Tag: zac taylor

PODCAST EXPLAINER | The Midfielder’s Draft

THE Final Siren Podcast team returned this week for another pocket podcast edition, this time breaking down why the upcoming AFL intake has been deemed a midfielder’s draft. Chief Editor Peter Williams again took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro on some of the prime midfielders available, and why they are likely to feature at the pointy end.

Among the group of likely first-rounders, the team broke prospects into three different categories to get a better understanding of how each of them play, and perhaps help fans narrow in on the exact type of ball winner they want their club to pursue. In this week’s explainer, we delve into said categories and the players which suit them respectively.

Podcast link: Click here!

PODCAST AGENDA

FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS

The top two

It is no secret that Nick Daicos and Jason Horne-Francis are regarded by many as the top two prospects in this year’s draft, and they just so happen to both be midfielders. While clear of the competition, they are very different types and have varying weapons which they lean on.

Daicos is an accumulator who offers an outrageously consistent output with his work-rate, unrivalled smarts, and team-oriented play. While he brings class and grace, Horne-Francis is more of a bull at the coalface with his explosiveness and noted aggression at both ball and carrier. He can open games up with penetrating kicks and high marks, bring his impact per possession to a high level.

The safe/reliable picks

Reliability is a major factor in what clubs look for in their potential draftees, and there are a selection of midfielders which can certainly offer as much among the 2021 crop. For much of the pathway, Ben Hobbs has been one who looks ready to go with his mature frame and strength in contested situations now complimented by hard running and consistent disposal outputs.

Fellow Victorian Josh Ward has added inside elements to his game this season to rise into top 10 contention, complimenting his running ability and wonderfully clean skills with some real grunt in midfield. Over in Western Australia, Neil Erasmus has put up exceptional numbers at PSA and WAFL Colts level, while Matthew Roberts has taken well to senior football in the SANFL.

While Hobbs, Erasmus and Roberts have all battled injury this year around their runs of form, all four players here are the types who will perform each week and look safe bets as 200-game players for the future. They are reliable, tough, and hard-working, so should provide great value in the first round.

The classy types

Many clubs will value midfielders who can not only win the ball at a good rate, but also use it well. This year, there are a few who fit this category with enviable class on the ball and elite decision making which really puts them above many others in the draft class.

Arguably atop the list, and one who could fit a range of categories is Finn Callaghan. The Sandringham Dragons powerhouse has been a big improver this year, developing from a half-back and wingman to become an outstanding centre bounce operator. At 189cm, he has the build of a modern day midfielder but moves so gracefully in traffic, never rushed and always able to manufacture a bit of space before delivering effective disposals.

Tyler Sonsie is a prospect who fits this mould perfectly, and was considered a top five candidate coming into the year. Injury has interrupted his campaign, but the Eastern Ranges midfielder is as poised as they come in possession with top level vision and skills coming out of congestion. His ability to roll forward and find the goals is another string to his bow, and an important point of difference.

Another couple of dynamic types with plenty of class are Matthew Johnson and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. While one has slid a touch as the other has risen this year, there is no denying that both players use the ball beautifully by foot and are two of the more elite kicks going around. At 193cm, Johnson features more at the centre bounces and moves well in traffic, while Wanganeen-Milera has tricks on the outside and can carve up the opposition in space.

The versatile/hybrid types

Hybrid is a bit of an in-vogue word at the moment, but in this sense we’re talking about the players who are versatile and can impact in other areas of the ground before eventually becoming more permanent midfielders, or pinch-hitting there.

There is a good handful of first round talent which suits this mould, starting with South Australian Arlo Draper. He fares well at stoppages and can certainly get his hands on the ball there, but adds a point of difference with his ability to take marks and kick goals up forward. He has been more of a midfielder-forward at Under 18s level, but has spent more time among the front half in senior grades.

Prominent Sandringham Dragons pair Josh Sinn and Campbell Chesser are players who have notable outside traits, including their speed, line-breaking ability, and kicking skills. Both have developed across half-back and the wing, but can just as capably play on the inside and are true metres-gained assets in all roles.

Along with the above pair, Josh Rachele has been a standout throughout the pathways and while he has more often been used as a half-forward for Murray and Vic Country, can certainly impact with his speed and skill in midfield. From small to tall, Josh Goater is a big-bodied type on the inside who can essentially play anywhere. He has clean hands and unreal athleticism, which boded well for his most recent move to half-back with plenty of run and intercept marking.

DEPTH – OTHERS TO CONSIDER

It’s not just a midfielder’s draft in the first round, with many top ball winners rising into contention or remaining around the mark. There is a healthy scattering of players from different regions, offering a diverse range of skills and mostly being available in the open draft.

Zac Taylor and Mitch Knevitt offer very different styles, but both were in sensational form before the latest Victorian lockdown. Dandenong Stingrays pair Judson Clarke and Connor Macdonald are smaller types with terrific craft, while Jake Soligo is another in that mould. Elsewhere, St Kilda fans with have their eyes on exciting NGA pair Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens, while Northern’s Ned Long is one to keep an eye on.

Western Australia’s engine room has proven very strong in representative hitouts, with a good mix of hardened inside types and accumulating outside runners. Josh Browne is as consistent as they come, while Corey Warner offers some forward drive on the outer, and Taj Woewodin is a Melbourne father-son candidate with nice traits. On the inside, Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick are absolute bulls, with Dittmar’s East Perth teammate James Tunstill another to consider.

Port Adelaide has its own father-son prospect in Jase Burgoyne, who is a really classy type. He is quite light-on though, and may have to lean on his versatility to play off half-back before entering the midfield fray. Elsewhere, Hugh Jackson had an outstanding first half of the season to put his name in the spotlight, and Cooper Murley arguably possesses top 25 talent, but has been struck down by injury for much of the year.

PODCAST EXPLAINER | September Power Rankings update

THE Final Siren Podcast returned this week with another special edition Power Rankings breakdown, fielding your questions following Draft Central’s September update. With the list extended out to 30 names and including six previously unranked prospects, there was plenty to discuss this time around.

Chief Editor Peter Williams took over the host chair to grill Draft Editor Michael Alvaro about the current state of things, before passing on the queries sent through by you, via Instagram. In the latest podcast explainer, we run through the key points of the episode to provide some depth and context to your listen.

Podcast Link: Click here!

PODCAST AGENDA:

Extending the list to 30 players

As is the case towards the end of each year, this month we added five extra spots to fill and with such an even crop, it arguably made things even more difficult. Past the top 10 or so prospects, the rankings have been difficult to consolidate given the wealth of players vying for spots from around the 15-35 mark. With the final five selections, previously unranked players snuck in but there are plenty more who could easily have slotted in instead.

Six fresh faces

Four completely new prospects entered the rankings in September, lead by South Australian wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. The classy ball user is a terrific decision maker and given his level of play against SANFL League and Under 19 championship competition, he simply had to enter the top 20.

While they lacked any real action in August, Victorians Zac Taylor and Mitch Knevitt were deserving of spots between the 25-30 mark, having produced outstanding levels of output before the NAB League’s latest hiatus. Fremantle NGA candidate Jesse Motlop (29) is the other new name, coming in with WAFL League experience and plenty of tricks as a small forward.

Among those returning to the rankings are Blake Howes (26) and Jacob van Rooyen (30), who featured among our top 25 earlier in the year. The former was beginning to find his feet as an athletic wingman in the NAB League, while the latter proved his worth as a key position swingman in representative colours and looks physically ready for senior football.

Risers and sliders

Along with the previously unranked Wanganeen-Milera catapulting into 18th, West Australian spearhead Jye Amiss proved his top 15 credentials with another outstanding month. The East Perth forward now boasts 51.14 in his 13 WAFL Colts games and kicked a couple in WA colours to stamp his mark as a top tall talent.

Going the other way are the likes of Matthew Roberts (15) and Matthew Johnson (19), who have previously been regarded as top 10 prospects. Both have tasted senior football and Roberts remains a safe and reliable midfield option, but a knock on his disposal under pressure and ability to play inside at senior level remains. For Johnson, others are simply rising around him and his output up the grades has been a touch inconsistent, despite his obvious class.

Other factors – National Championships, scrapped Victorian season, injuries

With South Australia and Western Australia facing off last month in an Under 19 clash, the risk of recency bias comes into play given those in the remaining states and territories have been afforded less opportunities to impress. While there are some clear risers, weighing up prospects against one-another is difficult when half of them aren’t currently playing. Injuries have also impacted the crop this year, with some unable to gain the continuity needed prove their top potential.

In the mix

West Australian accumulator Josh Browne was one of the unlucky ones to miss out this month, having featured among August’s allotment. East Fremantle teammate Corey Warner has also been pressing his case on the back of big performances at PSA, Colts, and League level, while intercept marking machine Rhett Bazzo came close after his outstanding championships performance.

Over in South Australia, Norwood midfielder-forward has been dreadfully unlucky with injury this year but has brilliant potential, while North Adelaide ball magnet Hugh Jackson looked primed for a top 25 push before a slight dip in form.

204cm Geelong Falcons prospect Toby Conway looks poised to be considered the best pure ruck in the pool, so should also be thereabouts. Meanwhile, the rise of St Kilda NGA and Sandringham Dragons pair Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager has not gone unnoticed. Saints fans and recruiters will be sweating, but they should be safe for now.

Instagram Q&A

Your questions answered!

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2021

IT has been a long wait, but the Draft Central Power Rankings are back for another edition. The September update sees our list of top prospects stretched to 30 after a last-gasp National Championships fixture and some handy showings from rising stars amid the on-again, off-again nature of season 2021. While changes are scarce at the top-end, there are six fresh faces among the overall intake and a couple of notable risers who continue to garner attention.

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

>> 2021 AFL Draft Combine List: 90 prospects earn invites

#1 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

August Ranking: #1

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. The Magpies are in for a rare talent.

Last month:

In what was a quiet month for Victoria’s metropolitan prospects, Daicos still managed to dominate headlines. The father-son candidate officially nominated Collingwood as his destination of choice, committing two years on top of his original starting contract as he waits to join the senior squad in November. He looks a lock to be bid on with one of the first two picks.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Nick Daicos on the ball for Oakleigh Chargers

#2 Jason Horne-Francis
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

August Ranking: #2

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as damaging scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne-Francis retained his crown for our first two rankings updates. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Only 18 in June, Horne-Francis boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him well in contention for number one status.

Last month:

We got to see some of Horne-Francis’ blinding best during August, as two of his four SANFL League appearances yielded high level returns. He kicked off the month with 22 disposals and three goals against Central District, before bookending it with 24 disposals, five clearances, seven tackles, nine inside 50s and a goal against West Adelaide. In between those outings, he also skippered South Australia’s Under 19 squad. While down on his usual lofty standards, Horne-Francis spent plenty of time forward and made his presence felt – particularly during a productive final quarter.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Jason Horne-Francis captaining South Australia | Credit: SANFL

#3 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

August Ranking: #3

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his clean kicking, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.

Last month:

While there ended up being no football for Victoria’s metropolitan regions, Callaghan was arguably set for a pretty steady August in any case. The smooth mover was due to return from a foot injury which kept him from representative honours in July, but can now rest up ahead of the combine.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

Finn Callaghan in Vic Metro colours

#4 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg

August Ranking: #4

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top three candidate on potential and the clear best tall in the draft, with his versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy initially impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck at NAB League level, but went on to consolidate his top-end credentials with outstanding performances up forward. Bulldogs fans, you have another key position jet on the radar.

Last month:

Another Vic Metro prospect who did not get on the park in August due to a lack of NAB League and APS football, Darcy remains in top three contention and like Daicos, will inevitably attract a very early bid.

Sam Darcy is the leading tall in this year’s crop

#5 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

August Ranking: #5

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner had an interrupted start to his 2021 campaign due to injury, but has well and truly proved his top 10 credentials since getting back on the park. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety soon-to-be 18-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and has taken full toll with dominant numbers upon his return to action.

Last month:

Victoria’s Country regions briefly got back on the park in August, and Hobbs managed to sneak in a couple of outstanding performances for his GWV Rebels. Consistent as ever, he racked up 34 and 32 disposals across the two games while also finding the goals in each. Hobbs’ hard edge, ball winning ability, and reliability continue to be his key strengths, despite both of his August outings resulting in losses.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

Ben Hobbs kicks Vic Country forward

#6 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

August Ranking: #7

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 calculations.

Once again, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture, as he continues to improve at a great rate.

Last month:

Like Hobbs, Gibcus got on the park for a couple more appearances in GWV colours. He was also consistent in his output, managing 12 and 13 disposals in the respective losses, while also rising for three marks in both games. The tall talent may be quiet at times, but has terrific upside and some eye-catching strengths across the backline.

#7 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

August Ranking: #6

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each key position post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position talent who rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew is well and truly out of reach for Melbourne as a Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate by now. He currently sits inside the top 20 group quite unanimously, boasting raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons NGA talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Last month:

While considered a Country region, much of Dandenong’s list lies within the Metro ring and thus, the Stingrays’ last game came on August 1. Andrew was afield for the loss to Eastern Ranges, notching 17 disposals, four marks and 16 hitouts. He looked quite raw and struggled for footing at times, but popped up with a couple of typically impressive overhead marks as he rotated forward from the ruck.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

#8 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg

August Ranking: #8

Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is consistently capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.

Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot well among the 2021 crop’s first round bracket. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward won the same honours this year as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent.

Last month:

Like many of his Metro-based counterparts, Ward did not see any action over the last month due to a lack of APS and NAB League competition.

Josh Ward captained Vic Metro this year

#9 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

August Ranking: #9

Snapshot: Initially an exciting forward who has since transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching traits both aerially and at ground level.

Arguably Western Australia’s leading prospect, Erasmus has built on the promise he showed in last year’s WAFL Colts grand final which saw him come into 2021 as a first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 decider, showcasing clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this year, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with scoreboard impact remaining in his back pocket.

Last month:

Western Australia’s vice-captain returned emphatically via the state side at the end of July during trials, but did not get to take the field in last week’s National Championships bout. The Hale School skipper sustained a corked thigh in his August 14 PSA outing and played the next week despite it, but saw said injury flare up just before he was set for representative duties. Erasmus was brave in his school outings as he endured the knock, impacting as one of his side’s best players with more time up forward. He has not played in any WAFL grade since May, and may well have played his last game for the year – pending another state Under 19s clash.

>> WA U19s Player Focus: Neil Erasmus

#10 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

August Ranking: #10

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to find the goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s absolute best is exceptionally good. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Last month:

Sonsie has been on the sidelines since late-June due to injury, sustaining bone bruising in the second half of Eastern’s Round 9 loss to Sandringham. He was thus ruled out of Vic Metro duties in July, and did not manage to get on the park last month with metropolitan NAB League regions out of action.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#11 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

August Ranking: #11

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the most damaging technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looked close to regaining top form at times.

Last month:

Injured during the final term of July’s Victorian Challenge Match, Sinn was set to make his return in the back-end of the NAB League season. With that now scrapped for Metro regions, he can look forward to turning out at the Draft Combine.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

Josh Sinn carries the ball forward for Sandringham Dragons

#12 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

August Ranking: #13

Snapshot: A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations you’d expect on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Last month:

The Murray Bushrangers only played once, at the very start of August but had the bye during the competition’s mid-month return. Rachele did not turn out in the aforementioned fixture, and his three-goal APS dig with Caulfield Grammar on July 31 was his last outing.

#13 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

August Ranking: #14

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in tight spaces through the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact when stationed inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in all three SANFL grades this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who will feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Last month:

Draper returned from injury through the Reserves last month, with his 14 disposals and four clearances enough to earn a League debut the following week. He looked classy in possession while averaging 11 disposals and five marks in his two top flight appearances, before turning out for South Australia in the Under 19 championships fixture. The first round talent was a touch down on his usual output but did some nice things rotating through midfield from the forwardline. He then dropped back down to Under 18s level, producing 24 disposals, five marks and six clearances in a finals loss to West Adelaide.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus
>> Feature

#14 Jye Amiss
East Perth/Western Australia | Tall Forward
31/07/2003 | 195cm | 85kg 

August Ranking: #19

Snapshot:

You’ll hear plenty of puns regarding the key forward’s ironic surname but it’s true that Amiss is more hit than, well, miss. The East Perth spearhead has dominated the 2021 WAFL Colts season thus far, booting 51 goals in 13 games with a ridiculously good conversion rate of 78 per cent from his scoring shots. He proved undeniable for selection in a West Australian state squad stacked with key position talent, and doesn’t need a wealth of opportunities to make an impact. With sound overhead marking and an improving ground level game, Amiss is an irresistible threat inside attacking 50. He bolted into our rankings with a debut inside the top 20, and makes another move having excelled on the big stage.

Last month:

Amiss has skyrocketed into top 15 contention over the last two months, with his latest patch of form only consolidating said status. He started out with 18 disposals, 11 marks and six goals against the bottom WAFL Colts side after starring in state trials, before snaring two goals on each side of his National Championships outing. As WA’s spearhead, Amiss snared two goals and passed off some gettable opportunities in a terrific display where he constantly found separation on the lead, marked cleanly overhead, and kicked a highlight reel goal.

#15 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

August Ranking: #12

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

Another member of South Adelaide’s football factory, Roberts’ form over the last few seasons has seen him prove difficult to deny of first round contention. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 18-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Last month:

Like South Adelaide teammate Draper, Roberts returned from injury through the Reserves where his 18 disposals and five marks were enough to yield a League call-up. He had not trouble finding the ball with 20 disposals and seven inside 50s in his game back in the top flight, before kicking two goals from 13 touches on the other side of his National Championships appearance. Roberts found indifferent form in said fixture, putting in a shift during term two to keep SA in the contest, but proving a touch scrappy with his disposal at times. He found plenty, nonetheless and continues to put up strong numbers.

>> Q&A
>> Feature
>> SANFL League Player Focus

Matthew Roberts gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook Photography

#16 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder/Defender
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

August Ranking: #16

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 20, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser had only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having lacked continuity while battling a knee injury earlier in his campaign.

Last month:

Another who was primed to impress in the back-end of the year, Chesser did not get the chance to prove his worth given the lack of APS and metropolitan NAB League football. He already missed a chunk of time earlier in the year having undergone knee surgery, but will be preparing for the Draft Combine.

#17 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Defender
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

August Ranking: #17

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential and versatility.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing, pinch-hit up forward, and has proven his class off half-back. He is another who stakes his claim on high upside.

Last month:

Goater technically made an appearance in August, albeit on the first day as his Calder Cannons beat the Murray Bushrangers. The talented utility continued to showcase his versatility, starring in defence with 28 disposals, 11 marks and eight rebound 50s before Metro regions again went into lockdown. His intercept marking ability and clean kicking skills proved weaponous.

#18 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera
Glenelg/South Australia | Wing
22/02/2003 | 188cm | 70kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A smooth-moving wingman with plenty of tricks, Wanganeen-Milera can carve up the opposition with his combination of agility and elite decision making by foot.

Wanganeen-Milera comes from good pedigree as the nephew of Gavin Wanganeen and son of Terry Milera, but is blazing his own trail en route to first round contention. Class is the word which often comes up when describing the flying Glenelg wingman, as he dances around opposition players and delivers pin-point passes by foot. The 18-year-old started out in the Bays’ Reserves team this year but has since made an impact at League level, and was a late call-up to the AFL Academy squad in April. He has proven one of the most exciting draft prospects to watch over the last two months, performing well against high levels of competition and holding his own. The scary thing is, he still has plenty of room to grow and improve.

Last month:

While he made his SANFL League debut in July, Wanganeen-Milera made arguably his biggest impact in August. He kicked a clutch goal in Glenelg’s dramatic win over Norwood, and booted another major from 13 disposals the next week before slotting into South Australia’s Under 19 state squad. He was a standout at that level, tearing up the wing and oozing class with each disposal to thrust his name into top 15 calculations. His last outing was back in the League grade, managing nine touches as Glenelg lost its first game for the season on the eve of finals.

>> SANFL Player Focus

#19 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

August Ranking: #15

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is one of the premier tall midfielders in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop coming into the season, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean skills around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Last month:

Johnson turned out for back-to-back games in the WAFL Reserves grade to start the month, returning mixed results. While he was quiet with seven touches in his first dig, the tall midfielder backed it up with 22 disposals and 10 marks to showcase the range between his best and worst form. He had previously proven all class against his peers though, and that was no different as he represented WA in last week’s National Championships showcase. Running through midfield, Johnson’s kicking was outstanding and he proved a top level type with ball-in-hand.

#20 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm | 70kg

August Ranking: #18

Snapshot: Wilmot is a tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed and ball use.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Last month:

Like many of his Metro-based Victorian counterparts, Wilmot’s last game came on August 1. The speedy half-back was one of Northern’s best in a home loss to Bendigo, contributing 16 disposals, four rebound 50s, and plenty of run out of the back half. A vocal kind of leader, he also read the play well and got behind his teammates with great voice. There have, unfortunately, been no opportunities since.

Darcy Wilmot on the fly for Northern Knights

#21 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

August Ranking: #20

Snapshot: Williams is a versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals up forward, while also rotating through the ruck or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 35 goals in 12 WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

Williams continues to prove an ominous type at WAFL Colts level, consistently kicking multiple goals and dominating in the air. He booted eight goals from a combined 29 disposals and 13 marks in his two games in the lead up to state Under 19 representation, before returning with another three majors from 17 touches and nine marks last week. In his National Championships outing, Williams showed promising signs up forward and found the big sticks, but could have ended up with more had he converted and stuck even more overhead marks inside 50.

#22 Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
10/02/2003 | 184cm | 73kg

August Ranking: #24

Snapshot: Butler has wonderfully clean hands and burning pace, traits which have translated well from an initial forward role, to a more recent midfield venture.

Another prospect with ties at the elite level, Butler is the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. He is an exciting player in his own right though, with sharp skills by hand and a terrific turn of speed which serve him well in a creative sense. Having proved himself in the forward half, Butler went on to impress with his clean ball winning ability in midfield before injury struck. He missed out on representing Vic Country as an Under 19 having done so at Under 16s level, but is a player who catches the eye and would have been a lock for said honours if the opportunity presented once again.

Last month:

While Butler was steady with 10 disposals and 1.2 in his August 1 outing upon returning from injury, he built back to form in his next appearance. Turning out in a loss against Gippsland, the midfielder-forward racked up 27 disposals and four marks to be one of the Rebels’ better players on the day, before all Victorians were sent back into the current state of lockdown.

>> NAB League Player Focus

#23 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

August Ranking: #21

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading Northern Academy talent.

Our top-ranked Northern Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is clearly the best prospect out of the Allies crop and a real top 25 round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

The sole NSW-ACT representative on this list, Fahey has also been impacted by lockdown over the last month but managed to sneak in a senior game. He turned out for local, AFL Canberra First Grade outfit, Queanbeyan on August 7 and produced the goods. Fahey snared three goals and was among the Tigers’ best players in a 129-point win over Gungahlin. Opportunities continue to prove scarce though, unfortunately.

>> Feature

#24 Tom Brown
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Medium Defender
30/07/2003 | 186cm | 71kg

August Ranking: #22

Snapshot: A dashing half-back with terrific athleticism in the form of speed and a vertical leap, Brown is a bolting talent who you’ll likely miss if you blink.

While Geelong gained access to sister, Millie via father-daughter rules, Tom Brown is ineligible to be drafted by the Cats under the father-son category as his father Paul falls just short of the 100-game qualification. Nonetheless, the Murray Bushrangers prospect has plenty of eye-catching traits which will help him blaze his own trail. A Vic Country Under 16 and now Under 19 representative, Brown is capable of playing on each line but looks to have found a home across half-back, where his dashing style and overhead marking shine. An ankle injury kept him out for a large chunk of the season, but he since returned and looked raring to break into first round contention.

Last month:

As has proven a repeated tale for Victorians on this list, Brown only managed one NAB League outing in August. He was steady with 12 disposals, two marks and three tackles in Murray’s low-scoring loss to Calder at the start of the month, but has not had any further opportunities to impress with no APS competition, and the Bushranger’s bye on August 15.

#25 Zac Taylor
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Small Midfielder/Forward
31/01/2003 | 180cm | 74kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A crafty small prospect with outstanding vision, skills and decision making, Taylor has no trouble finding the ball and makes things happen when in possession.

A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Taylor proved undeniable for repeat honours in the Under 19 grade this year given his outstanding NAB League form. The 180cm midfielder-forward combines toughness with high level smarts; not afraid to work hard to win his own ball, but most effective when able to accumulate and tear sides apart with his sharp skills. The 18-year-old has a great turn of speed and looks to be creative with each possession, breaking into space with his zip before hitting targets further afield. He is particularly reliable by foot and puts up ultra-consistent numbers each week, making him a deserved entrant to the top 25 up our September update.

Last month:

There has been no NAB League action for Metro prospects past August 1, but Taylor made than lone appearance count after impressing at representative level. He racked up a whopping 37 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s in a tight win against Murray on that day, having built into a ridiculous strong vein of form.

>> NAB League Round 15 POTW

Zac Taylor is a crafty user of the ball

#26 Blake Howes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Wing

7/04/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: One of the best athletes available in this year’s draft, Howes boasts a terrific aerial game but also competes well at ground level and shows promising versatility.

While unranked last month, Howes is one who previously featured in our top 25 and is a player who should be well known to keen draft watchers. He was an All Australian at Under 16 level, plying his trade as a high-marking medium forward with wonderful athleticism and clean hands. While he started the year off in that usual forward post, Howes has since shown his versatility with a shift to the wing and is a classic high-ceiling type of prospect. He was included in this year’s initial AFL Academy intake and continues to back up that selection with form fitting of his potential as a mainstay in the Sandringham Dragons’ side.

Last month:

It was unlucky for a player like Howes that the latest lockdown came, given he had been building into some really promising form for Sandringham Dragons up on the wing. He notched 20 disposals and two goals against strong opposition in GWV on August 1, continuing to show his potential and genuine upside.

#27 Mitch Knevitt
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
8/01/2003 | 193cm | 81kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with great size and reach, Knevitt dominates at the coalface and impacts around the ground with his strong overhead marking, a feature also sighted up forward.

One who was marked by his teammates as one to watch during preseason, Knevitt has taken full advantage of finally getting the opportunity to impress with some outstanding form in 2021. The 193cm midfielder provides range and size which proves difficult to combat at the coalface, as he digs in to win contested ball and stands up in tackles while dishing it out. The Geelong Falcons product is also developing his outside game and is athletically sound, getting to more contests around the ground and making an impact with his contested marking. He fits the modern day midfielder-forward prototype given his built and ability, with the performances to match his potential now coming to the fore.

Last month:

Knevitt had been building ominous form before the latest Victorian hiatus, with his sole outing in August an absolute blinder. The big-bodied midfielder dominated with 36 disposals, 10 marks, eight inside 50s and a goal against the Bendigo Pioneers, steering Geelong to victory in his most complete performance yet. He had also put in a massive shift in late-July and was impressive at representative level, helping him climb into top 30 range.

>> NAB League Player Focus
>> NAB League Round 16 POTW

#28 Judson Clarke
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
17/10/2003 | 179cm | 69kg

August Ranking: #25

Snapshot: Clarke is a zippy small forward/midfielder who can light up the game in a flash with his forward run, tricky agility, and eye for goal.

While his exploits were on full show earlier in the year, Clarke stamped his credentials with a breakout performance in the Under 19 Victorian trials, bagging five goals in a starring display. The crafty Dandenong Stingrays product represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and continues to show promising glimpses both in the NAB League and at school footy level. He is nimble in possession with a mix of speed and agility, and looks to make things happen in the front half with creative energy and smarts at the fall of the ball. Clarke often finishes his work with spearing left-foot kicks, making for an exciting package as far as small prospects go. While he can roll through midfield, the 17-year-old looks most damaging up forward and can cement his spot here with more eye-catching big game showings.

Last month:

The Yarra Valley Grammar student had his last outing on July 30, playing against Peninsula Grammar in the AGSV football competition. As a result, he missed out on Dandenong’s August 1 bout and was then impacted by Victoria’s restrictions on metropolitan areas.

#29 Jesse Motlop (FRE NGA)
South Fremantle/Western Australia | Small Forward/Midfielder
23/11/2003 | 176cm | 74kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A highly skilled small forward with great goal sense, speed and smarts, Motlop comes from good pedigree and can make his presence known in a flash.

Another player with ties to the elite level, Motlop is the son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne forward Daniel, but is ineligible for father-son selection. He is part of Fremantle’s NGA, though it will be difficult for the Dockers to secure his services via bidding as Metro-based WA prospects can only be matched on with a bid after pick 40. To any club, Motlop offers an exciting mix of speed and skill as a small forward, able to find the goals regularly with clever finishes while also providing forward pressure. An Aquinas College student, he topped the PSA goalkicking charts last year as a bottom-ager and has cracked the WAFL League grade this season, spending more time in midfield against his peers.

Last month:

Motlop capped off a strong PSA football season with Aquinas College in August, spending more time in midfield after his forward feats in Year 11. He then turned out for Western Australia in last week’s National Championships fixture, snaring a classy small forward’s goal and showing flashes of his brilliance. Upon returning to the WAFL League grade, Motlop booted 2.2 from 13 disposals in a productive display as South Fremantle downed West Coast. He is well poised to now feature in the Bulldogs’ finals campaign.

#30 Jacob van Rooyen
Claremont/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Defender
16/04/2003 | 194cm | 88kg

August Ranking: NR

Snapshot: van Rooyen is a tall forward who presents well with strong hands and a booming kick, but has also shown great potential as a swingman and even in midfield.

Having been earmarked as potentially Western Australia’s best tall prospect coming into the season, van Rooyen has overcome some adversity en route to recapturing his best form. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games as a bottom-ager. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in 2020’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis halted his progress a touch, but van Rooyen started out the season at League level and has shown he is physically a level above the Colts grade.

Last month:

van Rooyen was in serious form heading into last week’s National Championships showcase, booting 11.5 from a combined 44 disposals and 16 marks in two WAFL Colts appearances. Having starred in his usual forward post with all the physicality expected of him, van Rooyen translated that form to a defensive swing for WA’s Under 19 side. He was exceptional against South Australia, helping out on the last line and popping up as an aerial force to clunk multiple intercept marks. He was more steady with seven touches and two goals in his latest Colts dig, but has proven his swingman credentials.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

Jacob van Rooyen is a powerful prospect | Credit: Claremont Football Club

IN THE MIX:

West Australian midfielder Josh Browne is the only player who comes out of last month’s list of 25, but remains around the mark in an even bunch having returned to his ball winning best post-injury. East Fremantle teammate Corey Warner has produced an eye-catching season in the APS and at League level, while intercept marking machine Rhett Bazzo came into consideration after his outstanding National Championships performance for WA. Claremont ruck-forward Eric Benning has also put his hand up of late, but Fremantle fans will want to keep the athletic bigman’s potential on the down-low.

Fellow tall Toby Conway is arguably the best pure ruck of this year’s crop and has hardly put a foot wrong when given the chance. Sandringham Dragons and St Kilda NGA pair Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens have also risen into second round calculations on the back of their desirable traits, while midfielders Connor Macdonald and Jake Soligo are consistent performers who earned representative honours this year.

Over in South Australia, Cooper Murley remains unlucky having again been sidelined through injury (collarbone), but has serious talent. North Adelaide accumulator Hugh Jackson put up some extraordinary early-season numbers and made his Reserves debut last week, with Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne continues to perform and state Under 19 vice-captain Lewis Rayson was a member of our top 25 earlier in the year.

2021 AFL Draft Combine list released

THE list of 2021 AFL Draft Combine invitees was released on Monday, with 90 of the country’s brightest prospects selected to show their athletic wares next month. The list will be extended to 120, with 60 of that total allotment set to attend the National Combine on September 29-30 at Marvel Stadium. The remaining 60 invitees will participate in state-based testing days held around Australia.

>> Top 25: August Power Rankings update

Among the initial 90 invitees is an even spread of talent from each National Championships region. With Victoria supplying around half of the usual draft intake each year, 41 of the state’s best prospects (19 country, 22 metro) earned invites. 11 of the 13 included Allies squad members also turned out at NAB League level, giving the competition strong representation.

The West and South Australian crops look strong as ever, with both states producing 18 players to the initial intake. Among them is pick one candidate Jason Horne-Francis, who features alongside South Adelaide teammates and fellow first round fancies, Arlo Draper and Matthew Roberts. Subiaco pair Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson lead the WA contingent, along with a raft of key position options.

>> Indicative draft order: Who’s in the top 10 mix?

There aren’t too many surprises among the allotted crew, with only one player chosen outside of the Under 19 realm and 87 of the chosen 90 born in 2003. 20-year-old Central District key defender Leek Alleer is the lone ‘mature’ ager, while Eastern Ranges’ Corey Preston and Giants Academy member Harrison Grintell are the only 19th-year players in the mix.

For the most part, players have been selected directly from the representative squads put together ahead of this year’s National Championships, which continue to be postponed. Tasmanian Will Splann is one who came from outside the Allies squad, while Northern Knights pair Anthony Caminiti (tall forward) and Ned Long (midfielder) did not feature for Vic Metro after trials – though, the latter was injured.

Nick Daicos is a pick one contender

Nineteen players are club-tied, split between father-sons, Northern Academy products, and Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopefuls. Oakleigh Chargers teammates Nick Daicos (Collingwood) and Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs) are father-son candidates who could yield bids within the top two picks, while Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide) will likely end up at Alberton outside of the first round.

Giants Academy standout Josh Fahey headlines the Northern Academy input, along with fellow AFL Academy member Austin Harris (Gold Coast). Top 10 candidate Mac Andrew looks set to be the sole NGA product taken before pick 20, but there is plenty of talent clubs will have exclusive access to.

Among them is rising St Kilda-tied pair Mitchito Owens and Marcus Windhager, who impressed enough to earn Vic Metro selection. Over in WA, ruck/forward Eric Benning (Fremantle) and athletic utility Ethan Regan (West Coast) have risen into contention, and the has been conjecture over Jesse Motlop, who also features as a Dockers NGA selection but will only land there past pick 40.

2021 AFL DRAFT COMBINE LIST

NSW-ACT:

Angus Anderson – Sydney Swans Academy
Ryan Eyers – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Fahey – GWS Academy
Harrison Grintell – GWS Academy
Patrick Voss – Oakleigh Chargers/GWS Academy

Northern Territory:

Andy Moniz-Wakefield – NT Thunder
Ned Stevens – NT Thunder/Gold Coast Academy

Queensland:

Will Bella – Gold Coast Academy
Austin Harris – Gold Coast Academy
Bodhi Uwland – Gold Coast Academy

South Australia:

Leek Alleer – Central District
Cooper Beecken – Glenelg
Isaac Birt – South Adelaide
Jase Burgoyne – Woodville-West Torrens
Lukas Cooke – Woodville-West Torrens
Arlo Draper – South Adelaide
Morgan Ferres – Sturt
Jason Horne-Francis – South Adelaide
Hugh Jackson – North Adelaide
Shay Linke – Central District
Cooper Murley – Norwood
Blayne O’Loughlin – North Adelaide
Lewis Rayson – Glenelg
Matthew Roberts – South Adelaide
Hugh Stagg – Glenelg
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera – Glenelg
Luca Whitelum – Central District
James Willis – North Adelaide

Tasmania:

Sam Banks – Clarence
Baker Smith – Clarence
Will Splann – North Hobart

Vic Country:

Mac Andrew – Dandenong Stingrays
Jamieson Ballantyne – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Miller Bergman – Dandenong Stingrays
Tom Brown – Murray Bushrangers
Sam Butler – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Campbell Chesser – Sandringham Dragons
Judson Clarke – Dandenong Stingrays
Toby Conway – Geelong Falcons
Josh Gibcus – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Cooper Hamilton – Bendigo Pioneers
Ben Hobbs – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Mitch Knevitt – Geelong Falcons
Kai Lohmann – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Connor Macdonald – Dandenong Stingrays
Charlie Molan – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Josh Rachele – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Rentsch – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Jai Serong – Gippsland Power
Hamish Sinnott – Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Vic Metro:

Finn Callaghan – Sandringham Dragons
Anthony Caminiti – Northern Knights
Paul Curtis – Western Jets
Nick Daicos – Oakleigh Chargers
Sam Darcy – Oakleigh Chargers
Youseph Dib – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Goater – Calder Cannons
Blake Howes – Sandringham Dragons
Tyreece Leiu – Eastern Ranges
Ned Long – Northern Knights
Mitchito Owens – Sandringham Dragons
Corey Preston – Eastern Ranges
Lachlan Rankin – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Sinn – Sandringham Dragons
Jake Soligo – Eastern Ranges
Tyler Sonsie – Eastern Ranges
Zac Taylor – Calder Cannons
Dante Visentini – Sandringham Dragons
Josh Ward – Northern Knights
Darcy Wilmot – Northern Knights
Marcus Windhager – Sandringham Dragons
Karl Worner – Oakleigh Chargers

Western Australia:

Jye Amiss – East Perth
Rhett Bazzo – Swan Districts
Eric Benning – Claremont
Josh Browne – East Fremantle
Kade Dittmar – East Perth
Neil Erasmus – Subiaco
Brady Hough – Peel Thunder
Matthew Johnson – Subiaco
Jesse Motlop – South Fremantle
Lochlan Paton – West Perth
Ethan Regan – East Perth
Angus Sheldrick – Claremont
Jahmal Stretch – Claremont
James Tunstill – East Perth
Jacob van Rooyen – Claremont
Corey Warner – East Fremantle
Bryce Watson – Swan Districts
Jack Williams – East Fremantle

Ones to Watch: The draft prospect bottleneck brimming with talent

WHILE the top end of the 2021 AFL Draft pool is shaping up nicely despite constant injuries to gun players, unexpected season intermissions, and the absence of an Under 19 National Championships, a massive bottleneck remains just outside of first round contention. Draft Central released its August Power Rankings update on Monday, which ranked the nation’s 25 best prospects, but had about 40 in contention for said honours.

With such an even crop forming around the 20-35 mark, we nominate a player from each national carnival region who could soon rise up the ranks to feature in future rankings, while also highlighting a bunch of other players to watch as regular season fixtures wind down. Some of the talents listed below were also spoken about in the latest Final Siren Podcast episode, where the Draft Central crew fielded your questions.

VICTORIA

Potential Riser: 

Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

Arguably the 26th player in our August Rankings, Taylor may have already made a case for pushing into the top 25 come September’s edition. The small midfielder boasts excellent skills, vision, and decision making, which is exactly what you want from a player who finds the ball as much as he does. At 180cm, Taylor can also double as a pressure forward and utilise those reliable skills in the front half, but has really found a home as Calder’s primary ball winner of late. Over his last three NAB League outings, the 18-year-old has averaged 34 disposals, seven marks and six tackles en route to taking out the Round 15 Player of the Week. He is one of the form players of the draft pool right now, and is proving difficult to deny.

Ones to Watch:

There are plenty of Victorians in the mix as usual, with most already sneaking into the top 25 – like Tom Brown, Sam Butler, and Judson Clarke this past month. Arguably the next biggest riser has been St Kilda Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Mitch Owens, a winger from the stacked Sandringham Dragons regions. The 190cm gloved goer has done plenty of growing over the last year and was a late call-up to last month’s Vic Metro side. He took his chance well, and was in fine form for the Dragons with 25 disposals, six marks, and seven tackles in their most recent outing.

Fellow Sandringham wingman Blake Howes has previously featured in our rankings and remains around the mark, with his athleticism and versatility boding well for a talent with incredible upside. Having rolled up to the wing from his usual forward post in 2021, the 190cm Vic Metro representative has added strings to his bow and booted two goals from 20 touches in his latest NAB League appearance.

Connor Macdonald and Jake Soligo are a couple of small midfielders with handy turns of speed who have no trouble finding the ball, and can also roll forward to impact the scoreboard. Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib is another in that small category at 174cm, but has a mature body which stood up to the rigours of VFL football earlier in the year. He has stood up in midfield recently with his strength and speed around the contest, but is also able to play pressure roles at either end of the ground. Oakleigh teammate Lachlan Rankin is another to monitor; offering versatility, natural smarts, and clean skills in a range of roles.

At the taller end of the midfield scale, Geelong Falcons ball winner Mitch Knevitt has consistently been a standout for his region at the coalface. While he has plenty of room left for improvement, clubs will likely look at his speed, contested work and 193cm frame as traits which point towards workable upside. Fellow big-bodied mid Ned Long has been sidelined of late, but was in promising form at the start of the NAB League season.

There are a couple of defenders who have also impressed throughout the year to prove their potential, in Justin Davies and Oscar Morrison. Both represented Vic Country and have nice combinations of tall and small traits at just under 195cm. Meanwhile, Morrison’s Geelong Falcons teammate Toby Conway has firmed as one of the premier rucks available, standing at over 200cm with handy craft in that department and evolving influence around the ground.

Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Connor Macdonald

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
22/02/2003 | 188cm/70kg | Wing

A smooth-moving wingman with elite pedigree, Wanganeen-Milera is among one of the more eye-catching South Australian prospects. The nephew of Essendon and Port Adelaide champion, Gavin, he caught the eye last year with his speed and dare on the outer for Glenelg’s Under 18s, and has since plied his trade in the senior grades. After 11 Reserves outings, the 18-year-old earned a League berth with the Bays this season and was even a late addition to the AFL Academy squad in April. His skill and poise on the ball made him a standout in South Australia’s Under 19 trial game last month, and with his collection of high-level attributes as a tall and raw wingman, Wanganeen-Milera is certainly on the rise.

Ones to Watch:

After being considered among the top 10-20 prospects coming into 2021, Norwood midfielder-forward Cooper Murley was squeezed out of out latest top 25. It’s through no real fault of his own though, with the productive attacking runner first missing out on AFL Academy duties due to an ankle injury in April, before suffering a collarbone injury in the opening minutes of a SANFL Under 18s outing last month. With an extended run and some more senior action, he can quickly improve his stocks.

A trio of club-linked prospects have put themselves in contention with sustained form in 2021, particularly at Under 18s level. Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne is quite highly regarded in his state, with versatility and clean foot skills among his best traits. While he is quite light-on, he enjoyed a steady three-game stint with Port’s SANFL outfit this season and has no trouble finding the ball.

Adelaide NGA products Blayne O’Loughlin and Isaiah Dudley are crafty smalls who will also come into consideration, and both have even managed to crack the Reserves grade. North Adelaide leader O’Loughlin is the nephew of Michael and loves to generate defensive rebound with his speed and kicking, while Centrals’ speedster Dudley also has good pedigree, with his high-level footy smarts boding well for a future in the small forward role.

North Adelaide midfielders Hugh Jackson and James Willis have both thrown their hats in the ring as potential bolters, but offer quite different strengths. Jackson has clearly been the SANFL Under 18s’ top ball winner with an average of 31.7, while also leading the league for handballs and inside 50s. He has a handy turn of speed, as does the explosive Willis. While a touch more raw in his finished product, Willis certainly catches the eye with his power and agility in the engine room.

State Under 16 and Under 19 teammates Lewis Rayson and Morgan Ferres continue to be thereabouts too. Rayson’s drive and kick penetration on the outer has proven a consistent feature of his game, while Ferres booted 13 goals from a whopping 21 scoring shots in his two SANFL Under 18s outings this season. Both have earned Reserves berths, while Centrals midfielder-forward Shay Linke has broken through to the top flight this year and showed some promise.

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in SA colours | Image Credit: AFL Photos

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)
23/11/03 | 176cm/74kg | Small Forward

Fremantle staff and fans alike will be cursing a technicality in the NGA rules which may see Motlop snatched from their grasp. NGA products from metro regions in South and Western Australia are only eligible to join their aligned clubs with a bid past pick 40, and Motlop has certainly staked his claim to be taken well within that range. The speedy small forward has a terrific eye for goal and applies valuable pressure, which he showed in his WAFL League debut for South Fremantle last month. The son of former Port and North Melbourne forward, Daniel, has also featured at PSA level for Aquinas College and led the competition’s goalkicking as a Year 11 last year. He can also roll into midfield but will likely pique the most interest with his work inside attacking 50.

Ones to Watch:

Twin talls Jacob van Rooyen and Rhett Bazzo were highly touted coming into the season and while they have shown glimpses of top 25 potential thus far, may have fallen just outside that range. Claremont’s van Rooyen is a noted key forward who has shown his versatility this year with time in midfield and more recently, down back. A glandular fever diagnosis halted his initial run at League level. Bazzo, an Under 16 All Australian defender, has arced back to his intercept-marking roots of late after being trialled up forward earlier in the year. Both are AFL Academy members and will be key state Under 19s figures.

Among the recent League debutants are Corey Warner and Luke Polson, who are quite different prospects. Warner, the brother of Sydney’s Chad, is a real goer out on the wing while Polson is a mobile and versatile tall talent who is not afraid to run with the ball. Along with this pair, one of the state’s biggest risers has been West Coast NGA product Ethan Regan, out of East Perth. At 189cm, he is an explosive unit with terrific aerial prowess and the ability to cover good ground in transition.

It would be remiss not to mention some of WA’s top performers in the recent state Under 19s hitouts. Big-bodied midfielders Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick have been superb across the three games, while Dittmar’s Royals teammate James Tunstill is a promising type. The likes of Jahmal Stretch and Kaden Harbour are lively small forwards entering the conversation, while Taj Woewodin should have Melbourne’s attention as a potential father-son pick-up. Meanwhile Lochlan Paton and Brady Hough have been solid across a few different roles for the Black Ducks.

Jesse Motlop celebrates a goal on his League debut | Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

ALLIES

Potential Riser:

Sam Banks (Tasmania Devils)
2/04/2003 | 187cm/73kg | Half-Back

Banks has long been on the radar as Tasmania’s standout draft prospect for 2021, having taken out Under 16 Division 2 MVP honours in 2019. He also made eight appearances for the Devils’ NAB League side in the same year and has turned out in the TSL for Clarence. While he was sighted up on a wing and through midfield in the past, Banks has played almost exclusively in defence this season upon battling injury. A broken wrist saw him miss out on representing the AFL Academy in April, but the 18-year-old made his NAB League return in Round 11 and has looked promising with his rebound running and skills by foot across half-back. He could be in for a boost with an extended run and some more showings of his potential in roles further afield.

Ones to Watch:

Banks’ fellow Tasmanians Oliver Davis and Sam Collins have gotten back on the horse after being overlooked last year. Hard-nosed midfielder Davis attracted mid-season draft interest and is currently part of Adelaide’s reserves squad, while Collins has moved up to Victoria and linked with reigning NAB League premier, Oakleigh Chargers, where he has featured in midfield upon returning from injury. Forward Jye Menzie is another in the top-age category, and recently snared a bag of goals in the Devils’ Under 17 vs. Under 19 clash.

There are plenty of Northern Academy prospects who their respective clubs will look at closely. Brisbane has seen the likes of Saxon Crozier, Tahj Abberley, Toby Triffett, Charlie Bowes, and Will Tasker take strides at state league level this year, having all remained in the Lions’ system as 19-year-old talents. Gold Coast has more 2003-born talents in the pipeline, including AFL Academy member Austin Harris. He, too has gained VFL experience along with defender Bodhi Uwland and twin talls Will Bella and Jack Johnston.

Elsewhere, Giants Academy member Josh Green (brother of Tom) trained with Richmond during preseason and may still have some interest, while Murray Bushrangers prospects Charlie Byrne and Cameron McLeod were among those to have some interest at the next level – both during preseason and in this year’s mid-season intake.

Sam Banks in action for Clarence | Image Credit: Solstice Digital

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 15

THE NAB League returned for Round 15 over the weekend, with a set of six fixtures kicked off under Friday night lights in Werribee. While school football competitions also resumed and injuries continue to hit, there was still plenty of top-end talent on show this time around. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> Round 15 snapshot | Round 15 POTW | Round 15 TOTW | August Power Rankings

WESTERN JETS 7.7 (49) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 11.13 (79)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#28 Massimo D’Ambrosio

Having been utilised in a few different roles this year, D’Ambrosio dropped back to defence to good effect in this outing. The 18-year-old moves well and provided plenty of drive out of defence for the Jets as he took the game on with ball-in-hand. D’Ambrosio had plenty do to after half time as he carried the ball on the rebound and looked to be damaging by foot with either inboard options or penetrating balls down the line. He finished with a clear season-high 31 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 rebound 50s.

#32 Paul Curtis

While he started the game off in midfield, it wouldn’t take long for Curtis to switch to his usual forward post and get to work. The crafty small snared Western’s first goal of the night after marking deep on the behind line, and was a constant threat inside 50. While he used his smarts within the arc, Curtis also looked really polished when working further afield where he hardly fumbled and brought others into the play with sharp disposal. He missed a couple of set shots which would have cemented an even better game, but he was productive nonetheless with 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

#35 Liam Conway

A key figure in Western’s midfield, Conway again won a mountain of ball to end with a game-high 35 disposals, five marks and five inside 50s. He used his strength over the ball at each contest and was also a solid marking option around the ground, accumulating his touches at a good tick throughout the game. He also spent some in the forward half after the main break, but found the goals in term one with a monster 50m set shot.

Geelong Falcons:

#8 Jhye Clark

A standout at Under 17 level, Clark has transitioned well into the Falcons’ Under 19 program and had another solid outing here. The midfielder isn’t afraid to get stuck in and boasts a pretty well-rounded game; able to go up for overhead marks, win his own ball and tackle at the contest, while also coming away from it with class. Clark finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#18 Blake Reid

Having been thrown into midfield at a greater rate this season, Reid was again part of that rotation before being sent back to play a role on Western’s Paul Curtis. He started out with some good early intent at the contest and looked to kick Geelong forward with well-directed passes. Much of his influence after quarter time came in the back half, as he took on the kick-in duties to finish with 23 disposals, seven tackles, and six inside 50s.

#26 Olivier Northam

The bottom-aged ruckman brought plenty of heat to the contest with his intensity and willingness to provide a bit of physicality around the ball. As quite a mobile and competitive tall, he was able to prize his own clearances while also showing a handy leap around the ground to crash aerial balls. He also did the latter when resting forward and found the goals with a set shot in term three. Northam set the tone well for the Falcons as they ran away with the contest during the final quarter.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

Knevitt was the Falcons’ most prolific ball winner on the night with 28 disposals, providing his usual strength to the midfield battle in offensive and defensive settings. The 193cm prospect proved difficult to bring down, constantly able to stand up in tackles and wait to dish off the ideal release handball to his runners. He also made Western feel the hurt with his own tackling and used his burst of speed well to shut the Jets down with solid pressure. As per usual, he also spent some time resting forward but couldn’t snare a goal this time out.

#32 Noah Gadsby

It could have been a huge game for Gadsby if not for some goalkicking inaccuracy, with the athletic forward managing 2.4 from his 22 disposals and four marks. He showed a strong running capacity with his work up the ground, presenting all the way up past the wing to help link Geelong in transition. Gadsby was also lively inside 50 with his various shots on goal and always looked like making something happen, despite his lack of a finished product.

#56 Oscar Morrison

While not his most prolific game, Morrison showed some really promising glimpses in the first half as a dynamic rebounding influence down back. The 17-year-old looked composed for the ball and backed his speed at 193cm to burn opponents or break tackles. He was often in good position to intercept or mop up before taking metres and kicking Geelong into attack.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 9.10 (64) def. by EASTERN RANGES 13.13 (91)

By: Eli Duxson

Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Bayleigh Welsh

While it was far from his strongest game statistically (33 disposals vs. Gold Coast), Welsh brought a lot of grunt and hustle in his defensive post providing efforts that would not have showed up on the stat sheet. He hit his first contest hard and continued to scrap the disputed ball which set the tone for the way he would go about his day. Defensively he knows how to take the body well without giving away free kicks and can maintain balance over the ball to extract out of congestion (eight handballs). Welsh looked to attack off half back and provided good run and generally tidy skills but was a little overzealous at times in trying to create options moving forward.

#14 Will Bravo

Probably Dandenong’s best player on the day as he accumulated 28 disposals, five inside 50’s, and a goal in the final quarter to top off his day. Showed strong poise and composure over the ball in traffic rarely going to ground while also being active around stoppages to hunt the footy. He showed a high work rate running both ways and found the ball in every single third of the ground. His disposal was generally reliable with pinpoint short passes as he lowered his eyes on many occasions moving forward. One of the inside midfielder’s most well-rounded games for the season.

#22 Mac Andrew

Had a busy first half playing primarily in the ruck as he did for most of the day while resting forward, but his output slowed down as Eastern gained the ascendency. His athleticism was on full display from the get-go with his leap highlighted at the first centre bounce, and his mobility around the ground almost turning him into a fourth midfielder once the ball is in open play. His ground ball gathers were clean and his positioning behind the ball allowed him to mark overhead well. His ruckwork around the game showed his lack of strength will impact his ability to muscle bigger opponents as he opted for a wider starting position to run and jump at the ball unhindered but was often out positioned due to unfavourable throw ins. He finished with 17 disposals, 16 hit outs, and four marks.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Josh Clarke

Eastern’s skipper had another high disposal effort in his third NAB League appearance for the season playing predominantly out of half back, maximising his penetrating kick moving forward. He managed a whopping 11 inside 50’s from his 21 kicks (seven handballs) as his left boot worked off half back to find multiple targets forward of centre with a couple of goal assists. He ran most of the wing on one occasion taking a few bounces and typified the role of an attacking half back, even accumulating possessions in a Daniel Rich type role taking 11 marks with few being intercept.

#35 Max Hall

Perhaps Eastern’s most impactful player through the midfield amassing a goal, 25 disposals, eight marks, and seven inside 50’s as he continues his string of good form at the back end of the season. Hall’s pace spreading from stoppages was impressive, as was his ability to get to good spots to find and receive the footy. His ball use was stable and was highlighted with a good step and well-weighted hit to a teammate streaming forward who did not have to break stride. His outside work was good, but it was balanced with some inside grunt work showing strength to handball out of tackles, as well as earning himself a free kick for the holding the ball.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.3 (39) def. by CALDER CANNONS 7.7 (49)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

Capable of playing on either side of midfield, Byrne was employed on the inside this time around as a fixture at the centre bounces for Murray. The top-ager got busy around the ball and found plenty of it with 27 disposals, but arguably looked more dangerous when operating in space. On the end of handball receives, Byrne was able to generate some run in transition and make better use of his kicking skills, but was still solid in a slightly different role.

#5 Oliver Hollands

One of the competition’s standout bottom-agers and a familiar name to many, Hollands warmed to the contest well after a couple of shaky moments early on. He tended to do the basics well, showing clean hands and quick disposal in midfield while also working hard to cover plenty of ground up and back. That work-rate and constant pressure around the ball may have hindered his kicking somewhat, but Hollands was typically sharp by hand and always able to dish off in traffic.

#13 Tom Brown

A real riser since returning from injury, Brown wasn’t quite at his best on Sunday but still showed glimpses of his exciting traits. Once again stationed in defence, the Vic Country representative had a couple of rusty-looking moments early but soon sharpened up to look more assured in possession. Brown’s ability to read the play and intercept was evident, as he was never afraid to fly high for his marks despite not always reeling them in cleanly. Having made strong strides of late, there were some handy points to take from his 12-disposal showing.

#52 Tom Bracher

Bracher has taken on an important role for Murray since Paddy Parnell was picked up in the mid-season draft, proving a consistent and reliable small defender who shows great composure on the last line. He accumulated 28 disposals and 13 marks in the back half, rising well for a player of his 177cm stature while using his agility at ground level to get out of tight spots. In a pretty scrappy contest, he proved quite effective.

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

It was a slightly indifferent day for Clohesy, who looked strong in some areas of his game and less so in others. The top-ager showed great aerial ability with his overhead marking around the ground, rising to take the ball cleanly under pressure. He often beat opponents in one-on-one contests, but tended to hack the ball forward with a preference for meterage over precision. He couldn’t quite steer his quick snaps on target, but had an impact with 16 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s.

#5 Zac Taylor

Taylor has been in incredible form recently and after another short break, hardly missed a beat on Sunday. The crafty small midfielder was busy around the ball, finding less space at the contest but adjusting well to display sound handballing skills. His vision and awareness in traffic were terrific, as he looked to release others into space before pumping his legs a touch more in the second half. He accumulated less around the ground but was mega at the stoppages, accumulating 37 disposals, four marks, and four inside 50s.

#25 Josh Goater

It’s well known that Goater boasts incredible athletic traits, and he is really beginning to show them more consistently with a move to half-back. The top 25 candidate has wickedly clean hands and reads the ball so well, which makes intercept marking look easy when combined with his spring-heeled leap. Goater rose well to cut off numerous Murray attacks among his 11 marks, while also kicking Calder into gear on the rebound. He generally used the ball well and began to back his speed in the final term with a couple of daring one-two passages in transition. With 28 disposals and eight rebound 50s, he showed plenty of quality and should rise on the back of his form.

#30 Sam Paea

Paea worked really hard to provide some presence and spark for Calder inside 50, contributing both in the air and at ground level with limited service. He’s difficult to beat with a clean run at the ball and proved as much with his lone goal – converted after a pack mark from two or three players deep. The top-ager had a few bites of the cherry on most of his six marks, but proved strong in that department while being mobile enough to also impact the ground ball.

GIPPSLAND POWER 12.9 (81) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 9.5 (59)

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power:

#2 Cooper Alger

Whilst nine disposals and two marks might not look like a lot, Alger caught the eye a couple of times with his work rate across the ground. A couple of times in the first half, he won the ball at half-back and under pressure was able to spot a target and execute the pass cleanly. He was one of the most prominent Power players in the first half for his spread and defensive pressure – not always rewarded with tackles, but team efforts – and despite fading in a bit in the second half, had his moments.

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti was Gippsland’s most consistent across the four quarters and continually won the ball and tried to drive it forward to give his teammates scoring opportunities. He led by example with the most disposals (28), tackles (nine) and second most inside 50s (six), which indicated his influence on the game. Battling away even when the chips were down, Moschetti was able to keep accumulating the ball and putting pressure on the Chargers’ defence with his repeat entries inside 50 and defensive pressure around the ground.

#23 Jai Serong

The draft-eligible talent was thrown everywhere during the match, starting midfield, then going forward, then on the wing to start the second half, before playing forward again in the last term. After a quiet start to the match, Serong got more involved as the game went on, with the fourth term being his most lively. He started well at high half-forward reading the ball well in fight to take a good mark going back with the flight, then pulled down a terrific contested mark flying in from the side 30m from goal to nail the set shot and put Gippsland in front for the first term. He then set up a scoring chance for a teammate late in the piece and looked lively by hand and moving well, a lot more actively involved around the play.

#24 Jonti Schuback

Played out of defence and the bottom-age talent was reliable more often than not, showing quick hands off half-back and then tasked with the kickout duties at times. He provided some good run during the game, and mostly drew opponents before executing the handball, or shuffling out the ball quickly to open up transitional opportunities for his side

#37 Max Walton

A mixed bag of a day for Walton who certainly found his fair share of the football. He had some terrific offensive moments driving it out of the back 50, but also made a few mistakes along the way. His long kicking down the ground enabled his side to clear the ball from danger, and he was also strong in the air. He was constantly looking to run and carry, and that enabled his team to be always on the move and play an attacking brand of football. In the third term he had a moment to forget where he fumbled in the back pocket but under pressure managed to clean it up. Overall one of the better Power players on the day.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Had a huge start to the game where he racked up a ton of the ball and seemed to be involved in every play. His quick hands and size enabled him to win a fair amount of free kicks for over the shoulder, and he was able to set up a couple of scoring opportunities, including a first quarter goal to Luke Kelvie. Laying more tackles than anyone else on the field (10), Dib’s pressure remained consistent throughout the match, even when he faded in the second half. He still had plenty of inside 50s early in the piece, and was able to worry the opposition with his mix of offensive and defensive traits.

#4 Sam Tucker

The standout player on the ground, and certainly from the Chargers perspective, Tucker was unbeatable in the air with his strong hands around the ground. Playing deep forward then working hard up the ground, he showed off his work rate by often leading out and doubling back to goal. He pulled down a contested mark in the goalsquare in the opening minute of the game, and then kicked a second goal in the third term from a similar contested mark, clunking it one-grab in a pack. His short kicking was reliable looking good going forward, and on occasion tried to open up the forward line by winning the ball on the wing and thumping it inside 50 for his quicker teammates to run onto. He had a couple more chances on goal in the second and third terms but missed those chances out on the full, and falling short. Overall a strong performance from the top-age key forward.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The other top-age performer who put together a consistent, four quarter performance, Jenkins buzzed around the ground and was particularly influential in the first half when the game was on the line. He had a chance on goal early which missed to the right, but kept pushing hard to drive it forward. At times he would rush his disposal under pressure, but he found plenty of it, and was a key contributor in generating scoring opportunities for the Chargers. When the team was dropping off late in the game, Jenkins was still working hard to arrest the tide.

#27 Karl Worner

Started forward then played off a wing and pushing defensively to assist off half-back, Worner slotted into multiple roles on gameday. He started with a set shot which despite its power, went out on the full, then missed the chance at goal from 15m out when he rushed the kick on the outside of the boot. After the first quarter, Worner played further up the ground and won the ball, having a hit and miss game in terms of his disposal, but providing the Chargers with plenty of run in transition. He spread and always offered up being an option in space, looking to find the loose ball and take grass down the field.

#56 Yu Ashwin

After a quieter start to the game, Ashwin kicked three of his side’s last four goals to firstly keep his side on top, and then be the only one to put through a major late in the game. Ashwin’s first goal after getting forward on the end of a scoring chain occurred in the third term, then took a good mark inside 50 and slotted his second goal from a set shot. Gippsland had all the momentum in the last, but Ashwin found his way into an open goal later in the term and slotted his third to make it three goals from nine touches in an efficient performance.

GWV REBELS 6.10 (46) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 10.10 (70)

By: Tom Wyman

GWV Rebels:

#1 Sam Butler

Sam Butler played a solid game up forward for the GWV Rebels. The brother of St.Kilda’s Dan, Butler showed flashes of similarities to the Tigers premiership star, such as his quickness off the mark and cleanness at ground level. He pounced on a loose ball to kick an easy goal in the second term after narrowly missing a flying attempt earlier on. Butler pushed up into the midfield on a couple of occasions but looked most dangerous closer to goal.

#2 Ben Hobbs

The hard-nosed inside midfielder produced another strong performance for the Rebels in their defeat to Sandringham. Renowned for his attack on the ball and tough tackling, Hobbs featured prominently around the stoppages, reading the ruck-taps well and positioning himself well. Hobbs’ vision and ball use by hand were also noteworthy strengths of his performance, however his distribution by foot was inconsistent, with some of his kicks missing their targets but others nicely weighted. The highlight of his game was a long-range set-shot from outside-50m which sailed through for arguably the Rebels best goal of the match.

#3 Charlie Molan

Although the Rebels would ultimately succumb to their metro-based counterparts, wingman Charlie Molan produced an excellent performance for the home side. The reliable teenager produced a dominant second term, where he seemed to be in everything going forward for Greater Western Victoria. Arguably the Rebels best on ground, Molan also did some of his best work along the half-back flank, where he used the ball well by foot and linked up well between the arcs.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The key position defender had a decent day down back, without starring. Touted as one of the best key position defenders in the draft pool, Gibcus’ athleticism was clearly evident despite not winning much of the ball. He fought well in one-on-one contests and looked cool and calm with ball in-hand when placed under pressure deep in defence.

#13 Sam Breuer

Midfielder Sam Breuer was prolific all-day long for the Rebels. Attacking each contest hard, Breuer combined well in the middle with the likes of Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan. He showed a nice turn of pace and looked assured with ball in-hand for the most part, which complemented the hard-nosed, highly-contested approach of Hobbs and the calm skills of Molan. Having spent some time down back this season, it was pleasing to see him find plenty of the ball through the middle against Sandringham.

#16 Kai Lohmann

Lohmann produced an eye-catching performance which is sure to have captured the attention of recruiting staff. Playing across half-forward, Lohmann’s aerial brilliance was stunning at-times, using his impressive leap to fly above packs and haul in a number of contested marks. But not only was Lohmann impressive in the air, once the ball hit the deck, he used his speed and dash to provide some important run and carry on the outside. He tackled well and booted the Rebels lone opening term goal. Lohmann is certainly one to watch in the back-half of the season as he looks to rise up draft boards across the country.

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Lachlan Benton

Lachlan Benton spent the game going head-to-head with the likes of Hobbs, Breuer and Molan in the midfield, and got better as the game wore on. His work at the stoppages was particularly impressive in his sides win. Benton showed a high level of footy smarts in regards to his positioning and ability to read the taps, then complimented smarts with breakaway acceleration to evade traffic. Benton continued to rack up the touches into the fourth quarter as his side put the foot down, displaying a good work ethic throughout.

#6 Blake Howes

Blake Howes possesses the ability to play a variety of roles across the field, and it was his work on the outside of the contest which stood out on Sunday afternoon. The athletic prospect worked hard around the ground and showed some real class and skill by foot to nail a couple of handy goals. Howes was good above his head and classy on the outside but, crucially, wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty on the inside in a strong display from the Victoria Metro prospect.

#32 Dante Visentini

Visentini was arguably the most dominant key position player on the ground for Sandringham. He shared the ruck role with over-ager Felix Flockart but looked at his best when operating out of the forward-50. For a tall player, Visentini’s attack on the ball at ground level impressed and complimented his aerial ability. He booted back-to-back goals in the middle of the game – the first being a terrific snap after taking the ball out of the ruck and the second being a well-taken set-shot to extend the Dragons lead at Ballarat. Overall, it was an impressive showing from the big man, who worked hard around the ground.

#42 Luke Cleary

It was a typical-Luke Cleary performance from Sandringham’s half-back. He read the game beautifully, getting himself into position quickly and taking a couple of important intercept marks. Cleary was clean below his knees and generated some meaningful drive from defence, hitting almost all of his targets by foot. His efficient ball-use went a long way to the Dragons ability to transition from the backline into the forward-50.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Nankervis has filled a number of roles this season, including across a half-forward flank and on the wing, but spent more time in the midfield against the Rebels. His willingness to take the game on really benefitted the Dragons forwards, who thrived upon the quick ball movement. An athletic mover who looks to have plenty of upside and room for development left in him, Nankervis was impressive one-on-one and had some nice moments in congestion, where his quick hands initiated some meaningful drive from the stoppages.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Small forward Eren Soylemez was a real livewire up forward for the Dragons. His forward craft was immediately evident as he worked his way into some very damaging positions. He had a couple of early attempts on goal, which were gettable by his high standards. However he found his form as the game worn on. In the final term he booted a classy left-foot snap goal to remind everyone of his prowess from just about anywhere inside the forward-50. A real source of energy for the Dragons, Soylemez also pushed up the ground at-times and looked to inject some creativity into the game. Despite a couple of blemishes in-front of goal, Soylemez looked ominous whenever the ball was in his area.

#59 Mitch Owens

St.Kilda’s next generation prospect entered the clash against Greater Western Victoria in strong form, and continued where he left off. Owens spent the game on the wing but also had a couple of important touched in the back half, where he positioned himself well to take a couple of intercept marks, one of which displayed plenty of courage. Liked some of his work around the stoppages as well. A versatile prospect, Owens appears to have plenty of likeable traits which would appeal to recruiters.

#66 Charlie McKay

Carlton fans will have been pleased with the performance of their father/son prospect. His aggression and seemingly relentless attack on the football stood out, as McKay refused to be beaten time and time again at ground level. A real midfield fighter, his battle with Rebel star Ben Hobbs was an enjoyable one, with the duo cracking in hard and winning an abundance of contested ball for the duration of the match. He used the ball slightly better than Hobbs and took a very courageous mark in heavy traffic, which would have pleased onlookers.

#74 Felix Flockart

Felix Flockart showed some very promising signs for the Dragons in their top-of-the-table victory. Although he is a couple of years older than most of the competition, the developing tall looked strong through the ruck and up forward. When given a run on-ball, his tap-work often provided the Dragons on-ballers with first-use. His positioning in the ruck contest was solid and he also looked threatening when moved up forward. He worked well in-tandem with Dante Visentini, with the pair causing some headaches for the Rebels defence.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.8 (56) def. by BENDIGO PIONEERS 12.7 (79)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#9 Darcy Wilmot

There was plenty of voice coming from Northern’s number nine and while he has plenty of vocal presence, Wilmot also lets his football do the talking. He set up well behind the ball and was able to play slightly above his size when intercepting, not afraid to go up at contest for strong marks. Wilmot began to get more expansive with his run-and-carry after half time, working hard into more advanced areas and even getting a run in midfield, where his speed was again prominent on the attack.

#10 Ben De Bolfo

Bendigo was quite efficient in its forward half which made De Bolfo’s job all the more tough, but he proved a calm head behind the ball for Northern. The top-ager positioned well to intercept and looked to distribute cleanly by foot, making for a pretty well-rounded defensive game. He began to hold a slightly higher line in the second half, but the Knights couldn’t get their final kick forward to work on the back of his solid set-up.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

The Knights skipper was unsurprisingly prolific and near-unbeatable at the contest, racking up 34 disposals, seven marks, and seven tackles. Trudgeon’s mature frame and willingness to get in-and-under meant he earned most of those touches, but was often made to go to ground or lock the ball up as he scrapped to win it. He still managed to stand up in tackles and distribute cleanly by hand, with a few of slips-catch style marks also a feature of his game. Trudgeon rotated forward and kicked a team-lifting goal before quarter time, but missed a couple of later attempts.

#26 Dominic Akuei

For a player with such outstanding and raw athleticism, Akuei has also shown solid defensive fundamentals in recent weeks. The Carlton NGA prospect took on his usual role in the back half and also rotated through the ruck, where his monster vertical leap was on show. Akuei leant on that athleticism to time his spoils and intercepts well in the first half, before taking on more minutes in the ruck after the main break. He looks to still be working on his craft there, and could provide some exciting moments with better directed hits, as he usually taps with momentum and follows up from there.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was thrown around in a few different roles on Sunday, starting out in the midfield-forward rotation before eventually being swung back to his more comfortable defensive post. He put a couple of tough chances wide in the opening term and got amongst the contest, but arguably looked more lively in defence after half time. Fitzgerald read the ball well and rose for repeat intercept grabs, helping Northern break up the play.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

He’s had more prolific games, but Gallagher still managed to wreak some havoc with his 14 disposals and seven inside 50s. The speedy midfielder also booted two goals; the first coming out of nowhere as he burst away and launched home from 50m, while the second was a set shot won from a smart slip of the shoulders and high free kick. Gallagher was a productive driver of the ball and hit a couple of sharp passes going inside 50, making full use of his touches.

#4 Jack Hickman

Another Bendigo midfielder who didn’t win bucketloads of ball but looked stylish in possession, Hickman showcased his turn of speed coming away from the contest and looked busy around the ball – particularly early on. The top-ager back his pace and was able to bring the ball to the outer that way, but struggled a touch at times with his end product. He finished with 14 disposals and seven tackles, also rotating forward.

#7 Ryan O’Keefe

The raw key forward continues to show promising glimpses and did so again on Sunday, contributing 10 disposals, five marks, and two goals. He spent time in all parts of the ground but looked most likely up forward, where he used his leap to mark the ball at its highest point. O’Keefe’s first major came via that exact method, as he got up to mark in front and slotted home from 20m. He clunked another nice overhead grab in the fourth term and snapped home a sealing goal, bookending his day well with those two passages.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

Usually a smooth moving defender, Faulkhead has spent more time rotating through midfield of late and did so once again on Sunday. He caught the eye when released coming away from the contest, positioning well on the outer while using his speed and agility to break into clear space. He made some good decisions by foot too, looking inboard or hitting targets down the line to end up with 14 disposals, five tackles, and three inside 50s.

#56 Harley Reid

The youngest player afield and the only won born in 2005, Reid again showed just why he is one to keep a keen eye on for the future. Stationed up forward, the under-ager snared three goals for the day – two in the second term and one team-lifter in the last. He proved willing to use his explosive athleticism in the air, attacking the ball hard in marking attempts and almost coming down with some ripper grabs. Reid also nailed a couple of hard tackles and while he may pop up in patches at this stage, is so exciting given his age and upside.

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 15

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 15 Team of the Week (TOTW) has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) and Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) take out leadership honours in the 24-man squad, headlining a very even spread of prospects from around the league.

After their fighting Friday night win over Western Jets, the Geelong Falcons boast a round-high four representatives in this side. They fill out most of the spine too, with Oscar Morrison (full back), Olivier Northam (ruck), and Mitch Knevitt (centre) listed in prime positions, while Noah Gadsby comes in at half-forward.

There were plenty of midfielders unlucky to miss out on starting positions too, with the co-captains locks in the follower slots, as Will Bravo, Max Hall, Mitchell Moschetti, and Joel Trudgeon had to settle for spots on the six-man interchange. They couldn’t sneak in on the wings either, with Ethan Warburton and Mitch Owens locking them down.

There’s plenty of rebound on offer in defence, with the starting six not overly tall but combining for 32 rebound 50s in Round 15. Their marking power was also observed, as was the case with Sam Tucker and Sam Paea as the key pillars up forward. In the pocket, 2005-born Bendigo Pioneers product Harley Reid is the lone under-ager to feature this time around, having snared three goals.

Check out the full team below, including three emergencies.

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 15

B: Tom Bracher (MB) – Oscar Morrison (GF) – Massimo D’Ambrosio (WJ)
HB: Josh Clarke (ER) – Luke Cleary (SD) – Josh Goater (CC)
C: Ethan Warburton (MB) – Mitch Knevitt (GF) – Mitch Owens (SD)
HF: Noah Gadsby (GF) – Sam Tucker (OC) – Lachlan Benton (SD)
F: Harley Reid (BP) – Sam Paea (CC) – Paul Curtis (WJ)
FOL: Olivier Northam (GF) – Zac Taylor (CC, c) – Marcus Herbert (GWV, vc)

INT: Miller Bergman (DS), Will Bravo (DS), Max Hall (ER), Aiden Hare (BP), Mitchell Moschetti (GP), Joel Trudgeon (NK)

EMG: Jake Arundell (ER), Ben Hobbs (GWV), Lochlan Jenkins (OC)

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 15

THE NAB League returned for Round 15 this past weekend and while there were no crowds, a bunch of Victoria’s brightest draft prospects put on a show after another season interruption. The action kicked off on Friday night, before five fixtures were played on a super Sunday of junior pathway football. We run you through all the results and big performances in the Round 15 snapshot, stay tuned for Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

WESTERN JETS 7.7 (49) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 11.13 (79)

IN A SENTENCE:

A four-goal to nil final term saw the Geelong Falcons break a tense deadlock with Western Jets under Friday night lights, coming away 30-point victors.

TEAM STATS:

  • Western Jets won the rebound 50s (49-18) and tackles (72-59)
  • Geelong Falcons won the inside 50s (60-27) and scoring shots (24-14)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Liam Conway (Western Jets) 35 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Massimo D’Ambrosio (Western Jets) 31 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles, 10 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Paul Curtis (Western Jets) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons) 23 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) 22 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 2 goals, 4 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Massimo D’Ambrosio (Western Jets)
3 – Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
2 – Paul Curtis (Western Jets)
1 – Olivier Northam (Geelong Falcons)

NEXT UP:

Western Jets vs. Murray Bushrangers | Sunday August 8, 1:00pm @ Deakin Reserve
Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sunday August 8m 11:00am @ Shepley Oval

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 9.10 (64) def. by EASTERN RANGES 13.13 (91)

IN A SENTENCE:

After a slow start, Eastern Ranges powered past the Dandenong Stingrays with seven goals in term two and superior ball use proving the difference in a 27-point victory.

TEAM STATS:

  • Dandenong Stingrays won the handballs (159-109) and rebound 50s (38-29)
  • Eastern Ranges won the kicks (190-150), marks (87-67), and inside 50s (53-38)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays) 28 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Miller Bergman (Dandenong Stingrays) 23 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 4 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 3 behinds
  • Josh Clarke (Eastern Ranges) 28 disposals, 11 marks, 2 tackles, 11 rebound 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges) 25 disposals, 10 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Max Hall (Eastern Ranges) 25 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 – Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Miller Bergman (Dandenong Stingrays)
1 – Max Hall (Eastern Ranges)

NEXT UP:

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Geelong Falcons | Sunday August 8, 11:00am @ Shepley Oval
Eastern Ranges vs. GWV Rebels | Sunday August 8, 2:00pm @ Box Hill City Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.3 (39) def. by CALDER CANNONS 7.7 (49)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Calder Cannons were made to earn a 10-point away win against a plucky Murray Bushrangers outfit, coming out on top in a low-scoring affair.

TEAM STATS:

  • Murray Bushrangers won the inside 50s (38-35) and hit-outs (40-18)
  • Calder Cannons won the marks (123-98) and tackles (63-41)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Ethan Warburton (Murray Bushrangers) 34 disposals, 14 marks, 2 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers) 28 disposals, 13 marks, 4 tackles, 4 rebound 50s
  • Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 2 rebound 50s
  • Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) 37 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s
  • Flynn Gentile (Calder Cannons) 31 disposals, 8 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Josh Goater (Calder Cannons) 28 disposals, 11 marks, 8 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
4 – Ethan Warburton (Murray Bushrangers)
3 – Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2 – Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers)
1 – Sam Paea (Calder Cannons)

NEXT UP:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets | Sunday August 8, 1:00pm @ Deakin Reserve
Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils | Saturday August 7, 10:30am @ RAMS Arena

GIPPSLAND POWER 12.9 (81) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 9.5 (59)

IN A SENTENCE:

A string of seven final term goals saw Gippsland Power cause a massive boilover on home turf, coming from behind to defeat the Oakleigh Chargers by 22 points.

TEAM STATS:

  • Gippsland Power won the disposals (353-271) and marks (77-57)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the rebound 50s (40-34) and tackles (67-64)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 28 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) 22 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers) 20 disposals, 1 mark, 10 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers) 17 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers)
4 – Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power)
3 – Max Walton (Gippsland Power)
2 – Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Paddy Cross (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

Gippsland Power vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ RSEA Park
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Northern Knights | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ Preston City Oval

GWV REBELS 6.10 (46) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 10.10 (70)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Sandringham Dragons took charge in a top-of-the-table clash against Greater Western Victoria, leading at every break before solidifying a 24-point win.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (324-303) and marks (59-57)
  • Sandringham Dragons won the kicks (179-168) and tackles (70-47)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) 35 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s
  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 34 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s
  • Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons) 20 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
3 – Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels)
2 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
1 – Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)

NEXT UP:

GWV Rebels vs. Eastern Ranges | Sunday August 8, 2:00pm @ Box Hill City Oval
Sandringham Dragons vs. Gippsland Power | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ RSEA Park

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.8 (56) def. by BENDIGO PIONEERS 12.7 (79)

IN A SENTENCE:

Bendigo Pioneers had all the answers against the Northern Knights, skipping ahead via five-straight goals in the opening term and leading throughout a 23-point victory.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the marks (55-47)
  • Bendigo Pioneers won the tackles (82-61)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) 34 disposals, 7 marks, 7 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Joel Fitzgerald (Northern Knights) 28 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 2 behinds
  • Josh Watson (Northern Knights) 23 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Aiden Hare (Bendigo Pioneers) 20 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) 14 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers) 12 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Aiden Hare (Bendigo Pioneers)
4 – Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
3 – Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers)
1 – Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)

NEXT UP:

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ Preston City Oval
Bendigo Pioneers – Bye.

2021 NAB League Boys Player of the Week: Round 15

CALDER Cannons ball magnet Zac Taylor is the Draft Central NAB League Player of the Week for Round 15. The 18-year-old midfielder racked up 37 disposals, four marks, three tackles, and four inside 50s in the Cannons’ 10-point win over Murray Bushrangers on Sunday, making him difficult to overlook for the prize. He beat Greater Western Victoria midfielder Marcus Herbert in this week’s poll, obtaining just under 80 per cent of the total votes.

A Vic Metro representative last month, Taylor has been in sensational touch of late. His last three NAB League outings have yielded averages of 34 disposals, seven marks and six tackles, to well and truly be one of the form players of the competition. His feats have him pushing into top 25 calculations among what is an incredibly even field. The 180cm prospect stands out with his work rate, sharp skills and speed, and obvious ability to accumulate plenty of possessions.

Taylor becomes the seventh 2003-born talent to earn Player of the Week honours in 2021, joining 2019 Vic Metro Under 16 teammate Tyler Sonsie on said list. With finals fast approaching, Taylor will undoubtedly continue to be a key feature in Calder’s midfield, and has further representative honours in front of him should the National Championships get back underway this year.

2021 DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Round 1: Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)
Round 2: Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
Round 3: Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
Round 4: Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels)
Round 9: Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
Round 10: Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils)
Round 11: Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
Round 12: Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers)
Round 15: ZAC TAYLOR (Calder Cannons)

Scouting Notes | 2021 U19 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro came up trumps in the 2021 Under 19 National Championships opener against Vic Country, winning bragging rights at Windy Hill via a comprehensive 15.15 (105) to 7.7 (49) scoreline. From pick one contenders, to first round hopefuls and fast-rising talents, the current Victorian draft crop shone in its showcase game for the year. We highlight some of the top performances in our latest edition of Scouting Notes. Note, they are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Top 25 Ranked: July 2021 Power Rankings

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
16/09/2003 | 183cm/80kg | Inside Midfielder

Doing what he has always done well, Hobbs was a consistent first possession winner in and under packs and stoppages, pushing opponents out of the way to win the ball and fire it out via hand with deadly precision. Those quick hands were especially dangerous in the early stages of the game when the scores were close, where Hobbs could get hand to ball quickly to release runners. Whilst his kicking wasn’t at its best, when he had time to steady himself up he placed his kicks well and made good decisions. He demonstrated his usual high work rate, with a gut run from the defensive 50 mark to the forward 50 resulting in him getting a mark and converting in the third quarter. His marking was strong for the game as well, spreading wide to be a switch or inboard kick option.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
11/04/2003 | 180cm/78kg | Forward/Midfielder

It was a game of two halves for the mercurial forward, struggling to consistently impact the contest in the first half, admittedly with limited forward 50 entries, but moving up into the midfield in the second half and providing a spark for Country around stoppages. He still provided an option when in the forwardline, getting good separation on his leads even if he wasn’t always used by teammates. When he moved into the midfield, he immediately impacted as he started roaming down into the defensive 50 and making smart leads to help Country get further up the ground, following up with his own classy use by foot. He became the best option to receive a handball from first possession winners at stoppages quite often, bursting away and kicking long forward in the latter stages of the contest, and getting himself on the scoreboard.

#6 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
13/01/2003 | 184cm/77kg | Midfielder

Forming quite the partnership through the midfield with Hobbs, Macdonald brought some of the same strengths through the midfield. His positioning around stoppages meant he was at the fall of the ball at times where his teammates weren’t, winning first possession and following up with a quick handball or kick out of the pack. Macdonald’s game sense also allowed him to be the receiver from the first possession winner pretty consistently, balancing his game around stoppages quite well and allowing his teammates to play to their strengths. He presented well as a shorter option around the ground, being used a few times as a short inboard kick option, then following up with a bomb down forward. His kicking was shaky early on but ended up improving by the end of the game, getting better distance and placement. He brought his usual high workrate around the stoppages as well, flicking out handballs midair and laying tackles in close.

#17 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/83kg | Defender/Wing

Whilst not necessarily winning a massive amount of ball, Molan was one of the harder workers for Country around the defensive half of the ground. Molan’s most notable play came as he ran from the back pocket to receive a switch kick on the wing, handballing to a teammate and continuing his run to then receive a kick over the top from the same teammate, before slotting Country’s second goal. It was a play which perfectly demonstrated the hard work he’s become renowned for. He worked hard to pressure opponents in the defensive half as well, laying some good tackles – one where his opponent tried to fend him off was particularly eye catching. Molan pushed up the ground more and more as the game wore on, using his skills by hand to set up some scoring opportunities around the top of the forward 50.

#18 Tom Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
30/07/2003 | 186cm/71kg | Defender

Brown was particularly impressive in the second half of the contest, winning more possession and showcasing his impressive leap to beat taller opponents in the air. That leap didn’t always get him a mark, but often got him high enough to get a fist in to stop taller Metro opponents like Sam Darcy from taking marks inside 50. When he was the extra number in a contest, he flew high and took intercept marks in front oncoming packs. He took kick-ins for most of the game, balancing it up between short options and running it out before kicking long, where he looked faster than the Metro forwards were able to match. His kicking was measured and generally placed to the advantage of teammates.

#21 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels)
04/04/2003 | 195cm/84kg | Tall Defender

Gibcus was a typically assured aerial presence in the Country defence, taking impressive intercept marks in contested and uncontested fashion. His confidence to push off his opponent and impact the ball higher up the ground meant he intercepted in areas where Country was a bigger chance to score in transition, rather than from deep in defence. His leap meant he could afford to concede some ground on his opponents, as he would jump and spoil the ball against any opponent afield without issue. His handballing in tight was especially impressive for a tall player, appearing to prefer to handball it off rather than kick and looking comfortable delivering it even through traffic. A lot of onlookers came wanting to see Gibcus play on Metro’s Sam Darcy, as two of Victoria’s highest ratted key position prospects, and they were treated to the match up in the final quarter where the pair competed in a few one-on-one contests. Gibcus arguably came out on top of the battle, spoiling a lot of the balls that came in and keeping Darcy quiet.

#28 Mitchell Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
8/01/2003 | 193cm | Midfielder

Whilst not winning a massive amount of the ball, Knevitt looked one of the most well rounded players on ground with his skillset, showcasing well weighted kicks, high contested marks, quick hands in tight, burst around stoppages, and spread around the ground. It was around stoppages and in the thick of congestion where he did his best work, winning first possession well and then feeding out a handball to release runners into space. His kicking was good when he had time to compose himself, placing them well in front of leading forwards or distributing out wide for his teammates, but he was prone to the odd hack kick forward out of the stoppages. 

#36 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays)
12/04/2003 | 200cm/70kg | Tall Forward/Ruck

Pushing himself up draft boards after another big game performance, Andrew showed a lot of eye catching traits throughout the contest. Starting up forward, early on Andrew wasn’t holding a lot of his marks due to the pressure, but would treat aerial contests almost as ruck situations in open play, tapping the ball straight down in front of teammates and putting them in dangerous spots inside 50. He kicked the opening goal of the contest after getting separation and taking a mark on his chest, slotting it from about 50 out. Andrew used the ball well through the game, handballing into the right spots and taking safer shorter kicks more often than long bombs, keeping Country in possession. He looked to be the best ruck on ground when rolling through there as well, placing taps well for his midfielders and having moments where he followed up his own taps and won the ball at ground level. The highlight from Andrew’s game was his aerial work around the ground however, demonstrating his positional awareness and athleticism with some high leap contested marks, plus the ability to quickly get separation when up forward. He took one of his most impressive marks when stationed up forward, where at full pace on the lead he was nudged from the side, but managed to hold his balance and juggle the ball with one hand to take the mark. So strong was his aerial work, that Metro started to double team him down the line in an effort to body his leap and nullify his impact.

VIC METRO:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)
25/02/2003 | 174cm/76kg | Small Utility

The Collingwood NGA prospect played his role well as a creative small forward. Having played in the backline and midfield at times for Oakleigh, Dib is also a dangerous forward which he showed early in the game, providing a lot of spark and looking dangerous whenever he was around the ball. His agility stood out along with his clean hands at ground level, but he showed he could win the hard ball as well, as in the second quarter when he won a free kick in the process of attacking the contested ball at pace. Although Dib didn’t hit the scoreboard, he still caused headaches for the Country defenders with his ability to impact and stay involved, playing a mostly high half-forward role.

#4 Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

The elusive Calder Cannons midfielder has been in fine form in recent weeks and that continued again against Country, as he offered plenty of skill and composure through the engine room. Taylor’s agility and vision were key features of his game, able to turn on a dime to evade tackles and find a teammate by foot on his left, or preferred right side. Although he leans more to the outside as a midfielder, it suits his style with his composure and skill by hand and foot. He could have added scoreboard impact to his game with a tough attempt on the run in the last quarter, but it was nonetheless a solid hitout for Taylor, finishing with 21 disposals.

#6 Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
15/08/2003 | 181cm/79kg | Midfielder

Its been an incredible month for the Northern Knights midfielder, with his recent form putting him amongst the better performed ball winners in this year’s draft class, and his game against Country only further enhanced his stocks as he returned another stellar performance. It was no surprise to see Ward named as captain of Vic Metro, with his consistency and reliability undoubtedly loved by both his coaches and teammates, and Ward showed his ability to run both ways while leading from the front. Clean with ball in hand around the ground and barely missing a target by hand or foot, Ward would go on to impact the scoreboard in the second half with two classy goals; one in the third quarter after spinning nicely and kicking from long range, and then in the last quarter from a standard shot on the run. With 29 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, this was one of Ward’s most complete games to date.

#9 Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg | Defender

Wilmot has made a reputation for himself as a courageous and team orientated player, and that was of course a staple of his game on Saturday. The Northern Knights defender started the game well, taking a nice courageous intercept mark in front of incoming players. That same marking ability was also apparent in a contest in the second quarter, winning a mark against highly fancied prospect Josh Rachele, who he kept well under wraps in the first half before moving off him. Second and third efforts were a feature of his second half, constantly going for marks and tackles and his willingness to go and go again often had him winning possession eventually. On the bench and on-field Wilmot was a supportive teammate, giving encouragement and showing he wasn’t just out there to prove his own wares, but try and lift the whole team’s performance which will certainly be noticed by recruiters.

#12 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
3/01/2003 | 183cm/72kg | Midfielder

Writing about Daicos this year has felt like déjà vu, you could almost copy and paste any write up from his performances this year and it would describe his game to a tee. It was a clinical display from the highly rated Collingwood father-son prospect, with the silky ball magnet a presence around the ground for all four quarters. His obvious class was highlighted early with handball over his shoulder, easy as you like, and it’s a typical play from Daicos as he seems to make football seem like a breeze whenever he gets possession. His ability to win the ball around the ground stems from his workrate to get to spots that any seasoned midfielder would get to, which stems from a pure ability to read the game. Daicos, as usual, hit the scoreboard with his first coming from a steady set shot goal in the second quarter, and in the last quarter with a classy crumb and snap on his non-preferred. Daicos finished the game with 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals in what was a clinical display, made all to easy for the highly rated prospect.

#16 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)
7/01/2003 | 186cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder

Still on the comeback trail from injury, the Sandringham prospect wasn’t quite able to showcase his top line speed against Country, but it was another positive step with a more prolific game compared to previous weeks – before injury struck again with an ankle knock sustained in a marking contest during the last quarter. Sinn offered plenty of drive with his kicking from half-back and despite a poor kick to start, he was able to work on it and even kicked nicely on his non-preferred. Sinn was involved heavily in five minute spurts in the first and third quarters, using his ability to follow up his disposals and get meterage with his long left foot. It’s a shame for Sinn to get injured again and hopefully he gets a more sustained run at it soon.

#24 Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2/06/2003 | 190cm/79kg | Midfielder

The Calder Cannons prospect has had a rich vein of form and that continued again with the athletic midfielder improving his draft stocks once more with a strong game. Goater showed plenty of traits you want to see in a midfielder with his ability to escape congestion via a burst of speed or spin out of tackles. He showed great composure in those situations, which was highlighted in the second quarter as he rode a Ben Hobbs tackle, who is one of the toughest and strongest tacklers in this year’s draft crop. Standing at 190cm his ability to show off his athletic traits along with his obvious talent with ball in hand will make him a very sought after prospect come November in this year’s draft. Goater’s kicking was the one area that let him down at times but his run and carry on the outside and his composure and skill by hand from stoppages was impactful. It couldn’t be doubted that he was amongst the very best players on the day, finishing with 23 disposals.

#36 Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
19/08/2003 | 204cm/75kg | Tall Utility/Ruck

Although it wasn’t the same goal fest like his last outing, the Western Bulldogs father-son prospect still showed why he is considered one of the leading prospects in this year’s draft pool, as the tall key forward provided a great target for Vic Metro inside 50. It took until he second quarter for Darcy to hit the scoreboard, kicking a lovely snap goal on his left after taking a strong mark in the pocket. His second and final goal came in the following quarter after taking a strong contested mark just inside 50, converting the long range set shot. Although it wasn’t his most prolific game on the season, Darcy was a real threat in the air and his skill really stands out for a player standing at 204cm.