Tag: Jack Maibaum

Matt Balmer’s 2016 Final AFL Draft Power Rankings Part 1

EVERY month since May, Matt Balmer has ranked his players from the 2016 AFL Draft pool. With less than three weeks until the November 25 National AFL Draft, he counts down the players ranked 50-1 over the next two weeks. Today will be 50-26, before next Monday’s final rankings from 25-1.

Well what a year it has been. Looking back at May’s rankings, it’s amazing how things can change after Sam Petrevski-Seton was #1 all those months ago. We have had injuries such as Jy Simpkin and Alex Witherden breaking their legs in separate school game incidents, while names have jumped up with strong performances throughout the season and in finals.

Having seen just under 100 games throughout the season, it is always hard to come to a final order and I have ranked the players how I would if I was an AFL club going into the draft come November, ticking names off the list as they are called out.

#50 Zac Fisher
Inside Midfielder (Perth/Western Australia)
15/06/1998 | 175.2cm | 70.3kg

Bite sized inside midfielder who jumped onto the radar with a big performance against the Allies in the first television game of the National Under 18s Championships on Fox Footy. Fisher’s awareness is one of his strengths and it is highlighted in the final quarter of the Western Australia game against the Allies, where he pulls the kick from the half forward flank into the centre 45 metres out from goal. His run and carry work through the midfield is good and he using his quick hands to clear the ball from the stoppages which is a strength. Kicking efficiency needs work and it was below 50 per cent in the WAFL this season. He played senior football all season for Perth and is not worried by bigger bodied opponents. Probably starts up forward in an AFL environment, before playing through the midfield if he can add to his frame.

#49 Josh Begley
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
03/07/1998 | 185.5cm | 96.1kg

Josh Begley is one of the bolters of the draft who begun the year playing at Upper Ferntree Gully, before Eastern Ranges added him to their squad where he bagged six goals on debut against Tasmania. Coming off no preseason, Begley bagged 27 goals this season playing up forward. He did move into the midfield, where he used his strong frame to good success. His work in close at the stoppages is very good and is willing to tackle hard to win the ball back. Will need a few preseasons under his belt to work on his body shape, but fits in as a likely Christian Petracca type of player. Skinfolds have reduced dramatically in the last few months and looms as a likely second rounder.

#48 Harry Morrison
Outside Midfielder (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
12/11/1998 | 181.5cm | 77.6kg

It’s been a tough two-year block for Harry Morrison. Morrison suffered an ACL injury in 2014 that resulted in him missing the Under 16s carnival, before an injury to his back saw him miss the Under 18 carnival this season. His form throughout the season at the Murray Bushrangers has been solid, without starring in any particular games. He looks best suited to playing across half back or on a wing – thanks to his outstanding kick and his decision making. Morrison is composed with the ball in hand across half back, reading the play well before disposing of it well off his right boot. Morrison is not the quickest player out on the ground and it may be an area of focus if he can get a run at it without injuries.

#47 Corey Lyons
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
31/05/1998 | 180.5cm | 77.1kg

The brother of current Gold Coast Sun Jarryd could not have done much more to be drafted in 2016. He continued to give it his all, right up until the final game of the TAC Cup season after a steller finals series. Lyons is an inside midfielder who is not blessed with speed, but tackles hard and wins the clearances. A knock on him has been his kicking efficiency which has been 57 per cent in the TAC Cup. Chances were limited in the National Under 18 Championships in a strong Vic Metro side, but his best position will be on the inside at AFL level despite his small size. Has the running ability to play outside and across half forward.

#46 Brennan Cox
Key Position Defender/Forward (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
13/08/1998 | 192.6cm | 91.6kg

All Australian Brennan Cox has had a strong season playing virtually in every position. Cox held down the fort for South Australia at full back in the National Under 18 Championships and often floated between forward and back, with some stints in the ruck for Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL. He played both Reserves and Under 18s football in South Australia, where he showed off his good leap and marking up forward and his intercept marking and one-on-one work in defence. Despite his early season testing results, he at times can appear slow moving around the ground. Is one of the handful of best defenders in the draft pool.

#45 Callum Brown
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/04/1998 | 177.0cm | 72.2kg

Callum Brown is the son of Collingwood great Gavin and begun the Under 18 championships with a big performance. His work in close is very good and he picks the ball up as well as anyone from ground level. After playing mostly as a small forward for the Ranges in 2015, Brown spent most of the season on the inside. Whilst his aggression and work rate is very good, he can let down with his kicking. He is a player that tends to kick short and does not have much hurt factor when he disposes of the ball. His kicking efficiency can also be affected at times when he goes to kick the ball on either side of his body. Expect a bid in the 30 plus region for Brown.

#44 Declan Watson
Key Position Defender (Aspley/Queensland)
17/09/1998 | 191.4cm | 82.8kg

Declan Watson is a strong one-on-one defender who does not lose too often to his opponent. Watson intercepts well in the back half and kicked the ball out of for Queensland in the Under 18 championships. Whilst he isn’t a big ball winner, his work stopping his opponent is very good. Watson will need some time to develop with a light frame, but all signs point to him being the first Brisbane Lions academy member being bidded on come November 25.

#43 Ryan Garthwaite
Key Position Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
30/06/1998 | 192.0cm | 83.2kg

Ryan Garthwaite finished the year outstandingly well as the Murray Bushrangers’ best defender in their TAC Cup Grand Final loss to Sandringham Dragons. Garthwaite collected 24 disposals, nine marks and six rebound 50s in one of his best games of the season. Garthwaite is a strong lock down defender that is also mobile enough to play up the ground across half back. His intercept mark work is some of the best in the Under 18 system (averaged 6.5 marks in the TAC Cup) but injuries meant an underdone Under 18 carnival. His kicking action can appear strange with both hands dropping the ball onto his foot, but the ball does get to where it needs to go, more often than not.

#42 Jack Graham
Inside Midfielder (North Adelaide/South Australia)
25/02/1998 | 180.3cm | 81.1kg

South Australian inside midfielder Jack Graham won All-Australian honours and was the Larke Medalist for the best player in Division One in the National Under 18 Championships. Has had a few injuries that has meant he missed a few games across the season, including a quad injury which kept him out of finals for North Adelaide. Graham is a contested ball winning hard nut and is strongly built from the waist down. My only concern is, will his body shape be able to adapt for AFL level where he likely trims off a little to work on endurance? His ball winning ability on the inside is very good and should appeal to clubs with a late second round pick.

#41 Louis Cunningham
Outside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
24/02/1998 | 181.8cm | 76.6kg

Little known Oakleigh Charger Louis Cunningham impressed in 2016. Showing his dash across half back, Cunningham stood out not only for his bright orange boots, but his pinpoint left foot pass that could break the game open rebounding out of defence. His attacking flair impressed me on multiple occasions when he would have the ball sprinting out of the back half and kicking it long forward. Deserves a chance on an AFL list.

#40 Willem Drew
Inside Midfielder (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
01/10/1998 | 188.0cm | 79.3kg

Willem Drew is one of the best pure inside midfielders in the TAC Cup. Averaging 7.4 tackles and 6.9 clearances per game, Drew was a crucial cog in the North Ballarat Rebels midfield alongside Hugh McCluggage. Whilst his ball winning is great, he has not had inside form at National Under 18 Championships level or in the NAB U18 All-Stars game, making it hard to judge where he sits in the draft overall. Drew does have some areas of improvement, where he can just hack the ball out of a stoppage at times – this resulted in a kicking efficiency of 55.7 per cent in the TAC Cup. He is slow to accelerate and isn’t blessed with pace, meaning the clear a stoppage he often needs to handball to ball out to a teammate.

#39 Myles Poholke
Inside Midfielder/General Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
10/07/1998 | 183.7cm | 81.9kg

Strong midfielder Myles Poholke has the ability to push forward and hit the scoreboard. Poholke had 18 disposals and two goals for Vic Country in their narrow loss to Vic Metro in the National Under 18s Championships. Whilst he is not a huge disposal winner, he played in a team that had one of the lowest disposal averages as a team week in week out. Poholke’s bursts can see him collect six disposals in as many minutes, before fading as he did at times throughout the year. His consistency does need work but his running ability and endurance has improved from what they were earlier in the season. His strength at the contest is very good and that can help him win one-on-one contests.

#38 Kobe Mutch
Balanced Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)
18/03/1998 | 186.1cm | 83.6kg

One of the best ball winners in the 2016 draft pool is Kobe Mutch, but just where does he play his best football? He has multiple traits that make him so attractive, but without being elite in one category. His work rate around the ground is very good and he spreads very well from the stoppages and looks to get involved. Mutch is a good clearance player when he plays through the centre of the ground and is able to link the ball up with teammates on the outside. An average kick can see Mutch lean back at times and float the ball when going forward, allowing for it to be intercepted by opposition. He is willing to kick the ball on either side of his body and is a smooth mover.

#37 Jack Maibaum
Key Position Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/03/1998 | 191.9cm | 91.0kg

Key defender Jack Maibaum won All-Australian honours after a great National Under 18 Championships playing as Vic Metro’s number one tall. Maibaum has floated between forward and back at both Melbourne Gramamr (school) and Eastern Ranges (TAC Cup). Up forward he is mobile enough to lead further up the ground, whilst in defence he has played mainly a role shutting down the opposition best forward. Not a big disposal winner, but his efforts in one-on-one situations are very good and he gives his all week in week out. At 192cm, is he big enough to play as the number one key back?

#36 Josh Daicos
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26/11/1998 | 177.8cm | 72.2kg

Josh Daicos is the highest ranked Father/Son prospect in my rankings. The son of Peter has had a good year in the TAC Cup providing X-Factor when playing up forward. At times he has pushed through the midfield and played across half back, but looks most at home. Against the Northern Knights, Daicos played in defence for the first half before moving forward- providing deadly booting a couple of goals to get the Chargers over the line. Some of his moments up forward are eye catching and looks agile on the field, wearing bright boots as he has for most of the season. His footy brain is very good but he can fade in and fade out of matches very quickly. Expect a bid in the 30-45 range.

#35 Luke Ryan
General Defender (Coburg/VFL)
07/02/1996 | 185.7cm | 82.9kg

Luke Ryan is the best state league prospect across Australia and seems likely to be a first round pick. Upon watching him, he looks to be ‘skinny’, but up close and testing wise he sits at a touch under 83kg. The general defender rebounds the ball and isn’t afraid to intercept mark. He is very good athletically, but from the games I have seen him play- he does collect a lot of the ball uncontested due to dropping off his man. A shoulder injury saw his season end early but was still able to win the Fothergill-Round medal as the best Under 23 player in the VFL.

#34 Sam Walker
Medium Defender (Glenelg/South Australia)
16/03/1998 | 185.1cm | 79.2kg

I’m a big fan of rebounding defender Sam Walker. The South Australian has an exquisite left boot and hits targets at will when steaming from defence. Walker’s National Under 18 Championships saw him average 14 disposals and was named in the All Australian side. His disposal efficiency was elite from the carnival and continued his form back in the SANFL. Walker has pushed further up the ground at times, but looks most suited in defence with his great rebounding ability. Had the match up on Will Hayward in the SANFL U18 Grand Final in the wet and performed well.

#33 Isaac Cumming
Outside Midfielder (North Adelaide/NSW-ACT)
11/08/1998 | 184.2cm | 73.8kg

Someone mentioned to me back in June to keep an eye out on Isaac Cumming – and sure enough he was right. Cumming finished the year outstandingly well after a quiet performance in the under 18s carnival for both the Allies and NSW-ACT. Cumming provided a spark coming from defence in the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game on Grand Final Eve and was able to break the lines. Not a big disposal winner but uses the ball well and can be damaging across half back or on a wing.

#32 Jonty Scharenberg
Inside Midfielder (Glenelg/South Australia)
28/08/1998 | 183.2cm | 80.6kg

Jonty Scharenberg is the brother of Collingwood’s Matt, but is a completely different player. The Glenelg midfielder is an inside midfielder who is a good decision maker will ball in hand. His handballing to opponents out of a stoppage is outstanding and one of his best traits. Scharenberg collected 34 disposals in his only SANFL U18 apperance for the season in the Grand Final and was Glenelg’s best on the day. His clearance work in the Under 18 championships was very good, but kicking is a major knock on him with a kicking efficiency of 49 per cent in the carnival. Scharenberg doesn’t have a burst of speed either to get away from opponenents, often relying on his football IQ to dispose of the footy.

#31 Zach Sproule
Key Position Forward/Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
15/05/1998 | 195.6cm | 88.5kg

GWS Academy member Zach Sproule has played multiple roles in 2016. He played up forward alongside Todd Marshall, kicking seven goals in the Under 18 championships for NSW-ACT. Sproule played a similar role for the Allies but played the second half of the season in defence for the Bushrangers, playing on opponents such as Josh Battle throughout the year. A strong mark, Sproule has the running capabilities to play furthur up the ground as a roaming half forward thanks to outstanding endurance. Is still lightly framed but his set shot kicking routine is very good. His mobility should appeal to clubs looks for a tall at either end with plenty of development left in them.

#30 Dylan Clarke
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
06/09/1998 | 185.7cm | 83.4kg

Dylan Clarke is the younger brother of North Melbourne 2015 draftee Ryan. Clarke has had a stellar season for both Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro. The competitive midfielder is a hard nut at the ball and averaged just under eight tackles and seven clearances per TAC Cup game for the Ranges. Has a good endurance base which means he can play on the outside if required, but his strong build will allow him to transition into senior football rather quickly through the midfield. Clarke’s knocks have been hit kicking technique and it was under 50% in both the TAC Cup and the Under 18 championships for Vic Metro. Likely second round pick.

#29 Jordan Gallucci
Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
04/05/1998 | 180.0cm | 77.5kg

The athletic Jordan Gallucci has fluctuated around in my ratings all season. He showed plenty of promise in 2015 with many expecting him to have one of the better kicks in the draft pool. Unfortunately Gallucci could not find his feet as to where he best played his football, mixing between half back, midfield and periods up forward. For me I think he is best suited on the outside, rebounding across half back or on the wing. His kicking has struggled at times this year, at the 61 per cent (when combing TAC Cup & Under 18 championships). His athletic traits in speed and agility are outstanding, where he can burn opponents off running forward. Can win his own football in the midfield and his clearance work when on the inside has been strong.

#28 Patrick Kerr
Key Position Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
31/07/1998 | 193.4cm | 93.2kg

The grandson of Carlton’s Laurie Kerr is one of the best key forwards in the 2016 draft. Kerr was at his best booting four final quarter goals to get Vic Metro over the line against South Australia in the Under 18 championships. Kerr has terrific hands overhead and marks well on the lead. When Kerr is on, he’s hard to stop and can really take the game away from opposing sides. Kerr is a strong leader and works hard on field & is a great character, speaking well to all those who have a chat with him. His speed over the first 5-10m is good which allows him to get distance between him and opposition. Kerr has worked hard on his agility, but it still was one of the worst at the National Combine. May appeal to the Blues at Pick 25 due to the family history.

#27 Jarrod Berry
Medium utility (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
05/02/1998 | 191.0cm | 81.8kg

A large majority have Berry in their top 10-15 names, but not for me. Berry has left me wanting more all season with each game I have seen him play. Multiple injuries did not give Berry an ability to be consistent across the season and play constant football. Berry has the best leadership abilities out of any player in this draft, his vocal work out on the ground is clear and it will hold him in good stead in the AFL. But where does he play his best football? He has the size to play inside midfielder, showed his good capabilities overhead up forward at stages late in the season as well as rebounding the ball out of defence. His kicking does need some work and for me I would be playing him in the attacking half of the ground. The utility will have plenty of suiters and should be a first round selection.

#26 Shai Bolton
Outside Midfielder (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
08/12/1998 | 174.7cm | 68.8kg

Excitement machine Shai Bolton has one of the best highlight packages in 2016. His fast side step is Cyril Rioli-like and he moves as well as anyone when getting around opponents. His speed is outstanding and is a hard match up when playing up forward. Bolton’s first half in the NAB AFL U18 All-Stars shows he has the capabilities to play up on a wing and his eye-catching moments make you take notice. What does need to be improved on is his kicking, which thanks to a high ball drop and style it can result in some bad kicks. Will need to work on his endurance in an AFL environment where he could well become a very damaging playing on the outside.

So that’s my players ranked 50-26, if you want to know more: Send me a Tweet @MattBalmer7 before my final 25-1 is released next Monday night.

AFL Draft Combine 2016 Day 3 results

ollie-florent

Day 3 was an action packed day for the 2016 AFL Draft prospects, with plenty of testing to keep the players occupied over the course of the day.

Vic Metro co-captain Jordan Gallucci broke the standing vertical jump record, whilst it was Jarrod Berry, Oliver Florent and Griffin Logue who performed extremely well in the beep test.

DAY 3 RESULTS:

Beep test
Jarrod Berry (level 15.1)
Oliver Florent (15.1)
Griffin Logue (15.1)
Harry Morrison (14.12)
Dylan Clarke (14.12)
Sam Powell-Pepper (14.7)
Liam Baker (14.5)
Tom Williamson (14.5)
Patrick Lipinski (14.5)
Jordan Gallucci (14.5)

20 metre sprint
Jacob Allison (2.87 seconds)
Ben Ainsworth (2.90)
Josh Rotham (2.92)
Josh Williams (2.93)
Bailey Morrish (2.93)
Taylin Duman (2.93)
Esava Ratugolea (2.93)
Will Hayward (2.94)
Tony Olango (2.94)
Shai Bolton (2.95)

Repeat sprint total (six x 30metre sprints)
Jordan Gallucci (24.36 seconds)
Andrew McGrath (24.44)
Bailey Morrish (24.83)
Jarrod Berry (24.99)
Ben Ainsworth (25.01)
Kym LeBois (25.08)
Griffin Logue (25.09)
Shai Bolton (25.10)
Myles Poholke (25.20)
Jacob Allison (25.30)

Agility
Tom Williamson (8.15 seconds)
Jack Maibaum (8.19)
Sam Powell-Pepper (8.24)
Harry Morrison (8.26)
Oliver Florent (8.26)
Matt Guelfi (8.29)
Isaac Cumming (8.29)
Ben Ainsworth (8.36)
Jack Scrimshaw (8.39)
Andrew McGrath (8.38)

Standing vertical jump
Jordan Gallucci (89cm)**
Esava Ratugolea (76)
Will Hayward (73)
Griffin Logue (71)
Bailey Morrish (71)
Shai Bolton (68)
Callum Brown (68)
Josh Rotham (67)
Max Lynch (67)
Jacob Allison (67)
Jack Bowes (67)
Tom Williamson (67)

Running vertical jump (left foot)
Andrew McGrath (96cm)
Shai Bolton (94)
Cameron Zurhaar (92)
Brennan Cox (92)
Tony Olango (91)
Jordan Gallucci (91)
Oliver Florent (90)
Bailey Morrish (90)
Will Hayward (90)
Esava Ratugolea (89)
Tom Williamson (88)
Harry Morrison (88)

Running vertical jump (right foot)
Griffin Logue (91cm)
Bailey Morrish (91)
Esava Ratugolea (89)
Jordan Gallucci (86)
Andrew McGrath (85)
Ben Ainsworth (84)
Tom Williamson (83)
Jack Scrimshaw (83)
Declan Watson (83)
Mitchell Hinge (83)
Jack Bowes (82)

** – Gallucci broke the record set by Marvin Baynham of 88cm set in 2014.

AFL Draft Combine 2016 Day 2 results

jonty-scharenberg-2

Day 2 saw players be put under the spotlight with medicals from clubs, as well as interviews with media and AFL clubs.

Players also completed testing for hand-eye coordination and reaction time, such as Ben Ainsworth attempting to hit the coloured lights in the image below.

Friday night saw players undertake the kicking, clean hands and goal kicking tests with the following players scoring well.

Vision of SA Under 18 players can be found under the SANFL YouTube account.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/embed?listType=playlist&list=UUM4dDlrOwCdPQrV_GK8Cjag[/embedyt]

Results:

Clean hands test (score out of a possible 30)
Ben Jarman (28)
Oliver Florent (28)
Ryan Garthwaite (28)
Callum Brown (27)
Jarrod Berry (27)
Will Hayward (27)
Patrick Lipinski (27)
Sam Powell-Pepper (27)
Jack Bowes (27)
Isaac Cumming (26)
Joe Atley (26)
Myles Poholke (26)
Jonty Scharenberg (26)
Harry Himmelberg (26)
Jack Maibaum (26)

Kicking test (score out of a possible 30)
Jordan Ridley (27)
Isaac Cumming (26)
Jarrod Berry (25)
Ben Long (25)
Sam Walker (25)
Josh Williams (25)
Ben Jarman (24)
Tom Williamson (24)
Dylan Clarke (24)
Kym LeBois (23)
Willem Drew (23)
Josh Battle (23)
Jake Waterman (23)

Goalkicking test (score out of a possible 30)
Sam Powell-Pepper (30)
Harry Morrison (25)
Joe Atley (25)
Josh Williams (25)
Jonty Scharenberg (25)
Ryan Garthwaite (25)
Zachary Sproule (25)
Tim English (25)
Liam Baker (25)
Ben Jarman (24)
Tyson Stengle (24)

Stars to shine bright at the National AFL Draft Combine

ben-jarman

FOR the draft crop of 2016, the National AFL Draft Combine is the first sign that their AFL dreams are a step closer to fruition. An invitation to the AFL Draft Combine means that at least five AFL clubs have expressed interest in the player. The AFL Draft Combine is a way for clubs to determine the players’ physical strengths as well as getting one-on-one time through combine interviews.

Draftees take on each other in a series of tests that challenge their speed, endurance, reflexes and skills to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Combine results are taken into account by clubs when deciding between players and whether they believe they can take the next step into the AFL. A total of 81 players have been invited to the 2016 AFL Draft Combine.

Matt Balmer takes a look at who might be the standouts in the testing which runs from Friday to Sunday.


Thursday:

Players will begin to arrive at Etihad Stadium before a welcome will be held for all 81 players in attendence. Not all players will be able to test due to injuries, but they will sit in on interviews and medicals with clubs early in the combine.

Thursday also sees heights and weight taken, along with all the body sizing and measurements such as skin folds and tricept sizes. My spies have told me Ollie Florent will be a likely winner for the biggest hands at the combine.

The media will also be in attendance on Thursday afternoon with Kevin Sheehan speaking alongside Jonty Scharenberg, Jy Simpkin and Sam Powell-Pepper.

Friday:

More medicals and interviews for players when they arrive for another day. Friday night from 7pm-9.30pm will be the hand balling, kicking and goal kicking tests.

The Matthew Lloyd clean hands/handpassing test measures how well a player collects the football and is able to dispose of it using a handball. There are three targets set up on both the left and right side at distances of 6m, 8m and 10m. An official will roll out or throw a ball at the player and instruct them where to handball the ball to. This is done six times and a score from 1-5 is allocated to each handball depending on how good it is.

Who could win? Hugh McCluggage‘s hands in stoppages are outstanding, whilst Andrew McGrath has the highest TAC Cup handball efficiency with 93 per cent of his handballs hitting the target.

The Brad Johnson goal kicking test will measure a players accuracy kicking for goal. Four kicking points are designated with players taking five kicks in total; two set shots (35m out in either pocket), two snaps (20m out, one left foot and one right foot) and one kick on the run (40m out directly in front). The player has 70 seconds to complete the test. A score is then worked out from the amount of goals and behinds a player kicks.

Who could win? Vic Country forward Josh Battle has a superb kick on him from short or long range distances in front of goal. Again, Hugh McCluggage has shown he can push forward and hit the scoreboard throughout 2016.

The Nathan Buckley kicking test measures players kicking efficiency over six kicks. Six targets (three on each side) are set out at distances of 20m, 30m and 40m. An official will call out a target at random to the kick, who will then to proceed to hit the target. Each kick is given a score from one to five, with five being a perfect kick.

Who could win? West Australian Josh Rotham is one of the best kicks in the draft pool, his teammate tall ruckman Tim English is another who uses the ball well. Harry Morrison, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Alex Villis and Harry Perryman are others that should perform well in this test.

Saturday:

The biggest day of the carnival will see sprints, agility, jumps and the beep test held on the purpose built floor on Etihad.

Sprints will be held in the morning , whilst the afternoon will conclude with the beep test.

Who could win in the sprints? Exciting WA midfielder Shai Bolton will test extremely well in both the 20m sprint and the agility test. Back in 2014, Bolton ran a sub 3s 20m sprint and under 8s for the agility test, considered elite.

Brandan Parfitt and Cedric Cox are among others who has shown off their speed at times this season while Jordan Gallucci should perform well in the agility test. Vic Country teammates Ben Ainsworth (8.00 seconds) and Jarrod Berry (7.80 seconds) were superb in TAC Cup preseason testing, while Stingrays defender Bailey Morrish was just behind Berry running 7.81 seconds. Queenslander Josh Williams showed a remarkable dash of speed in a division two National Under 18s Championships game earlier in the season.

Murray Bushrangers tall Esava Ratugolea is another who tested well in the past (2.92s) as has South Australian excitement machine Kym Lebois.

The vertical leap test is always an interesting test with vertical jump and running vertical jump (left and right foot) measured.

Who could win in the jumps? South Australian tall utility Brennan Cox was superb in the preseason testing in the SANFL, recording over 90cm off either foot in the running vertical jump. Ruckman Tim English, Esava Ratugolea and Tony Olango could test well above their counterparts, but it was Stingrays defender Bailey Morrish who beat all comers in the TAC Cup preseason testing with a vertical leap of 81cm.

The shuttle run/beep test or multistage fitness test depending on where you’re from is another that is closely watched by clubs. Most are looking for kids to push out one last level on the test, rather than take the easy option and drop out early. Sometimes the dedication and commitment from players can lead to them ‘spewing’ up their lunch- but an effect that some clubs might put down as a big tick in their notebook.

Who could win in the beep test? Tim Taranto will be an early front runner, having run a 15.9 in the preseason. His Sandringham Dragons team mate Ollie Florent is another who might perform well. If Jack Graham tests, he could be South Australia’s best.

Sunday:

The final day of the combine will see the 3km time trial run in groups of 10-15. The 3km time trial is one of the most strutinised tests, players pushing themselves to the limit deserve a pat on the back- while those that cruse through without little effect might come under the eyes of recruiters when they pour over all their data.

The 3km time trial has gotten faster every season, with the record being broken for three years running.

Who could win the 3km time trial? Possible number one draft pick Andrew McGrath should run well, but will his heavy work load over the last few months affect him? Again Tim Taranto will be another who could perform well.


Invites:

Small Defenders/Midfielders/Forwards

Ben Ainsworth- Vic Country
Liam Baker- Western Australia
Shai Bolton- Western Australia
Callum Brown- Vic Metro
Cedric Cox- Vic Country
Joshua Daicos- Vic Metro
Zac Fisher- Western Australia
Ben Jarman- South Australia
Kym Lebois- South Australia
Andrew McGrath- Vic Metro
Brandan Parfitt- Northern Territory
Tyson Stengle- South Australia

Medium Defenders 

Jarrod Berry- Vic Country
Isaac Cumming- NSW/ACT
Taylin Duman- Vic Metro
Ben Long- NT
Bailey Morrish- Vic Country
Harry Morrison- Vic Country
Harry Perryman- NSW/ACT
Sam Walker- South Australia
Tom Williamson- Vic Country
Alex Witherden- Vic Country
Alex Villis- South Australia

Tall Defenders

Brennan Cox- South Australia
Ryan Garthwaite- NSW/ACT
Elliot Himmelberg- Queensland
Griffin Logue- Western Australia
Harrison Macreadie- NSW/ACT
Jack Maibaum- Vic Metro
Sam McLarty- Vic Metro
Jordan Ridley- Vic Metro
Joshua Rotham- Western Australia
Jack Scrimshaw- Vic Metro
Declan Watson- Queensland

Medium Midfielders

Jacob Allison- Queensland
Joseph Atley- Vic Country
Hamish Brayshaw- Vic Metro
Will Brodie- Vic Country
Jack Bowes- Queensland
Dylan Clarke- Vic Metro
Willem Drew- Vic Country
Judah Dundon- Vic Metro
Jordan Gallucci- Vic Metro
Jack Graham- South Australia
Matt Guelfi- Western Australia
Oscar Junker- Vic Metro
Hugh McCluggage- Vic Country
Kobe Mutch- NSW/ACT
Sam Petrevski-Seton- Western Australia
Myles Poholke- Vic Country
Sam Powell-Pepper- Western Australia
Luke Ryan- VFL
Jonty Scharenberg- South Australia
Will Setterfield- NSW/ACT
Daniel Venables- Vic Metro
Josh Williams- Queensland

Medium Forwards

Joshua Begley- Vic Metro
Benjamin Davis- NSW/ACT
Sam Fisher- NSW/ACT
Oliver Florent- Vic Metro
Will Hayward- South Australia
Mitchell Hinge- South Australia
Patrick Lipinski- Vic Metro
Quinton Narkle- Western Australia
Mark O’Connor- International
Brad Scheer- Queensland
Jy Simpkin- Vic Country
Tim Taranto- Vic Metro
Cameron Zurhaar- Western Australia

Tall Forwards/Rucks

Josh Battle- Vic Country
Sean Darcy- Vic Country
Timothy English- Western Australia
Jack Henry- Vic Country
Patrick Kerr- Vic Metro
Max Lynch- NSW/ACT
Todd Marshall- NSW/ACT
Mitchell McCarthy- Vic Country
Tony Olango- NT
Esava Ratugolea- Vic Country
Zachary Sproule- NSW/ACT
Jake Waterman- Western Australia

By the states:

International (1):
NSW/ACT (11):
Northern Territory (3):
Queensland (6):
South Australia (10):
Vic Country (18):
VFL (1):
Vic Metro (19):
Western Australia (12):

Under 18 All Stars game ultimate preview

Allies - Kobe Mutch

AUSTRALIA’S top teenage footballers will take part in a new concept that is aimed to feature the best players from the 2016 draft pool.

Friday’s Under 18 All Stars match will see players divided up into two teams to play against each other in an event that the AFL hope will be in front of a blockbuster crowd at Punt Road Oval following the AFL Grand Final Parade.

The two teams have been named after AFL greats Chris Judd and Michael O’Loughlin and will be a part of the AFL’s changing program for the Grand Final weekend.

The league has made the most of the Grand Final Day public holiday and the movement of the Grand Final parade to the MCG precinct, where the junior talent coming through will be recognised.

Current NAB AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson will coach the Chris Judd teams, while NSW/ACT & Allies coach Tadhg Kennelly will coach the Michael O’Loughlin teams.

The match will be broadcast live on FOX FOOTY from 1.30pm on Friday.


Likely Teams:

The final U18 All Stars teams. ** Subject to late changes.
The final U18 All Stars teams. ** Subject to late changes.

** Will Setterfield‘s replacement is to be confirmed- We believe it is Mitchell Hinge**

With a five day turnaround for a large amount of the players due to the WAFL Colts, SANFL Reserves and TAC Cup Grand Finals over the weekend, there are many sore bodies.

Will Brodie hurt his nose in an incident with an umpire on Sunday and will miss the contest despite training this afternoon. Murray Bushrangers outside midfielder Harry Morrison will replace Brodie.

Will Setterfield was still in a sling on Sunday at the TAC Cup Grand Final and is expected to miss with Mitchell Hinge believed to be taking his place.

Key Defender Griffin Logue is also out for Team Judd, with Dandenong Stingrays defender Bailey Morrish taking his place.

There were also a few injury issues at training with many players on light duties. Sam Petrevski-Seton copped a knock below the knee, which affected his ankle and trained for five minutes only. Petrevski-Seton appears likely to play, but West Coast Father/Son prospect Jake Waterman is in more doubt after failing to train with what appeared to be a groin complaint.


Star Power:

On the outset, Team Judd look the most talented on paper. Featuring Andrew McGrath, Hugh McCluggage and Jack Bowes– all of whom could challenge for the number one draft pick. Up forward, they feature Josh Battle and Todd Marshall, whilst down back Declan Watson and Jack Maibaum will hold down the fort.

Harry Perryman will be a name to watch after being relatively left alone since the Under 18 championships. The GWS academy member has spent the last two months playing for his local club Collingullie-GP, hitting the scoreboard and playing through the midfield.

Tim Taranto and Ben Ainsworth are two others from Team Judd that may feature in the Top 10 come November.

For Team O’Loughlin, Jack Scrimshaw will be one of the stars worth watching. The rebounding defender has a classy left foot and was one of the best players on the ground on Sunday. Despite missing inside midfielder Will Brodie, players such as Dylan Clarke, Jonty Scharenberg and Willem Drew will likely step up in his absence. After a steller game for the Murray Bushrangers on Sunday, Ryan Garthwaite will be a likely opponent on his Bushrangers teammate Todd Marshall.

Up forward Patrick Kerr, Zach Sproule and Jake Waterman will make up their forward line whilst West Australian midfielder Sam Petrevski-Seton will look to perform well to keep his name in the first handful of picks.

Excitement machine Cedric Cox hasn’t been spoken about enough this season and the little known 19-year-old is a big chance for a Top 20 pick on draft night.


Surprise Packets:

South Australian medium forward Will Hayward has jumped out as a surprise inclusion. Hayward kicked a bag of nine goals in the SANFL U18 Preliminary Final for North Adelaide and another good performance on Friday may see him find a spot in the first half of the draft.

DRAFT PROFILE: WILL HAYWARD

Murray Bushrangers ruckman Esava Ratugolea has plenty of X-Factor and leap like no other AFL Draft prospect. Ratugolea continues to show glimpses after an eight goal haul earlier in the season saw him drafted into the Vic Country team late.

DRAFT PROFILE: ESAVA RATUGOLEA

Little known Cameron Zurhaar from East Fremantle is one to watch. The medium forward has kicked averaged 16.6 disposals in the WAFL Colts this year.

Isaac Cumming is flying under the radar and the GWS academy member may find himself as a national draft selection. Cumming was nominated for the National Combine and the smart half back flanker rebounded the ball well in the Under 18 championships.

Willem Drew played two excellent TAC Cup finals games for the North Ballarat Rebels, averaging 23 (13 contested) disposals and seven clearances in the 2016 TAC Cup. The inside midfielders contested ball winning is superb, but does lack some speed around the ground.

Brennan Cox made the All-Australian team after a strong championships down back for South Australia. Cox has played up forward for the Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL but looks likely to start in the defence.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2duh-DJIhU[/embedyt]


Key Matchups:

Willem Drew vs Hugh McCluggage

Teammates at the North Ballarat Rebels, the pair will be opponents in the big clash on Friday. Both represented Vic Country in the Under 18 championships, but McCluggage was more prominant. At TAC Cup level, Drew’s contested ball winning abilities are greater than McCluggage’s- But McCluggage’s work in traffic is elite and is his advantage despite not winning a large chunk of contested ball. McCluggage can also push forward and hit the scoreboard, something that Drew hasn’t showed throughout this season. Drew does lay plenty of tackles and win the clearances, but does lack a touch of pace and class with his skills with him at times just bombing the ball forward off his boot without looking.  

Tim English vs Max Lynch

It looks likely that the first ruck contest of the game will have West Australian tall English and NSW/ACT ruck Lynch. English only featured as the number one ruck in the final championships game, but has an elite leap and his footskills are better than some of the midfielders running around in the game. Despite being skinny in appearance, it makes for an interesting contest against former junior goalkeeper Lynch. Lynch’s form in the latter half of the season was very good for the Bushrangers and the GWS academy member may have pushed himself into a national draft selection. 

Jack Scrimshaw vs Tim Taranto

Sandringham Dragons key players Scrimshaw and Taranto may play on each other. Scrimshaw is a rebounding defender, with a pinpoint pass and was a strong player in the TAC Cup Grand Final. Scrimshaw does have the ability to rack up the clangers with his foot at times and when he’s off- he’s off. Taranto was a consistent performer right throughout the year playing through the midfield and across half forward. A good showing from either, could see them really put their hand up for Top Five players on clubs boards. 

Jack Maibaum vs Patrick Kerr

With Griffin Logue a late out for Team Judd, expect Maibaum to have first crack at strong Vic Metro forward Kerr. Both played together in the Vic Metro winning Under 18 championship team and won All Australia honours with Maibaum’s strength will be the reason he should get first chance at stopping Kerr. Kerr however is a tough match up, with strong hands overhead and one of the fastest forwards over 10m on a lead. Maibaum has played both forward and defence throughout 2016, but averaged the third most spoils in the Under 18 championships.

Ryan Garthwaite vs Todd Marshall

The pair were teammates on Sunday, but loom likely to match up on each other. Garthwaite is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the draft pool, while Marshall has shown some superb glimpses at times. Garthwaite collected 24 disposals on Sunday as one of his teams best performers, whilst Marshall was kept reasonably quiet from Ari Sakeson with just two kicks for two goals in the TAC Cup Grand Final. If Marshall can put in a strong performance that recruiters are wanting, he could keep his name amongst the top ten names. Garthwaite despite an awkward kicking style, does use to ball well more often than not and has done a great job down back this season. 


Predictions

Team Judd on paper looks too strong for Team O’Loughlin. Team Judd’s midfield looks too star studded, despite Tim English likely giving Team O’Loughlin first use at the ball. If Team O’Loughlin’s contested midfield brigade can fire, they could give the star studded Judd side a run for their money.

It would be hard to go past Andrew McGrath for BOG honours, but there are multiple players from either side that are capable of changing a game. 


Details:

Team O’Loughlin v Team Judd
1.30pm, Punt Road Oval
September 30th
Live on FOX FOOTY 1.30pm
Tweets: @afldraftcentral


Matt Balmer’s predicted starting line up:

Possible line ups

Top talent on show on AFL Grand Final weekend

MB - Will Brodie

In a new initiative announced by the AFL, the best Under 17 and Under 18 talent will play games on the Grand Final day long weekend under the eyes of recruiters and fans.

The Under 18 All Stars game will be played at Punt Road Oval at 1.30pm, broadcast on Fox Footy on Grand Final Eve (Friday 30th September). The Under 17 game will be played as a curtain-raiser to the AFL Grand Final beginning from 10am with a live stream on AFL.com.au.

For more information on the initiative click here:

Under 18 squad:

Under 18 squad ALL STARS

Under 17 squad:

Under 17 squad

Finals preview: Sunday’s games

DS - Josh Battle

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

Of all the matches this weekend, the clash I am most looking forward to is the Sandringham/Eastern match. The reason for this is because I believe both sides have what it takes to win the flag, but only one of them will survive the first week of finals.

Sandringham is one of the more complete sides in the competition, with a midfield to die for and enough about them at both ends to kick a winning score while reducing the opposition’s ability to score at the same time. For me, Sandringham’s midfield is star studded with the likes of Will Setterfield, Tim Taranto, Ollie Florent, Jack Scrimshaw and Andrew McGrath all floating through there.

All those players are potentially top 30 picks, which is absurd to think that one club could have that many early selections. But what do they have around the ground?

McGrath often drops back and Taranto goes forward, but other than the two stars they do have a few that can more than stand up when called upon to do so. Ari Sakeson at centre half back is one to watch, while the twin towers of Hayden McLean and Isaac Morrisby at the other end will be keen to assert themselves on the contest. Throw in Ashley Krakauer and the constantly improving Hamish Brayshaw and the Dragons are more than capable forward of centre.

The only problem is, they face one of the few teams that could beat them at full strength.

Eastern Ranges were my tip for the flag at the start of the year, but due to missing players and their other football commitments, rarely field a full strength team, thus finishing eighth. Their midfield is more blue collar than Sandringham’s with Dylan Clarke, Callum Brown and Josh Begley winning plenty of clearances and contested ball. Jordan Gallucci is the outside run the Ranges need to win the match, while Adam Cerra has plenty of run and talent.

Their forward line is as strong as any with bottom-agers Sam Hayes, Joel Garner and Jaidyn Stephenson all impressive players. In defence, Jack Maibaum is likely to limit the influence of the Dragons’ key defenders and he is someone who has come on in leaps and bounds the last 12 months.


 

What is the key to winning the match?

With the both sets of forwards lines likely to get on top of their opposition defences, I feel the midfield will be where the game is won. It might seem obvious, but the team that can get it to its forwards quicker will provide them with more chances to kick bags. Sandringham is probably able to run it out of defence a little easier so Eastern has its work cut out to get it right.

Who could be the difference for each side?

It is hard to look past Andrew McGrath for the Dragons. Clearly a top five pick, he has pace to burn, good skills and breaks lines. If he was six centimetres taller he would be guaranteed top two pick. If he gets off the chain, it is hard to see Sandringham losing.

For Eastern, Jordan Gallucci is the man to watch. In his bottom-age year he was a beautiful kick, but this year he has not hurt opposition sides by foot like he used to, so hopefully finals will bring the best out of him.

What does Sandringham need to do to win?

Sandringham will need to just win the football at the stoppages. They are ahead of Eastern for pace and outside skill, but need to win the majority of clearances, because if Eastern get it forward too often, the Dragons could be in trouble.

What does Eastern need to do to win?

Eastern must get first use of the pill in the middle. They might not have the outside skill Sandringham have, but they have the inside muscle to dominate the contested ball. They simply must do it and get the ball forward as fast as they can to win it.

Who will win?

Sandringham will go in favourites and I think they will get the job done in a very close match. We know Eastern can really dominate on their day and I feel this could end up a shoot-out with their respective forward lines.

Tip: Sandringham by 8



Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers

It is always exciting when two premiership contenders clash and that is exactly what will happen on Sunday afternoon when the Stingrays face the Murray Bushrangers at Ikon Park. The Stingrays have finished on top of the TAC Cup ladder and will rightfully head in as favourites, but the Bushrangers have enough firepower, particular at either end to get the job done.

Dandenong’s defence is what sets it apart from other sides. The Stingrays have the likes of Reece Piper, Bailey Morrish, Oscar Clavarino and Hunter Clark, all of whom are expected to be drafted in the next 18 months. Throw in Mason DeWit and Luke Dalmau who are also possible chances and the defence is a rock solid back six.

Through the midfield Myles Poholke and Sam Fowler and talented players who can drift forward and kick goals, with Fowler more of a forward/mid, with Poholke the opposite. Over-ager Tom Jok will be keen to show how he’s improved over the season, while Lachlan Gill-Renouf also finds plenty of the football through the middle. Up forward, Josh Battle is the most watched player, as a strong contested grab and reliable set shot, the smart key forward will be a barometer for the Stingrays inside 50. Tom De Koning is a bottom-ager, but already he has shown he is more than capable of kicking a bag on his day, while Dan Allsop and Aaron Darling cannot be allowed too much space.

The battle in the ruck will be interesting when Dylan Atkins takes on the athletic Esava Ratugolea. Ratugolea will look to give the Bushrangers midfielders first hands, with Will Brodie sure to be there at the coal face. The ever reliable top five pick will put in a strong performance, in a midfield with big ball winners who can drift forward and impact the scoreboard such as James Cousins, Louis Pinnuck and Isaac Wallace.

Murray also has a formidable forward line with top 10 pick Todd Marshall standing at centre half forward, while Max Lynch will rotate between full forward and the ruck. Trent McMullan could become an option if the Stingrays get on top of the key tall timber, while Lachlan Tiziani and Charlie Spargo will make the most of their opportunities.

Up the other end, Zach Sproule will have a tough job containing Battle, while Harry Morrison and Ryan Garthwaite will be the guys that players look to get the ball into the hands of coming off half-back. Overall, the Bushrangers have a consistent line-up across the park.


 

What is the key to winning the match?

Winning the one-on-one battles will be the difference in this game. There are so many good one-on-one matchups, beginning with Atkins and Ratugolea in the ruck, Poholke and Brodie in the middle, Marshall/Lynch and Clavarino/Dalmau, Battle and Sproule and Piper and Tiziani. The side that wins the most one-on-ones in these key duels will win. They are all talented players who can make the difference for their respective sides and that is what will be telling in this match.

Who could be the difference for each side?

Josh Battle is a barometer up forward for the Stingrays, and if he can get off the chain against Sproule, then he could cause Murray some real headaches in the match.

For Murray, Will Brodie is the star of the show and he will need to assert his authority on the contest and beat Poholke at the coal face to ensure his team gets plenty of supply up forward.

What does Dandenong need to do to win?

Dandenong needs to play smart football, because both teams’ defences are sound, but the Murray forward line is very dangerous. The Stingrays need to play an entertaining, fast brand of football to keep the Bushrangers on edge, but be prepared for the counter attack that Murray could produce, with several long kicks in the back half who can really roost the ball over a zone defence.

What does Murray need to do to win?

Murray must make the most of their inside 50s. Dandenong’s defence is the best of the finals teams and the reason why they have finished on top of the ladder. Murray cannot afford to just bomb the ball in, because of how well the Stingrays’ back six operates. The Bushrangers will need to lower their eyes and hit up targets with precision.

Who will win?

I have no idea. That was brutally refreshing wasn’t it? But in all seriousness, you look at this clash and think on one hand, Murray have some of the best tall timber in the league and a strong inside midfield, but you look at Dandenong and think they have the best defence and are capable of stopping the Bushrangers’ forwards. Based on recent form, I will go for Dandenong in an absolute thriller.

Tip: Dandenong by 1.

2016 TAC Cup Finals preview

IMG_8821

1st Dandenong Stingrays

Dandenong Stingrays are arguably the most consistent team across the board, without a distinct strength, but very few weaknesses.

They have talented players in the defence, through the middle and up forward, and work well as a cohesive unit, particularly at Shepley Oval.

Their top prospect for this year’s draft is Josh Battle, a key forward who is the smartest tall in the draft, and an accurate set shot for goal.

Roving around his feet is Sam Fowler, a dangerous goal sneak who has gained more midfield minutes lately and is adding an extra string to his bow.

Chuck in bottom-ager Tom De Koning and they have more than enough targets up forward that can kick a big score.

In the midfield, Myles Poholke is the man to watch, with plenty of eyes set to be on him this finals series.

An inside midfielder who can impact the scoreboard, Poholke is in great form and primed for a big finals series.

Joining him in the middle are over-agers Thomas Glen and Tom Jok, both of whom can win the footy, with Glen a consistent ball winner, while Jok has the evasion to do the unthinkable.

Looking down back, Bailey Morrish and Reece Piper are the players chosen to move the ball in transition and are among a list of names on recruiter’s lists given their impressive seasons.

Dandenong Stingrays fans can also enjoy some of the country’s most talented bottom-agers with Hunter Clark, Aaron Darling, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Oscar Clavarino named in the Level Two AFL Academy squad with De Koning.

In terms of premiership credentials, in the discussion of “contender or pretender”, I rate Dandenong third overall behind the Bushrangers and Dragons when teams are at full strength and therefore are truly a “contender”.

The aspect I like most about Dandenong is they do not rely on their top-age talent, nor do they have a star they need to rely on.

They have players across the ground that can play their role and in finals this is often what can get the job done.

I would be very surprised not to see them featuring in at least the preliminary finals this year.

Overall, I think they have a solid chance at taking out the premiership, but will be tested in the first final to see exactly where they are at in 2016.A


2nd Geelong Falcons

Geelong Falcons are a perennial finals team that seem to make top four before falling ahead of the big dance.

In 2013, their star studded team filled with would-be AFL players Lewis Taylor, Paddy McCartin, Hugh Goddard, Jackson Nelson, Darcy Lang and Darcy Gardiner was unable to get the job done.

Since then they have continually pushed teams throughout the year, but travel, or ultimately the fresher metropolitan teams have caught up with them.

In 2016, Geelong have been the pace setters from the get-go and until last round held pole position for most of the season.

After losing AIS Academy member and talented running defender Alex Witherden for the year early, the Falcons have made do since and have racked up the victories.

The biggest query on them is the fact that they lacked Vic Country representatives for the most part and therefore were close to full-strength beating understrength sides.

However, the experience as a cohesive unit should not be understated, with a number of players to watch in the finals series.

James Worpel is one name that will be on every recruiter’s list for the 2017 draft.

Worpel was recently added to the AFL Academy Level Two squad after missing selection the year before.

The rugged inside midfielder has a fearless approach to the way he plays his football and he has fantastic goal sense as well.

James Henry is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on, with the tall midfielder a smooth mover with a booming kick.

To me he seems like a barometer and when he is up and going, so is the rest of the side.

He is surrounded in the midfield by reliable, consistent midfielders including Max Augerinos, Mitch Diamond, Jack Blood and Cassidy Parish.

With two strong contested marks up forward in Zachary Zdybel and Brett Blair, and the monster that is Sean Darcy in the middle, Geelong’s best chance of winning the premiership in 2016 is possession football.

They keep hold of it and give their forwards a chance of marking it and they will go a long way to winning the game.

Other names draft watchers should look out for are Patrick Killen, Harry Benson and Lockey McCartney, all of whom can impact on their day.

In terms of whether they could win it, I do feel a lot would need to go their way.

Firstly stay injury free and then play possession football to stop stronger opposition midfields dominating the game and putting their defence under siege.

The Falcons’ forward line and run are amongst their strengths, backing themselves to take the game on and get it forward.

If they can give their forwards opportunities they will be a good chance, but they will need to be at their best against strong first-choice midfields, particularly in the top five sides.


3rd North Ballarat Rebels

North Ballarat Rebels are a side that at full strength have the capability to beat anyone.

While they do not have the star key position posts of other sides, they have a shared contribution from players around the field that chip in and hit the scoreboard.

Their midfield is first class with the likes of possible number one pick Hugh McCluggage, inside bull Willem Drew and the underrated Callan Wellings.

With Lloyd Meek winning the hitouts more often than not, the midfielders often get first use.

With Jarrod Korewha, Jarrod Berry and Cedric Cox stationed at half-back, the Rebels also have plenty of run coming out of the defensive 50.

Berry can move forward and have an impact, while Tom Williamson can be fitted in just about anywhere and is a smooth mover with a bit of toe.

Heading forward, Shannon Beks is the most likely prospect to kick a bag of goals, however he has struggled with inconsistency at times.

Rotating with the likes of Meek and Todd Lawrence in the ruck, Beks is strong overhead and a solid set shot, he just has to get to the right positions more often.

Another underrated player at the Rebels is Sam White, who can play at either end, starting as a key defender, but has spent time up forward lately.

He can take a grab, earn a free and kick goals, so could be a secret weapon in the finals series.

The big question is how far can the Rebels go?

I think matching up one-on-one against any side, they can beat them, it will be whether or not they get it done on the day.

I rate the Rebels as the fourth best side, however they are not far off the Stingrays in third.

With a well-balanced midfield, a hard working forward line and a defence that takes the game on, you can never discount the Rebels and they would have to be considered in contention for the premiership.


4th Murray Bushrangers

Murray Bushrangers are the team I am most looking forward to watching in the 2016 finals series.

They have an honest, hard-working ball-winning midfield and a forward line to die for.

I have no qualms placing them as my favourite for the flag, simply because they have so much inside grunt that just win the ball and get it forward – simple football.

The one question mark I have is over their class compared to other sides, because while they have a blue collar midfield, they might lack those couple of classy runners who slice up oppositions with their foot skills.

Led by potential number one draft pick Will Brodie, the Bushrangers have a two-way running midfield which includes James Cousins and Fletcher Carroll.

Up forward, the Bushrangers have a wealth of options with likely top 10 pick Todd Marshall, Esava Ratugolea, Trent McMullanZachary Sproule and Max Lynch all able to take a contested mark inside 50.

Of late, McMullan and Lynch have been sharing the ruck duties, while Sproule has played higher up the ground and as a key defender, making Marshall and Ratugolea the two key targets inside 50.

Their defence should not be underrated either with the likes of Ryan Garthwaite and Harry Morrison, both of whom are solid users of the ball, but have not been able to sustain a run on the park because of injuries.

One of the most impressive aspects about the Bushrangers is they have been able to secure a top four spot without arguably the best small forward in the competition who suffered a season ending injury just one match in – Jy Simpkin.

The Bushrangers arguably have the most draftable talent of any TAC Cup club, with many coming under Greater Western Sydney’s Academy program.

No less than eight Bushrangers could find homes in November’s draft, and they could head onto AFL lists on the back of a TAC Cup premiership.

However like every year, it will come down to whether the travelling catches up to them.

They should make it through to a preliminary final, but face a fresh metropolitan team and that is where it goes pearshaped for the country sides.

Murray has their best list when it featured the likes of Steele Sidebottom and Tom Rockliff in 2008, as they stormed to the TAC Cup premiership.

If they have enough run in the legs and sustain their performance for the next four weeks, they could very well break the metropolitan team’s stranglehold over the title.


5th Sandringham Dragons 

The Sandringham Dragons are aguably one of the favourites to take out the 2016 TAC Cup title. Despite dropping out of the four, Oakleigh showed last year that the top four isn’t a prerequisite for success- especially given all eight clubs had the bye over last weekend.

Boasting a midfield with names such as Andrew McGrath, Will Setterfield, Tim Taranto and Oliver Florent, expect Sandringham to get their hands on the football.

McGrath could well warrent a Top five pick come November and has shown twice this year he can win his own football collecting over 40 disposals against Gippsland and Bendigo.

Setterfield made a successful return from injury against Bendigo, playing one of his best games for the season in the midfield.

Across half back, Ari Sakeson and Jack Scrimshaw have shown some good agility getting round their opposition and will be crucial for the Dragons to rebound the ball out of defence.

The Dragons will look to get the ball in Scrimshaw’s hands to catapult them forward and their opponents will need to watch Scrimshaw carefully in an attempt to keep him out of the play.

Inside 50, Sandringham have relied on bottom age talls Hayden McLean and Isaac Morrisby.

Both talls have shown good signs this season, being apart of the Vic Metro U17 Futures squads throughout the year. You could make a case that McLean will be in the first handful of talls for the 2017 draft pool.

Both are sound overhead and are strong enough to out muscle their opponents.

Vic Metro ruckman Lachlan Filipovic‘s hitout numbers have been good in the ruck and he will be crucial for the Dragons to get first use of the ball.

Filipovic is relatively new to football and has mounted a case that should see him earn a rookie spot come November 28.

For me, I think the Dragons are the best Metro side that made it through the finals. They will have to do it the hard way and win four games to be crowned as premiers, but their midfield is the best in the competition and if they can go in and win the hard stuff they’ll be tough to beat.

Missing finals in 2015 was a kick in the guts for Sandringham and they won’t want to let this opportunity slip at glory. If their defence can hold up against Eastern’s strong forwards, they shouldn’t have any issues accounting for the elimination final.


6th Oakleigh Chargers 

Can they pull off a three peat? Oakleigh have won back-to-back finals and have well & truly been the benchmark over the last few seasons. This year they haven’t been able to gel it all together, with injuries, Vic Metro and school commitments meaning they haven’t had their Best 23 on the park each week.

Bottom age midfielder Jack Higgins has been crucial on the inside for the Chargers when he hasn’t been away playing school football. Higgins has averaged 22 disposals and two goals throughout the season and looms as a first round pick in 2017.

19-year-olds Campbell Lane and Lachlan Walker have been superb throughout the season, able to find the footy without any issues. Both are the only two Chargers to have averaged over 25 disposals, having played 27 games between them.

Up forward Oakleigh will be looking to Patrick Kerr to hit the scoreboard. Kerr booted three in their elimination final last year and if he can repeat that effort again throughout the finals they should be able to progress to the second week.

Kerr is a tough opponent on the lead and has worked on his cleanliness at ground level. Josh Daicos has the potential to be damaging inside 50 and may provide the spark they need to get through the first final.

Toby Wooller has also been prominent inside 50 and will be another target the Chargers will look for after he dominated APS school football for Scotch College.

Swingman Nick Larkey will move between ends and has been known to float forward late in games and boot goals.

Medium defenders Jordan Ridley and Taylin Duman both had a taste of Vic Metro football in June and will be two names that could really push themselves up draft orders should they play well.

Oakleigh may not have had the best year- But they did knock off Sandringham Dragons a few weeks ago and if they produce an effort similar to that they could be hard to stop.


7th Calder Cannons

There is no denying the Cannons are a hard team to read.

They have benefited from having less state representatives from other teams and just purely won the games they had to win in order to make finals.

There are a few players in the line-up that could get called up on draft day, but the side is not the powerhouse of a couple of seasons ago.

Looking through the list, the likes of Hayden Blythe and Jackson McDonald jump out through the defence and midfield, standing up despite not winning a lot of the ball.

Defensively they match up well, but offensively they can find themselves exposed against the top teams.

Tom Burnside is a player that I really enjoy watching when he is on his game.

A athletic tall that breezes around the field, he takes marks, kicks goals or can work defensively to shut out an opposition tall.

More importantly he can play a lanky midfielder, so there is scope there for him to improve at the top level.

It is hard to talk about the Cannons without mentioning leading goal kicker Karl Brown.

A lot of draft fans look and see he kicks bags most weeks but is never in talks about his draft ability.

I think the biggest knock on him is his size – medium height – and the fact he needs to do more when not in possession of the ball.

Brown could be a contributing factor in the finals series, but he will often beat opponents on experience or use his smarts to win the footy.

Up the other end there is Zac Guthrie who is a very strong rebounding defender with a bit of toe.

He looks pretty impressive tucking the ball under his arm, but his kicking needs work.

In 2016, Calder has a lot of half-chances for draftees, which in my terms are players that have some potential, but their deficiencies are also pretty clear.

It would not surprise me to see a lot of Cannons taken in the rookie draft as opposed to the National Draft just due to this fact.

As for the finals series, it is hard to see them getting past the country teams or full-strength metropolitan teams.

I could envision them challenging Oakleigh or Geelong on their day, but the depth that has got them this far will need to stand up in finals against stronger top-end talent.

But, I am always one for the underdog and if they can click as a group in September, as they say, you have to be in it to win it, and the Cannons are in it.


8th Eastern Ranges 

Eastern Ranges are the wildcard in the pack, with a hard working midfield and an incredibly strong forward line.

The Ranges have finished eighth but they are far from making up the numbers, with many of their top talents missing through the year due to school football and state commitments.

Their midfield comprises of Dylan Clarke, Callum Brown, Josh Begley and Jordan Gallucci, all of whom can influence a game.

The forward line is a bottom-age line-up to die for with the lines of Joel Garner, Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson all expected to be high picks in 2017.

In defence, the likes of All-Australian full back Jack Maibaum lead the charge with the ever reliable Harrison Nolan and Josh Hannon there for support.

In the past, sides with strong forward lines have got the job done, and Eastern, along with Oakleigh, have certainly got that.

What will be interesting is whether the Ranges’ blue collar midfield will have enough outside skill under pressure to deliver to targets up forward.

There is no doubting their inside capabilities are as good as the likes of North Ballarat and Sandringham, if not better, yet both those sides have outside pace and plenty of it.

If they can get the ball in the hands of bottom-ager Adam Cerra, then he could really influence the game as he did as a 16 year-old in last year’s finals series.

For me, Eastern Ranges are a genuine contender if they can get past Sandringham who is one of the premiership favourites.

As a whole, Eastern have a well balanced team and I think the blow torch will be on the midfield this September to get first hands to it, because if they can, they are every chance of winning the flag.

They have recent success in finals, where they won the premiership back in 2013, with Tom Boyd booting four goals in the grand final as the Ranges obliterated the Dandenong Stingrays.

This year will be tougher, but they have the cattle on the park to get there, it will just be a case of if they can put it together on the day.

Final hurdle for finals-bound clubs

DS - Sam Fowler
Dandenong Stingrays small Sam Fowler against NSW/ACT in the 2016 TAC Cup.

FIVE of the six TAC Cup games remaining in the home and away season will have bearing on the finals order.

As it stands the four country teams will earn the double chance and the four metropolitan teams will face off in the elimination rounds.

But, that can change with a couple of results, as could the actual fixtures.

The top five teams are locked into those top five positions, while the sixth to eighth teams will definitely play an elimination final in the first week.

The first game on Saturday takes place at RAMS Arena with the finals-bound Cannons looking to capitalise against the Western Jets.

The Cannons’ percentage is well below that of the Ranges or Chargers, so victory is needed to have any chance of leapfrogging those teams into sixth.

However should one or both of those teams cause upsets, then the Cannons would remain in eighth and a match-up against the Rebels or Dragons would loom.

For the Cannons, they rely on their group as a collective with less top-end talent than other sides, they have a hard working midfield that digs deep defensively and tries to undo the opposition with their ball movement.

With Hayden Blythe, Jackson McDonald and Zach Guthrie among the names to watch, the Cannons might not be a premiership contender, but they have the capability to cause an upset on their day.

For Western Jets, they have had a shaky end to the season, but almost all was forgotten with a sterling win over the Bendigo Pioneers last weekend.

The Jets are missing their star Daniel Venables, while Brodie Romensky and Oscar Junker are a couple of players that would be on recruiters lists.

 

The Saturday game likely to shape the eight the most will be the North Ballarat Rebels versus Eastern Ranges.

If the Rebels win, then the top four is sealed regardless of Sundays results, however if the Ranges get up, then the door is left ajar for the Sandringham Dragons who are hot favourites to knock off the Bendigo Pioneers.

North Ballarat has a host of talented players, led by Hugh McCluggage, Cedric Cox, Jarrod Berry and Willem Drew in the midfield.

North Ballarat Rebels midfielder Hugh McCluggage in action against Calder Cannons in the 2016 TAC Cup.
North Ballarat Rebels midfielder Hugh McCluggage in action against Calder Cannons in the 2016 TAC Cup.

Throw in capable key position players and crafty smaller players, the Rebels should go in favourites, especially at home.

But at full strength, Eastern will certainly consider themselves a chance given their long list of All-Australians, including Dylan Clarke, Jack Maibaum, Callum Brown and Sam Hayes who are likely to have a say on how far the Ranges go in September.

Another benefit for the Ranges if they win is they will not have to face the Dragons or in fact Rebels in the elimination final, rather taking on either the Calder Cannons or Oakleigh Charges.

The game that impacts both the top four and bottom four of the eight is Oakleigh Chargers versus Murray Bushrangers.

Murray has enough percentage on Sandringham to ensure a top four place regardless of the result, however could slip to fourth if North Ballarat defeats Eastern.

For the Bushrangers, there is no shortage of stars with Todd Marshall, Will Brodie, Zachary Sproule and Ryan Garthwaite among a host of draftable players, and the league’s most northern side has achieved a double chance without the injured Jy Simpkin.

Murray Bushrangers tall Todd Marshall in action for Allies in the Under 18 Championships.
Murray Bushrangers tall Todd Marshall in action for Allies in the Under 18 Championships.

Oakleigh is gunning for its third consecutive flag and fourth in five years when it enters the finals series this year.

It won the 2015 premiership from sixth and is still in with a chance to finish there again.

Should they win, the Chargers will not finish lower than seventh and could well steal sixth if the Ranges lose.

The Chargers have a lot of tall prospects worth keeping an eye on including Patrick KerrJordan Ridley and Nick Larkey, while Sam McLarty is still out injured. Other players such as Taylin Duman and Lachlan Walker have also attracted interest from recruiters.

While eyes will be on most of the games this round, the one game that is unlikely to have any bearing other than pride is the Northern Knights hosting the Gippsland Power.

Both teams have improved as the season has progressed, but neither side will challenge for finals.

The winner is likely to avoid the wooden spoon, while the loser could collect it depending on other results.

Northern have a number of players that have caught the eye this season including Matthew Signorello, Luke Bunker, Lachlan Murphy and Patrick Lipinski.

For the Power, Ben Ainsworth is the leading hope and likely first round prospect, while Sean Masterson is another that earned a state combine invitation.

The first game on the card for Sunday will be the Sandringham Dragons taking on the Bendigo Pioneers.

Both sides had poor losses last week and the Pioneers will be keen to turn it around in their final home and away game.

The Dragons have more on the line however and will need victory for a top four spot.

Sandringham has the advantage of knowing its equation heading into the match with the Rebels and Ranges facing off the day before.

The only other way the Dragons could secure a top four spot is with a 14 per cent differential with the Bushrangers, meaning that not only would Sandringham need a thumping win, but Murray would need to be belted by the Chargers for the Bushrangers to drop out of the four.

Sandringham is the slickest of all teams with Andrew McGrath, Tim Taranto and Oliver Florent among the smoothest movers in the draft crop, while Jack Scrimshaw has attracted a lot of interest from recruiters after missing most of the year through injury.

For the Pioneers, Joe Atley will be the key player to watch, while Kobe Mutch yet again misses as does Kayle Kirby who is playing Richmond VFL.

Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Joe Atley in action for Vic Country in the 2016 Under 18 Championships.
Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Joe Atley in action for Vic Country in the 2016 Under 18 Championships.

It is hard to see the Pioneers really challenging the Dragons given the Dragons’ top-end talent, but they have the power to cause an upset if they are on their game.

The final match of the round is more about determining top spot with Geelong Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays facing off at Simonds Stadium.

Both will finish first and second, it will be a simple equation with the winner claiming the minor premiership.

One side will take on Murray, while the other will meet either the North Ballarat or Sandringham.

The Falcons belted Calder last week and hit the form they are capable of ahead of finals.

Missing Alex Witherden, at least for now, the Falcons have relied on the likes of Jack Henry, Jack Blood, Max Augerinos and Paddy Dowling among others to keep their season running smoothly.

For Dandenong Stingrays, it has a wide variety of draftable players, with Josh Battle, Reece Piper, Sam Fowler and Myles Poholke just to name a few.

If the Stingrays get on top and all their players fire, they are right up there in contention for the flag.

With a round to play, there is still plenty on the line for the TAC Cup clubs.

For the finalists, there will be a week off before finals with the four bottom teams playing at Ikon Park on August 27.

All-Stars picked for AFL Draft Central mock match

Allies - Todd Marshall

EVERY year as the AFL season comes to a close, potential future stars names are raised as to which players can help put clubs on the path to a premiership. But where do these players fit in a 22?

Yesterday, the AFL announced that the very best Under 18s talent will play off against each other at Punt Rd End on Grand Final Eve.

The two teams will be picked by the AFL and will be named after AFL legends Chris Judd and Michael O’Loughlin.

TOP TEENAGE TALENT ON SHOW FOR AFL’S BIGGEST WEEKEND

AFL Draft Central’s Matt Balmer & Peter Williams have taken the role as selectors and picked their very own teams.

Note: Only Under 18 players were considered, meaning that no 19-year-olds or mature agers feature in the pairs squad of 25 players.

Players such as Jy Simpkin & Alex Witherden were also not considered due to injury.

Selection order:

Pick 1: Peter Williams (PW)
Todd Marshall
Key Position Forward (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
08/10/1998 | 198cm | 87kg

While I do not think Marshall will go pick one in the National AFL Draft, when starting from scratch you always pick a big man over a small man, and Marshall is the best big man in the draft. A key forward who leaps at the ball taking big marks and kicking clutch goals, he is the man you want standing at full-forward in a best 22 competition.

Pick 2: Matt Balmer (MB)
Hugh McCluggage
Balanced Midfielder (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
03/03/1998 | 185cm | 75kg

It’s hard to turn down arguably the best player in the draft pool with my first pick. McCluggage applies like Scott Pendlebury in traffic, making everything appear in slow motion. Also uses his quick hands or his right boot to clear the ball from contest ball situations. He’s a man I couldn’t turn down with my first pick and is right in the mix for pick one overall in the National AFL Draft.

Pick 3: MB
Jack Bowes
Balanced Midfielder (Cairns/Queensland)
26/01/1998 | 187cm | 78kg

Jack Bowes is only narrowly behind McCluggage in my view as the best player in the draft pool. A silky smooth midfielder by trade, he moves well through traffic and doesn’t waste too many of his disposals. Also hitting the scoreboard recently for Gold Coast in the NEAFL.

Pick 4: PW
Andrew McGrath
Small Defender/Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
02/06/1998 | 179cm | 75kg

I pride my team on two things: speed and footskills and Andrew McGrath has both. A talented midfielder who has primarily played as a half-back rebounding defender, McGrath is an excitement machine who just makes things happen. While he is sub-180cm, he makes up for it with his disposal and ability to burn opponents.

Pick 5; PW
Harry Perryman
Outside Midfielder (Collingullie-GP/NSW-ACT)
19/12/1998 | 184cm | 75kg

If foot skills are a premium, Perryman is a player that delivers in spades. Not a huge ball winner compared to other top 10 picks, Perryman rarely wastes a disposal and just glides around, making the right decisions more often than not.

Pick 6: MB
Jack Scrimshaw
General Defender (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
04/09/1998 | 193cm | 80kg

A hybrid defender who will fit in well across the half back flank. Nice long left boot and has the ability to push further up the ground on the wing. His disposal efficiency is great and makes good decisions, so far he appears to be over his injury issues which plagued him earlier in the season.

Pick 7: MB
Patrick Kerr
Key Position Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
31/07/1998 | 194cm | 93kg

In my eyes, the second best key forward behind Todd Marshall. I’m a big fan of Kerr and when he’s on, he’s hard to stop. Kerr speaks extremely well and he’ll be leading the forward line for my side. His strong overhead mark and speed over 10 metres makes him hard to stop one-on-one.

Pick 8: PW
Will Brodie
Inside Midfielder (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
23/08/1998 | 189cm | 82kg

To pick up Will Brodie at pick eight is daylight robbery. Brodie is in contention for the number one pick and is the clear standout inside midfielder. At 189cm and 82kg, he is ready made to play round one if needed. An absolute bull, he is a steal here and is very welcome to be the leader in the midfield.

Pick 9: PW
Harrison Macreadie
Key Position Defender (Henty/NSW-ACT)
11/04/1998 | 196cm | 89kg

Harrison Macreadie has had a quieter back-half of the year and certainly in the National Championships, but he is all class. At 196cm, he is athletic, a strong mark and versatile around the ground. He could play on a wing if required, but he will line-up for my team at centre half-back making it a “delicious” half-back line filled with precise kickers.

Pick 10: MB
Sam Petrevski-Seton
Balanced Midfielder (Claremont/Western Australia)
19/02/1998 | 181cm | 76kg

Touted as a possible number one draft pick earlier in the season, I’m extremely pleased to pick Petrevski-Seton here. He’s comfortable to turn on either sides of his body to dispose of the ball and has a touch of x-factor about him. Ball winning numbers have been strong since returning to the WAFL.

Pick 11: MB
Tim Taranto
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
28/01/1998 | 186cm | 82kg

The second St Kevin’s College lad in my side. Taranto hasn’t put a foot wrong in the last two months and continues to improve as the year goes on. He’s very good in traffic, aided from a basketball background and can hit the scoreboard when needed. A great overhead mark also helps him win one-on-one and he’s one player that I’m happy is in my side.

Pick 12: PW
Griffin Logue
Key Position Defender (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
13/04/1998 | 193cm | 92kg

There are not too many prime key defenders in this draft, and I have snared the top two. Logue is smaller than Macreadie, but good one-on-one and is more of that intercept mark, lockdown KPD rather than the creative Macreadie type. In saying that, he impressed at the National Championships and could be moulded into a number of different defensive roles at AFL level.

Pick 13: PW
Josh Battle
Key Position Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
01/09/1998 | 192cm | 90kg

There’s no secret I’m a Josh Battle fan and he just adds a point of difference to any forward line. While he will not become a number one forward at AFL level, he is strong overhead, a super high footy IQ and a reliable set shot. In my opinion the second best tall forward behind Marshall, handing my team the two best KPF and two best KPD.

Pick 14: MB
Ben Ainsworth
Small Forward (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
10/02/1998 | 179cm | 74kg

Every side needs a crafty small forward and that’s exactly what Ben Ainsworth can be. A great overhead mark for his size and can change the game in a blink of an eye. Also has the ability to push into the midfield, but will prove his most valuable inside 50 where he’s a tough match up for any opponent.

Pick 15: MB
Josh Rotham
Medium Defender (West Perth/Western Australia)
25/02/1998 | 192cm | 79kg

Having missed out on arguably the two best tall defenders (Logue & Macreadie) we’ll take Josh Rotham in the back pocket. Rotham can play both tall and small, but looks most at home rebounding the ball out of defence. Did play as a tall in defence against VFL sides earlier in the year but will fit in well in defence.

Pick 16: PW
Alex Villis
Outside Midfielder (Norwood/South Australia)
20/08/1998 | 182cm | 70kg

Footskills and speed. I’ve said it earlier and I’ll say it again. Villis has both and is the best South Australian in the draft crop. With most of the other South Australian midfielders working on the inside, Villis finds space and chops teams up when going forward. Fantastic user of the ball and will be deadly on my wing.

Pick 17: PW
Will Setterfield
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/NSW-ACT)
05/02/1998 | 190cm | 79kg

With so many talented inside midfielders in this draft, I deliberately left my second inside mid until now. Having committed daylight robbery with Brodie at pick eight, Setterfield is a very good pick up at 17. A big lad, Setterfield will win the hard ball and is a solid user of the footy too.

Pick 18: MB
Zachary Sproule
Key Position Forward (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
12/05/1998 | 197cm | 84kg

Happy to partner Pat Kerr with Zach Sproule inside 50. Sproule plays in the Nick Riewoldt mould getting up the ground on long leads and will test his opposite number as to whether they can go the distance around the ground. A large chunk of his marks are up the ground, but has enough tricks inside 50 to hit the scoreboard when he hasn’t worked up the ground.

Pick 19: MB
Brad Scheer
Inside Midfielder (Palm Beach/Queensland)
31/08/1998 | 184cm | 83kg

Strong hardnosed inside midfielder will slot into a midfield well that already boasts names such as McCluggage and Bowes. Scheer is a good clearance winner and shoud be able to help the ball move forward. His numbers of late in the NEAFL have been outstanding.

Pick 20: PW
Oliver Florent
Balanced Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
22/07/1998 | 183cm | 74kg

Arguably the last of the top 25 outside midfielders, Florent is another classy ball user who can win his own ball too. A medium midfielder, Florent does not win a ton of the ball like his teammates, but uses it well and makes the right decisions by hand or foot.

Pick 21: PW
Jordan Gallucci
Medium Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
04/05/1998 | 183cm | 75kg

Jordan Gallucci was probably my favourite player coming into this year to watch, but he has been below his standards albeit for a game or two. I’m tipping he will bounce back for the finals and hopefully find his deadly kicking game again, something that has unfortunately disappeared in his top-age year. A back pocket for my side.

Pick 22: MB
Sam Walker
Medium Defender (Glenelg/South Australia)
16/03/1998 | 187cm | 80kg

Rebounding defender who will join Scrimshaw as the second left footer off half back for my team. A good ball user, Walker hits targets at will. Could be the game where he really pushes his name up rankings.

Pick 23: MB
Jack Maibaum
Key Position Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/03/1998 | 193cm | 90kg

All-Australian defender slots in at Centre Half Back for my side. A true shut down defender who was a strong performer for Vic Metro in the Under 18 Championships. Solid in one-on-one contests and one that probably hasn’t got enough credits for his season.

Pick 24: PW
Daniel Venables
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
19/11/1998 | 186cm | 81kg

Daniel Venables is a tough inside midfielder who spends more time forward than most others in this crop. He hits the scoreboard consistently and is strong overhead. Had a few niggling injuries earlier in the year, but will rotate through the midfield in my team.

Pick 25: PW
Kobe Mutch
Balanced Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)
18/03/1998 | 184cm | 79kg

Kobe Mutch is a huge ball winner who has tasted a fair bit of NEAFL action lately and therefore missed out on games in the TAC Cup. A midfielder who can play inside or out, he will work well with the other midfielders on my team, primarily playing an inside role, shoveling it out to the silky outside players.

Pick 26: MB
Declan Watson
Key Position Defender (Aspley/Queensland)
17/09/1998 | 194cm | 80kg

Two Key Defenders in two picks. I’m looking for Watson to match up on Todd Marshall. A good kick for a player his size and was entrusted with the kick out duties for Queensland in the Division Two championships earlier in the season. My highest rated Brisbane Lions academy member, one to watch.

Pick 27: MB
Jonty Scharenberg
Inside Midfielder (Glenelg/South Australia)
28/08/1998 | 186cm | 80kg

Elite clearance player and an elite tackler according to Champion Data statistics. His clean hands is a real strength at the stoppages and can clear the ball well through those means. Not blessed with elite pace but will find the ball at Under 18 level.

Pick 28: PW
Jacob Allison
Utility (Aspley/Queensland)
16/04/1998 | 194cm | 79kg

It is hard to believe this bloke is a midfielder. At 194cm, he is taller than two of my key position players, but Jacob Allison is the new prototype midfielder. A big bodied mid who primarily plays outside similar to Marcus Bontempelli. Once he develops an inside game further he will be a beast.

Pick 29: PW
Jarrod Berry
Medium Defender (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
05/02/1998 | 191cm | 80kg

We are getting to the stage of the draft where it comes down to preferences and I do not mind Jarrod Berry. He could tighten up his foot skills a little, but he has strong leadership, good in the air and pretty mobile, there is plenty to work with in the 191cm medium defender. Can also play midfield or forward too which helps.

Pick 30: MB
Shai Bolton
Outside Midfielder (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
08/12/1998 | 177cm | 67kg

If you’re looking for some spark in your side, Shai Bolton is your man. Elite speed and agility means he can get around his opponents at will. Needs to work on his consistency, but he can flash in a game and change it with a snap of the fingers.

Pick 31: MB
Ryan Garthwaite
Key Position Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
30/06/1998 | 192cm | 84kg

Another tall we’ve managed to slot into the backline. A few injuries have kept him sidelined at stages this year but his work one-on-one has been very good. Fits in as a back pocket, but might be best suited to play on the last line of defence.

Pick 32: PW
Sam Fowler
Small Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
02/11/1998 | 169cm | 66kg

As the only prospect in the draft that is smaller than me (quite a feat), it is hard not to pick him. A genuine crumber nicknamed “the Rat”, Fowler has been winning plenty of ball lately and developing his game further. Do not be put off by his height, he is a talented prospect.

Pick 33: PW
Josh Daicos
Small Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26/11/1998 | 178cm | 69kg

While this pick is a little high to take Daicos, with the midfield filled and defence looking good, we are now drafting for holes required and Daicos fits the bill as a small forward. Classy and knows where the goals are, the son of the Macedonian Marvel has plenty of improvement for when he arrives at the Holden Centre.

Pick 34: MB
Max Lynch
Ruckman (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
12/09/1998 | 200cm | 96kg

The first ruckman taken and it’s NSW/ACT tall Max Lynch. I wasn’t a huge fan earlier in the season, but the ‘raw’ Lynch looks better with each game I see him. Lynch grew up playing soccer as a goalkeeper, but has slotted into the ruck for the Bushrangers throughout most of the season.

Pick 35: MB
Myles Poholke
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
10/07/1998 | 184cm | 84kg

Was very happy to nab Poholke here. A strong body around the contest who certainly knows where the goals are. Continues to play well for the Stingrays and someone I’d expect to grab 20 disposals and kick two goals in my side.

Pick 36: PW
Sean Darcy
Ruckman (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
12/06/1998 | 201cm | 113kg

Who needs to move when you have others that do it for you? That is my motto with this pick as quite simply I had to pick the best ruck available. A monster at 113kg, Darcy will smash any other player his age in the hitouts, but given his frame it is no surprise mobility is his biggest deficiency. A strong contested grab and solid kick for a big bloke, he is the best ruck available at this pick.

Pick 37: PW
Reece Piper
Small Defender (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
30/12/1998 | 177cm | 75kg

I have only seen Reece a few times, but like his style and is a unique pick for my first bench place. I enjoy versatility in my team and he would relieve Jordan Gallucci or Andy McGrath, enabling them to play forward of the ball or through the middle. Has a few tricks for a smaller player and you can rely on him kicking out of the defensive 50.

Pick 38: MB
Lachlan Murphy
Small Defender/Inside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Country)
04/12/1998 | 173cm | 74kg

One of the few selected for our “All Stars” match who didn’t score a national combine invite. Alas- I’ve been a big fan of Murphy’s work in the last month and a bit, whether it be at school or TAC Cup level. A nice left foot, who makes the ball spin perfectly off his boot each time he kicks it. Despite his size, he has rolled through the inside midfield- But looks best at home across half back. Begins on the bench, but can play anywhere.

Lachlan Murphy representing the Northern Knights in 2016. (Photo by Rob Prezioso/AFL Media)
Lachlan Murphy representing the Northern Knights in 2016. (Photo by Rob Prezioso/AFL Media)

Pick 39: MB
Jack Graham
Inside Midfielder (North Adelaide/South Australia)
25/02/1998 | 183cm | 83kg

The Larke Medalist for the best player in the Under 18 champs, finds a spot in my team. You could question why he isn’t in the starting 22, but his kicking needs some work to avoid bombing it out of a contest. Graham is one of multiple inside midfielders in the draft and should rotate on the ball in our match.

Pick 40: PW
Josh Williams
Outside Midfielder (Surfers Paradise/Queensland)
12/06/1998 | 189cm | 69kg

Skill and speed. Always circling back to those two factors and Williams has both. While he might not be put in the same boat as McGrath or Perryman, he is lightning quick and disposes of the ball cleanly. A future Gold Coast midfielder with a top surname.

Pick 41: PW
Dylan Clarke
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
06/09/1998 | 187cm | 85kg

Brother of Ryan, Dylan Clarke is another bull who just attacks contests fearlessly. We have enough elite kicks of the footy, and Clarke will help us get it out to them. Buries himself under packs and will be an asset coming off the bench.

Pick 42: MB
Zac Fisher
Inside Midfielder (Perth/Western Australia)
15/06/1998 | 175cm | 61kg

Inside midfielder who had a huge game against the Allies (In the video below). Performing well since the champs over in Western Australia, using his left boot well. If he had an extra 5-10cms, you could make a real case that he’d be talked about much more than he is currently.

Pick 43: MB
Peter Ladhams
Ruckman (Norwood/South Australia)
14/01/1998 | 202cm | 95kg

Could he be the second ‘two metre Peter’ in the AFL? Ladhams work is solid and his ability to find the football around the ground gives him the nod over other suitors. Should complement Max Lynch well.

Pick 44: PW
Callum Brown
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/04/1998 | 177cm | 69kg

Nuggety little midfielder who has developed his game massively since moving into the midfield from the forward pocket. Not the cleanest of skills, but you cannot fault his effort or intensity and when forward 50 tackles are ever so important, Brown provides them and four quarter intensity.

Pick 45: PW
Harry Morrison
Medium Defender (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
12/11/1998 | 182cm | 73kg

Harry Morrison is the forgotten man. After missing the bulk of the season through injury, he is likely to pick up and be a factor in the finals series for the Murray Bushrangers. A strong grab and rebounding defender, Morrison can play on a wing, adding to his versatility.

Harry Morrison in action for the Murray Bushrangers in the 2015 TAC Cup Finals. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/AFL Media/Getty Images).
Harry Morrison in action for the Murray Bushrangers in the 2015 TAC Cup Finals. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/AFL Media/Getty Images).

Pick 46: MB
Jordan Ridley
Tall Utility (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
20/10/1998 | 192cm | 79kg

A tall utility who has caught my eye last year playing forward for Oakleigh. This season he’s more filled in wherever the Chargers have required him and I think he could become a really good swingman. Usually a reliable kick on his right foot, he isn’t afraid to get up the ground further when needed.

Pick 47: MB
Esava Ratugolea
Key Position Forward (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
24/07/1998 | 194cm | 95kg

Exciting tall Ratugolea jumped into consideration after an eight-goal haul against Bendigo. Ratugolea will be off to the National Combine and it will be intriguing to see how he tests. Will play as a third tall forward and may pinch hit in the ruck when needed for my side.

ESAVA’S EIGHT PROMPTS VIC COUNTRY CALL

Pick 48: PW
Luke Bunker
Inside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
12/06/1998 | 185cm | 78kg

Another inside midfielder of good size who is often underrated in this draft crop. Will work well with Clarke, Brodie and Setterfield through the midfield and is another versatile player to round out the team.

Pick 49: PW
Joshua Begley
Medium Forward/Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
03/07/1998 | 187cm | 87kg

Every team needs a bit of X-factor and the unknown and this kid certainly is that. From kicking bags to racking up the ball in the middle, Begley has gone from strength to strength this year. A very good size at 187cm and 87kg, and will take the last spot on my team.

Josh Begley in action for the Ranges v Knights. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Media).
Josh Begley in action for the Ranges v Knights. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Media).

Pick 50: MB
Brandan Parfitt
Inside Midfielder (Nightcliff/Northern Territory)
27/04/1998 | 179cm | 78kg

With the final pick in the draft, I’ll take Brandan Parfitt. He’s been reasonably quiet this year, but I thought he begun the season well against VFL opposition for the AFL Academy. Can play multiple roles which makes him appealing for the final player on the list of 25.

Full teams:

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Last word: I am really pleased with my team as I feel I have the two best key position defenders, two best key position forwards, and a tantalising half-back line. With foot skills and speed a premium in my team, we would be able to move it at a frantic pace, get it forward and if our strong contested marking forwards don’t snare it, our crumbers will. A good mix of versatile players, many of whom will forge solid AFL careers.

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Last word: I’m really pleased with the quality midfielders we’ve been able to score. I feel we’ve got enough depth with talls at both ends and two quality ruck combinations. A few left footed defenders coming out of defence might see us play a game plan similar to Hawthorn has in the past- Hopefully that is a sign of sure success for my side.


It should be noted too that there are many quality players not selected. For teams to remain balanced, we wanted to ensure that our sides were realistic and we weren’t left with 15 inside midfielders each. With a large contingent of inside midfielders in the 2016 draft pool, some unfortunately missed out on gaining selection.

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