaide vs. Norwood | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ ACH Group Stadium
Woodville-West Torrens vs. Central Districts | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ Prospect Oval
Glenelg vs. Sturt | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ ACH Group Stadium
North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ Prospect Oval