Tag: Damon Greaves

AFL Draft preview: Gold Coast SUNS

AFTER a disappointing season on-field and the resultant post-season exodus, Gold Coast Suns have plenty of gaps to fill come draft time – with the appropriate firepower early on to pick up some serious future a-graders. Most positions are there to be hit, and the Suns’ early picks could play a major part in shaping the rest of the top 10.

List Needs:

  • Key defender
  • Midfield depth
  • Key forward
  • Intercept defender

DRAFT SELECTIONS: 2, 3, 6, 24, 29, 80

With Carlton set to take Sam Walsh with the first selection of the draft, Gold Coast are afforded the opportunity to package a couple of elite talents with the following two picks. A combination of South Australians Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, and Connor Rozee look most likely to head to the sunshine state at this stage, and all possess rare qualities in their respective games. Lukosius has been touted by some as the number one talent in the draft – widely compared to St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt on account of his cleanliness overhead and leading patterns, while having the added potential to move back or onto a wing. A ‘once in a generation’ prospect, Lukosius would slot straight into the hole left by ex-skipper Tom Lynch as a ready-made player who has experience against mature bodies in the SANFL. Midfielders Rankine and Rozee are vastly different, but both have the capability to double as forwards as they develop. Rankine has long been a prodigious talent, with his exceptional skills and x-factor on full show during his stand-out National Championship performance against Vic Metro, where he snared five goals. Rozee would be a sure bet at either pick three or six, possessing the leadership qualities Gold Coast desperately needs on top of a good balance of inside and outside traits.

Should the Suns steer away from a South Australian with pick six, Vic Country’s Jye Caldwell is one who remains right in the top 10 mix despite an injury plagued season, and has the same leadership qualities as Rozee to go with his complete midfield game. Tasmanian Chayce Jones is another in the same mould who has shot up draft boards of late, and Gold Coast could do worse than to snap him up given the ‘go home’ factor is a non-issue here. Another midfield talent that could be considered is Sandringham’s Bailey Smith, whose contested ball and tackle numbers are a class above. Either way, some top-end midfield talent is something most teams can’t get enough of, and the flexibility of each player listed is invaluable.

With key forward stocks taken care of early on, Gold Coast could look to sure up their back half with two selections in the 20’s. Pick 24 will slide given the amount of father-son and academy picks set to come in the first round, but a player like South Australia’s Jez McLennan would perfectly fit a need and should be available around that mark. A clean user and apt intercept marker, McLennan was an integral part of SA’s winning Championship team who can fill the gap left by Kade Kolodjashnij. Along those lines, West Australian Damon Greaves could be one the Suns target with pick 29 due to his marking prowess and rebound ability. With a need for key defenders, mobile back Jacob Koschitzke could be one they take early as one of the better options in that position, given a bid on Collingwood father-son Will Kelly will inevitably be matched.

Depending on what they do with pick six, a midfielder could still be on the cards here too, with the likes of Liam Stocker, Xavier O’Halloran, and Ned McHenry all viable ball-winning options with upside. The Suns could also mix things up with a bid on Bailey Scott at 24 or 29, who came through their academy but opted to nominate North Melbourne as his club of choice. Speaking of academy picks, Dirk Koenen should be on the board at the Suns’ final selection (80), and his availability could dictate whether they target defenders earlier. Caleb Graham and Lachlan McDonald are other possibilities for a rookie spots having received State Combine invites, while at least one other club is interested in Ryan Gilmore given he tested at the Rookie Me combine.

AFL Draft Central Final 2018 Power Rankings

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#1 Jack Lukosius (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

Many seem to be somewhat writing the talented tall off a little given he is not kicking five goals from 20 touches and 10 marks every single week against senior bodies. As far as we are concerned, the skillset and ability he has both athletically and physically is unbelievable, and if he was playing in the Under 18s instead of the League, you would be seeing those kind of numbers each and every week. When the opposition know you are a talented kid, they will make sure they work harder to stop you, and Lukosius has done a terrific job, but just tired towards the end of the year which is more than fair. He has the capability to be a star key forward, key defender or midfielder and for his size, most people just cannot hit targets like he can, and move as well as he can. He has not lost his number one position all year, and both he and Walsh are the clear standouts come the draft month.

#2 Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The safest pick in the National Draft bar none. It is easy to see why Carlton would select him with pick one, and in terms of midfielders he just ticks practically every box. To poke holes in his game you have to get nitty gritty, but honestly, he is just a keeper and a future leader. He will add bucketloads to that Blues midfield both on and off the field, and looks every bit a 200-game player. Just a talented midfielder who you know what you will get each and every week, and if there was a genuine way to have two number ones in this list he would be there. Walsh has not moved from this spot all year, and it is easy to see why.

#3 Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Most agree he is the X-factor of the draft. No doubt that Rankine has all the tricks a player could want, and can literally produce plays that no-one else in the draft could. He can kick bags of goals as a small forward, dominate through the midfield with his speed and agility, and take a game away from the opposition in a matter of minutes. His endurance and consistency are areas that could continue to develop, and he is prone to the odd brain fade in terms of discipline with 50m penalties as such, but as we like to say – it is the price you pay for greatness, and in terms of upside and sheer brilliance, Rankine is the number one in that department.

#4 Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

It is not too often a kid who does his ACL after playing just one TAC Cup game still goes in the top five, but here we are. He was never going to fall too far given his athleticism and ability to just dominate games. Just ask the Oakleigh Chargers defence who had not answers to stop him – when Will Kelly was a forward – and he monstered undersized defenders with his massive vertical leap and contested marking. He booted 8.6 in windy conditions that day at RAMS Arena, and genuinely had a laugh with the ball delivered to him with ease. If he gets a big pre-season in and more strength work done, he could be a very scary prospect up forward.

#5 Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Missed seeing him strut his stuff in the second half of the TAC Cup season after that achilles injury put an end to his year. A consistent inside midfielder with great speed and elite endurance, Smith is as safe as Walsh in terms of picks, and if a team could somehow pair the two together, then that cements a terrific culture at that particular club for the future. A natural leader who is a high accumulator of the football, a massive clearance winner and a bone-crunching tackler, Smith is a top five player who like the others at the top-end of this list, could easily be pick one in most other drafts. Terrific selection.

#6 Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The third Sandringham Dragons player in the top six, Ben King has put together a terrific season for Haileybury and showed off what he is capable of for Sandringham late in the year despite having less opportunities with limited inside 50s for the Dragons. He can play at either end, and showed after a great season in defence last year, and now up forward this year, that he will fill a void wherever needed. The fact he could be this far down is remarkable given he could genuinely be a pick one in a lot of drafts. A 200cm key position utility who can run the 20m sprint in under three seconds? Yes please.

#7 Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

He has had comparisons to ‘Buddy’ Franklin, and they are not too far-fetched with Blakey having the size of a key forward, but the smarts and athleticism of a midfielder. He is a huge inclusion to the Swans outfit, and could play early on, but the Swans will be sure to bulk up his wiry frame before subjecting him to monster key defenders. Expect him to play an outside role with some time in the midfield before he can bulk up and eventually take over from ‘Buddy’ inside that forward 50. Not a huge accumulator, but boy does Blakey have some nice tricks, and some high X-factor which will excite Swans fans.

#8 Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)

A good season really threw the light utility into high-end draft calculations, with Rozee always thereabouts, but shooting up after a good SANFL League finals series with North Adelaide. Some were wondering what had happened after a quiet National Under 18 Championships, but South Australia threw the bigger bodies in the middle, and Rozee played on flanks, using his elite kicking skills to hurt opposition sides. He is another who will need time to fill out, but he has some promising upside if he can fulfil it. A great character as well, Rozee will ensure he gets the best out of himself which is why Gold Coast would be considering him with pick three.

#9 Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)

North Melbourne fans have been waiting for Thomas for some time since he burst onto the scene as an Under 16s player for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships – showing just how gifted he was at that time. He has not waivered from the top 10 in our eyes, and just has massive upside. He is the cleanest player in the draft at ground level with velcro hands, and he oozes class all over the field. He is light, but well built in terms of height, and once he fills out and develops further at AFL level, he will be a star. Genuine X-factor talent and a fully fledged top 10 player, even if a bid comes outside that mark.

#10 Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)

The 180cm Tasmanian is the smallest midfielder to slot into the first round, but like many others, he does not have too much to fault about his game. Aside from the occasional decision, Jones tends to use the ball well, is one of the best kicks in the draft crop, wins his own ball, runs and has elite athleticism, can kick goals or play off half-back. In short, his game is fairly close to complete and we would probably argue he would be in top five talks if he was five centimetres taller. No reason Jones cannot go top 10 on draft night though, and while he could slide through to the second round, it would be an absolute steal for any club that selects the future captain.

#11 Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)

Hately is the South Australian balanced midfielder who just ticks a lot of boxes. He hardly does a thing wrong, yet does not receive the same plaudits as some of the other state representatives. He accumulates the football, can play inside or out, is a clearance expert and uses it consistently by hand or foot. He could walk into a lot of sides early on, and have an impact which could be a great boost for those sides needing a readymade midfielder who has already played senior football against bigger bodies. A player not to discount because he has a lot to offer and he will no doubt show that early on in his career.

#12 Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Unlike some of the other midfielders in the first round, Collier-Dawkins does not have the consistency, but what he does have is the upside. He is that prototype midfielder, built like Patrick Cripps but with Adam Treloar’s burst speed. He is not a huge accumulator of the football, but he can certainly do some amazing things with it, and he has a long, penetrating kick which he uses when up forward or bursting out of a stoppage. He needs to show it on a more consistent basis, but his hurt factor and upside is as good as anyone in the draft. He is a long-term prospect who fans will enjoy watching over the years.

#13 Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Another “Mr Consistency” with a lot of the top midfielders in the draft not having too many major deficiencies in their games. Duursma rarely had a bad game in season 2018, leading the Gippsland Power to a surprise preliminary final, and performing well for Vic Country in defence. He can slot in nearly anywhere on the field, uses the ball well and moves nicely in transition. He is light but can win the contested ball or be the runner on the outside. He also knows how to hit the scoreboard, often picking up speed during a series of quick handballs and unloading from just inside 50 on the run for an important goal.

#14 Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

One of the most consistent players in the draft crop, and you would not be completely silly to suggest he could be the third best midfielder in the draft without injuries hampering his year. He is being talked up as a top 10 prospect and deservedly so. There is not too much to tweak with Caldwell’s game, and if he can get in a big pre-season, the sky is the limit. He can play inside, outside or up forward, and we dare say he would be easily in the top 10 if he had been able to show off his ability more consistently this season. Nonetheless he looms as a very good pick-up for any club that selects him. A great leader too.

#15 Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

One of the top-age draft bloomers who was self-admittedly a fair way off 12 months ago, has turned it around to be a genuine first round prospect in 2018. He is tough as nails and despite multiple injuries – both pre and during games, Stocker battled through admirably. In the absence of Dragons skipper, Bailey Smith late in the year, Stocker stood up terrifically and added another dimension to Sandringham’s midfield brigade. He wins the contested ball, gets to the outside and has a penetrating kick. Once he can further improve his endurance, he could take his game to another level as well.

#16 Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)

One of a number of players who burst onto the draft scene after a terrific National Under 18 Championships. Could well go top 10 by draft night, but he is rated inside the top 20 safely. He is a creative half-back who moves well and just keeps winning the football. In time, he will be expected to progress onto a wing potentially, but he has made the defence his own throughout the championships. He has the ability to hit-up some terrific pinpoint passes, but it is his decision making and composure, as well as his positioning that sets him aside as a general defender. Likely to be the first natural medium defender picked in the draft.

#17 Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs father-son could receive a bid in the top 20, but is likely to be in that early second round. The Dogs will match and he will head to the kennel where his father, Scott became a legend. Very similar to his father, West is small in stature, but stands tall in heart and determination, with his clean hands, ability to read ruck taps and move through stoppages among the top features in his game. He also knows how to play forward as either a leading forward, or a crumber, and that is where he will start his career before ultimately progressing into the midfield. He might be the 180cm, but he can still do some serious damage in the midfield.

#18 Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)

We refuse to drop the exciting small forward/midfielder outside the top 20 despite him seemingly dropping on rankings everywhere. He has far too much X-factor and while 12 months ago he was talked up as a top five pick, his inconsistent season through various injuries and some form dips see him drop to late first round. The West Australian teams are perfectly situated to select him in the draft, and he is another natural born leader. With his cousins, Stephen and Brad already in the purple, Fremantle might look to add to the family tree at the club, with his skills and decision making among the best out there.

#19 Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member will be a gift to the Magpies with Collingwood expected to very quickly match any bid that comes in. He is an outstanding leader, with great athleticism, good run and carry, and decision making. But his biggest strength is his football IQ, that is often not rewarded by looking at highlights, but the work he does off the ball to shut down gaps in play, or intercept balls that float through the middle of the ground – in some instances Quaynor would come off his opponent to dash at a ball and not break stride. He could easily play senior football next year, replacing Sam Murray off half-back.

#20 Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A kid who other than those deep in recruiting circles, many would not have heard of three months ago, now slots into the top 20. He is a medium forward who is good overhead, has elite athleticism and just competes for the football in the air or at ground level. He lacks endurance given he missed the cut for the initial Stingrays’ squad, but has not put a foot wrong since after strong performances for Peninsula Grammar in the APS. With game smarts and creativity in spades, Sturt has great upside that clubs would be excited about developing. Still raw, the forward is a player that will take time, but could be easily worth the wait.

#21 Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Rated much higher throughout the year, Williams’ inconsistent season at times has him drop a little to just outside the top 20. He is a player who could be snatched up with a first round pick, but is more likely to be top 30 more so than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of anyone, and he clunks contested marks strongly. Williams has had some worries in front of goal, with confidence and inconsistencies forcing him to miss some gettable shots. He can play ruck or down forward, but is more likely to settle into a key position forward role while giving a chop out in the ruck from time to time.

#22 Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Butters had an early finish to the 2018 season, given the shoulder injury ended his year. He is a fantastic talent with high upside, and can play through the midfield or up forward. He has that touch of class about him and while he is as light as they come, he does not waiver in his attack on the ball. There is no doubt he is more of a long-term prospect with his body size, but he could play forward early in his career, before progressing into the midfield down the track. He is a player that you want to have the ball in his hands, and Butters is the type who will create a nice following because of his good decision making and skill execution in the forward half.

#23 Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Jets and Vic Metro captain has been a consistent player in season 2018, playing both on the inside, outside and up forward. O’Halloran has terrific athleticism, with fantastic acceleration, speed, agility and endurance, as well as an insatiable work ethic that sees him get the best out of himself. He is strong overhead and can penetrate through zones with his kicking, and he is a player who will be considered for the first round, but should not come too much later.

#24 Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

A composed user of the football at half-back, McLennan’s National Under 18 Championships performances threw him into the spotlight and has earned his place inside the top 25. With all the talk around South Australia’s top four, as well as Valente, McLennan has gone about his business well, and is that defender who should be available to most clubs, and a player that will be reliable for years to come. Has SANFL League experience too with Central District, not looking out of place against men, and showing off his elite kicking skills. Adelaide might want to pounce with their last first round pick, but there will be no shortage of clubs in the market for a “quarter-back”.

#25 Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)

Despite being a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Bailey Scott chose to follow his father and head to Arden Street, with the Kangaroos having first chance to snare the consistent youngster under the father-son bidding system. The Kangaroos won over Scott ahead of the Suns, and Cats, with Scott likely to play up forward early on before progressing into the midfield. He has nice offensive and defensive traits, and despite not looking at smooth as others, he uses the ball well and can hit the scoreboard. Some clubs rate him inside the top 20 – a bid will likely come shortly after, with Scott not escaping into the 30s without being claimed.

#26 Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The nuggety midfielder/forward might not be the tallest player, but he has all the heart and ability you would want from a player. Not afraid of a scrap, and just attacks the contest with vigour, McHenry offers a club plenty of versatility with his agility and smarts outweighing his 174cm height. He knows where the goals are up forward and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand and executes by hand or foot. A player predicted to drift into the second round because of the size knowing he will have to play outside or as a small forward, McHenry looms as another bargain for clubs past pick 20.

#27 Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The X-factor from the Cannons has had an up-and-down year, which is what is the question mark hanging over him, but no-one could dispute his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft. He struggled for consistency, but when he was “on” he was really on, and could turn a game with a massive quarter of multiple goals. He stood up to be an important player at times through the championships, and looms as one of those players where clubs will be eyeing off each other to see who grabs him first. Taylor has great upside that could result in a genius pick down the track if he drifts to the second round as expected.

#28 Luke Valente (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian MVP and captain led from the front in the National Under 18 Championships, and despite injury curtailing his year, Valente showed enough to suggest he could even push into the first round. At his best he is a top 20 player, and it showed when Valente received an invitation to this year’s AFL National Draft, meaning he is highly likely to be taken in that first round. A natural born leader, aside from some athleticism,  there is not too many faults with his game and expect him to be one of the safest picks in the draft crop with his attack on the ball and willingness to get his hands dirty, second to none.

#29 Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

The over-age midfielder has found his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He has a consistent base week-in, week-out and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year despite battling injuries at times, and was solid through the National Under 18 Championships. Expected to be the third or fourth West Australian drafted behind Ian Hill and Jordan Clark, and perhaps Sydney Stack.

#30 Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)

The top GIANTS Academy prospect had a year to remember through the Academy Series and the National Under 18 Championships, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for both the GIANTS and Allies, while also named ruck of the All Australian side. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base, and ability to just compete and do all the defensive things, and ground work/second efforts to perfection. He is not the most mobile player, but with a frame that is readymade for senior football, Briggs is highly rated both internally and externally, and is expected to receive a bid in the second round.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.

AFL Draft Central November 2018 Power Rankings: 31-45

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. While even for us the top 60 would change regularly based on more discussions and re-watching footage, we take a look at our top 60, looking at our 30-45 players today. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

Our 46-60 rankings can be found here.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: October 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 35:

 

September 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 looked tired in the now-infamous SANFL Preliminary Final where the Eagles gave up a seven-goal lead to North Adelaide to be bundled out of the finals series. After a long season, the talented utility has earned a nice break and expect him to test well at the National Draft Combine this week.

 

September 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’s Falcons side was knocked out in the elimination finals stage, but the ball magnet still had a day out, collecting 28 touches, three marks, four clearances, four inside 50s and booting a goal. He is now the favourite to go at Carlton’s first pick, with Walsh locked into a top two selection.

 

September rank: #3

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:

Given West Adelaide missed out on finals, Rankine has not played in the past month, but the excitement machine did win a handy payout on Grand Final, taking out the ‘Dash for Cash’.

 

September 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.

 

September rank: #5

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 played both finals and looked dominant against the Murray Bushrangers, hauling in 11 marks (six contested) from 19 disposals, and booting five goals from 10 scoring shots in a clear best on ground performance. He was more subdued against the Dandenong Stingrays in the Dragons’ Preliminary Final loss, amassing 11 disposals, four marks (one contested) and booting two goals from limited opportunities.

 

September 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 missed the past month due to an achilles injury.

 

September 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:

Has been one of the most talked about prospects in the past month, and is the first player to break into the top seven since early in the season. A real chance to go in the top three, Rozee has been all class, taking speckies and shining on the biggest stage. He had the nine touches on Grand Final day, but played his role in North Adelaide’s premiership, a week after amassing 15 disposals and seven marks in the Preliminary Final comeback against Eagles.

 

September 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.

 

September 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:

With the League team eliminated from the finals race, Hately headed back to the Reserves where he tore it up, collecting 20 disposals and six clearances in the Preliminary Final loss to Norwood, after racking up 27 touches and seven clearances a week earlier. Firmly in the race for the top 10, yet could be the fourth South Australian taken, which is a remarkable result for the National Under 18 Championship winning side.

 

September 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 was ultra-impressive in North Launceston’s Tasmanian State League premiership, booting two goals and named among the Bombers’ best in the 30-point win over Lauderdale. One who should test well at the National AFL Draft Combine.

 

September 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 held his head high during the finals series, amassing 18 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and two clearances in Sandringham’s Preliminary Final loss to Dandenong when he was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury. A brave effort and one of a Morrish Medallist who will surely find a home in the top 20.

 

September rank: #20

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:

Bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, Collier-Dawkins was terrific throughout Oakleigh’s finals series after a quiet month in August. Collier-Dawkins had 19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and one goal in the Grand Final loss, after a near best on ground effort of 26 disposals, four marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal in the Preliminary Final win over Gippsland Power the week before.

 

September rank: #14

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:

One of the few Power players to hold his head high in Gippsland’s horror Preliminary Final loss to Oakleigh Chargers. He had 18 disposals, three marks, six clearances, eight tackles and four inside 50s. A consistent season has come to an end, and is a player who is expected to test well in the National AFL Draft Combine this week.

 

September 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 had a solid, without being outstanding finals series and still looms as a genuine first round tall for a finals side that is out of reach of the top echelon talls. His vertical leap was on show in the Grand Final win over Oakleigh Chargers, taking five marks from 12 disposals and two goals, as well as nine hitouts.

 

September rank: #15

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 not played since the last Power Rankings, but holds his spot at 15 and expect him to cost the Western Bulldogs a top 25 selection.

 

September rank: #16

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 his season finishing in early September, Jones has held his place in the top 20. While he had a quiet elimination final, he did finish the season averaging 23.3 disposals, 17.7 kicks, 5.6 handballs, 2.4 marks, 8.3 clearances and 6.6 tackles from seven games, while booting five goals. A really good all-round player with a deadly kick and top leadership.

 

September rank: #11

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:

Has missed the past month and a half of football due to injury and has slipped as others have stood up over the past couple of months. Still a value pick and a first round selection who will add leadership and skill to any AFL side.

 

September rank: #17

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 had a quiet Grand Final, beaten a few times by draft bolter, Sam Sturt, but he also showed off his versatility, going into a couple of centre square bounces, and even having a shot on goal. Given Oakleigh’s dominant first two finals, Quaynor did not have a lot to do in the back half, but had the 14 touches, two clearances and four rebounds in the Chargers’ huge win over Gippsland Power.

 

September rank: #24

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:

Clark was huge in Claremont’s League Elimination Final, taking 10 marks from 15 disposals and laying four tackles, before having 13 disposals and one mark in his side’s Semi-Final loss to West Perth. Very skilful and a draft bolter after the National AFL Under 18 Championships, not completely out of the realms of possibility to be taken ahead of state teammate, Ian Hill.

 

September rank: #19

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.

 

September 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:

O’Halloran’s season came on an end in the worst possible way from a team perspective, going down by 20 goals to Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination finals. He was one of only a couple of Jets who could hold their head high, as he never stopped trying for 18 disposals, five marks, five clearances and five tackles, as well as a long-range goal to try and keep the Jets positivity up. A natural leader.

 

September rank: N/A

A huge draft bolter out of Peninsula Grammar, Sturt is a medium forward who is good overhead, an unbelievable kick, and so dangerous inside 50. He added another dimension to Dandenong’s forward line in the finals series, and proved crucial from the final round of the TAC Cup season, through to the Grand Final. It is hard to make the top 30 of this list at this point of the season after not being considered earlier in the year, but his form has been a huge upward trend.

Past month:

A terrific last four games of the season, Sturt booted 11 goals from four games, which included three finals for Dandenong. In the Grand Final he was strong earlier, showing too much speed for Isaac Quaynor, and his strength overhead was a highlight. He finished the Grand Final with 15 disposals, six marks and two goals and has well and truly pushed into top 25, if not top 20, contention.

 

September rank: #22

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:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings and remains one of those players hard to place. Taylor could easily go top 15 if a team takes a punt on him, but will be somewhere in that top 25 range.

 

September 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:

Much like Hately, McLennan dropped down to the Reserves for Central District after the League side was knocked out of the finals race at the end of the regular season. In his final game, McLennan picked up 15 disposals and four marks, as well as two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds in the Bulldogs’ loss to Norwood. In the semi-final win over Glenelg, McLennan finished with 23 disposals, six marks (two contested), six tackles, two inside 50s and four rebounds, playing a more contested brand of football and standing up against the senior bodies.

 

September rank: #18

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:

Has only slipped as others jump up, McHenry did not have the ideal Elimination Final after a huge Wildcard Round performance against Calder Cannons. In the Falcons’ loss to Gippsland Power, McHenry had the 18 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and nine tackles, standing out with his defensive pressure, but not quite having the influence of the week before. Still one likely to land in the top 30, but like many at his height, size can work against him. A value mid-draft pick.

 

September rank: #25

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:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings after a hamstring injury ended his year at quarter time of the Pioneers’ loss to Western Jets. Does not have too many weaknesses, and is another who is hard to place. Top 15 on quality, it will depend on where the clubs see him as he could be a really value pick for a premiership contender.

 

September 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 overcame a quad injury to return for the WAFL Colts finals series, and what an impact he had. Foley finished the second semi-final with 22 disposals, five marks and two goals against Swan Districts, before doing it again in Subiaco’s premiership win over the same opposition. He had 22 disposals, seven marks and laid six tackles on Optus Stadium, a ground he may well become very familiar with in the future. Readymade option for clubs who are searching for a midfielder to slot straight in.

 

September rank: #27

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:

Narrowly missed out on being a premiership player this year in the TAC Cup, but has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Expected to cost Collingwood the equivalent of a second round pick, Kelly matched it with Bailey Williams early in the Grand Final and has been good both one-on-one and as a loose defender floating back to assist teammates. Had 19 disposals, five marks and four rebounds, while also being thrown into the ruck, winning seven hitouts.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who has divided opinions this year, but has had a sensational second half of the season for Swan Districts. He was a five-goal hero at the National Under 18 Championships for Western Australia, and while he is lightly built, is a member of West Coast’s Next Generation Academy. Looms as a player whom the Eagles will need to match a bid for, and is the brother of Lion, Charlie. More physically advanced than his brother and having more of an impact in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Booted two goals from 11 disposals and two marks in the Grand Final defeat to Subiaco, while also laying four tackles. Had a quieter Preliminary Final with just seven touches, with his best final coming in the Qualifying Final where he booted four goals to be a dominant force inside 50. One who with a consistent second half of the season and any past worries behind him, is a genuine talent in the front half of the draft.

 

September rank: #29

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 not played since the GIANTS got knocked out of the NEAFL finals race, but all eyes will be on the big man at the National AFL Draft Combine. His endurance in particular is one area to keep an eye on given he rarely takes a break on-field. The best pure ruck in the draft crop.

 

September rank: #28

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 two months due to bone bruising in the knee and others have risen. A quality get if he did land this late, expect somewhere in that second round.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who is a member of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy, Bedford has improved as the season went on. He is a player who showed some impressive signs pre-National Championships, but the experience of playing with Vic Country made him improve further in the second half of the season. Played most of the TAC Cup season with Melbourne Grammar in the APS, but has the agility and X-factor that just make draft watchers take note.

Past month:

Bedford is a player who might just drop behind Melbourne’s first pick, but it would not be unconceivable for him to be bid on just ahead of their first selection. Very light and needs to add strength to his frame, he is very quick with ball-in-hand, and can work his way out of trouble with ease. Great goal sense, and defensive pressure, Bedford is an ideal small forward who can pinch hit through the midfield.

 

September rank: #30

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 has not played in the past month since being awarded the Suns’ Academy Player of the Year. One who continues to bring intrigue about his future, still being available for three clubs, and many expect a decision to be made soon. Gold Coast the expected favourite given location.

 

September rank: N/A

The Brisbane Lions Academy member has been in this region for most of the season, having a consistent year. He is built to play senior football from early on, and has rotated between midfield and forward for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships. Very strong overhead and knows how to kick a goal, it will be interesting to see how he tests at the National Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month, but McFadyen managed the five games with Brisbane in the NEAFL, averaging eight disposals and 3.4 marks per game. Still has a bit to work on, but is developing nicely for the Lions.

 

September rank: N/A

In the final place in the 35 for October, another Perth player makes his way into the rankings, with the very balanced Sydney Stack slotting in. He has the hardness of an inside midfielder, combined with the skill of an outside player, with the endurance being the big question mark over Stack. He missed the first National Under 18 Championships due to needing to improve training standards, but since then he has really impressed, both for the rest of the championships, and for Perth in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month due to Perth not making the WAFL Finals, but in his final three games, Stack made the League side, picking up 12, 13 and 17 disposals respectively, holding his own against senior bodies, and with a full pre-season is one to watch.

 

IN THE MIX:

#36 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia) Outside Midfielder, 184cm, 76kg
#37 Ely Smith (Murray/Vic Country) Inside Midfielder, 188cm, 86kg
#38 Riley Bowman (Dandenong/Vic Country) Ruck, 198cm, 82kg
#39 Buku Khamis (Western/Vic Metro) General Defender, 190cm, 81kg
#40 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia) General Defender, 186cm, 74kg

2018 WAFL Colts Team of the Year announced

MINOR premiers, Subiaco has been rewarded for a fantastic season thus far, with four Lions named in the Western Australia Football League (WAFL) Colts Team of the Year last night. At the Jack Clarke Medal presentation night, the 23-man side announced saw every WAFL Colts team represented by at least two players, with Subiaco the sole side with four players. East Fremantle, South Fremantle and Peel Thunder all had three representatives in the side, while East Perth, Perth, Swan Districts, West Perth and Claremont all had two players in the team.

Competition leading goal scorer Jack Mayo was not surprisingly named at full-forward in the Team of the Year, joined by Subiaco teammates, potential Carlton father-son prospect and Jack Clarke Medallist Liam Hickmott, top 30 hopeful Luke Foley and the ever consistent Tristan Hobley.

While they lost in the preliminary final on the weekend, Peel Thunder still managed three representatives in the WAFL Colts Team of the Year, with key position forward, Jack Sears and fellow forward James Sturrock, as well as Lachlan Riley all making the team. East Fremantle had three players in the starting line-up with centre half-back Cameron Davidson, ruck Nicholas Watson and half-forward Corey Robinson making the team. Likewise, South Fremantle had back pocket Tom Blechynden, forward pocket Luke Moore, and Matthew Ward named on the interchange bench.

Potential top 20 pick, Claremont’s Jordan Clark earned his spot in the team at half-back after a scintillating back-end of the year, making the team with other draft hopeful, talented forward-mid, Tyron Smallwood. Other top talent, Perth’s Sydney Stack joined a strong midfield on the wing, along with teammate, Luke English who has been a consistent ball winner throughout the season.

Swan Districts’ Graydon Wilson (back pocket), and Mitchell Bain (interchange), West Perth’s Alec Johnson (full-back) and Nathan Murray (rover), and East Perth’s Damon Greaves (half-back) and Thomas Baulch (interchange) were also rewarded for their fine seasons with places in the best 23.

Peel Thunder coach, Brad Dodd was announced as the Coach of the Year for the WAFL Colts Team of the Year.

Scouting notes: WAFL Colts – Round 21 – Super Sunday

IN round 21 of the WAFL, the Colts had a “Super Round” held at Domain Stadium on Sunday August 26. Up first was East Fremantle v South Fremantle at 10am. Following that was Peel Thunder against East Perth, and Subiaco v Perth was the final game. On Saturday, Swan Districts hosted Claremont at Steel Blue Oval.

The concept was designed to give recruiters an enhanced opportunity to see all of their draft targets. Below were the best players in the three games held at Domain Stadium.

 

East Fremantle vs. South Fremantle

East Fremantle:

#1 MILAN MURDOCK

The East Fremantle Power junior was at his tenacious best for the Sharks through the middle of the ground. Murdock accumulated 28 possessions, laid a game-high 11 tackles, took three marks and recorded three inside 50s in a spirited display. Expect him to play a big role in September.

#9 COREY ROBINSON

The Aquinas College student showcased why he is one of the best midfielders in the competition with another brilliant display. Robinson finished with 30 possessions, five marks and five inside 50s as he tried to will his team to victory. Robinson’s clearance work was a real feature of his game, as were his clean hands, and sharp disposal.

#23 LUKE JACKSON

The AFL Academy member produced a performance that highlighted why he is a potential first-round draft prospect for next year. Impressive against the Bulldogs, he collected 11 possessions, won 25 hit-outs, took three marks, laid three tackles and kicked a goal.

#27 JAI JACKSON

The Chapman Valley junior was again solid in the midfield for the Sharks, with 23 possessions, five tackles, four marks, four inside 50s and two goals. His power to break through tackles is phenomenal for his age and it will not be a surprise to see him dominate in the seniors soon.

#28 NICK WATSON

The 2016 WA State Under 16s Academy player was arguably the best ruckman on the ground. He finished with 14 possessions, 28 hit-outs, six marks and a goal in a true captain’s performance. His ability to cover the ground as a ruckman is superb for someone his age, while his ruck craft is top notch.

 

South Fremantle:

#4 LUKE MOORE

Without doubt the most dynamic forward of the game, Moore was the catalyst for the Bulldogs’ win. Some of his plays throughout the day were breath-taking and were similar to how Alan Didak used to run rings around opposition defenders. In the first quarter, Moore gathered the ball at full pace, drew two defenders and handballed to Jack Musika who goalled. Early in the second quarter, Moore danced his way past a Sharks’ defender and snapped truly, but it was his third quarter which was breath-taking. Within the first five minutes of the quarter, he had kicked two goals and assisted Brodee Knight to score one as well. His finals stats were 10 possessions, five marks and four goals.

#9 KYLE HAMERSLEY

Although this was his first game since round five, Hamersley was arguably the best player on the ground, highlighting his capabilities as a midfielder. He gathered a team-high 23 possessions, laid six tackles, took five marks and kicked a goal as he showcased why he is a highly rated draft prospect.

#11 IRA JETTA

The cousin of Neville and Lewis, Ira Jetta showed why he is a highly rated prospect for the 2020 AFL Draft. Blessed with speed, agility, skill and vision, Jetta used all of his traits to torch the Sharks’ defenders. He finished with 18 possessions, four marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal.

#16 TOM BLECHENDYN

The Brookton-Pingelly product continued his fine season with another accomplished display. Against the Sharks Blechendyn accumulated 19 possessions, recorded five inside 50s, took four marks and laid three tackles in a superb outing.

#26 ROBERT WOODS

The 2017 WA U16s State Academy member was lively in the forward half for the Bulldogs. A real highlight of his game, was when he used his pace to burn off two East Fremantle defenders to drill through a goal from the flank. He also finished with 14 possessions, six marks and six inside 50s.

 

Peel Thunder vs. East Perth:

Peel:

#2 JAKE HOWES

The Peel Skipper was his usual tough self in the midfield, often burying himself into packs to rip the ball out for his team. He accumulated 16 possessions, laid eight tackles, took two marks, recorded two inside 50s and kicked two goals in a magnificent performance.

#9 MICHAEL RANDALL

The South Mandurah product used his big frame to crash and bash his way through congestion to feed the ball to his outside runners. He won an equal team-high 18 possessions, recorded a game-high eight inside 50s, laid three tackles and booted a goal to be a valuable contributor.

#11 JARVIS PINA

The State Combine invitee showcased why he is such a highly touted West Australian draft prospect. Against the Royals, Pina collected 10 possessions, laid six tackles and recorded five inside 50s. His drive off half-back set up a host of the Thunder’s attacking forays.

#28 TYRONE THORNE

The livewire small forward was dynamic for the Thunder, often having the Royals’ defenders extremely nervous. He finished the game with 18 possessions, six tackles, five marks, five inside 50s and three goals (although if he kicked straighter he could have had a bag of six goals). Without doubt the best player on the ground.

#34 BILLY CHAMBERS

The Pinjarra ruckman was his imposing self against the Royals with 11 possessions, 25 hitouts, four marks, two tackles and two inside 50s. He would often give his midfielders first use of the football, but would spread from the contest to make himself a target for his midfielders to kick to.

 

East Perth:

#7 LOUIS MILLER

The Dunsborough junior was yet again solid in defence for the Royals. He finished with 19 possessions and four tackles in an inspiring performance. As well as his exceptional defensive efforts, Miller’s rebounding has improved dramatically and it is little wonder why AFL clubs are rating him highly.

#9 RHAI-ARN COX

The AFL Academy member was dazzling in the forward half for East Perth. He finished with 14 possessions, eight marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and a goal in a performance that highlighted his draft credentials for 2019. The Mount Hawthorn junior has a bright future ahead of him.

#10 TOM BAULCH

The Mackay product was arguably East Perth’s best player with 24 possessions, eight marks, four inside 50s, two tackles and a goal. His attack on the ball is ferocious and his class on the outside makes him a tantalising prospect.

#19 DAMON GREAVES

The Busselton junior showcased why he is one West Australia’s best draft prospects with another scintillating performance. Against the Thunder, he gathered 22 possessions, laid seven tackles and took three marks to be one of the best players on the ground. His dare to take the game on, along with his incredible composure makes him one of the best attacking half-back flankers in this year’s draft pool.

#29 LIAM MARTIN

The Mount Lawley-Inglewood junior went up against Billy Chambers and more than held his own. He finished the game with 17 possessions, 18 hitouts, five marks and a goal in a superb outing. His will to get his midfielders into the game was outstanding.

 

Subiaco vs. Perth

Subiaco:

#3 TRISTAN HOBLEY

The 2016 WA Under 16s State Academy player was phenomenal in the midfield for the Lions with 32 possessions, 10 marks, eight tackles, four inside 50s and a goal. His ability to be a link-up player as well as a metres-gained player is incredible for someone his age.

#10 JACK MAYO

The 2018 WAFL Colts Leading Goalkicker produced a sensational performance that improved his draft credentials. Originally stationed in defence, Mayo showed an elite ability to read the play and intercept the opposition’s attacking forays. After half-time, he was shifted forward and he starred with his forward craft on full display. He finished the game with 20 possessions, 10 marks, five inside 50s and two goals.

#15 WIL HICKMOTT

The son of former Carlton and Geelong player Adrian Hickmott, Wil showcased his classy and silky outside game against the Demons. He racked up 21 possessions, took eight marks, recorded three inside 50s and laid two tackles in a starring performance.

#16 TAJ SCHOFIELD

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect was phenomenal against the hapless Demons. Stationed on the half-forward flank, Schofield accumulated 23 possessions, recorded eight inside 50s, took seven marks, and laid three tackles.

#18 JACOB PELETIER

The Esperance product was yet again outstanding for the Lions. He collected 24 possessions, grabbed 11 marks, recorded four inside 50s and kicked a goal to be one of the most dangerous midfielders on the ground. The Ports junior has bright future ahead of him.

 

Perth:

#15 NYIKA JOHN

The West Coast Next Generation Academy member tried extremely hard on the half-back line for Perth. He finished with 15 possessions and four marks, as he tried to give his team some drive to score.

#45 NATHAN O’DRISCOLL

The Northam product was superb in the midfield for the Demons with 27 possessions, eight tackles and two marks. On a bleak day for Perth fans, O’Driscoll was a beacon of light with his ball-winning ability, composure, and skill execution all on display.

#50 DEVEN ROBERTSON

The nephew of West Coast great Darren Glass produced a timely performance that indicated he is a first round prospect next year. He accumulated a game-high 36 possessions, took six marks, recorded five inside 50s, laid three tackles and kicked a goal to easily be his team’s best player.

Western Australia weekly wrap: Final five locked in for September

ROUND 20 loomed as the most important weekend of the Colts season to date with a number of teams fighting for the opportunity to play in September, that special time of year when reputations are made.

Which teams coped best with the pressure?

Read ahead to find out.

Round 20 WAFL Colts wrap.

South Fremantle 11.10 (76) defeated Perth 5.6 (36)

South Fremantle have sealed their spot in the 2018 WAFL Colts finals courtesy of a emphatic 40 point win over Perth at Fremantle Oval on Saturday morning.

The Bulldogs controlled the early stages of the vital contest kicking goals through Nash Miller and Ira Jetta but Perth steadied through Ben Watson. The Bulldogs slightly increased their lead to 13 points at the long break courtesy of a three goal to two second quarter. The third term is widely regarded as the most pivotal of the game and so it proved again with the Bulldogs kicking the first two goals through Jetta and Luke Moore. Although the Demons were striving hard to find a path back into the contest, it was the rock solid defence of the Bulldogs who were repeatedly repelling the visitors. The home side turned for home with a 26 point lead which in all truth felt a lot more and the last quarter finally saw the Bulldogs emphasise their superiority as they kicked four goals to two and completed a 40 point win.

The victory was the third in the last four games for the Bulldogs and while some may say you do not deserve to play finals with a losing record, the Bulldogs can even their season ledger in the last round against old adversaries East Fremantle next Sunday. In truth, the kind of football that the Bulldogs have produced in the last fortnight is what wins games in September so they should not be a team to be taken lightly. The home side won all of the key indicators with a major advantage in disposals (350-267) leading to 18 more inside 50s (55-37) and ten more scoring shots (21-11).

The performance of 16 year-old Jaxon Bellchambers would have been heartwarming to many at the Bulldogs as he had a impact all over the ground with 22 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and topped off his fantastic display with three last quarter goals. At the other age of the age spectrum, Matthew Ward was a diligent four-quarter performer with 29 disposals and nine tackles while the forward pressure of Ira Jetta was first class with nine tackles to go along with 12 disposals and two goals. The second half of the season has been a greatly disappointing one for the Demons although they have certainly improved on their four win season in 2017. Perth are regularly seen as great developers of young talent and the National AFL Draft will likely show that with the names of Luke English, Ian Hill and Sydney Stack likely to be high up on the radar of recruiters. Nathan O’Driscoll is another Demon name to remember for the future with the 16 year-old amassing 28 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.

 

Claremont 9.7 (61) defeated Peel Thunder 6.5 (41)

With Perth’s defeat to Bulldogs, it meant the finals hopes of Claremont disappeared but that did not deter the Tigers as they arguably produced their best performance of the season to defeat high flying Peel Thunder by 20 points at Claremont Oval.

Claremont had been convincingly beaten by the Thunder in each of their meetings in 2018 (78 and 36 points) but the first quarter was a tight affair with Peel leading by five points. Well aware that they required a win to keep their season alive along with needing another result to go in their favour, Claremont arguably played their best quarter of an inconsistent campaign kicking 5.1 to 0.1 and opening up a imposing 25-point lead with Isaac Barton and Angus Longmire each kicking two for the term. The impressive Tigers continued their dominance early in the third with goals to Jacob Dorset-Sawyer and a third to Barton which pushed the lead out beyond six goals and plenty of danger signs for the second placed Thunder. A late goal by Jackson Knight narrowed the gap to 31 points to give them the slightest ray of hope but the game was seemingly well and truly in control of the Tigers.

Peel made a final concerted push to get back into the game in the early stages of the last quarter narrowing the gap to three goals through majors from Killian Rawson and Tyson Powell. The Tigers looked to have gone into their shell for the first time in the game as Peel were piling on the pressure, and Jack Willis kicked their third of the quarter narrowing the gap further to 13 points. From there the Tigers managed to stop the flow of attacks from the Thunder and sealed a meritorious victory when Benjamin Schuhkraft kicked truly just before the final siren.

The key stats showed how much Claremont controlled the nature of the contest with 70 more disposals (331-261) which led to 19 more inside 50s (49-30) and five more scoring shots (16-11). Isaac Barton set the tone of the contest in the first half for the Tigers and the top-ager compiled 18 disposals, six tackles and three goals and he was well supported by the tireless work of ruckman Longmire with 15 disposals, four marks, 38 hit-outs and two goals, while Max Grant finished with 27 disposals. Despite the loss, Peel will finish second on the ladder with their opponent still to be decided, and Lachlan Riley was a true four-quarter performer for the visitors with 28 disposals, six marks and four tackles.

 

Subiaco 9.13 (67) defeated East Fremantle 7.12 (54)

Subiaco kept up their on their winning ways as they claimed their tenth straight win holding off a surging Sharks outfit to win by 13 points at East Fremantle Oval.

Subiaco made a very strong start to the contest kicking three goals to nil to open up a 20 point lead at quarter time. That level of dominance continued in the second term as the league leaders kicked another four goals to one and holding a very healthy 40 point lead at the long break. Successful teams play a strong brand of team football where they do not depend on one player and Subiaco have successfully illustrated that fact throughout the season. To half time they had seven different goalkickers and eight players with double-figure disposals, led by Tristan Hobley with 18 and Taj Schofield and Liam Hickmott with 16 apiece.

While you do not want to have a defeatist mindset during the game, the Sharks brains trust would have been thinking of ways to limit the damage and save their percentage. While they would keep a one game advantage over the dormant Swan Districts, a heavy defeat could have seen percentage come into play in the final round if Swans were to be victorious in their last game against Claremont and if the Sharks slipped up against South Fremantle.

However, those hypotheticals were put on the back burner as the Sharks stemmed the bleeding and played some more composed football in the third term. They won the quarter courtesy of goals through Adam Meadowcroft and the highly promising bottom ager Luke Jackson – who had the tough choice to make between footy and basketball, but the talented and athletic sportsman chose the former. The Sharks had certainly found some impetus and continued their momentum kicking the first two goals of the last term with another major to Jackson and Zach Wilkinson. Nicolas Martin kicked a goal to ease any tension within the Subiaco ranks, but the highly impressive second half by the Sharks continued with further goals to Corey Robinson and Wright. Opportunities were coming thick and fast for the home team, however time ran out as Subiaco made it ten straight wins and with Peel’s loss, the Lions clinched the minor premiership and a bye in the first week of the finals.

While the Lions were outscored six goals to two in the second half, they did enough to show one of their closest challenges for the premiership that you need to play at a high level for the full four quarters if you want to beat them. Hickmott compiled 29 disposals and nine tackles and was well supported by Schofield (27 disposals, six marks and five tackles) andHobley (27 disposals) while Robinson was a solid contributor for the Sharks with 23 disposals.

East Perth 12.7 (79) defeated West Perth 6.9 (45)

East Perth played some of their best football of a very inconsistent 2018 campaign as they registered a 34-point victory against arch-rivals West Perth at a sun-drenched Leederville Oval on Saturday morning.

This contest was all about pride with both teams eliminated from finals contention last week, it was the Royals who started the better opening up a two goal lead in the first term but really got going in the second quarter kicking four goals to one to open up a five goal margin at the long break with the duo of Rhai-arn Cox and Callum McVee looking lively with two goals each.

The Royals were in complete control of the contest in the third term kicking two goals to one and turning for home with a 37 point lead. A West Perth comeback did not look on the cards when you take into account that they had kicked three goals in as many quarter. However they produced a barnstorming first ten minutes of the final term where they had six scoring shots kicking 3.3 and narrowing the gap to 16 points, which suddenly gave them a deal of momentum.

Not wanting their good football in the first three quarters to go to waste, East Perth responded through a second goal to Kyle Robinson which was soon followed by majors to Ashley Willcocks and Kane Hughes as the Royals were able to seal a deserved 34 point win. With the Falcons having the bye in the final round, East Perth can still avoid the wooden spoon if they defeat Peel Thunder next Sunday.

Robinson was a standout all-around performer for the Royals with the bottom ager amassing 23 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and two goals while Damon Greaves continued his highly impressive season with the AFL draft combine invitee amassing 31 disposals and ten tackles. Bailey Chalmers was a tireless worker for the Falcòns with 29 disposals and four tackles while Tyron Hindmarsh was a very serviceable contributor once again with 21 disposals and seven tackles.

Western Australian weekly wrap: Lions tame the elements to make it eight straight

IT has been a wet old winter on the west coast and this week was no exception. It is always fascinating to see how individuals adapt in these conditions as it can be a key element of being a good all-round player.

Find out below who excelled in the gloomy conditions and whether South Fremantle took a major step in their quest to seal the final spot in the top five.

Round 18 WAFL Colts Wrap:

Subiaco 9.5 (59) defeated Swan Districts 3.3 (21)

Subiaco underlined their favouritism for the 2018 Colts competition with a very solid 38-point win over Swan Districts at a sodden Leederville Oval on Saturday morning.

The Lions came into the contest on the back of seven straight wins to be sitting pretty with a one game lead over Peel heading into the final month of the season, while Swans had suffered a slight dip in form of late but registered a vital victory against their top four rivals East Fremantle last week.

The players were greeted with a waterlogged ground due to a week of steady rain, topped off by a overnight downpour meaning that it wasn’t necessarily going to be pretty to watch but effective and smart football was the order of the day to get the four points.

The start of the game saw both teams look to adjust to the ground conditions and it was Subiaco who made the stronger start through a mark and goal by ruckman Xavier Peacock. After Swans had a fair bit of play in their forward 50, a very smart piece of play occurred from Nathan French where he soccered the ball from 35 metres and it skidded through for their second goal of the game.

The outer wing was favoured in a attacking sense by both sides due to it being a lot drier than the members side of the ground. Swans were certainly getting their hands to the ball but the only thing missing was their finishing touch in front of goal. However, they remained well in the contest due to the difficulty of kicking a big score because of the conditions.

Scoring was at a premium in the second quarter with only one point registered in the opening 16 minutes. Zane Shellabear Healy broke the drought soon after when he snuck out the back from a stoppage to snap truly and that was soon followed by key forward Jack Mayo picking up a ground ball and kicking a goal from 40 metres.

Swans were being out worked and seemingly lacked any system heading into their forward 50. The Subiaco running fleet of Liam Hickmott, Tristan Hobley and Shellabear Healy were having a field day in the conditions racking up close to 60 possessions between them for the first half. Subiaco went into the long break leading by 23 points and looking on track to push their winning streak to eight games.

The Lions got off to the perfect start in the third term when Hobley continued his fine first half performance with a goal. The Swans finally kicked their first goal of the game five minutes in when Harry Edwards sharked the ball brilliantly to kick truly from 35 and finally gain a bit of momentum. However, Shellabear Healy was once again able to sneak out the back and make himself available to mark and goal from the goalsquare.

Swans were striving to move the ball quickly but the delivery was poor and they were breaking down across half forward where Subiaco were able to mop up and get the ball out of danger. The visitors’ day was summed up when a long bomb was delivered by Hobley deep into the goal square which was dropped on the line by the Swans defender and ever the opportunist, French was on the spot to soccer home his second of the contest. A fine chase down effort by Blake Pescud was one of Swans few highlights in the term but unfortunately his kick on goal did not match his effort. Subiaco turned for home with a very impressive 38-point lead and Swan Districts needed some kind of miracle to stand a chance in the final term.

Some good work to start the final term by Benjamin Taylor saw Max Bradley kick his first and his team’s second of the game. Strong forward line pressure soon set up another chance for the visitors and 16 year-old Ayden Cartwright duly delivered. For the first time in the game, Swans had put Subiaco under a sustained pressure by kicking consecutive goals, but with a commanding lead it was not a case of panic stations for the Lions. The visitors were controlling the possession of the ball and inside 50s but  needed a focal point to make the most of their hard work.

Any doubt over the result was sealed when Kye Barker attempted to switch from defence but his kick was intercepted by Mayo who converted from close range. Another mistake this time from Brenton Hilton soon after gave Mayo his third goal, a fine effort by the key forward given the conditions.

In the end it was a comprehensive win by the Lions as they won their thirteenth game for the 2018 season. The complete performance by the Lions was highlighted by the fact that they won three of the quarters and the fourth term was 2.2 apiece. A main factor behind the Lions victory was 75 more disposals (359-284) which led to 12 more inside 50s (40-28) and eight more scoring shots (14-6).

The Lions were led by Liam Hickmott who thrived in the heavy conditions with 35 disposals and six tackles while Tristan Hobley was a fine partner in crime with 30 disposals and a goal and Zane Shellabear Healy was excellent roaming between wing and half forward with 24 disposals, seven marks and two goals. In a tough day for Swans it was Kade Walldrot who never stopped trying with 24 disposals and seven marks and four tackles while Joseph Hinder provided some great dash from half back with 25 disposals and five marks.

 

Peel Thunder 10.12 (72) defeated East Perth 9.9 (63)

Peel Thunder kept up the pressure on Subiaco by remaining one game behind the Lions with a hard-fought nine point win over East Perth at Bendigo Bank Stadium.

After trailing by three goals at quarter time, Peel hit back to only trail by a point at the long break and then led their opponent by two goals with a quarter to play. The Royals narrowed that gap in the final term but couldn’t get any closer than eight points as Peel sealed their eleventh win for the season and importantly moved two games clear of Swan Districts and East Fremantle in third and fourth.

It was remarkable that East Perth stayed as close as they did as they had 24 less inside 50s for the game (50-26) but were extremely efficient as they generated 18 scoring shots from those entries. Like he has done for a great majority of the season, Lachlan Riley was a key figure for Peel with 25 disposals, four marks and four tackles while Killian Rawson was lively with three goals. Meanwhile, for East Perth, Jarrod Hamer-Mathew was important with three goals from his eleven disposals while Damon Greaves was solid with 20 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

 

West Perth 7.11 (53) defeated South Fremantle 3.7 (25)

West Perth have given themselves renewed hope of playing finals in 2018 after a convincing 28 point win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday evening.

The Falcons were never headed throughout the contest leading by 13 points at quarter time, 17 points at half time and 34 points at three-quarter time. The Bulldogs who had kicked just one goal over the first three quarters showed some heart in the final 25 minutes by winning the quarter two goals to one, but the damage was already done as West Perth drew level with the Bulldogs on points although they have played a game more.

You can throw a blanket across the teams sitting from fifth to ninth and there are certainly bound to be plenty of twists and turns in the final three rounds of the home and away season. Bottom ager Tyron Hindmarsh had 24 disposals and five tackles for the Falcons and he was well supported by Bailey Chalmers, whose work ethic was superb with 12 tackles to go along with 23 disposals while Jaxon Prior had 22 disposals and nine tackles.

Due to a superior percentage over their rivals, South Fremantle’s destiny remains in their own hands in terms of claiming the hotly contested fifth spot. However, they surely would view this as a major opportunity wasted especially as they have a difficult finish to the season playing top four sides Swan Districts and arch rivals East Fremantle. Mason Ward was a true leader for the home side with 31 disposals and ten tackles while Lachlan Johnson was a lone hand in front of goal with 2.2.

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)

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.