Tag: Chayce Jones

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 30:

August rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius was named best on ground for Henley High in the School Championships final, when he and Izak Rankine lead the way to defeat reigning premiers, Prince Alfred College. He has continued averaging 14 disposals per game in the past month at SANFL League level, and while he has not been dominating games, he has still been a key contributor to the Eagles’ outfit.

 

August rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh is just a complete midfielder and continues kicking on, having 37 disposals and booting two goals in Geelong Falcons’ last round win over Calder Cannons, before a more focused effort by the Cannons on the weekend saw him with the more limited 26 disposals, but spent more time on the inside with five clearances and seven tackles. He is really giving Lukosius a run for his money in these Power Rankings, and could be a photo finish.

 

August rank: #5

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Since he starred at the National Under 18 Championships, Rankine has returned to the SANFL where he has put together a really strong month of football. He has lifted his disposal rate in the League competition, and in the final round of the regular season, booted three goals from 20 touches and 11 marks in an impressive display. Has gone from a talent with inconsistent form, to a genuine four-quarter player and everyone is hoping he keeps it up.

 

 

August rank: #4

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

 

August rank: #3

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

King dominated the APS football competition, booting regular bags of goals for Haileybury as they went on to defend their title. He has come back to TAC Cup and managed just the two goals in the final two matches, but in fairness it has been tough in the forward 50 with the Dragons facing arguably the two best sides in the competition. The finals series will determine where he lands in the draft order, but cannot see him slipping outside the top six.

 

August rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith has not been able to get on the park lately due to an achilles injury, and Sandringham is sorely missing him as another inside body to help Liam Stocker at the stoppages. Just the two TAC Cup matches this season, but he made them count with two huge games.

 

August rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Has been out of action due to injury and will miss the rest of the season.

 

August rank: #8

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

Hately had a quieter end to the month of August, having just the 13 disposals, but still taking nine marks. He showed he still has the capability to win the football at senior level, amassing 22 and 18 disposals in the earlier two games, but his spread and ability to be that player who kicks inside 50 and hits up a leading forward is still growing.

 

August rank: #9

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas will have a break this weekend after his North Launceston side automatically earned a spot in the Tasmanian State League (TSL) Grand Final. They knocked off Glenorchy with Thomas named in the best and booting a goal. Some rumours floating around that he will slide, but we are confident he is still a quality talent and a clear first round prospect.

 

August rank: #11

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Despite his light frame he continues to use his precise kicking skills at League level in the SANFL. He is a low possession but high-impact player, mostly playing up forward. Rozee had just the eight touches in the final round of the regular season, but had four inside 50s, showing he makes the most of each disposal. Long-term he is that player you just want the ball in his hands.

 

August rank: #10

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

Since a 25-disposal, three-goal game in the Colts in Round 16, Hill has played two Reserves games, averaging the 10.5 disposals and having booted three behinds. He is more of an exciting long-term prospect and it showed against the bigger bodies. Still one that will be exciting to develop over the years.

 

August rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams has had a quiet past fortnight, but started the month strongly with a 17-disposal, nine-mark and two-goal game. He was rewarded for his impressive season with a place in the TAC Cup Team of the Year. Plays predominantly forward, but can move through the ruck and still have an impact.

 

August rank: #13

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker capped off his fantastic season with the 2018 Morrish Medal. He has been enormous on the inside in Bailey Smith’s absence, and has continually put his body on the line time and time again. Does not do too much wrong and has well and truly held his place in this spot with another 30-plus disposal game a couple of weeks ago and will be needed when the Dragons tackle the Murray Bushrangers in the elimination final.

 

August rank: #15

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

Has not slowed down this season, picking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three games during August to continue leading the Gippsland Power from his on-field actions. Was one of the top placegetters in the Morrish Medal and has spent more time on the inside in the second half of the season, winning his own ball then spreading to the outside and creating good run in transition. Just keeps rising.

 

August rank: #20

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

One who ultra impressed me over the last few weeks, West is a player who I think has settled into first round discussions. His midfield work is solid, and while he is smaller compared to most inside midfielders, it is his clean hands and ability to read the ball off a ruck tap and seamlessly move through a stoppage. He has done it multiple times in the forward half resulting in goals, and it is just his field kicking at times that needs cleaning up, but overall he is coming together nicely at the right time of the year.

 

July rank: #25

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Despite a lower impact game in his final match of the season in the Tasmanian State League (TSL), Jones has been Launceston’s best since his return from National Under 18 Championships. He is great at the stoppages and impacts the scoreboard as well. One of the best kicks available, his height like others can worry clubs, but he has the outside capabilities that means he can overcome any concerns.

 

August rank: #24

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor is a player who you cannot help but put up high on your draft boards when you see all the little things he does right. His footy IQ and ability to intercept through reading a situation perfectly, is top notch. Remarkably despite his height, he is strong one-on-one in both the air and at ground level. He has played on 200cm players such is his ability to cover height, and no doubt Pies fans will look forward to him running off half-back for them. They will also be quietly hoping he does not rise too much more pre-draft.

 

August rank: #16

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

Just as it looked like McHenry’s overall production had dropped, he put in a best on ground performance against Calder Cannons in the do-or-die Wildcard Round on the weekend. While he only had the 20 touches, he was superb around the ground, booting a couple of goals and laying six tackles. He stood up when the Falcons needed a player to do so, and like so many others in the first round, he might lack height, but not ability, nor talent and he might finish in the second round, but boy he has the talent of a first rounder.

 

August rank: #18

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

Has been on ice after shoulder surgery in July. Still an unbelievable talent that has serious X-factor.

 

August rank: #17

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Shows glimpses every week and is one of the hardest to judge. On production he is a second rounder, but on scope he is a first rounder. Needs to close the gap between his top and bottom games, but that burst out of a stoppage and long, penetrating kick will have plenty of recruiters, interested.

 

August rank: #21

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

Has rotated between midfield and forward lately, being that player used on the outside to pump the ball inside 50, or the one to extract a ball out of a stoppage. Had 10 inside 50s with his 20 plus disposals a fortnight ago. Does his job each week and is one that will need to have a big game if Western are to upset Oakleigh this weekend. TAC Cup Team of the Year honours too.

 

August rank: #14

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

After quiet games against Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons to finish the regular season, Taylor had a much improved effort against the Falcons in the first half of the Wildcard Round clash. He fired early with two goals and has that serious X-factor, but it’s that four-quarter effort that has the question mark over him. Has huge upside however.

 

August rank: #27

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Remarkably Clark is one player who maintains the same output despite going up to a higher quality level. He has matched it with senior bodies in the WAFL League, and now has a month of good production behind him. A member of the Elimination Final winning Claremont side, he averages almost six marks per game as a general in defence. Another player whose stocks are rising.

 

August rank: #30

He was a new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, and McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

After making his League debut for Central District in July, he has strung together a month of football at the level. He had one breakout game where he had 17 disposals, nine marks and six tackles, however his other three he has averaged 8.25 disposals. His elite kicking has been on display in the back half, and similar to Rozee is a high impact per possession player.

 

August rank: #22

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Had a strong hit-out against the Western Jets and started promisingly with some electrifying skills on the weekend against Murray Bushrangers, before suffering a hamstring injury on the quarter time siren. Won’t hurt his overall draft chances, but it is unfortunate we were not treated to his sublime talent for longer periods of time.

 

August rank: #19

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Foley injured his quad in mid-July and has not played since, but is expected to return this weekend for Subiaco’s finals campaign.

 

August rank: N/A

The Collingwood father-son prospect continues to bolt up the order with a fantastic second half of the year, following on from the National Under 18 Championships. He can play both defensive and offensive roles, finding a good balance between playing one-on-one and running off his man. A good size with some development left in him in terms of size, Kelly will be a big bonus for Collingwood to assist in that defensive half of the ground. Can also play forward but his work in defence is considered far superior.

Past month:

Since returning from the National Under 18 Championships and school football, Kelly has put together a consistent block of football in the TAC Cup. He restricted Ben King to one goal in blustery conditions at Werribee, albeit in a match where Oakleigh strangled the life out of the Dragons. Then he showed off his versatility playing both one-on-one in defence, peeling off and then going forward and kicking two goals for the Chargers in their 15-goal rout of the GWV Rebels.

 

August rank: #23

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has not been able to get out on the park in the past month due to bone bruising in the knee. Still in contention for top 30, some top performances by others have seen him slip a little.

 

August rank: #28

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs has played the three games in August for the UWS GIANTS, dominating in the ruck against Gold Coast Suns with 17 disposals, four marks, a whopping 59 hitouts and a goal, before respectfully losing the battle against AFL-listed Darcy Cameron in the GIANTS loss to Sydney. Briggs still had 33 hitouts to Cameron’s 53, while also laying eight tackles. While the GIANTS, and his season is over, he has finished the year in the best possible position and looks set to be a second round selection.

 

August rank: #29

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott was just about the only shining light in the Gold Coast’s disastrous 91-point loss to Brisbane in the NEAFL on August 18. With the Suns season over, it was the last chance for Scott to impress, and he did just that, racking up an impressive 31 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and kicked a goal. His season has seen Scott awarded with the Academy Player of the Year.

 

Keep an eye out:

Riley Bowman (Vic Country)
Angus Hanrahan (Vic Metro)
Tom McKenzie (Vic Metro)
Toby Bedford (Vic Country)
Ely Smith (Vic Country)
Brayden Ham (Vic Country)
Sydney Stack (Western Australia)
Connor McFadyen (Allies)
Jacob Kennerley (South Australia)

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 30:

July rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

While he had a quieter final National Under 18 Championships playing at both ends, Lukosius has returned to the SANFL and continued where he left off. Picking up 14 disposals per game and booting a couple of goals a game, he stands up at senior level consistently.

July rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh maintains his top two spot in the rankings after a successful carnival, winning the overall Most Valuable Player (MVP) to go with his Vic Country award. He has returned to Geelong and had back-to-back-to-back 30 plus disposal games and seems unstoppable in the competition. Arguably the leading contender for the Morrish Medal as well and could repeat the feat of Hugh McCluggage who went top three in the National Draft after winning the Morrish Medal.

July rank: #4

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

After making the most of limited opportunities for three goals against South Australia in the final match of the National Under 18 Championships, King has returned to Haileybury in the APS. In his two matches back, King booted back-to-back hauls of seven goals against Caulfield Grammar and Scotch College, the latter opposed to Will Kelly. While it was considered a good battle, it showed how resourceful King was to kick a bag in the win. He celebrated with his teammates taking out the overall shield title on Saturday. For the first time this year Ben moves above brother Max.

July rank: #3

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

July rank: #5

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Lit up Etihad Stadium booting five goals against Vic Metro to have some watching to question whether Rankine could steal the number one spot from close mate Jack Lukosius. He is pushing hard up the order, and his best is as electrifying as others, but just needs that consistency and discipline on-fireld at times to really be considered for pick one. On talent alone he could well be top two. Went back to SANFL level and has been good without starring.

July rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith took out the Vic Metro Most Valuable Player (MVP) as well as Metro’s Best and Fairest award, with the vice-captain leading by example in every game he played. Rested for a week between the National Championships and the return of school football, expect Smith to be a key player for the Dragons in the upcoming TAC Cup finals series.

July rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Finished the National Championships on a high with an impressive performance at Etihad Stadium against Western Australia. The biggest tick was his ability to get things happening when it was not going his way – pushing into the midfield and genuinely being a huge influence at the coal face. As versatile as you’ll see, he is a gift for the Swans and will not even cause them to hesitate in matching a bid for the exciting tall.

July rank: #9

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

Hately was one of South Australia’s top performers across the National Under 18 Championships, and does not do a lot wrong. He ticks plenty of boxes and has returned to SANFL action, playing League for Central District. In that senior grade he does not look out of place, and is able to find the ball in the contest without being overawed by more experienced and stronger bodies.

July rank: #8

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas had a bit of an inconsistent carnival at the National Under 18 Championships, and while he showed the unbelievable class he has – clean as any other player out there – he did fade in and out of games at times. Regardless, his ceiling is enormous and North Melbourne will be closely keeping an eye on their draft position with their first round pick to be in this region. Since the championships, Thomas has returned to the Tasmanian State League (TSL) where he has played two games for ladder leaders North Launceston, booting a goal against Clarence in his first game back and then being a member of the 143-point win over North Hobart.

July rank: #10

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

After coming into the National Championships underdone given his concussion and various niggles, Hill had a bit of an up-and-down carnival, suspended for the final round for a sling tackle on Vic Country’s Laitham Vandermeer. After an impressive 25 disposals and three goal haul for Perth in the Colts a few weeks ago, Hill stepped up to the Reserves where he had the 10 touches and three tackles, still very slight compared to senior bodies.

July rank: #14

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Playing in various positions at the National Championships, Rozee almost seemed to be forgotten in terms of the top-end talent available in the 2018 draft crop. He has elite skills and while his light body means he has to play in outside roles, he ticks a lot of boxes. He returned to the SANFL League for North Adelaide, booting a goal and having three score assists, as well as 15 disposals and three inside 50s, showing how damaging he can be with ball in hand going forward.

July rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams continues to be the next best tall after the top handful of elite talents and it is easy to see why. His aerial ability is as good, if not better than the others and is unbeatable when he gets a leap at the ball. He dropped a few marks at the National Under 18s Championships, but has been clunking them in the past few weeks at TAC Cup level. His goal kicking has been a little suspect, but in terms of his impact on games, he is maintaining the rage for longer rather than fading in and out. So much scope as a developing tall.

July rank: #21

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Could the first four Metro players picked be from Sandringham Dragons? It is certainly possible with Liam Stocker’s form over the past month. He is one, if not the most consistent player in the TAC Cup for July. It was disappointing injury kept him out of the National Championships, but now he is back and he is making up for it. Will be tested in the TAC Cup finals against the best of the best and could enhance his stocks even further, ala Tim Taranto style.

July rank: #11

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-Factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

Returned to Calder Cannons and had a quiet day out against Dandenong in blustery conditions at RAMS Arena. Against Murray Bushrangers at Albury, he was back involved again, picking up 21 disposals, four marks, five clearances, three rebounds and a goal with much more midfield minutes. One who could go from top 10 to second round, has plenty of scope.

July rank: #16

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

Hardly does anything wrong and is one of the most well-balanced players in the draft crop. The Gippsland captain is starting to win more of the ball too, putting in consistent four quarter efforts. In Round 13, he had 26 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and two goals against Western Jets, then backed it up on Saturday with 29 disposals, seven marks, eight inside 50s and four rebounds. What is most remarkable is in those two games he played different roles, one predominantly inside and the other predominantly outside.

July rank: #13

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

McHenry returned from the National Under 18 Championships to play the one game with Geelong Falcons, notching up 16 disposals, five tackles, five clearances and six inside 50s. He then headed back to finish off the APS football season, which wrapped up on the weekend. Expect him to return to the Falcons side for the remaining few games of the season.

July rank: #15

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Upon returning to the Oakleigh Chargers, Collier-Dawkins has made a modest return for himself, averaging 14 disposals in his three games back in the TAC Cup. He is not a huge accumulator and is one that continues to impress in patches. He needs to iron out some four quarter performances, but the ability to accelerate out of a stoppage, lower the eyes and hit-up a leading target like he did against Gippsland Power on Saturday, is a reason why he is considered so high.

July rank: #22

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

After a great National Under 18 Championships, Butters injured his shoulder in the final game at Etihad Stadium against South Australia. He went in for surgery and has been put on ice for the remainder of the TAC Cup season. A huge talent who should not fall too far based on his performances at national level.

July rank: #30

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Since returning to the WAFL Colts, Foley has continued his ball winning ways for Subiaco, averaging 24 touches and eight tackles per game. He has a high impact per possession and a bigger body that enables him to use his frame at stoppages. Is one who just does not do a lot wrong, and is one who should surely play senior footy this season. Expect him to be considered in the first round, and certainly top 30.

July rank: #18

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

After the National Championships, where West was one of the top Vic Metro players across the competition, he has headed back to St Kevin’s to play the remainder of the APS competition which wrapped up on the weekend. In line to play the APS vs. AGSV match on Saturday, before returning to Calder the week after to finish off his year in the TAC Cup for the Cannons. The championships enhanced his reputation and remains in top 20 calculations.

July rank: #25

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

After a really promising National Under 18 Championships playing forward, O’Halloran returned to the Western Jets where he has had a solid run of form prior to Round 14. O’Halloran racked up 25 touches, six marks and nine inside 50s against Gippsland Power, before having 16 touches, seven clearances and six inside 50s against Murray Bushrangers. He did not have as much impact in the weekend’s wind-affected match at Williamstown, having 11 touches and four clearances, but at full fitness expect the Jets captain to bounce back next round and be a big influence in finals.

July rank: #24

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

After injuries ruined his National Under 18 Championships, Caldwell has returned to the APS competition, and will have two games under his belt before returning to Bendigo Pioneers for the remainder of the season where he is expected to remind recruiters of his talent.

July rank: #20

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has played the one game since returning from a huge National Under 18 Championships where he was awarded the South Australian MVP, and named in the All-Australian side. He played Under 18s in the SANFL and booted two goals in a best on ground performance to show once again he was too good for the level. Expect him to be back playing seniors soon.

July rank: #26

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor has been playing further up the ground for Oakleigh since returning to the Chargers, spending more time on the wing and finding more of the football. He showed off his natural game sense and ability to read the play on multiple occasions against Gippsland Power at Warrawee Park on Saturday, intercepting passes at full speed and not breaking stride. While he just had the 10 touches, he had five rebounds, drifting back opposed to talented bottom-ager Sam Flanders on occasions, showing he can work hard defensively as well. The week before, Quaynor had 21 disposals and four inside 50s off a wing.

July rank: #19

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Since a successful National Under 18 Championships which saw him earn All-Australian honours, Jones has returned to the TSL, playing for Launceston. In his three games back for the club, Jones has booted three goals and been named Launceston’s second best in each of his matches.

July rank: #17

There is a little bit of Tim English in the way Riley Bowman moves around the ground. The athletic ruckman has a decent leap on him, he is also a good user of the ball by foot. While Bowman is very raw and will need developing by any club that takes him, he has shown enough this year to suggest he needs to be tracked closely during the season. He worked hard in the ruck for the AFL Academy against the bigger North Melbourne opponents, at times going up against big Brayden Preuss.

Past month:

Bowman played his role at the National Under 18 Championships, being the second best ruckman behind Kieren Briggs, and expect him to be among the top three taken in that position. The emphasis of rucks going later seems to be continuing, but Bowman has still been solid at TAC Cup level without dominating. He was far too good against Bendigo Pioneers a few weeks ago, and has just been okay in the past fortnight. Looked at for his upside and athleticism. The drop is more others jumping up rather than him falling too much.

July rank: N/A

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Since winning Western Australia’s MVP award, Clark has returned to the WAFL, but instead of Colts, he has stepped up into the Reserves and gone to another level. In his two games he has recorded 17 and 22 disposals and importantly, is averaging five tackles. Firming as Western Australia’s third best prospect behind Hill and Foley.

July rank: N/A

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs capped off his terrific National Under 18 Championships with the Allies MVP award and was one of a number of players at the carnival who shot up the draft boards with his consistency across the matches. While often going against athletic rucks, Briggs earned his keep by his second efforts and enormous work rate around the ground – he just runs opponents into the ground. He is also strong overhead and showed he could play as a resting forward as well. All-Australian honours to go with it opposed to a number of talented rucks. GIANTS will need to match a bid to keep the big man.

July rank: N/A

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott enhanced his draft credentials at the National Under 18 Championships with the Allies. He made the All-Australian side and was consistent off half-forward or through the middle, having a penetrating kick and constantly cracking in hard at the contest. A medium midfielder who will be more inside than outside, Scott can virtually slot in anywhere and if his National Championships are anything to go by, he will be a very solid player at AFL level.

July rank: N/A

Another new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

McLennan finished off the National Under 18 Championships with All-Australian honours, and no doubt in the top five players for South Australia in terms of performance across the four games. He has since returned to the SANFL where he has played seniors for Central District, making his debut and having eight disposals at 100 per cent efficiency. Importantly he laid five tackles and did not look out of place, playing his role. The week before at Reserves level, McLennan also ran at 100 per cent kicking efficiency from 11 kicks, and 95.7 per cent efficiency overall from 23 disposals.

Keep an eye out:

Will Kelly (Vic Metro)
Angus Hanrahan (Vic Metro)
Tom McKenzie (Vic Metro)
Toby Bedford (Vic Country)
Ely Smith (Vic Country)
Zac Foot (Vic Country)
Sydney Stack (Western Australia)
Connor McFadyen (Allies)
Jacob Kennerley (South Australia)

Eighty invited to National AFL Draft Combine

VIC Metro has dominated the nominations for the National AFL Draft Combine with more than one third of the invitees coming from Metro, and more than half from Victoria. South Australia’s title-winning side has the next most with 13, including mature-ager Shane McAdam. Sturt’s McAdam is one of two mature agers to be invited to the combine, with Werribee’s Josh Corbett also gaining an invite. Western Australia has 11 invitees, while Tasmania and Queensland (four each) and NSW-ACT (three) round out the total nominees with no Northern Territory player invited.

There are six Northern Academy-tied players invited – Nick Blakey (Sydney), Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS), Keidean Coleman and Connor McFadyen (Brisbane), and Dirk Koenen and Bailey Scott (Gold Coast). Additionally there are a raft of father-sons, such as Oscar BrownlessRhylee WestWill KellyBen Silvagni and Joel Crocker, whilst Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne), Jarrod Cameron (West Coast), Irving Mosquito (Hawthorn) and Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood) are others tied to Next Generation Academies.

In terms of individual clubs, Oakleigh Chargers (eight), Sandringham Dragons (seven), Geelong Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays (both five), Murray Bushrangers, Western Jets, Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power (all four) lead the way, with the remaining four TAC Cup clubs having a nominee each. For interstate clubs, Sturt and Perth both have three players invited.

The 80 players will test in front of clubs from October 2-5.

National AFL Draft Combine invitees:

NSW-ACT [3]
Nick Blakey (Sydney Academy)
Kieren Briggs (GWS Academy)
Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushrangers)

Queensland [4]
Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Dirk Koenen (Gold Coast Academy)
Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Academy)

South Australia [13]
Jez McLennan (Central District)
Ben Jarvis (Norwood)
Izak Rankine (West Adelaide)
Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide)
Jackson Hately (Central District)
Jacob Kennerley (Norwood)
Connor Rozee (North Adelaide)
Luke Valente (Norwood)
Shane McAdam (Sturt)
Hayden Sampson (South Adelaide)
Riley Grundy (Sturt)
Jack Lukosius (Woodville West Torrens)
Hugo Munn (Sturt)

Tasmania [4]
Nicholas Baker (Lauderdale)
Chayce Jones (Launceston)
Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston)
Fraser Turner (Clarence)

VFL [1]
Josh Corbett (Werribee)

Vic Country [19]
Zane Barzen (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays)
Thomas Berry (Greater Western Victoria Rebels)
Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays)
Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons)
Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power)
Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays)
Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays)
Connor Idun (Geelong Falcons)
Matt McGannon (Gippsland Power)
Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons)
Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power)
Kyle Reid (Gippsland Power)
Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Sprague (Geelong Falcons)
Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers)
Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons)
Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays)

Vic Metro [25]
Daly Andrews (Western Jets)
Noah Answerth (Oakleigh Chargers)
James Blanck (Eastern Ranges)
Zak Butters (Western Jets)
Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons)
Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
Joel Crocker (Sandringham Dragons)
Will Golds (Oakleigh Chargers)
Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons)
Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers)
William Kennedy (Sandringham Dragons)
Buku Khamis (Western Jets)
Ben King (Sandringham Dragons)
Max King (Sandringham Dragons)
Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights)
Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets)
Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers)
Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers)
James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
Lachlan Sholl (Calder Cannons)
Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh Chargers)
Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons)
Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons)
Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons)
Rhylee West (Calder Cannons)

Western Australia [11]
Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts)
Jordan Clark (Claremont)
Luke English (Perth)
Damon Greaves (East Perth)
Luke Foley (Subiaco)
Ian Hill (Perth)
Tom Joyce (East Fremantle)
Dillon O’Reilly (East Fremantle)
Tyron Smallwood (Claremont)
Sydney Stack (Perth)
Durak Tucker (Peel Thunder)

Scouting notes: National U18 Championships – Round 5

WE made the trip down to Etihad Stadium yesterday and saw the conclusion to the National Under 18 Championships. Here we take a look at every player in both games and see how they fared on the night. Lenny Fogliani, Cameron Ross, Scott Dougan, James Goller, Craig Byrnes, David Chapman, Jamie Morgan and Damon Mattiazzo all combined to provide the notes.

Allies vs. Western Australia:

Allies:

#1 Conor Budarick

Budarick was a strong tackler for the Allies having eight for the day – he was really fierce in the contest. He played like a smart footballer and made good decisions with the ball. His kicking was good all day and included three inside 50s. The 2019 draft prospect spent most of his time on the wing and through the forward line.

#3 Josh Stern

Stern had 10 possessions for the day. He showed courage going back with the flight in a marking contest – he didn’t flinch. He kicked the ball really well, especially in the last term. Stern also displayed good hands in the contest, playing mostly up forward pushing up the ground.

#6 Rhyan Mansell 

The hard nosed defender was impressive, laying seven strong tackles. He brought a bit of aggression out there and proved very hard to beat one on one, rarely losing a contest. He didn’t have a lot of the ball only collecting five possessions but used it well. Mansell showed a little bit of spread and speed off the back flank but needs to add more of that to his game so he can be a solid contributor both defensively and offensively, not just defensively.

#7 Jesse Quint

Quint had a okay day, gathering 10 possessions. A highlight was his hands in congestion. He kicked a nice goal to go with four inside 50s and kicked the ball well.

#10 Chayce Jones

The Tasmanian had a strong day at the office playing midfield and resting up forward. Jones is really hard at it in the contest and laid seven tackles for the game. When he doesn’t have the ball he was the willingness and desire to put as much defensive pressure on as he can. He kicked the ball well and made good decisions with ball in hand. He was both strong on inside and outside.

#11 Keidean Coleman

Coleman had seven possessions for the day playing down back, he was very strong defensively laying five tackles. He does have the ability to break the lines but he wasn’t able to do it enough having only two rebounds.

#12 Mitchell O’Neil

Definitely one to write down for the 2019 draft. He has really good hands in congestion. O’Neill also took a nice contested mark. He had 18 possessions and kicked the ball well, also booting a nice goal. He took the game on and was able to rebound well having three rebound 50’s for the game. O’ Neill made the All Australian team.

#15 Guy Richardson

The backman had 19 possessions for the day, I thought he played really well mopping up defensively. He was also good offensively rebounding four times and showcasing his really good foot skills. Richardson showed some good run and carry and the ability to break the lines. Defensively he was good one on one.

#17 Thomas Matthews

Another Allies defender who had a strong game, Matthews has really solid pressure in the contest. He only laid three tackles, but the work he does off the ball that doesn’t get any stats for was noticeable. He took five marks and a couple of those were intercepts. Matthews was great offensively as well having five rebounds. He kicks the ball well and showed some run and carry.

#19 Bailey Scott

The captain had a fantastic day for Allies. He played more in the midfield collecting 30 possessions. His clearance work was really good having six. He had really good hands in congestion and tackled really strongly showing some aggression with five tackles for the game. He kicked the ball well, especially late when he hit team mate Nick Blakey on the chest with a 40-meter kick. Scott was able to hit the scoreboard as well with a goal. He rebounded strongly with three rebounds and also had three inside 50s. The skipper also took a great mark.

#20 Fraser Turner

The wingman is a great runner and ran hard all day, slotting two great goals on the run at critical times. He had 24 possessions and showed strong hands in the contest. Turner rebounded really well having three for the game and his kicking was solid all day. Turner plays mostly on the wing is a outside damaging player.

#23 Michael Mummery

Mummery had a quiet day with only the four possessions, however, he was really good defensively laying five tackles. He also was good one on one in marking contests, taking a fantastic contested mark.

#28 Matthew Green

The tall midfielder put good pressure on the opposition and used his trademark long handballs into space to set up teammates running passed. Just the 11 disposals on the night, but he had a couple of crucial intercepts late, including one tackle which earned him a holding the ball free kick. Also had a couple of clearances and inside 50s on the night to end up with a solid performance.

#29 Joey Reinard

The forward showed some good glimpses in patches, kicking a goal early in the piece, working hard for leads and being creative through midfield. Not a high accumulator, he presents when required and plays that medium-tall role well.

#31 Connor McFadyen

The 190cm utility continues to impress with his super quick hands and strong contested marking ability. He took a great grab on the goal line in the second half to nail a vital goal, then handed one off to Mitch O’Neill who kicked truly from long range. He uses his body well one-on-one and has shown promising signs he can develop into an inside midfielder who drifts forward and has an impact.

#36 Matthew McGuiness

Playing in defence, McGuiness rebounded well from the back 50, working in tandem with Jacob Koschitzke and Nick Baker. Positions himself well and is able to put pressure on opposition forwards, while taking some strong marks.

#37 Jacob Koschitzke

One of the most improved players across the tournament, Koschitzke played another strong game out of full-back, taking some good contested marks and rebounding strongly. He showed good courage backing back with the flight on a couple of occasions and applying his penetrating kick to clear of the defensive zone.

#40 Kieren Briggs

The clear dominant ruck on the ground once again and deserving of the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the carnival. It was clear Briggs has a huge tank and covers the ground well, barely taking a break. His second efforts are a highlight and he continually does the defensive things right as well. I would be surprised if it was not just the GIANTS keeping an eye on the overager.

#41 Mathew Walker

The Murray Bushrangers forward started slowly but worked into the game in the second half. He kicked a good goal on the move, and missed a chance to add a second. Walker showed good hands in close, giving off lightning quick handballs to teammates and opening up space for them.

#44 Caleb Graham

The athletic big man was often found pushing up onto a wing and showing off his versatility. He laid a really big tackle early in the piece and took a great intercept mark and drove the ball long inside 50. Not a huge accumulator, but a long kick of the football and can play anywhere.

#46 Tarryn Thomas

The potential top 10 pick was relatively quiet again by his lofty standards, but he did pick up in the last quarter where he kicked a great set shot goal to get the Allies team up and about. He has the cleanest hands at ground level, and could pick up a soaking ball with velcro-like hands. Had a big clearance in the first term that resulted in a Nick Blakey goal. Thomas was terrific defensively laying a number of good tackles to stop opponents in their tracks.

#47 Nick Baker

Played up the ground through the midfield as well as at half-back and was strong one-on-one. He managed to get his hands on the football a bit and continued to remain involved in the contest. He was one of the Allies’ more prominent ball winners in the match.

#49 Nick Blakey

Just enormous. After being held early, Blakey came into the game with a bang once moving into the middle, winning two early clearances in the second half. He used his big body to impact the contest and then drifted forward to provide a contest. He had a brilliant dart of a pass to Mathew Walker in the third term and his disposal by foot was terrific. Just got better with every game he played and yesterday was huge when the game was on the line.

 

Western Australia:

#2 Jarrod Cameron

The lively small forward wasn’t as influential as compared to his dazzling performance against Vic Country, but still showed glimpses of his potential. His desire to run and chase opposition defenders is outstanding for someone his age, and his ability with ball in hand is unbelievably good.

#4 Graydon Wilson

The dynamic defender was outstanding for Western Australia, with his run and carry, skills and vision all on display. He also produced the match-saving spoil and tackle that secured WA the victory.

#6 Wil Hickmott

A late inclusion into the squad, Hickmott’s class was on full display. His vision, skills and reading of the play are at a fantastic level for someone his age. Carlton will be monitoring him closely as he is the son of former player Adrian Hickmott

#8 Luke Moore

The South Fremantle product finished with 13 possessions and two goals but the stat line doesn’t emphasise how good he was. In the first quarter, he stood up in a tackle and got the ball to Brad Oldfield who duly converted the opening goal of the game. Then late in the first quarter, he gathered the ball at full pace, sidestepped an opponent and snapped one through. The youngster has been likened to Alan Didak and shapes as a genuine match winner for any AFL club.

#9 Tyron Smallwood

Smallwood was extremely lively in the forward half for the Sandgropers, often setting up attacking forays. Not unlike Adelaide star Tom Lynch, Smallwood was the connector between the midfield and the forward line and he played the role to perfection.

#10 Rylie Morgan

The Claremont product was outstanding in the midfield. A beautifully balanced player with exceptional skills and sound decision-making, Morgan wielded an influence on the inside and the outside. He shapes as a potential bolter come draft night.

#11 Luke English

The acting captain of the day, English showed why he is such a highly rated prospect. He was tough, combative, skilful and smart against the Allies. He finished with 25 possessions and six tackles in what was a tremendous display.

#12 Jeremy Sharp

The bottom-ager did his stocks for the 2019 AFL Draft no harm whatsoever with an accomplished display against the Allies. His vision, speed, skills and smarts all make him an attractive player, and he would be thoroughly deserving of All-Australian selection.

#13 Jason Carter

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy player showed glimpses of why he is such a highly rated prospect. His dare to take the opposition on should excite the Fremantle recruiters and his speed was unmatched by any Allies player.

#14 Sydney Stack

The Northam product’s stocks continue to soar by the week. Against the Allies, Stack was aggressive, tough, skilful and dynamic. In the last quarter, he soared for a mark, roved his own crumbs and dribbled through a goal. He finished with 20 possessions and seven clearances.

#15 Jordan Clark

Arguably the best player on the ground, Clark deservedly took home the WA Most Valuable Player award. He finished with 29 possessions and 11 rebounds, and was often a catalyst for WA’s drive from the back half to the forward half. His skills, vision, composure and toughness will all make him an AFL star.

#16 Ethan Hansen

Hansen started the game in terrific fashion, taking an early intercept mark and gathering plenty of possessions. He showed the ability to kick on both sides of his body and his decision-making with the ball in hand was superb. Hansen was able to use his speed to escape the congestion and to provide run on the outside of the contest, which proved handy for Western Australia going forward. In the third quarter, Hansen read the play superbly and was able to take an intercept mark at full speed in the middle of the ground, resulting in a Western Australian goal. Hansen had 19 disposals and more than 300 metres gained.

#18 Deven Robertson

The bottom-age midfielder looks to be one to keep an eye on in next year’s draft. He didn’t have massive numbers by any means but what impressed me the most with Robertson, was his work-rate. He chased hard defensively and he was able to make plenty of contests in all areas of the ground, due to his gut-running.

#20 Luke Foley

Foley was pivotal in the midfield for Western Australia, setting the standard required for his teammates by making a strong impression early. He accumulated disposals in all areas of the ground, on the inside and outside of the contest. His clearance work was really good, but his tackling was even better. Foley never gave up and he tried his hardest to make an impact, both offensively and defensively.

#21 Tyson Powell

Powell started in defence and was solid. He tackled strongly and had some nice defensive spoils. In the second quarter, Powell coped a big knock and was unable to have the same influence. He bounced back in the second half and was responsible for the in-form Connor McFayden at times. Powell continued to spoil strongly and he started to find more of the ball as the game went on.

#23 Louis Miller

Miller was prominent down back and was one of Western Australia’s best on the day. His competitiveness and strength in the contest were noticeable throughout the match. Miller positioned himself well defensively and rebounded effectively. He amassed 22 disposals and used the ball well. The highlight of the day came in the second quarter when Miller took an eye-catching pack mark over four players on the wing.

#24 Regan Spooner

The classy defender spent a considerable amount of time on the in-form forward, Nick Blakey. Spooner kept Blakey to one goal in the first half and played his role fabulously. His ball use was top-notch and he was clean below his knees. His finest passage of play came in the second quarter when he kicked an absolute bullet inside 50 to the leading Tom Medhat.

#26 Jake Pasini

Pasini started the game in the defence and was solid. He did not have the same stats to most of his teammates, but he undeniably played a crucial role in limiting the Allies forwards impact during the game.

#27 Tom Medhat

The versatile forward was Western Australia’s most dangerous in the first half and he proved difficult for the Allies defenders to stop. He kicked his team’s second goal of the match with a running goal from 40m out, demonstrating his composure in pressure situations. Medhat found plenty of space in the second quarter and kicked his second goal only three minutes into the term. He pushed into the midfield at times and showed the ability to win the contested ball. Medhat kicked his third goal of the term in the dying minutes and was one of the main reasons behind Western Australia’s dominance in the first half. He didn’t have the same effect in the third and fourth quarters, but he continued to work hard at making himself an attractive option in the forward 50.

#29 Dillion O’Reilly

O’Reilly started in the forward half and shared ruck duties with Jack Buller throughout the game. He showed his athleticism early, winning some impressive jumping hit-outs to give his midfielders first use. O’Reilly kicked his first goal of the day in the second term, with a terrific snap around the body. He continued to hit the scoreboard for Western Australia, booting his second goal in the third term after leading successfully into a large amount of space inside 50.

#34 Brad Oldfield

Oldfield was outstanding in contested situations, winning the ball in tight and dishing the ball out by hand to his teammates. Oldfield found plenty of space in situations that you shouldn’t, which helped him make the correct decisions with ball in hand. In the first term, he was involved in an important passage of play where he kicked the ball inside 50 to a teammate and then sprinted extremely hard to make himself an appealing option to receive the ball back, resulting in the first goal of the game. His work rate and hard running was evident across four quarters.

#35 Mitchell Georgiades

The bottom-ager played on Nicholas Baker and arguably beat him in the first half. He booted two essential goals in the space of 10 minutes in the second term, instantly becoming one of the most dangerous forwards on the ground. Georgiades showcased his sticky hands and the ability to mark the ball at its highest possible point. His set-shot goal kicking was spot on and his technique was sublime. He was unable to have the same influence in the second half, but his 10-minute burst in the second quarter was enough to get me excited for his draft year in 2019.

#36 Jack Buller

Buller’s competitiveness and ground level work for a big man was on display from the get-go. He was beaten in the hit-out department to the bigger and stronger opposition ruckmen Kieran Briggs, but as soon as the ball hit the deck, Buller basically turned into a midfielder. His follow up work was magnificent, his pressure on the opposition was clear and he won plenty of contested possessions. After his dominant first half, Buller went into the main break with 11 disposals to his name. He was much quieter in the second half, but there’s no doubt he was one of Western Australia’s main contributors in the first two quarters.

 

Vic Metro vs. South Australia

Vic Metro:

#1 Jack Mahony

The bottom ager started a little shaky by foot early. He has really good hands in congestion and has the endeavour to put on pressure and really goes in the contest with pace. He showed courage when taking a mark back with the flight, knowing there would be contact. Mahony kicked a ripping snap goal at the start of the third term. With a goal and 17 possessions to his name, he played well.

#2 Joe Ayton-Delaney

Ayton-Delaney has the ability to really break the lines and hurt his opposition with it had five rebounds to his name which shows this. However, he did make some poor decisions with the football. He tends to use the ball fairly well, however his decision making leads him to turn over the footy and this happened a few times. Interested to see how he goes in the back-end of the year for Xavier College and Oakleigh Chargers.

#3 Zak Butters

Yesterday was set to be Butters’ last game for the season as he is going in for shoulder surgery next week. Sadly his season send-off ended early with a injury to the same shoulder. He showed a willingness to take the game on with his three possessions. Butters is quite small in stature, but is a slick and crafty player.

#4 Rhylee West

West did not have a big day against South Australia only having the 12 possessions. He has really solid hands in close, also making decent decisions with it. He kicked fairly well especially when he tried to open the play up. The Western Bulldogs father-son prospect is looking like at this stage a late first round, or early second round selection.

#5 Matt Rowell

Rowell had a fantastic day at the office, with the hard nosed midfielder collecting 20 possessions for the day. Rowell has break away speed from stoppages which caught the eye. On top of that he has really good hands in congestion. He is a fantastic tackler and managed seven for the day. He used the ball well on his left and right having four clearances and three inside 50s. Definitely one to watch for the 2019 draft.

#6 Curtis Taylor

Taylor is pure class inside the forward 50. He had eight possessions for the day, but really made each one of them effective in play – two of his forward tackles resulted in set shots. He also had two inside 50s and was dangerous up forward for Vic Metro, booting two goals.

#7 Angus Hanrahan

A quieter day for Hanrahan with 12 possessions. He is a real interesting type; starting forward he did not have much impact, but after moving to the wing he started to get his hands more on it. He has good hands in close and managed nine handballs. Only having three kicks for the day is slightly disappointing as his real strength is his kicking on his left and right. It’s hard to tell exactly where Hanrahan fits. I think he could fit around the mid second round to fourth round. Really depends on his second half of the year.

#8 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom is a real inside mid. He did not have a lot of the ball with just the 12 possessions compared to his other Championship games, but he was a strong tackler for Metro laying seven, with one of the tackles being a goal-saving one. He gave a little bit of spread from stoppages and his kicking was okay. Rowbottom’s draft stocks have risen from the championships

#12 Tom McKenzie

McKenzie played off the half-back flank and was one of Metro’s best in the first half. He provided run and carry out of the defensive 50 and his ball use was very good, on most occasions. He stayed composed under pressure, especially when South Australia were repeatedly entering their forward 50. He did most of his damage in uncontested situations but has proven in the past that he can win the ball on the inside when necessary.

#14 Isaac Quaynor

Along with the majority of his teammates, he started slowly but quickly found himself more involved as the game went on. He spent most of his minutes further up the ground, rather than deep, which is a position I do enjoy him in. His best passage of play came in the third quarter when he showcased his agility and speed with an exciting blind turn in the middle of the ground, effectively releasing the ball by hand to an outside runner.

#15 Bailey Smith

The hard-running, endurance beast was one of Metro’s only shining lights in the first half. Smith never gave in and tried hard all game, even when things were not going his way. His tackling was strong as always and he won the ball in contested and uncontested situations, which is why he’s so highly rated. His clearance work was impeccable and he was able to find plenty of the ball, finishing with 22 disposals. His positioning and effort in the defensive 50 were below par at times, but it is something that he will work on during his development.

#16 Noah Answerth

It was an up-and-down game for Answerth, who received a red card at the half-time break and missed the first 15 minutes of the third term. He showed that he can have a big impact on the contest with his ball-winning ability and link-up play, but was completely exposed in defensive situations. Answerth was responsible for the red-hot forward Izak Rankine, who was near-impossible to stop. There were a couple of moments that Answerth was caught ball watching, forgetting to give Rankine enough attention, which resulted in Rankine booting some very easy goals, with no defensive pressure applied. This is common with junior footballers and of no big concern. He will improve in this area as he progresses through his development.

#18 Xavier O’Halloran

The captain gradually worked into the match and was vital in stages throughout the second half. O’Halloran only had the 10 disposals but definitely made them count, which makes him such a damaging player. He did his best work in the forward half of the ground and was involved in one of cleanest passages of play in the game. In the third quarter, he was able to drill a 40-metre kick inside 50 to the leading Ben King, who marked and kicked truly, keeping Metro in the game. O’Halloran hit the scoreboard himself in the last minute of the third, after taking a strong contested mark 20 metres out.

#19 Jack Bytel

Bytel was at his best in tight, where he could gather possession and release the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. His ball use by foot was inconsistent. He turned the ball over on multiple occasions but also displayed that he can hit targets in high-pressure situations, on both feet. Bytel spent some time down back in the second half but was unable to have any real influence on the match.

#23 Buku Khamis

Khamis spent some time on the highly-rated Connor Rozee, with the athletic rebounding defender doing his best in trying to limit his impact. Khamis read the play well, his ball use was good and his intercept marking was a standout. Khamis has progressed rapidly over the past year and did his draft chances no harm.

#24 Noah Anderson

The exciting bottom-ager from the Oakleigh Charges contributed to Metro’s midfield and looms as one of the top prospects for next year. He didn’t have the biggest effect on the game but his ball-winning ability, speed and clean ball use was a sign of things to come in 2019.

#26 Riley Collier-Dawkins – The big bodied Oakleigh midfielder was in and around the stoppages for long periods of the night, but struggled to have the impact of earlier matches. He often won first possession, but struggled to find the opportunity to release as the South Australians wrapped him up quickly. While he would only win eight disposals, Collier-Dawkins still produced moments that showcase why he is now regarded a first round prospect. He took a great overhead mark and played on with acceleration inside 50, but couldn’t finish off his work by foot. In the third term he raised his arms high at a stoppage to release a teammate brilliantly on the outside, before showing his defensive presence by producing a heavy tackle on Valente later in the quarter.

#27 Will Kelly – Starting on Lukosius, Kelly was one of the only Vic Metro defenders to keep his opponent accountable with offensive run during the early onslaught. He intercepted and rebounded with style, but also defended admirably by holding the most talked about player of the draft pool to one goal. He went forward in the final term and looked capable leading to space, while also setting up Bailey Smith in the corridor. The son of Craig and brother of Jake at Adelaide finished with 17 disposals to be one of Vic Metro’s better players. You suspect the Pies won’t let another Kelly father/son prospect slip on this occasion.

#28 Ben Silvagni – The second of the Silvagni boys came to Etihad Stadium with some expectation from the Carlton faithful and he started okay forward considering the lack of early opportunities. He took a nice overhead mark on the lead inside 50, before a brilliant piece of play on the wing where he shrugged a tackle, disposed the ball to a teammate and ran hard forward to receive the kick on the arc. A disappointing set shot after the half time siren could have given his side some life going into the break, but instead instigated a small melee. He was moved to defence in the second half and faded as the match wore on.

#29 James Blanck – After an excellent performance in defence against Vic Country at the MCG, Blanck was given a small reality check by a rampaging South Australian side. He was exposed physically against the bigger Hugo Munn in the first term, who out muscled him one on one on two occasions. He positioned himself better as the game went on, but couldn’t have the same impact offensively as his previous game. He finished the night spending time in the ruck.

#34 James Rendell – Rendell is another father/son prospect who has ties with Brisbane through his father Matt’s 164 games for Fitzroy. The 198cm forward/ruck has shown signs of promising AFL attributes throughout 2018 and again produced moments of interest against South Australia. After a quiet first half he came to life in the third term, kicking a banana out of congestion that bounced to Jack Mahony in the corridor to set up a goal. He then produced one of the highlights of the game to take a towering pack mark deep inside 50 and kicked truly to continue his side’s fight back at the time. A goal, 12 hit outs and 11 possessions was a solid outing when considering minimal Vic Metro contributors.

#35 Thomas Hallebone – The lanky 201cm Northern Knights ruckman had moments throughout the day to suggest that he can develop into a capable prospect with time. While only winning five disposals for the game, he took a strong intercept mark in the first term. In the ruck he has skills, highlighted by a soft touch that the midfielders can easily read. He is currently more effective at the centre bounces where he can jump at the ball, as the bigger bodied, albeit shorter James Siviour was able to easily push his 83kg frame out of position at around the ground stoppages.

#36 Ben King – King again proved his potential No.1 pick worth with a four goal haul on arguably the biggest pathway stage against a mighty South Australian outfit at Etihad Stadium. While he lacked opportunities in the first term with the ball seemingly forever at the other end, he took his chance in the second quarter with a series of strong marks and smart leads. He attacked the ball at its highest point, often leaving his opponent with no chance. That was highlighted perfectly in the third term as he brought down a contested mark on the move with Riley Grundy right on his hammer creating immense physical pressure. He made the most of his shots on goal too, kicking four goals straight from only seven disposals. The recruiters also got their wish of the dream King/Lukosius match up in the second half, but unfortunately it was a bit of a letdown as they rarely competed aerially.

South Australia:

#2 Hayden Sampson

Sampson as dangerous around the ball and put his head into the pack on numerous occasions. Probably would have liked to be a bit cleaner off the ground but his 15 disposals and three clearances were important

#4 Kade Chandler

Another SA player that goes in hard. Played his role as small defensive forward and crumbed a good goal from the pocket and set up a teammate’s goal with some great pressure.

#10 Martin Frederick

Really stepped up and provided a number of dashing drives from half-back. With 16 disposals he used the ball also really well, broke some tackles due to his pace, and nearly got a goal bursting inside 50. Has really improved his draft chances and is a Port Next Generation Academy.

#11 Finn Betterman

The midfielder had a quieter game but still managed to lock in four tackles, which is what you need to do when the ball is not coming your way. Can play the first receiver really well and his possessions normally matter.

#13 Connor Rozee

This was the return to form we were waiting for, Rozee had the 18 disposals and four clearances. Managed the miracle goal out of the back of the pack with a smart kick and was smooth when he had it. But it was his desperation that really showed off as he was diving for smothers, chasing at speed and on multiple occasions jumped up to intercept or bring to ground a Vic Metro kick, killing off their rebound.

#14 Izak Rankine

One word – Magic! Booted five goals and about four of them were goal of the game contenders. Just so special, and no doubt his highlights package will be something to marvel over. A class above on the night.

#16 Tom Lewis

Literally living at the bottom of a pack, this inside bull was outstanding. Had 18 disposals and eight tackles. Lewis continues to find the footy under enormous contested pressure and dish out to teammates. A memorable play was where he was on the ground in the pack, got the footy, stood up, bursted out of the congestion with 2-3 Vic Metro players on him and dished to a teammate. Scored a nice goal in the last quarter.

#18 Oscar Chapman

The third tall was outstanding and able to demonstrate all his flexibility. Opened up with a holding the ball tackle that hit Munn for the goal and was continuously harassing Metro defenders and providing blocks for his other forwards. In the last quarter he was taken off the leash and exploded kicking 2.2 including a fantastic pack mark 15m out. Finished with a game high seven marks and 14 disposals

#22 Jacob Kennerley

Was important key ball winner for SA and was dominant early on the wing linking play to the SA forwards. Always looked damaging with the ball and used it well and when Vic Metro came back in the third quarter he worked back well. Certainly one of SA’s best for the day finishing with 22 disposals.

#23 Aaron Nietschke

Was a quiet game for Nietschke possession wise, but he did show glimpses of what he can do. Worked hard in and under when the opportunity was there. He has had better games, but his body size and work rate made him a valuable member of the team

#25 Tom Sparrow

Another player who had an impact when it was his turn, and finished with 17 disposals and five inside 50s and did like some of his work down back when he won some key one on ones and fed the ball out. Another contributor who rarely lost a contested ball when in his area.

#27 Jez McLennan

Another solid and productive game for the defender. Managed to grab some intercept marks and always was poised with the football and efficient. Looked well balanced and calm when Vic Metro had a run in the third quarter. A key for the SA defence all tournament and absolute leader down back. His seven tackles were evident of his work rate and willingness to chase and compete. Great leadership shown.

#30 Ben Jarvis

The goal sneak is a real enigma as he always looks dangerous near the footy and around goal and was rewarded with another two goals. He roved a ball off the pack at speed and class which showed off his ability. He worked up the ground at times and was also good in at the contest. Drifted in and out of the game, but when he is near the footy, things happened that really benefit his team.

#31 Mihail Lochowiak

Was prominent early in the game with dash, but did try to do too much at times and turned the ball over. Once he adjusted to the pace of the game he made a solid contribution and when Vic Metro were coming made a nice lead and goal to stem the flow. A bit more poise and polish to his game will be key to his development as his pace, willingness to take the game on and size are all impressive

#32 Luke Valente

A quieter game for the captain, but as a true leader really worked into the game after a quiet first quarter. Still finished with 18 disposals for SA, but what stands out is his composure in traffic, and decision making is generally spot on. Seemed to have a bit more time than others which showed his class. Liked how he dug in during the third quarter to win some key football. His evasion and side step is excellent

#33 Tyler Martin

Had limited possessions but this game really saw his class when challenged. Would rarely be beaten for the footy and just a classic “played your role” game which was vital for the team. He reads the play well and is the third man up at times with timely spoils as well as finishing with five marks intercepting when required.

#34 Jackson Hately

Hately produced another fantastic performance when it mattered most in the title decider. Hately capped off a consistent carnival with 23 disposals in the final game a team high and also a game high of six inside 50’s. He had ten disposals in the first quarter as the Croweaters could no wrong, his brilliant quarter was shown in finding Rankine with a pin-point kick inside 50 to his advantage on the lead. Hately was deservedly named in the forward line of the U18 All Australian team.

#35 Jacob Collins

Norwood’s Jacob Collins was called up for his first game of the carnival and rewarded selectors with a solid game. Collins had plenty of touches early on as the South Australian defence exited Vic Metro’s forward line with ease. Collins ball use from defence early was terrific as South Australia punished Vic Metro’s poor forward entries. Had a knock in second quarter which curtailed his influence somewhat, but still managed to have 13 disposals and five inside 50s.

#37 Riley Grundy

Grundy had the easiest job on field in the first quarter as the service to Ben King was nothing sort of horrific. But once Vic Metro responded, delivery to King was maximised as the height difference between King (202cm) and Grundy (195cm) in the marking contests started to show. Grundy struggled at times to compete with King aerially, as King finished with four goals. Grundy has had a solid carnival down back with Will Gould and has done decent jobs on the each team’s key forward.

#42 Jack Lukosius

Lukosius took a back seat to the Izak Rankine show early on and was quiet in the first term. In the second quarter Lukosius kicked his first goal after a great passage of play by the SA onball brigade, as Munn tapped it down to Lukosius who converted on ground level. In the second half the recruiters got their carnival wish as Lukosius was sent back to stop King from continuing his dominance. Lukosius certainly assured the SA backline and took intercepting marks down back to prove that he is almost the prototype footballer that can play in almost any position. His brilliant carnival was capped off with the centre half-forward position in the U18 All Australian team and is likely to be taken at pick one in the AFL National Draft.

#43 Will Gould

Under-age defender Will Gould was a monster down back for his side as he also had a carnival high of 17 possessions for the match. Gould took it upon himself to be more adventurous out of defence once he was joined by Jack Lukosius down back proving his versatility. Gould was deservedly awarded with a spot in U18 the All-Australian team on the interchange, as massive achievement for the 2001-born player.

#44 James Siviour

Siviour produced his best performance for the title decider as he took care of ruckman Tom Hallebone, Joe Griffith’s replacement. Siviour contributed with 28 hitouts, 10 disposals and goal, his intercepting down back was a highlight as took six marks for the day, as Hallebone could only manage one.

#47 Hugo Munn

Munn was on fire in the first quarter as he dominated opponent James Blanck tacking a pack mark and converting truly and another contested mark against his opponent and fed a running Rankine who kicked it from the goal square. Munn has showed some brilliant signs and efforts throughout the carnival as finished as one of the top goal kickers with Lukosius, Rankine and King.

South Australia, Allies dominate Under-18 All-Australian side

SOUTH Australia and the Allies have dominated the Under-18 All Australian side announced today, with six nominees from each team. The Croweaters took out the title yesterday after defeating Vic Metro in the final match of the carnival and were rewarded with more than a quarter of the players in the team. In what shapes as a unique draft, seven players of the 23-man side are attached to a club either through their Academy or father-son rule.

Potential top 10 picks Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Jackson Hately make the side, as does captain and South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) Luke Valente who has been named as the side’s vice-captain. Defenders Jez McLennan and Will Gould (bottom-age) have also made the side.

The Allies have produced six players for the team, including Gold Coast Academy and Geelong and North Melbourne father-son prospect Bailey Scott, top 20 hope Chayce Jones, Murray Bushrangers’ swingman Jacob Koschitzke, MVP award winner Kieren Briggs, Brisbane Lions’ Academy member Connor McFadyen, and bottom-ager Mitch O’Neill.

Vic Metro finished second overall and produced five members in the team, including defenders Isaac Quaynor and Buku Khamis, potential top five picks Ben King and MVP winner Bailey Smith, and Western Bulldogs’ father-son prospect Rhylee West. They easily eclipsed their Country counterparts with just two players named from Vic Country – Larke Medal winner Sam Walsh who captains the side, and Gippsland Power key defender Kyle Reid.

Western Australia had four nominees, with ball-winning midfielder Luke English, MVP award winning defender Jordan Clark, uncompromising inside midfielder Sydney Stack, and bottom-ager Jeremy Sharp.

Title-winning South Australian coach Tony Bamford was selected as the man to lead the side, with Tasmania’s Lance Spaulding named assistant coach. Kevin Sheehan (AFL Talent Ambassador), Luke Power (AFL Academy Head Coach), Marcus Ashcroft (AFL Talent Competition and Operations), Dom Milesi (Collingwood recruiting manager), Troy Selwood (Geelong recruiting manager), Matt Clarke (Richmond recruiting manager) and Chris Liberatore (St Kilda recruiting manager) selected the All-Australian team.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

FROM young stars to winning streaks, upsets to throwbacks, it was a weekend to remember in so many ways for football fans.

Nation’s best juniors hit Geelong

The top draft prospects around the country ran out on GMHBA Stadium last Friday, with South Australia, Western Australia and the Allies all arriving in Geelong for the fourth round of National Under 18 Championships action. The first game went as expected with South Australia remaining unbeaten against the Allies, courtesy of an Izak Rankine show, while Western Australia toppled Vic Country to keep the latter winless for the tournament while the Black Swans face the Allies today for third spot. Despite the loss, the Allies looked impressive with Nick Blakey up forward and Chayce JonesFraser Turner and Connor McFadyen through the midfield.

Walsh lives up to expectations by winning MVP

Geelong Falcons’ star midfielder Sam Walsh was red hot favourite to take out Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), but he still had to do it and he didn’t disappoint. Despite four losses, Walsh was the clear standout across the tournament, causing headaches for opponents and living up to every bit of his top five credentials. Gippsland Power’s Kyle Reid took home the Vic Country Richard Embleton ‘Spirit Award’.

Bulldogs’ winning streak continues

The Western Bulldogs were the second last team to register a win in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s, but now they have a taste for it, stringing three wins together. They have knocked off Williamstown, Casey Demons and now the previously unbeaten Geelong Cats, knocking them from top spot on the ladder. They now sit eighth with a clash against eleventh placed Melbourne University, and victory could mean leapfrogging Richmond into seventh.

Brisbane fire up out west

Travelling to Perth has not been a pleasant experience for the Lions of late, and in fact after breaking their eight-year hoodoo against Fremantle last year, they managed to break a nine-year curse in the west against the Dockers. To show the upheaval of the Lions over the past nine years, Daniel Rich was the only player who had beaten the Dockers in Perth – playing in the Round 16, 2009 victory. On the weekend though it happened, with Brisbane romping to a massive 55-point win – their best of the season. Stefan Martin and Dayne Beams were unsurprisingly the best once again, while young star Cam Rayner won the Rising Star Award for his 19 disposals, six marks and two goals.

Party like it’s the 70s

It is not a sight you particularly enjoy if you’re a Carlton, Melbourne or Essendon fan, but the AFL Ladder after 15 rounds was a throwback to the 1970s with Richmond and Collingwood holding the top two positions on the ladder. Richmond sits a game ahead of the Magpies, while Collingwood has just a 0.9 per cent lead over West Coast and 1.1 per cent lead of Sydney in third and fourth respectively. The last time the two Victorian giants occupied the top two spots was 1977, and given they play in Round 19, the MCG is likely to be pumping if they keep up their form.

National U18 Championships previews: Round 5

IN the final stanza of the National Under 18 Championships, all roads lead to Etihad Stadium where the Allies take on Western Australia, and Vic Metro hosts South Australia in an enticing double header. Vic Metro and South Australia become the headline act with the winner-takes-all mentality given the title is on the line for both sides.

ALLIES V. WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Wednesday, July 4, 2.10pm
Etihad Stadium

The opening game of the final round pits the Allies against Western Australia. The winner takes third spot on the final table of the National Under 18 Championships, with both teams having sole wins over Vic Country, and losses against South Australia and Vic Metro. The Allies come into the game with a strong squad, omitting bottom-ager Thomas Green who had been solid so far, and rotating Dirk Koenen for Matthew McGuiness. Overager Michael Mummery gets his chance to shine on Etihad, while the Western Australian side has three fresh faces to add to it’s victorious team over Vic Country. Ian Hill is a huge loss for the Black Swans, with the West Australian captain banned for a sling tackle on Laitham Vandermeer last Friday. With injuries to Damon Greaves and Thomas Baldwin, Western Australia flew over Wil Hickmott to join the squad, and he will run out tomorrow with Luke Moore and Ethan Hansen as the other changes.

The midfield battle will be intriguing with Hickmott joining Sydney StackLuke FoleyDeven Robertson and Luke English in the middle. Jack Buller will have his work cut out for him against man mountain Kieren Briggs who is in super form for the Allies. He has been giving his midfield of Tarryn ThomasConnor McFadyenChayce Jones and Fraser Turner first chance at the stoppages. Jacob Koschitzke is in fine form and could be the man for Dillon O’Reilly who has been showing promising signs as a key forward, while Jason Carter and Jordan Clark provide plenty of dash off half-back. Bailey Scott and Connor Budarick will look to keep them honest, while Nick Blakey looms as the danger man for the Allies and one that Western Australia – and perhaps Regan Spooner in particular – will look to contain. Overall, the Allies will head in as favourites, but the West Australians move the ball quick and cleanly to the forward line and it is hoped Jarrod Cameron can provide the spark again after he booted five goals in Geelong.

VIC METRO V. SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Wednesday, July 4, 4.40pm
Etihad Stadium

In the game that everyone will tune in for, the National Under 18 Championships title will be on the line for the undefeated Vic Metro and South Australian sides. In what ended up being a perfect fixture for the AFL, the two best sides are going head-to-head in the final match of the series with the winner to be handed the trophy and celebrate afterwards without any interruptions to other fixturing. South Australia has made its expected two changes, with Mihail Lochowiak and Jacob Collins replacing Kai Pudney and Boyd Woodcock in the team. Vic Metro has rotated rucks for the final game, with Tom Hallebone recalled to ruck against James Siviour after injury struck down Joe GriffithsJack Bytel has been named in the side despite suffering what looked to be an injury in the last round which would keep him out of the final match. Isaac Quaynor and Ben Silvagni return from injury and will strengthen both ends for Metro.

The match-up on everyone’s lips – Jack Lukosius pitted against Ben King – is unlikely to happen despite recruiters hopes, with both players named forward. As we saw in Geelong, Lukosius also played on the wing and down back, standing side-by-side with Tarryn Thomas and Nick Blakey at different times showing his versatility. If things start to head south for Vic Metro, King can also play in defence, while Will Kelly is a capable forward if required. It is predicted Kelly will get first chance on Lukosius, while James Blanck will line-up on Hugo Munn. The midfield battle of Izak RankineLuke ValenteTom Lewis and Jackson Hately up against Bailey SmithRiley Collier-DawkinsJames Rowbottom and Zak Butters is mouthwatering and likely to decide the contest. With both teams having plenty of firepower up front, the midfield is where the game will be won or lost. Curtis Taylor showed he is a danger up forward for Metro, while Xavier O’Halloran and Noah Anderson have already shown through the championships they can boot multiple goals. Will Gould and Riley Grundy are in great form – the latter is the man predicted to head to King. Jez McLennan and Martin Frederick provide great run out of defence and will be keen to break the lines, while Quaynor and Tom McKenzie will be keen to do the same up the other end. It is hard to pick a winner in this game, with both sides filled to the brim with quality.

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As was the case last year, on the first Monday of the month we take a look at the top 30 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 30:
#1 Jack Lukosius

Key Position Forward/Defender (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
09/08/2000 | 196cm | 84kg

June rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius has done everything expected of him in the National Under 18 Championships, dominating against Western Australia with 14 marks from 17 disposals and three goals, before back-up performances against Vic Country and the Allies. While he only booted the one goal against the Allies, he had 18 disposals and seven marks playing everywhere from forward to back, to the wing. An out and out star and as versatile as any player in the draft crop.

#2 Sam Walsh
Outside Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
02/07/2000 | 183cm | 74kg

June rank: #3

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh moves up to number two in our Power Rankings after an impressive National Championships carnival. It was no surprise to see him win Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, after another 30-disposal game against Western Australia. He was dominant against Vic Metro with 29 touches and in Country’s top couple of players in every game. The standout non KPP in the draft.

#3 Max King
Key Position Forward (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
07/07/2000 | 201cm | 86kg

June rank: #2

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

#4 Ben King
Key Position Defender/Forward (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
07/07/2000 | 201cm | 85kg

June rank: #4

The twin brother of Max King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and it falls to the ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

Started the National Under 18 Championships on fire up forward with five goals against Western Australia in a best on ground performance. King then was well held by Jacob Koschitzke in Vic Metro’s narrow two-point win against the Allies, but booted the winning goal showing he can stand up in clutch moments. He managed to break away from Connor Idun a couple of times and converted two majors at the MCG in the All-Victorian clash. Could cap off a strong championships with a good performance against South Australia on Wednesday.

#5 Izak Rankine
Small Forward/Balanced Midfielder (West Adelaide/South Australia)
23/04/2000 | 180cm | 76kg

June rank: #5

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Just when the midfield power of Bailey Smith or the sheer ball-winning ability of Sam Walsh was the talk of the smaller brigade, Izak Rankine comes out and produces a performance to remember against the Allies. He racked up 20 disposals, five marks, four clearances, six inside 50s and three goals – including one from the 50m arc off a couple of steps – and signalled his intentions as a top five pick in case anyone had forgotten.

#6 Bailey Smith
Inside Midfielder/Medium Defender (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
07/12/2000 | 184cm | 79kg

June rank: #11

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith is the biggest bolter in the top-end of the list and well and truly deserved the spot inside the top six. A month is a long time in football and with each game he plays he seems to move higher. Just makes the right decisions, stands up when required and can play anywhere on the ground. In the best couple in each of his three Under 18 Championships games and is firming as a potential top five pick.

#7 Nick Blakey
Key Position Forward (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
27/02/2000 | 195cm | 80kg

June rank: #6

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

After being struck down with illness and missing the opening National Championships game against Vic Country, then having a quieter seven-disposal, one-goal performance against Vic Metro, Blakey showed every bit of why he is considered a top 10 pick in his performance against South Australia. Blakey led hard at the football, collecting 11 disposals and clunking six marks, copping hits left, right and centre and still not looking 100 per cent. Nonetheless he shook it off to be one of the best Allies, just needing to capitalise in front of goal, slotting 2.3 for the day.

#8 Tarryn Thomas
Balanced Midfielder (Tasmania/North Melbourne Academy/Allies)
25/03/2000 | 189cm | 73kg

June rank: #7

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas had a quieter game against South Australia with just the 12 touches and four inside 50s, but still has that touch of class. He has shared the load for the Allies after a dominant Academy Series for Tasmania, and has played both forward and midfield in the championships. Hopefully he finishes off strong on Wednesday against Western Australia.

#9 Jackson Hately
Inside Midfielder (Central District/South Australia)
21/10/2000 | 192cm | 80kg

June rank: #10

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

Hately has enjoyed a really consistent National Championships thus far and would not have deviated too much from his initial position around the top 10. He had 21 disposals and six clearances against the Allies, and again worked well with the inside grunt of Luke Valente and the outside class of Izak Rankine. Continues to impress and no doubt will be one South Australian fans look to in the final game against Vic Metro.

#10 Ian Hill
Small Forward (Perth/Western Australia)
09/02/2000 | 175cm | 76kg

June rank: #8

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he’s far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill. He will be one to watch at the National Championships.

Past month:

Probably has not had the National Championships he would have liked thus far, but you can see the talent that burst onto the scene at Etihad Stadium last year is still there. He had 19 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s against Vic Country in a building performance, but it was his leadership that stood out – getting around his teammates and keeping them focused. Some people have him slipping late into the first round, but I do not buy that yet, too much class and talent.

#11 Curtis Taylor
Medium Forward/Inside Midfielder (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
06/04/2000 | 186cm | 79kg

June rank: #13

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-Factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

Taylor stands up in big games and on the MCG turf, he was the standout forward with three goals, showing his strength in the air and an ability to convert in pressure situations. With Vic Country charging late, Taylor cooly slotted the winner to hand Vic Metro the victory. Oozes X-factor and could well be a top 10 pick come November.

#12 Bailey Williams
Key Position Forward/Ruckman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
17/04/2000 | 198cm | 95kg

June rank: #9

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams has been a number of dropped marks away from a really imposing National Championships. He had a poor game against Vic Metro, but stepped up against Western Australia as all gun players do, collecting 16 disposals and booting two goals. His marking has been a bit of an issue this carnival, but his athleticism and vertical leap have been on show and has not disappointed in that regard.

#13 Ned McHenry
Balanced Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
13/07/2000 | 176cm | 71kg

June rank: #14

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounces and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

A quieter game against Western Australia, but still managed to lay seven tackles on the weekend. He looked the goods against Vic Metro with two first quarter goals, but could not quite capitalise in front of the big sticks after that. His pressure game is as good as any and he has maintained a clear first round spot on the rankings.

#14 Connor Rozee
Outside Midfielder (North Adelaide/South Australia)
22/01/2000 | 184cm | 72kg

June rank: #12

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting to the right positions and has shown his capabilities as a good runner. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

It has been hard to assess Rozee this carnival as he has played in a myriad of roles. He retains a spot in the mid first round, because his use by hand or foot, and his vision is spectacular. He just had the 13 touches on the weekend, but he uses it so well he hurts opposition off a dozen possessions. Just does not do too much wrong and there will be a better indication of his capabilities when he faces the strong Vic Metro midfield.

#15 Riley Collier-Dawkins
Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
03/02/2000 | 193cm | 88kg

June rank: #16

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfield, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recored 13 disposals and four marks.

Last month:

After missing a game due to injury, Collier-Dawkins returned to the MCG and had a promising performance playing between midfield and full-forward, clunking a strong mark and nailing the set shot. He had 13 disposals and three clearances that game, and while they are not big numbers compared to some others, it is his power and versatility that hold him in high regard.

#16 Xavier Duursma
Balanced Midfielder | Gippsland Power/Vic Country
07/07/2000 | 185cm | 71kg

June rank: #17

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

After a big month at the National Championships, Duursma did have a quieter game against Western Australia. He still managed three clearances, but had the 13 touches and did not have as much impact as his impressive game against Vic Metro where he had seven inside 50s, five clearances, six marks and five tackles from 19 disposals. One to watch in the back-end of the TAC Cup season because he has that potential to be a first rounder.

#17 Riley Bowman
Ruckman/Key Position Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
25/02/2000 | 198cm | 82kg

June rank: #15

There is a little bit of Tim English in the way Riley Bowman moves around the ground. The athletic ruckman has a decent leap on him, he is also a good user of the ball by foot. While Bowman is very raw and will need developing by any club that takes him, he has shown enough this year to suggest he needs to be tracked closely during the season. He worked hard in the ruck for the AFL Academy against the bigger North Melbourne opponents, at times going up against big Brayden Preuss. Bowman is averaging 16 hitouts in the TAC Cup this season.

Past month:

Perhaps the best ruck of the National Championships along with Allies’ Kieren Briggs, Bowman did his draft chances no harm with a really promising month of performances. He was rested in the first game and has shared the ruck load throughout the final three games, impressive against Vic Metro with 20 hitouts and a goal from 10 disposals and three marks. Played second fiddle to Mark Marriott in the final match against Western Australia, but that was more about his versatility to play anywhere on the ground, than anything else.

#18 Rhylee West
Inside Midfielder | Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
12/07/2000 | 180cm | 81kg

June rank: #21

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

West has been one of the big performers for Vic Metro in the National Under 18 Championships and finds himself inside our top 20. Working in tandem with Bailey Smith and doing a lot of the grunt work on the inside to allow Smith to go forward, West is the one player challenging Smith for the Metro Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. He played forward at St Kevin’s and does have the versatility and strength in the air to have an impact inside 50.

#19 Chayce Jones
Balanced Midfielder | Launceston/Tasmania
14/01/2000 | 180cm | 74kg

June rank: #24

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month:

Jones has been really consistent in the National Championships and is another player who has done his draft chances no harm. He had 21 disposals, four clearances and five inside 50s against South Australia, and while there were some who stood out more, Jones continues to find the football and cover ground well. His best game of the carnival came against Vic Country, finishing off with two goals from 28 disposals, five marks, five clearances, five inside 50s and four rebounds while laying six tackles.

#20 Luke Valente
Balanced Midfielder (Norwood/South Australia)
08/05/2000 | 186cm | 80kg

June rank: #22

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente is knocking down the door of South Australia’s MVP Award for the carnival despite the class of Izak Rankine and the sheer eye-opening ability of Jack Lukosius. He is often the player that does not receive the hype those guys do, but his role through the middle is vital. He had a sensational game against the Allies, racking up six clearances and 28 disposals, and most importantly, had 15 kicks showing he can use it well by hand or foot in transition.

#21 Liam Stocker
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
23/01/2000 | 183cm | 83kg

June rank: #19

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker was unfortunate to miss the National Under 18 Championships due to a broken jaw he sustained against Gippsland in the TAC Cup. He has now returned to the TAC Cup and picking up some good form, named the Dragons’ best in their win over Oakleigh Chargers in Round 10 and had a sensational 30-disposal game against the Eastern Ranges on the weekend. He is an inside midfielder who uses the ball well and could well enter the top 20 again with some consistent form and his injury behind him.

#22 Zak Butters
Outside Midfielder/General Forward (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
08/10/2000 | 178cm | 70kg

June rank: N/A

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

An underrated performer for Vic Metro at the National Under 18 Championships, he has showed his great speed and acceleration on the outside, while also being used in transition from half-back through to half-forward. Butters has averaged 17 disposals, two clearances and three inside 50s across his three games so far at the championships. He is rising and could well be the first Western Jet taken.

#23 Mitch Riordan
Inside Midfielder (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
25/01/2000 | 186cm | 79kg

June rank: #18

Riordan is a player who flies under the radar a little bit, but continues to improve. While his numbers aren’t as big as some of the other Stingrays players, their game plan very rarely sees any player get above 25 disposals, with a team input seeing an even performance across the board. Riordan is strong in the contest and is a decent ball user off his right foot. He wins the contested ball and is a good tackler, working hard to win the ball back. Riordan averaged 16 disposals and three tackles in the TAC Cup at the start, but he will spend the month leading up to the National AFL Under 18 Championships at school level for reigning APS Premiers Haileybury College.

Past month:

Riordan injured his hamstring against Vic Metro on the MCG – his second injury of the carnival – marking an unfortunate end to his series. The talented inside midfielder did show some signs playing off half-back, but has had limited time on the ground to show his wares against the nation’s top players. Hopefully he can get fully fit and have a big end to the TAC Cup season once he returns from injury.

#24 Jye Caldwell
Balanced Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
28/09/2000 | 184cm | 78kg

June rank: #20

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Caldwell saw just the one game in the National Under 18 Championships – against the Allies – and spent less than half the time on the ground, succumbing to an early injury. The versatile midfielder who predominantly plays on the inside will be disappointed he has missed the Championships, but will be keen to return in the back half of the TAC Cup season and help the Bendigo Pioneers.

#25 Xavier O’Halloran
Inside Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
11/07/2000 | 186cm | 82kg
 
June rank: N/A
 
An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.
 
Past month:
 
The Vic Metro captain did his draft credentials no harm with a consistent National Under 18 Championships playing up forward and through the midfield. He showed his versatility with a two-goal game against Vic Country on the MCG, and when in the midfield has that nice few steps and lowers the eyes when kicking inside 50. One player who keeps rising up the boards and will be important in the title decider against South Australia on Wednesday.
 

#26 Isaac Quaynor
Medium Defender (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro/Collingwood NGA)
15/01/2000 | 179cm | 82kg

May rank: #23

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor injured himself in the second National Championships game against the Allies and missed the Vic Country match at the MCG. He was one of the best against Western Australia and the Allies pre-injury, and provided great rebound out of defence. Not playing against South Australia, the next time we will see Quaynor is back in a Chargers jumper for the second half of the TAC Cup season.

#27 Zac Foot
Balanced Midfielder/Utility | Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
25/12/2000 | 180cm | 71kg

June rank: N/A

The exciting, speedy outside midfielder can win his own ball on the inside and use the football well wherever he plays. He has great agility and goal sense when forward, and can break the lines from defence. Just building consistency in his game, but he clearly has plenty of tools which clubs will look at come November. A great story too after initially missing the cut at the Stingrays, to making it all the way to Vic Country.

Past month:

Foot had a quieter game against Western Australia, with the 12 touches, two inside 50s, two rebounds and four tackles, but he works hard in transition and is a real metres-gained player. He makes the list on the future ceiling he provides, and his ability to do damage by foot on the inside or outside. Keep his name down as a bolter if he has good form in the back half of the year.

#28 Zane Barzen
Tall Forward/Inside Midfielder | Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
29/10/2000 | 193cm | 77kg

June rank: #25

Barzen is one of the dark horses in the 2018 draft pool, and similar to Riley Collier-Dawkins in the sense that you draft him on potential scope. In his bottom-age year, Barzen showed his class up forward, with the ability to hit passes inside 50 that very few could. He plays that high half-forward role well, and with increased fitness and miles in the legs, Barzen could transition to more midfield minutes in the future. He is strong overhead and has an impact up forward, and only needs a dozen possessions to hurt the opposition.

Past month:

Barzen has shown the signs of what he is capable of throughout the National Championships, without setting the world on fire. He went back to the Bushrangers for a week missing the MCG clash against Vic Metro, then returned to boot a goal from eight disposals and four marks. A quiet carnival overall, but still needs miles in the legs and showed he can play anywhere on the field if required. Just that hybrid tall who uses it well by foot.

#29 Joe Ayton-Delaney
General Defender | Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
25/03/2000 | 180cm | 68kg

June rank: N/A

Ayton-Delaney is a bit of a smokey for the top 30 in the draft and is definitely a name to watch out for throughout the year. In his flashy red boots, Ayton-Delaney rebounds the ball well at speed from half-back and has shown he can play further up the ground on the wing or through the inside. He links up well and breaks the lines, using it well by foot – against the Stingrays in round five he had 25 disposals, hardly missing a target. He is a player with plenty of potential and it will be interesting to see where he ends up at the pointy end of the season.

Past month:

After missing the second game against the Allies, Ayton-Delaney returned to run out on the MCG for Vic Metro in his side’s win over Vic Country. He was one of the best out of defence, picking up 20 disposals, five marks, three rebounds and two inside 50s, showing his strong work in transition from the back half to the forward 50.

#30 Luke Foley
Inside Midfielder | Subiaco/Western Australia
08/10/1999 | 187cm | 75kg

June rank: N/A

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships.

Past month:

The hard working clearance midfielder has been consistent for Western Australia since coming into the team for the National Championships. He racked up five clearances and six inside 50s from 18 disposals, but also took six marks and laid six tackles against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium. The overager continues to stand out and is readymade for AFL football, and is one to closely watch over the next few months.

Keep an eye on:

  • Angus Hanrahan (Vic Metro)
  • Dillon O’Reilly (Western Australia)
  • Jez McLennan (South Australia)
  • Ely Smith (Vic Country)
  • Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

If you have any questions, tweet us at @AFLDraftCentral or leave us a comment on our Facebook page.

South Australia set up title decider date with Vic Metro after strong win

SOUTH Australia will face fellow unbeaten side Vic Metro for the National AFL Under 18 Championships at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, after the Croweaters secured a 24-point victory against a gallant Allies side. Izak Rankine continued his dominant ways with his best performance for the carnival so far. He gave his top five draft chances no harm with a match-winning performance for South Australia. Rankine booted three goals which included a great kick from outside the 50m arc in the third quarter which gave the Croweaters the ascendency in the premiership quarter.

South Australia started the match better getting out of the blocks early, as Connor Rozee had no trouble kicking the first goal of the game. Star key forward Jack Lukosius was deployed on the wing in the first quarter and was racking up possessions and displaying his incredible field kicking across the ground. The Allies struggled to get on the board early, as underage defender Will Gould barricaded the Allies goal but Jesse Quint kicked their first from a sharp rebound out of defence. Oscar Chapman replied for his side with a beautiful set shot from a tight angle as Hugo Munn kicked a long bomb from outside 50m to give South Australia a promising lead. The Croweaters great quarter got better, with a U18 carnival first that saw Munn awarded a free kick in front of goal due to an Allies zone infringement. Munn’s kick hit the post as both teams then engaged in a scuffle heading into the quarter time break.

It was a completely different Allies side after the quarter-time break as they were fired up after not being able to match it to the Croweaters in the first stanza. Nick Blakey was back for his side and got his first goal of the day after Kieren Briggs marked on a tight angle and handed the ball to Blakey who snapped truly. The South Australian defenders were sleeping at that moment, as Blakey standing right next to Briggs, screamed for the ball and was given all the space in the world to snap a great goal and gave the Allies the fire starter they needed. That goal would be a sign of things to come for South Australia as Blakey kicked his second goal in a manner of minutes. Rankine kicked a superb goal to answer the Allies dominance, but that was SA’s only significant action for the quarter as the Allies dominated every area in the game. Gold Coast Suns Academy player Bailey Scott took the reins of the match as he kicked two crucial goals that saw his side lead by 13 points at the main break. Blakey, Scott and Brisbane Lions Academy player Connor McFayden were proving difficult to contain. South Australia knew they were lucky to only be down by two goals at half-time as the Allies had 10 more inside 50 entries than their opponents.

The Croweaters responded very well in the third quarter after a probable stern message from coach Tony Bamford. Boyd Woodcock playing his first game of the carnival, got SA’s comeback on track with a long bomb which bounced through from outside 50m. Rankine kicked his second and then followed with a third from a tight angle, as Martin Frederick completed a great running goal from the outer flank as he teased Allies players with his run and dash. Hayden Sampson was front and centre to kick an opportunist snap goal from a stoppage as the ball fell towards the forward. With South Australia kicking six goals straight for the quarter, Mitchell O’Neill’s goal received from a great Blakey mark was the only play of note for the Allies that saw themselves down by 20 points at the final break.

The game was far from over as South Australia were kicking towards the non-scoring end of the ground in the final quarter, as that end had strangely only seen two goals kicked for the day so far. SA proved that was not to be a worry with a superb team goal starting from Lukosius switching out of defence to a running Frederick who fed Tom Sparrow and hit up Ben Jarvis inside 50m as he kicked the goal. Underage Suns academy player Connor Budarick not only ensured that he would be the third Connor to kick a goal in the game, but also ensure he kept his side in with a sniff. That was wiped away with a brilliant set shot by Lukosius, his first of the game and a second Jarvis goal. South Australia kept up its admirable tackling pressure that saw them strangle the Allies out of the game, SA finished with 24 more tackles for the game.

Blakey continued to offer his side an avenue to goal, as Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell kicked a late consolation for his side. Best for South Australia was their on-ball brigade, as their consistent performances throughout the carnival have been a joy to behold. Luke Valente did no harm to his draft chances no problems with a game-high 28 disposals and six clearances, he was joined by on-ball partner Jackson Hately who had 21 disposals and eight tackles. Lukosius started and played the majority of the match on the wing as he moved across the ground accumulating 18 disposals and seven marks. Rankine produced his best game in the championships so far with 20 disposals, four clearances, five marks, and three goals. Jacob Kennerely (17 disposals and seven marks) and Finn Bettermann (16 disposals and 10 tackles) provided great assistance to Valente and Hately in the middle. Underage Glenelg defender Gould was huge for side across defence taking seven marks for the day, as Frederick was superb with his run and carry.

Sydney Swans Academy prospect Blakey was at his courageous best for the Allies in his return game in the championships. He was difficult to contain for the South Australian defence across the whole game, shown by quick back-to-back goals early in the second quarter to give the Allies the run. His remarkable courage in contests throughout the match was also admirable as was his ability to bring his teammates into play. Gold Coast Academy player Scott showed his promise with a team-high 22 disposals, as Geelong and North Melbourne will also be keeping a close eye on the father-son prospect as the draft approaches. Chayce Jones and McFayden were also heavily involved with 21 disposals each for the Allies, while O’Neill and Briggs also continued to impress in the championships. South Australia will now prepare itself to face the undefeated Vic Metro at Etihad Stadium to decide who will be crowned the 2018 National Under 18 Championship winners. The Allies finish their campaign against Western Australia in the curtain raiser to the decider on Wednesday, July 4.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.1 4.6 10.10 13.12 (90)
ALLIES 3.6 6.7 7.8 9.12 (66)

GOAL:
South Australia: Rankine 3, Jarvis 2, Rozee, Chapman, Munn, Woodcock, Betterman, Frederick, Sampson, Lukosius.
Allies: Blakey 2, Scott 2, Quint, McFayden, O’Neill, Budarick, Mansell.

BEST:
South Australia: Valente, Hately, Betterman, Rankine, Gould.
Allies: Blakey, McFayden, Scott, Jones, O’Neill, Briggs.

Scouting notes: Allies vs. South Australia

IN the first of our two-game scouting notes wrap up for the National Championships on the weekend, we took a look at the Allies and South Australia. Scott Dougan, James Goller and Callum Thomson split up to take a look at the Allies, while Damon Mattiazzo, David Chapman and Jamie Morgan noted down the South Australian side.

Allies:

#1 Connor Budarick

The bottom-ager aligned with the Gold Coast Suns played up forward and was able to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a beautiful dribble kick. Throughout stages of the game, he showed aggression in contested situations and composure on the outside. Budarick is not the tallest of players but his speed, agility and footy smarts make up for his height. A classy footballer who will be one to watch out for next year.

#3 Josh Stern

Stern was part of the Allies forward line and also drifted through the midfield when needed. He played on the outside of the contest and his ball use was good. But he was unable to have any sort of impact on the game, failing to lay a tackle and only amassing four disposals.

#6 Rhyan Mansell 

The Tasmanian had an impressive diving smother on the half-back flank in the first quarter, but unfortunately, the ball rebounded back inside South Australia’s forward 50. Mansell was at his best in contested situations, releasing the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. He worked hard to get from contest to contest and was able to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter after crumbing a Nick Blakey marking contest superbly.

#7 Jesse Quint

Quint played forward and booted the Allies first goal after he crumbed a marking contest inside 50. He lacked intensity and grunt when he lost an important one-on-one contest in the second quarter to a more desperate South Australian player. Quint found it difficult to get involved during the game but popped up in the third quarter with a notable contested mark against Will Gould.

#10 Chayce Jones

The hard-running midfielder was one of the Allies best in their 24-point defeat. Jones had an important spoil in the first term which resulted in Jesse Quint kicking the first goal for the Allies. His aggression on the contest, work-rate, pressure and competitiveness were a highlight throughout the day. He won the ball in contested situations but also found it just as easy to find it on the outside. His defensive running was faultless and clear when he was able to keep up with speedy South Australian, Hayden Sampson after he sprinted 100 metres to make himself an option in the forward 50. Jones’ kicking has been criticised and does need some work, but in the fourth quarter, he was able to hit up the leading Nick Blakey on the chest with a blistering opposite foot bullet. A very solid four-quarter performance from the possible first-round draft pick.

#11 Keidean Coleman

Coleman was responsible for the Allies kick-ins and played as a rebounding defender. His ball use was clean and his composure under pressure was good. He did not find much of the ball but made the correct decisions when he had it. Coleman made a couple of defensive errors in the match, one in the third quarter when he went up for a marking contest with two other teammates and failed to keep his feet, resulting in a goal for South Australia. Another one came in the last quarter when he was walking around without an opponent, unaware of his surroundings, which lead to an opposition player leading to a massive area of space with ease, gifting him a shot at goal.

#12 Mitchell O’Neill

The bottom-age outside midfielder was one of the top contributors for the Allies. He showed poise and composure with ball in hand and his ball use was exceptional when delivering the ball inside 50. He was involved in both of Nick Blakey’s goals in the second quarter, which helped the Allies to regain the confidence and desire they were lacking in the first term. O’Neill played all over the ground and worked hard to get involved in as many passages of play as possible. One of his several high points of the day came in the third term when he positioned himself wonderfully in front of a one-on-one contest deep inside 50, reading the play well and booting an important goal.

#15 Guy Richardson

Richardson was solid in the back half, remaining calm when the Allies defence was under siege in periods throughout the game. His penetrating kick was handy when rebounding out of the defensive 50 and he always used the ball well. He was unable to lay a tackle but showed glimpses of competitiveness.

#17 Thomas Matthews

Matthews a tough backman, laid six strong tackles in his game against South Australia. One of these was a goal-saving tackle in the third quarter. This is where he showed great follow up pressure. He had two rebounds from the defensive fifty, where he lowered his eyes and was composed when making decisions. You really know what your going to get from Matthews , trying all day. He also took a strong intercept mark. Matthews is also hard to tackle and broke through a number of South Australian tackles.

#19 Bailey Scott

A interesting player, Scott, the father-son prospect for North Melbourne and Geelong but is also an Academy player for the Gold Coast Suns. Scott played throughout the midfield and forward line. He showed his forward craft by kicking two goals. He has the ability to generate a high number of possessions as Scott had the most disposals for the Allies with 22 possessions. He also showed his midfield craft gaining three clearances and four inside 50s. Scott at times was able to break away from stoppages by using his speed which was impressive. He showed that he can make solid decisions with the ball in hand. Not only that but Scott’s hands were good in congestion. With Scott’s kicking, he hit Tarryn Thomas on the chest with a 45-50 metre kick which caught the eye and did this again with hitting up teammate Nick Blakey.

#20 Fraser Turner

Turner played mostly on the wing and through the midfield for Allies. He set up a goal early with nice hands from a crumbling situation. He showed his ability to weave out of congestion very well. In congestion, Turner had quick hands and made solid decision making skills. He had 17 possessions for the day, but did not lay a tackle.

#26 Thomas Green

Green played in the midfield for the Allies . A highlight was his six tackles and he looked fairly strong in the contest. An in and under player, he also took a nice intercept mark running off his opponent and reading the ball well in the air. Green ended up collecting 13 possessions. He was another Allies player that showed in congestion good use with his handballing.

#28 Matthew Green

Green did not have a big day at the office however there were certain parts to his game that were solid. Green has break away speed which he used across the half-back line. He rebounded the ball a few times importantly out of defence. Green used his speed to break through the lines by really taking the game on.

#29 Joey Reinhard

Was barely sighted in the first half, but had a much better second half of the game. Playing across the half-back line and wing for the Allies. Reinhard showed solid work rate by when it comes to his running patterns. He showed some leg speed in the contest and managed three inside 50s in the second half.

#31 Connor McFadyen

McFadyen had a outstanding game for the Allies. He was one of the best on for them, collecting 21 possessions. Playing through the midfield and forward line he really put on fantastic pressure on his opponents laying seven tackles. He pinch-hit in the ruck to give Kieren Briggs a chop out. This is where McFadyen kicked a ripping goal on his left from the stoppage. The 190cm McFadyen was really strong in the contest, which allowed him to have six clearances and five inside 50s. The Brisbane Academy player played a great game and is one to keep a watch on especially Brisbane Lions fans.

#37 Jacob Koschitzke

The key back had a solid game against the South Australian team. After coming off a great match against Vic Metro. Koschitzke started well taking two really good marks. He really reads the ball well in flight, as a number of times he ran off his opponent to spoil contests. He showed courage in the game also with a back with a flight spoil which caught the eye.

#40 Kieren Briggs

The GWS Giants academy big man looked dangerous all day, alternating between the forward line and the ruck. When in the ruck, Briggs was able to impose himself around the ground and win the majority of the ruck contests. Up forward Briggs presented well whether as a stay at home forward or a linking target further up the ground. If he could not mark the ball in the contest, he was able to bring it down to ground level and provide the smaller forwards with opportunities. What sets Briggs apart from most other big men is his desire. He had a fantastic chase down in the third term and consistently provided defensive pressure and second efforts. Finishing with 22 hitouts, 12 disposals and seven tackles, Briggs was one of the Allies best.

#41 Mathew Walker

Walker played a solid game without doing anything special, finishing with 10 touches, two marks and two tackles. Spending most of his time as a half-forward, the GWS Academy product also rotated into the midfield but failed to make an impact. When Walker got the ball he was able to use it cleanly, while without the ball, he applied good defensive pressure.

#44 Caleb Graham

Graham played in a variety of positions today, showing off his versatility. The Gold Coast Academy prospect started the game up forward where he could not impact the game. Moving into the ruck, Graham was able to win his fair share of hit outs as well as get the better of his opponent around the ground. Graham looked most comfortable down back, where he was able to read the play well, talking a couple of nice intercept marks. Graham finished the game with 28 hitouts, eight disposals and four marks.

#46 Tarryn Thomas

Thomas was not up to his usual standards, but always looked dangerous when in and around the contest. Up forward, Thomas provided good pressure and was always a threat at ground level. In the midfield, Thomas used the ball well when he had the opportunity, especially by hand. Thomas played his best when he was in and under the contest, getting first use of the ball and using his clean hands to find an open teammate. The Tasmanian finished with 12 disposals and six tackles and continues to show glimpses of something special.

#47 Nicholas Baker

Baker was set the task of defending South Australia’s best forwards. He started on Connor Rozee and moved onto Jack Lukosious in the second quarter to curb his influence. Baker was able to read the play well, leaving his man to get to contests and spoil. One of the Allies best defenders, Baker finished with 11 disposals and five tackles.

#48 Dirk Koenen

Playing as a key pillar in defence, Koenen came off the ground after a contest halfway through second quarter for treatment on a high right hamstring, but came back on later in the quarter. Koenen was good in the aerial contests and used the ball well when in possession, finishing with 10 disposals and three marks.

#49 Nick Blakey

Blakey was quiet in the first quarter but took a strong mark early in the game. Blakey scored his first early in the second snapping it home from a Briggs hand off. Less than a minute later he kicked his second after a strong lead. Blakey looks most dangerous when he can run and jump at the ball. He doesn’t break stride on the lead and marks the ball at the highest point. Blakey was able to play deep or as a linking option. The Sydney academy member was one of the Allies best finishing with 11 possessions, six marks and two goals (three behinds).

South Australia:

#2 Hayden Sampson

The son of Adelaide Crows premiership player Clay Sampson had a solid contribution to South Australia’s with 12 disposals and three marks. He showed his opportunist forward instincts with a great roving goal in the third quarter after the ball raced away from a stoppage in SA’s forward line.

#3 Boyd Woodcock

Serial ball winner Woodcock played his first game of the carnival and provided an extra outlet through the midfield and half-forward. His tackling pressure was great throughout the game, and he also kicked a top goal from outside 50 to cap off a decent game.

#4 Kade Chandler

Unfortunately Chandler struggled to have a great impact on the game, against Vic Country in the previous game his tackling pressure was massive with 12, but only could muster four against the Allies.

#10 Martin Frederick

The Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy player played his best game for the carnival as he was a crucial element to South Australia’s run and carry from defence. His disposal is left to be desired at times but two inside 50s and three rebounds highlighted his influence. Frederick showed off his dashing run and “sold candy” as he kicked a superb goal on the run from a difficult angle.

#11 Finn Betterman

Betterman was one of the best for his side as his performance was significant to the great victory. Betterman found plenty of the ball in the early exchanges of the match and continued to be consistent throughout. His highlight for the game was definitely his pressure around the ball as he claimed 10 tackles for the day. His pressure was most evident when he smothered an Allies kick out of defence and followed on to kick a great snap goal.

#13 Connor Rozee

Rozee had his most influential game of the carnival and was firing from the start as he kicked the first goal of the game. His kicking was a joy to behold throughout the match, later on Rozee was hurt from a pack mark attempt but played out the game with no problems.

#14 Izak Rankine

Rankine kicked three goals as he lit up at the GMHBA Stadium with his daring dash and explosiveness. He started through the midfield and found plenty of the ball in the early stoppages and finished with 20 disposals a carnival high for Rankine. Kicked two outstanding goals to lift his side and provided plenty with score involvements across the game.

#16 Tom Lewis

An unsung leader of the team Lewis was highly influential for his side again across the stoppages. Lewis provided a game high 11 tackles and three clearances as he complimented clearance kings Valente and Hately fantastically.

#18 Oscar Chapman

The medium-tall forward was always presenting, but was not used that much, provided a lot of forward pressure and finished with a nice goal from the boundary.

#22 Jacob Kennerley

The winger was again important with his 17 disposals and the link between the arcs. With five inside 50s he helped set up many scoring opportunities.

#23 Aaron Nietschke

Playing mainly in the defensive half, Nietschke showed real poise on a number of occasions to stem the flow from the Allies with a crucial mark.

#25 Tom Sparrow

The inside bull was everywhere and works hard and fast. Sparrow had nine disposals, but also had nine tackles and continues to play well as a defensive mid.

#27 Jez McLennan

Playing across half-back, McLennan was at his best when taking the game on whilst rebounding. Did also take a nice defensive pack mark as well.

#29 Kai Pudney

The winger had 15 disposals and five marks and provided an outlet on a number of occasions, but probably would have liked to make a bit more of an impact on the game.

#30 Ben Jarvis

Smart play on a number of occasions saw Jarvis on the end of many attacks. The medium/tall forward kicked 2.3 and had five good marks.

#32 Luke Valente

A real leaders’ game and showed the way in the first quarter. Continued to lead all players with game high 28 disposals and worked hard inside the contest. Showed his class and work rate all game despite a quiet second quarter but his six clearances were important. Coming into his own during the National Championships, and his stocks would have risen after this game.

#33 Tyler Martin

Did not win much of the footy, but was still solid in defence all game. Competed well when the ball was in his area and certainly played his role. He is a good size and show some poise coming out of defence.

#34 Jackson Hately

Showed in this game what he can do. Down and dirty inside at the contest, and his decision making in traffic was very good and often released others from the contest with handball. Eight tackles and six clearances was reflective of his work rate, and his height and size looks ready-made for the contest. A very good all-round game

#37 Riley Grundy

The tall defender worked into the game after the first quarter. His intercept marks looked to give him confidence and his athleticism was at show for sure. Allies forward Nick Blakey was on top early, but Grundy dug in and certainly kept the Allies key forward quieter in the second half. Bit of polish to finish his work will come with more games

#42 Jack Lukosius

Came out blazing in the first quarter, and his work rate across the ground stood out along with his elite disposal. He played a higher role up the ground, worked into defence and really did it all at both ends. He was rewarded with a goal, and three inside 50s and rebound 50s was reflective of an all-round game. He drifted out of the game along with teammates in the second quarter, but his disposal continues to impress.

#43 Will Gould

Liked his game across half-back, and had the key match up early on Blakey. Gould was settled in defence and read the ball well with a number of intercepts finishing with 7 marks. Showed his ability to run and work rate up the ground at times as well and he held the SA defence together all game. Looks like he will be right amongst it in next years draft.

#44 James Siviour

Shared the ruck duties with Hugo Munn, and competed well. Did not find a lot of the footy, but broke even at most of the ruck contests.

#47 Hugo Munn

Settled in the first quarter, and looked really dangerous up forward, slotting one goal and could have had three by quarter time. A quiet second quarter, but then his ruck and around the ground work after half time was good. His decision making was excellent hitting up targets and willingness to compete on the ground stood out. Like his athleticism and ability to run out the game in Ruck and up forward.