Vic Country midfielder James Worpel heads the list of inclusions for the 2016/17 AFL Academy squad that was named today.
Worpel missed selection for the Level One squad in 2015, but after a stellar Under 18 Championship for Vic Country averaging 15 disposals, he was added into the Level Two squad.
The eligible squad for next year’s draft will take part in a program run by former Adelaide coach and current academy head coach Brenton Sanderson.
Although this year’s AFL Draft pool looks strong for midfielders at the top end, a number of taller names have already shown enough in 2016 to suggest they’ll be early picks for the 2017 draft held in Sydney.
Eastern Ranges talls Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson are two likely high picks, showing plenty of good signs inside forward 50 throughout the season.
Hayes was the only bottom ager in the Under 18 All Australian team named in July and showed he can play as a marking tall inside 50 and work through the ruck.
Vic Metro’s Jack Higgins will likely warrant an early pick in 2017, continuing to find the football as a bottom ager throughout the TAC Cup with the Chargers and for Vic Metro.
Possible Richmond father-son Patrick Naish also made the squad, after showing glimpses across half back for Northern Knights in the TAC Cup.
His father, Chris, played 153 games for the Tigers.
A pick me up for Tiger fans. Chris Naish's son Patrick is going very well in Vic Metro trial. Not eligible until next year though. #AFLDraft
— Brett Anderson (@BAndersonSEN) April 9, 2016
NSW/ACT themselves are duly represented with six players making the Level One and Two squads.
The level one academy group, for 2018 draft prospects, will be made up of seven South Australians after they took out the recent Under 16 championships.
Kevin Sheehan Medalist Connor Rozee will be a name to keep an eye on in the future after dominating the championships in the midfielder for South Australia.
U16 National Carnival MVP receiving the Kevin Sheehan medal was Connor Rozee of North Adelaide. pic.twitter.com/QXzoJFf3yu
— McDonald's SA U18s (@SA_U18s) July 8, 2016
After a poor Under 18 championships, Tasmania will have some joy with Tarryn Thomas making the level one squad.
Thomas won both the Under 18 and Under 16 MVP for Tasmania, but will likely be linked with North Melbourne’s next generation academy as an eligible selection in 2018.
Vic Metro didn’t win a game through the Under 16 championships, but have four representatives in the Level One squad.
Rhylee West will be closely watched by the Western Bulldogs, after a dominant Under 16 carnival for Metro. West is the son of Western Bulldogs great Scott, who played 324 games in the red, white and blue.
Sandringham Dragons twins Ben and Max King, are two talls likely to be considered as early picks in 2018.
Max and Ben King front the media – twins both 199cm who can play both ends – Future Stars from Vic metro U16s ! pic.twitter.com/F2NicAjpTR
— Kevin Sheehan (@AFL_Shifter) July 4, 2016
West isn’t the only father son selected in the Level One squad with Nick Blakey (son of John) and Bailey Scott (son of Robert) named alongside him.
Blakey and Scott are in a never before seen position, eligible for three different clubs in 2018.
Blakey can be selected as a father-son selection for Brisbane and North Melbourne, but also falls under Sydney Swans’ academy after living in the region when his father has been an assistant coach with the Swans.
Scott is eligible as a father-son selection for North Melbourne and Geelong, as well as falling into the Gold Coast Suns academy zone.
Western Bulldogs fans remember the name Rhylee West (son of Scott). Currently dominating the Vic Metro U16 game. One for the 2018 #AFLDraft
— Matt Balmer (@MattBalmer7) June 11, 2016
The connections don’t end there, with Western Australian small forward Ian Hill selected. Hill is the cousin of current AFL footballers Stephen and Brad Hill and performed well kicking eight goals in the Under 16 carnival.
LEVEL TWO NAB AFL ACADEMY
Northern Territory: Dominic Grant
NSW-ACT: Charlie Spargo, Jack Powell, Jarrod Brander, Nathan Richards
Queensland: Jack Clayton, Connor Ballenden, Brayden Crossley
Vic Country: Tyrone Hayes, Aaron Darling, Kane Farrell, Aidan Quigley, Lochie O’Brien, Hunter Clark, Luke Davies-Uniake, Oscar Clavarino, James Worpel, Tom De Koning
Vic Metro: Jack Higgins, Lachlan Fogarty, Patrick Naish, Joel Garner, Jaidyn Stephenson, Sam Hayes
South Australia: Jordan Houlahan, Darcy Fogarty, Thomas Schmusch, Callum Coleman-Jones, Andrew McPherson
Western Australia: Jake Patmore
LEVEL ONE NAB AFL ACADEMY
Northern Territory: Michael Mummery
NSW-ACT: Matthew Walker, Nick Blakey
Queensland: Bailey Scott
Vic Country: Sam Walsh, Zane Barzen, Jye Caldwell, Sam Fletcher, Hudson Garoni
Vic Metro: Rhylee West, Jack Bytel, Max King, Ben King
South Australia: Izak Rankine, Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately, Jack Lukosius, Hugo Munn, Ruben Flinn, Luke Valente
Tasmania: Chance Jones, Tarryn Thomas
Western Australia: Ian Hill, Tom Joyce, Sydney Stack, Jason Carter