Tag: western australia

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

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

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

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

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

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

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

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

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

2020 AFL Draft recap: Fremantle Dockers

FREMANTLE reeled in an all-local haul in this year’s National Draft, including a couple of bargain Next Generation Academy (NGA) talents and youngsters with senior WAFL experience at the top end. After finishing 12th in 2020 under new coach Justin Longmuir, Fremantle looms as a fast-rising club with one of the best young midfields in the competition. That youthful exuberance should continue to shine with the latest intake, as a versatile crop enters the Dockers’ ranks looking to make an immediate impact. With a couple of starting roles arguably up for grabs, that could well be the case in 2021 as the West Australian side pushes for finals relevancy.

FREMANTLE

National Draft:
#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers), Bailey Banfield (Re-listed)

The first round of this year’s draft was littered with versatile tall options and Heath Chapman was one of them. The Dockers may have been tempted by some of the midfielders still available, but instead selected the 193cm West Perth product with Pick 14. While Fremantle lays claim to a bunch of tall defenders already, Chapman’s running capacity and marking ability have him pegged as one who could develop either as a wingman, or even a swingman.

With Nathan O’Driscoll on the board after round one, the Dockers opted to trade up and secure his services at the start of the second round. His value is something which divided clubs and analysts alike, but should prove a very handy selection. He joins his sister, Emma in purple and promises to provide a tireless work-rate to go with an excellent inside-outside balance in midfield. It may be a tough engine room to crack, but O’Driscoll is a versatile type who can fit in on each line.

Fremantle staff would have come away laughing as NGA graduates Brandon Walker and Joel Western were bid on with picks in the 50s. Both players are arguably top 30 talents and have some serious athleticism to go with their footballing nous. Walker is an attacking half-back who love to take the game on and makes good decisions by foot, with his overhead marking another handy trait.

Western was the Claremont Colts captain this year and overcame injury to cap of a stellar campaign, also claiming best afield honours in the first WA All-Stars game. His ground level work and acceleration from congestion are excellent, with clean skills and goal sense making him an option to feature on Fremantle’s half-forward line early.

Rounding out the Dockers’ overall haul, Josh Treacy proved their only fresh selection in the Rookie Draft as Bailey Banfield was re-listed. The Bendigo Pioneers product is another Vic Country selection and one who could play the role Jesse Hogan was recruited for, as a tall target up forward with good presence. Treacy is an aggressive type who loves to throw his weight around and is working on building his running game to potentially even move further afield.

Featured Image: NGA product Joel Western is finally a Docker | Credit: (Retrieved from) Fremantle FC

2020 AFL Draft Preview: West Coast Eagles

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

Next under the microscope is West Coast, a side now two seasons removed from its 2018 premiership triumph but still well within the flag hunt. The Eagles’ strong and mature core remains, but their recruiting staff will again have to get creative at the draft table with another set of late selections. Having only come into the equation at Pick 49 last year, the Eagles’ current first pick now lies all the way back at 62, which makes predicting their final draft hand all the more difficult. It may well be the case that in the current environment, West Coast only makes one selection at this year’s event.

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

CURRENT PICKS: 62, 86, 90, 104, 115

2021 PICKS: WCE Rd 1 | WCE Rd 2, PTA Rd 2 | SYD Rd 3 | WCE Rd 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

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

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 62)

Talk about a lucky dip. This year’s draft has been pegged as a ridiculously even one past pick 30, so just imagine the due diligence West Coast will have to do with its first selection coming at 62. Given the vast expanses the 2020 talent pool reaches, West Coast may be a club to look local with what will likely be its sole pick in the National Draft. The likes of Shannon Neale and Kalin Lane, two West Australian rucks, have been linked with the Eagles as long-term key position options. Both are late bloomers of sorts, with Neale an athletics convert and Lane a 19-year-old whose first full WAFL Colts season came this year.

Outside run and class could be another area of fulfilment for the Eagles, so they would be thrilled if a player of Isiah Winder‘s talent was still available in the fourth round. Defenders like Kellen Johnson and Jack Avery could also pique interest given their intercept and rebound qualities, though they are both far from the finished product. A mature-age coup may better suit West Coast’s list profile at this range, with creative South Australian defender Jacob Wehr entering the draft radar along with combine invitees Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore. While technically mature-age, they are all young enough to still provide long-term cove down back.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

West Coast’s current 2020 hand does not offer much flex in terms of live trading, but the Eagles could table their future picks to potentially move up the order and grab a steal. They lay claim to Port’s second rounder and Sydney’s third so if only one prospect is to come through the door this year, those selections may be moved on in order to really make it a good one.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will West Coast come away with just one National Draft selection?

What kind of role will West Coast look to stock long-term?

Can West Coast nab a major slider, or will it take a chance on less proven talent?

Will West Coast look local at the draft?

Featured Image: West Coast skipper Luke Shuey is set to welcome new draftees with open arms | Credit: AAP

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

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

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

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

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

DEFENDERS:

Will Collins | Swan Districts
24/02/2002 | 191cm | 81kg

Collins caught the eye towards the latter end of season 2020 and capitalised on being selected for the Under 18 All Stars games with a couple of solid performances. He is a competitive type on the precipice of key position height, able to play on medium and tall forwards.

Keanu Haddow | East Fremantle
23/08/2002 | 183cm | 83kg

Part of Fremantle’s NGA, Haddow could earn a rookie spot after proving a key cog in East Fremantle’s Colts defence this year. He is a medium height but has enough strength to play against bigger opponents, providing a safe outlet on the last line. Could also develop into a midfielder with his ability over the ball.

Tyler Nesbitt | Peel Thunder
4/07/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Earned his way into this year’s state academy intake and showed good development as he moved from a forward role, to being used almost exclusively as a defender in 2020. He is generally a good user by foot who can also impact aerially with intercepts.

Ty Sears | Swan Districts
21/01/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

An agile outside runner who plays off half-back or the wing, Sears is a player capable of breaking the lines in transition with his speed and use by foot. When afforded the time and space, he can gain good meterage with running bounces and also hit the scoreboard.

Finn Gorringe | East Fremantle
29/05/2002 | 183cm | 77kg

A hard-nosed prospect with plenty of courage, Gorringe adjusted well this season to a defensive switch having previously cut his teeth as an inside midfielder. He is a no-frills kind of player who straight lines the ball and can split contests while also applying punishing defensive pressure.

FORWARDS:

Logan Guelfi | Claremont
29/05/2002 | 180cm | 70kg

Guelfi is the kind of player who provides real spark in attack, able to create and rack up score involvements while also fulfilling his defensive duties as a small forward. He is the brother of Essendon’s Matt and does plenty of exciting things on-field.

Nick Martin | Subiaco
3/04/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

A tall forward with good marking ability, Martin came on strongly as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. He lead Subiaco’s goalkicking charts with a total of 13 and a full year of senior WAFL football has seen him stay in the draft conversation.

Sandon Page | Subiaco
17/04/2002 | 190cm | 80kg

Page proved a player who was hard to deny this year after a terrific season at Colts level. He booted two goals in Subiaco’s Grand Final triumph and also kicked a bag in the first All-Stars game, putting his name on the map. He is an accurate set shot who also brings others into the game and has decent athleticism.

MIDFIELDERS:

Sam Fisher | Swan Districts
03/07/2002 | 182cm | 85kg

A mature-age prospect who was previously on Sydney’s AFL list, Fisher moved to WA this year and took out the Sandover Medal in his debut campaign. He is clean at the contest and has no trouble finding the ball, but is working on his explosive burst out of congestion.

Callum Johnson | West Perth
11/10/2001 | 179cm | 77kg

Johnson is a tough ball winner who dominated the Colts competition early in the season to earn a Reserves berth. He works hard going both ways and racks up consistent numbers, but may be working on adding some polish to his game.

Max Spyvee | Claremont
176cm | 72kg

The best afield in game two of the Under 18 All-Stars fixtures, Spyvee is an exciting midfielder who zips forward as a terrific attacking catalyst. He won the 2019 Colts premiership with Claremont and impressed upon hitting the League grade late this season.

Jamison Ugle | Swan Districts
1/08/2002 | 181cm | 71kg

Ugle is a smooth-moving outside type who loves to run. He impressed enough in Swan Districts’ Colts side to earn selection in the Under 18 All-Stars games, where he provided plenty of x-factor. He comes from good footballing pedigree and is said to be a terrific character.

Lachlan Vanirsen | Subiaco
27/10/2002 | 182cm | 76kg

Vanirsen won this year’s WAFL Colts best and fairest and was best afield in the Grand Final as Subiaco earned premiership glory. He is hardly a flashy type, but adds great value as a reliable and clean ball winner who has peaked at the ideal time.

Conor McPartland | Perth
28/04/2001 | 176cm | 83kg

A midfield bull who won mountains of the ball at Colts level, McPartland proved his worth in 2020 as a 19-year-old prospect. He drives the ball forward through sheer grunt and power while also tackling hard, but may look to tidy up his disposal in future. Also fared well at League level late in the season.

RUCKS:

Solomon James | South Fremantle
3/11/2001 | 199cm | 98kg

A solidly build ruck prospect, James was a solid performer for the Bulldogs’ Colts side. Rotating forward from the engine room, James used his strong frame to impact aerially and provide first use to his midfielders. Also featured in the Under 18 All-Stars games.

Michael Mallard | West Perth
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 98kg

Mallard is a giant in the ruck and won more hitouts than any other player in this year’s WAFL Colts competition. He is a talented prospect with plenty of upside, able to mark well around the ground as one of the more impactful and mobile ruck options. Was an Under 16 and 18 state representative.

Featured Image: Max Spyvee during this year’s Under 18 All-Stars showcase | Credit: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Top 10s: National Draft Combine testing – 20m sprint

AFL DRAFT combines have wrapped up around the nation, giving an insight into how each elite level hopeful stacks up athletically. For most prospects, it was a chance to showcase just how much they had improved since preseason, especially after a full season of football – albeit compromised. For the Victorians in action, they finally got to show their wares after a substantial amount of time away from the field, with a number of them registering results indicative of remarkably hard work in the meantime.

The 20-metre sprint is the test used to measure an athlete’s burst of speed, and often yields some of the most looked-at data from such testing events. Looking at the combined results from each state and region, the overall top 10 features six players who measure up at over 190cm, showcasing just how exciting some of these budding draftees are as prototypical, modern day athletes.

>> SCROLL to see the top 10 results

Six players who registered top 10 times are also already aligned to AFL clubs, headlined by Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) member and consensus number one prospect, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Another NGA product, Reef McInnes (Collingwood) took full toll with a tailwind to notch a nation-wide fastest time of 2.78 seconds, remarkable considering his 193cm/86kg frame and the fact he is an inside midfielder. Standout Swans Academy member Braeden Campbell equalled Ugle-Hagan’s effort as both managed the equal-10th best time.

There also looms some real bolters in the pack, with the likes of Liam Kolar, Max Holmes, and Fraser Rosman all notching elite times of 2.90 seconds or better. Kolar and Rosman are athletic tall forwards who are quite raw but can compete aerially, while wingman Holmes is a national hurdles champion and the son of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Lee Naylor. Essendon NGA hopeful Joshua Eyre was another surprise packet, dominating across the board and ranking eighth in this particular test.

Godfrey OkerenyangIsiah Winder, and Aiden Fyfe joined Campbell as the only non-Victorians to earn top 10 status, with West Australian Winder also the smallest player among them at 180cm. He is fresh off a season which saw him earn a senior berth at Peel Thunder, proving a classy user through midfield. Keen watchers may remember Okerenyang from the 2018 AFL Grand Final sprint, which he took out, while Fyfe is a wingman out of Gold Coast’s Academy.

Incredibly, none of the top 10 runners featured on the same list during preseason, though Campbell was among the best NSW/ACT sprinters at that time.

Top 10 times:

1. Reef McInnes (Oakleigh/Vic Metro) – 2.78 seconds
2. Max Holmes (Sandringham/Vic Metro) – 2.80
3. Godfrey Okerenyang (GWS Academy/Allies) – 2.86
4. Liam Kolar (Northern/Vic Metro) – 2.87
5. Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia) – 2.873
=6. Zavier Maher (Murray/Vic Country) – 2.89
=6. Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo/Vic Country) – 2.88
8. Joshua Eyre (Calder/Vic Metro) – 2.89
9. Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Academy/Allies) – 2.898
=10. Braeden Campbell (Sydney Academy/Allies) – 2.90
=10. Fraser Rosman (Sandringham/Vic Metro) – 2.90
=10. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh/Vic Country) – 2.90

Stay tuned for top 10 results from each of the remaining tests.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Preseason testing:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

Featured Image: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan runs the 20-metre sprint | Credit: AFL Photos

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2020

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

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

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

>> 2020 Draft Profiles

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

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

October Ranking: #1

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #2

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #3

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

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

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

October Ranking: #4

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #5

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #6

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

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

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

October Ranking: #8

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #7

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #9

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #14

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #16

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #12

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #11

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #10

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #15

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #17

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #18

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #13

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #19

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #29

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #21

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #22

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #23

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #24

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #20

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #25

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #27

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #26

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #28

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #30

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

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

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

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

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

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman

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

The prospects in question – Denver Grainger-Barras and Heath Chapman – are both West Australians touted as first round locks, with the former pegged as a top five talent from a while out, while the latter has improved his standing in 2020 to jump into top 15 contention. Our editors discussed just what makes either player so good and the traits which set them apart from one another, ultimately concluding that they could well end up as the best two players of their position at AFL level.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Here are their respective player profiles:
(Click the link on either player’s name for their full draft profiles)

Denver Grainger-Barras

Club: Swan Districts

Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg
DOB: April 17, 2002

Strengths: Reading the play, intercept marking, vertical leap, agility, defensive versatility, composure
Improvements: Strength, offensive output

Heath Champan

Club: West Perth

Height: 193cm
Weight: 81kg
DOB: January 31, 2002

Strengths: Intercept marking, reading the play, kick penetration and efficiency, repeat running, composure
Improvements: Size as KPD

This matchup is a great example of just how different two players of the same position can be, despite also boasting some similarities. Both players are terrific interceptors, with their outstanding reading of the play and high-level athleticism allowing them to dominate in the air. As discussed on our premiere pocket podcast episode, Chapman sets himself apart with his kicking ability, bringing a damaging attacking edge to his work across half-back.

In the recent Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars game, he was made to match up on Grainger-Barras as the latter shifted forward. Grainger-Barras booted two goals to show his versatility, while forcing Chapman to showcase his defensive attributes. That is an edge the Swan Districts product has on Chapman, but he can always improve on that attacking side to better utilise his athleticism and sound decision making.

It is an intriguing comparison nonetheless, and while they are in slightly different draft projection ranges, will have clubs thinking about exactly the kind of key defender they are after. The pair loomed as a formidable defensive combination for their state coming into 2020, but alas the lack of an Under 18 National Championships meant that failed to materialise.

To listen to the podcast in full, click here.

>> Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence

Scouting Notes: 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars – Game Two

THE 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars went head-to-head for a second time on Saturday, serving as the final chance for budding WA draft prospects to impress AFL recruiters. Potential top five selection Denver Grainger-Barras was ultra-impressive, leading Team Gold to a mighty turnaround from game one in his side’s 55-point victory. Claremont prospect Max Spyvee won best afield honours, while last weekend’s most valuable player, Joel Western sustained a nasty finger injury. Our scout, Ed Pascoe was on hand to jot down his notes on some of the big performers and familiar names who took the field.

>> POWER RANKINGS: October 2020

TEAM GOLD:

#4 Max Spyvee

Spyvee has been impressive playing for Claremont’s League side this year and he brought that form into his one and only All-Stars appearance, winning a tonne of the ball in the middle. He was one of the main catalysts in Team Gold’s rebound after a disappointing performance last week. Spyvee got involved very early, using the ball quickly and cleanly at stoppages and winning plenty of clearances. While he is slight in stature, he was a constant around the packs, winning the ball easily on the inside and working hard on the outside to follow up a lot of his grunt work. His disposal started to get a bit scrappy after the main break but he got back to his best in the last quarter, with his clean hands around the ball leading to many scoring chains. Spyvee was a worthy winner of the best on ground honours and would have surely caught the eye of the recruiters in his last chance to do so.

#7 Isiah Winder

Winder had a quieter outing on this occasion but still managed to show some of his eye-catching traits, with his kicking inside 50 his main point of difference this week. The talented Pell Thunder prospect will always lower his eyes going inside 50 and any forward leading out would love the ball in his hands. On the flip side, Winder himself provides a great forward target as he leads hard and his hands overhead are also clean. This came into effect with his goal in the second quarter, judging the flight of the ball well inside 50 and slotting the set shot goal with ease. Winder’s composure and smooth movement have been staples of his game this year, but a stronger four-quarter impact will help maximise his skillset going forward.

#13 Joshua Browne

The talented bottom-ager has had a terrific season for East Fremantle, this year graduating from the back flank to the midfield with ease – not too dissimilar to former East Fremantle player, Trent Rivers. He showed both his defensive and offensive traits in this game playing off the wing and at half-back. Browne showed a great mix between his outside run and ability to attack the ground balls to win his own possessions, which helps set him apart. The smooth mover was a hard player to catch on the run and he rarely fumbled chances to win his own ball. Browne would kick a nice set shot goal in the last quarter, drifting forward to mark 30 metres out in front of goal. His best bit of play would come afterwards with a great run, bounce, and a sublime kick into the middle which opened up the game.

#27 Denver Grainger-Barras

What a performance from the top five prospect, who wowed recruiters with his dominant first half display down back before being sent forward where he kicked two goals and showed his potential versatility. Grainger-Barras started the game extremely well, winning plenty of the ball down back and taking some ripper marks, which he does time and time again in every game he plays. His competitiveness and confidence were again on display, throwing himself into every aerial and ground level contest to give Team Black nothing every time the ball was in his area. The second half is what recruiters would have loved more than anything, as not only was he moved forward to show his versatility, but he also played well in a role he has spent little time in over the last two years. His energy brought a lot to the forward mix with some desperate spoils in the forward 50 creating scoring opportunities and his lead-up marking also impressive. His first goal came from a nice mark on the lead and set shot, while the other was a classy snap which showed his bag of tricks. With his athleticism, combativeness, and football talent it is easy to see why the Swan Districts prospect is considered one of the very best players in the 2020 draft pool.

TEAM BLACK:

#20 Matthew Johnson

Once again the talented bottom-age prospect from Subiaco found it all too easy to earn plenty of possessions, with his ability to win the ball all over the ground again coming to the fold. Although handball happy, Johnson rarely wasted a disposal and often stayed composed and confident whenever he had possession. He exploded in the third quarter, winning an absurd amount of the ball which included two nice bits of play; the first saw Johnson sell candy to a player on the mark, while the second was a nice fend-off to show just how confident Johnson is in his ability. The tall 192cm midfielder is firming as first round prospect in the 2021 talent pool and has put himself ahead as Western Australia’s leading prospect going into that draft.

#25 Heath Chapman

It was a quiet game by Chapman’s standards, especially given the rebound defender averaged more than 20 disposals for West Perth this year. Of all things, he certainly wouldn’t have expected a match up with fellow elite backman, Denver Grainger-Barras in the second half, which forced Chapman to play a more defensive game. Chapman was classy with ball in hand with only one blemish in the last quarter. A lot of his possessions put his teammates in good spots with some risky kicks into the middle. Chapman did well to take a goal-saving mark on the goal line in the third quarter, and this outing perhaps a good indicator of his defensive game, with his offensive game more than proven at Colts level this year.

#31 Kalin Lane

Spending a bit less time in the ruck compared to last week, it was great to see Lane spend more time forward to show of a few more tricks. While missing his partner in crime and Claremont teammate, Joel Western for the second half, he did well to form other partnerships with the likes of the Johnson boys, Matthew and Callum. Lane nailed his only goal in the third quarter, coming from a strong outstretched contested mark which has been a real feature for him in the last month. It is an asset which is sure to separate him from other rucks across the states. He had another chance to kick a goal in the pocket but unfortunately kicked into the man on the mark.

#37 Shannon Neale

Neale finally got to capitalise on his chances up forward, as the big 202cm ruck/forward from South Fremantle was his side’s leading goalkicker with three majors which all came in different ways. His first goal came in the second quarter, kicking a nice goal in general play off two steps. His second was from a nice juggled contested mark and set shot conversion, while the last came in the final quarter as Lane got the ball over the back and ran into an open goal. He could have had even more from another two shots on goal, with one snap just missing. Neale didn’t really influence enough in his time in the ruck, so being able to impact forward of centre was important. With his athleticism and size, he will prove a great project for recruiters.

Featured Image: Retrieved from @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Match Report: 2020 WAFL Colts Grand Final – Lions claim fourth Colts flag

SUBIACO secured its fourth WAFL Colts premiership after defeating Claremont by 59 points in Sunday’s one-sided Grand Final at Fremantle Oval. Jack Clarke Medallist Lachlan Venirsen won the Mel Whinnen Medal after he finished with 32 possessions, 11 marks, five tackles and a goal, boosting his draft stocks.

The opening quarter proved to be an even contest. It took until the fifth minute for the opening goal of the game. Jake Willson was able to spear a pass to Jacob Van Rooyen inside Claremont’s attacking 50, before Van Rooyen went back and converted the opening goal of the game. Minutes later, Neil Erasmus was able to break through a forward 50 stoppage and slammed home the Lions’ first goal of the game.

In the fourteenth minute, Jacquin Ciminata snapped through a goal for the Tigers. In the twenty-second minute, Lachlan Henderson was able to break through a tackle and kicked a goal for the Lions. Soon after, Subiaco’s Connor Faraone was able to run into an open goal. Just before quarter-time, Willson was awarded a free kick for being taken too high. He went back and nailed the goal from 50 metres out to reduce the margin to just one point at quarter-time.

The Lions were on fire in the second quarter, with Erasmus, Jaxon Bilchuris and Matthew Johnson all kicking goals for Subiaco. In the 17th minute, Claremont’s Ben Ramshaw was able to take solid one-on-one mark inside the Tigers’ attacking 50. He went back and kicked a goal from a tight angle, to get the Tigers to within 15 points at half time.

After the main break, Joshua Moses roved a pack expertly, shrugged off a tackle and snapped through another goal for the Lions in the third minute. Moments later, Claremont’s Kieran Gowdie took a strong contested mark inside 50. He went back and nailed the goal. Erasmus booted two consecutive goals for the Lions soon after. In the 15th minute, Trey Kennedy got the ball inside 50, and Tyler Brockman took a strong contested one-on-one mark. Brockman went back and nailed the goal. Before three quarter time, Sandon Page kicked two consecutive goals for Subiaco, to give the Lions a 45-point lead at the final break.

In the last quarter, Connor Patterson, Jack Gouge and Lachlan McKay all kicked goals for Subiaco, while Gowdie kicked one goal for the Tigers.

Along with best afield Vanirsen, Johnson (21 possessions, six tackles, one goal), Patterson (20 possessions, one goal), Blake Morris (16 possessions, eight marks), and Erasmus (13 possessions, four goals) were prominent for the Lions.

For Claremont, Jack Avery fought hard with 33 possessions, seven marks and four tackles. Skipper Joel Western (25 possessions), Van Rooyen (17 possessions, one goal) and Logan Young (17 possessions, six tackles) also competed strongly for the Tigers.

FINAL SCORE

CLAREMONT | 3.2 | 4.3 | 5.5 | 6.7 (43)
SUBIACO | 3.3 | 6.6 | 12.8 | 15.12 (102)

GOALKICKERS

Claremont: Gowdie 2, Ciminata, Ramshaw, Van Rooyen, Willson
Subiaco: Erasmus 4, Page 2, Bilchuris, Brockman, Faraone, Gouge, Henderson, Johnson, McKay, Patterson, Vanirsen

BEST

Claremont: Avery, Gowdie, Lane, Van Rooyen, Western, Willson, Young
Subiaco: Brockman, Erasmus, Henderson, Johnson, McGowan, Morris, Page, Patterson, Vanirsen

Mel Whinnen Medal: Lachlan Vanirsen (Subiaco)

Featured Image: Subiaco celebrates its 2020 WAFL Colts premiership | Credit: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2020 WAFL Colts Grand Final – Claremont vs. Subiaco

SUBIACO took out the 2020 WAFL Colts Grand Final on Sunday, trumping reigning premier and warm favourite, Claremont by 59 points at Fremantle Oval. Our scouts were on hand to take note of some of the outstanding performers, including AFL Academy members, Next Generation Academy prospects, and recent National Combine invitees.

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

Claremont:

#2 Logan Young

It was a quieter game for the big-bodied midfielder, but Young still managed a solid outing and a balanced game. Young covered the ground well, doing some nice work inside the contests but also working hard to push back and help his defenders. Young was later moved forward to switch things up and took a nice mark on the wing. At his size, he could be a hard match up as a midfielder who can push forward and make an impact. Young finished the game with 17 disposals, five marks, and six tackles.

#10 Joel Western

The smooth moving captain of Claremont did all he could to try and get his side over the line. A strong four-quarter performer, he could hold his head high. Western was very silky playing through the midfield, often running from congestion with ease and delivering multiple slick handballs. While not always accurate, he was getting plenty of penetration on his kicks and he would have likely had the most metres gained from his side. Western showed he had a few tricks with a scissor kick over his head in the last quarter – although not exactly effective, it did show his athleticism. Western finished the game with 25 disposals and the Fremantle NGA prospect will now look towards the All-Star games taking place in the next few weeks to continue to show to recruiters his special talent.

#21 Jack Avery

Another big game from the underrated defender who was a recent call-up to the AFL combine, and you could see why with the intercepting machine starting the game in fine form. He showed great courage early with a strong intercept and contested mark, and continued in a similar manner as he went back wit the flight in the second quarter. Despite a hiccup close to goal that lead to an opposition major, he was his side’s best player in the first half. Avery was moved into the midfield in the second half and still won plenty of the ball. Midfield is a position he can hopefully play in the All-Stars games to show off his versatility. While his disposal let him down from the midfield, he had no issues winning it despite not playing the role at all this year. Avery finished with 33 disposals and seven marks and was certainly one of his side’s better players who played hard for four quarters.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen

The talented 2021 key position prospect started the game in fine form, kicking a nice set shot goal and doing well in ruck contests inside attacking 50. His marking is a strength which he showed all game, but it was his nimbleness that really stood out in a nice passage of play in the second quarter as he streamed through the middle of the ground and kicked long inside 50, showing his athleticism. He would show that athleticism again in the last quarter, almost kicking a nice running goal from long range that just missed. Van Rooyen was moved into the midfield after the game was already lost and he showed some great signs, especially at the first centre bounce, showing a lot of energy by looking to get involved and throw his big frame around. Van Rooyen finished with 17 disposals, five marks and kicked 1.1 in an impressive outing that will help build into his draft year in 2021.

#28 Kalin Lane

Lane was the standout ruck on the ground with his tapwork and follow-up work being first class. Standing at 204cm, it was great to see a player of his size so willing to tackle and impact the contests after his ruckwork. He was rewarded for it with a nice tackle which yielded a holding the ball call in the first quarter. Some of his tapwork was sublime, especially one to his teammate Western who couldn’t have asked for better silver service. His marking around the ground was also strong, which is what you want from your primary ruckman. Lane was a strong four-quarter performer with 14 disposals, five marks and 32 hit outs as he made claims to be the premier ruckman in this year’s draft.

Subiaco:

#12 Matthew Johnson

Perhaps Western Australia’s best prospect going into the 2021 draft, the tall midfielder showed a lot of class with his ability to win the ball in close and distribute by hand cleanly to his teammates’ advantage. His vision by hand was outstanding, whether it was from a clearance or in general play. There was one fine example in the second quarter where he faked a handball nicely and then quickly dished off a perfect pass to his teammate to release him into space. Johnson’s goal came in the second quarter after earning a free kick. His second half was huge, winning plenty of the ball at ease and using it effectively by hand and foot. He had another great play in the last quarter, attacking the ground ball hard, cleanly giving a handball, getting it back, and almost evading another tackle before getting done in the back. Johnson had a complete game in the midfield, finishing with 21 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a goal.

#13/17 Lachlan Vanirsen

What a week it has been for Vanirsen, who capped it off by winning the Mel Whinnen Medal for best on ground after taking out the Jack Clarke Medal as best and fairest of the WAFL Colts earlier in the week, and a premiership medal to go with it. A deserving winner of the each medal, Vanirsen was unstoppable through the midfield where he showed a great mix of class, hard work and impact. He had a number change to start the second quarter, going from 13 to 17 which may have confused some onlookers. He went into full attacking mode in the second half, kicking a lovely goal by crumbing and snapping truly to put the game beyond doubt at that point. He made plenty of chances in the last quarter to add to his goal tally and he really deserved another goal. His work-rate was highlighted with one passage of play where he got multiple possessions starting from defence, and finally latched onto the last chain inside 50 where he won a free kick, but would miss the long range shot at goal. Vanirsen can’t have done much more to help his draft stocks with 33 disposals, 11 marks, five tackles, and 1.3. He will have more chances to stake his claim with the upcoming All-Star games, too.

#22 Blake Morris

Morris started the game slowly but really came into his own in the second half, becoming an intercept marking machine which is a role he played well at last year’s Under 16 championships. Despite not having the size to play as a true key position player, he has shown a great ability to play taller with his marking ability, but what also stood out was his ground level play. Morris showed some great composure and agility to evade opponents, as he rarely gets caught. The third quarter showcased his intercept marking and his work down back really gave Claremont no chance of making any damaging forward entries. Although his kicking was shaky at times, Morris was certainly one of his side’s most damaging players, finishing with 16 disposals and eight marks. Like a few other teammates, he will get more chances to show his wares in the upcoming All-Star games.

#23 Sandon Page

Page has been a constant scoring force for Subiaco this year, but it was his set-up and outlet work up the ground where he was found to be most damaging and useful for his side on this occasion. Page didn’t waste much time with his disposals, often providing a hard contest, gathering cleanly, and quickly forcing the ball forward at all costs, which was a good ploy in a Grand Final when territory can be so important. He would be rewarded for his work up the ground with some goals in the third quarter; one coming from a free kick close to goal, and another being a mark close to goal where he would slot both set shots with ease. Page had a solid outing with 12 disposals and two goals while also setting up others. He is another Subiaco product who will play in the upcoming All-Star games.

#33 Neil Erasmus

Erasmus sure does know how to find the goals. The bottom-ager provided an early spark for Subiaco, helping the Lions get away with three first-half majors. Having plied his trade for Hale School during the PSA season, Erasmus only made his WAFL Colts debut in Round 9, and booted his maiden goal during the first term of this outing. Blink, and you may have missed all four of his scores, as the lively forward showed great goal sense to quickly put boot to ball and find the big sticks each time. His ability to compete aerially, and then show a clean pair of heels across the ground was excellent, as commentators likened him to Port youngster, Mitch Georgiades. He seems a promising, raw prospect for next year with plenty of scope.

Featured Image: Subiaco and Claremont’s fliers contest for a mark | Source: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter