Tag: zac williams

Draft Central All-Star Team: Murray Bushrangers

THE Murray Bushrangers could be the most balanced All-Star side of the entire exercise. There are quite literally no weaknesses in the side, and plenty of depth, with an almost perfectly balanced 24-player squad. If anything there might be a touch too much height, but that height has flexibility, and with a balance of hardness, class and midfielders who can slide back or forward, this team would be incredibly hard to beat.

THE TEAM:

Looking across the 24-player squad and it is madness in terms of the balance. A number of talls are capable of playing up either end, they have a couple of 200-game rucks, and then a nice combination of inside and outside midfielders who rotate forward or back. A key forward trio that could worry nearly any opposition side and then some more talls and smalls coming off the bench to impact, it is a coach’s dream.

DEFENCE:

Starting with the defence, picking two key position defenders was difficult. In the end, the best of Ben Reid locks down the centre half-back position given his dominance prior to injury, and then teaming up with Alipate Carlile who will make his opponent accountable, is a good combination. If the opposition is taller, they could throw Jarrad Waite down there, or even Sam Reid or Justin Koschitzke who start on the bench but can play across all three lines.

While Reid, Carlile and the others are not overly quick, they don’t need to be, because you just have to look at the mediums and smalls surrounding them. Joel Smith is the reliable back pocket who is often underrated but won two All-Australian awards and a best and fairest, standing as the only past player of the four small-medium types. Alongside him is Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow, Collingwood’s Jack Crisp and GWS GIANTS’ Zac Williams.

They might not have the accolades between them that others have – just Harbrow’s one best and fairest – but everyone can picture the elite ball use coming off half-back as well as the speed going down the field. If the opposition has a dangerous small forward, then Ben Matthews can come on playing as a defender or midfielder off the bench.

MIDFIELD:

Picking a starting five group of onballers is not an easy task in this side, and even changed right up to the point of publishing. The ones who simply have to be there are Steele Sidebottom – who was voted the Best Player of the AFL Draft Era by you, the public, on our Instagram channel – and Brett Deledio on the wings – with three All-Australians and four best and fairests between them – as well as David Mundy onball as the Bushrangers’ games record holder at AFL level with 316. He also has an All-Australian and best and fairest to his name, and has broken Richmond hearts twice in the last 30 seconds of the game – including once after the siren.

The final two midfield spots were given to Brisbane-turned-Port Adelaide midfielder Tom Rockliff who has put in a body of work over the years and earned two best and fairests and an All-Australian. Joining him for the final spot is Clayton Oliver who is yet to reach 100 games, but has two best and fairests and an All-Australian to his name. Daniel Cross was one who initially was battling with Oliver for the spot, but the upside of Oliver is phenomenal and he earns a place in the side. Even the ruck spot has depth with Steven King the standout thanks to an All-Australian and two best and fairests in 240 games, ahead of Josh Fraser who played more than 200 matches after being a number one pick.

Also able to rotate through midfield is Jack Ziebell and Adem Yze who find their way into the team off half-forward flanks, whilst Crisp and Williams can float through there too. Many of those midfielders – particularly Sidebottom and Deledio can also spend time forward and hit the scoreboard.

FORWARD:

If you thought the talent slowed by the forward six, you would be wrong. The talls of Barry Hall, Fraser Gehrig and Waite might look too top-heavy, but they are countered by the mediums and smalls of Ziebell, Yze and Steve Johnson. The latter might even have a case for the best medium forward of the modern era, winning three All-Australians, a Norm Smith and booting 516 goals in 293 games. But this forward line is so strong he only comes in as the third highest goal kicker.

The top honour belongs to Hall with 746 goals in 289 games, ahead of Gehrig with 549 from 260. Between them they have six All-Australians, two Colemans and a best and fairest. Add in Waite with a casual 377 goals and imagine the former Blue and Roo taking the third best defender each week. Whilst Ziebell and Yze could push into the midfield, both can play deep or high as forwards, making them unique goal scoring options.

Throw to the bench, and aside from Fraser and Koschitzke who could roll down there, Sam Reid and Jamie Elliott provide another tall and small option inside 50. Elliott in particular provides some dynamic play in the air or at ground level as that small forward with great pace and hurt factor. Ben Reid is one who can be thrown forward – as shown in recent years – to further stretch the defence.

DEPTH:

The most unlucky one is Ben McEvoy who could squeeze onto the bench in exchange for Fraser. One might have already been impressed by the depth, but there were a number of solid role players who have carved out 100-game careers such as Shaun Atley (197 games), Sam Wright (136), Taylor Duryea (132) and Shannon Byrnes (131). If any of King or Fraser go down, the Bushrangers have some great depth in the ruck position that would make any other side in this All-Stars series envious thanks to Hamish McIntosh and Robbie Campbell. The remaining 100-gamers to miss out include Jarman Impey, Kayne Pettifer and Sam Rowe, with Impey a chance to force his way in if he continues his consistent work now with the Hawks.

2019 AFL Draft club review: GWS GIANTS

GIVEN the draft circumstances, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS were able to make the most out of a hand they knew would be compromised with an elite talent coming into the club. Able to trade up to Pick 4 in order to avoid using their first pick on Northern Academy member Tom Green, the GIANTS instead nabbed the talented inside midfielder at Pick 10, and while they head into 2020 with a deficit, traded back into the 2019 National AFL Draft to snaffle up a couple of late selections. Like most sides that make a Grand Final, the GIANTS did not need to add too much, instead able to go best available, whilst adding some mature-age needs.

GWS GIANTS:

National Draft:
4. Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) | 187cm | 83kg | Medium Defender
10. Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies) | 190cm | 89kg | Inside Midfielder
51. Jake Riccardi (Werribee) | 194cm | 96kg | Key Forward
65. Thomas Hutchesson (Adelaide SANFL) | 177cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
15. Jake Stein (GWS Giants)
28. Tom Sheridan (GWS Giants)
36. Zachary Sproule (GWS Giants)

The GIANTS had already committed to redrafting their three players in Jake Stein, Tom Sheridan and Zach Sproule in the Rookie Draft, so the third day of action was nothing too exciting. Most of the GIANTS’ work was done on night one, with night two also featuring a couple of surprises. Knowing Green was all but safe from their first selection, the GIANTS would have been that bit more relieved when the Demons opted for Luke Jackson and not place a bid on the inside midfielder. It allowed the GIANTS to instead select Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country co-captain Lachlan Ash. He is a readymade talent with an elite right boot and great vision that can set up the play from half-back. By selecting Ash, GWS is able to hand Zac Williams more midfield minutes and continue the form he showed during the 2019 AFL Finals Series. Ash will rarely make too many mistakes by foot and takes the game on from half-back, able to slot straight into the GIANTS line-up.

When the bid for Green came in at Pick 10, the GIANTS did not need much time to think about it. In what could be akin to daylight robbery, the GIANTS picked up a genuine top five talent with a mid-first round selection. Like Ash, Green could slot in straight away if required, and even more so given he stands at 190cm and 89kg with deceptive athleticism. He is a hard man to bring down and bullocks his way around stoppages, allowing other midfielders to use their outside strengths. He has shown some signs he could also play as a leading forward if he was to rest there, and that would be another string to his bow and the team’s versatility.

With the final two picks in the AFL National Draft, the GIANTS scooped up a couple of mature agers, including Werribee’s key position forward Jake Riccardi after trading up to take him off Collingwood’s hands. While the Magpies were rumoured to be interested heading into the draft, the GIANTS were willing to pay up and took a punt on the forward to find a role in a strong front six that saw Jon Patton leave over the off-season. Along with Riccardi, the GIANTS liked what they saw with small but tough Adelaide midfielder, Thomas Hutchesson. The 177cm prospect is an outside player with neat skills, good decision making and most impressively, an eye for defensive pressure.

What the GIANTS achieved over the draft period was bringing in four talents of whom could all play in Round 1 if given the opportunity. Whilst there is no doubt that would be a tough feat given the strength of the side, it allows GWS to have extra depth at its disposal heading into a season where it has to be considered one of the premiership contenders.