Tag: under 18s

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October 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.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

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 194cm 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 preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> 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 will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit 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, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> 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.

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

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

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he 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.

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

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

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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 sub-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.

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> 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 have most been looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will 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.

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

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

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. 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, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#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. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in nearly all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. 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.

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

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

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
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.

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

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

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm 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.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#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 and adds 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 lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

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

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 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.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, 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 once again in 2020. 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.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#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 means the promising 193cm forward will miss 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.

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

A player who has risen into top 20 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 193cm 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 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.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 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 187cm, 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.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

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 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> 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.

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

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

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks 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 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round 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. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> 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 – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

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

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

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 184cm 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.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll 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 around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> 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.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, 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 likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

#26 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.

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

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.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

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 186cm 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.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

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

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the bigtime, 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 talent a prospect as there is this year.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

>> 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.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

Scouting Notes: NT All-Stars – Team Rioli vs. Team McLean

TEAM Rioli defeated Team McLean 11.13 (79) to 7.17 (59) in Friday night’s Northern Territory (NT) Under 18 All-Stars showcase at TIO Stadium. Draft Central scout, Ed Pascoe had eyes on the exiting spectacle, on hand to deliver notes on the Top End’s brightest prospects.

Team Rioli:

#5 Jack Peris

The talented son of former Olympian Nova Peris started the game in fine fashion, with a nice run and handball to then get the ball back in the chain and finish it with a nice running goal. Jack Peris made the wing his own, using it to run hard both ways. He was not afraid to tackle either, and would attack cleanly and quickly with ball in hand. He had a very good last quarter which was highlighted by an unselfish bit of play, receiving a kick from Joel Jeffrey close to goal, but handpassing over to teammate Nathaniel Cooper for an easy conversion. The exciting St Kilda NGA prospect is not draft eligible until 2021, but looks a great talent to watch for in that draft.

#6 Nathaniel Cooper

Cooper was extremely busy on the half-forward flank as he sent the ball inside 50 numerous times and set up plenty of scoring chains with his composure and skill. Cooper was one of the smallest players out there but perhaps had the biggest impact with his ability to turn on a dime and keep his composure under a lot of pressure. He was rewarded for his numerous goal assists with a goal for himself in the last quarter, which came from an unselfish bit of play by teammate, Jack Peris. The Croker Island prospect certainly lit up the game and made a name for himself as a player to keep an eye on for the future.

#8 Alwyn Davey Jr

One of the youngest players on the ground the talented son of a gun really showed his skill and why he will be a highly sought after prospect in the 2022 draft. Davey played most of his time in the midfield where his clean hands and skills where on display, as he rarely missed a target and often put his teammates in a better position than himself. His most exciting bit of play came with a great chase down tackle in the second quarter which would have certainly given Essendon supporters flashbacks of his old man during his playing days with Essendon. Davey had a few chances to hit the scoreboard in the third quarter and could not quite capitalise, but he still showed plenty of forward craft – not just at ground level but with his marking overhead. He is a right-footer and more of a midfielder compared to his father and twin brother, and he will line up for the Oakleigh Chargers next year.

#9 Brodie Lake

Coming back to the NT after spending some time in South Australia with Central District, it was business as usual for Lake who got to show his trademark burst and running power for all four quarters, as he was firmly in the best players for Team Rioli. The main issue for Lake throughout the game was his kicking, as he did not have many problems finding the ball and looking good on the burst, but a fair few times he did not hit a target via foot. That side of his game did get better later in the contest, but what really impressed was his work-rate to push into defence and not only spoil, but quickly back up, win the ball, and go for his trademark dashes to it away from a dangerous position. Lake has plenty of elite traits and if he can tidy up his disposal he could be a real weapon at AFL level and looks likely to be pre-listed by Gold Coast.

>> Feature: Brodie Lake

#16 Ned Stevens

Forming a great partnership with Joel Jeffrey as a tall forward, Stevens started the game well by taking a nice contested mark, coming from behind his opponent then and slotting his first goal. Stevens also helped out in the ruck, using his leap and obvious basketball traits to win plenty of hit-outs and doing so cleanly. His clean hands both at ground level and above his head really stood out and made him a very difficult matchup. His third and final goal was his best, kicking a miracle goal from a tight angle in the third quarter which really showed off his talent. With great athletic traits, size and game sense, Stevens looks like one of NT’s best young prospects going into the 2021 draft.

#24 Joel Jeffrey

Perhaps NT’s finest young prospect for the 2020 draft, it was evident why he is so highly touted with a brilliant display up forward. Although not perfect, he was easily the most dangerous player on the ground and was near impossible to stop on the lead with his speed off the mark, thus providing a great target coming out of full forward. While he was not nailing every scoring opportunity, he remained dangerous and what really impressed was his ability to bring his teammates into the he game in the second half with some lovely pin point kicks. Jeffrey kicked three goals with two coming from lead up marks and one from a free kick. He had a great battle with another quality youngster in Tyrrell Lui. Jeffrey certainly showed off his talent with clean hands, good agility and vision and if he can nail more of his opportunities he could become a real force up forward at the next level.

>> AFL Draft Watch: Joel Jeffrey

Team McLean:

#10 Jesiah Minor

The talented left-footer from Papunya was Team McLean’s most dangerous forward all day, with his long and dangerous boot his weapon of choice which he used well to hit the scoreboard from all angles. Minor did well to lead and take his marks up the ground, not just close to goal where he was equally damaging. He would kick three goals and a fair few behinds, but his best goal came in the last quarter – marking 60m out and without hesitation, wheeling around onto his left and kicking a lovely long goal. It could have been an even bigger day for Minor if he had kicked straighter, but it was nice to see how quick he could get ball to boot in different situations to find an avenue to goal. He certainly looks like a prospect to keep an eye on.

#20 Tyrrell Lui

Lui had the toughest gig of any player on the ground and that was the task of stopping the highly talented Joel Jeffrey. He did the best he could do but some of the delivery to Jeffrey was hard to stop for even the best defenders and he could hold his head up on the consistent four-quarter effort he provided. Lui had a cool head in defence as he was rarely flustered, often picking the right option and executing well by hand and foot. He had some timely spoils and tackles deep in defence and he was certainly important to his side when the ball was coming in fast. The utility is a talented prospect and could yet find a spot on Gold Coasts list as part of its NT Zone.

Sprinting ace Grubb takes a tough year in his stride

KEEN South Australian draft watchers may remember him as the winner of last year’s SANFL Grand Final sprint, but Central Districts speedster Lachlan Grubb has more in his locker than pure straight-line speed. Sprinting and football run through the 17-year-old’s veins, with his father a former Reserves player at Norwood, while his uncle took out the 1970 Bay Sheffield meet. It makes his pedigree hard to shake, but the youngster is taking it all in his stride, with his genes helping form many of his most damaging traits.

The draft prospect’s pace, agility, and goal sense makes for an exciting package forward of centre, and Grubb has impressed across the senior grades in his top-age campaign.

“Speaking with ‘Bangers’ (Tony Bamford) and my coaches from Centrals at the start of the year, I think the plan for me was to play predominantly in the position where I was likely to get drafted, if I do at the end of the year,” Grubb said. “So playing that small forward role really suits me well with my goal awareness, speed, and being able to evade people with my agility.

“Last year I played six Reserves games when I was 16 so I guess I had the confidence from last year as well. “Especially with the speed of the game and the sort of player I am, I like to move the ball quicker, get out and use my legs, and I think that’s allowed me to show my weapons.

“It was awesome to play two League games (in 2020). “I was pretty disappointed to go back down into the twos but we’ve got a really good team and culture at the club at the moment so our twos are flying, top of the ladder. “Hopefully we can keep that form up heading into finals.”

After a wildly successful reign between 2000-2011, the Bulldogs have not returned to the final game of the League season since. But Grubb, and the Reserves side he has played most of his footy in this year looks primed for a premiership tilt in 2020, having won more games that the League and Under 18s teams combined to remain one game away from a minor premiership. Grubb is relishing the opportunity to play senior football, and at a “pretty good” standard, no less.

“There’s a really good spirit around the club at the moment and obviously heading into finals, we’ve only lost one game this year,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be able to play finals footy, obviously not many people in Australia are getting to play footy, and it’s all eyes on SA so it’s a really good opportunity we’ve got and hopefully we can go forward and win a flag.”

But the journey hasn’t been completely smooth sailing thus far, with the obvious early setback of a delayed season compounded by injury, the feeling that people are overlooking the Reserves grade this year and most recently, missing out on a National Combine invite.

“We had just done the whole preseason and found out that the season had stopped, and we didn’t know when it was going to come back,” Grubb said. “It was obviously a bit of a stab in the foot, but I guess everyone across Australia was suffering with it.

“Then starting off the season, I missed the first four games with a syndesmosis injury in my ankle. I did all my recovery pretty quickly, thought I was pretty professional with the way I went about that and just tried to get back as soon as possible.

“I played two League footy games, then went back down to the twos and I’ve been in some pretty good form, but I guess it’s just a bit frustrating because not many people are looking at the Reserves this year.

A breakout game of three goals, and bag of five in Round 12 would have caught plenty of eyes, though, with Grubb garnering some attention from AFL scouts. Having spoken to a couple of clubs recently, the youngster is also moulding his game on a couple of speedy Richmond favourites. Although, he doesn’t support an AFL club at the moment.

“I actually don’t (support) an AFL team,” he said. “Everyone did when we were growing up with the Crows and stuff, but it’s a bit weird, I don’t actually support an AFL team at the moment. “Dad goes for the Pies, they have a bit of a special spot in my heart.

Shai Bolton from Richmond, I mould my game on him. “Just his speed and his pressure – pressure has been a massive improvement for me this year, obviously that’s been the main feature to use my speed to get to players quicker. “At the start of the year I was more of an offensive player rather than a defensive player, so really just trying to hone in on that pressure role as a small forward. “Shai Bolton is definitely one I mould my game on and players like Jason Castagna as well, who can also roll through the forward and wing position.

“The main feedback (from AFL clubs) for me has been just that defensive pressure. “At the start of the year, it wasn’t as good, but it’s been really improving over the past few months of games.”

With help from manager Michael Doughty, a 231-game player at the Crows, Grubb has also taken on extra craft sessions throughout the week. Along with school, sessions at his local JT Performance Centre gym, training with his athletics coach, and regular commitments with Centrals, it makes for a pretty packed week. But as a “laid back” character by his own assessment, Grubb has been able to use each opportunity to his advantage.

“Life’s pretty good in SA,” he said. “School’s been pretty easygoing this year, I’m a laid back sort of a guy so I don’t get stressed over too many things. “The coronavirus hasn’t really effected me too much, I think I really bounced back from it pretty well… (it has been) pretty hectic but I don’t mind it.”

Nearing the end of his top-age campaign, there remains one big goal for Grubb to tick off, but a series of smaller ones come first.

“Obviously the main goal at the end of the year is to get picked up by an AFL club, that’s my dream since I was a young kid,” he said. “But (I am) just setting little goals and trying to play some consistent footy. “I guess I haven’t really been seen much over the last couple of years, last year was my breakout year. “Obviously all the other guys have played a lot of state footy, so I guess I’ve been coming from behind of everyone.

“I’ve just been trying to put some consistent games of footy together to really showcase what I can do to all AFL clubs. “Tackle numbers every game, trying to get that down pat, and then obviously finishing off my goals, because there was a couple of games where I kicked a few points this year.

“If footy doesn’t work out, there’s a lot of things that I can look to. “I do pretty well at school, I’ve got good grades this year and have really honed down on my Year 12. “I’m pretty good at psychology, so maybe just some sort of sports psychology at Uni. I like teaching the younger generation so maybe PE teaching at uni or something like that, too. But I’m really open to anything at the moment.”

Grubb sought to thank his family for their ongoing support, as well as his Centrals coaches for their help throughout the season, and his manager for the effort and time put into him this year.

Featured Image: Lachlan Grubb gets a kick away | Source: (Retrieved from) Central District Football Club

Fast and fierce Huynh embodies Centrals’ spirit

SHE may be small, but packs a punch. Central District forward Laitiah Huynh is a prospect who personifies everything great about her side’s style; pace, an attacking mindset, and ferocity in the tackle.

The 17-year-old has cut her teeth throughout the South Australian pathway, rising the ranks via her state’s Under 16s, and Under 18s squads over the past three years. She has proven a perfect fit for Bulldogs’ senior side since debuting in 2019, harnessing her competitive edge with help from her Centrals family.

“I used to be really hesitant for the ball but with Centrals, they just go for everything so I’m in everything now – or I try to be,” Huynh said. “It made me a more fierce player. “(My coaches and teammates) always help me. Most of them are like my family now, I love them all… at the start it was really nerve-racking because I was the youngest one in the whole team, but they supported me and helped me through it.”

In such a tumultuous year for budding AFL Women’s draftees, the theme of family has helped Huynh come out the other side a better for it. With her release, football, taken away from her amid a global pandemic, the youngster sought to connect the best support network possible.

“I just surrounded myself with my family and friends, mainly my family because I couldn’t really see anyone else,” she said. “But it was hard because I didn’t really have anything to do and footy is usually what I did to get my mind off other things.

“I thought it was going to impact my performance when we came back. I wasn’t sure how well I’d perform because we didn’t really get to train as a team. “My dad’s crazy about my football so he’s just the biggest support ever. (Mum and Dad) come to all my games, they took me everywhere before I had my licence so it’s been really good.”

The lingering unknown was compounded by Huynh’s juggling act of high-level football, Year 12 schooling, casual work, and interests outside all those realms, forcing somewhat of a squeeze on her priorities. But not for long, as she hit the ground running and prospered upon a return to normality.

“I did miss a few trainings because of school, because I was just trying to keep on top of everything,” she said. “But it’s gone better now, I’ve almost finished. “The season came back (during) the important part of school, so I was just a bit stressed out but I just cut my casual work a bit and just did school and footy. “I bought heaps of things off Gumtree and just trained at home. “We had a group chat so we all sent in different activities (and) exercises to do at home, rather than a gym.”

The improvisation paid off, as Huynh impressed throughout her second South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s campaign, while also recently running out in her state’s Under 18 All-Star showcase. Having already proven her worth as a forward, the speedy small was utilised further afield late in the season, and during her representative hitout.

“I’m a bit smaller so I’ve mostly stuck to the forwardline this season,” she said. “I was also chucked on the wing for a couple of games and everyone thinks I’d be better on the wing because I’m fast. “With practice I think I’ll get better at it, I do want to learn the wing more.

“I think I did alright (in the All-Stars game). “I got put on the wing and I went forward for a little bit but the ball wasn’t really coming down when I was there. “But it was heaps fun because all the girls were obviously the best talent in SA, so we were all skilful and it was a good experience.”

The opportunity to play at such a high level against her peers somewhat made up for a lack of a national carnival in 2020, which Huynh says she wishes she could have experienced again in her top-age year. Having transitioned into football at around age 12, she has also observed the expansion of such pathways.

“It was my last year so obviously I would have wished to have a National Championships,” she said. “All in all, you can’t really help what happened but it was a good experience. “Most of my SA friends were in the All-Stars game anyway, I’d played with them for the last couple of years, so it was a good experience to be alongside them again.

“When I started I don’t think there was an AFLW team (in South Australia) but I think when everyone heard that there would be, they just jumped straight into footy and ever since then, with all the different pathways and activities that are put on for everyone to join in, they’ve really gained the skill and experience from all of that.”

As a supporter of the Adelaide’s successful women’s side, Huynh admits playing for the Crows “would be the dream” come draft time, but is happy to move anywhere given she has family all around Australia. Looking forward, Huynh is working on her contested game, especially marking, while also seeking to build her fitness and strength to suit AFLW level.

Should the ultimate dream not come to fruition this year, the fast-developing prospect is happy to hone her craft with help from the Central District family.

Featured Image: Huynh representing South Australia at the 2019 Under 18 National Championships | Source: Dean Martin/The Advertiser

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 11

THE TOP junior prospects from South Australia rolled on into Round 11 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.

Glenelg vs. West Adelaide

Jayden Davis
Glenelg | Midfielder/Forward
26/06/2003 | 180cm | 77kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 9 marks, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “The bottom-aged Davis continued his impressive season at Tigerland with another encouraging performance on Saturday. A versatile prospect, his work rate around the ground enabled him to collect an equal game-high nine marks and have an impact across all zones of the field.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Davis’ numbers across the past month stack up as well as any other Bays player, and he still has at least another year left in the Under 18s system. The bottom-ager has been crucial to Glenelg’s semblance of competitiveness while its depth has been greatly tested, rotating seamlessly between the midfield and forwardline. He impacts in every third of the ground, most significantly up forward as he bagged another set of multiple goals this time out. Davis is setting up nicely for a big top-age campaign in 2021.

Luke Young
West Adelaide | Key Position Forward
12/02/2003 | 185cm | 86kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “The strongly-built key forward tried his best to will his side over the line, booting three goals straight in the first half to keep the Bloods in the contest. The West Adelaide midfielders looked for him up forward whenever possible and he provided a strong presence in attack. He took seven marks for the contest and appeared threatening whenever the ball was in his vicinity.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Young is another bottom-ager who has built into a rich vein of form lately, and again provided a reliable focal point for West Adelaide despite another loss. A state Under 16 representative in 2019, Young is already a known quantity and utilises every bit of his solid frame to play well above his height. The test for him as a top-ager will be consistently stringing together such an output throughout the season, while proving he can play the same way against mature bodies.

Norwood vs. Central District

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

Stats: 47 disposals, 10 marks, 7 tackles, 8 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “(Nelligan) imposed himself on the game with a mammoth first term, which saw him have three shots on goal and cover almost every inch of the ground. His big tank allowed him to be at almost every stoppage where he used his strength and acceleration to be lively and often the most damaging. When he was not plugging holes in his defensive 50 and being a part of every Redlegs’ midfield play, he was resting forward and looking just as dangerous. – Eli Duxson

Verdict: One of a few South Australians who would consider themselves unlucky not to have received a national combine invite, Nelligan will obviously do his draft chances no harm with performances like this. 47 disposals is quite the effort, let alone in 26-minute-flat quarters, and the diminutive midfielder has again proven he is simply a class above many of his fellow Under 18s. Hitting the scoreboard with three goals bodes well for him, as he is more likely to feature as a small forward at senior level. He may be in line for another promotion in 2020 with such form, having made his League debut earlier in the season.

Brodie Tuck
Central District | Defender/Ruck
6/12/2004 

Stats: 21 disposals (17 kicks), 9 marks, 6 tackles, 9 hitouts, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 11 rebound 50s

Verdict: Another 16-year-old who is beginning to emerge two seasons out from his draft year, Tuck was exceptional on the weekend in what was a tough game for the Bulldogs. Initially stationed in his usual defensive post, the under-ager went about his usual business with some excellent intercept work and aerial prowess. He even went on to rotate through the ruck, and while he proved a touch undersized, still got his hands on nine hitouts. Having showed plenty of promise, hopefully Tuck can string some more impactful performances together to cap off 2020.

South Adelaide vs. Sturt

Arlo Draper
South Adelaide | Midfielder/Forward
30/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

Stats: 29 disposals (23 kicks), 5 marks, 8 tackles, 10 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “Pencil in the name to remember for next year because Draper was best on ground as a bottom-ager… every time he went near (the ball) he managed to gain ground and looked like bringing a teammate into the game… he exits the stoppage around the back to get onto his right and has a long kick that can penetrate defensive zones. Hard not to notice him when he stands up in the biggest moments of the game.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: It was another terrific display from Draper, who is really coming into his own as a midfielder. With fellow bottom-agers Jason Horne and Matthew Roberts away from the Under 18s side, Draper has become South’s prime mover through the middle and is beginning to showcase his enormous upside. As the Panthers’ leading disposal getter of late, Draper has shown that he can fill out into a prototypical big-bodied mid, having also proven his prowess up forward already this season.

Ned Grieve
Sturt | General Defender
1/01/2002 | 187cm | 80kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 10 marks (2 contested), 3 tackles, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Really impressed me playing in defence after a quieter outing last week… often being a rock on the last line. He took a number of crucial one-on-one marks in the second term, and was responsible for switching play out of the back half, showing great composure and being a key player for the Double Blues in the win.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: The top-aged talent has been somewhat of a mainstay for the Double Blues down back, managing nine outings thus far. Grieve’s ability to chime in with key possessions and intercepts across the back half has been important to Sturt’s success in 2020, as he uses his solid frame to sure up the defensive 50. Having proven his worth on multiple occasions already this year, the defender deserves a nod of recognition.

North Adelaide vs. WWT Eagles

Zyton Santillo
North Adelaide | Small Forward
19/10/2003 | 164cm | 62kg*

Stats: 22 disposals, 6 marks, 4 tackles, 2 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “Santillo was one of the best players afield, employed as somewhat of a sub-175m centre half-forward. The diminutive mover presented brilliantly all day for the Roosters, hitting up full-chested at everything his midfielders sent forward. The bottom-ager was also able to mop up at ground level when the delivery was not so flash, zipping his way through traffic and onto his favoured side to hit targets inside 50.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Another state Under 16s squad member from last year, Santillo continues to get busy for North Adelaide up forward. Taking on a role similar to how Tariek Newchurch has been utilised, the diminutive bottom-ager played it perfectly. His zip at ground level, clean hands, creativity, and defensive pressure are all key tropes for small forwards, coming to the fore in arguably his best outing for the year. Santillo gets up the ground well, but seems likely to prove more effective deep inside 50 in future given his size.

* – denotes 2019 measurements

Henry Smith
WWT Eagles | Key Position Forward/Ruck
23/10/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

Stats: 15 disposals, 5 marks (all contested), 5 tackles, 15 hitouts, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “Smith rotated between the forwardline and ruck to good effect. He showed some of the upside which earned him a national combine invite, following up well at stoppages while also faring well aerially as expected. Smith was another to use his height to advantage, clunking some big pack marks both around the ground and inside forward 50 against multiple opponents.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: The Woodville-West Torrens bigman complimented Zac Phillips perfectly in the ruck throughout his latest outing, showing some good craft in said area when rotating through. His best work is arguably still done up forward though, with aerial marking his strength – especially given all five of his clunks on the weekend were contested. It is easy to see why Smith received a national combine invite, as his mobility and follow-up work at over 200cm is highly promising.

Featured Image: Jayden Davis in action for Glenelg | Source: Hannah Howard/SANFL

>> 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

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tariek Newchurch
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2020

THE VERDICT is in after another terrific month of football from the latest crop of budding AFL draftees. Victorian prospects remain starved of action, but the best and brightest from around the nation have been stamping their claims, making for some interesting movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s third Power Rankings edition for 2020, we extend our list out to 25 names, with key adjustments made to our initial July and August analyses. A certain West Australian key forward continues to rise steeply, while the Northern Territory gains a representative in the extended cut. All that, and more in our September 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.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

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 194cm 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 preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

August Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> 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 will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit 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, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

August Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

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, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

August Ranking: #9

Last Month: McDonald has been arguably the most consistent key position performer of all the players on this list; at the highest possible level, no less. He now sits second in the WAFL League goalkicking charts, having booted 13 goals across his five August/September outings. He boasts 20 goals in seven games overall, and has not yet failed to kick multiple goals. Even if he is having a quiet patch, McDonald has been able to make an impact and take full toll with what the Perth midfielders deliver his way. He will continue to provide a focal point as the Demons push for finals, with his conversion from range, marking on the lead, and one-on-one work deep inside 50 all excellent for his age.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he 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.

August Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another consistent performer, Grainger-Barras is still capable of delivering some ‘wow’ moments. Most recently, he produced a starring second half against McDonald and the Perth Demons, bouncing back from a lacklustre opening half to help Swan Districts power to victory. While he is still quite light for a key position prospect, Grainger-Barras showed he is not afraid to wear contact on that day, leaping for some incredible intercept marks while directly opposed to his State Under 18s teammate. He may get knocked around a touch, but loves a bit of niggle and stands up against mature bodies. Over the past month, the 18-year-old averaged 11.6 disposals and 5.2 marks per his five games, good enough to hold his spot.

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

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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 sub-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.

August Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

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 200cm 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 are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

August Ranking: #5

Last Month: West Adelaide has managed Thilthorpe over the last two weeks as he nurses a groin complaint, bringing an end to his streak of nine-straight League appearances since Round 1. The bigman had been enjoying some time in a variety of roles; from his usual key forward post, to some added responsibility in the ruck rotation, and even venturing up onto a wing. In his four August outings, Thilthorpe was kept goalless thrice, averaging 11.8 disposals, four marks, and over 12 hitouts to be squeezed just outside of the top five. He still has runs on the board and hopefully gets back into the swing of things to finish off the SANFL season.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will 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.

August Ranking: #6

Last Month: Campbell returned to AFL Sydney Premier Division football this past weekend for Pennant Hills, booting a goal in the Demons’ 80-point victory over East Coast. That came after he turned out twice for the Sydney Swans Academy, helping his side claim Academy Series points over the GWS GIANTS Academy on both occasions. He looked a class above in those outings, able to win the ball at will through midfield, while showcasing his versatility and remaining a goalkicking threat going forward.

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

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. 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, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

August Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm 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 is 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 is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the Vics get on the park, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

August Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#10 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. 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.

August Ranking: #12

Last Month: Jones remains the sole South Australian Under 18 on this list to have turned out at League level for every round this season, as he goes from strength to strength. The Eagles are in the box seat to take out the minor premiership, with the Port Adelaide NGA prospect an established part of the side’s defence in a variety of roles. In his six outings since August 1, Jones has averaged 11.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, and four rebound 50s, returning to his best with 16 touches and eight rebounds against North Adelaide in Round 11. He has consistently been able to intercept, play both tall and small, and rebound effectively against mature bodies, bumping him up to #10.

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

#11 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

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 haven 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.

August Ranking: #13

Last Month: After his third and final Colts outing in early-August, O’Driscoll earned a Reserves berth in Round 5, before being immediately promoted to the League side. After a steady debut, O’Driscoll has racked up 20 and 15 disposals over the last fortnight, benefitting from being allowed an extended run through midfield. The 18-year-old has showcased his toughness and hard-running ability at senior level, leaving nothing left in the tank. He works hard for his possessions and is equally as relevant in his defensive duties for the most part. There has been some conjecture about his range, we feel his current form and future scope lands him just outside the top 10.

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

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 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 191cm 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 and adds 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 should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

August Ranking: #10

Last Month: Davies was set to line up for the Gold Coast SUNS in August’s Academy Series, but suffered an elbow injury which ruled him out of action early in the month. He faces a race against the clock to return in time for Broadbeach’s upcoming QAFL finals campaign, which begins next week for the minor premiers.

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

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 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.

August Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss 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.

August Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury, but earned a National Combine invite for September 30.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, 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 once again in 2020. 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.

August Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 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 193cm 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 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.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Chapman is the only new player inside this month’s top 20, rising all the way up to #16 on the back of some impressive form. From Rounds 3 to 6 in the WAFL Colts, Chapman averaged a remarkable 25.8 disposals and 8.8 marks down back, enough to earn him a League debut this past weekend. The 18-year-old reeled in five marks among his 11 touches, making for a promising start to life at senior level. With the ability to mark and use the ball so efficiently for his size, Chapman is a player with plenty of desirable traits. West Perth is in the finals race, so hopefully Chapman can hold his League spot and impress under post-season pressure.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 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 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should Victorian prospects finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

August Ranking: #17

Last Month: Henry ran out for St Joseph’s all the way back in the first week of August, battling both with and against plenty of his Geelong Falcons teammates. The 187cm prospect booted two goals for Joey’s against Geelong College in a more forward-oriented role, and was also named among his side’s best players. He has since been inactive due to fixture cancellations and a lack of NAB League football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

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 – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

August Ranking: #18

Last Month: Powell was teased with senior selection after amassing a whopping 47 disposals, 10 clearances, and two goals in Round 10, but continues to plug away at Under 18s level. It is there where the prolific midfielder has averaged nearly 36 disposals and nine clearances across his last five games, remaining atop the charts in both areas despite missing out in Round 9. The Double Blues maestro has also added goals to his game, booting seven from midfield in the last month. His numbers stack up as well as anyone in the draft pool, but whether he can maintain that output at senior level obviously remains to be seen.

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

#19 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks 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 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round 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. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

August Ranking: #16

Last Month: Another prospect who has flirted with senior promotion, Trew only really finds himself sliding down a few spots due to others’ promotions. Barring an injury-stricken outing at the start of August, the Swan Districts product has been at his ball winning best. Having returned from his lay-off due to concussion, Trew has averaged 27 disposals across his last three WAFL Colts outings. A senior berth may prove tough to crack given the Swans’ winning effort last time out, with only one more game in any grade possible due as the regular season comes to a close this week – Swan Districts have also not made finals in any competition. He did earn a National Combine invite though, and will have the opportunity to impress in Western Australia’s All-Star fixture pegged for October.

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

#20 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

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 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

August Ranking: #19

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#21 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the 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 184cm 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.

August Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#22 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Another entirely fresh face on our list, Carroll’s name is unearthed due to our expansion to an order of 25. That is not to say that he would not have featured otherwise, with the East Fremantle product a player who has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll 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 188cm 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 around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: This week will serve as Carroll’s last chance to earn senior selection before finals, though East Fremantle is only really in that frame across the Reserves and Colts grades. He would inevitably come into consideration after an outstanding performance against Claremont in Round 7, collecting 31 disposals and booting two goals as the Sharks knocked off their highly-fancied opponents. In five games over the past month, Carroll has averaged 23.4 disposals to put himself right among the top 20 mix. For us, he remains just outside it for now at #22, but has all the class to move on up.

>> Draft Watch

#23 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 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 Australia colours last year.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Poulter earned a call-up to the Eagles’ Reserves side in Round 10, booting a goal on debut and retaining his spot in the latest weekend of action. The League side will be tough to crack given its success this season, but the 190cm prospect will be keen to join fellow top-age gun, Lachlan Jones in the lineup. Prior to his promotion, Poulter averaged a tick under 28 disposals in his four Under 18s outings across August, generating plenty of forward momentum and hitting the scoreboard in two of those games. In that time, Poulter gained a big tick for his consistency and has found the ball in all areas of the ground, highlighting his versatility in production.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#24 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 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.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Walker returns to our rankings as we expand the list, and has produced a solid month of football. The Dockers NGA hopeful has averaged bang-on 20 touches and over six marks across five games in August/September, with 74 per cent of his disposals in that time released via foot. These numbers are quite good for a prospect of his type, who pops up rather than accumulates. His marking ability, combined with speed and poise across the ground makes him a dual-pronged defensive outlet with plenty of weapons. While he is able to impact further afield and even find the goals, we feel Walker has showcased his best form at half-back.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 78kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, 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 likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: After a long waiting period since his last NTFL outing in February, Jeffrey returned to action with the Gold Coast SUNS as part of August’s Academy Series. He took part in game two against the Brisbane Lions Academy, and built into the contest well after a steady start. Having initially lined up down back, where he looks a touch more impactful as he drifts across to intercept, Jeffrey was swung forward in the second half and booted a goal. He looked lively with his turn of speed and athleticism, despite some scratchy moments early on.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

It is no secret now that South Australian Brayden Cook is bolting into top 25 calculations, as the South Adelaide wingman/forward continues to impress at Under 18s level. He remains just outside our rankings as others have more runs on the board, but another month of similar form would make him hard to ignore.

Errol Gulden has been in serious form in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with 10 goals in his last three games – including a bag of six – putting him in the mix. West Australians Joel Western (Fremantle NGA) and Isiah Winder have also caught the eye, as the former made his return from injury, while the latter again earned a spot at League level for Peel Thunder.

Of the most unlucky Victorians to miss due to a lack of action, Bailey Laurie has previously featured in our top 20, while Hawthorn NGA prospect and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is also one to consider. Sandringham Dragons bigman Max Heath is a ruck prospect who lingers around the mark, along with Essendon NGA defender Cody Brand. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford also boast top 25 potential.

Back across in South Australia, small forward Corey Durdin made a short lived return from injury this week at SANFL League level, while Luke Edwards got back on the park in the Reserves. Zac Dumesny is still recovering from an ankle complaint, and all three are around the 30-35 range in our eyes.

All four Tasmania Academy hub members earned National Combine invites. Jackson Callow has been unleashed in a slightly different role down back, increasing his stocks of late in the TSL, with Oliver Davis proving consistent, and Patrick Walker continuing to show promising upside across half-back and on the wing.

Boles dared to dream, then followed her passion

IT began as a dare from her uncle, but it did not take long for Esther Boles to fall in love with football.

At first, it was the ability to “pummel” others into the ground, but then the AFL Women’s took shape and so many footballers she had grown up watching and playing alongside in South Australia were suddenly on television. For the South Australian captain, the AFL Women’s Under 18s Championships were a long way from her home town, but a realisation that all the hard work had paid off.

“I’m originally from Port Augusta, so country town about 500km from Adelaide,” Boles said. “My uncle just actually dared me to go to a training once and then went to one training and then the coach actually asked me to come back, and ever since then I’ve been playing, so I was 12 with the boys. “I originally played a bit of netball as most country girls do. “But I always found I was being told I was being too aggressive where this (football) was something you could pummel people into the ground, that was the aim of the game.”

Boles has carried that intensity at the ball carrier throughout her career, and thrives on the contested work. While she said she hoped to improve her decision making, she was glad how her skills had come along, thanks to those early experiences.

“I think tackling pressure is one of my strengths, but I think doing it with the boys right from a young age has helped with skills,” Boles said. “It’s a big part now. “The skills are never all that clean, but growing up and doing it with the boys has really helped and made it one of my strengths.”

The South Australian leader said the rise of women’s football through the AFL Women’s had effectively placed a carrot in front of all aspiring footballers and everyone was now doing everything in their power to achieve the dream of playing at the elite level.

“I think that it’s just so exciting,” Boles said. “I think playing for Morphettville Park back in Adelaide where 14 of those girls are now on TV and are now on little cards, and little kids know their name. “They just went from people who were just nobodies to people who are now somebodies. “It happened so quickly and it’s so exciting. “It drives all of us girls, it’s right in front of us and we know that it can happen with a bit of hard work.”

Committing to football was never easy work for Boles, who in her early years, took a 17-hour return bus trip just to play the game she loved. Now boarding in Adelaide – and she has since she was 15 – it is much easier to commit to training and games without the long distances. Boles said the belief that young girls could play AFL if they had the right mindset was huge for the junior players in South Australia.

“I think it just shows that it’s real,” Boles said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. “It’s proof right in front of our eyes, it’s right there ready to grab it, you’ve just got to put the hard yards in.”

Boles has certainly put the hard yards in, and the South Australian selectors agreed. They named her as captain for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, something she found a little strange at first, but has thrived on the responsibility.

“I’ve really liked it (captaincy),” Boles said. “I think it’s been a pretty big journey. “I’ve been in this team since I was 14, so I’ve gone from being the little kid that everyone yelled at, to being all of a sudden the kid that was yelling at them. “It was really good. “The SANFL has really helped with growing up and it’s been a pretty good ride to be on.”

South Australia teamed up with Northern Territory to form the Central Allies for series two of the championships, something that added an extra dimension into the mix for Boles and her teammates.

“I think it’s been actually really hard, a lot harder than I thought,” Boles admitted. “I think when we got here it was a little bit exciting. “Hitting the ground running on Monday, we all got caught by surprise. “Those other teams have all been training together, they’ve got game plans. “We had nothing. “We just had a structure we’d learnt two hours before, we were chucked in the deep end. “But it meant players were able to shine and be able to show character, who could stand up in that sort of circumstance.”

Boles’ passion for football is obvious. So much so, she wants to remain involved in any way she can, studying hard to ensure she has options once she finishes school.

“(I’m) pretty big into school,” she said. “I hit the books pretty hard because obviously female football isn’t something you can rest on. “It’s not enough money, so I think a big thing for me is just sport in general. “I love anything sport, anything to do with sport, umpiring. “Anything, just the club, everything about it.”

One thing is for sure, as long as football is around, Esther Boles will not be too far away.

“I’ve thought a lot about that (career) this carnival,” Boles said. “Whether the draft comes off successful or not, but a big thing for me is I don’t care if I’m picked up or not picked up, I want to be involved in some way and become a coach, a line coach, a mentor, something. “I think it’s an exciting space to work in.”

Haua making waves in the sunshine state

LAST year a dreadlocked Geelong star turned heads with a stunning seven-goal performance in the TAC Cup Grand Final, but five months earlier, a little known Queenslander recorded a baker’s dozen in central Queensland.

It was April 22, 2017, and 16 year-old Kane Haua walked off the ground having snagged 12 majors for his side Boyne Island Tannum Sands (BITS) Saints side against Rockhampton Kangaroos. The Gold Coast Suns Academy prospect was putting his best foot forward, and finished the season with 35 goals from 14 games. At the end of the year, he would relocate to the Gold Coast, studying full-time at Griffith University while balancing two part-time jobs and training with the Academy.

Haua has impressed Academy coach Andrew Raines as the top-age Queenslander sets his sights on achieving his AFL goal. In speaking with the Gladstone Observer’s sports editor Nick Kossatch, Raines spoke of Haua’s determination to make it at the highest level, and some of the traits he possesses ahead of next month’s Academy Series.

“The attributes he shows is his speed and his running ability,” Raines said.

“He’s got a high work rate too; he works really hard up the ground and he works hard to get back towards goal so we’re thinking about playing him forward in our upcoming Academy series.

“His pressure up forward is really good too, he tackles really well and he’s very aggressive and strong so that’s what we’re liking at the moment.”         

Andrew Raines, Gold Coast Academy coach

Raines said the teenager had some untapped talent and he would have to continue to develop in order to make the Allies squad for the National Under 18 Championships in June.

“He’s (Haua) got a long way to go in terms of the next step and the next level,” he said.

“Whether he can match it with other Academies around Australia and obviously there’s the best in Victoria and WA if he’s fortunate enough to get an opportunity in the division one [side] which is later in the year.”

For now, Haua is looking to make an impression through the Academy Series, which pits Gold Coast against the other three northern Academies in the Brisbane Lions, GWS Giants and Sydney Swans. Previously, the carnival was looked as as a Division 2 to the National Under 18 Championships, but was changed last year so the two Academies in each state could show off their own talent rather than a mixed team. Tasmania and Northern Territory remained in the carnival, with all six teams to be combined to form an Allies side for the division one championships.

Raines said Haua had been a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy for a couple of years, and had shown signs of development, including representing Queensland in an under 17s match last year. The Gold Coast Academy coach said once the prospects finish school, they are invited to come down to the Gold Coast, relocating off their own back and chase their AFL dream, a dream Raines knows has no guarantees of coming to fruition.

“The young kids aren’t guaranteed a spot, it’s more for their own pathway, and they do various other things to, like go to uni, move to a bigger town anyway so that’s the whole process,” Raines said.

“He’s been down since November last year or December, and he’s relocated well, he’s living at Griffith University on campus, and doing university there full-time.

“He’s balancing working, he’s got two part-time jobs so that gets him busy, on top of his training, so that’s a bit of a brief background how he’s come into the program and how he’s relocated from central Queensland to down here.”

Raines said the new Labrador recruit could play for as many as four sides this season if he plays to his potential: his home club, the Gold Coast Academy, the Allies, and, later in the year, the Gold Coast Suns’ NEAFL side when they call-up Academy prospects.

The full interview with Andrew Raines can be heard here.

TSLW Under 18 Development Series: Week 1

TASMANIA’S most talented aspiring AFLW players took to the field over the weekend in the first round of the Wrest Point TSLW Under-18 Development Series. The series is a new pathway for young footballers striving to make the State Academy and subsequent squad for the National Under-18 Championships later in the year. It will also assist TSLW clubs in finalising their lists ahead of the upcoming 2018 season.

The first weekend saw the six competing sides split up into their north and south conferences. Burnie, Launceston and North Launceston battled it out in the north conference round robin, while Clarence, Glenorchy and Tigers clashed in the south conference. The matches were more so about development rather than results, with coaches of both teams working together to try and get the best out of every player.

Here is a team by team run down of how the weekend’s top performers went:

Clarence:

Melaine Wise has long been a talented player and looks to have taken her fitness to another level, which could help her make an impact at the National Under 18 Championships. Chloe Wells proved that she has some potential in the ruck; the raw tall has had experience at TSLW level. Bella Goward constantly found space and the football, Netty Garlo excited with her pace, while Tahlia Bortignon kicked the goal of the weekend with a lovely sidestep as her pace and agility gave her space.

Glenorchy:

Charlie Lovell, one of the youngest players in the series also showed she is one of the most skilled players with ball in hand, and the ability to earn the contested football. Elise Barwick has improved her skills and running patterns which now compliments her elite pace and endurance. Amy Prokopiec and Holly Barwick show exciting flashes of talent, while Hannah Smith looks to have benefited from a stronger preseason.

Tigers:

Hailee Baldwin was impressive as expected, but her ball-winning ability certainly stood out and she has the athletic attributes to take the step up to the National Under 18 Championships. If she continues to develop her skills, she definitely has the potential to receive even higher honours. Priscilla Atim also showed wonderful endeavour, she has previously impressed in the All Nationals Cup and continues to excite selectors with her attack on the ball.

Burnie:

As expected the young Dockers were standouts led by twins Chloe and Libby Haines, who were simply on another level, especially in the air as they showed the benefits of being in the National AFLW Academy. Sammy Langmaid has also taken her game to another level, using her run to break lines and deliver the ball well. Mya Slatter gave the runners first use with good hands, while Shaeli Rodman and younger sister Ashya both played well in several positions.

Launceston:

Camilla Taylor continues to grow in height and as a footballer, classy tall athletic players do not grow on trees, so her future is looking bright. Mia King continues to perform as an inside midfielder with attack and pace. Kelsie Hill stood out with her run and defensive pressure, while Ellen Brickhall and Amy Halaby also continue to impress.

North Launceston:

With their first involvement in the female talent pathway, North Launceston have unearthed plenty of talent. Hayley Breward showed her class, Talisha Woolley is a developing tall and showed plenty, while Raigan Kettle won the ball in spades. Hannah Grima was a dangerous forward and Ella McKenzie also impressed.  

The remaining fixtures in the Wrest Point TSLW Under 18 Development Series are as follows:

Northern Conference 2 | Saturday, March 17 at Deloraine
11am: Burnie vs. North Launceston
11.50am: Burnie vs. Launceston
12.40pm: North Launceston vs. Launceston

South Conference 2 | Sunday, March 18 at North Hobart Oval
11am: Tigers vs. Clarence
11.50am: Clarence vs. Glenorchy
12.40pm: Tigers vs. Glenorchy

Statewide Carnival | Sunday, March 25 at Deloraine
12pm: Burnie vs. Glenorchy
1.20pm: North Launceston vs. Tigers
2.40pm: Launceston vs. Clarence

Youth Girls shown new pathway in Tasmania

A NEW pathway for aspiring AFLW players has opened up in the form of the Wrest Point TSLW Under 18 Development Series. The series is a talent identification competition, which will assist TSLW clubs ahead of list confirmations for the 2018 season. It is also the first phase of the state academy, and about 30 players from the development series will be inducted into the state youth girls academy, which will form the basis of the state under 18 team which participates in the AFLW Under 18 National Championships.

Female state talent manager Leigh Elder said the series was an exciting development for youth girls football, and thanked competitions manager for women’s football and VFL Academy coach Darren Flanigan for his insight.

“This is a major step forward in the female talent pathway in the state and the cliubs engagement with this new program has been outstanding,” he said. “We have learnt a lot from Victoria’s TAC Cup model and are very appreciative of the time Darren Flanigan has given to help Tasmania in this space.”

Clubs have been provided a lesson plan and a coaching education session to ensure it is not only a player development program, but also assisting the future female coaches within the Tasmanian system. Results will not be kept from the development series to ensure a development focus is created. Clubs, coaches and state academy selectors will therefore be able to discuss positional play to help identify each of the players’ true talents, not what helps the team achieve a victory. Best players will still be announced for each of the games.

The six competing teams are broken up into northern and southern conferences, with two round robin days a fortnight apart to face each of the other two conference sides in shortened matches. The six teams then convene in a statewide carnival to play one side from the other conference on March 25 to conclude the series

Fixtures:

Southern Conference 1 | Saturday, March 3 at North Hobart Oval
11am: Clarence vs. Glenorchy
11.50am: Tigers vs. Glenorchy
12.40pm: Tigers vs. Clarence

Northern Conference 1 | Sunday, March 4 at Deloraine
11am: Launceston vs. Burnie
11.50am: North Launceston vs. Launceston
12.40pm: North Launceston vs. Burnie

Northern Conference 2 | Saturday, March 17 at Deloraine
11am: Burnie vs. North Launceston
11.50am: Burnie vs. Launceston
12.40pm: North Launceston vs. Launceston

South Conference 2 | Sunday, March 18 at North Hobart Oval
11am: Tigers vs. Clarence
11.50am: Clarence vs. Glenorchy
12.40pm: Tigers vs. Glenorchy

Statewide Carnival | Sunday, March 25 at Deloraine
12pm: Burnie vs. Glenorchy
1.20pm: North Launceston vs. Tigers
2.40pm: Launceston vs. Clarence

Players to watch:

Burnie Libby and Chloe Haines. The twin sisters are AFLW Academy members and entering their draft year. Crossing over from basketball, their strengths are their athletic ability and reading of the play. Libby can play through the midfield or at half-back, while Chloe is an inside midfielder who can also play a key forward role.

Clarence – Netty Garlo. She starred for Tasmania in the All Nations Cup last October, and has elite pace and agility. She can play through the midfield and is dangerous up forward.

Glenorchy – Holly Ryan. An elite kick who is a former soccer player. Ryan has played most of her football at centre-half back, although she can have an impact in the ruck.

Launceston – Mia King. An exciting inside midfielder who has made a quick rise up the ranks and was a late addition to the Allies team last year before advancing to the All Stars game at Etihad. At only 16 years-old, she has a long career ahead of her.

North Launceston – Raigan Kettle. Entering her second season in the game, she will hopefully progress to the state under 18s team. Kettle is a smart flanker who knows how to make space and the right decisions with ball-in-hand.

Tigers – Hailee Baldwin. She has been a star in the local youth girls competition with great speed and endurance, and is finally age eligible for state academy programs.