Tag: Xavier o’halloran

Classic Contests: Last-placed Jets shock ladder-leading 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 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Western Jets and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when a top-of-the-table Oakleigh Chargers outfit was expected to make light work of last placed Western Jets heading across the West Gate Bridge to play at Burbank Oval. Except nobody told future pick one, Cameron Rayner.

WESTERN JETS 3.4 | 4.11 | 5.12 | 8.15 (63)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 5.2 | 7.7 | 8.9 (57)

Round 15 | Saturday, August 5, 2017
Burbank Oval, 10.30am

The Round 15 clash took place at Western Jets’ home ground down at Williamstown. When first takes on last, not too many expect a surprise result, especially when the opposition is littered with potential AFL stars. That was to take nothing away from Western who had a couple of guns of their own in highly touted AFL Academy members, Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty, and the smooth moving Buku Khamis, as well as a couple of talented bottom-agers in Xavier O’Halloran and Zak Butters. It was more Oakleigh’s roll call was ultra impressive as Jack Higgins, Xavier O’Neill, James Rowbottom and Riley Collier-Dawkins would go on to be drafted a couple of months later, with Isaac Quaynor and Atu Bosenavulagi joining them in the AFL a year later, and even a 16-year-old Dylan Williams was strutting his stuff and showing his future potential for the Chargers. The round marked the return of the school footballers, with Western having gone down to Sandringham Dragons by five goals the week before, while Oakleigh had triumphed over Calder Cannons by 33 points.

Straight out of the blocks it was clear the Jets were firing with the return of their stars, Rayner and Fogarty. In fact it was the latter who got on the board early, and while his major was countered by the clever Higgins, Western added a couple more majors before the first quarter break to lead by 14 points. It had taken Oakleigh more than 10 minutes to score, but considering the blustery conditions, it would be hardly panic stations just yet. Soon, it was the Chargers that decided enough was enough, with Higgins snagging is second, and then Lucas Westwood and Daniel Scala piling on the next three goals to regain the lead for the visiting team by less than a kick. Up stepped Rayner who booted a crucial major late in the quarter for his side to head into the main break with a three-point advantage still.

Former basketballer, Matthew Day showed why he was highly rated with a clever goal four minutes into the third term to hand his side back the lead, something that would change regularly from this point on. O’Halloran kicked truly for his side and the home fans were up and about again, before future Eagle, O’Neill kicked his first to hand his side the lead – a seven-point buffer going into what would be a highly anticipated last quarter. When called upon, Rayner stepped up again to kick a crucial major and draw within two points, though no sooner had he done that and Scala had his third and the Chargers had some breathing space. Blake Graham kept the game on edge with a goal in the ninth minute mark, and for the next 10 minutes, a Jets behind was the only score, and the close was ticking down with two points separating the sides. Neither team was giving an inch until Toby Kopa popped up with a massive match-winning goal with eight minutes remaining as the Jets were able to trap the ball in their forward half for the most part, and despite inaccuracy, hold on for a memorable six-point win.

The soon-to-be number one pick in Rayner had a day out with 23 disposals, two marks (one contested), 11 tackles and 2.4 in a prominent effort through the middle of the ground and resting forward. Fogarty (17 disposals, three marks, nine tackles and 1.3) and Khamis (17 disposals, five marks – three contested) were also named among the best, while O’Halloran finished with 18 disposals, three marks, two tackles and a goal. Butters was a highly touted prospect but still very light, picking up the six disposals and one tackle in the challenging conditions.

For the Chargers, the always unlucky in terms of injury, Jack Roughsedge racked up 28 disposals and seven tackles, while Williams was named second best with 16 disposals, one mark and one tackle. Higgins had his lion-share of the ball with 27 disposals, two marks, six tackles and a goal, while Scala was the dominant goalkicker with three majors from 10 touches, one mark and three tackles. Collier-Dawkins (six disposals) and Quaynor (five disposals) were quiet, while Rowbottom (16 disposals), O’Neill (15 disposals, seven tackles and one goal) and Bosenavulagi (eight disposals and one goal) were solid.

Oakleigh would still finish as minor premiers for the 2017 season, but due to the straight elimination finals series – after smashing Northern Knights at Victoria Park – would bow out to Sandringham Dragons in the preliminary finals. Despite Western Jets picking up three wins in the last four games of the season – thanks to the inclusions of Rayner and Fogarty – they would fall short of finals, finishing 10th and six points outside the top eight. It was reasons like this that ultimately saw AFL Victoria change the finals series to include Wildcard Round.

NAB League season preview: Western Jets

HAVING arrived in the past few weeks, it has been a busy time for Western Jets Talent Manager Luke Williams. The new Talent Manager has taken over from Ryan O’Connor who stepped down over the off-season, and while the prospect of arriving at a club so close to the season start might be daunting, Williams said the staff had been terrific in welcoming him. Williams said the club was keen to keep as consistent on and off the field as possible with so much change this year, including a new coach in former Sydney Swans star, Ryan O’Keefe at the helm.

“I think we’d like to be known for consistency,” Williams said. “Whether that be consistency with the performances on the field, and also the way in which our players conduct themselves at the club and away from the club, that’s the same with our staff, we have some great staff who have been working at the club for quite some time and know what it’s all about, so consistency of performance is something we want to be known for.”

While Williams had not witnessed the full pre-season, speaking to others at the club, he was pleased with the feedback regarding how the players had trained since returning to the club ahead of the 2019 season.

“The players have trained really hard,” Williams said. “We’ve got our squad down to our final 49 now and there’s a really strong cohesion in the group, so the preseason has gone through unscathed. “We’ve managed to play one preseason game against Gippsland last week which we got a lot of positives out of and the players are ready to go.”

Last year three players were drafted into the AFL, with Zak Butters (Port Adelaide) and Xavier O’Halloran (GWS GIANTS) drafted in the first round, and Buku Khamis heading to the Kennel under the Next Generation Academy (NGA). This year there are another handful of prospects already standing out, which he hoped would increase as the year went on with development the key aim rather than onfield success, although the latter would be an added bonus.

“The program focus is developing all the players, so we want to see significant improvement in the players on field and off field, you play football to try one another, the camaraderie, and ultimately share wins together so, we’re hopeful of having enough wins this year to play in the finals, that would be a worthy objective,” he said. “Three standout players for us, to watch this year are Josh Honey – Josh is an explosive midfielder. “Another player to watch is Darcy Cassar, Darcy played most of last season as a bottom-ager across half-forward but hopefully he can move through the midfield, and the last player is Emerson Jeka. “Emerson is a key position player with great skill and balance. “All three of those players are in the Metro program, they’ve had great preseasons and they’ve been in the program for a few years so they’re ready to go.”

Williams said while the above trio had stood out, the depth across the entire squad was healthy and he looked forward to seeing how many players could take another step forward in their development in 2019.

“We’ve got a pretty even group to be honest, in that respect, I can’t say there’s been too many standouts,” he said. “Having said that, there’s been a lot of improvement from a lot of players, so the games will have a lot to do with those players stepping up. “We’ve nominated co-captains in Lucas Rocci and Spencer Johnson, so we’re expecting good performances from them, they continued to improve on their form last year so they could be players to watch throughout the season.”

In readiness for Round 1 and the season ahead, Williams was keen to uphold the pride at the Jets and see the entire playing group and staff work together. Williams said he hoped more consistency could come this season and could not wait for Sunday’s game.

“We’re a proud region,” he said. “We do pride ourselves on getting the best out of one another and working together so hopefully that comes through in our consistency and performance this year.”

Western Jets open their season against Northern Knights at Ikon Park on Sunday.

The readymade rookies for your fantasy sides

IT is no secret that ready-made recruits are in vogue, favoured increasingly over each draft given the potential for them to slot straight into an AFL 22. With that in mind, and how important the right rookie choices will be for your fantasy sides, here are the draftees from each club to keep an eye on throughout the year who look most likely to crack into their respective starting lineups.

Adelaide:

Chayce Jones, Midfielder

Jones has hit the ground running in pre-season, with the hard-working midfielder keen to break into Adelaide’s Round 1 calculations. Able to play on each line, Jones has the versatility to find a place anywhere in the line-up – skyrocketing his chances of early selection. The former Tassie Mariners skipper won All Australian honours last year, and could well have been in top five contention at the draft if he were a few centimetres taller. Expect Jones to be a consistent figure once picked, with a good ability to accumulate and use the ball effectively.

Others to consider: Ned McHenry

Brisbane:

Noah Answerth, Defender/Midfielder

Oakleigh’s 2018 captain prospered in his over-age year, bouncing back from an injury-tarnished 2017 to bolt into Brisbane’s draft plans. The 55th pick of the draft became an adept rebounder off half-back on both sides, with the capabilities to move into the midfield upon further growth. Answerth could prove a handy pick as he is already named as a dual-position player, with his leadership and work ethic traits that should have him in the good graces of coach, Chris Fagan.

Others to consider: Ely Smith, Connor McFadyen

Carlton:

Sam Walsh, Midfielder

One of the more straight-forward choices at number one in recent years came in the form of Sam Walsh for the Blues. The Geelong Falcons product is a perfectly balanced midfielder – one who accumulates well on the outside with his run, and can prize clearances all day for his side. Walsh uses the ball well and showed he can hit the scoreboard too, and may well be the most obvious rookie choice in fantasy history given he is arguably the most decorated junior of the past decade. Lock him in for Round 1, bar any injuries, and expect him to hold his own in the young Blues midfield.

Others to consider: Liam Stocker

Collingwood:

Isaac Quaynor, Defender

Anyone who has seen Quaynor’s pre-season figure will know he looks more than ready for the rigours of AFL football. The versatile defender has grown extensibly in both physically and talent-wise over the past year, making him a prospect who featured as high as pick 12 on some clubs draft boards. He went just one pick later to keep the ‘Pies accountable, and may be well worth it nonetheless with his athleticism and growing ability to find the ball. Defensive spots are hard to fill, but Quaynor may be a solid answer.

Essendon:

Irving Mosquito, Forward/Midfielder

The Bombers did not gain the biggest of draft hauls, but have a beauty in the form of Irving Mosquito. His value and upside may well translate into fantasy terms given his dual-position status, but expect the Gippsland product to feature most prominently up forward for the Bombers if anything. Good in the air and lethal around goal, Mosquito will be hard to miss once he is out there, and the Bombers certainly liked the look of him given he was selected with their first pick.

Others to consider: Brayden Ham

Fremantle:

Brett Bewley, Midfielder

Former Seagull, Bewley has been knocking on the door of AFL selection for a few seasons now, and gets his chance alongside VFL teammate, Lachlan Schultz at the Dockers. The solidly built midfielder has added inside grunt to his already prominent outside run and booming left foot kick. Averaging 25 disposals per VFL game in 2018, Bewley could well be one to provide aid to the relatively young Freo midfield over time, should he not break in straight away. His age, frame, and versatility point towards an early debut, though.

Others to consider: Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schultz

Geelong:

Jordan Clark, Defender

Impressive WA defender Jordan Clark was his state’s best during the National Championships, propelling him into first round contention. Clark looks a great fit for the Cats, who have been looking to add run to their side – and the Claremont product will hope to slot straight in across half back. An elite junior cricketer, Clark reads the play beautifully and is especially clean by both hand and foot, while also having already proven himself amongst senior bodies in the WAFL during his top-age year. Clark’s knack for kicking the ball more often than not also bodes well for fantasy points, given his efficiency and rebound prowess.

Others to consider: Darcy Fort

Gold Coast:

Sam Collins, Defender

No, your eyes do not deceive you. While he may not be the obvious choice out of Gold Coast’s draft haul which included four first-rounders, Sam Collins looks to be a sure choice for fantasy defences. In a similar mould to Adelaide’s Tom Doedee, Collins is an outstanding reader of the ball in flight, and became known for his intercept marking while suiting for VFL side, Werribee. Equal-third in 2018’s JJ Liston Trophy, Collins landed at the Suns via the state league access system and may well slot straight into a defensive post after Steven May’s departure alongside pick six, Ben King.

Others to consider: Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Jez McLennan

GWS:

Xavier O’Halloran, Midfielder

Having taken three versatile midfielders with their first picks in the draft, GWS may face some selection headaches early on given the depth and talent they have acquired. Nonetheless, O’Halloran could be the pick of the bunch with his readymade frame, mix of speed and athleticism, and ability to play forward. A fearless leader for both Western Jets and Vic Metro in 2018, O’Halloran is a contested beast with strong hands overhead and a lovely set shot when required. He may not be a lock just yet, but a good number of the Giants’ haul look likely to get a go during their first year.

Others to consider: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Kieren Briggs

Hawthorn:

Damon Greaves, Defender/Midfielder

One who slipped through the national draft, Greaves was a clever pick from the Hawks as a rookie selection. A rebounding defender with good endurance, the West Australian uses the ball with good efficiency and penetration by foot. With the loss of Ryan Burton and injuries hampering Grant Birchall, the door may open for a youngster like Greaves to slot in across half back throughout the year – but he may face competition from fellow recruit, Jack Scrimshaw early on.

Melbourne:

Marty Hore, Defender

2018 Collingwood VFL best and fairest Marty Hore may prove to be the best of the Victorian state league recruits – despite being the third picked. While Kade Kolodjashnij will undoubtedly occupy one of the Dee’s back flanks, Hore looks ready to burst onto the scene as an elite intercept marker and dangerous left-foot kick. The former Bendigo Pioneer found his level and excelled after being overlooked in his draft year, featuring in the last two VFL teams of the year having outshone AFL-listed talent throughout the competition. Set to be a bargain pick, the 22-year old could be one of the better defensive cash cows.

Others to consider: Tom Sparrow

North Melbourne:

Tarryn Thomas, Midfielder

Listed as purely a midfielder, North’s Next Generation Academy star has a definite ability to drift forward with ease and become a damaging figure inside 50. With clean hands and a knack for winning games off his own boot, Thomas was a no-brainer for the Roos to match within the top 10 of the draft after an exceptional year which saw him lead Tasmania to an Academy Series victory and the Allies to a win over Vic Country. Expect him to make an early appearance in the starting 22 alongside fellow draftee, Bailey Scott – adding pace and X-factor to North Melbourne’s engine room or forward half.

Others to consider: Bailey Scott, Tom McKenzie

Port Adelaide:

Connor Rozee, Defender/Forward

Rozee seems a safe choice as Port’s first pick off the board, with the versatile South Australian also able to roll through the midfield despite his defender/forward status. Highly touted since his Division One Under 16 National Championships MVP in 2016, Rozee bolted into the top five after starring in South Australia’s Under 18 championship win, and North Adelaide’s senior premiership. While he still has room to grow, Rozee may well hone his craft in the big-time up forward, where he is able to find the goals well, cover ground quickly, and mark strongly overhead. Expect him to feature almost instantly as Port’s premier South Australian pick.

Others to consider: Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma

Richmond:

Riley Collier-Dawkins, Midfielder

While Richmond’s midfield will be a hard one to crack, Collier-Dawkins could well find his place in the Tigers lineup as part of the forward six. With coach Damien Hardwick favouring a third tall amongst his mosquito fleet and established big-men, the Oakleigh product could snatch selection in the place of someone like Jacob Townsend, while Josh Caddy moves further up the filed. One who is touted as more of a prodigy than a readymade star, Collier-Dawkins may take some time to excel, but has the frame and natural talent to win contested ball or cause trouble in the air up forward – having played deep forward for both Oakleigh and Vic Metro at times in 2018.

Others to consider: Jack Ross, Fraser Turner, Jake Aarts

St Kilda:

Jack Bytel, Midfielder

While a back injury looks likely to curtail the start of his AFL career, Jack Bytel is one to keep an eye on throughout 2019. The Calder Cannons product is a proven ball-winner (22 possessions per TAC Cup game) who loves to get his hands dirty at stoppages (4.5 clearances). While he did not quite live up to the expectation that an U16 Vic Metro MVP and AFL Academy selection usually entails, Bytel is a consistent performer who could be a damaging midfielder once he fills out his 188cm frame and gets back on the park.

Others to consider: Nick Hind, Callum Wilkie

Sydney:

Nick Blakey, Forward

Poised to take over from where Lance Franklin leaves off, Blakey has the key tools of all prodigious key forwards to go with the athleticism of a midfielder. While he can play further up the field, Blakey’s overhead marking ability and booming left-foot kick make him a perfect fit for Sydney looking towards the future. With the promising Tom McCartin one of the few contenders for his position, Blakey should find his way into the first 22 at some point during the season – purely on the back of the talent he showed this year for the Swans Academy and Allies side.

Others to consider: James Rowbottom

West Coast:

Luke Foley, Midfielder

After not even nominating for the national draft in his top age year, Foley returned with an absolute bang to become one of WA’s best talents. A year more developed than the class of 2018, Foley could be favoured over the more raw draftees the Eagles picked up and looks to be a sure pick to slot into either their midfield of forward line – despite premiership sides being notoriously hard to crack. His strong hands and penetrating kick will be assets at the next level, with his pure talent worth a shot for the Eagles after taking him in the second round. Being a local boy helps, and Foley should have no issue in adapting to the rigours of AFL out west given his work ethic.

Others to consider: Jarrod Cameron

Western Bulldogs:

Will Hayes, Midfielder

Another VFL success story, Hayes gets the nod here over fellow state league recruit Ben Cavarra and first round gun, Bailey Smith. Averaging 26 disposals for Footscray’s VFL outfit, Hayes enjoyed a career-best season having steadily improved over his five years in the system. At 23 years of age, Hayes looks ready to make a splash in the stacked Doggies midfield, and has the workrate that coach Luke Beveridge seems to favour, having taken Hayes with the last pick in the national draft. It will be a toss-up for selection early on between Hayes and the recruits mentioned, but all three could well sneak into the 22 across each line given the versatility of the other two.

Others to consider: Bailey Smith, Ben Cavarra

AFL Draft review: GWS GIANTS

IF the GWS GIANTS were looking to build a strong culture and form the foundations of a future leadership group, then they nailed the 2018 AFL Draft. On night one, the GIANTS picked up the Vic Country co-captain, the Vic Metro captain, and one of the South Australian vice-captains, before calling out West Australian leader, Ian Hill early on day two.

National Draft:

 

Jye Caldwell – Inside Midfielder

With the GIANTS’ first selection in the National AFL Draft, they pounced on Vic Country co-captain and inside midfielder, Jye Caldwell. While he loves winning the ball at the coalface, Caldwell also has the athleticism, class and skill to hurt opposition sides on the outside as well. A natural born leader, Caldwell is a player who while he has had his troubles with injuries, will always contribute to the team. His upside is as high as anyone else in the draft, and could slot into a midfield role or up forward, or even down back if required such is the high calibre of his skills and speed.

Jackson Hately – Balanced Midfielder

A really consistent performer, Hately is underrated in this year’s draft despite being an AFL Academy member. He can win the ball on the inside or outside, go forward and kick goals or find space around the ground. He uses the ball well by hand or foot, extracts it out of a stoppage and can penetrate beyond 50m. Another natural leader, Hately is a readymade midfielder who has played senior football with Central District’s League side this year. With the midfielders lost to the GIANTS this off-season, Hately and Caldwell could both slot into that Dylan Shiel-Tom Scully dynamic.

Xavier O’Halloran – Inside Midfielder

An elite athlete, O’Halloran was chosen as Vic Metro’s captain ahead of a number of worthy players. His leadership speaks for itself, but his impact on the field is also as influential as any others. He has terrific speed, agility and endurance which makes him a damaging player around the ground. He was a surprise first round selection after not being invited to the draft, but was always around the mark and the GIANTS showed clear interest in the midfielder. He can also play forward and take contested grabs, with his goal sense quite impressive as well.

Ian Hill – Outside Midfielder/Forward

The second pick of the second day saw West Australian star, Ian Hill head west to the GIANTS after GWS traded up to secure the small forward/midfielder. He is class personified, and while his season has not been ideal, Hill has plenty of upside for the future. He rarely fumbles and loves to move the ball along a wing or inside 50. A keen goal sense and a natural nous when it comes to creativity, Hill can create something out of nothing. A touch of class to go with the inside ball-winning capabilities of the previous two picks.

Kieren Briggs – Ruck

The standout ruck prospect in the 2018 AFL National Draft ended up at his home in orange. Briggs is a 200cm ruck who had a standout season from start to finish, taking home the GWS GIANTS’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Allies’ MVP awards following the National Under 18 Championships. With the GIANTS losing Rory Lobb over the off-season, the inclusion of Briggs, and imminently Shane Mumford will add to the depth in that position. With a high endurance base and strong contested marking ability, Briggs looms as the natural successor in the role.

Connor Idun – Tall Defender

With their late selection in the draft, the GIANTS picked up tall defender, Connor Idun. The Falcons defender has played key position roles this season, but is more likely to be a third tall defender, who can also play forward if required. In his bottom-age year Idun also played through the midfield, with his defensive pressure and ability to stick to a task, important. He is still raw and developing, but a player who will fill a need in western Sydney.

 

Rookie Draft:

Nil.

 

Summary:

The GWS GIANTS targeted midfielders with their first four picks, though most can play forward which gives them great versatility. Given their relative depth across most areas, the GIANTS were able to hit the draft with a notion of picking up ‘best available’, and added to the club’s growing bunch of leaders. Caldwell, Hately, O’Halloran and Hill were all leaders in some capacity for their respective states at the National Under 18 Championships, while Briggs and Idun add to the depth of the club, with Briggs the successor long-term to Mumford, and Idun able to play a multitude of roles.

2018 National AFL Draft selections

THE 2018 National AFL Draft selections and club by club selections as they happen today will appear here:

Round 1:

1 – Carlton – Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
2 – Gold Coast – Jack Lukosius – (WWT Torrens/South Australia)
3 – Gold Coast – Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)
4 – St Kilda – Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
5 – Port Adelaide – Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)
6 – Gold Coast – Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
7 – Western Bulldogs – Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
8 – North Melbourne – Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)
9 – Adelaide – Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)
10 – Sydney – Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
11 – GWS GIANTS – Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
12 – Port Adelaide – Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
13 – Collingwood – Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
14 – GWS GIANTS – Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)
15 – Geelong – Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)
16 – Adelaide – Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
17 – Fremantle – Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
18 – Port Adelaide – Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
19 – Carlton – Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
20 – Richmond – Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
21 – Brisbane – Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
22 – GWS GIANTS – Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

End of Round 1:

23 – Gold Coast –  Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

Round 2:

24 – GWS – Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)
25 – Sydney – James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26 – Western Bulldogs – Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
27 – Melbourne – Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)
28 – West Coast – Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
29 – Collingwood – Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
30 – Adelaide – Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
31 – West Coast – Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)
32 – Fremantle – Luke Valente (Norwood/Western Australia)
33 – Melbourne – James Jordon (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
34 – GWS GIANTS – Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/NSW-ACT)
35 – West Coast – Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
36 – Brisbane – Thomas Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
37 – Western Bulldogs – Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
38 – Essendon – Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
39 – West Coast – Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
40 – Brisbane – Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
41 – St Kilda – Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
42 – Brisbane – Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)
43 – Richmond – Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Round 3:

44 – Sydney –  Justin McInerney (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
45 – Western Bulldogs – Ben Cavarra (Williamstown VFL)
46 – North Melbourne – Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
47 – St Kilda –  Matthew Parker (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
48 – Geelong – Ben Jarvis (Norwood/South Australia)
49 – North Melbourne – Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Queensland)
50 – Geelong – Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)
51 – Sydney – Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
52 – Hawthorn – Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushangers/Allies)
53 – Melbourne – Aaron Nietschke (Central District/South Australia)
54 – St Kilda –  Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
55 – Brisbane – Noah Answerth (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Round 4:

56 – Melbourne – Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
57 – Fremantle – Lachlan Schulz (Williamstown VFL)
58 – Richmond – Fraser Turner (Clarence/Tasmania)
59 – Fremantle – Brett Bewley (Williamstown VFL)
60 – Essendon – Noah Gown (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
61 – GWS GIANTS – Connor Idun (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
62 – Richmond – Luke English (Perth/Western Australia)
63 – Hawthorn – Matthew Walker (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)
64 – Adelaide – Lachlan Sholl (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
65 – Geelong – Darcy Fort (Central District/South Australia)
66 – Carlton – Finbar O’Dwyer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
67 – St Kilda – Robert Young (North Adelaide/South Australia)
68 – Geelong – Jake Tarca (South Adelaide/South Australia)
69 – North Melbourne – Joel Crocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Round 5 onwards:

70 – Carlton – Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
71 – Gold Coast – Caleb Graham (Gold Coast Academy/Queensland)
72 – Essendon – Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
73 – Port Adelaide – Riley Grundy (Sturt/South Australia)
74 – Geelong – Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
75 – Melbourne – Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
76 – Port Adelaide – Boyd Woodcock (North Adelaide/South Australia)
77 – Collingwood – Atu Bosenavulagi (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
78 – Western Bulldogs – Will Hayes (Footscray VFL)

*Clubs matched bids to secure father-son or academy prospect

Club by Club Players:

Adelaide: Chayce Jones, Ned McHenry, Will Hamill, Lachlan Sholl
Brisbane: Ely Smith, Thomas Berry, Tom Joyce, Connor McFadyen, Noah Answerth
Carlton: Sam Walsh, Liam Stocker, Finbar O’Dwyer, Ben Silvagni
Collingwood: Isaac Quaynor, Will Kelly, Atu Bosenavulagi
Essendon: Irving Mosquito, Noah Gown, Brayden Ham
Fremantle: Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schulz, Brett Bewley
Geelong: Jordan Clark, Ben Jarvis, Jacob Kennerley, Darcy Fort, Jake Tarca, Oscar Brownless
Gold Coast: Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Jez McLennan, Caleb Graham
GWS GIANTS: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Xavier O’Halloran, Ian Hill, Kieren Briggs, Connor Idun
Hawthorn: Jacob Koschitzke, Mathew Walker
Melbourne: Tom Sparrow, James Jordon, Aaron Nietschke, Marty Hore, Toby Bedford
North Melbourne: Tarryn Thomas, Curtis Taylor, Bailey Scott, Joel Crocker
Port Adelaide: Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Riley Grundy, Boyd Woodcock
Richmond: Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Ross, Fraser Turner, Luke English
St Kilda: Max King, Jack Bytel, Mathew Parker, Nick Hind, Robert Young
Sydney: Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Zac Foot
West Coast: Xavier O’Neill, Luke Foley, Bailey Williams, Jarrod Cameron
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Smith, Rhylee West, Laitham Vandermeer, Ben Cavarra, Will Hayes

AFL Draft preview: West Coast

THE 2018 premiers do not have too many pressing needs for their list, especially considering their premiership window is wide open.

LIST NEEDS

  • Best available but:
    • Ruck depth
    • Small-medium forward
    • Key defender
    • Small-medium defender

 

DRAFT PICKS: 20, 22, 61, 72, 76, 94

Coming off the premiership, the Eagles do not have any significant holes in their list management – they have a well-stocked midfield, an array of gun forwards, some excellent defenders and serviceable ruckmen.

They enter the draft at pick 20 and depending if he slides, the Eagles could look to Perth product Ian Hill to fill the shoes left by the retired Mark LeCras. Hill is a similar damaging small forward to Fremantle star Michael Walters, and would add an extra spark to an already impressive forward line. They might opt for a taller forward option in Sam Sturt or Curtis Taylor if either are on the board. West Coast could be the side that pounces first on Bailey Williams if they think he can fit amongst their talls and secure a long-term ruck/forward rather than a short-term mature-ager.

With pick 22, West Coast could look at Victorian pair Xavier O’Halloran and Ely Smith. O’Halloran, a product of the Western Jets, is seen as the best leader in this year’s draft pool and is a midfielder capable of inflicting damage on the scoreboard – traits similar to Richmond’s premiership captain Trent Cotchin. Smith on the other hand is a speedy and competitive midfielder who attacks each contest with vigour, similar to St Kilda’s David Armitage.

It is expected the Eagles will receive a bid for Next-Generation Academy member Jarrod Cameron around pick 40 and will certainly match the offer, giving up their remaining picks for the Swan Districts product. Cameron is a small forward who is raw but has plenty of upside. If they look to add a tall late in the draft, perhaps they turn to James BlanckRiley Grundy or Kyle Reid who could be there in the final stages of the draft.

There is talk that the Eagles will look to add ex-Sydney player Harry Marsh or ex-Brisbane player Marco Paparone in the Rookie Draft. Marsh will add to the small-medium defensive options, especially considering Shannon Hurn is 32. Paparone will be the fourth recognised key defender at West Coast behind Jeremy McGovern, Tom Barrass, and Will Schofield.

AFL Draft preview: Sydney

THE Swans have plenty of talent across the field but will be looking to invest in depth and inject some pace into their side to ensure that they can feature late into September having made it to the last 10 finals series and only winning one flag. But through some clever swaps during the trade period Sydney secured some pretty handy draft picks to put them in good stead for the upcoming draft.

List needs:

  • Key forward
  • Outside midfielder

Draft selections: 26, 33, 38, 39, 40, 70, 88

With plenty of second round picks Sydney look set to recruit a heap of young guns that will provide that extra layer of depth in the midfield and up forward to help out gun, Buddy Franklin.

Nick Blakey is set to make his way to the red and white with Sydney prepared to match a bid for the talented youngster who is tipped to go somewhere in the first round. He will be a great acquisition for the club with his silky skills and ability to move between the forward line and midfield. Standing at 195cm Blakey has proven that he can have a high impact per possession and can find his way around the goals with ease.

The Swans will also be looking to gain some outside midfielders to provide some more grunt through the centre. Sydney could potentially pick up overager Laitham Vandermeer who has proven he has speed to burn and could be a handy player for the Swans. With Gary Rohan’s speed gone, Vandermeer could fill that role and inject some life into the squad. Other possibilities for Sydney are Will Hamill, Ely Smith and Jack Ross and if they are all still available would be great pick-ups given their talent. Ross offers great balance in the middle while Smith can accumulate plenty of the ball and use his strength to rag-doll opponents making them both valuable assets to the Swans line-up. Western Jets captain, Xavier O’Halloran may also appeal to the Swans given his natural born leadership and versatility to play either midfield or forward.  If Jack Bytel is still around Sydney will be quick to snap him up thanks to his ability to win the ball at stoppages and his penetrating boot, while Tom Joyce is also another solid option for the Swans given his ability to run.

2018 AFL Draft Central Phantom Draft

WE are now just three days away from the first pick being called in the 2018 AFL National Draft, and at AFL Draft Central, we have put our heads together and put forward our Phantom Draft, based on how some of the picks can fall. A few things to note:

  1. The pick numbers are different to the currently assigned picks due to bidding. We included bidding so Sydney matched a bid on Nick Blakey, Collingwood matched bids on Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly, Western Bulldogs matched bids on Rhylee West and Buku Khamis, GWS GIANTS matched a bid on Kieren Briggs, and so on and so fourth. That is why the pick numbers are not the same as the current pick numbers for clubs
  2. There was no live trading that took part – we did not want to overcomplicate the process, so we just opted for a nice simple Phantom Draft
  3. We have only included the first four rounds, so don’t fret if you only see clubs like Essendon having two picks, or Fremantle not picking up Jason Carter – we looked at list spots and anticipated numbers, so Carter was going to be Fremantle’s next pick outside the first four rounds.
  4. We have not included any rookie upgrades in the Phantom Draft, most of which will likely come outside the first four rounds anyway.
  5. No coaches were assigned to individual teams, instead it was a group effort with a variety of supporters chipping in their thoughts based on their contacts as well as club needs, with multiple South Australian and West Australian writers also involved – this is opinion-based.

 

Adelaide:

#9 Connor Rozee
#15 Jackson Hately
#19 Luke Valente
#26 Bailey Williams
#66 Hugo Munn
#73 Zane Barzen

Adelaide went with a distinct South Australian feel to it, taking the Croweaters’ three best midfielders from the National Under 18 Championships in Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately and Luke Valente. Rozee and Hately in particular could well go earlier, with St Kilda (pick four) and Gold Coast (pick six) considering the silky midfielder. It was an easy choice when Rozee was at pick 9, as was Hately who the Crows would be rapt to get at that selection. With the midfield sorted, Adelaide opted for talls after that, snaring Dandenong tall, Bailey Williams with #26, as well as local forward, Hugo Munn, and the exciting Zane Barzen from the Murray Bushrangers who can play a medium-tall role at half-forward.

Brisbane:

#21 Curtis Taylor
#34 Ely Smith
#35 Connor McFadyen
#53 Tom Berry

A few fan favourites made their way to Brisbane in the draft, with Cam Rayner’s best mate Curtis Taylor seeming a good selection at pick 21. With Xavier Duursma off the board, Taylor is another one the Lions are rumoured to like, and he adds a point of difference inside 50 with plenty of scope. Then they targeted big bodies, with Ely Smith and Tom Berry – brother of Jarrod – while also matching the bid on Academy prospect, Connor McFadyen. They are at the stage where they do not need to fill too many holes, and just beefed up their midfield and forward lines with some bigger bodies who have versatility as well.

Carlton:

#1 Sam Walsh
#61 Tyron Smallwood
#64 Sam Fletcher
#69 Ben Silvagni

Carlton was tricky to pick for late, after clearly selecting Sam Walsh with the first pick. Walsh is the standout midfielder in the draft crop, and Blues fans should be thrilled to have him coming on board, as a safe, 200-game player and future captain. He is joined by mid/forward, Tyron Smallwood who just oozes X-factor and looks like great value late, as well as inside midfielder Sam Fletcher who bleeds for any club he plays for. Wrapping up the draft with father-son selection Ben Silvagni, Blues fans should be pretty pleased with the value they have received considering their late picks.

Collingwood:

#18 Isaac Quaynor
#25 Will Kelly

A bit of a straight forward draft for Collingwood with Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly both heading to the club. The Magpies had no problems matching the bids, though there is a chance they go into deficit for 2019. Either way it will not stop them matching the pair who sure up the club’s defence. Collingwood will use a third pick – likely to be in the late 80s by the time bids and passes have shuffled up the order, with the Magpies contemplating a roughie from Western Australia – perhaps the unlucky Jack Mayo or Patrick Farrant to help strengthen their tall stocks.

Essendon:

#37 James Rowbottom
#57 Riley Bowman

Just the two picks inside the four rounds for Essendon, but no fear Bombers fans, along with a potential Shaun McKernan rookie upgrade, the Bombers are likely to take one or two more selections. They could target someone like a Nick Hind who has speed to burn and already knows the club well having played for the Bombers’ VFL side. But in the two selections Essendon did make, they went for the inside strength of James Rowbottom, and the ruck depth provided by Dandenong’s Riley Bowman, a couple of need-based selections for the Bombers in the Phantom Draft.

Fremantle:

#18 Ian Hill
#36 Sydney Stack
#45 Tom Lewis
#56 Damon Greaves
#72 Aaron Nietschke

Fremantle went local for its picks, going West Australian for three, and a couple of South Australian boys as well. Fremantle fans seem divided on whether or not to select Ian Hill with the first rounder, but do not let an injury-interrupted season put you off, he is a genuine star. The Dockers also selected fellow West Australian, Sydney Stack to add class to the side, as well as half-back Damon Greaves. Fremantle are also rumoured to be interested in Sturt midfielder, Tom Lewis, while also taking a punt on the consistent Aaron Nietschke with the final selection in this Phantom Draft. They then can select Jason Carter with a later selection or as a free hit in the rookie draft.

Geelong:

#14 Riley Collier-Dawkins
#49 Josh Kemp
#50 Charlie Sprague
#63 Oscar Brownless

Geelong made four picks in our Phantom Draft, picking up big-bodied inside midfielder, Riley Collier-Dawkins and two hybrid forward options in Josh Kemp and Charlie Sprague, before picking Oscar Brownless with their final selection. The father-son prospect can play midfield or forward, while Kemp adds a defensive element to the forward 50, and Sprague adds the attacking element which gives them plenty of scope for the future.

Gold Coast:

#2 Jack Lukosius
#3 Izak Rankine
#6 Jye Caldwell
#31 Jez McLennan
#33 Jacob Koschitzke
#71 Matt McGannon

Gold Coast always had a strong hand coming into the draft, and much like we expect in the real thing, selected Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Jye Caldwell with their first three selections. They add to their talent inside 50 and strength through the midfield. Later in the draft, the SUNS sured up their defence, picking half-back flankers, Jez McLennan and Matt McGannon, alongside All-Australian key position defender, Jacob Koschitzke. It means the SUNS picked up a tall at either end and added bucket loads of skill on the flanks.

GWS GIANTS:

#10 Jordan Clark
#13 Chayce Jones
#22 Ned McHenry
#23 Kieren Briggs
#51 Tom Sparrow

GWS GIANTS filled a number of needs in selecting players with varying skill sets and versatility that enables them to play a number of roles during a match. Jordan Clark and Chayce Jones are your clean, outside ball users who can slot practically anywhere on the field, Ned McHenry is your forward pressure player who loves the physicality of the game, and Tom Sparrow late represents value as a burst midfielder. The GIANTS also matched a bid of Academy prospect, Kieren Briggs who slots into the ruck ranks which have been wearing thin given Rory Lobb’s departure.

Hawthorn:

#52 Noah Gown
#60 Irving Mosquito

They will have another selection late, but along with Next Generation Academy member, Irving Mosquito, Hawthorn took a punt on key forward, Noah Gown. The Gippsland Power teammates reunite at the Hawks and immediately add to the forward half of the ground with Jarryd Roughead coming to the twilight of his career, while Mosquito adds that forward pressure. Both are players who with the right development could certainly be great value players at these selections.

Melbourne:

#29 Xavier O’Halloran
#32 Will Hamill
#38 Toby Bedford
#54 Will Golds

Melbourne has one of the more well-rounded teams and we targeted best available, with a focus on speed and outside run. Vic Metro captain, Xavier O’Halloran adds leadership and can play midfield or forward, while Will Hamill and Will Golds are classy outside ball users. Hamill will likely play off half-back and Golds off a wing, while Next Generation Academy player, Toby Bedford will cause headaches for opposition coaches inside 50.

North Melbourne:

#11 Tarryn Thomas
#30 Bailey Scott
#62 Angus Hanrahan

North Melbourne had the three selections in the first four rounds, and will also be picking up Joel Crocker with the club’s last selection. In the first four rounds, they matched bids on Next Generation Academy prospect, Tarryn Thomas, and father-son prospect, Bailey Scott. Both are top talents who will be great inclusions to a midfield that could do with a dose of outside speed and versatility. Angus Hanrahan late is a developing forward who can play midfield and add another dimension inside 50.

Port Adelaide:

#5 Ben King
#12 Zak Butters
#17 Xavier Duursma

Just the three early picks for Port Adelaide, selecting Ben King with pick five after brother Max was gone, while Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma add versatility and clean skills. Butters has great class and will play off half-forward or along a wing until he bulks up, while Duursma is equally lightly built and will play off a flank at either end or along a wing in time. Both know how to use the ball exceptionally well and have plenty of upside for the future.

Richmond:

#20 Liam Stocker
#42 Jack Bytel
#55 Tom McKenzie
#59 Harry Reynolds
#67 Brayden Ham

Richmond will look to target bigger bodies at the coalface, so expect a couple of these types of names to land at the Tigers. Liam Stocker has long been linked to Punt Road, while Jack Bytel seems a no brainer at pick 42. Tom McKenzie adds a different type of midfielder with their next pick, having speed and the ability to play off half-back as well. Reynolds is similarly able to play off half-back or through the midfield, and has that prototype body size. With the final pick, Richmond took a punt on overager Brayden Ham who has elite athletic traits and can play anywhere on the ground.

St Kilda:

#4 Max King
#40 Fraser Turner
#47 Durak Tucker
#58 Zac Foot
#70 Joe Ayton-Delaney

St Kilda fans have been keen to secure midfielders, and while it still looks like Max King will be the first selection, they cannot be unhappy with a genuine franchise key forward who as an added bonus, supports the Saints. Throw in the outside run of Fraser Turner and Zac Foot, while Joe Ayton-Delaney comes off a half-back flank and might not make it to pick 70, but he was there in this draft and would be fairly quickly swooped upon. Durak Tucker is another player who will add some composure down back with nice athleticism and offers value at pick 47 if the Saints are so inclined to pick up the West Australian.

Sydney:

#6 Nick Blakey
#43 Laitham Vandermeer
#44 Tom Joyce
#48 Jack Ross

Sydney made four rather savvy selections in the draft, taking Academy prospect, Nick Blakey after matching a bid inside the top 10, then selecting three very different players with the three selections remaining in the 40s. They picked up overage speedster, Laitham Vandermeer, small inside bull,  Tom Joyce, and dual balanced midfielder, Jack Ross, all of whom are arguably more readymade than many of their contemporaries at the same draft region.

West Coast:

#24 Sam Sturt
#27 Luke Foley
#41 Jarrod Cameron
#65 Mitch Podhajski
#68 Dillon O’Reilly

West Coast heads to the draft coming off a premiership, so targeting players who can fill depth for future years is important, and we looked at a variety of players to fill certain roles. They pick up draft bolter, Sam Sturt with their first selection, as well as overager, Luke Foley who remains in his home state. They were forced to match a bid for Jarrod Cameron at pick 41, but that seems straight forward, while picking up the readymade Mitch Podhajski, and local key forward, Dillon O’Reilly.

Western Bulldogs:

#8 Bailey Smith
#28 Rhylee West
#39 Jacob Kennerley
#46 Buku Khamis

The Western Bulldogs got their two club-tied players through matching bids with father-son midfielder, Rhylee West and Next Generation Academy prospect, Buku Khamis. The Bulldogs also picked up the man they have been heavily linked to in Bailey Smith with their first selection and outside runner, Jacob Kennerley with their second round pick a #39. All could contribute during the 2019 season if the coaching staff are so inclined, so it is a readymade draft haul for the Dogs.


*Among those taken in the next 20-odd picks included the likes of Hayden Sampson, Oscar Chapman, Daly Andrews, Mitch Riordan, Noah Answerth, Lachlan Sholl, Will Kennedy, Joel Crocker, Jason Carter, Riley Grundy and Kyle Reid, with some mature agers including Nick Hind, Brett Bewley and Darcy Fort also there.

AFL Draft preview: Melbourne

MELBOURNE reached the penultimate weekend of the season before disappointingly bowing out to a red-hot West Coast at Optus Stadium. With the acquisitions of Steven May and Kade Kolodjashnij over the trade period, the Demons have one of the most well-balanced lists in the competition. They might target some outside run to help with their top-notch onball brigade, while also added another small-to-medium forward, and perhaps a ruck for depth late.

List needs:

  • Outside midfielder
  • Small-medium forward
  • Ruck

Draft Picks: 23, 28, 54, 62, 91

The Demons have two selections in the top 30 – which will likely be pushed back due to multiple father-son and academy bids taking place in the first two rounds. They have some later picks as well which will be used to match a likely bid for Next Generation Academy member, Toby Bedford in the late second to early third round. Bedford adds that element up forward with his defensive pressure, X-factor and high-level game smarts setting him apart from other small forwards at the draft region. Sam Sturt is an earlier selection that might come into consideration, though there are a number of midfield prospects likely to be in the Demons’ thinking. They would certainly have a look at the likes of Xavier O’Halloran or Jacob Kennerley who are gut-runners with elite endurance. O’Halloran can also play inside or down forward, while Kennerley has spent time off half-back. If Ian Hill somehow slid, one would think they would snap him up, while Ned McHenry and Curtis Taylor are others who could be there if the Demons are lucky and might pounce. Another to consider is Bedford’s Stingrays’ teammate in Will Hamill who is a top athlete with sublime skills, or Fraser Turner who is another outside player with neat skills.

With the later selections, Melbourne will likely have to cough them up to match Bedford, but they could move further down and still find some diamonds in the rough. Perhaps Riley Bowman or mature-ager, Darcy Fort might be a late option if they are on the board to fill their ruck needs. Depending on their earlier picks they might opt for outside runner, Will Golds, or perhaps Matthew McGannon or Mitch Podhajski who provide bigger bodies that could play outside or anywhere on the field. Joe Ayton-Delaney and Brayden Ham might be others coming into consideration for the later picks if they are still on the board.  If they look to add a forward having gone midfield early, the Demons might look to Oscar Chapman or Zane Barzen as medium forwards. Much of consideration for Melbourne’s selection depends when the Bedford bid comes in, but will likely be after their first two selections.

AFL Draft preview: Gold Coast SUNS

AFTER a disappointing season on-field and the resultant post-season exodus, Gold Coast Suns have plenty of gaps to fill come draft time – with the appropriate firepower early on to pick up some serious future a-graders. Most positions are there to be hit, and the Suns’ early picks could play a major part in shaping the rest of the top 10.

List Needs:

  • Key defender
  • Midfield depth
  • Key forward
  • Intercept defender

DRAFT SELECTIONS: 2, 3, 6, 24, 29, 80

With Carlton set to take Sam Walsh with the first selection of the draft, Gold Coast are afforded the opportunity to package a couple of elite talents with the following two picks. A combination of South Australians Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, and Connor Rozee look most likely to head to the sunshine state at this stage, and all possess rare qualities in their respective games. Lukosius has been touted by some as the number one talent in the draft – widely compared to St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt on account of his cleanliness overhead and leading patterns, while having the added potential to move back or onto a wing. A ‘once in a generation’ prospect, Lukosius would slot straight into the hole left by ex-skipper Tom Lynch as a ready-made player who has experience against mature bodies in the SANFL. Midfielders Rankine and Rozee are vastly different, but both have the capability to double as forwards as they develop. Rankine has long been a prodigious talent, with his exceptional skills and x-factor on full show during his stand-out National Championship performance against Vic Metro, where he snared five goals. Rozee would be a sure bet at either pick three or six, possessing the leadership qualities Gold Coast desperately needs on top of a good balance of inside and outside traits.

Should the Suns steer away from a South Australian with pick six, Vic Country’s Jye Caldwell is one who remains right in the top 10 mix despite an injury plagued season, and has the same leadership qualities as Rozee to go with his complete midfield game. Tasmanian Chayce Jones is another in the same mould who has shot up draft boards of late, and Gold Coast could do worse than to snap him up given the ‘go home’ factor is a non-issue here. Another midfield talent that could be considered is Sandringham’s Bailey Smith, whose contested ball and tackle numbers are a class above. Either way, some top-end midfield talent is something most teams can’t get enough of, and the flexibility of each player listed is invaluable.

With key forward stocks taken care of early on, Gold Coast could look to sure up their back half with two selections in the 20’s. Pick 24 will slide given the amount of father-son and academy picks set to come in the first round, but a player like South Australia’s Jez McLennan would perfectly fit a need and should be available around that mark. A clean user and apt intercept marker, McLennan was an integral part of SA’s winning Championship team who can fill the gap left by Kade Kolodjashnij. Along those lines, West Australian Damon Greaves could be one the Suns target with pick 29 due to his marking prowess and rebound ability. With a need for key defenders, mobile back Jacob Koschitzke could be one they take early as one of the better options in that position, given a bid on Collingwood father-son Will Kelly will inevitably be matched.

Depending on what they do with pick six, a midfielder could still be on the cards here too, with the likes of Liam Stocker, Xavier O’Halloran, and Ned McHenry all viable ball-winning options with upside. The Suns could also mix things up with a bid on Bailey Scott at 24 or 29, who came through their academy but opted to nominate North Melbourne as his club of choice. Speaking of academy picks, Dirk Koenen should be on the board at the Suns’ final selection (80), and his availability could dictate whether they target defenders earlier. Caleb Graham and Lachlan McDonald are other possibilities for a rookie spots having received State Combine invites, while at least one other club is interested in Ryan Gilmore given he tested at the Rookie Me combine.