Division two this year shapes up to be an excellent contest. Tasmania this year come to the party with a few more ready made and draftable players, and should provide a real contest to New South Wales and Queensland. The Northern Territory are also sending an improved lineup, however likely not improved enough to win a game. Like last year, division two will likely come down to the last game between New South Wales and Queensland, however despite some horrible injuries to New South Wales’s stars, the standard of division two will likely be the highest it’s ever been, and more AFL players will come out of division two than ever before.
Bound for Glory News division two prediction:
1. Queensland (3-0)
2. New South Wales (2-1)
3. Tasmania (1-2)
4. Northern Territory (0-3)
Queensland – Luke McAlister & Matt Balmer
This year Queensland will enter the championships believing themselves a real shot at the title, partially due to their own strength but also the injuries to some of New South Wales’s star players. Possessing a very even and deep squad, Ben Keays, Eric Hipwood and Corey Wagner are the stars however Brisbane academy prospects like basketballer Nate Dennis (ruckman), the overaged Wylie Buzza (KPF/ruck), the athletic Mabior Chol (KPF) and elite prospect for 2016 Jacob Allison (midfielder/forward)as well as Gold Coast academy prospects Connor West (outside midfielder) and the 2016 elite, but injured prospect Brad Scheer (midfielder) will ensure that Queensland go in as deserved favourites.
Ben Keays (185 cm, 82 kg midfielder/forward)
Keays is a high production balanced midfielder who also can impact a game off the half forward flank. With ball in hand Keays makes excellent decisions with a technically sound kick, solid vision and creativity as well as excellent range, however, only has a left foot. In possession he is composed and poised and has reasonable spacial awareness. He possesses excellent marking skills, being a one grab player who reads the ball well in flight. Aerially he can out body opponents which assists him with his excellent production in front of goal. However, Keays is not a very athletic player, possessing only average agility and straight line speed as well as no desire to break the lines. Occasionally Keays struggles to maintain a defensive work rate.
Corey Wagner (180 cm, 71 kg midfielder/flanker)
Wagner is an exciting small flanker type who can also play as an outside midfielder. With ball in hand he’s got a nifty kick often with a low trajectory and the tendency to really hurt by foot. He’s a creative player. He’s also got the ability to do some freakish things like take a hanger or just pull off the unthinkable, there’s a real work rate there. He’s a high endurance player with an exceptional work rate and the tendency to run both ways, however his running patterns are average and his ability to accumulate the football a little lacking.
Erip Hipwood (200 cm, 82 kg key utility)
Hipwood is a key position utility who is part of the Brisbane Lions academy. Hipwood represented the AFL Academy earlier in the season, playing two matches against VFL teams in Victoria. Playing deep forward Hipwood was able to kick two goals from 40 metres out against the Northern Blues at the MCG, as well as a goal in the Academy’s heavy loss to Werribee. Hipwood has also had the chance to play three games with the Brisbane Lions reserves in the NEAFL learning under Shane Woewodin. Hipwood will be the main target up forward with his ability to take a good mark overhead leading out of the goal square. Queensland take on the Northern Territory on the 20th June on the Gold Coast, before travelling to Victoria to play Tasmania and NSW/ACT.
NSW/ACT – Matt Balmer
After winning the 2014 NAB AFL U18’s division two championship, NSW/ACT will be aiming to make it two in a row in 2015. In the lead up to the Championships NSW/ACT and Queensland seem to be the clear favourites, however highly touted NSW/ACT midfielders Callum Mills and Matthew Kennedy are out of the championships with injuries. Ruckman Matthew Flynn will be crucial to NSW/ACT’s chances to ensure their midfield led by Jacob Hopper will have first use of the ball. The NSW/ACT Rams have some stars who will push for the first round of the draft.
Matthew Flynn (200 cm, 99 kg ruckman)
Matthew Flynn looks to be the number one ruckman in the division two U18 championships and will likely be a key factor in NSW/ACT having the chance at going back to back. Flynn is averaging 32 hitouts in his six appearances in the TAC Cup, where he has been a main influence to their strong performance resulting in NSW/ACT being in the top eight. Flynn protects the ball drop well resulting in him winning majority of the ruck contests around the grounds, while having the ability to play deep forward which coach Tadhg Kennelly has employed on numerous occasions in the TAC Cup.
Jacob Hopper (186 cm, 82 kg midfielder)
Jacob Hopper is a big-bodied midfielder who has been playing for the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup in 2015 where he has averaged 24 disposals in his four games. Hopper also has the ability to hit the scoreboard with his right foot kicking 10 goals this year. Hopper is aligned with the GWS academy and can be selected as an academy selection at the end of the year.
Jock Cornell (187 cm, 82 kg midfielder)
Jock Cornell is the cousin of current Essendon player Joe Daniher and is expected to fill the hole in the Rams’ midfield without Callum Mills and Matthew Kennedy. Cornell has played well in the Rams’ TAC Cup games this year, playing off half back and in the midfield. With Flynn likely to win majority of the ruck contests, Cornell will be a crucial player around the stoppages to help NSW/ACT win the Division two championships.
Tasmania – Matthew Grundy
Tasmania’s squad is probably the most evenly spread group in years. The top end talent consists of captain Jordan Hayden, vice captain Logan Reynolds and senior players Kieran Lovell, Nick Dodge and Jake Sushames. Jake Sushames has played footy with the AIS AFL Academy, putting him up there with the best talent. There is also some good bottom-agers in Ben McGuiness, Nat Franklin and Brandon Butcher. Overall, this is a squad who could challenge for the Division 2 title.
Kieran Lovell (174 cm, 80 kg midfielder)
Lovell’s best work is done on the inside. He has a bull-like attitude at the contest and has a solid body to compliment that attitude. Even though he is only 174 cm he is already 80 kg. Lovell’s foot skills are also solid for a predominantly inside player. However, even though Lovell is probably the best midfielder for Tasmania this year he will marked harshly due to his size. He also lacks the ability to burst out of packs like the top tier inside midfielders can.
Nick Dodge (182 cm, 79 kg medium forward)
Dodge has a rare ability to find the goals from anywhere. He has kicked 14 goals from four games in the TAC Cup. He has a great right foot, nailing shots from 50 meters plus. His foot skills could see him going up onto the wing a lot more in the future. However, his contested ball winning leaves a lot to be desired. There have been opportunities for him to win his own ball where he has not gone in hard, instead losing the ground ball contest. His game sense outside the forward line is a problem for him and if he can get that fixed then he could become a creative midfielder.
Jake Sushames (186 cm, 66 kg medium forward)
Sushames has some of the highest upside of any player in this draft year. Though his body is immature, his attack on the footy is great and his skill with football in hand sets him apart from the rest. He hasn’t set the world on fire but if he is drafted he could become anything. However, Sushames hasn’t ever been an accumulator or statistically productive. He rarely dominates a game with his flashy skills. Sushames needs to become a better accumulator if he wants to make it at the next level, as for now he is a speculative player.
Northern Territory – Luke McAlister
Unfortunately due to a lack of size and depth the Northern Territory will likely struggle in these championships, and this year the NT don’t have many draftable ’97ers, with the focus instead being on the overaged and underaged players. The undersized but productive Michael Hagan is the only real draft chance from the ’97 batch. From ’96, overaged players like Michael Tilmouth-Turner and the talented Ryan Nhyuis will look to make the most of their second chance, while top tier 2016 talents Brandan Parfitt and Ezekiel Frank will look to ensure their names as high on draft boards going in to 2016. Another 2016 talent to watch is Tony Olango, a 201 cm key position prospect only recently converted from soccer and possessing freakish athletic gifts. Unfortunately, only Davin Ferreira looks to be a national draft chance from the NT.
Davin Ferreira (178 cm, 76 kg small forward)
Davin Ferreira is an overaged prospect who slipped through the system last year, however thankfully he was not lost to it. Playing a key role in the 2015 NTFL season over summer, he tried out for Norwood in the SANFL, playing some good reserves footy culminating in a senior call up. 17 touches and three goals later, he’d taken the footy world by storm. A small forward with an excellent football IQ and great goal sense, he also leads well and has a good mark overhead. Athletically he’s very quick with some solid evasive moves and a really nice field kick, however his set shot routine consumes too much time. Ferreira looks like a surefire national draftee and will look to impress further in the championships.