In an AFL Draft Central feature, AFL Draft analyst Matt Balmer will update his Power Rankings on the first Monday of every month.
The Division Two Championships begin this weekend and make sure you keep checking AFL Draft Central for all the news from the matches.
The date of the AFL Draft has been announced, with Sydney hosting the draft on the Friday 25th November with a venue TBC.
It’s been an intriguing first month of the TAC Cup and Under 18 football, with injuries to two highly touted Vic Country prospects Jy Simpkin (broken leg) & Ben Ainsworth (knee) that have affected the rankings somewhat. Ainsworth was back playing for the Gippsland Power on the weekend, while it seems all but assured that Simpkin will miss an entire year nursing a broken leg after injuring it at school football.
The trial games gave a chance to see some of the Division Two sides, with NSW/ACT Rams player Harry Perryman jumping out as one of the most impressive while Curtis Marsden continues to rack up the stats.
The first edition of my Power Rankings will be the top 20 prospects as I see at the current point.
- Sam Petrevski-Seton
Sam Petrevski-Seton has had a solid start to the year, representing the AFL Academy and playing Colts football for Claremont. The stylish midfielder is likely to be a contender for the No.1 pick in November aided by his strong ability to win the footy on the inside and tackle hard. Petrevski-Seton kicks well on both feet and has a good burst of speed giving him the ability to break away from the stoppages. At Colts level, Petrevski-Seton is averaging just under 20 disposals and six tackles per game. The midfielder was named in the Under 18 All Australian side after a strong Under 18 Championships as a bottom ager in 2015.
- Harrison Macreadie
Harrison Macreadie is seen as one of the early draft picks for GWS in 2016, residing in the much talked about Riverina area of the GWS academy. Macreadie reads the play exceptionally well in defence and has the ability to come in front of opposition and take a pack mark. What also makes Macreadie a good prospect is his ability to play up the ground and push onto a flank or a wing. His mobility will make him an intriging prospect throughout the year, one who is likely to cost the Giants a lot of points come November. Macreadie performed well as a bottom ager in his six TAC Cup games for the Rams in 2015, averaging four marks and 18 disposals. I seriously think he could challenge for the number one pick on talent alone, whether a club with pick one see fit to use it on another clubs academy member to make them match the bid- it remains to be seen.
- Will Brodie
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
Strong midfielder Will Brodie dominated the two AFL Academy matches in early April, collecting 20 & 22 disposals against VFL opposition. Brodie works hard at the stoppages and around the ground hunting the ball back from opposition. In his only appearance at TAC Cup level for the Bushrangers, Brodie collected 27 disposals dominating the clearances all day. Brodie has shown he can step up in big matches and is an important member for Vic Country in their attempt to go back-to-back at the Under 18 Championships. Brodie’s contested numbers were exceptional in his six TAC Cup games in 2015, with 43% of his total disposals being contested.
- Josh Battle
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
Athletic tall forward Josh Battle continues to put his name up as one of the first tall forwards picked in 2016 by kicking goals at all levels. Battle finds plenty of space inside 50 and marks the ball well overhead. Battle is averaging four goals a game for Dandenong Stingrays and also kicked two at the MCG while playing for the AFL Academy. At his height, Battle likely won’t be the number one target inside 50 in the future at AFL level, but with his strong heads and ability to get space between himself and his defender he can get up the ground as a leading target. Battle will be the main forward for Vic Country in the Under 18 Championships and if he can continue to perform well during the season there is no reason he can’t find himself in the top 20 on draft night.
- Hugh McCluggage
North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country
Hugh McCluggage has really jumped early this year with strong performances at the TAC Cup and for the AFL Academy. The smooth moving midfielder makes it appear like time stands still when he has the ball in stoppages. McCluggage appears like Scott Pendlebury when around opponents and on nearly every occasion has the ability to find a free player at the contest. Whilst McCluggage works hard in traffic, his efforts around the ground forward of centre are also good averaging over 20 disposals in the TAC Cup this season. A strong second half performance from McCluggage for the Rebels on Sunday, makes him a player to watch over the coming few months.
Five goals & 30+ touches for Hugh McCluggage today for @NBRebels. If the cat wasn't out of the bag beforehand, it is now. #AFLDraft
— Brett Anderson (@BAndersonSEN) May 1, 2016
- Jacob Allison
(Brisbane Lions academy)
Jacob Allison is a tall midfielder who is aligned with the Brisbane Lions academy. At 194cm, Allison has the ability to play in multiple positions and was good enough to make the Under 18 All Australian team as a bottom ager. Allison has a long kick and he uses it well when coming from the defensive 50 to spot up a target further up ahead. Allison had two okay games for the AFL Academy but expect him to have a big influence on the Division Two Championships which begin this weekend.
- Will Setterfield
Will Setterfield is another player that is tied with the GWS Academy and may challenge Harrison Macreadie as the first Giant picked in 2016. The tall inside midfielder has performed exceptionally well for Sandringham Dragons so far, averaging 20 disposals and five tackles this season. Setterfield misses the AFL Academy games with a calf niggle, but returned two weeks ago for the Dragons against the Northern Territory. Setterfield didn’t finish the game icing up his calf, but expect him to be fit to go in the starting midfield for NSW/ACT this weekend in the first round of the Division Two Championships.
- Jack Bowes
(Gold Coast Academy)
Midfielder Jack Bowes will be the first top academy talent that the Gold Coast Suns will have access to draft. Bowes moves well around the ground despite lacking elite pace uses the football well. Bowes kicked two goals in the AFL Academy match at the MCG and collected 14 disposals. The balanced midfielder knows how to find a football and despite missing a large chunk of 2015 with a knee issue, managed to produce a 22 disposal game in the NEAFL for the Suns.
- Sam Powell-Pepper
East Perth/Western Australia
Sam Powell-Pepper is a strong inside midfielder who will complement Sam Petrevski-Seton in the midfield for Western Australia at the Under 18 Championships. Powell-Pepper averaged 14 disposals in the 2015 Under 18 Championships and has a strong workrate in the middle of the ground winning clearances and tackling hard. One knock on Powell-Pepper is his kicking effiency and is something that he does need to clean up, looking for a target ahead rather than booting the ball forward.
- Ben Ainsworth
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
Ben Ainsworth is an exciting small forward who will be a name that you’ll hear about throughout the season. Ainsworth kicked 15 goals in the 2015 Under 18 Championships as a bottom ager indicating he can perform on the big stage. Ainsworth injured his knee at the TAC Cup earlier in the year with some at the ground fearing he may have done his ACL – Thankfully Ainsworth returned to the game to finish with 22 disposals and two goals. Ainsworth was rested from the second AFL Academy match against Geelong and returned to the TAC Cup action on the weekend. Ainsworth was reported on the weekend and will come under scrutiny in an off the ball clash which left an opponent with two jaw fractures. Ainsworth has a strong mark overhead and is expected to spend more time in the midfield as the season goes on improving his endurance.
- Josh Rotham
West Perth/Western Australia
Josh Rotham is an athletic defender who spent his time in the AFL academy matches at Full Back. Rotham took three marks against Geelong VFL and has performed superbly for West Perth in the WAFL Colts averaging 22 disposals and three marks per game. Rotham has good speed and run from defence and in my eyes is better suited up the ground at centre half back. Rotham is good in the contest and one to keep an eye on at the Division One Championships.
- Andrew McGrath
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
Running half back Andrew McGrath has had a strong start to the TAC Cup season, averaging 28 disposals and six marks. McGrath is a superb athlete thanks to an outstanding junior athletics career winning the Victorian state 400 metres hurdle title in 2014. His athletic background makes the half back flank a position of his own, rebounding the ball well from defence. His game two weeks ago against Northern Territory collecting 36 disposals saw him follow up on his disposal, willing to get the ball back even after kicking it forward 40 metres. McGrath has one of the best disposal efficiency in the 2016 draft pool with McGrath also having strong leadership skills having been named captain of Brighton Grammar School.
- Harry Perryman
Harry Perryman has really jumped out of nowhere in the last few weeks. Perryman kicked four goals in the Collingullie-GP Grand Final last year- A match that had recruiters flocking to watching current GWS player Matthew Kennedy play. Perryman performed exceptionally well in the NSW/ACT trial match against Vic Country, with 27 disposals and five clearances. Perryman continued his form into the TAC Cup for the Rams with 32 and 29 disposals in his two games. Perryman has clean hands in the contest and gets a lot of space between himself and opponents all around the ground and is definitely a name to keep an eye on.
- Jeremy Goddard
Tall ruckman Jeremy Goddard will likely be one of the few ruckman taken in the top half of the draft. Ruckman have been scarce at the top of the draft in the last few seasons and Goddard looms likely to be close to where Brodie Grundy was drafted at Pick 18 in 2012. Standing at 202cm, Goddard has dominated the WAFL Colts competition in 2016- averaging 37 hit outs per game. Goddard has a strong physicality and tackles well, following up his ruckwork around the ground.
- Zachary Sproule
Zachary Sproule is another player who features in my Top 20 that is tied to an academy. The tall forward is linked with the GWS academy and has begun the season well for the Murray Bushrangers despite only hitting the scoreboard twice. Sproule has the ability to get up the ground on long leads thanks to his good endurance and competes well inside forward 50. Sproule has good agility and also can get a good distance between himself and his opponents when moving for the ball inside 50.
- Jy Simpkin
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
Small forward Jy Simpkin suffered a nasty injury earlier in the month, breaking his leg at school football while representing Scotch College. Simpkin has a good goal sense and kicked the winner in the thriller between Vic Metro and Vic Country in 2015. Simpkin performed well at the Under 18 Championships, booting seven goals from six games seeing him elevated to the Level Two academy squad. In his only appearance at TAC Cup level this season, Simpkin had 18 disposals and four goals. Simpkin has predominantly played as a forward, but at times did push through the midfield for the Bushrangers in 2015. Only time will tell how far Simpkin slides down the draft order but the talented forward is someone who will definitely be on clubs radars come November.
- Brad Scheer
(Gold Coast Academy)
Brad Scheer is another Gold Coast academy member who will likely be snapped up by the Suns come November. The inside midfielder was the best division two player at the Under 16 Championships back in 2014, where he averaged 26 disposals per match. Scheer has the ability to play forward and hit the scoreboard, where his two goals from 11 disposals against the Geelong VFL team for the AFL Academy earned him best on ground honours. Scheer once again was in the best in Queensland’s win over Western Jets in the TAC Cup, kicking 3.3 from his 25 disposal game.
- Jonty Scharenberg
Jonty Scharenberg is the brother of current Collingwood player Matthew and will likely be one of the early South Australian prospects at the 2016 draft. The inside midfielder plays a different role to his brother, working hard on the inside finding plenty of the ball. Scharenberg is good at the stoppages and was able to play two league games for Glenelg in 2015. A good performance from Scharenberg at the Under 18 Championships, should see his name thrown up as one of the early midfielders drafted in 2016.
- Dylan Clarke
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
Dylan Clarke is another 2016 draftee with family ties already on AFL lists with brother Ryan being drafted by North Melbourne in 2015. At 187cm, the inside midfielder has dominated at TAC Cup level this season, averaging 28 disposals and eight tackles in his four games. Clarke is a strong player in the midfield where he tackles hard to win the ball and propels it forward on his left foot. Although his left foot isn’t elite, it is above average and he uses it well when looking for a target coming out of a stoppage. Clarke also can go forward and hit the scoreboard whilst has a superb tank giving him the ability to play on a wing.
- Brandan Parfitt
Northern Territory midfielder Brandan Parfitt rounds out the Top 20. After winning the Northern Territory MVP and gaining All Australia honours in 2015 after averaging 16 disposals in the Championships, Parfitt will be looking to continue to perform at every level. Parfitt has good speed and agility making him a hard opponent on the inside. Two solid AFL Academy games also showed recruiters that he is a good runner meaning he can play off a flank and push forward. The one thing holding Parfitt back is his kicking skills which need to be cleaned up for the sub 180cm prospect to be drafted early.
There are always players stiff, especially Jarrod Berry who sits at No.21 on my list! Honourable mentions go to Curtis Marsden, Jordan Gallucci and key position forwards Todd Marshall & Patrick Kerr who I expect to feature in this list in the near future should they continue their solid start to the season.
Have any questions or want to know more? Send me a tweet @MattBalmer7