Tag: Will Phillips

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 14 – Chargers, Power cut gap to Ranges

A SATURDAY double-header at Box Hill City Oval held massive finals ramifications in last year’s NAB League competition, kicking off Round 14 in style. Gippsland Power had Oakleigh to thank as the Chargers knocked off ladder leader, Eastern, seeing the two sides close within a game of top spot. Elsewhere, Sandringham kept pace with the leading pack after a thrilling win over Dandenong, while Northern and Calder got the better of their Country opponents, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) knocked off Geelong. Western Jets enjoyed the bye.

Gippsland and the Tasmania Devils were first to take the field for the weekend, doing battle on neutral territory on Saturday morning. Having fallen just behind at the first break and jolted two goals ahead heading into the last, the second-placed Power found a spark when it mattered to leave Tasmania in their wake. A six-goal final term saw the Victorians coast to a 51-point victory, not indicative of the overall contest, but a sign of their irresistible form in full flight.

Twin talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben contributed three goals each to the win, with skipper Brock Smith also booting a rare couple of majors from defence to go with 26 touches. Sam Flanders was the leading disposal getter on the day with 28, while fellow draftee Leo Connolly managed 23. Rhyan Mansell and Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania en route to 18 disposals apiece, as the likes of Matt McGuinness (16 disposals, one goal) and Sam Collins (15, one) also fared well.

In the day’s later game, Oakleigh pegged back Eastern’s first quarter jump to get over the line by eight points in what would prove a Grand Final preview. The Chargers took toll in the two terms they held a wind advantage, booting 10 of their 12 goals in the second and fourth quarters to secure a massive result. While they regained the lead with under 20 minutes to play, the Ranges simply could not stop Oakleigh’s onslaught.

A forward from either side put four goals on the board, with Oakleigh 19-year-old Cooper Sharman, and Eastern’s Jordan Jaworski playing their parts. Port draftee Dylan Williams again proved a hero up forward with two important goals from eight touches in his final game for the year, with his co-captain Trent Bianco (34 disposals) the leading ball winner. Cricketing ace Wil Parker was Eastern’s best with 26 touches, while Oakleigh bottom-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Will Phillips also found plenty of the ball with 22 disposals each.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, and Sandringham was made to work for a seven-point win over Dandenong on home turf. After setting up an early lead and holding the ascendancy for the entire match, it seemed the Dragons would coast home to victory at 29 points to the good come the final break. But the Stingrays would not take the loss lying down, piling on five goals in the final 10 minutes to give the scoreless Sandringham an almighty scare.

Future Adelaide top 10 pick Fischer McAsey proved his swingman value in returning a three-goal effort, also dominating the airways with 10 marks. Ashton Williamson booted three majors for Dandenong, as Hayden Young managed two from his team-high 25 disposals. Angus Hanrahan led all comers with 35 disposals and a goal, while the likes of Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals) and Sam De Koning (16) stood strong against good opposition on either side.

Calder’s Bendigo road trip proved a fruitful one, as the Cannons raided the Pioneers’ territory to snatch all four premiership points. Bendigo held a slight advantage early, but could not quite do enough to match Calder’s constant scoreboard pressure. A four-goal to one second term in favour of Calder proved the defining period of play, with Bendigo matching their opponent otherwise in the 20-point defeat.

Diminutive Calder forward Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals, while teammate and leading ball winner Harrison Minton-Connell notched two from his 34 touches in a day out, and Essendon draftee Harrison Jones also found the goals twice. Bottom-ager Jack Ginnivan repeated the feat for Bendigo alongside Will Wallace, while Ben Worme and Noah Walsh also hit the scoreboard from their team-high 20 disposals each. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (28 disposals, one goal) continued his hot form, and Sydney recruit Brady Rowles was kept to 12 touches.

Another Metro team to make the most of its road trip was Northern, who travelled to Shepparton to take on Murray. All of the damage was done in a 10-goal to three opening half from the Knights, as the home side struggled to claw its way back into the contest. The final margin sat at 27 points having gotten out to 44 in the third term, as Northern picked up its seventh victory.

A massive outing from small forward Josh D’Intinosante saw him bag six majors from 18 disposals in a sharp display inside forward 50, with leading target Liam McMahon booting three of his own. Skipper Justin Davies saw the most ball for Northern with 26 disposals alongside Sunny Brazier, with Carlton draftee Sam Philp managing 25. Murray’s co-captains stood up too, with Dylan Clarke (28 disposals) leading all comers, while number four pick Lachlan Ash kicked two goals from his 24. 16-year-old Josh Rachele also showcased his talent with two majors.

The GWV Rebels ensured they would continue the trend of away sides picking up wins, as they comfortably accounted for Geelong to the tune of 35 points. Like many of the Round 14 winners, GWV got off to an ideal start at Kardinia Park on the back of four goals to nil in the opening term. An inaccurate Falcons outfit spurned chances to get back into the match with 2.7 in the third term, as GWV kicked away with another four majors in the last to cruise to victory.

Collingwood slider Jay Rantall was among a quartet of Rebels to claim multiple goals, booting two alongside Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin, while Nick Caris managed a game-high four. 19-year-old Charlie Sprague added another three majors to his season tally for Geelong, while bottom-ager Noah Gribble had 28 disposals to lead all comers, and skipper Jesse Clark managed 25 in the losing effort.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

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

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

>> Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

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

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

>> Q&A

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia
180cm | 73kg

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

>> Q&A

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

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

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

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

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

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

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

Positional Analysis: Inside MidfieldersKey Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

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

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

AFL Draft Watch: Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Oakleigh Chargers’ Will Phillips, who has a terrific balance of inside and outside traits through the engine room – able to dig in and find plenty of his own ball, while providing forward movement in his bursting runs through congestion. The 179cm prospect averaged a tick over 22 disposals across 10 games in Oakleigh’s premiership-winning NAB League campaign last year, with his form enough to warrant a call-up to Vic Metro’s Under 18 side as a bottom-ager.

Having attended centre bounces with the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson through the Chargers’ program, Phillips is looking to become a leader in each midfield he lines up for in 2020; juggling his time between school football commitments at Caulfield Grammar, Oakleigh’s premiership defence, and representative duties with Vic Metro. Few others can extract possession like Phillips, making him a locked-on top 10 prospect for this year’s draft.

PLAYER PAGE:

Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: May 22, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Balanced midfielder

Strengths: Accumulation, contested ball, consistency, durability/toughness, tackling, composure
Improvements: Repeat contests

NAB League stats: 10 games | 22.1 disposals | 2.6 marks | 4.0 tackles | 4.3 clearances | 3.2 inside 50s | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (3)

>> Q&A: Will Phillips

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

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

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Just a tackling machine who keeps on battling hard. Philips is a work horse who continues to dig in and win the ball and do all the team things to support his teammates. He laid a massive 14 tackles for the game while winning another 20-plus disposals. One of the better midfield options heading into next year, he is strong at the stoppages and can spread to the outside to win it as well and set up teammates. He kicked a goal in the third term by winning the ball from a stoppage, fending off an opponent and snapping it off his right at the top of the square. He then set up Joel Jeffrey with a goal thanks to a very nice kick inside 50.

NAB League Grand Final vs. Eastern

By: Peter Williams

The bottom-ager showed why he will be a highly touted prospect next year with a competitive effort through midfield. Just attacks the ball with vigour not to dissimilar to Rowell, and while he can be handball happy at times, had an even spread of kicks and handballs on his way to 16 touches, also hitting the scoreboard with two majors.

NAB League Preliminary Finals vs. Sandringham

By: Ed Pascoe

Phillips backed up his impressive game in the first final to once again make an impact in the preliminary final, showcasing his ability to find the ball and use it well, while also showing great movement in traffic and composure with ball in hand. Phillips has been playing mostly on the wing where he does well but he looks most natural winning his own ball and exiting the stoppages with his acceleration out of traffic and ability to weave through congestion and hit a target by hand or foot. He can also impact the contest with his strong tackling which he also showcased against Sandringham.

NAB League Qualifying Final vs. Gippsland

By: Ed Pascoe

Phillips was fantastic in Oakleigh’s strong start to the game, seeing the bottom age midfielder show some good clean hands in transition and getting involved in a number of plays going forward. Mostly playing on the wing he had no issues winning the ball with his smart running and willingness to also get in and win his own ball. Phillips kicked a nice goal in the third quarter showing some dash and getting back the handball to snap on the run. Phillips finished the game with 29 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Country U18s Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

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

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

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

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 13 – Chargers, Cannons win big

SIX different venues played host to the NAB League’s Round 13 fixtures in 2019, with a couple of big upsets kicking off the action, while Oakleigh and Calder came out big winners in their clashes against Country opponents. Some big names returned to the competition as the National Championships came to an end, and school football completed its bye rounds.

Western pulled off the weekend’s first upset victory, holding off a surge from Sandringham and its returning catalogue of big names to claim a nine-point win come the final siren. After Sandringham snuck ahead at half time, the Jets broke the game open with eight goals to one in a defining third term at Downer Oval. The Dragons would keep Western goalless in the last, but failed to make up the difference in time.

The small/tall pairing of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke split a combined 6.4 evenly for Western, while Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of three Dragons to boot two majors each. Fellow draftees Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, one), and Louis Butler (23) were other high-end Dragons to perform, while Carlton rookie Josh Honey was among Western’s best with 18 touches.

Northern ensured the unlikely victories would roll on early in Round 13, trumping Gippsland by 43 points on the road. Akin to Western’s effort, the Knights battled hard in the first half but only led by two points at the main break, only to boot eight goals to one in a dominant second half display to take the four points back home to Preston.

The versatile Knights forward trio of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess, and Sunny Brazier (both three) dealt most of the damage as the contest skewed to one side, while Carlton’s Sam Philp (24 disposals, one) goal finished behind only Adam Carafa (28 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Bottom-ager Sam Berry was Gippsland’s best in that department with 21 touches, while Saints draftee Leo Connolly had 18, and Philp’s Blues teammate Fraser Phillips, 13.

Murray could not quite keep the train going as it hosted the table-topping Eastern Ranges at Norm Minns Oval, falling four points short of its highly-fancied opposition. The Ranges managed to get out to a hot start, leading by 17 points despite wasting half of their 10 first term scoring shots. The lead was extended to 27 at half-time, but only worked to shift the Bushrangers into gear as they stormed home with a 6.6 second half to Eastern’s 3.0, as only wastefulness cost them in the end.

Ben Hickleton‘s season-best effort of four goals helped Eastern over the line, while Jimmy Boyer was one of two Bushrangers to notch three majors. Mitch Mellis put in a shift with two goals from 22 disposals, as he an Zak Pretty were beaten out only by Jye Chalcraft (29 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. In a rare instance, no 2019 draftees took the field in this fixture.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back to metropolitan territory, as Calder ran out comfortable 68-point winners against Dandenong at home. The Cannons shot out of the blocks with nine goals to two in the first half and despite being held well in the third term, prettied up the scoreboard with seven goals to nil in the final quarter to put an exclamation mark on the victory.

College punter Mason Fletcher booted four majors in this outing before his departure to the United States, joined by five Calder teammates as multiple goalkickers. Bottom-ager Ashton Williamson‘s three goals were a slight form of resistance for Dandenong, with Jack Toner another to stand up with 28 disposals. But it was Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay who led all comers on 32 touches, followed by bottom-age jet Jackson Cardillo (27, one goal).

Fast forward to Sunday, and Bendigo made its trip down to Tasmania worthwhile, downing the Devils by 29 points at Kingston Twins Oval. In a relatively low-scoring affair, the Pioneers were made to fight back from behind, booting six goals to Tasmania’s one in a one-sided second half effort. The win would also serve as redemption for Bendigo after going down to the Devils by two points in Round 7.

Exciting bottom-age Bendigo products Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell booted three goals each, while Jackson Callow was one of two multiple goalkickers for the home side. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness had 10 more disposals than the next-best player afield, racking up 34 while Pioneers Sam Conforti and James Schischka had 24 each. Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Oliver Davis also fared well with 19 touches apiece.

Oakleigh saw the round out with the biggest win of the lot, proving ruthlessly brilliant in front of goal to down and already lowly Geelong outfit by 87 points at Avalon Airport Oval. The Chargers led by over seven goals at the main break and never looked back, piling on a further 10 to Geelong’s three in the second half to finish with an incredible 20 goals and nine behinds en route to victory.

The forward partnership of Dylan Williams (five goals) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four) proved unstoppable, with the likes of Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) and Trent Bianco (24, two) also finding the big sticks and plenty of the ball. In a stacked Oakleigh side, Will Phillips and Lochlan Jenkins were also prominent with 21 touches each. Bottom-ager Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals) was among Geelong’s best alongside 2020 co-captain Cam Fleeton (19), while over-ager Charlie Sprague booted three majors.

Q&A: Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Eastern Ranges’ Tyler Sonsie at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The classy midfielder was a standout at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, earning the MVP award in Vic Metro’s undefeated carnival-winning side. His form was enough to warrant selection in the back-end of Eastern’s run to the NAB League grand final, with Sonsie featuring six times and employed mostly on a wing or up forward. His eye for goal and clean skills make him a dual-pronged threat through midfield, able to hit the scoreboard and cause real damage with ball in hand, credit to his remarkable vision and smarts.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Tyler, you’re sitting this one out, what have you picked up?

TS: “I’ve got a back issue at the moment, yes.”

 

Has that hampered your preseason at all or is it more of a recent thing?

“It affected (preseason) at the start but I got into a bit more training lately… I should be back for Round 2 or 3.”

 

Coming off a really successful Under 16 National Championship, it must have been a great experience for you?

“Yes, it was a great experience with a lot of good people as well. Good boys.”

 

Where will you be looking to play as you keep breaking into the Eastern side, more forward or through midfield?

“Mostly through the midfield this year. Hopefully forward as well.”

 

How was it playing at NAB League level as a 16-year-old last year?

“Yes, (I had) a lot of mates there, it was a great experience as well to be in there. Really good.”

 

What are some of the things you’re looking to develop or add to your game at the moment?

“Just more the defensive side of things. Defensive transitions, to get back and help the team out a bit more.”

 

Being in the Vic Metro hub, are you looking to break into the Under 18 side this year?

“Yes, definitely. I’ll try my best.”

 

Who are some of the guys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

Reef McInnes, Josh Clarke, Will Phillips and all them, they’re good kids.”

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders

STRONG, big-bodied, and tall inside midfielders have been in vogue for quite a while, but this year’s crop of engine room operators comes in varied shapes and sizes. Though they may not currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

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

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

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

Sam Berry
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
180cm/81kg

Berry is one of the smaller inside midfielders in terms of height, but one who works incredibly hard and is not afraid to put his head over the ball. The 180cm Gippsland product slotted right into a talented Power engine room pre and post his school football commitments with Melbourne Grammar, proving a match winner on his day with terrific extraction, endurance, and powerful burst from the contest. Berry averaged 17.7 disposals and 4.4 clearances across his 10 NAB League outings, going at a rate of 52 per cent contested possessions while showcasing his two-way work ethic with the all-important addition of 6.5 tackles per game.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies
191cm/84kg

The leading Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospect for 2020 is Davies, a prototypical big-bodied inside midfielder who will fit right in at the elite level given his physical attributes. Davies ran out four times for the SUNS during their NAB League stint, averaging an even 18 disposals and almost four clearances and tackles per game. He was not quite able to break into the 2019 Allies side, but represented Queensland at Under 17 level and was a prime mover in the Under 17 All Stars showcase fixture. If not for his ties to an AFL club already, Davies would perhaps sit even further up draft boards and is set to cost the SUNS a pretty penny in terms of points come draft time.

>> Get to know
>> Marquee Matchup

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies
182cm/75kg

Tasmania’s most promising midfield candidate is Davis, a consistent performer who would have always been among the first Devils on the team sheet during their inaugural full-time NAB League season. He is another who is not tall in comparison to other inside types, but his desire at the contest and ability to get first hands on the ball more than make up for the fact. Davis averaged 22 disposals (53 per cent contested) as Tasmania’s prime mover in 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, accompanied by a whopping 7.8 tackles and 5.4 clearances per outing. With those kind of numbers, he earned a call-up to the Allies side for a single game and will be a key cog in the same side for 2020.

>> Draft Watch

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia
187cm/80kg

One of the more prominent names among the overall 2020 draft crop is Edwards, whose allegiance to the Adelaide Crows as a potential father-son selection remains up in the air. The Glenelg product has already cracked the SANFL Reserve grade, and was a key part of South Australia’s defence throughout the entire 2019 Under 18 National Championships. At 187cm and 80kg, Edwards has remarkably not added a single centimetre to his height since his Under 16 year but remains a readymade body once called upon at senior level. Having been utilised as a general defender who uses the ball efficiently, Edwards is primed to move back into the middle where he can use his big frame and contested prowess to dominate at stoppages.

>> Get to know
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Finn Gorringe
East Fremantle/Western Australia
183cm/77kg

Gorringe is somewhat of a bolter among the top-level ranks, but looks set to slot straight into the West Australian state side in 2020 as a ball winning midfielder. The East Fremantle product impressed across his six WAFL Colts outings for the Sharks in 2019, averaging 15.5 disposals and a tick over four tackles to again fit into the category of those who remain relevant going both ways. A very handy string to Gorringe’s bow is his ability to find the goals as an inside type, managing a goal per game last year in a tick to his versatility.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide/South Australia
184cm/81kg

There is a good amount of South Australian representation on this list, and Kraemer is yet another solidly-built ball winner who is set to shine in 2020. At 184cm and 81kg, the South Adelaide junior has the perfect makeup for his position, but is more than just an inside battler in the sense that he can also play as a defender, and may swing up the other end at SANFL senior level. He may not have cracked last year’s Under 18 state side, but has been a mainstay in the Academy system and was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. Kraemer played every game in the Panthers’ run to last year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final, finishing the season strongly to average 20.2 disposals and five tackles.

>> Get to know

Mani Liddy
Sturt/South Australia
181cm/79kg

One of the more versatile inside midfielders to hit this list is Liddy, who has previously been forced out to the flanks at representative level, but thrived with his ground level presence and ability to get to contests nonetheless. Employed in his more comfortable midfield role at SANFL Under 18 level with Sturt, Liddy averaged just over 25 disposals, 4.2 marks, and 5.5 clearances, but surprisingly went at a higher rate of uncontested possessions. Still, the 181cm prospect is hard at the contest and seldom shies away from it, making him a good option for his state come the national carnival.

Zavier Maher
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

184cm/82kg

Maher is a rare inside type who also possesses terrific athleticism, seeing him feature a touch higher up draft boards when compared to others of a similar build. He is solid at 82kg and has the typical power you come to expect of an inside type, but what sets Maher apart is his combination explosive speed and agility at the stoppages. A true metres-gained kind of midfielder, Maher averaged around three inside 50s and clearances in his six NAB League appearances for Murray in 2019, while also representing Vic Country at Under 17 level. Expect him to break into the heart of this year’s Under 18 side.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
192cm/84kg

McInnes is another whose name will already be well known to keep draft watchers, as the next in line among a talented group of Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was pushed forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ incredible depth through the engine room, but he still managed to have an impact across 12 games en route to becoming a NAB League premiership player. At 192cm, he has the size to transition seamlessly into the elite level, and possesses surprisingly good athleticism in congestion to keep him out of trouble. When utilised as a midfielder for Vic Metro’s Under 17s, McInnes truly showed his worth with a great first half display, but can work on staying in the game more consistently.

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

Jamison Murphy
North Adelaide/South Australia
180cm/85kg

Murphy’s story is one of the more interesting ones across the entire 2020 cohort, as he turned down a promising cricketing career which had already seen him captain Australia as a junior to pursue Australian rules football. He is undoubtedly one of the most solidly built smaller types in this lot, weighing in at 85kg to ensure he can endure the rigours of playing such a position, and enforce his way into the contest. The 180cm North Adelaide product played nine SANFL Under 18 games in 2019, averaging 23.6 disposals and 5.2 tackles, putting in the hard yards as per usual.

>> Get to know

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia
186cm/78kg

An outstanding inside midfielder for 2020 is Trew, potentially the best user of the ball both by hand and foot of this entire group. He comes in at a decent height (186cm) but is not at all bogged down, able to weave through traffic with class and deliver the ball expertly with terrific vision and poise. Trew was a standout for the Black Ducks at Under 16 level, earning All Australian honours, and looks set for a similar projection in this year’s Under 18 crop as one of his state’s prime midfield movers.

>> Draft Diary

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of prospects who you may be itching to point out as deserving for this list, but we think we have them all covered both above and below. Among the most outstanding overall midfield candidates this year are Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Finlay Macrae, all of whom we categorise as balanced midfielders, rather than pure inside types.

Among those who may transition to inside roles but currently thrive elsewhere are Nathan O’Driscoll (wing/half-back), Connor Downie (wing/utility), Archie Perkins (half-forward), Jackson Cardillo (balanced midfielder/forward), Eddie Ford (general forward), Corey Durdin (small forward), and Braeden Campbell (outside midfielder/forward). Elijah Hollands could also be considered, but is again, more of a forward, while the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Lazzaro may continue outside of the midfield realm in future.

Outside of the AFL Academy intake are Bayleigh Welsh and Darby Hipwell, both very viable options, while 19-year-old candidates include Jared Dakin, Darcy Chirgwin, and Jai Newcombe.

Positional Analysis: Key Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

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

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 10 – Stingrays finally beaten, Ranges go top

ROUND 10 of last year’s NAB League saw Dandenong’s seven-game unbeaten run come to an empathic end, as Eastern produced one of the more remarkable performances of the season to jump into top spot. For the second round running, all bar one of the Victorian Metro sides secured wins while Murray was the lone Country side to do so, and Bendigo enjoyed a bye.

Northern’s 11-goal thumping of reigning premier, Dandenong opened the weekend at Shepley Oval, with the Stingrays managing just one goal after half time in front of a home crowd. Meanwhile, the Knights would excel, booting 10 majors over the same period in a ruthless display forward of centre to run home 67-point winners.

Ben Major (three goals), Josh D’Intinosante, and Carlton draftee Sam Philp (both two) found the big sticks more than once among Northern’s 12 individual goalkickers, with Philp’s 19 disposals also among his side’s best. Ashton Williamson booted multiples for the Stingrays, while Adam Carafa (24 disposals) led 2020 co-captain Ewan Macpherson (21) as the leading ball winner. Academy member Will Bravo also impressed with 16 for Dandenong.

The round’s next fixture proved to be a far more tense one as Sandringham and Geelong opened a Mars Stadium double-header. The Falcons looked to be coasting to victory in a low-scorer having kept Sandringham to 1.7 in the first half and extended the lead to 30 points in the third term. But as was the case for much of 2019, Geelong faded late with two of Sandringham’s 18 behinds crawling the Dragons over the line.

The one-two combination of Charlie Sprague and Ollie Henry produced five of Geelong’s eight goals, with no Sandringham player breaking through for multiples. That could well have been different had Archie Perkins and Jake Bowey put one of their combined eight behinds on target. Angus Hanrahan led the winners’ disposal count with 26, while Charlie Harris (27) and Cam Fleeton (24) were Geelong’s best in that department.

Skipping out to Morwell, and Western stamped its finals claim with an upset 18-point win over top-three fancy, Gippsland on the road. The Jets led all day and put eight more scoring shots on the board in their big win, restricting the Power to just one goal at one end of the ground.

Harvey Neocleous popped up to boot four of Gippsland’s seven goals from his 20 disposals, with Western’s Emerson Jeka the only other to bag multiple goals (two). St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly led all comers with 28 disposals, while Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (25) did the same for the winners with bottom-age Academy gun Eddie Ford (17 disposals, one goal) also lively.

Back in Ballarat in the second of two games, home side Greater Western Victoria (GWV) was absolutely dismantled by the rampaging Eastern Ranges. The Rebels were kept goalless across the match and scoreless for half of it in the 111-point thumping as Eastern had their way en-route to an 18.8 effort in tricky conditions.

One of the more incredible efforts for the weekend was Jordan Jaworski‘s seven-goal haul, backed by three each from Connor Downie and Jamieson Rossiter. Zak Pretty had a game-high 35 disposals, while Tyler Edwards saw it 31 times – equal to GWV’s best in that department, Jack Tillig. Cricketing convert Wil Parker was the other player to notch 30 disposals, with the Ranges’ defence solid as ever.

Oakleigh’s win over Calder was the only other Saturday result, as the away side stormed home to notched a big victory. The game opened up after a close first term, with Oakleigh’s nine-goal to two second half consolidating the win to the tune of 69 points.

The Chargers’ high-end bottom-agers went to work, with potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booting five goals, while Will Phillips (33 disposals), Fraser Elliot (32), and Lochlan Jenkins (27) were menacing from midfield. Incredibly, four Chargers booted two goals, with Jeremy O’Sullivan the only Cannon to do so. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay was among his side’s leading ball winners, trailing only Ned Gentile with 24 touches.

Sunday’s sole fixture saw the competition again head down to Tasmania, as Murray crossed Bass Strait to take on the Devils in Launceston. The action was relatively straightforward for the visitors as they broke out to an early lead and never looked back, resisting Tasmania’s 2.7 final term to coast home 38-point victors.

Over-ager Zane Barzen was one of just two Bushrangers to boot multiple goals, while Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals), Dylan Clarke (25), and Charlie Byrne (22) went to work with ball in hand. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness fared best for Tasmania with 21 touches, while Murray bottom-ager Dominic Bedendo impressed on the back of 1.2 from his 18 disposals.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Metro Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place.

RULES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old prospects miss out, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, but all players look likely to be available. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the first stipulated squad, with Vic Metro’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Cody Raak (Western), Cody Brand (Calder), Wil Parker (Eastern)
HB – Joshua Clarke (Eastern), Nikolas Cox (Northern), Connor Downie (Eastern)

There’s a real Eastern Ranges flavour to the back six, with regional skipper and Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie a potential leadership candidate. Athletic Northern utility Nikolas Cox is another NAB League captain in line for those honours, and the two are joined across half-back by Josh Clarke.

The forward penetration Clarke and Downie provide makes for an exciting proposition, though Downie may well find his way up onto a wing or into the midfield in the final squad. The third Eastern product of the defence, Wil Parker can also add value on the rebound, but joins Bulldogs NGA candidate Cody Raak as a capable intercept marker inside defensive 50.

Essendon-aligned hopeful Cody Brand looks set to lock down a role at full back, making for a fairly sturdy last line. The combination of aerial threat and attacking ball use among the six bodes well for Metro, and should set the side up nicely.

MIDFIELD

C – Jake Bowey (Sandringham), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh), Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh)
FOL – Max Heath (Sandringham), Will Phillips (Oakleigh), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh)

If there was an Eastern feel to the defence, then the midfield is all-Oakleigh. Following on with the NGA theme too is Collingwood academy member Reef McInnes, who takes up a spot in the centre with eyes on fulfilling a more midfield-oriented role in 2020.

The familiar faces of Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae look set to join him at the centre bounces, as smaller outlets who can find plenty of the ball. On the outer, we’ve opted for a small combination with the 174cm Jake Bowey on one side, and 177cm Lochlan Jenkins on the opposite.

Should the Metro coaches opt for more grunt through the middle, the likes of Downie and explosive Sandringham product Archie Perkins could add some extra power, though the chosen core should have little trouble finding the ball. Max Heath is the chosen ruck, one of the few pure talls among the ranks at the moment.

FORWARD

HF – Archie Perkins (Sandringham), Liam McMahon (Northern), Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh)
FF – Jackson Cardillo (Calder), Ollie Lord (Sandringham), Eddie Ford (Western)

Akin to last year’s squad, the forwardline is one of the weaker areas of the squad – not for a lack of talent, but due to the lack of a pure small forward. The likes of Perkins, Bailey Laurie, Jackson Cardillo, and Eddie Ford all pack dynamism, speed, and smarts, but fall into the category of midfielder/forwards.

This forward bunch should also have no troubles in competing aerially, with the high-marking prowess of Perkins and Ford aided by vertically apt key position prospects Liam McMahon and Ollie Lord. Though at 193cm and 195cm respectively, the pair falls a touch short of traditional key position height, so may prove less impactful against some of the bulkier defenders one-on-one.

Within the starting lineup, Cox is also able to swing forward if needed, while Heath may well earn a rest up there in between his ruck duties. In terms of mid-sizers, Macrae and McInnes spent plenty of time forward for Oakleigh in 2019, while Downie is another who can find the goals.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Jack Diedrich (Eastern), Conor Stone (Oakleigh), Luke Cleary (Sandringham), Josh Eyre (Calder)

The interchange bench sees two remaining top-age Academy Hub members named, incidentally also providing good depth down the spine. Eastern’s Jack Diedrich and Calder’s Josh Eyre can play in key position posts, with Diedrich adding ruck depth and Eyre a more dynamic option around the ground.

Conor Stone could fill the traditional medium-forward void given his promising form in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, while Sandringham defender Luke Cleary is one of the few non-Academy choices, though his Under 17 experience and squad balance earns him a look-in.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

There are plenty of top-agers who will fancy their chances of cracking into the final squad, but there will always be the unlucky few who don’t. The beauty of having a carnival with multiple games means there is always room for rotation, so plenty of prospects should get their opportunity.

Under 16 representative Darby Hipwell was stiff to miss the Academy cut-off, and provide some great midfield depth. Oakleigh’s Fraser Elliot is a big-bodied mid who could also sneak in, but that midfield is hard to crack.

In terms of smaller options at either end, Lucas Failli could be the small forward Metro is searching for, with the agile 170cm Western product already boasting Under 16 and 17 representative honours.

Northern co-captain Ewan Macpherson skippered the Under 16 Metro side in 2018, and may be another small option. The potential Bulldogs father-son choice would fit in as a defender after his work for the Knights in 2019, though he is set on more midfield minutes in 2020. His Knights teammates Josh Watson, and fellow Under 16 rep Jaden Collins are others who are thereabouts.

Speaking of father-sons, Carlton may want to get a look at Charlie McKay (son of Andy, 244 games), who has impressed during preseason and provides a big body on each line.

Dragons pair Fraser Rosman and Lachlan Carrigan are others who may fly under the radar and into the side, along with raw Calder duo Jack Keeping and Matthew Allison. There are of course two more Academy members – Campbell Edwardes, and Sam Tucker – who could enter the fray, but are unlucky to miss our sides.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Having taken out the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, Metro has the luxury being able to top up its squad with a raft of capable bottom-age talents. MVP Tyler Sonsie is arguably the best of the lot, and could well find his way into the starting 18 on a wing or up forward.

Sonsie’s Eastern teammate Jake Soligo is another who may rise the ranks alongside him, while Vic Metro Under 16 squad member Lachlan Rankin is another handy outside type in the mix.

Sandringham dasher Josh Sinn is another who is capable of settling into the starting side, perhaps at half-back despite his midfield prowess. Potentially filling out the flanks is Nick Daicos, whose selection in the Academy Hub in his first year through the pathways speaking volume of his talent.

Twin talls Dante Visentini and Alex Lukic would provide key position depth up either end under normal circumstances, with Lukic the Under 16 All Australian centre half-forward. Others to gain that honour and Academy selection were Blake Howes, Youseph Dib, Lachlan Brooks, and Braden Andrews, who could all fill roles around the ground.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-ager seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

With these additional top and bottom-age prospects in mind, below is our potential Vic Metro squad, without any provisions.

FB – Cody Raak, Cody Brand, Wil Parker
HB – Joshua Clarke, Nikolas Cox, Josh Sinn
C – Jake Bowey, Connor Downie, Finlay Macrae
HF – Archie Perkins, Liam McMahon, Bailey Laurie
FF – Tyler Sonsie, Ollie Lord, Eddie Ford
FOL – Max Heath, Will Phillips, Reef McInnes
INT – Felix Flockart, Lochlan Jenkins, Conor Stone, Jackson Cardillo

EMG
– Luke Cleary, Nick Daicos, Josh Eyre

Classic Contests: Flanders’ first half magic fails to halt Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides locked horns in a classic qualifying final at Ikon Park.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

NAB League Qualifying Final | Sunday September 1, 2019
Ikon Park, 1:30pm

Draftees in action:

Gippsland – Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Oakleigh – Nick Bryan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh finished the NAB League regular season just one game adrift from top spot at 11-4, enough to see them earn a week’s rest come wildcard round. They would meet in the qualifying final, the last fixture of the competition’s first post-season weekend, and produce an instant classic full of momentum swings.

Oakleigh boasted the would-be first and second picks of the 2019 draft, but the Power had a greater number of draftees on the park in this bout led by Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The key absence of skipper Brock Smith would prove vital though, with a certain bottom-aged Oakleigh star having a big impact on the game.

The Chargers stormed out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term, spearheaded by in-form forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at what proved to be the scoring end. Needing a spark at 23 points down in the first 15 minutes, the Power turned to Serong who provided a lift with his aggression from midfield.

But it was Trent Baldi who would have an even bigger say with his scoreboard impact, slamming home consecutive majors to keep Gippsland in touch. An opportunistic Reef McInnes goal late hurt the Power though, especially given they had kept Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell relatively quiet to that point. It would have to last.

The second period of play would belong to Flanders, who stole the show with one of the greatest 10-minute patches of elite junior football in history. Pushing forward, the dynamic first round draftee showed up his new Gold Coast teammates on the opposing side with four consecutive goals from over 10 touches to break the game open.

On a day where scoring was hard to come by, Flanders’ feats helped the Power pile on nine of the last 10 goals to claim a 23-point lead at the main break. The seven-goal term also went unanswered up the other end as the usually potent Oakleigh side would require a big lift come the second half with much of its bottom-age brigade standing up to that point.

Keeping with the ebb and flow of the contest, it was Oakleigh’s turn to get on top in the third stanza, but their four goals to two was not enough to reclaim the lead. But having created more clear-cut chances, the Chargers drew back to within single digits to give themselves a sniff heading into the final change, albeit if they had spurned a couple of chances to further cut the deficit.

Ugle-Hagan converted a third major early in the fourth quarter as the heavens opened, turning the game into an all-out slog. With goals hard to come by, Riley Baldi‘s major to push the margin out to over a kick looked a big one, but Oakleigh found avenues to the big sticks when they needed them as skipper Trent Bianco sunk a long bomb, and Nick Stathopoulos booted a screamer to seal the come-from-behind win.

Proving impossible to keep down, Rowell and Anderson led the disposal count among two others to lead the Oakleigh’s charge. Bottom-age jet Will Phillips also had 29 touches and added a goal for the winners, while Serong managed the same feat in a valiant effort for Gippsland. Flanders would finish with 27 disposals to go with his four second quarter goals, while St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly also hit the scoreboard from 23 touches.

Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade proved somewhat of a difference aside from the heavyweight battle through midfield, with the likes of Finlay Macrae, Bailey Laurie, and Ugle-Hagan producing the goods early on. Under the leadership of Bianco (24 disposals, one goal), they proved they were not just there to simply fill the numbers.

The Chargers would go on to claim a dominant grand final win over Eastern after comfortably accounting for Sandringham in the preliminary final stage, while Gippsland were done-over by the Ranges at the same mark after overcoming Western in the semi-finals. With a wealth of draftees coming from either side, they were two of the premier clubs of the competition and stand to have a great impact come draft time in 2020 as well.

Q&A: Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Oakleigh Chargers’ Finlay Macrae at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jackson, Finlay has paved an equally-impressive junior path of his own thus far having featured in last year’s Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. While he may not have gotten on the park for the Big V’s Under 18 outfit, Macrae impressed across his seven outings at NAB League level for Oakleigh, including an influential finals campaign after school football commitments saw him represent Xavier College.

Having been utilised across half-forward given the strength of Oakleigh’s midfield in 2019, the 184cm Charger is keen to build his midfield minutes this season and has all the poise, smarts, and class to do so. A capable user of the ball, Macrae showcased as much in last year’s Under-17 All Stars fixture on AFL Grand Final Day, while gaining more tricks of the trade in a week-long pre-season stint at the Bulldogs. With notable experience under his belt and some outstanding talent surrounding him, Macrae looks primed for a big year – however it may pan out.

Q&A:

MA: How’s the testing been so far?

FM: “It’s been pretty good. Started off with the agility and the vertical and all that, got the yo-yo to go.”

Were you able to showcase some of your best traits in those or is the yo-yo the one you’re after?

“Yeah I’m probably more of an endurance player, so hopefully the yo-yo I can go alright in.”

You stood out in a pretty stacked Oakleigh side last year, how’s that helped you set up for your top-age season?

“Learning a lot from Rowelly (Matt Rowell) and Ando (Noah Anderson) is big. “Especially not playing mid last year but hoping to get a bit more mid time this year. “Taking little things away from them, training habits and things like that has been really good. A great experience.”

You’re in a rare position in that you’re not only learning off guys like Rowell and Anderson first-hand, but you’ve also got a brother (Jackson) in the AFL system. How’s that been for your development?

“Yeah it’s been pretty good. I suppose spending the week in December (at the Western Bulldogs) was also really cool. “Joining in with some of their midfield craft sessions, that was really good and a great experience as well.”

Did you beat out your brother at a few of the stoppages?

“Nah I didn’t play on him unfortunately. “But yeah, it was a good week.”

Obviously that goes with being in the Vic Metro Hub as well, who are some of the guys that you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“For Metro I suppose a couple of blokes that played last year. Nik Cox, Will Phillips, and Connor Downie – those sort of blokes, they’ve been really good. “And then Sam Tucker, a good mate of mine, he’ll also be in there which I’m excited about.”

And you’re at Xavier College… who’re some of the guys that you’re looking forward to playing alongside there?

Josh Sinn, a bottom-ager this year and Dante Visentini – they’re also good. And Will Hart, he’s another one. “So a pretty good team this year hopefully.”

Are you really set on locking down that midfield role and being a leader through the engine room?

“Yeah it’d be a good experience. “I suppose (it was) a pretty stacked team last year and I didn’t quite get an opportunity but playing forward was really good for me, I enjoyed it and this year it’d be nice to play a little bit of mid.”

Are there any other goals personally that you’re looking to tick off?

“Yeah I suppose making the Vic Metro team and the Australian team are probably the two standouts… I’m really pushing forward toward them and trying to get in.”