Tag: eric hipwood

Queensland weekly wrap: Finals time arrives

FINALS time has well and truly arrived across the country and Queensland, which means Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) knockout action is about to get underway. Meanwhile at the elite level, both Brisbane and Gold Coast’s years are winding down having comfortably missed out on finals.

QAFL finals kick off

The QAFL Seniors and Reserves finals get underway this weekend and the competition in the Seniors couldn’t be any tighter. Palm Beach have been the top side all year and have the week off whilst Broadbeach face Morningside in a qualifying final, and Surfers Paradise face Mt Gravatt in a do or die elimination encounter.  

Broadbeach claimed second spot on the ladder with 11 wins this season, while 10 wins apiece from Morningside, Surfers Paradise and Mt Gravatt, puts them third to fifth in that order with only percentage separating them.  

In Reserve grade, it appears to be a two horse race for the QAFL Reserve crown between first placed Broadbeach and second placed Mt Gravatt. Broadbeach have 14 wins this season and Mt Gravatt have 13 to be a few games clear of their finals counterparts; Labrador, Palm Beach and Western Magpies. Much like the Seniors, Labrador (third), Palm Beach (fourth) and the Western Magpies (fifth), are all clustered together in the bottom half of the top five, making results very hard to predict.

Overall it should be a cracking finals series in both QAFL divisions. Head down to the games or catch all the action via the QAFL Facebook page.

 

Season over for Lions and Suns

The closing of the home and away season marks the end of the year for the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns. For Gold Coast it was not the ideal send off with a 102-point loss to eight place Geelong, but with speculation over Michael Barlow’s future, he did himself plenty of favours with a 35 possession game.

Alex Sexton ended the season as club leading goalkeeper with 28 whilst Touk Miller led the disposal count at 485. Jarrod Witts’ magnificent season ended with 854 hitouts, good for second in the AFL behind only All-Australian Ruckman Max Gawn.

From a team perspective the Suns are in a full rebuild, exemplified by Tom Lynch leaving the club. They will get high picks in the offseason to add to some impressive young talent that just needs time and experience. The Suns end the season in 17th with four wins, two down on last year’s total but taking into account a much more competitive competition this season.

The Brisbane Lions have ended their season with five wins, exactly the same as last season but the win-loss record doesn’t tell the whole story. The Lions have been much more competitive this season in no small part thanks to the additions of Luke Hodge and Charlie Cameron who provided immediate positive impact on the team. In addition, some Lions have had breakout seasons including the likes of; Eric Hipwood, Jarrod Berry, Alex Witherden and Hugh McCluggage.

A couple of Lions were unlucky not to be named in the final All-Australian squad. Harris Andrews and Dayne Beams made the 40-man squad but couldn’t make the final 22. Nevertheless, those two alongside veterans Dayne Zorko, and Mitch Robinson in particular had strong seasons.

Looking ahead, the future of the Lions looks very bright based off close losses this season against stiff opposition who have walked all over them in the past. With Chris Fagan and Hodge at the helm the sky is the limit for Brisbane.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 23

For some, it’s the last game of footy they’ll play until 2019. For others, they’ll be playing the most important games of footy they’ve ever faced. In our last Keeping Tabs, we look back on a few familiar faces, where they sit for the season, and pay our usual respects to this round’s top performers.

Tim Kelly

Though ineligible to win the NAB Rising Star Award, Kelly without a doubt was 2018’s best first year player. Averaging 23.1 disposals, four clearances, three tackles and three inside 50s across 22 games, Geelong’s newest recruit tallied up 23 goals, placing as the Cat’s fourth highest goal kicker for the season (one behind Patrick Dangerfield). In Round 23, Kelly maintained his class. His power showed out of stoppages, as he collected three clearances and an exciting goal around the body. He finished with two more goals (100 per cent efficiency) and nine score involvements for the afternoon, plus 23 possessions (seven contested) at a disposal efficiency of 74 per cent. Kelly was able to beat his stat sheet on the weekend, taking eight marks (two inside 50s), boasted 24 pressure acts and four inside 50s. Give him one more season, and Kelly could be named in the 40-man All-Australian squad. Though you could argue he was stiff not to get a nod this season, if the Cats claw their way to the end of September, a Norm Smith conversation might not be off the cards either.

Zac Bailey

Bailey injected real class into the Brisbane Lions’ line-up this year, Bailey put on another show for onlookers against the Eagles. Clean with ball in hand, Bailey finished with 20 possessions (six contested) and a list-high 85 per cent disposal efficiency. His first quarter started well, kicking a goal on the run from 30 metres out, and later adding his second in the third quarter (six score involvements). He was able to showcase his strong marking ability, with four marks on the weekend. Bailey topped off an already impressive performance with two tackles, three inside 50s, 364 metres gained, and earned three free kicks. The Lions know what they’re doing with their crop. With Cam Rayner, Hugh McCluggage, Eric Hipwood, Alex Witherden and Bailey, the future’s looking strong for Brisbane.

Aaron Naughton

Though having a few stints up forward this season, it seems Naughton’s continued reliability in the backline was again too much to pass up. Earning himself the final NAB Rising Star nomination for the year, the dependable defender played his role well in minimising Richmond’s forward onslaught. He collected 18 disposals (12 contested) at a 78 per cent disposal efficiency. Naughton took nine marks (five contested) and 12 intercept possessions with only one turnover. He sits atop the Bulldogs list for intercept possessions at 112, but only 54th in the competition. If the Bulldogs remained more consistent with Naughton’s role, perhaps he would have placed higher and received the Rising Star nomination earlier. Nevertheless, his impact is unmistakable, sustaining good football across 23 rounds.

Liam Ryan

Ryan’s game has much to be admired. He’s proven himself as a talented goal kicker (17 goals in 10 games), a slick mover with the ball, and generally just adds a lot of flavour to the plays he produces. Unsurprisingly, this game was no different. The 21-year-old kicked three goals for the game (six score involvements) and collected nine of his 12 possessions out of a contest. His disposal efficiency was a little poor at 58 per cent, but his goal sense and one-on-one work put him above, taking four marks (two contested) and laying four tackles. West Coast are going into the finals with a confident and talented forward line, with Ryan and Willie Rioli adding unfathomable amounts of finesse and agility. Their inclusion this season has made the Eagles a much more dynamic side than the one we saw in 2017.

James Worpel

Taking up the role of Hawthorn’s resident hothead in James Sicily’s absence, Worpel continued to play his footy with great intensity. His work through the midfield proved damaging, collecting 23 possessions (nine contested) at a solid 78 per cent disposal efficiency. He kicked an easy goal from a dropped mark off a Sydney kick-in, had seven score involvements and one goal assist. He worked well going forward with three clearances, four inside 50s and two marks in front of goal. He also had two tackles, 13 pressure acts, five intercept possessions, and two rebound 50s. His work rate was up for four quarters, positioning and using his body well in the contest. 

Jack Higgins

It seems Richmond’s wins at the MCG are getting slimmer with each round heading into September. Higgins expressed his frustrations early on, but found his head and maintained a strong presence in assisting Richmond’s win. The personable youngster collected 18 possessions (nine contested) at 61 per cent disposal efficiency, as well as seven score involvements and two goal assists. His clever tap-down to Jason Castagna inside 50 created an important goal in the third, making up part of his five one per centers for the game. Richmond envisioned a small-forward/midfield role in 2017 for this prospect and showed great interest in his game-average five tackles. This year, the Tigers were able to get what they wanted as Higgins topped his game with 28 pressure acts, and five tackles (three inside 50). With his speed, instincts, pressure and goal sense, Higgins should be well on his way to stardom.

Ben Paton

Paton gave St Kilda something to look at come selection next season with a stellar third-game performance. He gathered 16 disposals (seven contested) and peaked his kicking efficiency at 88.9 per cent with nine kicks. He earned himself a goal (five score involvements and one goal assist), took three marks, laid two tackles and had 19 pressure acts. In such a chaotic game of football, it’s impressive to see a young player hold their nerve and keep their efficiency at such an elevated level. 

Lochie O’Brien

This weekend O’Brien got himself to a lot of the footy even with Carlton’s inability to do much with it. Collecting 22 disposals (four contested) at 58 per cent disposal efficiency, the young Blue maintained a strong presence around the ground, finishing third behind Marc Murphy and Patrick Cripps in possessions. The No.10 pick finished with four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and four rebound 50s. It probably wasn’t the most ideal way to close out an already poor season, but O’Brien may take solace in now having 18 games under his belt come 2019. If the Blues can strengthen their list, they’ll have a better chance of strengthening their draft crop.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

MEMORABLE milestones, big goal hauls and the next generation of stars were among the memorable moments from the weekend (and early in the week).

Pies show steel for Sidebottom

Steele Sidebottom has been a mainstay in the Collingwood lineup since his debut in Round Seven, 2009. On Sunday, his teammates showed their gratitude for his service over 200 games with a big win over rivals, Essendon. The Bombers led at both the main and final breaks by the narrowest of margins, but special efforts from skipper Scott Pendlebury and Jordan De Goey willed the Magpies over the line. The 2010 Premiership player and 2017 Copeland Medal winner has been in near career-best form this year, and it was no different this round as he collected 28 disposals, six marks and two goals to cap off his special day.

Hipwood hits Blues for six

It’s no secret that Lions fans have been excited about the potential of gun forward Eric Hipwood. As the mobile forward approaches 50 AFL games, he is really coming into his own and dominated on Saturday to boot 6.2 in a 65-point Brisbane win over cellar dwellers, Carlton. The Brisbane Lions Academy product clunked seven marks (six inside 50) in his 15 disposals, taking his season goals tally to 27 having played every game. Fellow 2015 first round draftee Charlie Curnow also impressed with his three goals in a losing side.

Gippsland powers to clear second

With a strong victory over country rivals Murray at a wet and windy Morwell Oval, Gippsland powered to clear second in the TAC Cup standings. Vic Country representative Caleb Serong was back for a rare TAC Cup game and earned an AFL Draft Central Player of the Week nomination with his 23 disposals, five clearances and two goals. Others to contribute were Austin Hodge and Riley Baldi with 20 disposals each, while debutant Harold Hood caught the eye with his 16 touches. The Power are now a game clear of Murray, Western and Sandringham’s 28 points with a healthy percentage of 155.95 as they look to finish the season strongly.

Under 16 SA and WA dominate Victorian sides

Division One of the Under 16 National Championships resumed on the Gold Coast with South Australia taking on Vic Country, while Western Australia battled Metro. The results confirmed that South Australian football is in very good hands as they accounted for Country by 42 points. Star forward Kaine Baldwin was unbeatable in the air, while the likes of Kye Dean and Luke Edwards collected plenty of the ball. In the second game of the day, WA’s Logan McDonald booted six goals in a best afield display, while Taj Schofield and Zane Trew were outstanding through the midfield in a big win over Metro. The results suggest that the figure of over 50% of draftees coming from Victoria could well change in the near future, but there is plenty of time for bolters to make their run.

Vic U18 girls get one back for their state

With the Under 16 Metro and Country boys getting worked over in their games, the Under 18 girls won some pride back for Victoria as both sides grabbed wins in their National Championship fixtures. Country stormed to a 56-point victory over Queensland on the back of Lucy McEvoy’s five-goal haul, with Nina Morrison strong through the midfield. Meanwhile, Metro remained undefeated with a hard fought 8-point win over Western Australia as the likes of Madison Prespakis and Northern Knights best and fairest winner Gabby Newton contributed well from midfield. On the second day, Metro went down to Queensland on Wednesday at Broadbeach, despite the best efforts of Prespakis, Eleanor Brown and Newton,, while Country got the job done against the Central Allies thanks to another four goals from McEvoy and top performances from Morrison and Sophie Van De Heuvel. Queensland was sensational in the win against Vic Metro, with the likes of Zimmorlei Farquharson and Lily Postlethwaite the top performers.

Queensland weekly wrap: Future stars do Queensland proud on centre stage

WITH both the Under 18 girls and Under 16 boys National Championships hitting the Gold Coast, there was a rare chance for Queensland youngsters to strut their stuff in front of a home crowd on the big stage. With important wins across all levels, it’s fair to say they did the State proud.

Strong performances by QLD state sides

In the midst of National Championships across ages and genders, Queensland more than held their own this past week. On Monday was Queensland’s first game in AFLW Under 18 Championships against likely favourites Vic Country at Metricon Stadium. Although our girls went down 67-11, there were several standout performers putting their hands up for All-Australian honours. Zimmorlei Farquharson was the star for Queensland alongside Ellie HampsonLily Postlethwaite and Kitara Farrar.

In Queensland’s second encounter with Vic Metro it was a game of history with the Maroons getting up by eight points. AFL Queensland’s Ant Wingard brought to attention that it was Queensland’s first ever win over Vic Metro. The Maroons’ win came off the back of a goalless first quarter where only one Vic Metro behind was scored. The reminder of the clash was tight and Queensland’s grunt proved the difference in the 27-13 win. Postlethwaite and Farquharson were again fantastic, as was Isabel Dawes in a great team effort.

In the boys Under 16 Division 2 National Championships, Queensland had a hard-fought win over state of origin rivals, NSW/ACT from Metricon Stadium on Tuesday.  It was a tale of two quarters in the first half as Queensland assumed the lead with five first quarter goals. NSW/ACT wrestled back control in the second cutting the margin to five at the half.

The Maroons put the pedal down in the third quarter with four goals to establish a 21-point lead before a tense last term with NSW/ACT dominating the ball in their forward half but could not capitalise, allowing the Maroons to win 83-68.

Shanta Cashen-Harris was inspirational in the third to help turn the tide of the game for Queensland whilst Riley Johnson managed two impressive set shot goals.

In the Under 17 Futures game at Southport on Wednesday, Queensland again stuck it to our state rivals, beating NSW/ACT by 32 points. With the game on a knife’s edge at the start of the fourth and Queensland up by 10 points, the home side managed to storm home strong. The final score was 74-42.

It was William Martyn grabbing 30 touches and laying 10 tackles who was best on ground alongside strong performances from Queenslanders Corey Joyce with 24 touches and Tom Jeffrey with two goals and nine marks.

 

Lions roar at the Gabba, while Sun sets over Gold Coast at Etihad

In front of their home fans desperate to see another win, the Brisbane Lions were clinical in beating fellow cellar dwellers Carlton 120-55 on Saturday afternoon. After a tight first quarter where the Lions took a two-point lead, Brisbane accelerated away and never looked back. The Lions would kick 15 goals to Carlton’s five over the next three quarters with Dayne Beams racking up 40 touches.

In perhaps a breakout game, Eric Hipwood showed all his ability when things go right, kicking six goals from an efficient 15 disposals. Hipwood was the beneficiary over some silver service from midfielders Alex Witherdan with 31 touches and Tom Cutler with 28. Daniel Rich and Luke Hodge also continued their dominant half-back tandem with 28 and 25 possessions respectively.

Charlie and Ed Curnow were the shining lights for the Blues with Charlie kicking three goals and Ed collecting 26 disposals in a far outplayed side.

The win is the Lions’ third for the year ahead of a tough game against the Hawks at their Tasmanian fortress Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile in another frustrating day for the Gold Coast Suns, they went down to the North Melbourne Kangaroos 95-58 from Etihad Stadium on Sunday. After the Roos surged out of the blocks kicking four goals to one in the opening stance, Gold Coast fought back with four goals in the second to be down 46-35 with a real sniff.

Unfortunately, it was more of the same for the Suns as they conceded five goals to one in third to make things almost impossible in the last term to comeback. The final quarter was predictable with both sides kicking two goals apiece to finish proceedings with a North Melbourne victory.

For Gold Coast, Jarryd Lyons was impressive with 26 possessions and seven tackles alongside Jarrod Harbrow and Lachie Weller with 25 touches each.

The Suns face Essendon Saturday night from Metricon Stadium.

Queensland weekly wrap: Suns, Lions go down; spirited Inclusion Carnival finish

THIS week in Queensland football was highlighted by the efforts of Queensland’s squad in the National Inclusion Carnival. Despite not registering a win in the second division, the team fought hard to represent their state with pride against the best in the country. Elsewhere, both AFL teams suffered losses while the Brisbane’s AFLW side notched their second win in the Winter Series.

Queensland successful at National Inclusion Carnival

Queensland produced a successful campaign at the 2018 AFL National Inclusion Carnival, finishing the week-long event with a fourth-place finish overall. The AFL National Inclusion Carnival aimed at bringing together footballers with intellectual disabilities from across Australia in a round-robin style carnival to provide them with the chance to represent their state or territory.

Queensland played very well on Tuesday June 19 in the Lighting Rounds where all teams played off to determine division allocation. Queensland won enough games to qualify in Division 1 alongside Vic Metro, Vic Country and South Australia. Queensland showed off their Queenslander spirit despite not winning a game in Division 1, playing with pride having already achieved a great feat to just be in Division 1. A further achievement for the state was the naming of captain Josh Correa and vice-captain Brad Lawrence in the 2018 AFL All-Australian Inclusion Team.

To cap off the carnival, all teams watched the Hawthorn vs. Gold Coast match at UTAS Stadium and did a lap of honour on the field at half-time.

Lions and Suns go down

The Lions and Suns both suffered losses in the AFL this past round. First up on Saturday was the Suns and Hawks from Tasmania where Gold Coast got off to a good start to lead 22-13 at quarter time thanks to two goals from Tom Lynch. The Hawks kicked into gear though after quarter time though, seizing control by kicking 11 goals to two over the final three terms including a hat-trick to Jack Gunston to run out 96-43 winners.

Jarryd Lyons was impressive for the Suns with 29 disposals bettering his season average of 24. Peter Wright and Tom Lynch were the Suns’ multiple goal kickers with Lynch taking his goal kicking tally to 20 for the season thus far.

The Suns next face Collingwood on Saturday night at Metricon from 7:25pm.

The Lions went down 109-82 to the GWS Giants at the Gabba in game highlighted by a massive hit from Jeremy Cameron on Lions star Harris Andrews. Eleven minutes into the contest Andrews copped an intentional flying elbow from Cameron in a marking contest that would halt the game for a few minutes. Andrews was taken off the field and would play no further part in the match, a big blow for the Lions. Incidentally, Cameron would later cop a five-match ban from the AFL Tribunal.

The loss of Andrews would prove costly as the Giants big forwards Cameron and Jon Patton kicked three goals apiece to lead their side home.

Eric Hipwood brought his kicking boots drilling three straight goals whilst Allen Christensen kicked two along with 17 touches. Luke Hodge and Daniel Rich were brilliant of half back despite the losing effort collecting 30 disposals each. Josh Kelly also had 30 to lead the way for GWS.

The Lions the Dockers on Sunday afternoon from Optus Stadium Perth at 4:40pm.

Lions win second AFLW Winter Series game

The Brisbane Lions’ AFLW side made it two from two in the Winter Series with a strong victory over GWS North on Saturday at Graham Road.

It was the Lions’ fast start that set up their victory. A three goals to zero opening quarter was the difference in the end as GWS North would storm back with four goals to two over the next three terms. Unfortunately for GWS North it was too little too late as the Lions walked away eleven point victors. It could have been a bigger win if not for the Lions’ inaccuracy in front of goal.

Sophie Conway kicked two goals in a great performance up forward whilst Emily Bates was terrific in the midfield, along with ruck Jessy Keeffe.

Lions 3.3 4.4 5.9 5.10 (40)
GWS North 0.1 3.2 3.2 4.5 (29)

The Lions’ next Winter Series match is against the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday, July 14, at 4.40pm at Metricon Stadium.

Queensland weekly wrap: State Inclusion squad announced; Suns’ Shanghai stint hangs in balance

THERE were many talking points to come out of this week for Queensland AFL fans. At the highest level, Brisbane clocked up their first win of the year, while the Suns faltered again in Shanghai to put their Chinese venture under threat. Meanwhile more locally, the State Inclusion squad was announced ahead of June’s national carnival. 

Lions get first win, Suns lose in China:

BRISBANE Lions managed to scratch the huge monkey off their backs by winning their first AFL game of 2018 last Sunday afternoon. In front of around 20,000 fans at the Gabba, they claimed a nice scalp smashing Hawthorn by 56 points in a milestone victory for the club. It was as if it was scripted for Lions coach Chris Fagan and legendary recruit Luke Hodge to beat their old side and to get off the mark for the Lions. Hodge was excellent against the team he played 305 games and won four premierships with, but it was a mix of old and new that helped the Lions get off the mark in 2018.

The stars of the day for the Lions included Eric Hipwood who had glue on his hands, marking every ball the came his way en route to kicking four goals. Second-year midfielder Hugh McCluggage finished with a career-high 27 disposals (16 contested) and had a major influence while the match was up for grabs. Captain Dayne Beams was back near his best with 28 disposals and two goals, Dayne Zorko continued his form resurgence with 30 touches, 11 tackles and a goal, while Charlie Cameron produced a Mark of the Year contender to go with two goals. The game was capped off with last series winner of The Recruit, 28-year-old Matt Eagles kicking his first goal in AFL footy in the last term. The Lions face Sydney next round.

Meanwhile, the trip to Shanghai wasn’t pleasant for the Gold Coast Suns players who suffered a 40-point loss to Port Adelaide in wet conditions at Jiangwan Stadium. The Suns fought hard to deliver an improved performance from their drubbing in last year’s inaugural China game, but were no match for the resurgent Power. Port’s 11.16 (82) to 6.6 (42) victory on Saturday lifts them to fourth on the ladder.

Gold Coast teenager Jacob Heron joined the exclusive group of players to make his AFL debut outside of Australia and slot a goal with his first kick. Both sides have the bye next week to recover from the long trek to Shanghai, but after a week off, the Suns finally return to Metricon Stadium where they will face Geelong.

##

Suns Shanghai experiment in the air:

Reports have been flowing in the last few days around the AFL that the Gold Coast Suns could lose their right to AFL in Shanghai to a Victorian club. AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has declared he will open discussions over next year’s Shanghai match to Victorian teams. Also, Victorian Trade Minister Philip Dalidakis has been in Shanghai this week lobbying hard for a Melbourne team to take over next year. St Kilda have been rumoured as the most eager club to take over the Shangai expeditions, perhaps with plans to help erase their millions in debts.

This story is sure to develop over the coming weeks.

##

2018 Queensland State Inclusion team announced:

Last Friday AFL Queensland announced the 2018 State Inclusion team after trials were held in May. The squad includes 16 players and three emergencies. The Queensland side will take part in the AFL National Inclusion Carnival starting June 18 in Launceston. The AFL National Inclusion Carnival is round robin tournament for talented footballers with an intellectual disability.

2018 Queensland State Inclusion Team:

Luke O’Neal
Damien Harvey
Joshua Correa
Nathanial Gill
Joshua McGrath
Brad Lawrence
Brent Morris
Shaun McKee
Dylan Evans
Robbie Van Allen
Connor Dixon
Matt Bedford
Joseph Ryan
Johnny Lawrence
Reagan Taylor
Zachary Kimber

Emergencies:

Ben Haack
Phil King
Andrew King

##

Celebrating National Volunteer Week in Queensland AFL:

National Volunteer Week takes place from May 21-27, celebrating and commending AFL volunteers from the around the state. Every day this week, AFL Queensland honours special volunteers that have had a profound impact on developing and nurturing footy across the state. To see the tributes and for more information follow the #AFLQvolunteerweek and #THANKYOU hashtags across social media.

Jourdan Canil’s top 30 draft prospects

Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)
Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)

The AFL Draft is nearing, and despite suggestions of a weak draft, the top 30 prospects are still relatively strong in comparison to previous years. This is my list of the top prospects, but it does not indicate where they will go in the draft.

1. Jacob Weitering
Club: Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Alex Rance

Weitering’s got the whole package. His best asset is his intercept marking. He runs off his opponent and reads the play so well. He’s strong enough to not only compete at AFL level, but immediately win contests. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and positions himself well. A terrific rebounder, Weitering also has a long and classy kick, often putting the ball out into space for his team mates to run into. Athletically, he’s got a good leap and he’s got good closing speed. I firmly believe he will be one of the two or three best key defenders in the league in years to come.

2. Josh Schache
Club: 
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Key forward
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player Comparison: Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)

Probably the most promising ‘true’ key forward of 2015, Schache kicked 27 goals from 15 games as a 17 year old. Schache prides himself on his contested marking. His size allows him to crash through packs, but he also takes the ball out at full stretch. Schache is a great player below the knees, and unlike most key forwards, he is a reliable field kick and shot for goal. Schache has speed on the lead and he also likes to use his physicality. Schache can kick a goal from most places on the field, and he’s got a 55 metre cannon too. In terms of agility, Schache is actually quite impressive for his size. He could potentially improve on the defensive side of his game, which is for me, what separates him from Tom Boyd and Patrick McCartin, as they are probably less likely to become well-rounded key forwards. Schache’s conversion rate this year has been impressive and he’s stood up in key games. Definitely the second best player in the draft for mine.

3. Darcy Parish
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Whitfield

Darcy Parish is a classy outside midfielder, who despite his flaws, should be a top five pick. Parish is a very slight framed player who has great speed. He runs hard to receive a handball or take an uncontested mark, then will keep zipping past others to break lines. Parish loves to kick, and he can often have 20 or more kicks in a game. Most will hit the targets, as he prefers to do short sharp chips. He’s a good decision maker and with that comes a high disposal efficiency. I think at AFL level that efficiency may drop a little as he will be encouraged to be bolder. It’s scary that a player with so much hurt factor still has so much room to grow. Parish has become more of a goal kicker, and he’s put on a bit of weight to increase his core strength. He’s got room to improve his defensive efforts, as his strong tank and speed should really see him taking down few more players. I see him growing into that Lachie Whitfield mould, but perhaps with a little more pace.

4. Callum Mills
Club:
 North Shore
Position: Midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Lenny Hayes

Mills is the complete package, and he will head to Sydney through their academy. He would certainly have been a top three pick if he was on the open market. Mills is an exceptional accumulator, as he averaged 32 disposals at 65% through his six TAC Cup games last year as a 17 year old. . He was named in the bests in five out of his six games. Mills also averaged over six tackles and six marks per game in the TAC Cup. Mills is a beast of an inside midfielder. He’s fairly balanced, as he gets around 50% of his ball on the outside, as he finds space to take uncontested marks and handball receives. But his courage to throw himself at the ball is incredible. He is impossible to tag. Mills is a leader and works hard defensively.

5. Aaron Francis
Club: West Adelaide
Position: Utility
Height: 191cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Adam Goodes

Francis is just a shade below the top two in my eyes, but he’s got the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. He’s a terrific intercept mark, has tremendous athleticism and literally plays in every position. Francis has played his best footy as a third tall or key defender, as his intercept marking and ability to rebound are his two best assets. He’s also extremely strong around the contest, so he can win his own footy on the inside. His kicking is well above average, and he is quickish, so he’s a good player on the outside too. I liked his smarts when playing as a forward. He lead up consistently, and he provides a great target. When the ball hits the deck, he is too big and strong for small defenders, and too agile for bigger ones. The one query I have on him is his goal kicking, but I haven’t seen a big enough sample size of him as a forward to say whether that’s a true weakness

6.Jacob Hopper
Club:
North Ballarat Rebels
Position:
Inside midfielder
Height:
186 cm
Weight:
82 kg
Player Comparison:
Ollie Wines

Hopper is clearly the best pure inside midfielder in this draft. His extraction skills are supreme and he’s got a great understanding of where to position himself at stoppages to have an impact. Hopper is an excellent goal kicker – he heads forward and he can be effective at ground level or as a marking target. He’s a terrific tackling presence and he never stops trying. His kicking is just okay, but his vision and spatial awareness are excellent, so he doesn’t get caught out often. He’s very clean by hand in traffic.

7. Charlie Curnow
Club:
Geelong Falcons
Position: Key forward/midfielder
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Player Comparison: Jake Stringer

Curnow looks like a possible top five pick. He can be a bit lazy, often looking to engage in one on one contests, rather than leading up and using space. Having said that, he’s an elite runner with a very high beep test score, so clearly he’s got a strong work ethic. He gets by in under 18’s with his strength, and obviously coming off that knee injury he wasn’t able to show his running strength. He’s a great contested mark, he wins his own ball on the inside, and at times, his skills are usually pretty good. I think his 21/30 on the kicking test at the combine was a bit misleading. He’s a below average converter on goals, and he’s not a great field kick either.  He’s got a very high upside with his great frame and the ability to grow into a big-bodied midfielder, but I personally see him as a forward in the Jake Stringer role.

8. Matthew Kennedy
Club:
Collingullie-GP
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Elliot Yeo

Kennedy is a big-bodied inside midfielder with terrific endurance and a great overhead mark. He finished with a 14.12 beep tests and some really good scores in various leaping tests at the combine. He’s very hard at the contest, and while he’s not in that elite level for racking up the footy, you can tell that with development, he’ll be able to make that transition at AFL level. Kennedy looks damaging in the forward line, and whilst he is pretty clean with either foot, if it was a bit better he could be challenging for a top three pick.

9. Wayne Milera
Club:
Central Districts
Position: Outside midfielder/small forward
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player Comparison: Shaun Burgoyne (early career)

Milera has far exceeded expectations this year. He’s a creative midfielder/half forward with some of the best skills in this draft class. Milera is a terrific decision maker and he offers something a bit different to the rest of the midfielders in this draft class, where there seems to be one or two clear options, but he’ll cut through the middle and pick a more damaging option that most players wouldn’t even consider. He’s very agile and hard to tackle, and he loves using his speed through the centre of the ground. Milera has been the best performed junior in the top flight of the SANFL, where he’s consistently found the football and chipped in for several goals on a few occasions.

10. Rhys Mathieson
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Jordan Lewis

I don’t like to overrate players, but Mathieson has a similar style to Jordan Lewis in the way he plays on the inside and outside. Mathieson is a big time accumulator, but it’s the way that he does it that really makes his 30 disposal games really impressive, despite being just an above average kick of the ball. Mathieson hunts the ball on the inside. He throws himself at the contest, and despite not being the new prototype big midfielder, his body strength in packs is advanced for his age. He knows how to position himself on the inside, and once he has the ball, he executes handpasses in traffic and out of the bottom of a pack quickly and usually to the best outside option. Mathieson is terrific on the outside too, and this is what makes him such a champion type. Mathieson is fairly quick on the outside, with a solid 20 metre burst that breaks games open. He doesn’t have to run a long distance, because with the separation he creates in a short space, he gives himself enough time to launch a kick into the forward 50. Mathieson has above average skills by hand and foot, and he’s a solid overhead mark too.

11. Kieran Collins
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Daniel Talia

Collins is the best lockdown key defender in the draft. He’s that classic disciplined Darren Glass type, where he doesn’t give his opponents any room to move. He’s got a very high football IQ and he doesn’t try to exceed his limitations. Collins is exceptional overhead and he can take plenty of intercept marks, but he’s not the type to take a massive risk and fly if he didn’t think it was the right time to do so. Collins won the handball test at the combine with an exceptional 29/30. His kicking is fine, but he’s not a great rebounder at this stage of his career. He’s not the quickest player, but his football smarts and spatial awareness make up for that. He’s also shown a little bit as a forward, but he looks like a 200 game player as a key back already.

12. Harley Balic
Club: 
Sandringham Dragons
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Jackson Macrae

Balic is a really classy half forward who can pull off some incredible things. Balic is a terrific overhead mark, and he leads to the right places. His contested marking is incredible for a medium forward. He is a really intelligent forward who pushes up to create space for his full forward to lead in to. He has a very strong body and last year he lacked opportunity in the midfield. His inside game development is arguably the biggest leap of any top talent in the draft this year. Last year I would have said he was a pure outside player, but he has learnt the nuances of the inside game in terms of positioning himself at contests. His developmental curve is extremely encouraging and it’s one of the reasons I like him more than most. The fact he is now a balanced midfielder who can find the footy, as well as being a forward with flare makes me believe he has a sneakily very high ceiling.

13. Ben Keays
Club: 
Morningside
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Christian Petracca

Keays in my mind is close to a top 10 pick, but he will be going to Brisbane through their academy a little later. Keays is a gut running type, who shows absolute class on the outside most of the time (although he does make some poor choices sometimes). Keays has the ability to kick it long or hit short targets with ease.

Keays has a really strong body, and his work on the inside is outstanding. Indeed, Keays’ most exciting ‘Petracca like’ feature is his overhead marking and work as a forward. Keays can really dominate up forward with strength, but he can also kick freakish, skillful goals. He fends off players as he takes on the game, and backs himself in to finish off with a goal. He’s increased his ability to rack up the football, and as such, his disposal efficiency has dropped off a touch, which I think is why he hasn’t been talked about as much in that top 10 equation.

14. Callum Ah Chee
Club: 
South Fremantle
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Player Comparison: Chad Wingard

Ah Chee offers a bit of a different look this year, and though I suspect he has more potential than most of the players in the top 10, he probably hasn’t had the year he would have liked. Ah Chee is lightening quick, in terms of acceleration and over a long distance. There’s not too many ultra quick players who have multiple strings to their bow in this year’s draft class. Ah Chee is an excellent kick of the football. He gets a fair bit of penetration on it and I’ve noticed his decision making has improved over the course of this year. Ah Chee is very dangerous around goals. He’s an excellent crumber, but as you’ve all seen with his mark in the AFL Academy game, he’s a high flier and a good over head mark, despite his light frame. I’d love to see him build up his tank and also his core strength, as he’s struggling to win much of his own footy.

15. Jade Gresham
Club: Northern Knights
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player Comparison: Travis Boak

Gresham is one of those players you know what you are going to get. While he does lack that punishing hurt factor that the elite players have, he uses his limitations to the best of his ability. Skill wise, he was clearly the best tester at the NAB AFL Combine, which helps tick those boxes. Defensively, he’s not too bad. He doesn’t rack up a lot of tackles, but he is accountable and he reads the play well enough to choose when to peel off his man as well. Gresham is a outside-leaning midfielder, with the potential to develop an inside game in the future. He reads the ruck taps so well and knows where to run and break away. While he’s not fast, he’s smart and this helps him at stoppages. He is fearless in the way he throws himself into packs, despite being a shorter midfielder. His hands in traffic are really clean and quick. Gresham has added goal kicking to his repertoire of late. He hasn’t had the opportunity to play much as a crumbing small forward, but he has kicked a goal per game on average this season. Gresham looks to be an excellent leader already.

16. Sam Weideman
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Key forward
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Levi Casboult

Weideman’s injury issues have made him an intriguing prospect, as he has so much that he must improve on. 2014 was an up and down year for the forward. He was able to play 15 games, but only kicked 19 goals and 15 behinds. His statline is poor, but recruiters will look to his best games to find out why he is so highly regarded. Again in 2015, he struggled statistically, despite receiving very good delivery from a strong midfield group. Weideman is a terrific mark of the ball. His contested marking is a standout in pack situations. However, what is most impressive is his ability to take one grab marks on the lead, particularly in sticky situations. You know if the ball is within his long reach, then he won’t drop it. He’s a below average kick of the football. He’s probably one of only a handful of players in this draft class who have one truly dominant skill, but when you cannot convert simple set shots at goal, then it really hurts. Weideman plays as a true leading centre half forward, but he also has the size and skill set to play as a full forward.

17. Darcy Tucker
Club: 
North Ballarat Rebels
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Sam Docherty

Tucker looks best as a half back in my eyes. He reads the play really well, and he plays pretty wide of the contest, so he’s often in a dangerous spot on the rebound if the ball leaks out. He’s not a great individual defender, but I can see with his mindset and leadership that his defensive game will grow. As a midfielder, Tucker plays almost exclusively on the outside, but I can see scope for that developing as he seems to have good core strength. Tucker’s endurance is terrific, as he came in with a 15.3 beep test. That gives me hope that he can be a midfielder, but he’s got a bit to learn in terms of stoppage set ups and the general nuances of that position. Tucker is an excellent kick of the footy. Although he’s a bit down the pecking order, I don’t think there is a massive class difference between Darcy Parish, Cal Ah Chee and Tucker.

18. Ryan Clarke
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: David Zaharakis

Clarke’s speed is excellent over the first few steps and he really breaks lines, but he’s probably a couple of rungs slower than the absolute best. He’s an excellent distributor by hand and foot. His decision making and vision is in the top class of this year’s draft, and he backs himself to hit difficult targets. Clarke is a strong runner who loves to break through the middle. He’s also got a fairly long kick too, and on the run he can impact the scoreboard from 55 out. He can go forward, but he’s probably got some work to do in that regard. He’s not a great mark overhead, and although he has the physical attributes to be a good crumber, he hasn’t shown that he’s got those talents as of yet.  Clarke’s inside game is developing. He’s got great core strength, so he breaks tackles fairly easily. He reads the tap well and he’s physical, so he throws himself at the footy. Clarke is sharp and quick by hand too, so there aren’t too many doubts over whether he’ll be a well-rounded midfielder. He’s not the prototype big-bodied inside beast that recruiters are infatuated with, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be a clearance machine at the top level, but he’ll be serviceable.

19. Eric Hipwood
Club:
Aspley
Position: Key back/forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Harris Andrews

Hipwood will probably attract a top 10 bid, although his form doesn’t quite warrant it. He’s a project player who has terrific agility and a great overhead marking ability. He’s an okay user of the footy, who finds it more than your traditional key backman, but he doesn’t really know his limitations. He looks a bit more at home as a key defender, although he’s showed spurts of form as a forward here and there this year. He’ll take a long time to develop, but then again, we thought that of Harris Andrews and look how quickly he’s adapted.

20. Harry McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Drew Petrie

Harry McKay is a raw prospect who has shown great signs for his age. He should basically be considered a 2016 prospect, as he is only a few days off being eligible for next year’s draft. For a 200 cm player, McKay is very quick and agile. He can twist and turn and crumb like a small forward. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and he continually leads up the ground to present as a link up target. He’s a pretty good kick for goal too. At this stage, he’s a long-term prospect. He’s going to need to put on plenty of size to be able to compete, but he’s got as much upside as anyone in this draft class.

21. Ryan Burton
Club: 
North Adelaide
Position: Forward
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Brett Burton

Burton’s broken leg could see him as a big slider, so it’s really difficult to get a gauge on where he sits. Although he is in that inbetween size, I can see Burton being a key forward. Burton has a massive leap, and his overhead marking is exceptional. Indeed, his game style isn’t too dissimilar to his namesake Brett Burton. Burton is a wonderful kick for goal, and he isn’t shy when it’s a clutch situation. Burton needs to improve his field kicking and forward smarts (ie where to lead and how to space himself). However, one thing that cannot be questioned is his defensive efforts, as he averaged three tackles per game in the Championships as a 17 year old.

22. Riley Bonner
Club:
West Adelaide
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Grant Birchall

Bonner is your classic elite ball user off the back flank. He’s probably the best long kick in the draft, and he can use both feet to a very high level. Bonner can play on the wing, or as a half forward too, but he’s played his best footy as a half-back this year. Bonner isn’t super quick, but he’s agile and he runs hard all game to present as a link-up target. The biggest issue with Bonner is his complete lack of accountability, but that should get better with a few years of development.

23. Clayton Oliver
Club:
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Comparison: Luke Parker

Oliver is a big bodied inside midfielder who has a few different tricks. He wins his own ball easily, and while he has a large frame, he needs to develop a bit more physically for his game to translate to the AFL. Oliver can go forward and take a strong mark, and his finishing around the goals is excellent. Oliver is a strong tackler and a hard worker who runs both ways. Interestingly, Oliver tested much better than most expected in the speed and agility drills, which perhaps raises his ceiling in the eyes of recruiters. He ran a 2.99 20 metre sprint, which isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s pretty good for an inside midfielder. His agility time of 8.11 seconds was third in the entire AFL combine, and incredible feat that will no doubt be taken into account on draft night.

24. Josh Dunkley
Club:
 Gippsland Power
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Early career Jobe Watson

Dunkley is an inside midfielder who finds the goals easily. His drive and work ethic is incredible, reminiscent of Jason Johnson in his prime.He uses his size to bully his opponents, which should still work relatively well at AFL level, but he hasn’t become the great extractor his skillset should allow him to. Dunkley is an incredible tackler and a strong overhead mark. His leadership is a plus as well. Dunkley averaged 6 and a half tackles in the TAC Cup over 13 games, with an astounding 18 tackles leading the way against the Falcons as a 17 year old. He’s a really poor kick and lacks any form of an outside game at this stage. He’s pretty sluggish off the mark too, but he’s got a pretty good tank. He showed that he can hold his own at VFL level, which is crucial for a player of his ilk.

25. Mitchell Hibberd
Club:
Clarence
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Brad Sheppard

Hibberd would be a nice complimentary player on any team. He’s a smart defender, who is really solid in the air. He reads the flight of the ball well and he’s a good athlete. Hibberd isn’t an elite kick, but he hits targets consistently and rarely turns the ball over. He makes the right decisions and he takes the game on when he’s rebounding. Hibberd finds plenty of the ball on the outside, and he’s damaging enough to float forward and have an impact. With his size, athleticism and skills, he’s a very solid option.

26. Ben McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key defender
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Henderson

Ben McKay is the identical twin of Harry. Ben’s best skill is contested marking, which was showcased against Oakleigh, when he took five of them. Like Harry, he is quite agile, although Ben is a bit stronger at this stage. McKay is a solid user of the footy, although he doesn’t offer too much at this stage from a rebounding point of view. He’s a solid intercept mark, but at this stage, he’s more concerned with being accountable than peeling off his man. McKay also showed he can head forward effectively, as well as providing a chop out in the ruck.

27. Luke Partington
Club:
Norwood
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Leigh Montagna

Luke Partington looks to be a really well rounded midfielder. He’s got a bit of speed, and he’s the type to work hard all game, so he’s always providing a link up target on the outside. He’s a pretty neat kick and a nice decision maker too. He’s become a better inside midfielder this year too, using his smarts and speed to read the tap and win clearances, rather than using his strength.

28. Aidyn Johnson
Club:
Bendigo Pioneers
Position: Utility
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Comparison: No real comparison

It’s been hard to get a gauge on what type of player Aidyn Johnson is, due to his injury troubles. Johnson is one of the fastest and most agile players in this draft class, and will probably be taken in the second round based on that. Michael Ablett and Brett Anderson rate him very highly, with his agility (fourth in the AFL Combine), speed and also the ability to create space around goals that others can’t being the really exciting features of his game. Johnson is a great volume tackler, averaging four per game last year in the TAC Cup. He’s also got that match winning ability. He kicked four goals and laid seven tackles last year against the Falcons, and he had a two other games where he was the best player for the Pioneers. He’s got a fair bit that he needs to improve on based on the ten or so games he’s played in the last two years. His kicking is a little too erratic, and he can give away clumsy free kicks. He’s also got to try and use his pace to receive more handballs on the outside, as he struggles to get more than 10-15 touches most games.

29. Nick O’Kearney
Club: 
Calder Cannons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Player Comparison: Brent Stanton

I like O’Kearney more than most, and I think that comes with accepting that he is a limited role player. His ball winning is incredible, as he averaged 25 disposals in the TAC Cup as a 17 year old, and he’s shown that he can do that again as an 18 year old. Despite playing in a star studded Calder team, O’Kearney took out the Cannons’ best and fairest as a 17 year old, and may do so again. O’Kearney reminds me a lot of Brent Stanton, in that he is a terrific two way runner. He gets 65% of the ball on the outside, but he’s improved his inside game as well this year. O’Kearney captained Vic Metro in the Under 16’s and he has natural leadership qualities. However, despite his leadership and high production, there are clear knocks on his game. His kicking is pretty average for someone who is predominately an outside midfielder. It has improved a little bit, but not enough to be a top 25 pick in my eyes.

30. Bailey Rice
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Half back/midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player Comparison: Zak Jones

Rice is a real competitive beast who has made big strides this year. He’s a really strong contested mark for a half back, and he’s shown some real physicality when defending. He offers a lot on the rebound, and even though he’s not an elite kick, he’s very neat and rarely turns the ball over. Rice has shown that he can win his own football as a midfielder, and with increased running power, he can be a balanced midfielder. Rice throws himself at the footy and really reads the flight of the ball well.

2015 Draft Profile: Eric Hipwood

bfgnprofiles

Eric Hipwood
Aspley/Brisbane Lions NEAFL

Height: 200 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Position: Key position forward/defender
Draft range: 10-25
Strengths: Agile, strong mark overhead, versatile
Weaknesses: Inconsistent by foot
Player comparison: Harris Andrews
First year impact: Long-term prospect

Kicking: Poor
Marking: Above average
Endurance: Above average
Speed: Average

The Lions should have three first round picks with Ben Keays and Eric Hipwood likely to find themselves at the Lions in 2016. Both players are academy members for the Lions, meaning they will need to match bids from other clubs in order to claim these players.

Hipwood matured as a 16-year-old, kicking 10 goals in three games at the under 16 championships for Queensland.

Hipwood has really jumped into consideration as a top 20 pick after earning himself All-Australian honours at the under 18 championships. Hipwood was best on ground in the division two game against Tasmania, where he kicked four goals and collected 20 disposals.

He is a unique player for his size, at 200 centimetres he is very agile and moves well around the ground. A real positive of Hipwood is that he has the versatility to play in defence and up forward. Playing for the Brisbane Lions reserves this year he has kicked 12 goals in nine games, often alternating between playing as a key defender and as a forward.

Hipwood’s marking ability is another positive. In the three national championship games, he took 22 marks indicating that he can control his marks on a lead, or intercept in front of an opponent in defence.

However, he is let down by his poor foot skills. On multiple times in the championships, he butchered the ball coming out of the defence turning the ball over.

Overall his efficiency by hand and foot in the three championships matches was 53, 65 and 58 per cent, which could be considered poor compared to his other opponents and teammates.

However, Hipwood has a fantastic upside. With his ability overhead, the Lions have a great prospect that they can use at either end of the ground. He’s better suited to playing as a key forward with his poor kicking around the ground. There aren’t too many versatile 200 cm players that can swing forward and back, which may mean he could go close to cracking the top 10 come draft night in November.

Hipwood is unlikely to feature much in his first year. He will be allowed to develop and fill out his body, which is not too similar to Harris Andrews’ last year. Brisbane would be mad not to match whatever bid comes about for Hipwood, as he has fantastic potential and massive upside with his body size.