15 Division Two names to watch out for in 2017

NSW/ACT's Jack Powell. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty Images)
NSW/ACT’s Jack Powell. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The Division Two state carnival wrapped up a fortnight ago with NSW/ACT running away as winners. With clubs having the ability to trade future draft picks, Matthew Grundy casts his eye over 15 of the top talent to watch out for next year from the Division Two states.


NSW/ACT

Charlie Spargo 
Inside Midfielder/Small Forward (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
25/11/1999 | 175cm | 75kg

Nearly 18 months out from the 2017 draft, Charlie Spargo is already touted as one of the best players for next year. Spargo has spent most of 2016 inside 50 for the Bushrangers and for NSW/ACT, kicking five goals in the TAC Cup. His Under 16 championships last year was impressive, where he won the Alan McLean Medal as the best player in the Division Two carnival and the MVP for NSW/ACT. Spargo averaged 29 disposals and kicked five goals in the two games and is tied with the GWS Giants academy. Spargo has AFL ties in his blood, his father Paul played 90 AFL games for Brisbane Bears and North Melbourne. Spargo is a high impact player and has a good burst of pace in the midfield, showing spark around the contest. Despite playing just the one game for NSW/ACT in this years Under 18 championship, he was selected in the Allies squad. Spargo also had 13 disposals on NEAFL debut earlier in the year and is a name to listen out for over the next 18 months.

Jack Powell 
Balanced Midfielder/Small Forward (Ainslie/NSW-ACT)
15/07/1999 | 179cm | 73kg

Jack Powell is another NSW/ACT player tied with the GWS Giants. Powell spent most of his time in the Under 16 championships last year playing forward, with an impressive three goal haul against Tasmania . Powell has gradually moved into the midfield, where he averaged 18 disposals in the Under 18 Division Two carnival in 2016. Powell’s strong performance saw him picked in the Allies squad where he was selected in their opening game. The hard working midfielder was one of the Rams’ best players in their TAC Cup clash against Dandenong Stingrays in April. Powell had 26 disposals and kicked two goals that day in a strong showing. The tough Canberra based midfielder has the uncanny ability to win lots of the football and push forward to kick goals.

Nathan Richards
Ruckman (Griffith/NSW-ACT)
01/02/1999 | 197cm | 99kg

Giant ruckman Nathan Richards has the potential to be one of the best ruckman in the 2017 draft pool. Linked with GWS, Richards has a basketball background that helps him at the stoppages where he impressed as the NSW/ACT number two ruckman in the Under 18 championships. Playing second fiddle to Max Lynch, Richards gave the midfielders good supply with his tap work. Richards rucked well in the U16 championships, including a best on ground display against Queensland. Richards positions himself well at the stoppages, but does need to work on his impact around the ground.

Jarrod Brander
Key Position Forward (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)
11/02/1999 | 193cm | 93kg

Key Position Forward Jarrod Brander looms as one of the early tall prospects for the 2017 draft. Brander is currently on a scholarship to Geelong Grammar in Victoria, where he kicked 28 goals as a Year 10 in the First XVIII competition. Brander kicked four goals in the U16 Championships playing inside 50 for NSW/ACT, making it into the Level One AFL Academy. Brander suffered a knee injury and has missed a large portion of this season recently returning to school football. Brander is one to keep a real close eye on next season.

Alex Paech
Key Position Utility (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
17/06/1999 | 195cm | 104kg

Alex Paech is one of the most intriguing prospects for the 2017 draft. Paech weighs over 100kg and out muscles his opponents at both ends of the ground. Paech has played mostly in defence for the Bushrangers this season in the TAC Cup but can work forward and through the ruck. Paech was named in the best twice for NSW/ACT in the Under 16 championships enabling him to be selected in the Level One AFL Academy. His second and third efforts are good in defence and he rebounds the ball well. For Paech to improve his mobility expect him to trim down throughout the next 18 months prior to the draft where he could be one of the best swingmen in the system. Paech is yet another NSW/ACT player linked with the GWS Giants and their academy.

Alex Paech (Photo: Murray Bushrangers)
Alex Paech (Photo: Murray Bushrangers)

Jack Hardman
Small Forwad (Warners Bay Bulldogs/NSW-ACT)
31/12/1999 | 173cm | 72kg

Jack Hardman is one of the few NSW/ACT players who are tied with the Sydney Swans academy. Hardman is an exciting small forward who has impressed for NSW/ACT. Hardman averaged 17 disposals and kicked five goals in the two TAC Cup games for the Rams earlier this year. Despite not playing a match for NSW/ACT in the Division Two championships, he is the leading goal kicker for his club team (Warners Bay Bulldogs). It wouldn’t surprise me to see Hardman play a game with the Sydney Swans NEAFL team at some point this year. Hardman’s X-Factor is exciting and is a tough opponent for any defender in the pocket.

Jack Hardman v Calder Cannons (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty Images).
Jack Hardman v Calder Cannons (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty Images).

Queensland

Connor Ballenden
Key Position Forwad (University of Queensland/Queensland)
29/03/1999 | 198cm | 95kg

One of the best key forwards in the 2017 draft will have a massive price tag if he plays as well as he has so far this year. Ballenden has shown real strength up forward this year, including two goals and nine marks in the Queensland trial match against Vic Country earlier in the year. Ballenden was superb in the Under 16 championships last year, winning the Queensland MVP kicking six goals for the carnival. A five-goal haul in the Under 18 championships against Tasmania this year ensured his selection in the Allies squad. Ballenden takes the ball out in front of his body using his body to his advantage. Ballenden’s set shot technique is good and he works hard on the lead. Ballenden has all the potential to being the a top five selection in 2017. Ballenden is a member of the Brisbane Lions academy and should make a dynamic duo with Josh Schache in years to come.

Connor Ballenden- AFL Media
Connor Ballenden- AFL Media

Jack Clayton
Medium Defender (University of Queensland/Queensland)
25/02/1999 | 184cm | 74kg

Multi-talented sportsman Jack Clayton is one of the best kicks out of the 2017 draft prospects. Clayton is a strong cricketer, dominating the Under 17 championships with the bat- But has begun the season well apart of the Level One AFL Academy. Clayton is a rebounding half back who uses his strong kick to his advantage. In his only game for Queensland in the TAC Cup this year, he collected 16 disposals at a superb efficiency of 75 per cent. Clayton also played a role in the defensive 50 throughout the Under 18 championships, often tasked with the kick outs. Throughout the championships he averaged 12 disposals at an efficiency of 71 per cent.

Jack Clayton in the U18 championships v Tasmania. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)
Jack Clayton in the U18 championships v Tasmania. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)

Brayden Crossley
Ruckman (Labrador/Queensland)
16/08/1999 | 198cm | 100kg

Gold Coast Suns academy member Brayden Crossley is one of the best talls in the 2017 crop. Crossley is predominantly a ruckman, but does have the capabilities to play forward. A strong Under 16 championship last year saw him just miss out on AFL Academy selection, after kicking four goals and being named in the best in all games. Crossley also become the NEAFL Rising Star in Round 7 this year, collecting 21 disposals and 17 hit-outs. Crossley is a tough and skillful ruckman who has many traits needed to be drafted, after starting 2016 well.

Harry Simington 
Medium Forward (Labrador/Queensland)
28/03/1999 | 188cm | 87kg

Forward Harry Simington is also a Queensland player linked with the Gold Coast Suns. As a medium forward, Simington has a great ability to mark the ball and provide spark inside 50. In his one and only game at the Under 18 championships, Simington had 17 disposals and six marks, kicking two goals in Queensland’s strong win. Simington has also shown glimpses at NEAFL level in his five games this year. The mobile target leads up the ground well, converting his multiple chances.

Jacob Dawson
Balanced Midfielder (Palm Beach/Queensland)
16/08/1999 | 181cm | 77kg

One of the best performed bottom age midfielder for Queensland was Jacob Dawson. The Gold Coast academy member was named in the best twice in the Under 16 championships and he carried that form into this season. In his only TAC Cup game he had 19 disposals and seven tackles at 89 per cent efficiency. The midfielder was also good through the Under 18 championships, averaging 17 disposals and five tackles. Dawson is strong at the clearances added with his slick and strong skills, makes him a strong all round midfielder that could prove to be a top prospect in 2017.

Jacob Dawson (right) at the Division Two championships. (Photo: AFL Queensland Facebook)
Jacob Dawson (right) at the Division Two championships. (Photo: AFL Queensland Facebook)

Northern Territory

Dominic Grant
Inside Midfielder (Wanderers/NT)
29/01/1999 | 189cm | 77kg

Tough inside midfielder Dominic Grant is a member of the Level One AFL Academy and shows plenty of energy around the contest. Grant’s tackling pressure is superb and had a strong Under 16 championship for NT, named in the best twice. Playing as a half forward and pushing through the midfield, Grant had 17 disposals and five clearances in this years Under 18 championship. Grant has been playing SANFL football for North Adelaide in the Under 18 competition and will be pushing to play in the SANFL reserves at some point this year.

Dominic Grant (#17) against Queensland. (Photo: AFL NT Facebook)
Dominic Grant (#17) against Queensland. (Photo: AFL NT Facebook)

Xavier Cubillo
Outside Midfielder (Wanderers/NT)
26/01/1999 | 174cm | 72kg

Hardworking outside midfielder Xavier Cubillo is another player worth watching. Cubillo had a solid Under 16 championships named in the best twice. Cubillo has showed promise in the TAC Cup, averaging 13 disposals and four marks providing plenty of run on the outside for NT. He also had the chance to play as a bottom ager in the Under 18 championships, collecting nine disposals and two inside 50s on average. The gut running midfielder is one to keep an eye on throughout the next 18 months as one of the better prospects to come out from NT.

Xavier Cubillo in the Division Two Under 18 championships. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)
Xavier Cubillo in the Division Two Under 18 championships. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)

Tasmania

Jake Hinds 
Inside Midfielder (Launceston/TAS)
07/05/1999 | 183cm | 78kg

Despite being bottom age, Jake Hinds was one of the best performing Tasmanians in the Under 18 championships. Hinds moves well around the contest and also has the ability to play in multiple positions. Despite a relatively quiet Under 16 championship he hit back and averaged 15 disposals in the Under 18 carnival. Hinds was one of the few bright lights in the Tasmanian team and is definitely a name to watch over the next 18 months.

Hinds playing for Tasmania in the Division Two carnival. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)
Hinds playing for Tasmania in the Division Two carnival. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media)

Lachlan Clifford 
Inside Midfielder (Kingborough/TAS)
18/02/1999 | 178cm | 73kg

Ball magnet Lachlan Clifford has shown promise as a small midfielder. Despite his size, Clifford wins a large chunk of contested ball providing plenty of energy around the stoppages. In the TAC Cup, Clifford has averaged 22 disposals and 15 tackles in his two games showing his ability to match it with bigger and strong opponents. Despite a poor Under 18 championship for Tasmania, Clliford averaged 13 disposals, six tackles and five clearance on the inside. A knock on Clifford is his disposal efficiency and he will be working hard on cleaning that up before next years Under 18 championships.

Lachlan Clifford tackled against Eastern. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/AFL Media)
Lachlan Clifford tackled against Eastern. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/AFL Media)

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