Tag: Tom Bellchambers

2019 AFL Draft club review: Essendon Bombers

AFTER a trade period that saw Essendon largely retain most of its list despite the likes of Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia linked to other clubs, the Bombers headed into the draft to just fill some holes and improve their mid-table finish to a top four hopeful. Fans were keen to see at least one tall taken, as well as a potential goalkicking forward, but most importantly a big-bodied inside midfielder. Whilst the Bombers managed to achieve the first two aims, in the National AFL Draft, fans were concerned that they had not picked up the third. Then a day later, a mature-ager in Mitch Hibberd was selected to provide immediate support in the area.


National Draft:
30. Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
38. Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
56. Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
63. Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility

Rookie Draft:
10. Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown) | 191cm | 90kg | Inside Midfielder

It was rumoured from the outset that the Bombers were keen on Harrison Jones, a key position utility with high upside, and, conveniently a Bombers supporter. The 196cm tall has played back, forward and even in the ruck, with a sub-three second 20m sprint and an elite endurance base. While only standing at 78kg and viewed as a long-term prospect, the Bombers were confident enough to select him with Pick 30 – trading up to secure the talented tall. Essendon then doubled up on high potential big men with the selection of athletic star, Nick Bryan. While Bryan’s year was not as consistent as some would have hoped given his start, he showed during the finals series what he was capable of, picking up plenty of touches in the NAB League Finals Series and clunking the contested marks that he was not earlier in the season. Still a lot of room to build into his body, Bryan is worth the selection based on his upside, even if some might have considered it a bit of a reach on the night. With the premiership ruck considered in the top few rucks this year, it was too hard to pass up for Essendon who were in dire need of a quality back-up to Tom Bellchambers as Sam Draper continues to show great signs but unfortunately injured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Essendon met its small forward need at Pick 56 when it pounced on Dandenong Stingrays’ excitement machine, Ned Cahill. The 179cm forward has shown he is capable of playing through the midfield, but is much more damaging around goals with a good endurance base and ability to apply defensive pressure to the opposition. Whilst his best weapons are his offensive ones close to goal, Cahill can make opposition defenders nervous with his implied pressure and quick footsteps helped by his nimble movement. Along with Cahill, Next Generation Academy member Lachlan Johnson was picked up in what was an unusual set of circumstances. Tied to the Brisbane Lions through the father-son ruling thanks to his 300-game father Chris, the Lions had nominated him as a rookie prospect. It did mean any selection in the National Draft would trump the Lions’ offer and it was somewhat ironic that the Bombers chose to do so. Earlier, Essendon bid on Brisbane Academy prospect Keidean Coleman, but that bid was matched by the Lions.

In their only selection of the 2019 Rookie Draft, Essendon picked up Hibberd, in what was a blessing for Bombers fans. They wanted a big-bodied inside midfielder who could come in and play a role, and given Hibberd’s experience at AFL level, that is exactly what they got with the selection. The Williamstown midfielder needed just one year in the state league system before showing clubs he was more than capable of earning a second chance, this time with the red and black.

Overall, Essendon drafted for long-term, before grabbing Hibberd who could immediately fill a role in the midfield from early in the season. Do not expect many of the others to see too many games next year, with Jones and Bryan having to add size to their frame and develop their games further, while Johnson is coming off an ACL injury. Cahill is some chance throughout the season, but will be another who is more likely to impact in a couple of years.

Tasmania weekly wrap: AFL CEO visits state, outlines future direction

THIS week in Tasmanian football has seen the AFL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) visit the Apple Isle to address the current state of Tasmanian football while a number of Tasmanian AFL players have been named for the first round of the AFL season. Meanwhile Tarryn Thomas will have a chance to play for North Melbourne’s VFL side this season which starts next month.

AFL CEO visits Hobart

With just two days before the beginning of the 2018 AFL Premiership Season, AFL CEO Gillion McLachlan has visited Tasmania to address the state’s ongoing football issues.

McLachlan arrived in Hobart on Wednesday morning to meet with AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires along with state Premier Will Hodgman and outlined the future direction for Tasmanian football in a press conference at North Hobart Oval.

Those were:

  • An immediate injection of $200,000 to help the talent pathway in the state;
  • Subsiding the levies of all Tasmanian junior players; and
  • The announcement of a steering committee to navigate the future of the state’s football consisting of McLachlan, Squires, Carlton coach Brendan Bolton, St. Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt, former AFL Tasmania CEO Rob Auld, and AFL state and international league manager Simon Laughton.

McLachlan admitted that there were still challenges facing the TSL and said splitting the state league into conferences was not out of the question.

Tasmanians in the AFL | Round One:

A number of Tasmania’s AFL-listed players are looking to start their seasons with a victory this weekend while four players featured in last night’s season opener.

Richmond 17.19 (121) def. Carlton 15.5 (95) – Thursday March 22 at MCG

In the opening game of the 2018 AFL Premiership Season, Richmond started their premiership defense with a hard-fought 26-point victory over an impressive Carlton outfit.

Premiership Tasmanian’s Jack Riewoldt and Toby Nankervis where both impressive for the reigning premiers with Riewoldt finishing with four majors, while Nankervis won the hit-out battle with Matthew Kreuzer 33-23.

Carlton’s Tasmanian duo of Liam Jones and Levi Casboult stood at each end of the ground with Jones playing the majority of the night on fellow Tasmanian, Riewoldt.

Jones, well-known for his ability to intercept and read the play, finished with a combined 16 one-per centers and intercept possessions.

Casboult was relativity well held by the game’s best defender in Alex Rance, with the marking forward held to just the one goal and four marks.

Essendon v Adelaide – Friday March 23 at Etihad Stadium

While last year was a breakout for basketballer-turned-Crow Hugh Greenwood, the big-bodied midfielder has only been named as an emergency for tonight’s contest as he battles to return to full fitness following achilles surgery in November.

Fellow Tasmanians Tom Bellchambers and Josh Green have both been named in a new look Essendon line-up following the retirements of Jobe Watson and James Kelly and the inclusions of Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Adam Saad.

St. Kilda v Brisbane – Saturday March 24 at Etihad Stadium

Former Lauderdale and Glenorchy players Mitch Robinson and Jimmy Webster will again be opponents on Saturday when they face off in Melbourne.

Robinson returns after an injury-riddled 2016 campaign while Webster has been named off half-back and will look to use his elite foot-skills to provide the Saints with run from the back-50.

Gold Coast v North Melbourne – Saturday March 24 at Cazaly Stadium

After growing up in the chills of Tasmania, three homegrown talents will sweat it out in Cairns when Gold Coast host North Melbourne at Cazaly Stadium.

North’s tall timber Ben Brown will again be the main focus in attack for a rebuilding Roos while Kade Kolodjashnij will be looking to get back to his form of 2016 when he lines up with fellow Tasmanian and new Sun Lachie Weller in a new-look Gold Coast outfit in incoming coach Stuart Dew’s first game. 

Collingwood v Hawthorn – Saturday March 24 at MCG

Former Dodges Ferry and Hobart high-flyer Jeremy Howe will be the lone Tasmanian on the MCG on Saturday night when Collingwood host Hawthorn.

Howe has been named alongside forward-turned-defender Darcy Moore at half-back. 

Melbourne v Geelong – Sunday March 25 at MCG

In what shapes as one of the opening round’s most exciting games, the second-half of Tasmania’s AFL twins, Jake Kolodjashnij, will line-up for Geelong against the Dees at the MCG.

With fellow Tasmanian Cat’s Jackson Thurlow (injured) and Ryan Gardner (VFL) not named in the side’s 25-man squad, Kolodjashnij will be the lone Apple Isle product in the Geelong homecoming of superstar Gary Ablett.

Maverick Weller (St. Kilda), Mitch Hibberd (North Melbourne), Brody Mihocek (Collingwood) and Robbie Fox (Sydney) have all been named as emergencies for their respective sides.