With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.
Points: 48 (eliminated in preliminary final)
Players Drafted: (6)
- Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne)
- Hunter Clark (St Kilda)
- Aiden Bonar (GWS)
- Tom De Koning (Carlton)
- Oscar Clavarino (St Kilda)
- Thomas Murphy (North Melbourne)
It was another successful year of draftees for the Dandenong Stingrays with six players landing at AFL clubs after the team bowed out in the preliminary final. Dandenong’s close affiliation with St Kilda continued as Hunter Clark and Oscar Clavarino were plucked out to play at Moorabbin, Clavarino joining best mate Josh Battle whom the Saints drafted 12 months earlier. North Melbourne also teamed up top draft prospect Luke Davies-Uniacke with over-age rookie Thomas Murphy, while developing tall Tom De Koning became a Blue.
Among those unlucky to be drafted were hard-luck story Aaron Darling who was a member of the AFL’s AIS Academy, as well as over-ager Bailey Morrish and Tom Freeman. Others who performed well throughout the season and gave themselves every chance were Riley D’Arcy, Mitch Cotter and Ali Zijai.
There was plenty to like about the Stingrays in 2017, they showed heart and fought out most games quite competitively. Their comeback against Eastern Ranges in the elimination final was one for the ages and no doubt raised Davies-Uniacke and Clark’s draft potential to another level. In 2018 they look to be just as strong, potentially even stronger if everything goes to plan and injuries do not curtail their top players’ years.
Last year I thought Dandenong was a premiership contender for 2017 and looking at some of the names on their list, it’s clear they will be thereabouts again with some astonishing talent. A couple of twin towers in Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman are a part of the AFL’s AIS Academy as is tall utility Sam Fletcher. While Mitchell Riordan and Jai Nanscanwen are other players who after strong bottom-age seasons are in the mix to be drafted.
Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays) 198cm | 93kg | Ruckman
2017 TAC Cup: (10) 14 disposals | 3 marks | 4.3 tackles | 18.5 hitouts | 3 clearances | 2.6 inside 50s | 45% KE | 60% D | 50% CP
A ruckman who has come on in leaps and bounds since the start of the season. He ended up notching up good numbers across most statistical areas as shown above, with his 18.5 hitouts and three clearances per game pretty impressive, also showing the fact he could ruck in tandem with Bailey Williams.
Sam Fletcher (Dandenong Stingrays) 188cm | 77kg | Tall Utility
2017 TAC Cup: (4) 15.8 disposals | 3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 1.8 clearances | 2.3 rebounds | 80% KE | 76% DE | 35% CP
We have been robbed of seeing what Fletcher is capable of, limited to four games due to injury, but in those games his kicking was sensational, and at his size, the scope for the future is huge considering he will be 190cm and 80-85kg by the time the season rolls around. It will be interesting to see how he goes with a full pre-season under his belt.
Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong Stingrays) 177cm | 72kg | Small Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (17) 14.5 disposals | 2.2 marks | 2.9 tackles | 2.4 inside 50s | 1.7 goals | 57% KE | 67% DE | 47% CP
He might not be big, but Jai Nanscawen certainly knows where the goals are. He is that pressuring small forward who are all the rage since Richmond’s premiership win. He averaged a very solid 1.7 goals per game and if he bulks up over the summer a tad, he might even move further up the ground.
Mitchell Riordan (Dandenong Stingrays) 186cm | 77kg | Balanced Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (10) 14.6 disposals | 2 marks | 4.7 tackles | 2.2 clearances | 2.8 inside 50s | 52% KE | 66% DE | 46% CP
A midfielder who just ticks a lot of boxes. His kicking could be improved, but he wins the clearances, moves the ball forward and lays the tackles. A dark horse in a team of really strong prospects so keep an eye out for Riordan.
Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays) 198cm | 91kg | Ruckman
2017 TAC Cup: (18) 9.6 disposals | 2.8 marks | 2.1 tackles | 20.6 hitouts | 1.4 clearances | 2.7 inside 50s | 0.8 goals | 54% KE | 64% DE | 49% CP
The top prospect at the Stingrays for mine and one that just catches the eye. He’s a strong mark, can play through the ruck or up forward and while he is not a huge accumulator, he seems like the player that just gets it done in clutch moments. Certainly one to watch in 2018.
Others to keep an eye on:
Finlay Bayne (Dandenong Stingrays) 176cm | 68kg | Small Forward/Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (10) 16.5 Disposals | 2.2 marks | 2.9 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 3.3 inside 50s | 1.1 goals | 51% KE | 64% DE | 41% CP
Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong Stingrays) 181cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: 14.6 disposals | 2.3 marks | 3.5 tackles | 1.6 clearances | 1.9 inside 50s | 59% KE | 73% DE | 42% CP
William Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays) 183cm | 67kg | Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (20) 12.3 disposals | 2.3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 1 inside 50 | 1.9 rebounds | 58% KE | 71% DE | 42% CP
Stephen Cumming (Dandenong Stingrays) 199cm | 97kg | Key Position Utility
Matthew Cumming (Dandenong Stingrays) 198cm | 95kg | Key Position Utility
Dandenong Stingrays had a great year both on the field and on draft night. They had many talented players who landed at AFL clubs and will no doubt be ones to watch at the elite level in coming years. Next season bills as another great season for the club with so many talented players on the books it is hard to squeeze them in. If all are fit and can play the majority of games then watch out because this team looks scary good.